Wednesday, 13 December 2017

“The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.”



“The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.”

An unnamed “SDS radical” quoted by David Horowitz - I wonder which radical if any said this. I remember hearing this expression back in my 1970s childhood. 


This brings to mind the recent emergence of transgender rights as a political issue.

It is interesting to be reminded of the revolutionary fervour of the 1960s, which later transmogrified into the identity politics of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both disciples of Saul Alinsky. Alinsky's book “Rules for Radicals” was originally entitled “Rules for Revolution”.

Calling the gendarmes slaves is against the law



Last month a Romanian, posting on Facebook, called the gendarmes guarding the National Anticorruption Department (DNA) "slaves", reports News.ro. He has been ordered to pay a fine of RON 900 (about EUR 195) for offensive language.

Calling the gendarmes slaves is against the law.

Eastern Europe is starting to become as authoritarian as Western Europe: in the 1980s I could not have imagined writing this sentence.


Things are even worse in England where a demonstrator was fine for calling his MP a coward. that only made the local paper.

Freedom is a concept that people increasingly no longer even understand.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Guernica

When Colin Powell stood outside the Security Council meeting room to discuss the forthcoming invasion of Iraq a curtain was tactfully or disgracefully drawn to hide the tapestry version of Picasso's Guernica.

Decline and fall



I decided that Rome the eternal city is the ideal place to celebrate a birthday and my recent one was a very good one. Lunch and dinner with clever like minded people. Wonderful food and drink, churches and paintings, even the Tridentine Mass. Italy is an economic disaster due to the euro, but Italy is the last civilised country in Western Europe. And Rome is good for introspection which is the point of travel and birthdays.

But Rome becomes more touristy each time I visit. The small family owned shops and restaurants are still plentiful but the souvenir shops grow more. Rome's future is Venice. It is already half a museum and this is the future of Europe.

Rome was taken and sacked by a series of infidels including Arabs long ago, but remains

Sunday, 26 November 2017

How the brown bear became public enemy number one in rural Romania



A year ago the technocrat environmental minister, Cristiana Pașca Palmer, brought in a law to make hunting bears illegal in Romania. She said that under European law “hunting for money was already illegal”, which seems to me undemocratic - why should countries not decide for themselves? 
The idea that hunting was acting to protect citizens from bears was, she claimed, just a cover for money making. 

Foreign conservationists across the world applauded. Romanians who lived in the countryside did not. A lot of Romanians have been killed or maimed by bears.

As a result a movement have sprung up, centring on the Szecklerland, the ethnic Hungarian region in the Carpathians, to make killing bears legal again. This article in the Guardian has the story (seen from the NGO, not the peasant, point of view).

In the 12 months since the ban, a movement calling for the widespread culling of bears has grown and gathered momentum, tipping the bear question over

Quotations

Friendship, “the wine of life,” should, like a well-stocked cellar, be continually renewed; and it is consolatory to think, that although we can seldom add what will equal the generous first growths of our youth, yet friendship becomes insensibly old in much less time than is commonly imagined, and not many years are required to make it mellow and pleasant.
James Boswell's Life of Johnson
When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness.

Friday, 24 November 2017

Starving children in Eastern Ghouta



The Guardian has a harrowing story today about suffering in the siege of Eastern Ghouta in Syria.


The region suffered in the deadly 2013 sarin gas attack that nearly provoked a US intervention in the war, an intervention that might have led to the end, in the long run, of Assad. Ed Miliband's decision to oppose British intervention led to it being defeated in the House of Commons, which led Mr Obama to back down. Things have grown steadily worse since then. Siege Watch, a project that tracks blockades in Syria, has said the area is “on the brink of disaster”.


A story of terrible suffering and I have no wish to defend the Assad regime, but have some questions. Amnesty International says starve or surrender sieges are war crimes, but are they? And why don't rebel troops surrender? I presume inhabitants are being held captive by rebels but Guardian doesn't say a word about this. It reminds me of coverage of Eastern Aleppo.

Russia produces fake news but so does the Guardian, CNN etc.

The Guardian story make no sense. 

Sleeping Beauty ‘fuels culture of sexual assault’

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Inspired by the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment, Mrs Sarah Hall, a 40 year-old British PR consultant, was reading a version of Sleeping Beauty to her six-year-old son and decided that it promoted unacceptable non-consensual kissing, reports The Times. She is reported to have said: 


“I think it’s a specific issue in the Sleeping Beauty story about sexual behaviour and consent. It’s about saying, is this still relevant, is it appropriate? In today’s society, it isn’t appropriate — my son is only six, he absorbs everything he sees, and it isn’t as if I can turn it into a constructive conversation."

In the original version of the story the Prince awakened the Sleeping Beauty with something much stronger than a kiss. He impregnated her and she woke during childbirth. The brothers Grimm bowdlerised the story. 


The Prince was committing several crimes at once, in fact. He was a white man, in a position of unfair power in an utterly unjust, unmeritocratic, undemocratic, patriarchal system, first objectifying and then sexually assaulting a woman in a coma.

