Friday, 16 December 2011

Quotations


‎"The habit of ignoring nature is deeply implanted in our times. I had to find some special occupation, some kind of work that would not force me to turn away from the sky and the stars, that would allow me to discover the meaning of life."
Marc Chagall


Can an undying creature debit petty expenses and charge for carriage paid? The soul ties its shoes; the mind washes its hands in a basin. All is incongruous.
-- Walter Bagehot


"I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him."
- Napoleon

Racism is simply an ugly form of collectivism, the mindset that views humans strictly as members of groups rather than individuals. Racists believe that all individuals who share superficial physical characteristics are alike: as collectivists, racists think only in terms of groups. By encouraging Americans to adopt a group mentality, the advocates of so-called "diversity" actually perpetuate racism. Their obsession with racial group identity is inherently racist.


The true antidote to racism is liberty. Liberty means having a limited, constitutional government devoted to the protection of individual rights rather than group claims. Liberty means free-market capitalism, which rewards individual achievement and competence, not skin color, gender, or ethnicity.



More importantly, in a free society every citizen gains a sense of himself as an individual, rather than developing a group or victim mentality. This leads to a sense of individual responsibility and personal pride, making skin color irrelevant. Rather than looking to government to correct our sins, we should understand that racism will endure until we stop thinking in terms of groups and begin thinking in terms of individual liberty.






Ron Paul


What if the Lost Decade is not what we are going in to but coming out of – the Bankers' Age, the decade of footling technology, globalised junk, celebrity, stuffing our faces, a Lost Decade of human incuriosity in which we haven't cared "how people walk" or what their eyes and hands look like, in which art has been the lackey of advertising and imagination has declined into mere fantasy? I don't minimise material hardship, but we don't have to be supine before the system. The world is interesting beyond money; there is infinitely more to us than is dreamt of in the materialists' philosophy.'


Howard Jacobson



My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky.
So was it when my life began;
So is it now I am a man;
So be it when I grow old,
Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

-Wordsworth




‎"It is the great achievement of Christianity in all times and places to have raised the condition of women"


W.E. Gladstone



'I am an out and out inegalitarian.' - W.E. Gladstone



He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, He the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.


St. Augustine

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Ideas

I wrote this in April 2009 and now I wonder if I still hold these trenchently worded ideas.

·         Because of the Holocaust the masculine virtues are discredited and society has been feminized. Hence welfare state, health and safety, feminism, multiculturalism, sexual revolution, pop culture, breakdown in class system, questioning of tradition, the 1960s social revolution.

·         As a result of this sex is seen as a construct not something utterly fundamental to each one of us and male and female roles are mixed up

·         Sexual intercourse has become trivialized, consumerised, instead of being sacred. 

Homosexuality is seen as being as normal as heterosexuality instead of as an unfortunate  psychological problem

·         Since artificial birth control is the norm the white Christian world is failing to reproduce itself and the Battle of Tours is being revisited

·         The nanny state in return for protecting us from real life (which in fact it cannot do) requires like a possessive mother obedience – hence we men are emasculated, heterodox opinions on this matriarchy are punished severely

·         We are a culture of Peter Pans irresponsible and improvident

·         Peer groups are more important than taking on your father’s or mother’s role.

·         The baby boomers have led us into the crisis through hedonism and self-indulgence and many other crises will follow

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Maramures: The Last Peasants


