Saturday, 12 January 2019

Today on the net: things look bad except for America

Things are so much more exciting than they were when I was growing up during the Cold War. Things look bad in England, Europe and the world in general, and especially in the Catholic Church, but there are some signs of hope everywhere. Hope, of course, can be deceptive.

I wouldn’t get too excited about the prospect of no-deal if I were you. It may be what you want. It may be what I want. It may have the most credible arguments in its defence of any of the current positions on offer. Indeed, it may seem to be becoming more plausible by the day. But the people who are now joining forces in their determination to stop it are very likely to be invincible. In fact, a lot of the talk about the imminence of no-deal is being orchestrated by them. Paradoxically, the more feasible the Unthinkable Outcome appears, the more acceptable the once Unthinkable Strategies of resistance become.
..The EU not giving an inch is, of course, part of the plan. The Conspiracy party’s wish (which is to say, Parliament’s wish as it is presently construed by Speaker Bercow) is precisely to see Mrs May’s “deal” go down – whereupon the nightmare prospect of no-deal will rear its terrible head thus making it absolutely imperative to extend Article 50. That is the real prize. Put the whole thing off. Slam on the brakes. Reverse the legally prescribed process. We need to re-think this business from the ground up. That will take time. Lots of time. Maybe forever.
Janet Daley in today's Daily Telegraph

Every U.S. president starting with Dwight Eisenhower has bewailed American dependence on foreign oil. Foreigners then supplied 10 per cent of America’s oil, a figure that rose to 60 per cent under president Obama, and no one has done anything about it, until the past two years, when oil production has been sharply increased and reliance on oil imports has been sharply cut, on its inexorable way to zero. For decades, whenever the U.S. made purposeful noises about doing the necessary to reduce oil imports, the Saudis engineered a cut in the international price and American will collapsed backwards into the contemptible torpor of declining powers. All that has changed. What were for centuries the Great Powers, and for nearly 50 years after the Second World War, the principal Western Allies and the Soviet Union, have been reconfigured. The Soviet Union has been sliced down to Russia with about 40 per cent of the former Soviet population, offering a pallid replication of Gaullist efforts to make France great again by being an annoying gadfly irritating the Americans around the world. Charles de Gaulle was a great statesman, who personified the historic cultural and political attainments of France in its most difficult and dishonoured times; Vladimir Putin is just another chief thug residing in the Kremlin.... China is the greatest economic development story in the history of the world, but as a challenge to the paramount status the United States has occupied for over a century among the world’s nations, it won’t fly. Washington has seen it all, and seen it off, before.
Conrad Black in yesterday's National Post

Doomsayers are having a field day, but the great Greek philosopher Taki begs to differ. All we have to do is accept that there is a war being waged against us, a cultural onslaught fueled by the academy, the media, Hollywood, Netflix, you name it. The left has imposed a new language, with universities hounding those who dare speak through an incorrect perspective, and their media lapdogs policing those who don’t fall in line. To be white and male is now a pejorative term, and the past is judged by the scruples of the present that the bigots of the left have imposed on us.

Taki in Taki's Magazine 

The American Right enjoyed inordinate influence in the Vatican under the last two popes. Notwithstanding significant disagreement when it came to American military interventionism, from the early 1990s, America’s culture warriors successfully focused all the hierarchy’s moral energy on opposition to abortion, homosexuality, feminism and gender theory, just as in the 1980s they had successfully focused its energy on opposing liberation theology. Francis has done much to change this power imbalance, and the hierarchy is becoming increasingly representative of the diverse cultures and contexts that make up global Catholicism. He has revived the vision of Vatican II and shifted the emphasis away from doctrinal absolutism around issues of sexuality and gender to focus on social and environmental justice and a more pastorally sensitive approach to the existential realities of living and loving. It is clear from the hate-filled campaigns they have launched against him that the erstwhile power brokers of American Catholicism are not pleased.
Tina Beattie, Professor of Catholic Studies, University of Roehampton, in an article calledCulture Wars and Women’s Bodies: Why the Catholic Church is Implicated in the Politics of the Far Right.

Professor Beattie's words tie in with this story from the BBC about 1960s Catholic modernism.
An A-listed modernist building has been described as an "albatross around our neck" by the Roman Catholic Church, who said they could not even give it away.
St Peter's Seminary in Cardross, near Dumbarton, was built in 1966 as a training college for priests.
It was once described as a "modernist masterpiece" but closed in the 1970s and lay empty until a plan emerged to turn it into a cultural centre.
However, that plan was shelved and the building is now set to remain a ruin.

st peter's seminary - taken by andreas wolff
Image captionSt Peter's Seminary was built by modernist architects Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein
St Peter's SeminaryImage copyright
Image captionThe building opened in 1966 and was deconsecrated in 1980
Image copyright


  1. My choice:

    The problem with the European Union is both practical and theoretical. As a practical matter, it is governed by a bureaucracy of Dutch and Belgian scribes and functionaries that is answerable neither to the ludicrous European Parliament in Strasbourg, the ultimate irrelevant talking shop, nor to the principal member states, and is exacting its revenge for centuries of deference to France, Germany and Britain.