Monday, 20 November 2017

Today is the Queen's and the Duke of Edinburgh's 70th wedding anniversary

H.M. Queen Elizabeth II's and the Duke of Edinburgh's 70th wedding anniversary. King Michael of Romania attended the wedding, met his future Queen there and surprised the Communists by bravely returning to Bucharest. He was forced to abdicated a few weeks later.

The Queen, the King and the Duke are all with us today but the the King's life is moving peacefully towards its close, in the words that Lord Dawson of Penn, his doctor, used of King George V in 1936. Princess Elizabeth, his granddaughter, was ten then and had no idea that she would one day be queen.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Many things will die out with my generation

Many things will die out with my generation, which is to say people born in the 1960s. European ethnic states, Christendom, or at least the idea that Europe is Christian, cash, cheque books, land lines and telephone kiosks, much of the English countryside, high streets, masculine dominance. Free speech is already restricted, except in the USA and Eastern Europe. Mothers who cook each evening. Lard. Smoking, I hope. Newspapers made of paper. Privacy. 

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Gordon Brown's memoirs sound unpickupable

From Lord Mandelson's review of Gordon Brown's memoirs. 
Modernisation is too often caricatured as privatisation in this book, and fails to grasp that New Labour’s reform agenda was not in opposition to social justice, but the only way in a changing world to achieve it.
I agree with his lordship on this . This is what the people who think Mr Blair was not left-wing fail to understand. He was hugely successful at transforming Britain in a left wing direction because he presided over economic growth and won three landslide election victories. His two great mistakes, from a Labour point of view, were announcing that he

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Cardinal Newman explains why law and business should not be taught at university

‘…When I speak of Knowledge, I mean something intellectual, something which grasps what it perceives through the senses; something which takes a view of things; which sees more than the senses convey; which reasons upon what it sees, and while it sees; which invests it with an idea. It expresses itself, not in a mere enunciation, but by an enthymeme: it is of the nature of science from the first, and in this consists its dignity. The principle of real dignity in Knowledge, its worth, its desirableness, considered irrespectively of its results, is this germ within it of a scientific or a philosophical process. This is how it comes to be an end in itself; this is why it admits of being called Liberal. Not to know the relative disposition of things is the state of slaves or children; to have mapped out the Universe is the boast, or at least the ambition, of Philosophy.

Eastern Europe is more civilised than Western Europe


Knife Crimes in 2016 London : 21,365 All of Poland: 3,474

Cișmigiu after a downpour yesterday

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Saturday, 28 October 2017

Quotations

'One cannot love lumps of flesh, and little infants are nothing more.' Dr. Johnson

'If women didn't exist, all the money in the world would have no meaning.' Aristotle Onassis


'Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.' Voltaire

A Tory of the old school, the school of Shakespeare and Dr. Johnson



Ruskin said he was a Tory of the old school, the school of Homer and Sir Walter Scott. Homer I agree on. I don't care much for the overrated Scott and I am a romantic Jacobite anyway. I'd say I am a Tory of the school of Shakespeare and Dr. Johnson. But I admire some liberals very much, including Chesterton (GK not AK) and Hilaire Belloc. 


Sir William Harcourt too, who said 
"Liberty does not consist in making others do what you think right. The difference between a free Government and a Government which is not free is principally this—that a Government which is not free interferes with everything it can, and a free Government interferes with nothing except what it must."

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Universities, islands of totalitarianism

Ronald Reagan in the 1980s described universities as islands of totalitarianism in a sea of freedom.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The origins and history of the Freedom Party in Austria

If Wikipedia is to be trusted the Austrian Freedom Party is not far right at all. SInce being founded in 1955 it seems to have combined belief in free market classical liberalism (Thatcherism) with a desire for Austria to unite with Germany. Sounds a respectable old fashioned tradition, stretching back to 1848.
The FPÖ is a descendant of the pan-German and national liberal camp (Lager) dating back to the Revolutions of 1848 in the Habsburg areas. During the interwar era, the national liberal camp (gathered

in the Greater German People's Party) fought against the mutually-hostile Christian Social and Marxist camps in their

Saturday, 14 October 2017

A big bagful of good quotations that will be new to you


“For me dying is a lot like going camping. I don’t want to do it.” Phil Wang 

“Everything considered, work is less boring than amusing oneself.” Charles Baudelaire 

“Everything must be learned, from reading to dying.” Gustave Flaubert

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Sabrina has died


I suspect Sir Oswald Mosley had Sabrina in mind when he said 'In or around 1955 the British discovered sex and instantly made it ridiculous'.


Philip Larkin thought we discovered sex later. 

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three 
(Which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the "Chatterley" ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

In or around 1963  the world and England began to change out of recognition. From 1963 it was a few steps to joining the Common Market, out of town shopping centres, same sex

Sunday, 8 October 2017

"The souls that never go to confession are like rooms with closed windows, which never get any fresh air in."