"The country is holding its breath today," read The Times. “Tension and nerves will be felt by millions who know that the bombers have chosen Thursday as a day of atrocity.”
The world has been rewritten by the writers of cheap thrillers. And not necessarily present day thrillers. We feel as if we are in the neurotic pre-1914 landscape of William Le Queux or early Edgar Wallace.
While Londoners were waiting pensively in the tube I was in another kind of pre-1914 landscape, driving through villages in the Maramures, the northern edge of Transylvania bordering on Ukraine. Here life hasn’t changed very much in centuries but it will soon change utterly. Here in the most conservative part of Romania, Europe’s least modern country, peasants have not completely given up traditional costumes, for example. Such tractors as were to be found here under Communism were long ago sold off and horse-drawn ploughs are universal. Old women in black scatter seed in the fields. This is subsistence farming of a kind which had disappeared elsewhere and must soon disappear here too.
It took me fifteen years to get to Maramures. In 1990 when everyone in the Transylvanian countryside wore traditional costume to Mass and cars were scarcely seen, I asked my Romanian companion, ‘Is this the poorest part of Romania?’ It was my first day here. ‘No, it’s the richest. Can’t you tell?” A disconcerting reply. ‘If you want to see somewhere poor and old fashioned you should go to Maramures. In Maramures they’re still living in the Stone Age.’
In those fifteen years Maramures has changed like the rest of Romania. Gloucestershire has been bought up by stockbrokers wanting weekend cottages and Maramures I had read was full of villas built by customs officers and police colonels.  And there are plenty of big new houses around. A lot fewer people wear costume every day than did when I missed my first chance to visit. Tourism is bigger business now than it was then and there is a steady stream of foreign visitors but the area still feels pretty undiscovered, well protected by its inaccessibility. You can’t get there easily from anywhere by car, train or plane.
In Maramures villages men in hats and women with scarves, aged from thirty upwards, spend a lot of time sitting on roadside benches. They look attentively at each car or pedestrian that passes and conversation languishes. Tranquil is I suppose the word. The bomb explosions in London seemed unreal to Londoners but less real in Maramures.
Agrotourism, putting up with peasants, is the joy of travelling in Romania. This is tourism on a human scale, bespoke. You are a lodger but treated as a friend.  Catch it before its innocence has been lost and before Romania enters the E.U. in 2007. Your hosts who are subsistence farmers provide milk for your coffee fresh from the cow at the end of the garden. How much will be lost when EU health regulations bring all this to an end.
The priest’s wife in the village of Botiza, Mrs Victoria Berdecaru, has revived the carpet making industry in the village, organised a very neat crafts museum and organises accommodation for visitors. I stayed with Vasile the handsome 40 year-old local carpenter and handyman who built the museum and who told me ‘I do everything except dig graves. I won’t dig graves.’
I came on a chance impulse to see the 38th edition of the Hora La Prislop festival. Horas  are traditional Romanian dances and every village has its dances. Hora La Prislop is held on a mountainside and participants from villages throughout the Maramures compete for prizes. It attracts a big well-mannered audience who sit on the grass watching the stage neither eating, drinking nor talking. I also noticed three or four foreigners, one bestrewn with two large and expensive cameras. The festival is great fun on a sunny Sunday afternoon if you repress the adage about trying everything once except incest or Morris dancing.
The date of the first festival, 1968, is telling. Nicolae Ceausescu was just beginning to wrap himself in the flag and emphasise the traditions of the Romanian peasantry, twenty years before he began to knock down villages to make way for agro-industrial complexes. We were back in the 1970s and you expected to see local party dignitaries in crimplene suits make speeches praising agricultural output.
This was the eve of Assumption Day. In Romania as in much of Southern Europe the Assumption of the Virgin is one of the most important days of the year. It is treated in the countryside as an unofficial holiday. The roads were full of processions, adults in full costume, and angelic girls in white as for a first Holy Communion.
People from all over the area and the two biggest processions converged on the Monastery of Moisei where Mass in the open lasted from early evening till midday. Until 1989 these processions were forbidden by the police and had to be held under cover of night but today every ex-Communist politician wants to be photographed on the Assumption at some famous monastery. Moisei was crowded with visitors and stalls selling refreshments. Long before the first procession was near the narrow road to the monastery was blocked and impassible by car.
Wooden churches are what Maramures is renowned for, with spires, steep roofs and wall paintings. I attended Mass the next morning in a Greek Catholic church in Iaud or rather in the graveyard amid hollyhocks and brightly painted crucifixes with most of the congregation. The women stood together in the front, the men together at the rear. Most of the women wore scarves and traditional blouses and skirts but there were a few in blue jeans and loose hair. Each year the numbers of the latter increase.
The priest at the close read out the names and size of the contributions made by parishioners to the cost of building the new church. (“€100 on the part of Mrs Ionela Ghica, €100 on the part of Vlad Dumitriu…”) Everywhere you go in Maramures new churches have been or are being built alongside the houses of incomers.  A few miles away an impressive Orthodox monastery complex has been built on the site of one suppressed in the eighteenth century.
Iaud is a village where half the population is Greek Catholic. The Greek Catholic rite resembles that of the Orthodox but the Greek Catholics, also known as ‘Uniates’, recognise the authority of Rome. Iaud boasts several fine wooden churches and a reputation for large families.  It seems that the inhabitants observe the Church’s teaching better than in richer parts of Europe. According to Vasile: ‘If you have three children here people think you’re impotent.’
Sighet, a pleasant Austro-Hungarian town a mile from the Ukrainian border, houses the infamous prison where after the Communist takeover the leading politicians and opinion-formers were incarcerated, tortured and in many cases killed. Today the prison is a well-designed museum that explains the Stalin era. When I visited the museum had plenty of customers. Children ran around noisily. I got a slight sense in the exercise yard of the horrors of the recent past, I stood in the little cell in which democrat Iuliu Maniu had died and I went out. I was pleased that President Ion Iliescu, a leading member of the Communist Party’s youth wing during the years when the prison was busiest, had not been to see it.
Vasile told me that the secret of a happy life is preserving tradition. ‘You have to change but you should keep the traditions.’ I thought of life in London where traditions have been dissolved by affluence, technology, pop culture and multiculturalism. In the Maramures past and present are seamless, the existence of God is assumed rather like the sun rising each morning, neighbours know everything about each other and no man is an island.
But the numbers of cars we saw everywhere with Italian driving licenses testify to the exodus of Moreseni to work abroad. In the locality where I was staying everyone went to Northern Italy, where the discipline of Italian life was irksome but the money was very good. In other parts of the Maramures I am told everyone goes to Spain. Maramures is beautiful but desperately poor and an economic impossibility. As Vasile said to me ‘When you say agriculture you say poverty.’ Europe no longer has room for subsistence farmers and even if people like Vasile would never swap their lives for anyone else’s, his three daughters will go to college and not return to live their mother’s way of life. Vasile has no regrets. ‘They must fulfill their destiny. I hope they will return here when they are old.’
© Paul Wood 2005



This was published in Vivid in October 2005, just after the bombings on the London underground by British Muslim terrorists.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Fairies' Farewell

The Fairies' Farewell

One of my very favourite poems and also a lament for Catholic England. I thought this was a widely known anthology piece but even Amanda Craig did not know it. Nothing is well known anymore he humphed.



