Sunday, 21 May 2023


George Santayana: “What is life but a form of motion and a journey through a foreign world?”

Anthony Powell: “The English . . . never really believe in the existence of the world around them.” He meant by this abroad. How different the English are now, thoroughly globalised and Americanised. More has been lost than gained.

King George VI to W.H. Auden: 'Abroad is bloody'.

Friday, 19 May 2023

I hope Democrat Robert F. Kennedy Junior is elected US president

Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Junior is the candidate I hope wins. 

He'd rescue his party from Woke and authoritarianism. He'd rescue the world from the Biden, neo-cons and the US military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about as he stepped down in favour of his Uncle John.

He says “President Trump [is] blamed for a lot of things that he didn’t do,” but he is most certainly to “blame for the lockdown.” The lockdown was “the worst thing that he did to this country, to our civil rights, economy and middle-class.”

His views on the Ukrainian war are here.

Thursday, 18 May 2023


"When Adam delved and Eve span
Who was then the gentleman?''
Sellars & Yeatman said: "Obviously Adam."

"The girl gave him a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of his back."
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

Wednesday, 17 May 2023

'Truth attended by a bodyguard of lies': Anatole Lieven's magnificent demolition of Applebaum & Goldberg is the best thing I've read about Ukraine this year

Anatole Lieven was a brooding, arresting presence at lectures at Cambridge. He obviously had something big inside him. This essay by him is the best thing I've read about the Ukrainian war since Christopher Caldwell's article in September. 

It's a rebuttal of the ideas of an utterly misguided woman called Anne Applebaum and Jeffrey Goldberg, for either of whom the word globalist might have been invented.

Their argument comes in three parts. The first, wearisomely familiar from every conflict in which America has been directly or indirectly involved, is that this is not a war for territory or geopolitical power, but of absolute good against absolute evil. They quote Zelensky:

“This is a war over a fundamental definition of civilization…to show everybody else, including Russia, to respect sovereignty, human rights, territorial integrity; and to respect people, not to kill people, not to rape women, not to kill animals.”

One element of this is self-evidently true; that Russia, by illegally annexing Ukrainian territory, has violated a critically important international law and norm. In this, Russia has also gone further than (for example) Turkey in its invasion and partition of Cyprus in 1974; for while Turkey (like Russia in the Donbas from 2014 to 2022) created a breakaway non-recognized statelet in northern Cyprus, it did not formally annex the territory to Turkey. This may seem an academic difference, but it matters. What also matters however is that Turkey was and remains a member of NATO, so clearly in this area the lines dividing “civilization” from barbarism are rather more blurred than Zelensky, Applebaum and Goldberg suggest.

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

As Alan Clark said, the Tory party was always a blowsy whore

It is reported in the Spectator that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Conservative) does not agree with Conservative MP Danny Kruger’s assertion yesterday that ‘the family – held together by marriage, by mother and father sticking together for the sake of the children and the sake of their own parents and for the sake of themselves – is the only possible basis for a safe and successful society’.  Mr Kruger’s speech is here.

Sir Simon McDonald thinks Great Britain's only option is to be close to the US. Why don't the British be isolationists, enemies with no-one except the IRA, terrorists, people smugglers and illegal immigrants?

Sir Simon McDonald, former Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office, is the man who said Boris Johnson was lying about the aptly named Chris Pincher and therefore triggered Boris's fall. 

According to Boris Johnson 's biographer Tom Bower, he tried to undermine Boris when he was Foreign Secretary, a job Theresa May had given him to destroy him. Now he is Master of Christ's College, Cambridge. 

Interviewed by the New Statesman, he says that having left the EU, “our strategic choice has boiled down to one country”... “we don’t want to become China’s chief partner in Europe”...“getting together with Australia, Canada and New Zealand is nice, and we can agree violently on everything, but it’s not going to make the international weather”.

He believes Britain has no business sending aircraft carriers halfway across the world in a bid to be a player in the Indo-Pacific. He's right, of course, but he does not see that Britain can be isolationist, can trade with every country and not get involved in conflicts with any. 

Britain is right to impose sanctions against Russia but let's not have sanctions please against any other country, no interference in the Middle East or, save the mark, the Far East. 

