Saturday 29 October 2016

Trollope was a sort of literary Canaletto

Anthony Trollope was a sort of literary Canaletto. 

Here he is talking to George Eliot about how he wrote his novels.

Parliamentary rule is the key to Britain's greatness

'After many European disappointments, we have rediscovered the key to our national success, which is not imperial, but parliamentary.' Charles Moore today in this article.

6 quotations

Interviewer: Could I ask you what failings in individuals, in others, you could most readily excuse?

Evelyn Waugh: Drunkenness.

Interviewer: Any others? Or are you so severe?

EW: (Slight pause) Anger. Lust. Dishonouring their father and mother. Coveting their neighbour's ox, ass, wife. Killing. I think there is almost nothing I can't excuse, except perhaps worshipping graven images. That seems idiotic.

I always accept that there are two points of view on anything: mine and one that is probably wrong. Richard Smith

Economic forecasting is such a consolation, confirming the imperishable wisdom of William Goldman - nobody knows anything. Bryan Appleyard

I ... began to hate what I was becoming in life—a British Establishment young hopeful. I decided instead to become a sort of anarchist. John Fowles

The whole nature of man presupposes woman, both physically and spiritually. His system is tuned into woman from the start, just as it is prepared for a quite definite world where there is water, light, air, salt, carbohydrates etc.. Carl Jung

INTERVIEWER Have you found any professional criticism of your work illuminating or helpful? Edmund Wilson, for example?

WAUGH Is he an American?


WAUGH I don't think what they have to say is of much interest, do you?

6 quotations

Interviewer: Could I ask you what failings in individuals, in others, you could most readily excuse?

Evelyn Waugh: Drunkenness.

Interviewer: Any others? Or are you so severe?

EW: (Slight pause) Anger. Lust. Dishonouring their father and mother. Coveting their neighbour's ox, ass, wife. Killing. I think there is almost nothing I can't excuse, except perhaps worshipping graven images. That seems idiotic.

Seven reasons to raise a child in Romania,and one reason not to

Romania is a wonderful place in which to bring up children, as this article "Seven reasons to raise a child in Romania, and one reason not to" suggests. The author, Debbie Stowe, could have added that private tutors are very cheap and you can easily pay for 1 to 1 full time tuition (EUR 300 a month should cover it) plus pay for extra things like Greek. Children play in the street, start conversations with passing adults and grow up in a civilised 1950s country - that is worth more than rubies. They grow up without feminist and PC indoctrination. Most people take the existence of God for granted.

Debbie neglects to say that Romanian children are left at home alone at a young age. Pace Debbie, thankfully not too many are taken to restaurants, which is a scourge in other Latin countries. Many children are just handed over to grandmothers.

Friday 28 October 2016

Hard Brexit is a liberal solution

I think hard Brexit, low taxes and low regulations could be a success. And pure nineteenth century liberalism. Unsurprisingly the Liberal Democrats are passionately opposed.

Thursday 27 October 2016

The greater the truth, the greater the libel: European report says British politicians failed to control the press

The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), part of the Council of Europe, has issued a report criticising the British media for using 

offensive, discriminatory and provocative terminology
and blamed it for a supposed rise in racist and xenophobic attacks (in fact there wasn't one) after the Brexit vote.

It cited Katie Hopkins’ article in The Sun, where she likened refugees to “cockroaches” with the headline: 

Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants.
The report urged the press to “take stock of the importance of responsible reporting, not only to avoid perpetuating prejudice and biased information, but also to avoid harm to targeted persons or vulnerable groups”. It specifically mentioned that the fuelling of prejudice against Muslims “showed a reckless disregard… for their safety” and complained that politicians have failed to control the press'
Have failed to control the press...
Political control of the press in England lapsed in the reign of King William III but is likely to make a comeback unless we are very lucky. Human rights are the enemy of freedom of speech, as of many other freedoms.

Camille Paglia on Donald Trump

But people want change and they’re sick of the establishment — so you get this great popular surge, like you had one as well… This idea that Trump represents such a threat to western civilisation — it’s often predicted about presidents and nothing ever happens — yet if Trump wins it will be an amazing moment of change because it would destroy the power structure of the Republican party, the power structure of the Democratic party and destroy the power of the media. It would be an incredible release of energy… at a moment of international tension and crisis.

Ancestral voices prophesying war in Syria

I do not like Putin's regime at all, absolutely do not condone what he has done in Ukraine, am aware of the war crimes of the Syrian government which Putin supports, but I see no sense in the UK or USA getting involved in Syria. I want the war in Syria to end as quickly as possible. And I note that the people who are most worried about Russia, like Anne Applebaum, Edward Lucas, The Economist, the European Commission etc are often the people least worried about migrants, Islam and Islamists, mass immigration into Europe - and wonder if this is a coincidence.

