Sunday, 20 August 2017


"The consent of peoples and nations keeps me in the Church; so does her authority, inaugurated by miracles, nourished by hope, enlarged by love, established by age. The succession of priests keeps me, beginning from the very seat of the Apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after His resurrection, gave it in charge to feed His sheep, down to the present episcopate. And so, lastly, does the name itself of Catholic, which, not without reason, amid so many heresies, the Church has thus retained; so that, though all heretics wish to be called Catholics, yet when a stranger asks where the Catholic Church meets, no heretic will venture to point to his own chapel or house."  
St Augustine


"To be deep in history, is to cease to be Protestant." John Henry, Cardinal Newman.



"Do remember that dishonesty and cowardice always have to be paid for. Don’t imagine that for years on end you can make yourself the boot-licking propagandist of the Soviet regime, or any other regime, and then suddenly turn to mental decency. Once a whore, always a whore."
Orwell, "As I Please", Tribune, September 1944

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Albert Einstein

Monday, 14 August 2017

Death in Charlottesville

A killing took place in Charlottesville and a man has been charged with murder. This case is sub judice. A lot of scuffles and violent incidents took place for which left wing protesters may be to blame. Again sub judice. Yet the bias against President Trump,  from the BBC and Jon Sopel etc., because he condemned extremism and violence without singling out the far right, beggars belief. 

I have absolutely no time whatsoever for Sir Oswald Mosley, but, according to Lord Skidelsky's biography, most of the violence in the Battle of Cable St was committed by communists, not fascists. I remember saying that to a man at my college, who gave me a look of absolute hatred.

The Scilly Isles are heaven and it is always 1952



The Scilly Isles, even more than the rest of Cornwall, is an Enid Blyton book come to life. The couple I chatted to on the boat had bought the whole Famous Five series for their daughter. (Aren't there at least thirty books?) They told me St Michael's Mount is the original of Smugglers' Island. Another young father was reliving his childhood holidays with his children.

It's 1952 England here with Mr Churchill back and the socialists out. It feels virginal. I am tucking once more into a Cornish cream tea, i.e. scones, jam and cream, though I forbore to ask for lashings of ginger pop.

The Star Castle Hotel where I am staying is wonderful. A Jacobean castle and pure Enid Blyton.

There are a very small number of immigrants, who are white and East European. In a Blyton story foreign accents usually signalled smugglers or gunrunners, but times have changed and now they mean agreeable waitresses.

As I was going to St Ives


I went to St Ives for the Tate Gallery and the Hepworth sculpture garden. The first had a wonderful restaurant, wonderful views of the sea and two uninteresting exhibitions. The Hepworths were forgettable too. But the town itself is a wonderful work of art and nature.

I used to like abstract sculpture or persuaded myself I did (Henry Moore and others), but the mediaeval church tower is so much more beautiful than anything by Dame Barbara Hepworth. 


I wonder what the Queen thinks of the people she knights. 


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St. Ives is heaven.


I once more failed to resist a scone, cream and jam.


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Monday, 31 July 2017

The House of the People, Bucharest

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This wonderful picture of the House of the People, Bucharest, is by Octavian Draga.


The House of the People in Bucharest is the largest building in Europe and the second biggest building in the world (after the Pentagon) measured by floor space. It was built by Ceausescu but he never addressed the crowds from the balcony. Only two men have done that: Ion Iliescu, who had him shot, and Michael Jackson. 

Five marvellous quotations

Stefan Molyneux
✔@StefanMolyneux

Wow, the movie 'Dunkirk' is a powerful depiction of the horrible suffering British men had to go through to keep foreigners out of England.

Growing older means being exiled

As one grows older all of us live in a foreign country. Living in a real foreign country makes that much easier. 

We all feel as if we don't belong where we live because this is the human condition, but who wants to belong anyway?


Though in fact, at some level, we all want to belong. That is also the human condition. Except for the mad. They don't care.

Viktor Orban: "Over the next few decades will Europe remain the continent of the Europeans?"

"In Central Europe we believed that Europe was our future; today we feel that we are the future of Europe...
"However much of a taboo one is breaking by saying it, there is no cultural identity in a population without a stable ethnic composition. The alteration of a country’s ethnic makeup amounts to an alteration of its cultural identity. A
strong country can never afford to do something like that – unless some global catastrophe forces it to do so...."

Sunday, 30 July 2017

"Religion in Romania means something completely different from what it means in Catholic or Protestant countries"

"Religion in Romania means something completely different from what it means in Catholic or Protestant countries" (Eugene Ionesco).