"The souls that never go to confession are like rooms with closed windows, which never get any fresh air in." (Octavian Goga)


"'I know of no joy,' she airily began, 'greater than a cool white dress after the sweetness of confession.'" (Ronald Firbank)

Why do some people stay in the confessional so long? I am thinking of a very old lady ahead of me who took at least 15 minutes, which is a very long time. What had she done?

'Today everybody's identity is his or her iPhone. There is no national identity as such.'


In this article from the BBC site a famous Catalan writer is prosing on about the crisis when he suddenly says
Do we have an identity? I don't know. I think today everybody's identity is his or her iPhone. There is no national identity as such.
A Romanian academic economist when I asked him what the future of Romania would be in fifty years time thought it wouldn't exist and be no loss.
Surely there'll still be people speaking Romanian?

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Food, diversity and the new international elite

“Bizarrely, as immigration began to change Europe at its economic and cultural core, the political vocabulary remained the same as when immigration had been a fringe phenomenon. People kept talking about restaurants.”

Christopher Caldwell, Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West 

Malcolm Muggeridge said sex is the mysticism of materialism


"The sway of alcohol over mankind is unquestionably due to its power to stimulate the mystical faculties of human nature, usually crushed to earth by the cold facts and dry criticisms of the sober hour." William James

Sex is the mysticism of materialism. Malcolm Muggeridge


“Drink wine. This is life eternal. This is all that youth will give you. It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends. Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”
Omar Khayyám

Today is a palindrome


7 10 2017

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

David Laws's diary for 4 December 2012: Cameron and Osborne humiliate Theresa May



We very easily imagine Theresa May squirming, as she squirmed in her interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday.

She is not nearly as clever as Messrs. Cameron and Osborne, was a hopeless Home

Monday, 2 October 2017

Groucho Marx danced on Hitler's grave

I just learnt that Groucho Marx climbed a pile of rubble that marked the site of Adolf Hitler's bunker, the site of Hitler's death, and performed a two-minute Charleston.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Eastern Europe, the last hope for Europe and the world

You might be interested by this articleWhy the West Can’t Unite Against Terrorism, written by Richard Storey, who thinks Eastern Europe the last hope for Europe. 
I assumed Eastern Europe was the best part of Europe before I got here in 1990 and I have never doubted Romania's superiority to the West, in innumerable, intangible ways, since I came to live in Romania in 1998. But when asked 'In what ways?' I always have difficulty in answering - apart from saying they still believe in God here.
But, as I type this, I think of many strong reasons. They also still believe in the nation, their tradition, in freedom, hierarchy, the divine order in the universe that makes men men and women women. I could think of many more reasons if pressed.

Mr. Storey says, rather gushingly:
"How else are we to explain Europe’s indomitable civilization, despite being beset by barbarians at the gates and the plutocratic pursuit of political power? The answer is apparent to much of Eastern Europe; they have seen where the unstable forces of leftism lead them and have returned to the Church as that common transcendent system of higher cultural values which bound Europe together into a network of communities. This is why they stand strong and terror-free, boldly declaring their Christian identity and closed borders in the face of the EU taking Poland, Czech and Hungary to court."

Neagu Djuvara and Dan Hodges on Trump

Dan Hodges today: Donald Trump is a lunatic. A big lunatic. An ocean going lunatic.

Neagu Djuvara to me last year: Trump is a bull and a bull is what we need now.

Famous Last Words


“I see that you have made three spelling mistakes,” remarked the Marquis de Favras when he read his death warrant.

Coming across that quotation reminded me of that I once collected last words and must find and publish online my collection. Here are one or two.

These are the last words of King Frederick William I of Prussia, the father of Frederick the Great. A Lutheran clergyman was giving him the last rites and said

Saturday, 30 September 2017

John Stuart Mill and the decline of the West

I bought a leather bound copy of Mill's On Liberty for 50p when I was 16 and haven't read it. I assumed I knew what it said and that J.S. Mill was an arch libertarian, a Thathcherite avant la lettre. I should have read it and shall do so now, followed by Maurice Cowling's arch-conservative demolition. How I wish I'd gone to Peterhouse and Cowling had taught me.

Only today I was wondering yet again whether my personal philosophy of finding an authentic life by relating to people openly, regardless of their nationality or class (or sex for that matter) and keeping a distance from conventional or fashionable ideas, was really my own or was one I had taken from elsewhere. I see now that it is J.S. Mill, mediated through 
John Fowles, whose novels and philosophy greatly appealed to me when I was 18. It is an admirable but somewhat adolescent philosophy.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

A poem for National Poetry Day

For National Poetry Day I post this, one of my favourite poems. It's not a favourite because it's an elegy for the demise of Catholic folk religion at the Reformation, but because I simply love it. It is comparable with, though not as good as, Shakespeare's 'When icicles hang by the wall' from Love's Labour's Lost.