Russia has a GDP smaller than South Korea's. We accord them far too much importance. They are not the threat people think. I start to think the EU, which is a force for good in Eastern Europe, is more of a danger to Western Europe

How Romanians view Brexit

A few Romanians think it's magnificent of Britain to decide to leave the EU, but most are displeased, many very angry, because the only reason they can imagine why we are leaving is because of dislike of Eastern European immigrants. This hurts them all the more since the UK has so many non-white citizens.

They think we are even more arrogant then they already believed (which was very). They mostly don't believe that we simply want to make our own laws.

Among the politicians there is unhappiness about losing an ally at Brussels and incomprehension that we are leaving just because of a referendum. Referendum results in Romania are often simply ignored. Or even rigged. The result of the EU referendum here was widely believed to be rigged (so that the minimum turnout threshold was reached).

And Romanian politicians do not understand why David Cameron called a referendum just because he won an election on a promise to do so.

It all makes you proud to be British.

They also mostly think we won't really leave. And the lesson I draw is that no-one ever understands another country's politics.

'Vast' EU immigration was a 'MISTAKE', admits multiculturalism expert

I don't usually read the Express, though my grandmother read it, but this article was posted on Facebook by a Romanian who was incensed by it. She was angry that a British Muslim was suggesting that too many Eastern European migrants had come to the UK.

This is a very common complaint from Romanians. Why do we British accept Pakistanis but do not like Romanians?

Dr Uberoi, the 'expert in multiculturalism', thinks the UK voted to leave the EU because we were going through 'darker times' and were in the grip of morbid emotions. It sounds like a collective psychosis of some sort. Clearly he is in some ways an ass. But he also says something interesting, that what is remarkable is that after 43 years no emotional arguments were deployed in the referendum campaign for staying in the EU. The arguments on the Remain side 

“ weren’t about ‘we want to be with these people, we are part of Europe, we cannot sever this connection’ – those types of arguments… despite 40 years of union, didn’t exist.”
He is right - the arguments adduced by Remain were mostly economic, as they were in the 1975 referendum.  He might have added that even the economic arguments were pretty well purely negative. 

He might also have added that the reason why those arguments were not made is because politicians thought that they would not have found an echo in the hearts of voters.

The one non-economic argument occasionally heard was that being in the EU helped maintain peace in Europe. But this was clearly not true.

The reasons why we are leaving and other countries are not are complex, but the biggest reason is that we had a referendum and they didn't.

The comments to the Express article are interesting, as comments on articles about immigration always are. This caught my attention.

CHRISTIANS should be encouraged to marry Muslims as a way of tackling Islamophobia, a senior peer claimed today. Lord Scott, a former Supreme Court Judge, cited his own family - in which two of his four children married Muslims - as an example of how interfaith families can thrive. The peer, who sits as a crossbencher in the Lords, made the comments during a debate on how to improve relations between the Muslim community and other faith groups in the UK. He said: "Of my two sons one has become a Muslim and of my two daughters one of those has become a Muslim, and I have 12 lovely grandchildren, seven of whom are little Muslims..."I do just wonder that if an improvement is needed between the faith groups, one way of promoting that might be to encourage interfaith marriages."

Although polls suggest that immigration was not the primary reason for the Brexit vote immigration is an issue that naturally people feel intensely about - more so than even their standard of living. 25% of people asked in a survey in 2014 said that they would like ALL immigrants to be deported. 23% didn't answer the question. See p 17 of the survey here. 

Wednesday 26 October 2016


Translations are like mistresses ... the faithful ones are apt to be ugly and the beautiful ones false. Ogden Nash

What would happen to the earth if the moon blew up tomorrow? Nothing. It is a social construct that needs to be fearlessly confronted. Alex Woodcock-Clarke

Did Abraham Lincoln want to deport people too?

The joke American Republicans are telling is that if Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he would vote for Trump. But since he's dead, he will most likely be voting for Hillary.

But how would Lincoln vote if he were alive today? 

I understand why people, including Republicans, say it's wrong that the party of Lincoln should nominate Donald Trump. He is of course less a Republican than a sort-of Democrat. However, Donald Trump's promise to deport illegal immigrants would be unlikely to deter Lincoln from voting for his party. Abe, after deciding to free the slaves, originally wanted to send all the freed slaves to Central America. 

It is not clear whether he had in mind deporting them. He hoped they would leave voluntarily.