FAREWELL, rewards and fairies, 
Good housewives now may say, 
For now foul sluts in dairies 
Do fare as well as they. 
And though they sweep their hearths no less 
Than maids were wont to do, 
Yet who of late for cleanness 
Finds sixpence in her shoe? 

Lament, lament, old Abbeys, 
The Fairies’ lost command! 
They did but change Priests’ babies, 
But some have changed your land. 
And all your children, sprung from thence, 
Are now grown Puritans, 
Who live as Changelings ever since 
For love of your demains. 

At morning and at evening both 
You merry were and glad, 
So little care of sleep or sloth 
These pretty ladies had; 
When Tom came home from labour, 
Or Cis to milking rose, 
Then merrily went their tabor, 
And nimbly went their toes. 

Witness those rings and roundelays 
Of theirs, which yet remain, 
Were footed in Queen Mary’s days 
On many a grassy plain; 
But since of late, Elizabeth, 
And later, James came in, 
They never danced on any heath 
As when the time hath been. 

By which we note the Fairies 
Were of the old Profession. 
Their songs were ‘Ave Mary’s’, 
Their dances were Procession. 
But now, alas, they all are dead; 
Or gone beyond the seas; 
Or farther for Religion fled; 
Or else they take their ease. 

A tell-tale in their company 
They never could endure! 
And whoso kept not secretly 
Their mirth, was punished, sure; 
It was a just and Christian deed 
To pinch such black and blue. 
Oh how the commonwealth doth want 
Such Justices as you!
One of my very favourite poems and in
Richard Corbet

The Jane Elliott Study

The Jane Elliott Study


A classic study which very clearly illustrates the cumulative impact
of wrongful social definitions upon people was conducted in 1968 through
1971, by Jane Elliott. Ms. Elliott was a rather unlikely candidate for the
authoring of one of social science's most creative and important studies.
She worked as a third grade teacher in the small northeastern Iowa town
of Riceville. Up until the time of her experiment she had been a very
motherly, highly respected teacher who had been well liked by all.
However, upon the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King in March
1968, she became very distressed and upset. She wanted to teach her
eight and nine year old pupils the evils of racial discrimination, but did
not know how to approach the problem in a way that would prove
incisive and thoroughly convincing. Eight year olds cannot be lectured
to in the way that university students and adults are commonly dealt
with in educational settings. And aggravating the problem was the fact
that most of her young pupils had never even seen a black person apart
from on television or in the movies. The children were all living in a
very rural part of a state which has very few black residents. Of our
fifty states, only Wyoming has a smaller fraction of black residents than
does Iowa.
She finally hit upon a plan which she decided to pursue with
enthusiasm and conviction. She entered her classroom one morning with
a large book which she claimed had been written by a very famous
scientist who is extremely wise and knowledgeable. She proceeded to
tell her young pupils that this scientist had determined that brown-eyed
people are naturally dirty, unkempt, uncooperative, incapable of learning
at a satisfactory speed, incapable of retaining knowledge, discourteous,
unlikely to go far in life, etc. She proceeded to enumerate quite
systematically a whole host of ways whereby brown-eyed people were
alleged by the scientist to be inferior to blue-eyed people. And since her
class was composed of nine brown-eyed children and nine blue-eyed
children (and she herself was green-eyed), she had rather fertile soil for
her experiment.
Again, Ms. Elliott had been well-liked, and there was a very strong
tendency for these impressionable young minds to believe everything
that she said. And as she proceeded through her twenty minute sermon
about the evils of brown-eyed people and the virtues of those with blue
eyes, she could see the brown-eyed children begin to slouch and to
travel off into a world of daydreams. In fact, throughout the experimental
day the disparaged brown-eyed children reacted primarily in one of four
different ways—depending upon their individual temperaments:
(1) withdrawing and going off into a world of fantasy, daydreams, or
sleep; (2) crying and sulking; (3) clowning and goofing off behavior; and
(4) hostile, obstreperous, inconsiderate and/or bullying behavior.
Meanwhile, as Ms. Elliott made her way through the same initial
spiel, the blue-eyed children began to sit up more and more erect. They
began to pay attention to what was going on in class more closely and
intensely than many of them had ever done before. In essence, right
from the very outset of the experiment the disparaged group (browneyed
children) and the exalted group (blue-eyed youngsters) began to
behave in dramatically and very conspicuously different ways.
After Ms. Elliott completed her twenty minute lecture she
announced that since brown-eyed children are not likely to go very far
in life anyway, and since they do not learn as well as other youngsters,
are dirtier, less cooperative, etc., it makes good sense to accord them
fewer classroom privileges than the "naturally superior" blue-eyed children
should be accorded. And with that she ran down a prepared list
of new rules and restrictions that would impact the brown-eyed children
from that moment on. And just so that each child in the classroom could
tell every other child apart on the basis of the criterion of eye color, she
placed large black collars around the necks of each of the brown-eyed
youngsters. Once this was accomplished everyone could easily tell
whether any particular pupil had brown eyes or blue eyes.
Then she began to involve the children in their daily reading lesson.
As usual each child was required to read aloud a passage from a third
grade reader. When a blue-eyed child made a mistake or stumbled through
a passage, Ms. Elliott helped him/her along in a kindly manner, and
then praised him/her. If a blue-eyed student read a passage well, lavish
praise was heaped upon him/her. And she would say: "See, that just
goes to show that everything I said is really true. Blue-eyed people really
are smarter; and they learn their reading lessons much better than browneyed
children do."
On the other hand, if a brown-eyed child read his/her passage
without error, Ms. Elliott rather abruptly asked the child to stop, and
she immediately moved on to the next child without according the browneyed
youngster a word of praise or recognition. If a brown-eyed youngster
stumbled through a passage, she reacted with a statement similar
to this: "See, that just goes to show how brown-eyed children just won't
learn."
In essence, positive or disparaging remarks were systematically
applied to the children throughout the day strictly on the basis of eye
color. Positive behavior was ignored in the brown-eyed youngsters
whereas negative behavior was always noticed and punished with a
rather coldly phrased comment such as: "I guess this is what can naturally
be expected from brown-eyed youngsters."
By the end of the school day quite remarkable changes had occurred
in Ms. Elliott's classroom. For example, the brown-eyed third graders
had regressed to first grade reading level, whereas the blue-eyed third
graders were reading at or beyond the fifth grade level. Arithmetic scores,
vocabulary scores, spelling scores, and all other academic criteria
employed to assess change in young children showed that the blue-eyed
pupils were all performing (1) far beyond what would normally be
expected for third graders, and (2) far beyond where they (these very
same children) had performed just one week prior to the experiment.
These same test scores similarly revealed the brown-eyed children to be
functioning at a level that was (1) far below what would ordinarily be
expected for third grade youngsters, and (2) far below the level of performance
that they had displayed just one week prior to the experiment.
Academic performance was hardly the only thing to be affected by
the experimental design that Ms. Elliott had imposed upon her pupils.
After a mere six hours of their new experiences in Ms. Elliott's classroom
the brown-eyed children had all suffered serious blows to their selfimages.
None of these children liked themselves anymore, and they
displayed these self-disparaging attitudes in a whole host of ways. Some
of the children cried and sulked. Many began to behave in a sullen and
disrespectful manner. Several of the nine brown-eyed children spoke of
how they didn't want to come to school anymore, and about how they
would find ways to play hookey. All began to look increasingly dirty
and unkempt. None revealed any interest in learning or in open, friendly
socializing with their classmates.
Contrariwise, by the end of the school day the blue-eyed children
had begun behaving far more maturely towards their teacher and visa-
vis each other than they had ever behaved before. Each child displayed
a conspicuously strong enthusiasm for learning and asserted himself/
herself in a friendly, courteous matter, except vis-a-vis their disparaged
brown-eyed classmates. And this was as true for children who just one
day prior had been the class clowns, the "slow learners", and the allround
"bad boys", as it had been for the blue-eyed children who had
always performed well. The posture, grooming, and attitudes towards
self that were manifested by these blue-eyed children were nothing short
of amazing.
It is not necessary to summarize here all of the many interesting
facets of Ms. Elliott's experiment. Interested readers will find a good
coverage of the study in her book entitled A CLASS DIVIDED which I
have listed in the bibliography at the end of this volume. Suffice it to
say that she ran the study on four different third grade classes: 1968
through 1971. And each year she reversed things on the second day of
the experiment. In other words, on the second day she advised the
children that she had made a mistake, and that it was really brown-eyed
people who are "superior", and that blue-eyed people are actually the
inferior ones.
It should be stressed that Ms. Elliott's findings proved equally
strong each time she ran the experiment. Similarly, immediately after
she turned the tables she found that the academic performance and the
mental attitudes of the blue-eyed children slid downhill in an extremely
dramatic and precipitous fashion; whereas the performance and the
mental attitudes of the brown-eyed children shot upward quite drastically
after only a very short period of time in the exalted role.