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? 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Islam, Europe and Christianity

“It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”
Pope Francis, May 2016

Monday, 18 September 2017

Top ten enclaves

Here is an interesting list of enclaves made by John Rentoul, maker of fascinating lists. I had only known about one of them, Llívia, in Spain but surrounded by France. 

When the Treaty of the Pyrenees of 1659 gave all villages north of the Pyrenees to France the Llívians adduced evidence that Llivia had been accorded the status of city by a Roman Emperor. It therefore remained in Spain. It is Catalan, as are the villages given to France.

This is interesting:
Since the rationalisation of the India-Bangladesh border last year abolished Dahala Khagrabari, the world’s only third-order enclave (a piece of India inside a piece of Bangladesh inside a piece of India inside Bangladesh), Baarle’s second-order enclaves are as complicated as it gets – there are pockets of the Netherlands inside some of the Belgian enclaves. The border is so complicated, said Robert Kaye, “they operate a front-door rule where the country of your front door determines which law applies”.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Hillary Clinton is “not very bright” - something she has in common with Theresa May


During his Sunday night interview on the US television show 60 Minutes, Steve Bannon said something I already knew, that Hillary Clinton is “not very bright.”

This is one of the things she has in common with Theresa May. They are also both introverted and (not the same thing) shy. Both are boring speakers, partly because they never have much to say that's interesting (though I except Theresa May's remark that a

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The decline of the West and the loss of Homeric virtue



"Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice."
G. K. Chesterton

People are too apt to think war is a great evil and no cause worth dying and killing for, and yet the West has launched a number of disastrous and foolish wars recently, not from self interest but for liberal values. The older I get I see how few wars were worth fighting. Worth fighting by England at any rate, which has almost never been endangered since 1066.

On the other hand men (how I dislike inclusive language) are very frightened of moral corruption which they identify with being racist, sexist, ageist, Islamophobic or Eurocentric.


Edward Luttwak has written a fine essay about Europe's loss of heroic, Homeric virtues.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

It’s 258 years today since Wolfe took Quebec

Churchill was asked how to make children proud to be British and replied 'Tell them Wolfe took Quebec'. Are they still told this and if so do they think it was an unjust, colonial war?

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It’s 258 years today since the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
I read about it when I was four in the book that most influenced me in my life The Royal Portrait Gallery, published in the early 1890s. Here is how the battle is recounted in another, much more famous book. Our Island Story: A Child's History of England is a book by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall, first published in 1905.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The sanctity of the revelation of Mahomet

"Since 1989 the texts, ideas and even images of Islam have become so heavily policed and self-policed even in Western Europe that it would be understandable if a young person becoming politically and religiously aware in the last few decades might have arrived at the conclusion that the one thing our societies really do hold sacred and impervious to ridicule or criticism are the claims and teachings of Mohammed."
Douglas Murray - 'The Strange Death of Europe'


[Had Charles Tours not defeated the Muslims in 704] "perhaps the interpretation of the Koran would now be taught in the schools of Oxford, and her pulpits might demonstrate to a circumcised people the sanctity and truth of the revelation of Mahomet."
Edward Gibbon - 'The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'




“I have mixed feelings about the decline of Christianity, in so far as Christianity might be a bulwark against something worse.”
Richard Dawkins, the scientist and proselytising atheist, 2010

Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Strange Death of Western Europe and why is Eastern Europe different?



I am currently reading, am deeply depressed and alarmed by and am lost in wonder at Douglas Murray's new book, The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam. Please read it people, if you read only one book this year.


The opening sentence is:
Europe is committing suicide.
and he continues
By the end of the lifespans of most people currently alive, Europe will not be Europe and the peoples of Europe will have lost the only place we had to call home.
He deals with Eastern European attitudes to migrants in a couple of pages and says this, under the rubric "Why is Eastern Europe so different?"
"....In January 2016, when the Swedish authorities, the European Commission and others began publicly to acknowledge that the majority of people they had taken in the previous year had no right to claim asylum in Europe, Jean Claude Juncker continued to insist on the Commission's proposed quota system to share out the migrants between each country. Slovakia refused to have any

Had Israel not prevented Assad having the bomb, would Syria be at peace now?

Had Israel not prevented Assad having the bomb would Syria be at peace now? 

Or would Syria have made a solitude with the bomb and called it peace? Would an atom bomb be used in a civil war like Syria's, where the populace of any given region probably does not support the forces ruling it?

Interesting questions, which occurred to me reading this article by Zev Chafets, a writer was a senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Mr. Chafets thinks Begin's

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Diana and the politics of emotion

Diana, Princess of Wales changed the monarchy and changed Britain in a way that is still very evident today.