In 1862, Lincoln invited a delegation of black men to the White House, the first time African Americans had been invited to the White House, to suggest this. He told them:
"Your race are suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoys. The aspiration of man is to enjoy equality with the best when free; but on this broad continent not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours.
...It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free coloured people to remain...." Continued here.

Tuesday 25 October 2016

Dad's Army and the Matter of Britain

The death of Jimmy Perry, the creator of Dad's Army, prompts me to repost this article about the TV programme and the British myth. Since I wrote it, the referendum that David Cameron offered to prevent Tory voters defecting to UKIP has changed British history. It is once again ourselves alone - apart from, that is, Nato and the Americans.

Jonathan Freedland has written a thought-provoking, if condescending, article in The Guardian, likening Nigel Farage, the leader of the British Eurosceptic party UKIP, to Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army. I think Private Walker is more apposite but let that pass.  (If you don't know the programme it is pointless for me to explain but you might enjoy this.)

I prefer to point out that Captain Mainwaring, Pooterish, self-important, ridiculous, was a hero, whereas his much more agreeable adjunct, Sergeant Wilson, intelligent, suave, funny and upper middle-class, was weak. Mainwaring would have laid down his life for his country. Wilson would have been a defeatist, perhaps a quisling, had the Germans conquered Sussex, at least if not carefully watched by Mainwaring. 

Actually, the real myth bequeathed by the Second World War is that fascism is still a great danger or will be in Europe in the next twenty years. Evil morphs. The nearest thing to a fascist threat today and for the foreseeable future comes from Muslim extremists, not anti immigration parties.

Going to war with Germany with 1939 was in any case catastrophic for Britain, for the country we ostensibly went to war to save, Poland, for our ally France - and for the whole world. This truth is obscured by heroic myths. Continued here.

Monday 24 October 2016

Napoleon didn't win after all

From an interview I read a while back with Anthony Burgess from 1971, just before England joined the EEC. Now it seems Napoleon's victory was temporary.

I used to think that England might become just a place that liked to be visited—like that island in J. M. Barrie’s Mary Rose—but now I see that so many of the things worth seeing—old things—are disappearing so that England can become a huge Los Angeles, all motorways, getting about more important than actually getting anywhere. England is now going into Europe, not—as I had once expected and even hoped—America, and I think it will now have Europe’s faults without its virtues. The decimal coinage is a monstrosity, and soon there’ll be litres of beer, as in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and no cheap wine or caporal tobacco. Absorption, anyway, since England either has to absorb or be absorbed. Napoleon has won.

Of course we English never benefitted from cheap wine and smoking, banned in public enclosures, now costs a fortune. On the other hand, when England joined the EEC drinking wine was something most working-class and lower middle class families didn't do except on special occasions like Christmas. England has been Europeanised. The duvet invaded and took over, driving out sheets and blankets completely. Showers replaced baths. Sitting out in the street drinking cappuccinos became, as they now say, a thing, despite the weather. I much prefer this to Americanisation, the main theme of post-war English history.

Hallowe'en rears its ugly head again, a bit sooner each year

I am a very easy going man but three things do slightly annoy me. One, the Americanised international commercial celebration of Hallowe'en, which feels like American cultural imperialism, secondly the fact that people seem to talk about it all through October, BUT MOST OF ALL the way people miss off the apostrophe. That does annoy me. 

On the other hand, it's harmless fun and another excuse for Romanians to have parties, as if excuse were ever needed. 

On the third hand Romanians should mark St Andrew's Eve, which is the eve of my own natal day.

Sunday 23 October 2016

Seen on Facebook today

The far right is almost non-existent. Political danger comes entirely from the far left and the entitled centre that's started copying the far left's tactics.

The privileged and protected people of the centre, those who get money directly and indirectly from an ever-expanding state and ever-increasing regulatory burden that requires tithe payments to accountants, solicitors and the rest of the rent-seeking classes, have started copying the tactics of the far left. This group includes employees of state education (and health) systems.

They've started aggressively adopting the no-platforming tactics of the far left. We saw it with Brexit and we're seeing it in the US election. They're using aggression, lies and abuse, as well as actual violence sometimes, to make it socially and professionally impossible to hold views that conflict with their own.

Peter Risdon

Conversation with a Professor of International Relations

This is a Facebook conversation with the same professor who, months ago, said to me "I reject the idea of countries".  He's a German, though he thinks that's irrelevant. The beautiful, unworldly spirituality and idealism of the Germans continues to so much harm. Twice they destroyed Europe by insane nationalism and now they seem to be doing so by insane internationalism. 

