Thursday, 21 June 2018


When all the objectives of government include the achievement of equality - other than equality before the law - that government poses a threat to liberty. Margaret Thatcher

No-one can build the bridge on which you, and only you, can cross the river of life. 

Sunday, 17 June 2018

In praise of Sir Christopher Chope

Sir Christopher Chope MP has provoked outrage in England by crying out 'Object' and thus sabotaging a private member's bill criminalising taking 'upskirt' photographs of women. 

Such pictures are yucky and reprehensible, but does this mean it is useful to make them illegal and with a penalty of up to two years' imprisonment? Whatever your view, one has to admire a conservative who wants to limit the power of the state and insist on Parliamentary scrutiny of legislation.

What the papers say - I have found four plums

In his upcoming book on US immigration, my brilliant friend Reihan Salam — himself the son of Bangladeshi immigrants — makes a bold argument: America must either restrict immigration or risk civil war as rising inequality and racial tension combine.
I hope Salam is right that the American melting pot can somehow be salvaged. But I have no such hope for Europe. No one who has spent any time in Germany

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Happy pride month in Canada!

CBC, the Canadian state-owned broadcasting company, has broadcast this clip 
which repays watching and posted it on the net under the rubric:
Happy pride month! Jessi Cruickshank talks with kids about gay pride and being gay allies
The children look about seven or eight and are ardent believers in sexual diversity.
Jessi Cruickshank asks the little innocents
I'm not gay but I'm a gay ally. Are you gay allies?

Friday, 15 June 2018


"In this world you either have an empire or you have to be part of somebody else's." Peter Hitchens, who says the EU is Germany's empire.

"Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action." Benjamin Disraeli

Bucarest, mon amour

“There's not a city in the former Soviet Union [she meant Bloc] which hasn't been christened The New Prague (apart from Bucharest, and if you've been there you'll know why).”
Guardian travel article by Joanne O'Connor

I remember the 1989 Lonely Planet Guide to Eastern Europe (individual countries didn't merit their own guides) included Bucharest in its list of ten things to avoid in Eastern Europe. I don't remember what the other nine were but they were things not places.

Thursday, 14 June 2018

You can't generalise

No-one esteems aphorisms any more. Were Wilde around today (and not in gaol for going to bed with underage boys), every quip he made would get the response: Oscar, you can't generalise.

Or rather it was so until Twitter. A very useful achievement of Twitter was to relaunch the aphorism, before they increased the maximum number of characters in a tweet.


"It suffices for an intransigent minority –a certain type of intransigent minorities –to reach a minutely small level, say three or four percent of the total population, for the entire population to have to submit to their preferences. Further, an optical illusion comes with the dominance of the minority: a naive observer would be under the impression that the choices and preferences are those of the majority. If it seems absurd, it is because our scientific intuitions aren’t calibrated for that (fughedabout scientific and academic intuitions and snap judgments; they don’t work and your standard intellectualization fails with complex systems, though not your grandmothers’ wisdom)."
Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

"Society is a shared inheritance for the sake of which we learn to circumscribe our demands, to see our own place in things as part of a continuous chain of giving and receiving, and to recognize that the good things we inherit are not ours to spoil" Sir Roger Scruton, How To Be a Conservative

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Ivano-Frankivsk in balmy summer weather

After Bucacs we went on, through green countryside glowingly fertile, to one of my favourite towns, Ivano-Frankivsk, known till 1962 as Stanislau or Stanisławów. 

It was founded as a Polish fortress in 1663 and was named after the Polish hetman Stanisław "Rewera" Potocki. Like Bucsacs, it became a largely self governing city and was later incorporated into the Austrian empire in the first partition of Poland.

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Greek Catholic church, Ivano Frankivsk

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Loss of belief in Man is a consequence of loss of belief in God

It is sad that many people think animal lives are as important as human lives. Worse, they feel that this is a noble sentiment. Loss of belief in Man is a consequence of lack of faith in God.

Love of animals is beautiful but often strongly felt by misanthropes, sentimentalists and extremists. Goering wept whenever one of his dogs died, despite all the indications that he was a psychopath.

I spoke to a friend who is Green Party member who thinks animals as important as humans. He is not alone in thinking this in the Green Party, a party that attracts many very worrying people.

Saturday, 2 June 2018


I blogged about Buczacz last year and Professor Omer Bartov's excellent and searing book about the murder of the town's Jews. I have now visited the pretty little town. In warm weather on the first day of June it brought to mind Sherlock Holmes' remark about the vilest alleys not hiding as much sin as the smiling and beautiful face of the countryside

Buczacz was founded in the seventeenth century by Polish nobles in what was effectively the Wild East. The  nobles who started towns encouraged the settlement of Jews, desirable immigrants because of their commercial expertise. The Jews came east tired of constant friction with Poles. The Jews lived in their own community and were largely preoccupied by their own religion until the nineteenth century. In the 1920s 60% of the townspeople were Jewish.

Back in Cernauti/Chernivtsi (no longer the USSR) again

I just paid my fifth visit to Cernăuți. This is what I wrote after my third visit, two years ago. The Hotel Bukovyna is as good as ever, a four star hotel with a pool and good restaurant it costs EUR 30 bed and breakfast.