Diana's famous sad-eyed TV interview with Martin Bashir in 1995, in which she said there were three persons in her marriage, was a cleverly stage managed display of fake emotion. There were, in fact, several other people in the marriage too. She made displays of emotion mandatory, especially when she died, which is why Theresa May lost a lot of what support she still had (not much) by not crying at the Grenfell Tower and why Corbyn wept at the mosque where a British Muslim was murdered by a white man (but not at the locations where the reverse happened). Even H.M the Queen now emotes though she found the Diana epoch hard to adjust to. I remember that Diana was said to have tried having a heart to heart with the Queen and to have said, 'I need space'. A mystified HMQ replied, 

'Well, Kensington Palace is not exactly bijou'.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

5 quotations


One might as well legalise sodomy as recognise the Bolsheviks.
Winston Churchill to David Lloyd George in 1919.


Every country has the government it deserves.
Joseph de Maistre

Cardinal Mazarin could not suffer unhappy people around him. When he considered employing someone, his first question was, "Is he happy?" This really meant: "Is he lucky?" By means of this, the wise and superstitious Mazarin surrounded himself with the best people in the government.
Memoirs of the Duchess of Orleans, Princess Palatine (so it wasn't Napoleon)

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Diana – Queen of Tarts



This genuine press apology is a contender for the best of all time.



Diana has now incredibly been dead for twenty years. The world rotates on its axis and we go about our lives but Diana is no longer here. 


The quality press sneered at coverage of her and the Royal Family but the history of royal families is the history of Europe. When I visited the Taj Mahal it was the famous photograph of her alone there (apart from hundreds of pressmen out of shot) and Diana's cynical bid for sympathy from the public that was in the forefront of my mind. Certainly not the visit by the King-Emperor George V in 1912.


Alex Woodcock-Clarke has kindly given me permission to reproduce his brilliant little essay about Diana, Princess of Wales. I do so not just because Alex is an absolutely brilliant comic writer, but because I agree with every word and did so back in the time when 85% of England was for Diana and a handful of gnostics sympathised with the Prince. May she rest in peace.



DIANA – QUEEN OF TARTS

Why the People’s Princess was actually the Queen of Mean who invented a new cult of self-serving, self-inflating victimhood – and got the world’s poor to worship at it.

Ted Kennedy tried to get the Russians to help him win presidential election

How Ted Kennedy tried to get the help of the Soviet leader to help him win the 1984 presidential election. Andropov seems not to have taken up the offer.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Enid Blyton's England still exists

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Jenni Russell wrote in The Times on Thursday about how danger and novelty make time slow down. We all know this and it has been investigated in a book called The Brain, by scientist David Eagleman. 

He has proved, she said,

that we don’t actually slow down our perception of time in a crisis because he tested that by giving volunteers digital wrist displays and inducing terror by dropping them backwards into a net down a 150 ft shaft. If they could slow time they could have read the rapidly changing displays. That proved impossible.
So it just seems that time slows down or speeds up. And the best way to make time seem to slow down, short of feeling in danger, is by new experiences, such as new places. 

Graham Greene wrote a short story about a dying man who moved his bed in his large house from room to room to make his remaining time seem longer.

I always knew that contrast is the stuff of life. This has a large bearing on the question of whether to relax on holiday in the same place, not doing much, or to cram in a lot. I do the latter and today I feel, after three weeks away, that I've had about ten holidays.

And zig-zagging around Southern England by train from far west to far east I saw that England is the loveliest of all countries (Italy and Romania perhaps excepted). Outside a few tourist traps it has almost as few foreign tourists as Albania and is delightfully cool in

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

Saturday, 22 July 2017

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.

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.

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

"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

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 July 14 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. 

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

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. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

The best political quotes from the last three or four days

Mark Steyn:
The reality of what is happening in Britain and Europe is that this problem was imported and that, until you stop importing it, you're going to have more of it.

Mark Tapson:
European leaders on climate change: the world must act NOW.
European leaders on terrorism: Hey, that's life in the big city. Everybody carry on as before.

Eric Kraus:
Trump is a godsend in the most unexpected form imaginable. It matters not if he is right or wrong (sometimes one, sometimes the other) but that he disrupts the idiot consensus.

Falling birth rates mean the end of the West - Lord Sacks



“Europe is going to die because of this because Europe can only maintain its population by unprecedented levels of immigration.

“Now those could be integrated into Europe but they won’t be integrated into Europe because when a culture loses its memory it loses its identity and when a culture loses its identity there’s nothing left for people to integrate into."

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Patriotism, the love that dare not speak its name

'Patriotism...is a superstition artificially created and maintained through a network of lies and falsehoods; a superstition that robs man of his self-respect and dignity and increases his arrogance and conceit.' Emma Goldman. 
She was a Communist but I wonder how many British people nowadays who are not Communists (so excluding Jeremy Corbyn) also think patriotism a bad thing.

It shows you how the Communists have succeeded to a very large extent. Many, perhaps most, of their ideas have triumphed. Sexual equality; free love, including for homosexuals; contraception; abortion; internationalism; the end of colonialism; racial equality; confiscation of property from the rich; atheism; materialism; the general idea that tradition is oppressive. 

The fascists, by contrast, lost the battle of ideas comprehensively. 