Why in God's name do we have sanctions against Syria or Afghanistan, two countries in which our interests are in no way involved and yet which we illegally invaded?

Zelensky suggested Ukraine “blow up” the Soviet-built pipeline that provides oil to Hungary, according to leaked secret US documents

The story is here

I wonder if the Ukrainians blew up the North Stream pipeline. Fiona Hill said it was possible and that it wasn't the Americans or else their responsibility would have leaked out. In fact a source did tell Seymour Hersch that the Americans did it. On the one hand it's deeply shocking that the story has been suppressed - and censored on Facebook! - but on the other hand I don't think it's true. A clever man who knows Russia well and who is strongly pro-Ukraine read Oliver Alexander's rebuttal and was not impressed but it seemed persuasive to me.


"I just want to see the universities closed down, except for Oxford and Cambridge. I think they have all been a terrible mistake." Philip Larkin. Oxford and Cambridge are dreadful now too.

"We are American at puberty. We die French." 
Evelyn Waugh

Talking about Belarus

By the way, at the best Christmas party of my life in Bodrum in 2020, I was with an eclectic bunch of people including a Venezuelan (with a Slavic name) who lived in Minsk. He said he couldn't understand what the protestors were unhappy about. 'Everything works fine in Minsk!'

Monday, 15 May 2023

Minsk August 2020 led Putin to invade Ukraine in February 2022, according to Owen Matthews

Owen Matthews in the Spectator makes a very important point I hadn't heard before and which I'm sure is true.

"It was mass protests in Belarus’ capital Minsk in August 2020 after an election widely seen as stolen by Lukashenko that prompted Putin to decide that the West was irrevocably hostile to the Kremlin and was hell bent on fomenting regime change across the former Soviet Union – including in Russia itself.

"To Putin and his inner circle of ex-KGB colleagues – notably Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Federal Security Service head Aleksandr Bortnikov – the Minsk protests were, like the Maidan revolution that brought down a pro-Moscow leader in Kyiv in 2014, entirely directed and produced by Washington. Lukashenko narrowly survived the 2020 revolt, aided by lots of Russian brute force and only after arresting tens of thousands of protestors who were systematically beaten, raped and tortured. But the chain of events that led Putin to invade Ukraine was directly triggered by fear that supposedly western-backed people-power protests that had so nearly toppled Lukashenko could be repeated in Moscow."



The worst is not death but being blind, blind to the fact that everything about life is in the nature of the miraculous. The language of society is conformity; the language of the creative individual is freedom. Life will continue to be a hell as long as people who make up the world shut their eyes to reality.
Henry Miller (Stand Still Like the Hummingbird)

America sees her mission is to oppose autocracies worldwide - in other words, to rule the world. Napoleon, Hitler, Great Britain at her imperial apogee did not have any such mad hubris. Lenin did.


Bloomberg: 'Russia is likely to resume buying foreign currency [yuan] for its reserves as soon as this month as rising oil earnings stabilize public finances despite US and European efforts to squeeze Kremlin income.'

Sanctions against Russian have not had the effect America expected. Meanwhile sanctions elsewhere cause enormous suffering. Why are there sanctions against Afghanistan or Syria?

Posting this on Facebook led to a long exchange with one of my most intelligent Facebook friends, a retired senior State Department official (Mr S) who, to his credit, only ever supported ‘targeted sanctions’, not sanctions against a general population. Good, but the ensuing discussion made me understand how insane American policy is. 

America thinks she has a duty to save the world from autocracy anywhere in the world. In other words, to rule the world. Napoleon , the Kaiser, Hitler and Great Britain at her imperial apogee did not have any such mad hubris. The only leaders who did were Lenin, Trotsky and in theory, but certainly not in practice, Stalin.


Mr S: Assad brutally murdered thousands of innocent civilians, including defenceless children. Perhaps he is no worse than those he fights, but that does not excuse his actions or make them less deserving of condemnation by civilised society.