Prof: And yet the Home Office wants to send asylum seekers from Mosul back to Iraq

Me: Europe unfortunately has to stop taking asylum seekers - we can pay for them to be put in camps or poor countries - this will weed out the many economic refugees. The alternative is a complete transformation of Europe over the next century, unwanted by Europeans, and the end of ethnic states.

Bystander: Strange position for an emigre to take. What makes you such a special human being?

Me: Well I wish there were only 300 foreigners in Romania as in early 90s but those days are gone. We are not many though, max 100,000 all told out of 20 million - perhaps much fewer.

Prof: Foreigners are just people. I find all of this deeply repulsive

Friday 21 October 2016

Give war a chance

From yesterday's Daily Telegraph, which used to be a better newspaper than it is now.
"Russia aims to effectively end the war in Syria on the eve of the US election, Nato officials WARNED last night."  (My emphatic capital letters. Not important compared to bombed hospitals, but I'm sorry the Telegraph splits infinitives now.)
Why 'warned'? Don't we want an end to the war? 

Yes, I know the regime has committed many times more atrocities than has ISIS in Syria and that Russia has committed countless atrocities.

But what is the alternative? 

And is Nato more worried about civilian deaths or by geopolitics, the war between Saudis and Israel against Iran? 

Edward Luttwak is the best foreign policy analyst there is. In this piece he argues that we now live in a world of frozen conflicts, when outright victories for one side or another are often preferable. Like me, he thinks that we must hope Russia gets on with winning the war for the Syrian government. It is worth reading, like everything he writes.

Why doesn't Theresa May see this?

Because she is not very bright. 

But why doesn't Boris Johnson, who is? 

He has long favoured intervention in Syria. Like George W. Bush and many others he sees himself as a Churchill opposing appeasement. Putin is one in a very long line of leaders confused with Hitler, from Stalin and Nasser to Saddam and Gaddafi.

The evil that Hitler analogies have done is immeasurable and they become more and more frequent the further we get from the Second World War. Almost all of politics is a meditation on Hitler these days. It's the reason why Angela Merkel invited millions of Arabs and other random people without papers into Germany, the reason for the euro and why EU enthusiasts want to take even more power from member states, the reason for all the liberal wars that have caused so much suffering, bloodshed and chaos, the reason why European governments are frightened above all things of nationalism and racism. And are going exactly the right way about relighting those seemingly extinct fires.

In any case, I am not at all sure that the defeat of ISIS in Syria, if Russia and Assad ever get round to it, will be in either British or European interests. Much better, from a realpolitik point of view, if jihadis busy themselves in the Levant rather than in Birmingham or Nice.

Thursday 20 October 2016

Pluralists, fascists and exiles

In Manhattan, my little island off the continent, I see the children of the global business elite marry each other and settle in London or New York or Mumbai. They send their children to the same schools and are alert to all class markers. And those elites, of Mumbai and Manhattan, do not often identify with, or see a connection to or an obligation toward, the rough, struggling people who live at the bottom in their countries. In fact, they fear them, and often devise ways, when home, of not having their wealth and worldly success fully noticed. Peggy Noonan.  
This comes from an article in the Wall St Journal called How Global Elites Forsake Their Countrymen which, I feel sure, inspired Theresa May's Tory party conference speech where she said, 'If you are a citizen of the world you are a citizen of nowhere.' Citizen of the world is an oxymoron, of course.
It is however, a dangerous illusion to suppose that the more pluralistic a society is, the more liberal it will be. John Kekes
I'm not a fan of multiculturalism, you only have to look at America to see the result, terrible food, everyone wearing blue jeans, drinking coca cola and listening to rock and roll. Multiculturalism is the opposite of diversity. Bunny Sheffield
Seems like the only lesson liberals learned from evolution is that God doesn't exist. They ignore/deny all the other stuff. Creationists. Peter Totman
There are two types of fascists: fascists and anti-fascists. Liviu Angheluta
The question of the stranger in a society which estranges everybody from it--while forcing everybody to assimilate their own alienation--takes cover under dubious and sinister masks. Norman Manea
The happy and powerful do not go into exile. Alexis de Tocqueville
When one thinks of all the people who support or have supported Fascism, one stands amazed at their diversity. What a crew! George Orwell

Only 15 Cambridge students voted against 'This house would open its doors to refugees'

James Delingpole, writing in today's Spectator, says that only 15 undergraduates voted against a Cambridge Union motion he defended that 'This house would open its doors to refugees'. 

And remember, Union members are way to the right of the general student body. 

At the Oxford Union it was the same story, except the Oxonians were much less polite and thoughtful.

Both universities, he says, have swung further to the left in the last decade. Right-wing students there are like Catholic recusants in Elizabethan England.