Monday, 8 May 2017

De Gaulle would have opposed immigration and the modern EU

I have always been a Gaullist. The General wanted a "Europe des nations" and knew England would not be suitable to join the Common Market (E.E.C.) He strongly opposed Arab immigration into metropolitan France. I imagine if he were alive and politically active today his political causes would be dismantling the modern EU and opposing further immigration.
I wonder had he come to power a year or two sooner whether the EEC would ever have come into existence. Had it not this might have saved Europe a vast amount of pain and wasted energy.

De Gaulle, of course, began his memoirs with the very stirring words

Monday, 24 April 2017

Bernard Lewis: Will the future see an Islamised Europe or a European Islam?


In 2010 the greatest historian of the Middle East, Bernard Lewis, predicted that by the end of the decade Iran would abandon political Islam, while Turks adopted some form of Islamist rule. The old man might yet be right.

He also said in 2010 that Muslims were making their third attempt to conquer Europe, an attempt which seemed to have a much better chance at success than the first two as it took the form of peaceful migration rather than military aggression.

“The only question remaining for us to answer regarding the future of Europe is will it be an Islamised Europe or a European Islam?"
I suspect that the country that poses the biggest danger to Christendom/Western Christian civilisation is not Iran or Turkey, and certainly not Russia or North Korea, but Saudi Arabia.

ISIS is a very big danger if we overreact to them, as the Americans overreacted to September 11th, and alienate many Muslims in Europe.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Why should Great Britain or America fight for the Sunnis?



Obviously, the USA and UK should never have invaded Iraq. They should have launched a short punitive expedition into Afghanistan in 2001, restored the monarchy and then allowed the Taliban to come back. Nation-building was always (a liberal) folly: Afghanistan and Iraq were not post-war Germany, as should have been clear.

But having broken it, as Colin Powell warned, the USA bought Iraq. Leaving it alone led to ISIS. So what is the solution?

I don't know. Unfortunately, the USA may now back the Israeli-Saudi-Sunni alliance against the Shia crescent (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah). I hope Mr. Trump resists this temptation.

Almost all the terrorist atrocities against Western Europe and the USA are committed by Sunnis, yet we are constantly told that Iran, which is fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda, is the great threat. Why? 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Will there always be an England, Europe or America, whatever the origin of their inhabitants?

But today, France’s most read and most discussed popular writers—novelists and political essayists—are conservatives of one stripe or another. They are not concerned, even slightly, with the issues that animate American “mainstream” think-tank conservatism—lowering taxes, cutting federal programs, or maintaining some kind of global military hegemony. Their focus is France’s national culture and its survival.
These words are from an article by Scott McConnell in the latest issue of The American Conservative called The Battle for France, which you should print off and read, whether or not you are interested in France. It is about the future, or lack of one, of Western/Christian civilisation. 

I came across it via Professor Tom Gallagher, the historian and commentator.

It contains a quite astonishing piece of information, which I had seen before.
Because the government does not publish statistics about race, some curious researchers have looked at the number of newborn babies screened for markers for sickle-cell anemia, a test given if both parents are of African, North African, or Sicilian origin. The figure has risen from 25 percent in 2005 to 39 percent in 2015. In the Greater Paris region it has risen from 54 percent to 73 percent.
Gentle reader, I don't suppose you have time or patience just now to read several brilliant articles about the effects on the West of mass immigration from the Third World. 

Still, I wanted to post links to another six 'must read' articles on the subject, which is almost the only important political issue of our days. You might want to bookmark this page or even print them off to read at your leisure. 

Like most nice people, I didn't give immigration from the Third World into Great Britain or Europe much thought until a few years ago. When a man I knew in MI6 tried to tell me about the dangers caused by Muslims in Europe I assumed he did so because he was a very rigorous Low Church Protestant. When Tom Gallagher told me about the late Oriana Fallaci and opened the subject of the 'Islamisation' of Europe with me I thought he was absurdly alarmist. I thought the same at first when Ruth Dudley Edwards talked about Islamisation.

Now, like everyone's, my views have changed, because the world has changed and we have all noticed. Despite the official propaganda. It is not that we become more extreme as we age, though we certainly become wiser and less inhibited. It's the world that has become more extreme.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Christopher Caldwell Tells Us How to Think About Vladimir Putin

Christopher Caldwell is the most interesting journalist I read. Do read this talk he recently gave, gentle reader. 
'Yet if we were to use traditional measures for understanding leaders, which involve the defense of borders and national flourishing, Putin would count as the pre-eminent statesman of our time. On the world stage, who can vie with him? Only perhaps Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus

“Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will - whatever we may think. They flower spontaneously out of the demands of our natures - and the best of them lead us not only outwards in space, but inwards as well. Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection...”
Lawrence Durrell, Bitter Lemons of Cyprus

Raki is so hard to get right but this one is neither too strong nor too weak. The secret, I realise, is eschewing ice. 

I am sitting outside Niazi's restaurant in Kyrenia, across the road from the elegant colonial Dome Hotel, blogging with my clumsy thumbs on my mobile. 