"In the Orthodox country, the state, the church, and the nation form a collective entity that has a will superior to the individual. This sense of collectivity, reinforced by Orthodoxy, was the main impulse of the Iron Guard. The Orthodox Christian, unlike the Catholic or Protestant, does not

Belloc quotations

“The Barbarian hopes — and that is the mark of him, that he can have his cake and eat it too. He will consume what civilization has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort, but he will not be at pains to replace such goods, nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is ever marvelling that civilization, should have offended him with priests and soldiers.... In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this, that he cannot make: that he can befog and destroy but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilization exactly that has been true.

We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him in the long stretches of peace, we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creed refreshes us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond, and on these faces there are no smiles.”

Six quotations

Write as the wind blows and command all words like an army!

Belloc

We think that we are born today tabula rasa without a history, but man has always lived in the myth. To think that man is born without a history within himself — that is a disease. It is absolutely abnormal, because man is not bom every day. He is born into a specific historical setting with specific historical qualities, and therefore, he is only complete when he has a relation to these things. If you are growing up with no connection

Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese

In every alliance there is a horse and there is a rider.

Bismarck, quoted in Nagy Talavera, The Green Shirts and the Others



Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

G.K. Chesterton

Friday, 28 July 2017

Desert islands

G.K. Chesterton was asked what one book he'd choose to have with him if stranded on a desert island. He chose "Thomas's Guide to Practical Shipbuilding." 

Is Trebizond the most beautiful place name of all?



Talking about places that should be visited simply for the beauty of their names, Trebizond now comes to mind. I remember using the word to an Englishman in Constantinople who said it sounded better in my mouth than Trabzon. We had only an hour earlier but he had me down as a Victorian.

That evening is memorable for a last look inside one of my favourite hotels, the Pera

Monday, 24 July 2017

Quotations


'He who cannot obey himself will be commanded. Such is the nature of living things.' Nietzsche

'Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either egotism, selfishness, evil - or else an absolute ignorance.' Graham Greene

[Are selfish people happy? I'd have thought not. Are evil people happy? They usually don't seem happy or unhappy. I think psychopaths have very shallow emotions. They can be gleeful and obtain physical satisfaction.]

Sunday, 23 July 2017

"40,000 civilians died in Mosul"

40,000 civilians died in Mosul, either bombed or killed in house to house fighting, according to a Kurdish commander quoted by Patrick Cockburn. Note the difference between press accounts of the fall of Mosul and East Aleppo.

There’s been no emergency debate in the House of Commons and the Eiffel Tower hasn’t

Dog days in Bucharest

90º Fahrenheit and an extreme weather warning. The town is empty and the very houses seem asleep.


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The power of names

His Eye might there command wherever stood
City of old or modern Fame, the Seat
Of mightiest Empire, from the destind Walls
Of Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can
And Samarchand by Oxus, Temir's Throne,
To Paquin of Sinæan Kings, and thence
To Agra and Lahor of great Mogul
Down to the golden Chersonese...
And so on and on and on. Paradise Lost, Book 10
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree. Coleridge
Some places should be visited because of the beauty of their names. So says Marzena Pogorzaly, who herself has a very beautiful name, and gave as an example Odessa.

Children and travellers see the world

"We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory."
Louise Glück


THIS is the reason why we like to go abroad on holiday or, if we are lucky, to live abroad: to have a veil lifted and to recapture the child's divine vision.


"We travel abroad to explore our unconscious mind."
Mircea Eliade

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Trump ends covert CIA program to arm Syrian rebels

President Trump has decided to end the CIA's covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the Syrian government.

About time. There was never any American interest in overthrowing the cruel Assad regime and replacing it with what?

"Embrace the discomfort of transformation"

In a depressing article today entitled 'Diversity and Disintegration', the always interesting Mark Steyn makes a good point.
In a developed world where the low-skilled service jobs are automating, there is no economic rationale for mass immigration. That leaves only the cultural consequences.

Austria Hungary, an EU before the EU

'It is sometimes said that the Austrian Empire was a "natural unit;" this catch phrase only means that it was large and had existed for a long time. Many economic ties had grown up with the centuries; these were certainly not "natural." There was no geographic unity. ...... As for the Bukovyna, it was cut off from everywhere, a meaningless fragment of territory for which there could be no rational explanation.' (A.J.P. Taylor)
I love those lethargic places cut off from time, space and economics by borders. The Northern Bucovina, separated from its southern hinterland, which was in Austria and is now in Romania. The noble former Ottoman capital Adrianople (Edirne), a couple of miles from the very slow Greek and Bulgarian border crossings. The whole of Eastern Europe was such a place, until 1989. 

Even Transnistria, cut off from Moldova, Ukraine, Russia and its real home the USSR, has a boring charm. 

Catholic priest prosecuted for saying homosexuality is a sin


Hate speech laws are a way of silencing opinion. As measures are taken to prevent Islamists using the net for their purposes, this will become more and more the case.

