Sunday, 25 September 2022

The late P.J. O'Rourke two years ago



"America not only doesn’t have political parties in the commonly accepted sense of the term, it is not a nation in the commonly accepted sense of the term. It is not united by bonds of history, culture or ethnicity and only barely by a common (sometimes very common) language. America is not even united by territory: in our frontier mentality, there’s always lots more of it. Mars!

"America is what you get when you turn a random horde of people loose in a vast and various space. Some came here on the make, some on the run, some were dragged here involuntarily as slaves, some were chased here by poverty, oppression or bigotry and some were here already and were defeated by disease and demographics until they became foreigners in their own country.
The bunch of us have never got along."

Zoomers and cultural revolution

In September 2016 I wrote: 'People aged over 40 can save the planet if they act quickly, before the progressive young take over. Then all is doomed. Brexit is a start.'

Now the outlook looks much gloomier, to judge by this description of the generation that is starting at British universities now by Matt Goodwin, who predicts another cultural revolution.

Actually it is a further development of the same one which began in the 1960s. It began with American communists agitating over segregation and continued onward. Many of its leading figures were Marxist but it is not classically Marxist.

Quotations

'To be silent the whole day, see no newspaper, hear no radio, listen to no gossip, be thoroughly and completely lazy, thoroughly and completely indifferent to the fate of the world is the finest medicine a man can give himself.' Henry Miller

i don't know which curmudgeon wrote this, a couple of years ago.




'Beauty matters. It is not just a subjective thing but a universal need of human beings. If we ignore this need we find ourselves in a spiritual desert.' Sir Roger Scruton

"'O, help me heaven,' she prayed, `to be decorative and to do right'." Ronald Firbank

Friday, 23 September 2022

Dmitry Muratov, 2021 Nobel Peace Prize winning Russian newspaper editor, talking to Reuters

"Ukraine will never forgive Russia......You may want to forgive everything, but you click in the search engine: Mariupol, Irpin or Bucha. And you can’t forgive a goddamn thing anymore. Every step of this war, every crime and every shot, every torn scrotum will now remain forever.”

From Diana Johnson’s latest article: The Spectre of Germany is Rising



'Russia’s defense of Donbass, wise or unwise, by no means indicates a Russian intention to invade other countries. This false alarm is the pretext for the remilitarization of Germany in alliance with the Anglo-Saxon powers against Russia.

'....But the real point of the Kosovo war was that it transformed NATO from a defensive into an aggressive alliance, ready to wage war anywhere, without U.N. mandate, on whatever pretext it chose.

'This lesson was clear to the Russians. After the Kosovo war, NATO could no longer credibly claim that it was a purely “defensive” alliance.

'As soon as Serbian President Milosevic, to save his country’s infrastructure from NATO destruction, agreed to allow NATO troops to enter Kosovo, the U.S. unceremoniously grabbed a huge swath territory to build the its first big U.S. military base in the Balkans. NATO troops are still there.'


Full article here. Actually, it seems to me, Germany is being forced to do America's bidding, but she is looking at the Ukraine war in the right way, as a struggle for power between Russia and America.

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall." F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“All the world is queer save thee and me, and sometimes I think even thou art a little queer.” Robert Owen, the early socialist. 
He was a Quaker and so used thee and thou.

“Do you wish to be praised by a man who curses himself thrice every hour? Would you wish to please a man who does not please himself? Does a man please himself who repents of nearly everything that he does?” Marcus Aurelius

"Women are like judo players. They use your strength against you." Paul-Andre Michaud

Peter Hitchens on the risk of nuclear war and Hitler analogies

I agree with Peter Hitchens on almost everything and disagreed with his late brother Christopher on most things. I thought Peter took sympathy for Putin too far but the invasion of Ukraine shows that his warnings about Russia's grievances and the risks of mishandling Russia were all too justified.

Like me, he thought Russia would not invade because she would be mad to do so. In this conversation with my namesake and the Spectator's Katie Balls he points out that he was right to think the Russian army was far too weak to conquer Ukraine.

He also talks about my favourite theme; the folly of analogies with Munich and 1938. Putin is not Hitler, nor were Nasser, Saddam, or people who don't like feminism.

Appeasement happens all the time, he rightly says. Of course, thankfully.

Anyway, appeasement at Munich 1938 was the right thing to do. I thought everyone agreed on that now. It bought Britain and France time. France, in any case, would never have gone to war for her ally Czechoslovakia, so why should Britain, which had no allies?

(Perhaps we’d be better off without allies now, but this is not the moment for me to persuade anyone of that.)

A better question is was Chamberlain right to guarantee Poland and go to war the next year?

This is the question that is most relevant to the present moment. The answer, with hindsight, must be no.