An unmistakable sense of freedom as soon as we arrive in Ukraine. A sense of normal people who think like human beings. A civilised place where people believe in God and love their country. Romania is like that too but is becoming EU-ised.

It took eleven hours to drive from Bucharest to Cernăuți instead of the eight we'd planned on. As happens every summer in Romania there were floods, a road was closed. At the border we waited over an hour. An argument for the European Union. All Romanian borders took half an hour to cross before she joined the EU.

Monday, 28 May 2018

Caroline Macafee: Tommy Robinson is a working-class hero, our Lech Walesa

I do not know very much about Tommy Robinson. I know that he is a pariah in England. Some of the few other things I know about him are to his credit. In particular, Douglas Murray, having assumed he was a fascist, has changed his mind about him and come to like him. This means a lot to me, as I hugely admire Mr. Murray . 

Even if you are not interested in history, history is interested in you

Many people are completely ignorant of and uninterested in history, before about 1963. 

Ignorant, for example, of how very little immigration there was into Europe, after the Muslim invasions of the Dark and Middle Ages, which were halted and finally after long centuries rolled back by the warriors of Spain, Portugal, central Europe and the Balkans.  

But even if you are not interested in history, history is interested in you.

Sir Roger Scruton

"Mismanaged sexual feelings lead to a society of casual encounters, jealousies, and aggressions, in which there are neither lasting commitments nor sacrifices on behalf of children."

"This period of courtship was also one of display, in which men showed off their manliness and women their femininity. And this is what we mean, or ought to mean, by the 'social construction' of gender. By playacting, the two partners readied themselves for their future roles"

Abortion - the old landmarks are gone

Almost everyone outside Ireland seems to be cheering the Irish referendum resultBreitbart came up with this headline: 

Childless Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May Celebrate Pro-Abortion Vote in Ireland
When the Southern Irish voted to keep the ban on divorce it was understood that another referendum would be held on the issue. It was and divorce won the second time, by less than 51 percent of the vote. Had divorce lost the second referendum there would have been a third. Then no more referendums. 

So it will be with homosexual marriage and abortion. Everyone understands this but I wonder who decides, and on what grounds, that some decisions are final and others not.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

First woman to join infantry regiment since defence chiefs lifted ban on females serving in combat units quits after two weeks

A headline in the British press restores ones faith in human nature.
First woman to join infantry regiment since defence chiefs lifted ban on females serving in combat units quits after two weeks


"In 2016, then Prime Minister David Cameron said it was essential that the make-up of the Armed Forces reflected society and he lifted the ban on women serving in combat units."

I have to concede what people keep saying to me is true, that there was really virtually no difference between the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour Blairites. Theresa May, of course, is a Blairite and so is Michael Gove.

The full story is here.

Saturday, 26 May 2018


People triggered by blood probably shouldn’t be in medical school. People triggered by ideas probably shouldn’t be in university.
Stefan Molyneux 

Myko Clelland‏ Verified account @DapperHistorian

In 1866 Liechtenstein's last military engagement sent 80 men to war. 81 returned, as they had made a friend.

Friday, 25 May 2018

New Zealand adds “sex work” to “employment skills” for those wishing to migrate

The New Zealand immigration service has added “sex work” (as prostitution is increasingly described) to the list of “employment skills” for those wishing to migrate.
Julie Bindel, The Guardian, Monday 30 Apr 2018

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Abbott declared support for IRA defeat of Britain

[Diane] Abbott, who will become home secretary if Labour wins the election, said in the 1984 interview that Ireland “is our struggle — every defeat of the British state is a victory for all of us. A defeat in Northern Ireland would be a defeat indeed.”

Andrew Gilligan
May 21 2017, The Sunday Times

Wednesday, 23 May 2018


"People triggered by blood probably shouldn’t be in medical school. People triggered by ideas probably shouldn’t be in university."
Stefan Molyneux 

“A nation that cannot get angry about the slaughter of its own children is a nation that has lost its moral anchor.”
Brendan O'Neill 

"You wouldn't believe the things they have said about me. They have said I am Georgian... forgive me for saying this... even much uglier things, they have even called me an Armenian, but I am Turkish."
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a 2014 interview on the NTV news network

'The nation state is the political masterpiece'

What matters in politics, more even than freedom or tradition, is the nation. It's a truism and yet I bet in our day many people, who are not Marxists, do not agree. 

'The nation state is the political masterpiece' as Raymond Aron said - but making central and eastern Europe into nation states was Procrustean and painful.  The process by which Eastern Europe became the collection of nation states that we know today was in many ways regrettable (the Habsburg Empire was a European Union that worked, at least until the Hungarians were taken into partnership) but also hard to avoid because, as travel became easy and people were taught to read, a common language and sense of national community became necessary. 

Bernard Lewis and Edward Said

I rejoice in this attack on Edward Said by Dominic Green in The Spectator, especially as it deals even-handedly with Bernard Lewis and his share of responsibility for the invasion of Iraq. 

I thought that Said's Reith lectures were intellectually not third but fourth or even fifth rate. On the other hand, Said was right that the Israelis had behaved badly to the Arabs and he did not help persuade Bush 2 to launch the unjust and tragic invasion of Iraq.
"Lewis ... said that the Arabs were the authors of their own misery, and that

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

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

Bernard Lewis died at the weekend and I thought it appropriate to republish this from a year ago.