    The Germans don’t mind the shower of authoritarian directives from Brussels — they are accustomed to regimentation and are the leading power in Europe anyway. The French and Italians don’t mind, because they never pay any attention to what governments say and generally regard government as a bunch of crooks and incompetents and hypocrites anyway (often correctly). The British, however, do like to be law-abiding, and generally do pay some attention to the legislation and edicts of those who rule, and rightly judge Brussels to be insufferable and stifling. The underlying theory of Europe was that a century after the hecatomb of the First World War that engulfed Europe, and many decades after the Europeans gave us the blessings of totalitarian Communism and Naziism, the European powers, from Poland to Iberia and the North Cape to Cyprus, would stand on each other’s heads and regain their status as the centre of the world. The whole idea was unutterable nonsense, and the structure is now crumbling.

    Through it all, the United States, appearing to be disorderly, its establishment and media at war with the occupant of the White House, is demonstrating almost effortlessly how illusory is the idea that any other country or group of countries can challenge its pre-eminence among the world’s nations.

    Conrad Black

    1. I thought those passages were very good and was tempted to quote them too.

  2. Channel 4 and Jon Snow must have been staggered to find all the 18 year-olds they collected here seem to want be Leave:

    'So you're all leavers?' asks Jon Snow and no-one contradicts him. Richly amusing.

  3. White men are stil doing perfectly well. Taki used to be a bon vivant and happy warrior. Too bad he's turned into a bitter old sulk.

  4. China is the greatest economic development story in the history of the world, but as a challenge to the paramount status the United States has occupied for over a century among the world’s nations, it won’t fly. Washington has seen it all, and seen it off, before.

    The U.S. seems to be very much like the Roman Empire. Too Big to Fail. Rome survived catastrophe after catastrophe. Even after such catastrophes Rome was still strong enough to destroy any possible rivals. And no matter how corrupt and decadent the Roman Empire became it stubbornly refused to collapse.

    It took centuries for Rome to die. It's a very depressing thought that it may take centuries for the American Empire to die.

    I expect the U.S. to go on becoming more totalitarian, more degenerate, more moronic and more trashy but it will still rule the world. And it will destroy every other civilisation on the planet.

    1. I don't know. Neagu Djuvara thought America still had a couple of centuries of dominance. On the other hand when empires fall they fall very quickly. In 1937 England was the most powerful country in the world and had just completed building the magnificent New Delhi. By 1947 England was an impoverished American satellite. On the other hand, Adam Smith said that there's a “great deal of ruin in a nation,” by which he meant that it takes an awful lot to bring down a powerful and prosperous state. I think Lord Black is right - and Smith - but see with Donald Trump, David Goldman and Steve Bannon how much of a threat to the US China is.
      When I was in India people told me that China was too flawed and a Communist dictatorship - the future was Indian.

    2. In 1937 England was the most powerful country in the world and had just completed building the magnificent New Delhi.

      In 1937 the British Empire was an illusion. Britain had fought the First World War with other people's money. The Empire could not be defended. Even in 1914 the Empire could not be defended. Who defended Australia and Britain's Empire in the Far East in the First World War? The Imperial Japanese Navy.

      In 1937 the British Empire was held together by bluff and bluster.

      In 1937 the most powerful country in the world was the United States.

      Britain was brought down by its own ruling class, largely by their foolish insistence on looking to Europe rather than the Empire. Britain had no interests at stake in the First World War. Is she had sat out the war then in the postwar period the British Empire might have been a reality - it might have been extremely rich and extremely powerful. And in a position to very easily defend itself against any threat. In 1914 the Royal Navy was still the mightiest in the world. By 1937 the British had given up their naval dominance because they couldn't afford it.

      The destruction of Britain as a Great Power began on that day early in the 20th century that Britain entered the fatal alliance with the French. Britain got nothing out of the deal except ruin. The French got the encouragement to destroy themselves by going to war with Germany. Never in history has there been an alliance that did so much harm to both parties.

      The destruction of Britain took about half a century. That's also about how long it took for Spain to go from Great Power to irrelevant backwater.

      But Britain and Spain never enjoyed the degree of dominance that the Roman and American Empires have achieved.