This is bad news for the future of England. 

Thank goodness, though, that at least we have Brexit. That was a hard slap in the face to Oxford and Cambridge and no mistake.

A Cambridge undergraduate told me in July that 85% of undergraduates voted Remain and the rest kept quiet about voting Leave (why?)

Wednesday 19 October 2016

R.I.P. Elizabeth Ratiu

Mrs. Ratiu 2 years ago after voting for Klaus Iohannis at the Romanian Embassy in London.

I am very sad indeed to hear that Elizabeth Ratiu has died. I lunched with her once many years ago. She was a lovely and very intelligent lady and a great Romanian patriot. She became a Romanian citizen when she married Ion Ratiu in 1945. What a great First Lady of Romania she would have made.

When I lunched with her for some unknown reason the subject of the Holy Trinity came up - I cannot imagine why - or was it sermons? - and I said that someone once said that no -one ever preached a sermon on the subject of the Holy Trinity for more than four minutes without lapsing into heresy. She smiled sweetly and said 'I knew you were going to say that'.

She told me that she only met Olivia Manning once, at her publisher's, and they exchanged recipes but didn't talk about Romania. She also said she chose Ion Ratiu from among her many suitors (she was the Pilkington heiress) because he was the only one who believed in an ideal - freeing Romania.

Tuesday 18 October 2016

I want to give a breakfast party and fulfil a childhood ambition

Somerset Maugham said
It is not true that you can't eat well in England. You can eat better in England than in any other country in the world, so long as you eat breakfast three times a day.
I suddenly crave a full English breakfast with fried bread and black pudding.

Also an early Victorian breakfast party. With much kedgeree. And kidneys.

When 12 and reading about Macaulay's breakfast parties I dream of giving one - lashings of kedgeree. And champagne? I should so so this very weekend.

Catherine Sedgwick, a visiting American novelist, said that an English breakfast party starts around ten to eleven o'clock.

“The number of guests is never allowed to exceed twelve. The entertainment is little varied from our eight o'clock breakfasts. There are coffee, tea, chocolate, toast, rolls, grated beef and eggs, and in place of our solid beef-steaks, - broiled chickens, reindeers' tongues, sweetmeats, fruit and ices.”
I imagine the tongue was beef tongue (so delicious), not reindeer tongue.

Another American novelist, Mrs. Beecher Stowe:
“Looking around the table, and seeing how everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves, I said to Macaulay that these breakfast parties were a novelty to me; that we never had them in America, but that I thought them the most delightful form of social life. He seized upon the idea as he often does, and turned it playfully inside out, and shook it upon all sides, just as one might play with the lustres of a chandelier - to see them glitter. He expatiated on the merits of breakfast parties as compared with all other parties. He said, ‘You invite a man to dinner because you must invite him ; because cause you are acquainted with his grandfather, or it is proper you should; but you invite a man to breakfast because you want to see him. You may be sure if you are invited to breakfast, there is something agreeable about you.’ - This idea struck me as very sensible; and we all, generally, having the fact before our eyes that we were invited to breakfast, approved the sentiment."

Monday 17 October 2016

England has no eternal friendships, only eternal interests

I hold with respect to alliances, that England is a Power sufficiently strong, sufficiently powerful, to steer her own course, and not to tie herself as an unnecessary appendage to the policy of any other Government. I hold that the real policy of England—apart from questions which involve her own particular interests, political or commercial—is to be the champion of justice and right; pursuing that course with moderation and prudence, not becoming the Quixote of the world, but giving the weight of her moral sanction and support wherever she thinks that justice is, and wherever she thinks that wrong has been done…I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow… And if I might be allowed to express in one sentence the principle which I think ought to guide an English Minister, I would adopt the expression of Canning, and say that with every British Minister the interests of England ought to be the shibboleth of his policy.

Lord Palmerston, Liberal Foreign Secretary, House of Commons (1 March 1848).

Darwin considers whether to marry

'This is the Question. 

Marry: children (if it please God); constant companion (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one; object to be beloved & played with — better than a dog anyhow; home & someone to take care of house; charms of music and female chit-chat. These things good for one's health — but terrible loss of time.

Not Marry: freedom to go where one liked; choice of Society and little of it; conversation of clever men at clubs; not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle; to have the expense and anxiety of children — perhaps quarrelling; loss of time; cannot read in the evenings; fatness and idleness; anxiety and responsibility; less money for books — if many children forced to gain one's bread . . .

Perhaps my wife won't like London; then the sentence is banishment & degradation into indolent, idle fool.'

Marry. QED.'