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?"


"Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential." - Sir Winston Churchill

US bank Morgan Stanley estimates that the energy needed only for mining Bitcoin will represent some 0.6% of the world energy consumption in 2018.

WikiLeaks Retweeted WikiLeaks
Harvard has announced that Hillary Clinton will receive a medal for "transformative impact on society". But there is only one society she truly transformed. Libya--from the most developed society in Africa, into a smoking, ISIS-infested ruin

Monday, 21 May 2018

Two flawed heroes have died: Richard Pipes and Bernard Lewis

Bernard Lewis died two days ago, two days after another of my very favourite historians, Richard Pipes. 

Both were Jewish Americans and emigrants, Pipes having fled Hitler and Lewis having, less understandably, given up being a British subject.

I love both men's work and recommend their books very highly. I understand that Pipes' fiercely negative view of Bolshevism in his Russia Under The Bolshevik Regime is

Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray in a godforsaken world

Jordan Peterson and Douglas Murray have much in common. Both are very intelligent, very eloquent, very charismatic. Neither is particularly conservative but common sense is now considered right-wing. Both think like human beings rather than ideologues. Both have flourished on the internet and above all both are trying to find something with which to replace belief in God.

As Douglas Murray put it,

Having been for some years, as Roger Scruton has put it, downstream from Christianity, there is every possibility that our societies will either become unmoored entirely or be hauled onto a very different shore. Very unsettling questions lie dormant beneath our current culture.

There is, for instance, that question which Ernst Wolfgang Böckenförde posed in the 1960s: “Does the free, secularised state exist on the basis of normative presuppositions that it itself cannot guarantee?” It is rare to hear this question even raised in our societies. Perhaps we sense the answer is “yes” but we do not know what to do if this is the case.

In his book The Strange Death of Europe, he paints a picture of a continent where instead of believing in God we believe in nice holidays.

I remember Sir Roger Scruton advised people that it was a good idea to try to believe in God, which gave me the impression that he too doesn't.

The truth is that conservatism without Christianity is in big trouble. So is civilisation.

Saturday, 19 May 2018


Tallulah Bankhead: 

"Only good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don't have time."

Fanny Burney, March 1768:

"To have some account of my thoughts, manners, acquaintances and actions, when the hour arrives in which time is more nimble than memory, is the reason which induces me to keep a journal."

Gwendolen in "The Importance of Being Earnest"

"I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."


Joseph Campbell:

"If you want to know what a given society believes in, look at what its largest buildings are devoted to."

Chris Beck
'Claire Lehmann’s Forum for the Intellectual Dark Web':

“Lehmann contributed to a number of publications before launching Quillette, but claims the Australian media blacklisted her as soon as she started criticizing feminism. She rejects the ‘blank slate’ view that feminists, and progressives in general, have made a centerpiece of their dogma. It’s the belief that humans are strictly the product of culture and socialization, and the rejection of the idea that humans are born with certain innate characteristics.”

Romania and Turkey are the least well educated countries in Europe

This map says Romania and Turkey are the least well educated countries in Europe.

Since WHEN was Turkey in Europe? 

Balkan countries not in the EU are a blank space, unless Turkey is still a Balkan country.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Eyeless in Gaza

I was originally angry with the Israeli army for killing fifty civilians trying to storm the border with the Gaza Strip, but reading about it - in particular what was written by Colonel Kemp, a retired 
British officer, in the Telegraph - it seems the Israelis did what they could to avoid fatalities and are not to blame for the civilian deaths. 

The army did not shoot indiscriminately and it has now been revealed by the Palestinians themselves that 50 of the 62 dead were Hamas members.

Hamas wanted to breach the wall and
 to flatten the fence at numerous points to allow hundreds or even thousands of Gazans to enter Israeli towns, overwhelming the Israeli security forces ability to protect the townspeople from the infiltrators, thus requiring the Israeli security forces to use lethal force against all those who infiltrated.

Similar demonstrations have taken place each week since March. The reason that this

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

In Ireland the past is not dead, it is not even past

My grandfather's grandfather (or great grandfather) came to England from County Cork in Ireland in around 1860. My father always wanted to trace our family history but never did and nor have I nor probably ever will. 

I therefore do not know where exactly we (meaning my paternal line) came from. But I do know where we left from, or at least I think I do. 

Though they might have embarked for England from Kingstown, now Dún Laoghaire, the port of Dublin, my granddad's grandparents probably left from Queenstown (Cobh), the port of Cork where I spent a happy twelve hours at the weekend. 

It was from Queenstown that millions of Irishmen and women left their island for England, Canada or the USA, after the terrible famine that killed so many while the British Whig government, pursuing free market economic theories, did little.

John Dominic Crossan, the Irish-born American New Testament scholar and heresiarch, said the wisest thing about Irish history and probably about history in general.
I still hold two truths with equal and fundamental certainty. One: the British did terrible things to the Irish. Two: the Irish, had they the power, would have done equally terrible things to the British. And so also for any other paired adversaries I can imagine. The difficulty is to hold on to both truths with equal intensity, not let either one negate the other, and know when to emphasize one without forgetting the other. Our humanity is probably lost and gained in the necessary tension between them both. I hope, by the way, that I do not sound anti-British. It is impossible not to admire a people who gave up India and held on to Northern Ireland. That shows a truly Celtic sense of humor.