In Barcelona a priest has been unsuccessfully prosecuted for saying 
"Homosexuality is a sin against nature". He was prosecuted for enunciating Catholic doctrine, in (formerly?) Catholic Spain.

La Muse Endormie sold for $57 million

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The item which Christie's sold for the highest price in the first half of this year was this wonderful bronze cast, La Muse Endormie (1913) by Constantin Brâncuși. The Romanian was perhaps the greatest sculptor of the last century. It was sold in New York for $57.4m (£44.1m), a record for Brâncuși.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Quotations

We never love anyone. Not really. We only love our idea of another person. It is some conception of our own that we love. We love ourselves, in fact.
William Boyd

Were EU laws to blame for the Grenfell fire?

The Grenfell tower block, which caught fire in a poor enclave in the richest borough in London, cost no-one knows how many lives. It has become a symbol of what is wrong with England, as terrible tragedies do. They become mythology.

The same thing happened with the murder of Jamie Bulger, a 2 year-old boy who was abducted, tortured and murdered by two ten-year-old boys in 1993. His murder had nothing to do with John Major, but seemed to symbolise the breakdown of society after fourteen years of Toryism and free market economics. I thought so too at the time.

What does Grenfell show us? Like the Rorschach test, in which subjects' perceptions of inkblots are recorded, it shows us what we want to see. The fire is reported to have been caused by a fridge freezer catching fire in the flat of an Ethiopian, who packed his baggage before leaving. This suggests to some that faulty fridge freezers are dangerous. Undoubtedly they are right. Other people in social media place the blame on Ethiopians.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Calibri may leave Pakistan sans Sharif

I had been following, out of the corner of my eye, the story of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. His government might fall because his daughter Maryam submitted documents to the Supreme Court dated before January 31, 2007 and typed in Calibri, a font which only became available on that date. This is interesting, but more memorably it is the occasion for possibly the best headline I ever saw.

Quotations


‘I started as a rebel against rebellion.’ Sir Roger Scruton

'Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.' Carl Gustav Jung

'To fall into a habit is to begin to cease to be.' Miguel de Unamuno

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Quotations about childhood


We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory. 

Louise Glück

For writers it is always said that the first twenty years contain the whole of experience - the rest is observation - but I think this is equally true of us all. 

Graham Greene

Saturday, 15 July 2017

The old order changeth?

When I started my first job in the House of Lords I picked up and lunched with pretty, nicely brought up Tory MPs' secretaries (Labour secretaries were rarely desirable) who said things like "I think people were much happier when they knew their place". Do young Tory girls still say things like this?

Michael Deacon sees that Theresa May is really, really not cut out to be PM

An incisive sketch by Michael Deacon in the Telegraph kills Theresa May with kindness.
"Those few words tell us such a lot. She said she didn’t watch the exit poll because “I have a bit of a superstition about things like that”, but come on. The reason she didn’t watch it, quite nakedly, is that she was frightened. Frightened of failure, of humiliation, of rejection.
He sees that she is too scared to read the press and this is why she gets her husband to do so for her.

"I've Worked with Refugees for Decades. Europe's Afghan Crime Wave Is Mind-Boggling"


I hadn't heard about problems caused by Afghan refugees in Europe until I read this interesting and very dismaying article in the very respectable American magazine 'National Interest' by Cheryl Benard, who has worked for many years in refugee programmes and says she found it very hard to write. She details a dismaying history of rapes and sexual assaults and tries to find explanations.

The following explanation is very worrying. It was 
offered by an experienced Afghan court translator in Austria whom she quotes. 

The myth of Britain’s decline

Robert Tombs, who supervised me at university, has written a timely piece on Brexit and declinism entitled
The myth of Britain’s decline
 with the encouraging sub-headline
Our glory days are not over – they’re in full swing
I quote him.
Who would deny that Britain is no longer the great power it once was? Well, speaking as a historian, I would. Declinism is at best a distortion of reality, and

Quotations

They may talk as they please about what they call pelf,
And how one ought never to think of one's self,
And how pleasures of thought surpass eating and drinking--
My pleasure of thought is the pleasure of thinking
How pleasant it is to have money, heigh ho!
How pleasant it is to have money.
A.H. Clough

Sublime wine, sublime pizza



This blog tries to be useful when it can. This is an example. I scarcely ever go to bars but my friend Claudia took me to perhaps my favourite, the lovely Bruno's, in the old town at Str. Covaci 3, where I once projected a birthday party, and introduced me to the most wonderful wine, Bauer Cabernet Sauvignon. Chalky perfection.

Buy a case, people.

In return I introduced her to the best pizza outside Naples - from that amazing shop on the corner of Lipscani and the boulevard. Do go there.