Kyrenia (Girne is its guttural and rather ugly name in Turkish) is a beautiful port on the north coast of Cyprus. It was a mostly Greek town which, since 1974, has been wholly occupied by Turkish Cypriots and incomers from mainland Turkey.

Cyprus was on my short list of countries I didn't want to visit, but this is my second long weekend in nine weeks. I am not sure why. Mostly because, for some reason, it seems so very easy. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Well happ'd on, brother-ranger of the brine!

A mixed bag of quotations today.



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


A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire. Duc De La Rochefoucauld

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Emil Cioran predicts the end of European civilisation

Vacillating instincts, corroded beliefs, obsessions, and anility: everywhere conquerors in retreat, rentiers of heroism confronting the young Alarics who lie in wait for Rome and Athens; everywhere paradoxes of the lymphatic. There was a time when salon sallies traversed whole countries, foiled stupidity or refined it. Europe, coquettish and intractable, was in the flower of her age; — decrepit today, Europe excites no one. Even so, certain barbarians await their chance to inherit the finery, impatient at her long agony.
The Romanian aphorist Emil Cioran, in Syllogismes d’Amerture (1952) - the English translation of the book is here. 

It's interesting that he said this before the Algerian War, when Algeria still constituted three departments of France.

Pessimism was to Cioran what daffodils were to Wordsworth or butlers to P.G. Wodehouse. Cioran even achieved the feat of being too pessimistic for Samuel Beckett. This broke up their friendship.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Chamberlain, Churchill and the End of Glory

If I am to manage to continue reading books I probably have to give up fiction. Having taken almost two years with 'War and Peace' (do read it if you haven't), I returned with relish to John Charmley's 'Churchill: the End of Glory'.

The book caused great controversy when it appeared 25 years ago because it portrayed Churchill in a new and unflattering light. It is sceptical about Chamberlain and Deladier's decision to go to war with Germany in 1939 and the British cabinet's decision not to find out the details of Hitler's peace overtures after the fall of France in 1940. Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax wanted to. Churchill, the new Prime Minister, and the Labour leader Attlee convinced the (all-party) war cabinet not to do so.

Having been lucky to evacuate the army from France in time and having ruled out negotiations, Churchill had no plan for defeating Germany nor any means of doing so.


As Professor Charmley points out:
The Americans were not about to enter the war in December 1941, as Churchill's despair in November showed. They came in because they were forced to, just as the Soviets had done; only the British and the French were mad enough to volunteer for war.
I followed 'Churchill: the End of Glory' with Professor Charmley's 'Chamberlain and the Lost Peace', which dissects the way in which England came to go to war.


Neville Chamberlain and Benito Mussolini at the Führerbau building in München, Germany, 19 Sep 1938, photo 2 of 2:
Neville Chamberlain and Benito Mussolini at Munich, 19 September 1938


I recommend both books very highly.

They tell a very sad story about the end of British greatness.

I admire Churchill as a great Englishman, comparable with Nelson, Wellington and Dr Johnson. I have come to think, however, that Neville Chamberlain and Halifax were wiser statesmen.

Yet it was they, not Churchill, who took us to war.

The crucial decision that led to war was the decision to give a guarantee to Poland and, oddly, Romania. It was taken by Chamberlain in March 1939, under pressure from Halifax, after Germany seized the Czech lands.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Dr Johnson, equality and friendship


.....MRS. KNOWLES. 'I cannot agree with him, that friendship is not a Christian virtue.' JOHNSON. 'Why, Madam, strictly speaking, he is right. All friendship is preferring the interest of a friend, to the neglect, or, perhaps, against the interest of others; so that an old Greek said, "He that has FRIENDS has NO FRIEND." Now Christianity recommends universal benevolence, to consider all men as our brethren, which is contrary to the virtue of friendship, as described by the ancient philosophers. Surely, Madam, your sect must approve of this; for, you call all men FRIENDS.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'We are commanded to do good to all men, "but especially to them who are of the household of Faith."' JOHNSON. 'Well, Madam. The household of Faith is wide enough.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'But, Doctor, our Saviour had twelve Apostles, yet there was ONE whom he LOVED. John was called "the disciple whom JESUS loved."' JOHNSON. (with eyes sparkling benignantly,) 'Very well, indeed, Madam. You have said very well.' BOSWELL. 'A fine application. Pray, Sir, had you ever thought of it?' JOHNSON. 'I had not, Sir.'