The English on the Irish

Dr Johnson: "The Irish are not in a conspiracy to cheat the world by false representations of the merits of their countrymen. No, Sir; the Irish are a fair people; -- they never speak well of one another."

Monday, 14 May 2018

Ireland is still her old-fashioned self in places

I am sitting in a bar watching Eurovision in Cobh, pronounced Cove. Cobh, formerly Queenstown and before that Cove, is a little port for big cruise ships in the very large and very deep natural harbour of Cork. Cobh is very Irish, not yet EU-ised. Even the waitresses are still Irish, not East European. It's a little like a Cornish port but Irish, meaning beery, peasant, articulate, funny, incredibly friendly.

I am thinking to myself that it’s strange being in a country similar to England which has no class system and some religious belief. Though much less religion than forty years ago.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

All Muslim terrorists in Europe are Sunnis, so why is Iran the great threat?

This post from a year ago is topical still on the day the USA pulls out of the Iran deal. The Iran deal could have been better but was much better than letting the Iranians continue to develop the capacity to make a bomb. Critics of the deal say that it allowed Iran to continue to threaten America's allies and sponsor terrorism. I think those two arguments, which I just heard advanced on the BBC World Service news by a neo-con called Richard Goldberg, who is 'a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies', are misconceived. The allied tail has wagged the American dog too long.

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 Iraq 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.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

A future Archbishop of Canterbury worried about mass immigration

The modern Anglican clergy's keenness on multiculturalism and immigration contrast with Anglican clergy in previous ages.

It is misleading to argue that England has always been a nation of immigrants. Immigration levels until the last two generations were low, unlike on the Continent. According to the reliable Migrationwatch, more people came to the UK in the single year 2010 than to the British Isles in the whole period 1066-1950. 

Nevertheless, there were always immigrants in England and in the Middle Ages their number was not negligible. A survey of foreigners in England in 1440 listed by name around
20,000 foreigners in England, who made up about one percent of the population. This was long after King Edward I expelled the Jews and centuries before Queen Elizabeth I expelled the few black people in the country. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Mini-holiday in Transylvania

Romania, which had four days off a year when I immigrated here, now has more holidays than I can count. A hot beautiful four day holiday just came to an end.

We spent the 'mini-vacation' in Sibiu and drove as far as Hunedoara Castle. It was my first visit, but a dauntingly long queue put us off. We returned mid-afternoon but the queue still looked an hour long and we drove on.
Ceausescu built a belching iron works next to the castle of John of Hunedoara, to show the victory of socialism over monarchy and the old order, but the works has been demolished, putting many out of work and the castle remains, the mainstay of the town's economy. 

Tourism has replaced iron and steel as the engine of economic growth. We grow rich by taking in one another's washing.


Anglo Macron hype/hate has nothing to do with his actual performance. For liberals he must succeed, for socialists, nationalists he must fail. All ideologies sense of what must happens converge on Macron right now.

New York Times: "Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!"

I used to support the Democrats in US politics, back in the day of Carter and Reagan. I have changed and so, even more, have they.

I stopped being a Democrat after Bill Clinton had been in office a few months but I was neutral in 2000, strongly backed Gore in 2004 and hesitantly backed Obama, despite his being a European-style Social Democrat and his enthusiasm for horrible things like partial birth abortion, because of his colour, but also because of anger at the way Republicans had ruled since 2000 and because John McCain seemed like another George W. Bush.

Evening sky in Bucharest by Octav Dragan

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Monday, 30 April 2018

Sibiu or Hermannstadt

They just drew back the ceiling at the Hotel Imperatul Romanilor in Sibiu to let in a sunny April morning. It's one of my favourite hotels, old, a bit down at heel, a faded grand dame. Its real name is the Romische Kaiser and it was founded in 1555, which is not old by English standards but is by Transylvanian standards and unheard of in where I live, in Wallachia, on the other side of the Carpathians.

Sibiu in 1999 when I first came was stunningly beautiful and as decayed and broken as Havana or Rangoon. Now it is rather depressingly well painted and tidy, but this is good, I remind myself. And there is still a fair amount of peeling paint if you leave the Big Square. It draws many tourists who are having breakfast beside me but it is not an over painted tourist gem like Brasov.

Sibiu is full of lovely Catholic, Protestant and Unitarian churches and lovely town palaces built for German noblemen. It was built by Germans and the majority of the people here were German until most were expelled after the war for the sins of their countrymen far away. The rest mostly went to West Germany in return for large subventions for Ceausescu or left after the revolution. About two thousand remain, one of whom left for Bucharest where he is the current President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis.

Ethnic displacement happened in cities throughout Eastern Europe that were once occupied by Germans and Jews. It happened to the Ascendancy towns of Southern Ireland. It will presumably happen in London and Paris, where the imperial monuments built by conquering peoples are increasingly inhabited by the descendants of the conquered.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Prince Louis

Lewis is the English spelling. Macaulay wrote about King Lewis XIV.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

95% of Romanians believe in God, as opposed to 28% in Great Britain

72% of Americans believe in a divinity, according to a Pew survey this week.