White marble and white supremacy



In a recent article, Professor Sarah Bond, of the University of Iowa, reminds us that classical statues were painted in lifelike colour (they must have resemble Madame Tussaud's) and argues that "the equation of white marble with beauty" contributes to "white supremacist ideas today". 


“The assemblage of neon whiteness serves to create a false idea of homogeneity — everyone was very white! — across the Mediterranean region - [provides] further ammunition for white supremacists today, including groups like Identity Europa, who use classical statuary as a symbol of white male superiority.”

This is not just another crazy America story but an example of a very important trend in current thinking. It's connected to the reasons why many clever Americans thought Donald Trump, by extolling the West in his Warsaw speech, was racist.

If you want to know what Bucharest is like, it's like this

This house I pass every day. The picture is by the talented American photographer and Bucharest resident Davin Ellicson.




My walk to work yesterday

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Is the French revolution responsible for most of the world's problems today?

'For the average person, all problems date to World War II; for the more informed, to World War I; for the genuine historian, to the French Revolution.' Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn
An academic called Dr Cliff Arnall has discovered that is the day when we English feel happiest each year. 

I love the balmy days of July in Bucharest, despite the merciless heat, but July 14th is Bastille Day and not a day on which a conservative can rejoice.

I have always been one of those who blames most of the world's problems on the 1914-18 War but I start to think Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn may be right. 

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Quotations


It is impossible to live pleasurably without living wisely, well, and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely, well, and justly without living pleasurably. Epicurus


The presence of oceans on much of the earth's surface makes it impossible for any state to achieve global hegemony. John Mearsheimer

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

'The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible'

'The cold biological truth is that sex changes are impossible.' Camille Paglia

'A sexy woman can have almost any man she wants. And a rich guy can have almost any woman he wants.' Oliver Markus

Posted on Facebook by the late Peter Risdon

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How much I wish he were here to comment on the fall of Mosul on Facebook, even though I am sure I would completely disagree with him - as I always did on the Middle East.

The language of the 21st century


"Globally, people now spend nearly four times as much time accessing the Internet from mobile devices as they do from desktops. 'Computers' are on their way to becoming an anachronism rarely seen outside of the office. I’d argue that even the way we think is increasingly mobile in nature: for better or worse, small visual bites have replaced big chunks of text as the language of the 21st century."
Ryan Holmes

5 quotations


"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge."
Daniel Boorstin

A man may be in as just possession of truth as of a city, and yet be forced to surrender.
Sir Thomas Browne

Monday, 10 July 2017

3 quotations


'Love is what makes growing up bearable.' Eve Pollard

'All tobacconists are fascists.' George Orwell 


[Enver Hoxha, who kept a tobacco kiosk in Tirana's main square as his cover, before becoming a bloodthirsty Communist tyrant, was the exception.]

'Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.'
Sylvia Plath

Mosul has fallen after a 9 month siege - no mention of war crimes


Mosul has been retaken from ISIS after three years and much hard fighting by Iraqi soldiers trained and helped by Anglo-American forces. Barack Obama hoped it would happen on his watch but it has taken much longer than he and others expected. The 9-month battle for Mosul fight lasted longer than the siege of Stalingrad and like Stalingrad involved street-to-street fighting and huge loss of life.

I wonder how many civilians were killed and what war crimes were committed in the taking of Mosul and the fall of Eastern Aleppo. The media do not know. They treated Syrian rebel propagandists as bona fide journalists, asked us to grieve when the

Sunday, 9 July 2017

The Glory is Departing from the Land

A lament for hunting from Anthony Trollope, a great hunter. It is unbelievable and heart-breaking that fox hunting is now illegal in England.

"I can't understand," said Glomax, "how any man can be considered a good fellow as a country gentleman who does not care for sport. Just look at it all round. Suppose others were like him what would become of us all?"

Wunderkind violinist

I had the luck to hear Alexandru Tomescu play the violin in Turda, at the Ratiu100 weekend to mark the hundredth anniversary of Ion Ratiu's birth this summer, thanks to Indrei Ratiu. 

Here Tomescu plays Ciprian Porumbescu's wonderful ballad, on a Stradivarius.

Peter Risdon has died

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Peter Risdon tweeted that a few days ago and now he is dead. 

He was a brilliant, clear-minded and deep thinker. He was one of my closest Facebook friends, someone who made Facebook worthwhile despite all the idiots and bores. I am so glad I finally met him in real life in March in Ely. 

Peter broke the opticians' monopoly in the 1980s. Later he was mixed up with Darius Guppy and Peter recorded Guppy's conversation with his school friend Boris Johnson.

7 quotations


Cecily: ''When I see a spade, I call it a spade".
Gwendolyn: "I am glad to say that I have never seen a spade. It is obvious that our social spheres have been widely different."
The Importance of Being Earnest


No man is forgotten when it is convenient to remember him.
Disraeli

The 10 Worst Prime Ministers We Never Had

John Rentoul makes an enjoyable article out of a thread on Twitter, which discussed the worst Prime Ministers that England never had and was lucky to escape. Contrarian though I am, I think I agree with all ten, with the possible exception of Lord Halifax, who would have probed the possibility of peace with Hitler in 1940.