Human 'Rights' are far more authoritarian that I ever imagined.

A Facebook conversation which makes me see how very deeply we in the West are in trouble.


Stefanie Ricarda Roos

First day of teaching Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt/Oder (Master Program in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law): Great crowd of students from all over the world.


18 people like this.


Paul Wood so much of so called Human Rights are in fact restrictions on Human Rights. Cultural economic and social rights sound like restrictions on freedom to me. Anti-discrimination legislation might be a good thing for example but it restricts freedom.


Stefanie Ricarda Roos Why do you consider them to be restrictions on HRs? Only with the basic ESC rights are fulfilled, can one enjoy his or her civil and political rights. "Freedom from want" is at the root of ESC rights (see Speech by Franklin D. Roosevelt held in 1941, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948).


Paul Wood Exactly the sophistry I had in mind. On the continent there is no real tradition of freedom. Freedom from want - coined because we were allied to Stalin - is like freedom from ill health, another use of freedom. It may be good but it is not freedom. Likewise freedom means freedom not to employ people I don't like. Etc etc


Paul Wood I am bitterly sorry I did not become an academic so that I could have dedicated my life to fighting "Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. " -And you are on the Right. I read somewhere of German Christian Democrat politicians warning Muslim immigrants that acceptance of homosexuality as normal was necessary if they wanted to live in a democracy - which does not sound like Catholicism to me or freedom or democracy.

Stefanie Ricarda Roos Paul, you do not need to be an academic in order to dedicate your life to fighting ESC-Rights. Lawyers, in particular, shall devote their lifes to this end. Have a look at the following video for inspiration: http://vimeo.com/11870370

Out of the Shadows

Paul Wood You misunderstood. I wish - but am too old - that I had dedicated my life to fighting against these so called rights.