According to a Pew survey last year 88% of Eastern Europeans (including the population of the former Soviet Union in Europe and the Greeks) do so.

95% of Romanians believe in God.

The one country in the former Soviet bloc where belief in God is unusual is Czechia, where 66% of people do not believe in God. I think this is because Catholicism was forced on the Czechs by military might, as it was on Hungary and France, but the figure for believers in Hungary, which does not seem a religious country, is 59%. The full figures from the survey last year are here.

In France it was 27% in 2010 but, by contrast, a couple of years ago 25% of French children of 15 told a survey that they were Muslim.

28% of people in the UK believe in God according to a survey in December 2016, of whom many are Muslim, Hindu or belong to other exotic faiths. Of the Christians, many are of Eastern European, African, Caribbean, Filipino or Cypriot stock. The figures for Northern Ireland also skew the figures. 

Monday, 23 April 2018

Robert Tombs: universities now teach civilisations, not western civilisation

In an article in The Times today historian Robert Tombs says that Cambridge now avoids the history of Western civilisation.
'In my own university, Cambridge, once-popular courses called “The Expansion of Europe” and “The West and the Third World” have long been replaced by a decentred “World History”. Simon Schama and Mary Beard now celebrate not “Civilisation” in their BBC TV series but “Civilisations”.'

God save the new prince

This blog greets with delight the prince who was born today.

How Prince William's birth seems to me. I have good reason to remember that evening well.

Quite unbelievably BBC Radio 4 news put the new prince in 3rd place! After, first, free citizenship for the Empire (why is that word always omitted?) Windrush immigrants and, second, the creation of Stephen Lawrence Day! 

(That's unbelievable in itself. Why not Drummer Rigby Day?)

Barbara Bush subverts careerism

The third choice that must not be missed is to cherish your human connections: your relationships with family and friends. For several years, you’ve had impressed upon you the importance to your career of dedication and hard work, and, of course, that’s true. But as important as your obligations as a doctor, lawyer, or business leader will be, you are a human being first and those human connections—with spouses, with children, with friends—are the most important investments you will ever make. At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a child, a friend, or a parent. . . .
Whatever the era, whatever the times, one thing will never change: Fathers and mothers, if you have children—they must come first.

The late Barbara Bush, who died on Tuesday, in her commencement address to the 1990 class of Wellesley College, the leading U.S. women's college.

The FBI men who guarded her for decades guarded her coffin at her funeral.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Quotations from Sir Roger Scruton

"Conservatives should study the ideas and arguments that prevail on the left. There is always something to learn from these, if only which way the wind of resentment is now blowing. And lifting your eyes from this joyless stuff, you will thank God that you are a conservative."

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Enoch Powell: "In the Middle East our great enemies are the Americans."

"Ah, Enoch, dear Enoch! He once said something to me I never understood. He said, "You know, I've told you all I know about housing, and you can make your speech accordingly. Can I talk to you about something that you know all about and I know nothing? I want to tell you that in the Middle East our great enemies are the Americans." You know, I had no idea what he meant. I do now."

Sir Anthony Eden to Andrew Freeth after the Suez Crisis

The global village

Manuel Castells: “Elites are cosmopolitan, people are local”.

Samuel Huntington: “A major gap is growing in America between its increasingly denationalised elites and its ‘thank God for America' public.”

Thomas Friedman: "When I was growing up, my parents told me, 'Finish your dinner. People in China and India are starving.' I tell my daughters, 'Finish your homework. People in India and China are starving for your job."

Friday, 20 April 2018


To the man-in-the-street who,
I'm sorry to say,
Is a keen observer of life,
The word intellectual suggests right away
A man who's untrue to his wife.

W H Auden

The whole gospel of Karl Marx can be summed up in a single sentence: Hate the man who is better off than you are.

Henry Hazlitt


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The Lost Heart of Asia

I am just rereading Colin Thubron's The Lost Heart of Asia which I first read in the mid-90s, about his journey to Central Asia just after the USSR split up. 

It is quite marvellous and the perfect introduction to Uzbekistan. I wish I had reread it before my recent visit, though I did read his Shadow of the Silk Road about his return in 2006.

Uzbekistan is a place whose heart has been ripped out by communism. Lovely people but half destroyed by atheism, materialism, socialist internationalism and deracination. 

Had the khanates of Samarkand, Bokhara, Kokand and Khiva been British not Russian protectorates they might be something like the UAE now, with gold and plutonium instead of oil. Though thinking about Dubai that does not seem such an attractive idea.

For decades I only travelled in post-Communist Europe and I still find it rather depressing to go to Western Europe. All that shininess and affluence make my heart sink. Now I travel around Western Europe because it has the best monuments and to exotic places like Iraq and Mozambique, because I wanted to see the world, but I realise it is only Eastern Europe and the especially the former USSR that I really love - where people are human and normal. 

I loved Uzbekistan, as I expected to. Colin Thubron says he is in love with the whole of Asia but for some reason I am not.

China, Vietnam and Laos which still are Communist and Cambodia, which was Communist, do not greatly interest me. I wonder why not.

Is it because Uzbekistan was ruled by Russians and is therefore less Asian? No, because Indochina was ruled by the French. 