The lesson to be drawn from the list of outstanding names, that include Fox, Curzon and a gaggle of  more recent men (and one woman, poor Mrs. Leadsom), is that statesmen who

Saturday, 8 July 2017

EP President: Europe faces "an exodus of biblical proportions"

"Europe is "underestimating" the scale and severity of the migration crisis and "millions of Africans" will flood the continent in the next five years unless urgent action is taken, Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, has said in an interview with Il Messagero newspaper. He predicts
"an exodus of biblical proportions that would be impossible to stop if we don't confront the problem now. ... The only solution is massive investment in Africa to dissuade people from leaving in the first place."

He is right about the problem but the solution he proposes is irrelevant. Making Africa

The future belongs to those who show up for it

Here is a graph that you should look at.

No automatic alt text available.
By the way, education of women is what reduces birth rates, rather than welfare states, prosperity, secularism or even feminism. This is why the countries of Eastern Europe, which have exiguous welfare provision, are dying, as is Iran. In Iran more women go to university than men, though they do not go out to work. (They often go to university to find husbands.)

Fertility rates fell in Eastern Europe in the late 19th century almost as quickly as in Western Europe even though economic development and standards of living lagged by decades.

Trump: Does the West have the will to survive? Answer: This question is racist.



Reading liberal journalists fulminating about Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw in defence of Western civilisation makes it clear how important it was and that, for all his grave faults, he has the makings of a good, even very good, President. 


If he continues to listen to Steve Bannon rather than Ivanka or the Republican establishment.

Peter Beinart, writing in The Atlantic, was very cross indeed. He asserted:

The West is a racial and religious term. To be considered Western, a country must be largely Christian (preferably Protestant or Catholic) and largely white.
Trump’s speech, he thinks, was racist, because some Europeans are Muslim, and the term West excludes countries like India and Japan.

Friday, 7 July 2017

The 21st century looks frightening



Identity politics will lead to major wars in the 21st century.
(In a sense, the struggle with Islamism is itself an instance of this.)
Jeffrey Ketland


Now for the bad news: There won't be a Poland in 100 years. At a total fertility rate of 1.29, Poland will have one retiree per working-age citizen by 2075. Poland in fact has one of the world's very lowest fertility rates, which means (in Mary Eberstadt's way of looking at the problem) that it is losing its religion. President Trump's speech was magnificent, but it brings to mind Schiller's dictum that history brought forth a great moment, but the moment encountered a mediocre people. Trump is doing the right thing, but we should remember that Europe is a case not for cure but for palliative care.
David Goldman

Trump talks about a clash of civilisations, not a threat to universal values



Trump's speech yesterday at Warsaw was a very good one, though I have mentioned that I disliked him seeing the Assad regime and Iran as hostile.


George W. Bush went to lengths to insist the West was not in conflict with Islam. He declared war instead on an abstract noun, terrorism, even though you can't win a war with an abstract noun. Barack Obama said the terrorist murders in Paris, several massacres ago, were "an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share", even though values are not really universal.


Donald Trump yesterday at Warsaw declared that Western culture, not universal values, are under assault in Europe and the U.S. This is an important step forward.


But what will he do to defend the West?


At any rate, for the time being, he is listening to Steve Bannon rather than H.R. McMaster or Ivanka. This is good.


The reasons for the Qatar crisis: Qatar is independent, friendly to Iran, prefers Al-Nusra to ISIS



The Saudi Arabian monarchy appears to be the biggest enemy of Western civilisation, in a very crowded field. Robert Fisk in the Independent today argues that one reason for the crisis between Qatar and the Saudis is that Qatar was involving itself in the Syrian war and is well disposed towards Al-Nusra/Al Qaeda, while the Saudis prefer ISIS. Qatar is also making arrangements with Iran, the arch-enemy of the Saudis and their de facto ally, Israel.


Fisk says:

52 people were murdered in London 12 years ago today

Br7jXLfCMAIKC8N.jpg large

Ten years ago today 52 people in London were murdered by British subjects who want to restore the caliphate and thought this would advance their cause. These deaths did not lead to a public discussion about changing immigration policy.

The massacres led me discover, to my absolute amazement, the huge numbers of Third World and developed world immigrants who had entered the UK since Labour came to power in 1997. This led me, over the next many years, to rethink my ideas about politics and history. It turned out that the nice people had been wrong all along and the unpleasant ones right.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Quotations



I am assuming that, should Remain triumph, there will be complaints from those who voted for it, within about six months along the lines of "that's not what I voted for". Let me enlighten you: if you vote Remain you vote for whatever the EU decides to throw at you and whatever happens in the EU next. No complaints, please.