Immediately before this passage, a favourite of mine, Boswell had said this. (I am not convinced that Dr. Johnson, who had enormous respect for women, genuinely agrees with Boswell here. His 'probably not' may have been politeness.)
MRS. KNOWLES. 'Well, I hope that in another world the sexes will be equal.' BOSWELL. 'That is being too ambitious, Madam. WE might as well desire to be equal with the angels. We shall all, I hope, be happy in a future state, but we must not expect to be all happy in the same degree. It is enough if we be happy according to our several capacities. A worthy carman will get to heaven as well as Sir Isaac Newton. Yet, though equally good, they will not have the same degrees of happiness.' JOHNSON. 'Probably not.'BOSWELL. 'YOU should like his book, Mrs. Knowles, as it maintains, as you FRIENDS do, that courage is not a Christian virtue.' MRS. KNOWLES. 'Well, I hope that in another world the sexes will be equal.' BOSWELL. 'That is being too ambitious, Madam. WE might as well desire to be equal with the angels. We shall all, I hope, be happy in a future state, but we must not expect to be all happy in the same degree. It is enough if we be happy according to our several capacities. A worthy carman will get to heaven as well as Sir Isaac Newton. Yet, though equally good, they will not have the same degrees of happiness.' JOHNSON. 'Probably not.'

Monday, 6 February 2017

The best and worst US presidents of all time


My article on the three worst US Presidents (George W. Bush, 
Lincoln and Wilson were my choices) seems rather topical now that Donald Trump is president.

It is of course far too early to form a tentative judgment on President Trump after four weeks. He is promising in some ways, though certainly worrying in others. Never say never but it is hard to imagine that he will be as disastrous as George W. Bush.

Barack Obama was very mediocre, of course. Instead of being a mixed-race Ike who brought his country together and forgave whites for their history of racism, he was deliberately divisive. He used wedge issues like homosexual marriage and transgender people using the ladies to divide Republicans and conquer. 


Still, he was not outstandingly bad. Under him the economy improved and he to some extent kept his country out of wars. His biggest legacy, regardless of what you think of it, is creating the conditions in which President Trump won the White House.


The worst president was Lincoln. If you doubt that, try this mental exercise.

Sapphire Jubilee: H.M. Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for 65 years



Today H.M. Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for 65 years, the longest reign in British history and longer by a few months even than the reign of King James VIII and III, better known to history as the Old Pretender.

God save the Queen!

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The news from Romania



I started this blog to write about Romania but other things happened instead. Recently Donald Trump happened.

I even failed to blog about the new Social Democrat (PSD) government that took power, in coalition with a small party, the misnamed Liberal Democrats, at the end of last year.

Now Romania is second item on the BBC World Service news, above Trump’s visa policy.

Readers who follow Romanian politics know what to think. For those who don’t, but are interested, I’ll fill you in.

Romania, like all her post-Communist neighbours, has been a by-word for corruption. But for the last three years Romania has become famous as a country where corruption is being tackled very effectively and in the most remarkable way.

The success of the Romanian anti-corruption drive is not just cleansing the Augean stables here. It is an example to the rest of the region. People in nearby countries look in astonishment at what is happening.

And now it is all about to end.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

It's been three centuries since you could be prosecuted for theological opinions in Scotland


It's been three centuries since you could be prosecuted for theological opinions in Scotland but you can now and in the rest of the UK.

The police are cooperating with the Bishop of St. Andrew's and Primus (head) of the Scottish Episcopalian Church to impose good relations between Christianity and Islam.

The Guardian has the story.

A Muslim youth was invited to give a reading from the Koran at a service on Epiphany at St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow. He read "a passage from the Koran relating to the Virgin birth". 


This need not necessarily have been heretical - at least Muslims believe in the Virgin Birth, unlike quite a few Anglican clergy. But the passage from the Koran that was read out contained a verse saying Jesus was not God and shouldn't be worshipped. 

This raised very strong feelings among people who consider Islam a false religion.
"A Police Scotland spokesman said: “We can confirm we are investigating reports of offensive comments made towards St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Glasgow and inquiries are ongoing. Police Scotland will not tolerate any form of hate and encourages all communities to work together to ensure no one feels threatened or marginalised.”
I am in favour of peace between world religions, if possible, but not of suppression of free speech or suppression of conservative theology by the police. 

Perhaps Donald Trump, half Scottish as he is, will in time change the zeitgeist even in his mother's native country. Who knows? 

I hope so.

People who are horrified that Donald Trump is about to become US President should understand why



People who are horrified that Donald Trump is about to become US President should understand why. 


He is a very remarkable man, a force of nature, but also a reaction to and judgement on 8 years of Barack Obama, following 8 years of George W. Bush.

The old Republican party tradition is exhausted. It's meaningless. 


The new Democrat party based on identity politics, that thought Third World immigration was guaranteeing its future, is in big trouble. 

I hope the Democrats can be rebuilt without identity politics, but I doubt it. This is sad because, unlike the Bushes, they will come back to power. 

Thursday, 12 January 2017

God-Emperor Trump: comparing the Donald with figures from antiquity


I thought I used the Trump Roman Emperor analogy first:

"I increasingly feel that we may be living in a period like the reign of Marcus Aurelius, the golden age where Gibbon starts his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Come to think of it, there is something of an outlandish late Roman emperor about Donald Trump, perhaps a rich wheat importer who got his position in an auction held by the Praetorian guard. "
I used this as part of an analogy between the present age and the reign of Marcus Aurelius, where Gibbon begins the Decline and Fall.