A lot of it is to do with the attraction of the Muslim world. I am a proud orientalist who thought Edward Said's critique of orientalism vapid and uninteresting. I found Pakistan more appealing than India.

The attraction of the Mohametan world and the former Soviet bloc. Former Soviet Central Asia is where the two circles overlap and it has the poetry of inaccessibility and obscurity.

"At the moment you see we have no feeling about ourselves as a nation. History is the key and the Soviets took ours away. We were sold a mass of Bolshevik stories and nothing of our own." An Uzbek talking to Colin Thubron in 1992. 

I detect faint echoes of this in present day Western Europe.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

That was the news

Some people prefer just not to follow the news. I think it's a duty. Perhaps in a macabre way it's even a dark pleasure. But no not a pleasure.

Winnie Mandela who said 
"Together, hand in hand, with our matches and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country"
died and was praised in the Western press. Necklaces meant burning people alive by putting tyres around their necks filled with petrol.

When F.W. Klerk, who dismantled apartheid and freed Nelson Mandela dies, his obituary will be unflattering.

Emmanuel Macron talked about the threat to democracy from populists, by which he meant the threat to democracy from politicians who offer to do what the public wants. He won widespread praise for this.

In England a male voice choir was ordered to admit women.

Canada announced she will no longer discriminate on the grounds of physical disability when deciding which immigrants to accept.


Tara Ann Thieke‏ @TaraAnnThieke
Basically I don't want to hear a single supporter of the Iraq War offer their foreign policy advice without long, sustained mea culpas and explanations of why they should now be heeded. The burden of proof is on them, not on war skeptics.

Scott Greer (@ScottMGreer):
Principled conservatism: the president can drop bombs wherever he feels like but we can't deport criminal aliens

Robert Fisk's search for truth in the rubble of Douma makes him doubt whether there was a chemical attack

Please read this article. After visiting Douma and speaking to many people there, Robert Fisk doubts there was a chemical attack in Douma.

I don't have any direct information and was beginning to think the British and French governments may have been right about the Syrian government using chemical weapons, until I read this.

The truth is that I am sure the inhabitants of Eastern Ghouta , which was blockaded rather than besieged from 2013 until last year, did not want to be blockaded because they

Censorship and fake tweets

Something very strange happened to me yesterday. Can anyone give me advice?

I was told my Twitter account was being temporarily limited for 8 hours because of a tweet I sent.

This was very annoying but the tweet in question (below) is not one I sent or retweeted though it has my 'avatar'. 

@BourneWolf @AlfDubs @paullewismoney @stellacreasy @YvetteCooperMP @guardian @ThangamMP @safepassageuk @HelpRefugees @refugeecouncil @KateGreenSU Syrian refugees have already been involved in terrorist murders in Europe.

The people it was sent to are not people I know.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

“Like the Roman, I see the River Tiber foaming with blood”

"All quotations are out of context." (Enoch Powell)

Two weeks ago an extraordinary thing happened. The BBC World Service made the fiftieth anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King its first item on the world news. 

Was the fiftieth anniversary of anyone’s death ever before, since the world began, first item on the news around the world? Lenin’s perhaps, in the Soviet bloc in 1984, but not worldwide.

Two weeks after the murder of King and fifty years ago today, Enoch Powell, a member of the British Conservative Shadow Cabinet, gave his famous and misnamed 'Rivers of Blood' speech, in which he warned in very highly coloured terms of the consequences of continued immigration from the former colonies into Great Britain. 

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Syria: the morning after the night before

It looks like America, England and France bombed locations in Syria at the cost of $240 million but no lives. Russia and Syria seem willing to take this without retaliation. This is what the ill-named Mad Dog Mattis counselled. A relief. Things can go on as before.

Donald Trump has shown he has more moral courage than President Obama - or is it immoral? His habit of threatening war with Russia in tweets certainly adds to an unpredictability factor that has a deterrent effect, on Russia and on North Korea, but he should not be acquitted of blame. 

He has intervened in a country where America has no genuine interest and this could be a precedent for further intervention. 

He was elected to keep out of foreign adventures. His supporters want him to protect America from invasion by illegal immigrants, not to protect Syrians from chlorine bombs.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Godless communism

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This Godless Communism, 1961, a story in volume 17, issue number 2 of Treasure Chest, a monthly comic book published by the Catholic Guild in the USA from 1946 to 1972. Each issue featured several different stories intended to inspire citizenship, morality, and patriotism. 

Thursday, 12 April 2018

2 former British Ambassadors are sure that Assad is not responsible for chemical attacks

I was opposed to a strike on Syria in 2013 but have been thinking through the arguments this time. 

The 2017 strike by the Americans seemed worryingly like the start of a US intervention but in fact had no consequences apart from showing that Trump was not a Russian stooge, repairing the damage to US prestige caused when Mr. Obama did nothing after his red line was crossed and killing some innocent people. 

If Assad is responsible for using chemical weapons this time the 2016 strike did not deter him.

But is he?

I am very reluctant to think this is a trick by Western governments but is it a false flag operation by others unknown? The Saudis? 

How can we know?

But we do know this.

A former British Ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, thinks that the Syrian government did not use chemical weapons this time. The former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, is certain that Assad is not guilty. I think two former Ambassadors saying this means the case against Assad is not proven. 

