Tuesday, 18 May 2021

The treason of the intellectuals

I agree with this by Charles Moore in the Telegraph today.

 

'People are a bit puzzled about what “levelling up” is. Given the desire of voters in places like Hartlepool for it to happen, urgent answers are needed.

'I think I have hit on one. Abolish the insistence on a university degree for any job in the public service, perhaps for any job at all. The professions will say they need people with well-trained minds to become doctors, barristers, investment bankers and top-grade civil servants. They do. But what makes them think they will necessarily find more such minds emerging from our bloated university system than from graduates of the “University of Life”, whom they could train themselves?

'Nowadays, policing and nursing are graduate professions, with the result that they disdain the bits the public most value and make entry from poorer areas harder. Even those wandering the richest “olive groves of academe” are not necessarily the better for it. Three years of anti-Brexit prejudice and “decolonising” curricula at Russell Group universities (plus debts of £30,000) may instil lasting bitterness and render alumni unfit for useful employment. Of course, people should go to university if they want to. But why should jobs be specially reserved for them?'

Far too many people go to university in many rich countries, because there are so many more jobs for brain workers rather than manual workers. (There are exceptions, though, like Switzerland and Japan.) The biggest problem this poses is the apartheid that separates graduates from non-graduates. This is very true in Romania.

Another problem in  the West is that universities are centres for left-wing indoctrination. I went up to read history in 1980 wanting to see if the conservative ideas of the 18th and 19th centuries had stood the test of time and to see the history of colonialism free from liberal prejudices. I suspected, and I was right, that most of the colonial empires (including even Belgium's, though not Germany's) were hugely positive achievements.

If I did so now I'd be in trouble with dons and fellow students alike, from the induction onwards. 

So far Romanian universities are not too infected with the left-wing bacillus but the harm that will be done by clever young people who graduate in arts and other soft subjects in the West and return to Eastern Europe is incalculable. It is possibly the biggest problem Romania and the region faces.

Monday, 17 May 2021

From the 1961 story "This Godless Communism", in the American Catholic comic book 'Treasure Chest'


More here of This Godless Communism, with a foreword by J. Edgar Hoover, from Treasure Chest, which was published and distributed in Catholic schools from 1946 to 1972.

In 1964, a ten-part serial told the story of the presidential campaign of fictional Governor of New York Timothy Pettigrew. The character's face was hidden throughout the series until, in the final instalment, it was revealed that Governor Pettigrew was black.

A long-running series, "Chuck White" featured the son of a mixed, Catholic and Protestant, marriage and friendships between white and black people.



Sunday, 2 May 2021

Quotations

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.”
Albert Camus

"The older I get, the more I'm convinced the greatest form of 'activism' is raising decent children."
Zuby, a British rapper who took a First at Oxford

"I always regretted that M. de Charlus never wrote anything. Of course one cannot draw from the eloquence of his conversation or even of his correspondence the conclusion that he would have been a talented writer…Nevertheless I believe that if M. de Charlus had tried his hand at prose, to begin with on those

Saturday, 17 April 2021

Meghan Steerpike

If you have read Mervyn Peake's novels Titus Groan and Gormenghast do you see a resemblance between the evil ex-scullion Steerpike who plots to take power over the ancient tradition-bound castle-kingdom (and instead destroys it) and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex?

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Christ has risen!


I wish all my Catholic and Protestant readers Happy Easter!

The Orthodox have a full month to wait this year.
The Jesus Seminar, a group of liberal, publicity hungry New Testament scholars who were very fashionable in the USA around the turn of the century, disbelieved most of the Gospels, thought Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God and his corpse was probably thrown into a shallow dirt grave, where it rotted away or was eaten by wild dogs.

In fact few non-Christian historians doubt the crucifixion happened (the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus records it) and that something happened very shortly afterwards to create a movement which swept the civilised world. The non-Christian New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdemann said ‘It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.’ These experiences were also enough to lead Peter and Paul to suffer death rather than renounce their faith that Jesus had risen from the tomb and was the Son of God. Their martyrdom under Nero is not questioned by any historian, as far as I ever heard. Peter is said to have been crucified upside down at his request because he did not believe himself worthy of the same death as Jesus.

All of Western and much non-Western history begins with the resurrection, whether or not you believe it happened.

Talleyrand met a young man at a party who asked him for his advice about how to start a new religion. The renegade bishop turned pagan replied, 'First die and on the third day come again'.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

“When the ‘Spanish Flu’ took over 50 million people in just two years, it didn’t scare people half as much as Covid-19"

After more than 70 years of peace, at least in Europe and with growing prosperity, this crisis could not have hit us any more unprepared. When the ‘Spanish Flu’ took over 50 million people in just two years from 1918 to 1920, it didn’t scare people half as much as the COVID-19 pandemic does today, as far as I can see — without all the lockdowns and masks and vaccination debates.”

“...Was it perhaps because the peoples at that time were by and large more at home in religion, and its consolations and resilience? I don’t know. From my family history, I only know that in the generation of my grandparents, death was still perceived and accepted, in a certain way, simply as a ‘part of life.’”

Pope Benedict XVI's private secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, in a lecture online at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna.