Helen Szamuely said this a year ago and died several months ago. R.I.P. The recent past is a foreign country.


"Formerly no one was allowed to think freely; now it is permitted, but no one is capable of it any more. Now people want to think only what they are supposed to think, and this they consider freedom." Oswald Spengler

Donald Trump's speech in Warsaw today

Everyone is saying Donald Trump made a great speech in Warsaw. How upset the BBC will be. I saw a bit of it. I didn't like him criticising Russia for "its support for hostile regimes including Syria and Iran". Syria is not hostile to the USA. The Saudis and the Sunni Gulf states are a bigger danger to the West than Iran. He said statism and terrorism are the two big threats to Western civilisation. They are big threats but he could have mentioned others, like the threat posed by migrants and refugees from the Third World.


I don't think he mentioned Poland's refusal to take migrants but he did say this, which I like. 
“Americans, Poles, and the nations of Europe value individual freedom and sovereignty. We must work together to counter forces, whether they come from inside or out, from the south or the east, that threaten over time to undermine these values and to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are.”
I wish Mr Trump had said more on these lines. Perhaps something like what Bill Gates, a liberal and the world's greatest philanthropist, said on Sunday in an interview in a German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag about Angela Merkel’s migrants policy. He said:
“On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees, but the more generous you are, the more word gets around about this — which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Odi et amo: hatred and love for the 1970s


Today a friend on Facebook posted one of the original pop videos of the unlovable, but annoyingly catchy, “Paloma Blanca” song. Play it for a few seconds and you will recognise it but be warned that it may stay in your head for several days.


How could anyone who grew up in the 1970s not hate modernity, you might ask. But most adolescents (in every era a very conformist cohort) thoroughly embraced the spirit of the age. I looked on aghast.




Monday, 3 July 2017

After 104º Farenheit (or was it 107º?) the rain is very welcome

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Bulevardul Victoriei Socialismului. The North Korean quarter of Bucharest that I rarely visit, though it's a couple of hundred yards from my flat.


Sunday, 2 July 2017

More quotations from Lord Salisbury


                                                      
The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.

Letter to Lord Lytton (25 May 1877), quoted in Cecil, The Life of Robert, Marquis of Salisbury. Volume II, p. 145

...the splitting up of mankind into a multitude of infinitesimal governments, in accordance with their actual differences of dialect or their presumed differences of race, would be to undo the work of civilisation and renounce all the benefits which the slow and painful process of consolidation has procured for mankind...It is the agglomeration and not the comminution of states to which civilisation is constantly tending; it is the fusion and not the isolation of races by which the physical and moral excellence of the species is advanced. There are races, as there are trees, which cannot stand erect by themselves, and which, if their growth is not hindered by artificial constraints, are all the healthier for twining round some robuster stem.

Bentley's Quarterly Review, 1, (1859), p. 22

Wherever democracy has prevailed, the power of the State has been used in some form or other to plunder the well-to-do classes for the benefit of the poor.

Quarterly Review, 110, 1861, p. 281

The present is a foreign country

When I go to the Daily Telegraph website, without wanting to, I keep getting a podcast start playing in which a fat woman from the Telegraph interviews Prince Harry and begins by saying 
'Can I call you Harry - or Hezza?' 
I realised when I heard it the first time that the present is becoming a foreign country.

Or rather present day England is.

Britain looks outward

From the Washington Post a year ago:
Britain isn’t having a Trump moment, turning in on itself in a fit of protectionist and nativist pique. Rather, the vote for Brexit was about liberty and free trade—and about trying to manage globalization better than the EU has been doing from Brussels.
The Brexit campaign started as a cry for liberty, perhaps articulated most clearly by Michael Gove, the British justice secretary (and, on this issue, the most prominent dissenter in Mr. Cameron’s cabinet). Mr. Gove offered practical examples of the problems of EU membership. As a minister, he said, he deals constantly with edicts and regulations framed at the European level—rules that he doesn’t want and can’t change. These were rules that no one in Britain asked for, rules promulgated by officials whose names Brits don’t know, people whom they never elected and cannot remove from office. Yet they become the law of the land. Much of what we think of as British democracy, Mr. Gove argued, is now no such thing.

Scottish independence now looks very unlikely and will be more so after Brexit


A British Remainer friend (let's call him Tony), at dinner a year ago just before the referendum, made various arguments for staying in the EU, such as that all reputable economists think we should stay (not true) and that no former party leaders wanted us to leave. I mentioned Michael Howard, Ian Duncan Smith, David Owen and Margaret Thatcher. 
I also mentioned Nigel Lawson and Norman Lamont.