Had we ignored the German invasion of Belgium in 1914 and had Russia ignored the Hapsburg Emperor’s invasion of Serbia in 1914 how vastly better place the world would be. The Austro-Hungarian, Russian and Ottoman empires would probably still exist. No world wars, no Bolshevism, no fascism, no problems in the Middle East.

Peter Hitchens thinks the danger of nuclear war is greater than at any time in history. It's one of the two moments of greatest danger, comparable with the moment the Americans nearly caused a nuclear war over Cuba. Compare the American attitude to Cuba with the Russian attitude to Ukraine. I think it is very unlikely indeed but even a very small possibility is very serious indeed.

He also thinks the invasion happened because Putin is not rational. I do not think I’d go that far, though he is very paranoid, as all authoritarian leaders are.

All the Romanian taxi drivers I have spoken to, several at the weekend, think the blame for the war is evenly divided between Russia and America or in one case America's. 

Clever people usually side with Ukraine, though they sometimes point out that Ukraine is trying to suppress use of Romanian in schools in ethnic Romanian areas. 

Quite a few tell me they think America wanted this war. One clever friend told me, when Russia invaded, that America had given Putin a lose-lose choice. This observation, I see now, is true.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Quotations

"No man is free who is not master of himself." Epictetus

"An unused talent is a theft." Nicolae Iorga

"Nina, we have become the sort of people our parents warned us about." Augustus John to his sister.

“Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.”
Honoré de Balzac

"Life is not a journey, it's like a musical. The point isn't to arrive, but to dance and sing whilst the music plays." Alan Watts

"Tradition is a set of solutions for which we have forgotten the problems. Throw away the solution and you get the problem back." Donald Kingsbury

“If kids knew what they wanted to be at age eight, the world would be filled with cowboys and princesses. I wanted to be a pirate. Thank God nobody took me seriously and scheduled me for eye removal and peg leg surgery.” Bill Maher

"‘Why aren’t I 50 points ahead?’, you might ask." Hillary Clinton, September 20 2020 but she did not answer her question. Donald Trump said: "
Because she's terrible. Everything she touches is bad. Look at Libya"

"There are more beheadings and honour killings than there used to be but, on the plus side, there's a much wider range of cuisine". Douglas Murray, 2017

"In my opinion, the Ukraine war is not about the conflict between America and Russia, it is a war to destabilise and weaken Europe. The Ukraine only serves as a theatre of war. The plan is working. The first blow was caused by uncontrolled immigration from the Middle East. The death blow will be the shutdown of energy." Princess Gloria von Thurn und Taxis, a few days ago. She thinks the Morgenthau Plan in 1945 to deindustrialise Germany is being revived. (People who believe in the Illuminati conspiracy theory, which I certainly DO NOT, think her family are one of the families which secretly rule the world.)

Former Romanian Foreign Minister Andrei Marga

Former Romanian Foreign Minister and head of the Romanian Cultural Institute Andrei Marga argued in Alba Iulia that there will be no peace in Europe until the United States, Russia, Germany, Ukraine and China reach some kind of agreement on the current conflict. He said Ukraine was “very far from democracy”, with parties banned, media controlled and many wealthy people leaving the country with lots of money. Bizarrely he thinks the Northern Bucovina should return to Romania even though nowadays only twenty percent of the population is Romanian. The Romanian Foreign Ministry was very embarrassed.

Italian town once run by communists poised to vote far right

From an article in the Guardian. 


'Apicella used to work as a mechanic at the giant Falck steelworks that once dominated Sesto’s skyline. In the 1990s, as local industry shut down, he voted hard left. On Sunday, he will vote for the rightwing coalition represented by Rauti. “The left has stopped representing the workers,” said Apicella. “Before, there used to be two Milans, the Catholic one of the bosses and the middle classes, and the leftwing one of the workers. The second world has disintegrated. Politicians on the left allowed globalisation to destroy it. Make sure you put that in your paper.”

 

'...As in Orbán’s Hungary, gender theory has become a useful dividing line. During a campaign that has become ever more polarised, Rauti, who is the Brothers of Italy spokesperson for equal rights, made headlines by attacking a recently broadcast episode of Peppa Pig featuring a polar bear character with same-sex parents.

German Domestic Intelligence Is Running 100s Of Fake Right-Wing Extremist Social Media Accounts



Adolf Hitler while a soldier joined an extreme right party called the German National Socialist Party. I strongly suspect that he did so on orders from his superiors to infiltrate it. The rest is history.

Now the German extreme right online seems to be infiltrated by hundred of agents from various agencies.

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

On the road from Biertan to Sibiu

 


Dawn yesterday on the night train from Budapest to Bucharest

 


Putin's mental state

Don't ask whether Putin is a psychopath like Stalin. See the war in Ukraine as a clash between American and Russian interests. All the psychology an historian needs to know is that all men desire power.