Douglas Murray, talking in The Strange Death of Europe, says 'Western Europeans have lost what the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno famously called the “tragic sense of life.”' He was talking about the effects of mass immigration but also about the death of religious belief and the attempt to find substitutes for it. 

One of them is to put man firmly at the centre of the universe, as indeed he is if God does not exist. This carries the grave responsibility to do godlike things like control the climate and control viruses. 

It is odd, if you think about it, what things governments are expected to do, such as control viruses, take responsibility for human rights in Afghanistan and Burma, allow boys to become girls and vice versa, and things they are understood not to be able to do, such as close borders to illegal immigrants.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Belgium

Lord Curzon said that without India England would be a greater Belgium. A greater Belgium sounds to me very like modern Europe.

Julie Burchill said that in the 1970s Britain tried being Belgium and didn't like it.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

32 studies find no evidence that lockdowns reduce the numbers of deaths from Covid-19

The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) is an American free-market think tank with its office in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, which has issued publications which portray the risks of climate change as minor and manageable. In October it issued the "Great Barrington Declaration" which argued against lockdowns and for a strategy of achieving herd immunity to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Quotations

George Orwell in 1984.
“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

Charles Bukowski said that
“The best at hate are those who preach love, and the best at war finally are those who preach peace.”

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Technology and the decline of the nation state

Most people nowadays no longer live in villages, towns or cities but on the internet. 

On the internet nations are an abstract idea.

Some states restrict internet use (China, Vietnam, Russia, countries in the Middle East and in the future the European Union) but only three that I know of (Turkmenistan, Cuba and North Korea) more or less ban it altogether. 

In the democratic countries so far the internet is not linked to territory. 

I could be writing these lines from Bucharest, Bukhara or Timbuktoo. In fact, I am writing this in Bodrum in Turkey. 

Distance has been abolished. Have nations?

Abolishing distance creates many problems. Only the naive imagined that this might not be so. 

People are happy now to work at home, not realising that if they can do their jobs remotely so can people in poorer countries for less money.

An Englishman in Bucharest can live there for decades, speak English at work, with his friends, in shops and restaurants, inform himself through English language sites on the internet and through English language television and never learn Romanian.

I know hundreds of such people.

Americans do the same in Paris.

So do many Arabs in London, perhaps attending a local Saudi-funded Wahhabi mosque, though not speaking English is much more limiting than only speaking English.

This state of affairs predates the internet, by the way. Major-General Richard Clutterbuck, the only sociologist I ever came across who was not left-wing, pointed out in the 1980s that because of satellite television and many other things there was no longer a culture in England to which immigrants could be hoped to assimilate.

It was also back in the 1980s that Steve Cohen, a leading English immigration lawyer and author of several books about racism "from a Marxist perspective", said that countries do not belong to the people living in them.

Yet not long ago the world was not globalised. From the first to the nineteenth century the Catholic Church was the only institution in the world that was universal. 

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Ursula von der Leyen has “disgraced Europe”

'Die Zeit newspaper's Alan Posener said that “if the British were still EU citizens, they would be like us: instead of having vaccinations, simply waiting for Godot”. Der Spiegel said that the EU had attempted to secure the vaccines in a “hare-brained manner, as if it were a summer sale, a bargain hunt on a whim.” Peter Tiede of the daily Bild newspaper claimed that von der Leyen had “disgraced Europe”.
'Not everyone, however, shares these views. Ellen 't Hoen, is a lawyer and public health advocate at research group Medicines, Laws and Policy, and is former policy director for Médecins sans Frontières’ Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. Speaking to The Lancet, she said people should be cautious before envying the UK's approach. “What is the UK going to gain if other countries in Europe don’t have the vaccine?"'
From an article in The Lancet on Saturday. The answer to Ellen t'Hoen's question is obvious. A schoolboy or girl of six could answer it. A much more interesting question is what does her question mean and what makes her ask it.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

Rereading novels

Nabokov said as soon as you have finished a novel you should immediately reread it. I am sure he is right. But I find it almost impossible to read a book at all.

One night in the summer of 2015 I left my telephone in the office and my WiFi wasn’t working at home. I couldn’t get on the internet on desktop or tablets and so I managed 2 chapters of War and Peace.

War and Peace IS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL, very readable indeed, undoubtedly the best novel I ever read, but I had started it in February to get ready for visiting Russia in May and didn't finish it for almost two years.

The only other book I read in 2015 was a 150 page book with big type by Lucian Boia, "Cum s-a romanizat Romania", which I picked up in a tent selling books while hanging around Vama Veche. I read it while waiting for a friend who was two or three hours late because my telephone was almost out of battery.

Of making many books there is no end and much study wearies the body (Ecclesiastes 12.12), but at least when you read a book you do come to an end. The problem with the internet is that you never reach an end to it. There’s always something else to click on.

Even the pandemic has not led me to read many books, though I read very many articles about Donald Trump.

Does anyone have any tips as to how to read these days? 

I have one. I have given up social media and reading the news and anything political for Lent. 

It sort of works but do I have the willpower to continue it after Lent?

Holidays help. I picked up, packed and read The End of the Affair by Graham Greene for the third time when I went away last summer. 

I was in tears as always, though I almost never cry. 

This reminds me of a Romanian femme fatale, who once asked me if Englishmen ever felt emotion. 

I replied yes, certainly, when we think about the Queen.