Sunday 16 October 2016

The world is being rewritten as pulp fiction

It's like a very bad novel, isn't it? Donald Trump might be POTUS depending on what Julian Assange leaks, from the bedroom where he is effectively imprisoned in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Not that the emails are having any effect so far. Partly because they are not written by or even to Hillary. Americans, and everyone else, are far too riveted by stories of Trump putting his hand up diverse skirts. Following on from the tape in which Trump boasts about groping fans.

I'm not even sure the groping is having that much effect either. Hillary is ahead in one poll by much the same 4% margin as she was before the tape was found. Another shows her way ahead, another even shows Trump leading. 

79% of Republicans are enthusiastic about their candidate, which compares with 81% of Democrats who enthuse about theirs. 

Mitt aroused much more enthusiasm than either of these two.

I don't blame anyone who thinks Trump is preferable to Hillary, but for me the groping, on top of all the man's other defects, was too much. 

Above all, because were Donald Trump to win he would make America seem ridiculous, a joke in bad taste. And that would reduce America's moral authority, soft power and dignity. It would thereby make the world even more dangerous.

And, yes, I know very well that he is the peace candidate and Hillary likely to start wars.

It's like Henry Kissinger said of the Iran-Iraq War.
What a shame they can't both lose.
(It was reported weeks ago, by the way, that Dr. Kissinger and George Schulz would jointly endorse Hillary, but instead they said that they will not endorse either candidate.)

I hope Trump loses narrowly and the GOP controls both House and Senate, meaning gridlock. I think gridlock is a very good thing. The fewer new laws that are made and the less power a president has the better. And I hope many of the ideas Donald Trump has expressed are taken up by a successful anti-globalist Republican candidate in four years' time.

Hillary may not have groped anyone (she seemed to look lecherously at Christina Aguilera's cleavage, but that's allowed), but we know from Assange that she did say, 
My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.
So I certainly do not blame those who are going to vote for Trump. 

H.H. Asquith could not safely be left alone with young girls, but he was a pretty good Prime Minister on the whole, though a Liberal. He also drank too much and gave us the word 'squiffy'. Trump is a teetotaler. Still I feel Trump just won't do.

Friday 14 October 2016

Bucharest in autumn, by Octav Dragan

Liberation from global government

I am afraid Trump just won't do, but I do love these words from his latest speech. 

"Our great civilization, here in America and across the civilized world has come upon a moment of reckoning. We’ve seen it in the United Kingdom, where they voted to liberate themselves from global government and global trade deal, and global immigration deals that have destroyed their sovereignty and have destroyed many of those nations. But, the central base of world political power is right here in America, and it is our corrupt political establishment that is the greatest power behind the efforts at radical globalization and the disenfranchisement of working people. Their financial resources are virtually unlimited, their political resources are unlimited, their media resources are unmatched, and most importantly, the depths of their immorality is absolutely unlimited."

Thursday 13 October 2016

Breasts are very powerful things. Discuss.

What a great general paper question for undergraduate historians that would make.

Off the top of my head, I'd mention Lola Montez (whose bust measured 50 inches) and the Bavarian revolution of 1848. 

Lola Montez was a courtesan and dancer, famous for her 'spider dance', which involved her being forced to disrobe because of a spider that crawled into her dress. Lola Montez was her stage name. She was an Irishwoman of good family and her real name was Marie Gilbert. She was a liberal (by the standards of Germany at the time) and, in the year in which she was King Ludwig's mistress and had a lot of power in Bavaria, she made an enemy of the Jesuits and the Church. Her unpopularity led to her royal lover losing his throne.

Had her bust been smaller, as someone said of Cleopatra's nose...

I was meant to be a historian.

I know about her bust from a curious 19th century medical book that I once dipped into. She approached the author, a doctor, to see if she could have her breasts reduced in size.

Of course tastes in beauty change. I think a character in a Noel Coward play said that when you see photographs of women who are well attested to have made entire trainfuls of men spontaneously stand up to look you find that they look like men themselves. I fail to see from photographs why many women were considered famous beauties, including Marie of Romania, who modestly said  that she was not necessarily the most beautiful woman in Europe but she was certainly the most beautiful queen.

There are some unflattering pictures of Lola but this one explains why the King of Bavaria was captivated.

Image result for lola montez

Bob Dylan has just won the Nobel Literature Prize

Professor Christopher Ricks, whom I never went to hear at university, famously thought Dylan, whom I've never heard, a fine poet. Q.E.D.

I must listen to the man's music but he seems as worthy as Pearl Buck and much more so than Obama, who was given the peace prize before he'd done anything, just for not being George W. Bush. 