Stefanie Ricarda Roos No, no, I truly understand: back to the old categorization of freedom rights (negative rights) and claim-rights (positive rights), to distinguishing two sets of rights, and claiming that the latter (i.e. ESC-rights) are not justiciable, and are only restricting liberalism. Back to a world in which a few can live a dignified life "in freedom" whereas the majority of people do not even have the minimum needed to live a life which you can call "dignified". That has nothing to do with Marxism, communism or mis-understood socialism, but with what is at the heart of it all: human dignity.


Paul Wood By the way many of these 'rights' - really infringements on other people's freedom - originated with cultural Marxism. This might interest you. http://www.academia.org/the-origins-of-political-correctness/


Sonya Winterberg Congrats and enjoy! The Viadrina is such a great place. We should have coffee some time... :)
Monday at 22:38 · Like

Paul Wood I am not arguing that the state should not help the poor by public spending but saying that such public spending paid for from taxes is an infringement of (taxpayers' ) freedom - freedom is not the only good but it is very important and we should call things by their names. Your use of the word freedom is duplicitous and in fact Orwellian. Like lumping in freedom from worry with freedom of expression. The word freedom means now what it meant in 1800.


Gregory Fabian Mr. Wood you seem to forget that what you cynically call "sophistry" are actually international human rights treaty obligations to which states have legally bound themselves when signing and ratifying such treaties as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the European Social Charter revised. Violations of these rights with impunity, if you need to be reminded, resulted, in the worst case, in the death of and personal injury to millions of persons, damage and destruction of personal property, and the displacement of millions more in the 20th century alone. One only has to witness the exhumation of a mass grave in the Balkans, or watch a video of the aftermath of the Markale massacres in Sarajevo to realize what happens when governments do not respect, protect and fulfill human rights, and how important they are to one realizing one's full potential as a human being. These rights were enshrined to provide all persons in the state with a checklist of the minimum level of each right to which they are entitled so that all persons may know demand and defend their rights no matter who that person is and no matter what government is in power. And Mr Wood, I have dedicated my life to the implementation of those rights i.e. all human rights including civil, economic, political, social, or cultural rights. They are inseparably intertwined.

Paul Wood Nonsense not entwined at all - how can you equate forcing me not to discriminate against women or Buddhists with my freedom of speech or property rights? Alas, in fact if I argued against rights for minorities I might find myself arrested under human rights legislation. The sooner the UK resiles from the ECHR the better. International law is the great threat in our days to democracy by the way. Why shouldn’t each country decide about human rights - and everything else?

Paul Wood Whether or not it is socialism I don't pretend to know - and giving the poor decent life certainly makes the world a better place - but it is not freedom. It is restricting freedom - just be honest and clear minded that's all. Public spending on social issues is fine. All anti discrimination laws should be repealed

Sonya Winterberg Dear Mr Wood, With all due respect what you write is ideological rubbish. On the eve of WWI similar statements were made with the known consequences of the humanitarian tragedies of the 20th century. Having myself worked in places as the ones described by Gregory above, I am grateful and humbled by everyone who is working to foster and/or protect said rights.


Paul Wood All the rights we need to protect assiduously are enshrined in English Common Law or the US Constitution - what sort of right is the right to privacy or family life ?? It is you madam who are the Bismarckian. I met an English schoolmistress who was teaching Romanian children about 'human rights' - I discovered she was telling them homosexual acts were fine - a perfectly acceptable point of view but in contradiction to orthodox and catholic teaching - and she was paid by the EU! What about the rights of the children's parents who I doubt held the same views? Or of the taxpayers in Germany and UK paying for this? I believe passionately in human rights by the way - for me it is almost the most important political issue (no 2 probably) - i.e. the rights of individuals not to be bullied by the state including by ECHR judges inventing law



Gregory Fabian Mr. Wood re: "your" rights and the rights of all, two quotes and a passage. "When the rights of a few are abused, the rights of all are abused" "Injustice to anyone is injustice to everyone." ML King. Also, a passage from a fiercely nationalistic German Lutheran Minister who was a WWI war hero, on coming to his senses and realizing what was happening in his country during WWII: First they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out, I was not a Jew, then they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out, I was not a Communist, then they came for the trade unions, and I did not not speak out, I was not a trade unionist, then they came for the Catholics, and I did not speak out, I was not a Catholic. Then they came for the homosexuals, Gypsies, disabled, etc. and I did not speak out, I was none of those. And then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak out for me.


Gregory Fabian And another quote from a man on the street in Zimbabwe when asked by a BBC reporter if he was going to vote in the elections that day. He said Yes I will try, but first I must find water for my family. Thus the exercise of the right to vote, for example, can depend on the ability to exercise another right, such as the right to water which is an integral part of the rights to health and an adequate standard of living.

Paul Wood Mr Fabian you are mixing things up. I am against all dictatorship including the dictatorship of the human rights industry , of international law and international QUANGOs. People have a right to speak, to organise politically, to be annoying, to argue that homosexual acts are wicked or that women should not go out to work or that Chinese people are inferior, to spy on their neighbours, to refuse to hire women or men or Protestants if they so choose, not to be arrested without good cause. No one has a ‘right’ to an adequate standard of living or to health (I think you mean health care) though if we are Christians we have a duty of charity to help the poor. Bismarck's Germany created the first national health service - a good thing I am sure - only because Germany did not and does not have a strong tradition of freedom. A welfare state - I believed in a limited welfare state by the way - is a good thing in small doses but a great infringement on freedom which is why when Europe was much freer - in 1900 - the idea seemed outrageous in England and the Anglo-Saxon world. The rights you talk about include both vitally important ones and the ephemeral fashions of our statist collectivist post-Christian ruling class. You are mixing freedom and equality which are always opposite poles. By the way Martin Luther King was not such an admirable figure - as well as being a very bad man in his private life he was a leftist and his legacy is this whole anti discrimination culture which we have today which so damages European traditional values and self confidence and is so opposed to freedom and traditional legal rights