Then he said he thought nationals of other EU countries who live in the UK should have had a vote in the referendum.

This was like the thirteenth stroke of the clock, that not only was unconvincing in itself but cast doubt on the other twelve. I don't think he gets the idea of nationhood.

He had dinner with me again last night. One year on and he is now cock-a-hoop. He hopes Brexit will happen in name only. He becomes possessed with rage about Brexit and thinks it will lead to Scotland seceding. 


Before the referendum I too feared that Brexit threatened the Union that matters, the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This was much the strongest argument that I could see for voting Remain. I see now that, in fact, Brexit makes Scot secession less likely. 

Syria seems safe enough for refugees to return

Whatever you think of Geert Wilders, this tweet hits the nail on the head.
Syrians return home in large numbers. So it's safe enough. Let's revoke their refugee/asylum permits here and send them home immediately.

CEC and National History Museum, Bucharest, seen from the Bancorex (BCR) Tower

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Letter in today's Daily Telegraph

SIR – I am fed up with commentators and politicians lazily trotting out the line “people didn’t vote to be poorer” to justify any proposed violation of Brexit. In fact, the people did just that. 

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Quotations from Lord Salisbury

[For Salisbury's thoughts on Romania, click here.]

No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe. They all require their strong wine diluted by a very large admixture of insipid common sense.

Letter to Lord Lytton (15 June 1877)

After all, the great characteristic of this country is that it is a free country, and by a free country I mean a country where people are allowed, so long as they do not hurt their neighbours, to do as they like. I do not mean a country where six men may make five men do exactly as they like. That is not my notion of freedom.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Americans are genteel

1 Samuel 24:3

King James Bible: Saul went in to cover his feet.

New International Version: Saul went in to relieve himself.

The Living Bible (1971): Saul went into the cave to go to the bathroom.


So reads the original, American version of the Living Bible. The British version has "to relieve himself".

Quotations


"The new mainly left wing habit of lying while calling other people's normal political language lies is the most dangerous development in politics at the moment.It's a genuinely Orwellian attempt to gain control of 'truth' for political purposes. Nothing, not newfound Russian nuclear superiority, not Chinese military expansion, nothing threatens liberal democracy as seriously." Peter Risdon

"A Parliament is nothing less than a big meeting of more or less idle people." Walter Bagehot. (This is exactly what the British parliament should be, but no longer is. Hence the decline in the importance of and respect for Parliament.)

Leadership



Sir Andrew Barnard said of Wellington at Waterloo,

"We had a notion that while he was there nothing could go wrong."
This is the effect good leaders have on their men. In fact things always go wrong. So much went wrong at Waterloo that the Duke's own manuscript of his account of the battle was stained with his tears. 

When a leader no longer inspires this confidence, but makes his followers think that with him in charge almost everything might easily go wrong, he must go. This since the election is the case with Theresa May. It was the case with John Major, George W. Bush and François Hollande, but is not the case with Donald Trump or even with Angela Merkel.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

'Give me ten picked men and a year and I could solve your Northern Irish problem'.

Talking about the Falklands War (as I was two posts down), at university I met the captain of the RN ship that brought back the Argentinian Commander Astiz under arrest for war crimes to England. The two men dined together every night. Astiz said: 'Give me ten picked men and a year and I could solve your Northern Irish problem'.

Possibly he could have done. Very possibly.

Britain the “laughing stock of Europe”



Der Bund, a German-language newspaper published in Berne, has called Britain the “laughing stock of Europe” in a trenchant editorial.

British society is now more divided than at any time since the English civil war in the 17th century, a fact that was demonstrated anew in the general election, in which a good 80% of the votes were cast for the two largest parties. Neither of these parties was offering a centrist programme: the election was a choice between the hard right and the hard left. The political centre has been abandoned, and that is never a good sign. In a country like Great Britain, that for so long had a reputation for pragmatism and rationality, it is grounds for real concern. The situation is getting decidedly out of hand.

Tears, idle tears



Enoch Powell said the Falklands War would show what mettle the Iron Lady was made of and so it did (even though her government's mistakes were the reason why Galtieri and the junta invaded the islands in the first place).


I think we all feel for Theresa May but we all see that she does not have the strength to be Prime Minister in difficult times. Especially since her two maleficent advisers were defenestrated.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Death in Finsbury Park - is this a turning point?



In the early hours of this morning a van ploughed into Muslims near a mosque in London, killing one. The driver, a white man, is said to have screamed: 

"I'm going to kill all Muslims."
Is this the start of something in England resembling the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which led to more than three thousand deaths?

It also led after thirty years to the British Government making very far-reaching concessions to the terrorists in order to buy peace, although as John Major reminded us last week the peace is not very secure.


London's Muslim Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said last year that the threat of terror attacks are “part and parcel of living in a big city,” something for which Donald Trump recently criticised him. Unfortunately Mr. Khan is right.