Scotland will remain in the UK, partly because of Brexit

The Scottish Nationalists can only have one more referendum. If they lose again it's over. 

Of course they can only hold a referendum if Westminster lets them. If the SNP fights an election with a referendum in its manifesto it would give it leverage over Westminster, but they very recently had a referendum, so not that much leverage.

Much more importantly, the Scottish Nationalists will not ask for a referendum unless they are sure they will win. And they will not, in the foreseeable future, have a chance of winning. 

Scots will not vote to leave because they would have to leave the UK without - at least at first and very possibly ever - joining the EU. 

They might have left the UK while the UK remained in the EU, but even then it would have been impossible for them to have negotiated with the EU until after independence. The EU would not waive that rule because Spain (thinking of Catalonia), Romania (Transylvania) and Belgium (Flanders) would not permit it. And if the EU waived its rules the UK would not permit it. A penny of public money spent on negotiating with the EU would be ultra vires.

Leaving the UK without joining the EU means Scotland having to pay her own bills. 

To be truly independent and not subsidised by either England and Wales or Europe would be something the Scots simply could not contemplate. If Scotland were an independent country now, Scots would have the biggest deficit of any OECD member state.

Had the Scots voted for independence they would have achieved it in August of this year. The SNP during the referendum campaign forecast that North Sea oil revenues would be almost £8 billion by 2015/16. In reality, they came to £60 million. 

Nor will Scots like having to adopt the euro and having another currency from England and Wales - to say nothing of tariff barriers. Or a border between England and Wales.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has just been playing games since the referendum result. It is shocking that very few journalists understand this.

Straight Talk About Christopher Columbus

Oscar Wilde said,
"America had often been discovered before Columbus, but it had always been hushed up."
"America has never quite forgiven Europe for having been discovered somewhat earlier in history than itself."
Columbus Day is the day when American countries celebrate what used to be the discovery of America but is now the European discovery of America.

It was not a festival that I mark and so I missed it a few days ago, but this article by historian David Tucker in the Wall St. Journal on the subject of the European conquest of the Americas is very worth reading. He points out:

"... a rel­atively small num­ber of Spaniards were able to con­quer the Aztec em­pire in part be­cause many of the in­dige­nous peo­ple the Aztecs had con­quered—and of­ten sac­ri­ficed to their gods—hated the Aztecs and joined with the Span­ish to fight them."
Mexicans had long believed in a saviour who would come to them from the East and identified stout Cortez with this saviour. About this they were right. 

Hillary dozes through Al Gore

A true conservative

"If there is a class war—and there is—it is important that it should be handled with subtlety and skill. ... it is not freedom that Conservatives want; what they want is the sort of freedom that will maintain existing inequalities or restore lost ones."Maurice Cowling, "The Present Position," Conservative Essays , Portillo ed., 1978.

I read Conservative Essays as a VIth Former with fascination and agreed with much of it but disliked a certain amount. This cumbrous sentence shocked me when I read it aged 18. I still don't believe in class war (though he was writing in the 1970s) but I do believe inequality and hierarchy are good and necessary things.

Maurice Cowling wrote in 1981 to the editors of the London Review of Books,

“Argument is not what it seems to me suitable to do with opinions. What one does with opinions—all one needs to do with them, having found that one has them—is to enjoy them, display them, use them, develop them, in order to cajole, press, bully, soothe, and sneer other people into sharing (or being affronted by) them. To argue them is, it seems to me, a very vulgar, debating-society sort of activity.”
How very much I wish I had gone to Peterhouse and been taught by him and by the great Edward Norman.

I am very certain that were he alive Cowling would be a strong supporter of Donald Trump.

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Trump is a very odd man and his locker-room talk is disturbing and strange

A man is that creature with two feet and eight hands. (Jayne Mansfield)
Is the way Donald Trump talked about feeling up women fans normal locker-room talk? Not for all or most men, certainly, but for some?

I am not the best person to ask. I never go near a locker-room and prefer the company and friendship of women to that of men. However, of course crude talk about women is commonplace among many (by no means all) men. 

Donald Trump has tweeted:
"The very foul mouthed Sen. John McCain begged for my support during his primary (I gave, he won), then dropped me over locker room remarks!"
We remember that McCain called his wife a very rude word, without any cause, on tape. 

But the words are not the issue - groping strangers is. And it's a cumulative thing.

When, in my mid-twenties, a bunch of women friends invited me into the lavatory with them while they sat around chatting, I discovered that women are much cruder about men than vice versa. Confirming what my biology master said in the 45 minute talk which was the entire sex education my school provided.
"Gentlemen, you think you have dirty minds, but let me tell you: the mind of a 14 year-old gel is a sewer.'