Gregory Fabian Well that s a very interesting viewpoint Mr. Wood but a minority view to be sure. How does that square with the fact that the governments of approximately 160 members states of the UN out of 192 have recognized the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to health as human rights and have committed themselves to ensuring a minimum core obligation of those rights to all the people of their state and not just citizens, by signing and ratifying the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Further another 70 member states are signatories. Respect for human rights is an integral concept within the rule of law. Shall we advocate to disregard one of the most important tenets of the rule of law? Please Mr. Wood I have more than enough work with governments who deny rights.

Paul Wood We shall not agree. Very few members of the UN if any really respect rights or freedoms any more. I feel Europe which in the 19th century was free is much less so now. Lawyers by the way are not good at arguing from first principles. I do not share your respect for the UN run by dreadful governments, crooks and despots. You convince me that the human rights industry is much more authoritarian than I had feared. I hope the UK gets out of the dreadfully authoritarian ECHR which we should never have signed. There was talk in 2005 that we would had the Conservatives won the election.

Paul Wood The UN would like to make 'reproductive rights' human rights -  abortion. So much for Christianity Judaism and Islam.

Gregory Fabian And re: your opinion on discrimination. I have seen discrimination left unchecked for generations tear apart the very fabric of society in Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina where I lived and worked for a combination of nine years from 200 to 2009. To deny the importance of proactively combating discrimination is to allow conditions to exist which promote conflict, because discrimination is a root cause of conflict. Thus the quality of life for us all is proportionate to how we treat those who are different, and how we recognize the dignity and worth of the human person. And while discrimination occurs in all societies certain countries deny its existence. Others, instead of denying it, admit that they have it, and they take proactive measures to eliminate it as they are also required to do under the UN Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination among other international documents. That is why Europe is so far ahead of other regions in the world in the advancement of its anti discrimination laws and standards. I am now living permanently in Slovakia again where I previously worked from 93 to 2000, and I am trying to get the non Roma community to understand that discrimination against the Roma community is one of the most serious social and economic problems they have, and that if it is not addressed, it can become a security issue for all, and not just the Roma community, as the lessons of the Balkan Wars of the 90s teach us. And while there may not be a tradition of inter ethnic wars in central Europe, there certainly is always the threat of civil unrest, leading to violence and even terrorist acts. That is why it is vitally important to deal with the problems that Roma face, as opposed to the Roma problem as it is so often characterized. In the US the anti slavery clause was eliminated at the last minute from the Declaration of Independence to appease the Southern States but John Adams the Declaration s chief proponent very reluctantly consented with the warning that the US will have problems one hundred years hence and his prophesy was sadly correct. The US had a civil war that almost destroyed the country. And finally, 100 years after that War the US enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which actually began to address the root causes of discrimination and gave persons remedies against it. It is an example of what happens when discrimination is not addressed in the first instance.


Gregory Fabian And finally, on authoritarianism, my experience working in human rights against Vladimir Meciar, an authoritarian strongman in Slovakia from 93 to 98 is that it is characteristic of authoritarians to accuse their perceived enemies of the sins that they are the most guilty of. Good day.


Paul Wood there may not be a tradition of inter ethnic wars in central Europe? What about in the 20th century? I do not like discrimination against people on the grounds of race at all but discrimination in other areas is first unobjectionable (or sometimes desirable) and second none of the state's business. And what is discrimination but another word for hierarchy? I am sure you mean well but the current anti discrimination ideology which along with welfare has taken the place of religion in the West reduces freedom, disrupts tradition and has led to unhappy social changes in the role of women, in family life, sexual morality even. Slavery is not good but the North was not justified in going to war over it but this is a footnote. The Civil Rights Act has led to dreadful restrictions on freedom and the current nervous breakdown Americans have over race. The result is that we in the West no longer have faith in our traditions - which children are taught are oppressive rather than glorious - and that is fatal. Gypsies must save themselves with help from churches and NGOs not from the state. Maybe Slovakia's  problem is it is being corrupted by PC ideas feminism consumerism and atheistic modern pop culture. You see why I feel sad that I did not become an academic and argue for these ideas which I consider basic to civilization? I respect your views but strongly think you are mistaken.

Poetry is what gets lost in the translation

Poetry is what gets lost in the translation. Robert Frost.


Or else the translation is a poem in its own right. E.g., Horace - Odes, Book 3, Ode 29: Happy the Man - trans. Dryden

Happy the man, and happy he alone,
He who can call today his own:
He who, secure within, can say,
Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

Be fair or foul or rain or shine
The joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.
Not Heav'n itself upon the past has power,
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

O tempora , o mores: what would Juvenal have made of Sally Bercow's sex toy?

I am having the experience people said they had when Diana died and the English went wild with grief, that they no longer recognised their country. This is worthy of Juvenal.

Quentin Letts today in the Daily Mail:


Asked by 'Total Politics' magazine to name her favourite gadget, she did not, as some might have done, mention the Corby trouser press or the Teasmade.
She opted for a certain type of battery-operated sex toy. Classy.