Me: But why do we have a dog in this fight? I remember the Daily Telegraph saying Bill Clinton's foreign policy made the US an attachment of Oxfam. Reading what you wrote in the last few days I see wise canny State Department people like you see foreign policy as a moral crusade. This is terribly misguided. Sanctions are a terrible idea and should be reserved for cases where one country invades another. Nobody proposed sanctions against the USSR even though they did invade and conquer several countries. This moralism always seems to be accompanied by the idea that Israel is important to American interests, which it clearly isn't any more now the cold war is over. US foreign policy seems an illogical bundle of emotional ideas, but all reasons for American domination of the world in a way the UK never contemplated for a moment. It's all connected to the idea that the USA is bound together by the Whig ideals of the declaration of independence. (In fact it is bound together by Anglo-Saxon culture and to a limited extent blood.)

Mr S: Alas, some thugs, see Putin, Ortega, et alia are not dissuaded and then must be fought. Surrender to imperialist autocracy is not an option.

Me: This remark absolutely horrifies and terrifies me. You seem to be saying that America and friends are entitled to and even have a duty to oppose all dictatorships? This is mad. You will always have autocracies and what business are they of America or GB? Stanley Baldwin and at first Neville Chamberlain were rightly anxious not to go to war in Europe - you want conflict anywhere!

Mr S: Yet not oppose all dictatorships is madness. To acquiesce to oppression is cowardice. But after acknowledging the morally right thing to do, one must determine how to do it. Thus, prudence demands that our opposition to oppression requires different responses at different times with appropriate tools and methods. Totalitarian rule is like a chronic disease - one must live with it if one cannot eradicate it, but one should never call it healthy or treat it with indifference.

Me: I read too fast. You said we should resist attempts by dictators to EXPORT their malevolence. Very few try to. I don't approve of dictators but not all are malevolent - Salazar was a good thing and in NATO. The Saudi monarchy of course is malevolent but our ally as it slaughters tens of thousands of civilians for the crime of being Shia. Dictatorships are not a disease. Nor are absolute monarchies. The medical analogy is so wrong. America preferred dictatorship in Algeria to democratic victory for Islamists. Allende in Chile. Iran in 1953. Perhaps the most unforgivably stupid of all the stupid mistakes the 2nd Bush administration made was the insane idea that all countries are ready for democracy. This is the disastrous liberalism that gave us leaders like Wilson, LBJ, Bush 2 and now Joe Biden.

Sunday, 14 May 2023

Socialist genocide

Literary historian George Watson cited an 1849 article written by Friedrich Engels called "The Hungarian Struggle" and published in Marx's journal Neue Rheinische Zeitung, and commented that "entire nations would be left behind after a workers' revolution against the bourgeoisie, feudal remnants in a socialist age, and since they could not advance two steps at a time, they would have to be killed. They were racial trash, as Engels called them, and fit only for the dung-heap of history." One book review criticized this interpretation, maintaining that "what Marx and Engels are calling for is ... at the very least a kind of cultural genocide; but it is not obvious, at least from Watson's citations, that actual mass killing, rather than (to use their phraseology) mere 'absorption' or 'assimilation', is in question." Talking about Engels' 1849 article, historian Andrzej Walicki states: "It is difficult to deny that this was an outright call for genocide." Jean-François Revel writes that Joseph Stalin recommended study of the 1849 Engels article in his 1924 book On Lenin and Leninism. My source for all this is Wikipedia.

Romanians were certainly one nation Engels considered unfit, as Larry Watts explains in his 'With Friends Like These'.

Wikipedia gives various estimates by historians of how many people died because of Communism, ranging from 10-20 million to 148 million. They include these.


Christian Nestell Bovee, Thoughts, Feelings, and Fancies (1857): “Next to God, we are indebted to women, first for life itself, and then for making it worth having.” I agree.

William Butler Yeats, The Land of Heart's Desire:
“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.”

A.E. Housman: “I find Cambridge an asylum, in every sense of the word.”

Turner: "After a short and frantic storm, the sun has come back out, and cherry blossom lies in deep pink and white drifts like slain chivalry."

Peter Hitchens today on his blog: "Did Jesus want Britain to increase its population by seven million people in 20 years? That is the number of migrants who have come to this country in that period, utterly and permanently changing the country in many ways."