Monday, 19 September 2022

For God's sake let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings


The glories of our blood and state

         Are shadows, not substantial things;

There is no armour against Fate;

         Death lays his icy hand on kings:

               Sceptre and Crown

               Must tumble down,

And in the dust be equal made

With the poor crooked scythe and spade.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

A deeply kitsch Gaelic blessing

Coming home from work, I only caught the end of the multi-denominational service in Belfast for the Queen. It was beyond appalling. The four celebrants one, unsurprisingly alas, the primate of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin, repeated one by one, lines from this prayer.

Deep peace of the running wave to you.

 

Deep peace of the flowing air to you.

 

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.

 

Deep peace of the shining stars to you

It was written in 1978 and sounds like it. It's the sort of thing that makes me understand why people are atheists. 

Lucky for the late Queen that she is in a place where she does not have to listen to things like this, which she had to do many times, much as she preferred the Book of Common Prayer.

What awful changes happened in her reign, especially to the churches.

Awful things happened in Northern Ireland, where murderers now sit in government. She had to shake the hand of one, but did not remove her glove.

Monday, 12 September 2022

Napoleon's observation in 1808 is relevant to the Ukrainian war now

"In war, three-quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter."

Janey Preger, who is in the left, says it very well

Someone who is what I would call excessively anti-monarchist asked; 'What the hell is all this crap about her duty and service. What did she actually do.' I said I'd try to explain in broad strokes of course.

'Imagine it is a dark, cold February morning. You would love to ride out with your horses, or walk your dogs or sit by the fire, reading the papers and sipping tea. Instead, you have to dress up in formal clothes and a fancy hat. You have to be driven hundreds of miles to open a new tinned pea factory in Carlisle, shake hands over and over with all kinds of dull dignataries and make small talk that has to be nice because these people will treasure every inane remark you make for the rest of their lives. Then you are given a lunch you have to force down in case you cause offence. Then drive hundreds of miles back. And you do this over and over and over whether you want to or not. And with good grace and kindness. Not to mention all the other stuff she did.'
 

Of COURSE she did everything from a position of amazing comfort and luxury but that's not the point. Of COURSE monarchy is irrational...like God. I haven't explained it very well but that's the best I can do. Well, I could go on in depth about people's need for belief in something. But I'm orf to feed the corgis!

What is the collective noun for Prime Ministers?

 



My favourite Harold Macmillan story is of when the Queen, Mrs. Thatcher and the five living former Prime Ministers had dinner at No. 10 in around 1986 to celebrate its 300th anniversary. As the photograph was being taken James Callaghan said: I wonder what is the collective noun for Prime Ministers. To which Lord Stockton, who was 91, instantly replied: a lack of principals.



Seen on Facebook

He should make Harry Prince of Wails

The monarchy touches things that are very deep indeed

"Its mystery is its life. We must not let in daylight upon magic." Walter Bagehot

 

"You can make all sorts of solid arguments against a constitutional monarchy — but the point of monarchy is precisely that it is not the fruit of an argument. It is emphatically not an Enlightenment institution. It’s a primordial institution smuggled into a democratic system. It has nothing to do with merit and logic and everything to do with authority and mystery — two deeply human needs our modern world has trouble satisfying without danger." Andrew Sullivan in Unherd today


I agree with Andrew Sullivan. 

One of the reasons why I love the Orthodox Church, incidentally, is that she predates and ignores the Enlightenment and this colours Romanian society, despite Communism and despite the European Union.

The Catholic Church seems to made peace with a lot of enlightenment and even some French revolutionary ideas, but then so has the British monarchy, of course.

Question from an American on Facebook

 “If racism wasn't a problem in the UK, why do you think this is the first time in 300 or so years since a person of color married into the British Royal Family?”



Jingo

A senior policy advisor to the U.S. Helsinki Commission, a committee made up of members of Congress, says sanctions against Russia should remain until unconditional surrender, regime change, demilitarisation and the break up of Russia. I don't expect China, India or the Gulf states to agree.

Paul Massaro
Sanctions on Russia can only be lifted after demilitarization, decolonization, denuclearization, and deputinization


My view and Andrew Roberts' of the British Empire are the same - Tom Holland's marginal note

 


Quotations

"We are Americans at puberty. We die French." Evelyn Waugh's diary, 18 July 1961

“In 1938, Czechoslovakia was betrayed. In 1939, Poland was saved. Less than one hundred thousand Czechs died during the war. Six and a half million Poles were killed. Which was better — to be a betrayed Czech or a saved Pole?” A.J.P Taylor in The Origins of the Second World War. Both countries, of course, were 'liberated' from Hitler by Stalin and the Marxists.

On V.E. Day the diarist Henry ('Chips') Channon, M.P. for Southend-on-Sea, threw a very grand party in his house in Belgrave Square. The guests included exiled royalty and many peers and peeresses. He said to the heiress Emerald Cunard, ‘This is what we were fighting for’ to which she replied, 'What, are they all Poles?’