Michael Wharton could not have invented it (and anyway would have considered it much too rude for a family newspaper). Selwyn Lloyd and George Thomas, unmarried men, are spinning in their graves. 

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

‎1. Have the courage to live a life true to yourself, not the life others expected of you
2. Don't work so hard
3. Express your feelings
4. Stay in touch with your friends
5. Let yourself be happier


http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache%3AQBj9fD1vwLcJ%3Abeyondtheopposites.com%2F%3Fp%3D94+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a

Romanian women, a very big subject





This is an article I published in 2004 that got be roundly criticised by all my Romanian women friends. It was probably glib then and things have changed beyond recognition, no doubt, since.



Romanian women, a very broad subject

Schopenhauer in one of his deplorably misogynistic aphorisms said that ‘Any two men in the same trade feel an antagonism born of professional rivalry. All women feel an antagonism for all other women because all women belong to the same trade.’

I remember one morning at the age of twelve laughing loudly when a schoolfriend surreptitiously read this out to me from a penguin Schopenhauer stolen from his elder brother. I think that only once in the years between that moment in the mid-1970s and leaving England to live in Romania did I have the courage to repeat the remark to a woman friend. She was a close friend, Cambridge-educated but no bluestocking and the diametrical opposite of a feminist. She received it in a tolerant but disapproving way, much more frown than smile. But in the six years I have lived in Bucharest I have quoted this line to quite a few Romanian women of different social classes, political opinions and worldviews and never failed to obtain a gleeful laugh, more often than not followed by the comment ‘It’s true.’ In fact I have come slowly, because I am rather naïf, to see that it is true. At least it is somewhat true in Romania and in most of the world, excepting the richest countries, and it was somewhat true there, even in cold, damp England, until at most a generation or so ago.

The differences between the sexual politics of Romania and the Anglo-Saxon nations  provide a great amount of fairly innocent pleasure for watchers of the Romanian expat scene. It is odd that they have not yet provided the backdrop for comic novels and film scripts. The source of material seems inextinguishable but the dangers of embarking on an analysis of the subject are formidable.

The most fundamental reason for the differences is linguistic of course. All profound issues, it seems nowadays, derive from semantics. Having no gender helps make English the easiest language in the world to learn but it fails to instil in the adolescent Anglophone the existentially different natures of men and women. Perhaps this is much of the reason for the sexlessness of the English-speaking world about which Europeans sometimes complain.  And what hope do we have of breaking this pattern when we think that it dates back to some prehistoric psychological-linguistic national trauma in the fifth century when Old English became cast adrift from Old Friesian and Old Gothic. From this we reach to the state of affairs where it has become orthodoxy to believe that the differences between men and women are more the products of social conditioning than innate, where men and women are considered by opinion-formers to be different in the way that say the English and the French are different rather than in the way that Martians and earthlings are different. This is the narrative which is taught in North America. On the other hand, what hope has modern American feminism of making inroads in a country like Romania where demonstrative pronouns have eight different feminine cases?

The American journalist Countess Waldeck, who was in Bucharest in 1940 and 1941 and was fascinated by Romanian women, said that, after centuries of Ottoman rule, ‘They still have something of the harem about them.’ The Countess’s history is a little out because, as Romanians insistently point out, most of present-day Romania was never directly ruled by the Sublime Porte, but she had a good eye. Romania is, as it has always been, a country where the men have the power. Women usually exercise power through influencing men rather than directly. The exceptions to this rule are the multinational companies where women and men advance on merit but even in multinational companies, in Romania as in every country, political power struggles are as important as ability in advancing ones career.

The view among foreign businessmen is that Romanian women, as a  broad generalisation, make better employees, are harder working, more flexible and quicker to adapt to the new post-December mentality than their male contemporaries. In some sectors (the Big Four accountancy firms are an example) women greatly outnumber men and often advance further. Successful women have told me that even in these companies a glass ceiling exists preventing them reaching the top but the truth is that it is too early to tell. There are many examples of women who have reached the top of international firms in Romania. As the cohort of Romanian males recruited in the 1990s when the multinationals first set up shop makes way for a generation reared in the multinational environment the numbers of women at the top will increase. In Romanian companies it is otherwise and in politics women are often expected to perform a secondary and  decorative role. One reason amongst many for this is, I am told, that Romanian men do not like to accept bribes from women.

Successful career women will advance in this country, as in France or Italy, without sacrificing their femininity. On the other hand, in some sectors more than others, especially in advertising, journalism and television but also in banks and law firms, most of all in politics, flirtations and pragmatic office affairs are also for some a means of career development.  Sexual harassment is a fact of life in this country but like all swords it is a double-edged one. By no means are women only harassed, never harassing. There are one or two career women who have also been grandes horizontales, products of an upbringing in the 1980s when all survival required innumerable barter arrangements and in which bribery, a perennial feature of life in Romania, flourished as never before. It is essential to understand the importance in a very poor country with an ubiquitous secret police of spying, prostitution, bribery and blackmail. When the Romanian history of our days comes to be written (I have sometimes played with the idea of writing it myself) the wise historian will choose as his title, shall we say, ‘Romania in Transition : 1978 -2010’ (from the defection Ion Mihai Pacepa, Head of the Securitate, to the date of accession to the EU). The continuities between the 1980s and now are as interesting as the changes. Neither can be understood except in relation to the other.