Will Trump return and would this be a good thing?

George Kennan had a very great mind. He was one of the very, very few genuine conservatives that America ever produced. He was the American diplomat who invented the doctrine that the Soviet Union had to be contained when in February 1946 he sent an 8,000-word telegram to the State Department known as the Long Telegram. Soviet policy, Kennan argued, was “neurotic,” rooted in Russian insecurity, Communist ideology, and the need to sustain “dictatorship.” Because of their “Oriental secretiveness and conspiracy,” the Russians would manufacture enemies and act aggressively. That's still true. Resisting Russian“expansion” and “aggression” was a necessity, he said - that was true then and now.

But he did not support the cold war, as it was waged at least, opposed the arms race, opposed the Vietnam war and vehemently opposed extending Nato in the 1990s, predicting that it would lead to war which would make people say we were right to expand Nato when in fact the reverse would be true.

The three most important things now in world politics are to end the war in Ukraine as fast as possible before Ukraine is wrecked, to contain Russia without a cold war or arms race and to avoid a cold war with China.

For all his great faults and failures. Donald Trump is the only candidate for the American presidency I can imagine achieving these three.

Saturday, 13 May 2023

'Russia must be isolated. Utterly walled off,’ said the Russian. ‘When Putin falls, the new regime will be the same as the old’

At an Estonian literary festival in June a discussion about Russia was held between a journalist, a Russian exile and an Estonian politician. I learnt this in the British magazine Country Life, of all places, while sitting in a café in Lviv googlng the Estonian liqueur I was drinking.

"‘Russia,’ the Russian said, ‘must be isolated. Utterly walled off. Let the world forget Russia.’ There was no murmur of protest, so he continued: ‘The state must be declared rogue, a terrorist organisation. You don’t deal with it. Because when Putin falls, and he will, the new regime will be the same as the old one, with another figurehead.’

"Russia missed its chance to change in the 1990s and what the Estonian MP called the ‘Chekist state’ would rule Russia forever; the people are too miserable, poor and ill-educated to protest."

Thursday, 11 May 2023


"Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what's left and live it properly." Marcus Aurelius

"Culture is on the horns of this dilemma: if profound and noble, it must remain rare; if common, it must become mean." George Santayana

“The modern habit of doing ceremonial things unceremoniously is no proof of humility; rather it proves the offender’s inability to forget himself in the rite, and his readiness to spoil for every one else the proper pleasure of ritual.” C.S. Lewis

"If diversity is a good thing, then diversity of thought must be regarded as the greatest good of all." Douglas Murray

"It is given to none of us to see more than a fraction of a shadow of the truth." Stanley Baldwin

AJ (@iamnotshouting):
@rubyhamad I am a brown and like you from the ME. When I migrated here I attended schools, roads, hospitals that were built by the hard work and taxes of generations of white Australians. Yet I was treated equal. For that reason, I don't act like an insulting & uppity ingrate. How about you?

"There is the moral of all human tales;
‘Tis but the same rehearsal of the past.
First freedom and then Glory—when that fails,
Wealth, vice, corruption,--barbarism at last."
Lord Byron

What a shame


Tuesday, 9 May 2023

A poetic and hunting photograph of the London Underground in 1890


When Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister. 

(Looking back, he seems better than any of his successors. He said, "Whatever happens will be for the worse, and therefore it is in our interest that as little should happen as possible.")


Monday, 8 May 2023


"... it has to be said that royal births, weddings and deaths are probably the one time most contemporary Britons encounter religion." 

Tim Stanley in the Telegraph today

"It [the Gold State Coach] may be traditional, and it may look impressive in an antiquated, grotesquely ostentatious, fountains-of-gold-leaf-kind of a way. But by all accounts it is monstrously uncomfortable for its

Sunday, 7 May 2023

Watching the coronation again, something they couldn’t do in 1953

The coronation was beautiful but spoilt by using 1960s liturgy and the peers not wearing ermine or swearing homage. 

And the Welsh singer and the Gospel singers. Welby and his Grace of York very unimpressive and the Queen not regal. She cuts a very odd figure. The King is as ever uncomfortable in his skin. For the first time I miss Diana.