Things that are VERY obvious to me but no-one else ever says, number 1.

 In a parliamentary democracy only MPs should elect party leaders.

Sunday, 11 September 2022

This table was tweeted yesterday by Igor Girkin

I agree with someone else who tweeted 'Igor Girkin is definitely my favorite evil mass murderer. He never pronounces nonsense and always cheers me up'



Professor Sam Greene of King's College, London

This is a very interesting thread on Twitter from a professor who wrote a book about Vladimir Putin. I quote a small part:

...As recently as yesterday, the consensus in Western policy circles – among US, UK & EU experts & officials – was that while Russia was not winning this war, neither was Ukraine. It was hard to find anyone who believed that Ukraine could make significant territorial advances.

For two months or more, everyone has assumed this to be a war of attrition, rather than of position – and for good reason. The counter-offensive in the south was a slog, and reports were coming in of heavy casualties. Meanwhile, signs of fatigue in the West were mounting.

...In war – as in politics – what people believe will happen next can be more important than what has actually occurred, and those beliefs can turn on a dime. What's more, in violent conflict those beliefs are imbued with powerful emotions, which can submerge rational thought. 

It's tempting to say that yesterday's 'attrition' story was wrong and that this war will now be decided by Russia's ability to resist Ukraine's advances. But the attrition story was not wrong yesterday: it only became wrong today.

Peter Hitchens writing about the late Queen today

At her Coronation she was allowed behind the thick curtains which conceal the workings of Government from most of us, and saw with absolute clarity that Christian faith is the compact that makes our freedom and laws possible. Unless we believe that a higher power stands above us, we will in the end have either anarchy or tyranny.

What did the late Queen think of her Prime Ministers? Blair was her least favourite until Boris

The late Queen made one big mistake, I was reminded by Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times today.

The devious Harold Macmillan manipulated her, at an audience at his bedside in hospital an hour after he had resigned, to appoint Lord Home as his successor, whereas the cabinet wanted Rab Butler. 

This is the reason why the monarch's last remaining power, to choose the Prime Minister when the Tories were in office, was taken from her and why we recently had the absurd, divisive and time wasting elections by Conservative Party members of the Prime Minister. 

It's why Boris Johnson and Liz Truss became Prime Minister. 

Neither were the choice of the cabinet or backbench MPs.

The system by which someone emerged was in some ways better, but it would have meant Margaret Thatcher would have been unlikely to have become leader of the party and Prime Minister. 

Had she done so it would have meant she would not have been removed.

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Thoughts

"A man's reaction to Monarchy is a kind of test. Monarchy can easily be "debunked"; but watch the faces, mark well the accents, of the debunkers. These are the men whose tap-root in Eden has been cut: whom no rumour of the polyphony, the dance, can reach—men to whom pebbles laid in a row are more beautiful than an arch. Yet even if they desire mere equality they cannot reach it. Where men are forbidden to honour a king they honour millionaires, athletes, or film-stars instead: even famous prostitutes or gangsters." (C.S. Lewis, “Equality”)

I never imagined that the former Prince of Wales could inspire such feelings of loyalty and affection in me. God save the King.

In the conjunction of Truss and Charles III, we have the most Manchester liberal of all Tory liberals, and the most deeply, mystically conservative, lover of every field and hedgerow King in many years. God grant that an unpopular PM leans on the advice of our oldest institution. [I am not sure about that. The Prince has shown signs of being Woke, as has the new Prince of Wales.]

An ethnic Russian bricklayer whom I met in Estonia in 2006 told me that the Third World War had already began. Someone else told me that this remark was often said in Russia. He looks prescient. This was two years before George W. Bush at the NATO conference in Bucharest said he would press for Ukraine and Georgia to join the alliance.

"The chief contribution of Protestantism to human thought is its massive proof that God is a bore." (H.L. Mencken.) Almost right. Protestantism has persuaded people that He is a bore. You see how boring Protestantism makes religion when you live in a deeply religious Orthodox country like Romania.




Friday, 9 September 2022

Day after she died

I am so cross with myself that I forgot to watch the King's speech live. How odd it feels to talk about the King. The service in St Paul's is spellbindingly beautiful,  far more so than any Novus Ordo Mass in English, but sad that a bishopess stood up and gave the sermon. What would Dr Johnson have said? How strange to hear the words 'God save the King!' after seventy years. Wonderful speech from backbenches by Boris. Shame though that he spoke from notes.

Someone came in and said the old Queen had passed away




This scene from my favourite comedy film, the Ladykillers, has been in my mind since the sad news yesterday. Mrs. Wilberforce remembers that at her 21st birthday party "someone came in and said the old Queen had passed away. Then everyone went home. That was the end of my party, all that time ago in Pangbourne."