I have thought about it - we should keep our hands off Syria

[Published in Taki's Magazine.]

The BBC 5 o'clock news started with the most extraordinary and chilling words I have heard in fifty years of watching or listening to the BBC News. 
Russia and America edge closer to war over Syria.
Previously the most chilling words I had heard were 
Russian troops have entered Czechoslovakia.
I should say that I see virtually no possibility of fighting between America and Russia, but virtually is not absolutely.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Monday, 9 April 2018

Frank Furedi: for anti-populist ideologues democracy is an afterthought

Polling booths in Hungary were kept open as voters still queued at 7pm when they were due to close

Frank Furedi says very truly:
For anti-populist ideologues democracy is an afterthought - especially in places like Hungary. Why because the people are unreliable and then to vote the wrong way. And yet they dishonestly go on about threat of dictatorships.
He has written a very good article which says everything you need to know about the election result. It includes this insight.
The emergence of Hungary as the bad boy of Europe has little to do with its supposed plunge into authoritarianism. As I argued in my book, Populism and the European Culture Wars, the pathologisation of the Orban regime is largely due to its promotion of national sovereignty and its willingness to uphold traditions and values, including those of Christianity. It is hostile to those who would dismiss the legacy of Europe’s past as the ‘bad old days’. Hungary is hated by the Western political oligarchy for the simple reason that it dares to challenge post-traditionalism, identity politics and anti-humanism.

Easter in Bucharest - acknowledgements, Octav Dragan

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What did I think of Uzbekistan?

Tashkent is a very eery, quiet place with wide roads, few cars and few pedestrians. The Bradt Guide said Samarkand was bustling but it was nothing of the sort. It too was almost deserted. Neither city had a centre or much life.

The mosques were beautiful, over-restored for the benefit of tourists but empty of worshippers. Islam I felt was repressed by the Communists much more than was Christianity in other parts of the Soviet Union and this repression continues now, though

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Tamburlane's tomb

I saw the tomb today of Tamburlane in Samarkand and must now read the play by Marlowe, which I can download on my kindle. 

I found the Samarkand Necropolis much more beautiful. Here among many others are buried Tamburlane's favourite two wives. He had 90 legal wives and very many concubines.  

He is responsible for the death of perhaps 17 million people, perhaps 4% of the world's population. He is naturally regarded as a very great man and a national hero of the Uzbeks, despite being no more Uzbek than Boadicea was English. Coach parties swarm converge on his tomb. 

How will Hitler be regarded in 700 years?

Nobody knows.

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Tuesday, 3 April 2018

From beyond the far distant Oxus

Alim Khan, the last Emir of Bukhara, delighted to watch his enemies boiled in oil. I am enough of a Tory to think he was slightly better than the Bolsheviks who deposed him.

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The Registan in Samarkand. Lord Curzon, as he then wasn't, thought it the noblest public square in the world. Now I can agree with him. 

Sandy Arbuthnot in Greenmantle knew some interesting places in Samarkand and Sir Fitzroy Maclean, as he then wasn't, walked here through semi desert from Bokhara, followed by an NKVD man in an ill-fitting dark suit.

I read once that Tennyson's poems are like objects that you hold in your hand and are one moment astonishing diamonds and the next pieces of coloured glass.

Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand are like that.

Each of them in turn has impressed me at first sight as the most impressive place I ever saw in my life, but each, like some famous beauty, on closer inspection proves to have had a lot of work done to make her stunning. 

I am never sure what is centuries old, what Brezhnev era and what created under the unlamented dictator who died last year.

A German designer who comes here because Bukharan patterns are alive and German ones lifeless (at first I thought she meant patterns of life but she meant patterns) told me that if the Acropolis were in Uzbekistan it would be completed and roofed. This is exactly right. 

The Soviets were not romantics: romanticism was bourgeois and decadent.  They saw no poetry in ruins. Nor did President Karimov after he sloughed off Lenin.

It could be much much worse. They are building a huge tourist centre close to the Ark in Bukhara, the fortress from which the Emir watched his enemies killed with cruel and unusual punishments.

Already Bukhara has 150 mostly small hotels but still the number of tourists is relatively few. Samarkand and Bukhara feel remote despite the occasional coach party, often of Indians.  

Marrakech is perhaps equally beautiful but it is a tourist trap and now almost as familiar as Bournemouth or Southend. Though these things change fast.

Gertrude Bell was the first white woman to enter Samarkand but when she left she noticed advertisements for charabanc excursions.

Enoch Powell said the life of nations like the life of men is lived in the imagination. Travel is lived entirely in the imagination and being somwhere distant and little visited fires the imagination. 

Lord Byron proudly said 'I have seen the ruins of Ephesus' but so can anyone for the price of a budget flight to Ismir. Lord Curzon boasting about Samarkand still moves us to envy.

I arrived in time to see the fairly deserted Registan at Samarkand tonight at dusk, the birds making a deafening noise and the tourists gone. I envy myself.

Part of it is the name. Samarkand like Madagascar, Persia and Mozambique captivates by the sound of its very name. We visited Lalish the Yazzidi holy village because Noemi loved the name. Names contain magic.