The way in which the international sexual revolution percolated the Iron Curtain, even under Ceausescu’s sexually puritanical version of Marxism- Leninism, with abortion and contraception illegal, would also make an interesting theme for a Ph.D. thesis.  But it was only after 1989 that the revolution became public and it was a very different kind of sexual revolution from the one that took place in the West in the 60s and 70s. Women were now allowed openly to have as many love affairs as they chose before marriage but sexual relations  remained as they always had been power relations and power remained with men.

Whatever happens in the boardroom, at home Romanian women’s role is a traditional one although the difficulties of combining a twenty-first century career pattern with a 1930s domestic life are made easier because, as in the 1930s, servants are plentiful and cheap. Perhaps we should not sympathise too much with the travails of the successful professional woman. More deserving of sympathy are the able young women trying to find their first job. If they want to be journalists for example they may well be propositioned at every interview. Or let us sympathise with the young women who leave school at eighteen and take dead-end jobs on  starvation wages. Or the ones who prefer to exchange the poverty of Romania for the poverty that awaits them abroad amongst the hundreds of thousands of Romanians who struggle abroad to make ends meet in menial, often illegal, work, finding the means to survive and to send money home to their families. Their remittances are the main source of direct foreign investment in Romania in the Age of Transition.




My age is just starting to sink in - as is my face.



Two things that make me feel young: Jerry Brown is Governor of California and Nana Mouskouri, my father's favourite, sang in Bucharest at the weekend looking from the posters unchanged.




Here are some thoughts on middle age.





50 years: here's a time when you have to separate yourself from what other people expect of you, and do what you love. Because if you find yourself 50 years old and you aren't doing what you love, then what's the point? ~ Jim Carrey


“Except ye become as little children, except you can wake on your fiftieth birthday with the same forward-looking excitement and interest in life that you enjoyed when you were five, "ye cannot enter the kingdom of God." One must not only die daily, but every day we must be born again.” ~ Dorothy L. Sayers

I have enjoyed greatly the second blooming... suddenly you find - at the age of 50, say - that a whole new life has opened before you. ~ Agatha Christie


When I was as you are now, towering in the confidence of twenty-one, little did I suspect that I should be at forty-nine, what I now am.
Samuel Johnson


By the time we are 50, we are definitely in the suburbs of mortality.


Alain de Botton.


The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits. ~ Hervey Allen

Getting older only matters if you don't feel good in yourself.
Matthew Bourne, choreographer, born 13 January 1960


Life begins at 40 -- but so do fallen arches, rheumatism, faulty eyesight, and the tendency to tell a story to the same person, three or four times.
~ William Feather

Men who have reached and passed forty-five, have a look as if waiting for the secret of the other world, and as if they were perfectly sure of having found out the secret of this.
~ Benjamin Haydon

She was a handsome woman of forty-five and would remain so for many years.
~ Anita Brookner

At 46 one must be a miser; only have time for essentials.
~ Virginia Woolf

Be wise with speed; a fool at forty is a fool indeed.
~ Edward Young


Forty is the old age of youth, fifty is the youth of old age.
~ Victor Hugo


I'm aiming by the time I'm fifty to stop being an adolescent.
~ Wendy Cope


Every man who has lived for fifty years has buried a whole world or even two; he has grown used to its disappearance and accustomed to the new scenery of another act: but suddenly the names and faces of a time long dead appear more and more often on his way, calling up series of shades and pictures kept somewhere, "just in case," in the endless catacombs of the memory, making him smile or sigh, and sometimes almost weep.
~ Alexander Herzen

Nobody expects to trust his body overmuch after the age of fifty.
~ Edward Hoagland

Nature gives you the face you have at twenty, but it's up to you to merit the face you have at fifty.
~ Coco Chanel

You take all the experience and judgement of men over fifty out of the world and there wouldn't be enough left to run it.
~ Henry Ford

Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long life. 

~ Daniel Francois Esprit Auber

By the time we hit fifty, we have learned our hardest lessons. We have found out that only a few things are really important. We have learned to take life seriously, but never ourselves. 

~ Marie Dressler 

The great thing about getting older is that you don't lose all the other ages you've been.
- Madeleine L'Engle


I'm aiming by the time I'm fifty to stop being an adolescent. 

~ Wendy Cope

At forty innocence is stupidity. 
- Someone writing about Guy Crouchback in Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy

Life begins at fifty. Everything before is just a preparation. 
- Someone somewhere on the internet

'What if the Lost Decade is not what we are going into but coming out of?'

Great quote from Howard Jacobson in The Independent with which I think history may agree:


 'What if the Lost Decade is not what we are going in to but coming out of – the Bankers' Age, the decade of footling technology, globalised junk, celebrity, stuffing our faces, a Lost Decade of human incuriosity in which we haven't cared "how people walk" or what their eyes and hands look like, in which art has been the lackey of advertising and imagination has declined into mere fantasy? I don't minimise material hardship, but we don't have to be supine before the system. The world is interesting beyond money; there is infinitely more to us than is dreamt of in the materialists' philosophy.'

Very well then, alone!

‎"From the concept of habeas corpus to the BBC, to Elizabethan poetry to John Le Carre, from rock to the invention of the Sixties, from London springtime concerts to Wimbledon, via Liverpool FC. So many things do we hold dear from across the Channel... But Germany, France and the majority of the other EU member states were right, at daybreak on Friday 9 December, to say No to London." (Le Monde). The 1960s was not one of our better ideas. Using the veto on Friday was.