Sunday, 18 June 2017

David Davis may soon be British Prime Minister


I have come to think that David Davis will be the new British Prime Minister, and tonight I see the Daily Telegraph says that many Conservative MPs in Boris Johnson's camp now think so too. Theresa May must go and I think he is the only option. 


On the other hand, if Theresa May goes it will be because she failed to be win enough seats at the election. This will put her successor, who won't have led his party into an election, in a very odd position.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Quotations

Bror Duktig‏ @nijinskyforever
Lefties want "Day of Rage" "Shut down London" "Bring down the Government" But when little girls are blown to pieces - it's love and flowers



How could people feel any affection for a system that created the gulag? Alexievich says this ignores the unique atmosphere of the late Soviet period, a time of equality, deep friendships and love of literature. “Despite the poverty, life was freer,” she says. “Friends

Helmut Schmidt, Vladimir Putin, detente and realpolitik

Interesting! According to Edward Lucas's Economist obituary of Helmut Schmidt, who died eighteen months ago, Schmidt thought Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine was a justified response to Western meddling.

Man gaoled for sharing photo of dead fire victim on Facebook


A man who lives yards from the Grenfell building has been gaoled for three months for posting on Facebook a picture of a dead body that he saw in a body bag outside his flat.

The obscenity laws were originally enacted to stop Napoleonic soldiers displaying their wounds to passers by while begging for money. Obscenity should be a crime but this seems an outrageous verdict. It seems an emotional judgment and shows how little those who rule England care about freedom of speech.

Rage and sanctimony in the papers

"Glancing at this morning’s newspapers, I see that the Guardian blames inequality, the Mail blames eco-regulations, the Express blames EU rules and the Mirror blames the Tories. Simon Jenkins, that champion of harmonious and well-proportioned architecture, blames tower-blocks. Owen Jones, my favourite radical, blames racketeering landlords. For all I know, one or more of these villains may indeed be at fault; but, for now, it is mainly guesswork."
Daniel Hannan

"Rage and sanctimony always spread like a virus, and become stronger with each iteration." Peggy Noonan talking about Donald Trump's critics.

"Brexit did indeed unleash hate — but the hate it unleashed was not that of the British for foreigners but rather of the liberals for the masses."
Julie Burchill



Friday, 16 June 2017

The Grenfell fire

The story of the Grenfell Tower fire very deeply shocked me, in a way these things rarely do. September 11th was far away in a foreign country but this is my country. For a moment I thought that it was hubristic always to search for someone to blame when disasters happen but I very quickly saw that the management company and council had been very negligent.

Attempts to blame Boris Johnson or the Tories for this are unfair and in very bad taste but then life and politics are unfair and in very bad taste.

Theresa May has just been chased out of a church housing survivors from the Grenfell Tower fire. Did this happen before to a British Prime Minister? It is clear that this is being arranged by the Corbynistas and the far left.

Still she probably must go quickly. She is jinxed. The fact that she didn't visit the survivors straight away is telling, even though it only means she is shy and frightened of the public.

Shy politicians are unusual but there are some. It's one of several things Mrs May has in common with Mrs Clinton. Shyness is fine in a leader but being frightened is not.


Meanwhile, John McDonnell, shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, Trotskyite, admirer of the IRA bombers and advocate of 'direct action' (meaning insurrection against an elected government) is calling for riots. He thinks he's Lenin and there are many resemblances.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The revolution turned out, when it came, to be Islamist


"Socialism is precisely the religion that must overwhelm Christianity. … In the new order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches and the media by transforming the consciousness of society." Antonio Gramsci

The revolution that Marxists expected for so long has turned out, when it came, to be Islamist. 


What Marxism and Islamism have in common, of course, is nihilism.

Just as God sublimely says 'I am Who am', meaning He is life itself, evil is essentially destruction. Evil is a very real thing but wholly negative, death not life. 

We all now know that Theresa May is not up to the job

It got to the point with John Major, I remember, that it seemed like Will Hay was Prime Minister. It's clear to everyone, Brexiters included, that Theresa May is less competent by quite a long way.

"Never glad confident morning again!" Robert Browning's words were famously quoted by Nigel Birch to describe Harold Macmillan's position after the Profumo scandal. 
Macmillan had been not a great but a formidable Prime Minister. In Theresa May’s case, of course, it isn't even late afternoon for her.It's already late in the evening.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Tim Farron cannot reconcile Christian faith with being Lib Dem leader


"To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me."

Is 'Tim' Farron admitting he lied when he finally said, after avoiding an answer for weeks, that he approved of abortion and sodomy? 


Where were the Liberals who leapt to defend Farron's right to hold his religious opinions and to talk about the Gladstonian tradition?