We are not far from the Oxus here.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

I take the golden road to Samarkand

Tashkent is not dour if you lived twenty years in Bucharest but it has no heart. Though a city of four million people, once the largest in the Soviet Union after Moscow, Leningrad and Kiev, it is empty. It is very Soviet, which to me is charming, but my ignorant impression was that here was a place which had had its heart ripped out and nothing to replace it with.

The city is as old as Rome but badly damaged in an earthquake in 1966 and its ancient buildings have been rebuilt. The roads have little traffic but, as throughout the USSR, are wide enough for military planes to land on them,

I had a pleasant plov (pilaff, the national dish) at the city's best restaurant, Caravan, and a much better dinner at Florea. I attended La Traviata sung very well. The very talkative audience was almost entirely female and over fifty. This I read was the place where one came closest to the still beating heart of Tashkent. The beautiful opera house was built for the Communist administration by the architect of the last Emir of Bukhara.


I remembered Colin Thubron's 'The Lost Heart of Asia' and wanted to miss out Khiva but luckily my travel agent persuaded me not to. Colin Thubron found it a lifeless over restored museum. That was in the early 90s and I suppose it is true, but Khiva is less well cared for than when he saw it, everywhere else is now much more restored than 25 years ago and it has far fewer  tourists than most beautiful places nowadays. Every vista makes your jaw drop

Marrakesh is less lovely but still very lovely. But Marrakesh is touristland. Khiva has what Marrakesh has lost, that wonderful feeling of being remote. Every scene looks like it's from the Sunday Times colour supplement but there seem to be no Sunday Times readers. An Englishman does not go abroad to meet Englishmen.

Yesterday was very hot. Today was supposed to be 31° Celsius but instead it is 3° which is a surprise. It's also raining, which one doesn't expect in a desert.

I have read about twentieth century Englishman in Uzbekistan like the heroic Colonel Bailey and that great writer Sir Fitzroy Maclean but the astonishing Captain Burnaby, who defied the Tsar by entering Khiva, was only a name to me until today. Here is an excerpt from the conversation he had with a worthy citizen who put him up in a large house in a village through which he passed.

' Which do you like best, your horse or your wife ?' inquired the man.—' That depends upon the woman,' I replied ; and the guide, here joining in the conversation, said in England they do not buy or sell their wives, and that I was not a married man. 'What! you have not got a wife?'—' No; how could I travel if I had one ?'—' Why, you might leave her behind, and lock her up, as our merchants do with their wives when they go on a journey.' In my country the women are never locked up.'—' What a marvel l' said the man ; 'and how can you trust them ? Is it not dangerous to expose them to so much temptation ? They are poor, weak creatures, and easily led. But if one of them is unfaithful to her husband, what does he do ?'—' He goes to our moullab, whom we call a judge, and obtains a divorce, and marries some one else.'—' What! you mean to say he does not cut the woman's throat?'—' No he would very likely be hanged himself if he did.'—' What a country!' said the host ; we manage things better in Khiva.'

From what I gather from my reading even seventy years of Marxism did not lift the condition of women very much higher.

Saturday, 24 March 2018

This morning I went back to the Village Museum

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How to fix the Irish border problem

The border between Northern and Southern Ireland and whether it will have to become hard again if the UK leaves the European Economic Area is much in news (the news that people interested in Brexit read). This article by Shanker Singham reveals the interesting information that 87% of Northern Ireland’s turnover represents sales within UK. Just 5% is sales to Eire, 3% to the rest of the EU and 6 % to the rest of the world. So Northern Ireland's primary economic interest is in maintaining the UK single market.

Shanker Singham argues that a customs border would give rise to few problems with

Europe is rapidly ceasing to be Christian - Romania, Poland and Malta are the exceptions

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Thursday, 22 March 2018

Cambridge Analytica and the Romanian election

My friend Rupert Wolf-Murray has made the headlines in Romania by telling Associated Press that Cambridge Analytica approached him before Romania’s 2016 parliamentary elections to work for the Social Democratic Party (PSD). 

He would have worked with another person and given strategic advice and assistance to the PSD campaign team for two or three months. Here Rupert is talking about it on television.

He declined the offer so does not know whether Cambridge Analytica did play any role in the election, which the PSD won by a wide margin.

Playing truant this morning in the Village Museum after a meeting

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Evil and historical judgments: more reflections on R.H.S. Stolfi's "Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny"

Historians used to have heroes and villains. Livy's hero was Scipio Africanus for good reasons, though Hannibal was too great to be a villain. Macaulay's wooden hero was the usurper William III. Leopold von Ranke's hero was Napoleon. 

American historians admired another high minded warmonger, Lincoln.

But no man is a hero to his valet and historians these days think like valets. 

Almost everyone has been debunked. They don't usually spend much time painting historical figures as heroic except when race comes into it, as it does with Martin Luther King, Rosa Parkes, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. With them old fashioned history, of the type taught around 1900 and parodied by Sellars and Yeatman, still obtains. 

Because of race,  Lincoln is still a great American hero, even though he wanted to deport the freed slaves to Central America because, as he told the first ever meeting of blacks in the White House, 
"not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours".
Mandela and Gandhi, you note, are the Americans' foreign heroes now. They have replaced the racist and imperialist Churchill.

Historians do not much use the word evil, except about Hitler and the Nazis.

As Lord Bullock said

"If he is not evil, who is?"