Assuming Trump loses, what next for the American right?

Megyn Kelly, seen here worrying about how Donald Trump views women as sex objects.

I never liked Trump and I no longer think he will do. Many of Trump's ideas (perhaps we should call them attitudes) on the other hand I do like.

The real story of 2016 is the cultural revolution against internationalism in America and Europe. Assuming Trump loses (possibly in a landslide), he will have steered the Republicans in a new direction. Will he be the forerunner of a new politics and culture or simply make the GOP brand toxic?

Saturday 8 October 2016

The Guardian praises George Osborne as a most effective proponent of liberalism

"The most politically-effective proponents of the metropolitan liberal creed in the modern age – former Labour leader Tony Blair and Tory ex-chancellor George Osborne – are now relegated to making speeches and writing books."

From the Guardian editorial yesterday.  Rather a turn-around from the things they said about George Osborne until the summer.

Thursday 6 October 2016

At least Hillary is rather less likely to start a war than Lincoln or LBJ

The Atlantic, the august (and highly readable) American political magazine founded by the Boston Brahmin James Russell Lowell, has nominated three presidential candidates: Lincoln in 1860, LBJ in 1964 and now Hillary. 

I detest Hillary, but she is much the least disastrous of those three. She is very divisive ("the basket of deplorables", white privilege, etc.) but she will not take half of her country to war with the other half. 

She will not be nearly as left-wing as Johnson, though she will continue to add to the problems he created with his welfare state. 

She is more likely to involve the USA in wars than Donald Trump, but shouldn't be as warlike as The Atlantic's other two choices. 

At least, I hope not. George W. Bush looked like an isolationist when he came to office. The one thing you know about US Presidents is that they never behave in a way that can be predicted when they first win election.

When I was young I read the collected essays of James Russell Lowell. Life seemed eternal in those days. They were stodgy, as American nineteenth century writers usually were, except for Mark Twain. All I remember of them is his remark that enthusiasm, once allowed to become cold, can only be heated up as cant. 

That seems an apt description for the liberalism of Hillary Clinton. 

Wednesday 5 October 2016

Why do we care more about preserving lions than indigenous cultures?

What will our children say after we let all the lions die?

That was the Guardian headline. 

I asked myself, 'What will they say after we let all the European nations die?'

But I know the Guardian wouldn't publish an article under such a headline. In fact, a conservative paper like the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Mail wouldn't.

The modern world and the liberalism that has ruled it since 1991 has given us unprecedented prosperity and peace for many, an amazing reduction in Third World poverty, huge medical advances, technological miracles, the internet, loss of rural life, secularism, the financial crash, unjust wars, abortion, sexual equality, non-judgmental sexual morals, many more democratic countries but grave restrictions on freedom in established democracies, and, most significant of all, waves of migration unprecedented for a thousand years.

If you think I exaggerate, figures for my own country show that almost a third of primary school children in England and Wales have 'an ethnic minority background'. More than a quarter of children born in England and Wales in 2015 were born to women born outside the UK. A third had at least one immigrant parent.

Similar things are happening in most European countries, except the ones in the former Communist bloc.

Mass immigration into Europe is powered by low birth rates in the developed world, but it would be happening without them. 

It began during the baby boom. Its deeper causes are huge pressures from the poor world and lack of will to refuse immigrants.

The people who run Europe think the end of predominantly ethnic states is inevitable, though they do not say so. People who don’t think so are silenced.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said in October last year, 

“Diversity is now in some parts of Europe seen as a threat. Diversity comes with challenges. But diversity is humanity's destiny. There is not going to be, even in the remotest places of this planet, a nation that will not see diversity in its future. That’s where humanity is heading. And those politicians trying to sell to their electorates a society that is exclusively composed of people from one culture, are trying to portray a future based on a past that never existed, therefore that future will never be.”

By 'diversity', which already exists in trumps in Western Europe, he meant the end of (ethnic) nation states. Europe as a collection of immigrant countries, like the USA.

Japan however takes another view. Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, said at the weekend, 

“As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees, we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birthrate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants.”

Liberalism is by far the most influential stream of thought favouring immigration in modern Western Europe. Insofar as democratic socialists do so, it is partly because they are liberals too.

But the far left (and in the UK that includes Jeremy Corbyn, the Leader of Her Majesty's Most Loyal Opposition, and the ‘Corbynistas’) have another aim, revolution. A revolution to get rid of their two enemies, conservatism and national pride, which they call false consciousness.

Every crisis presents the hard left with the opportunity for revolution and though the economic crisis of 2008 failed to be the crisis of capitalism to which they have looked forward since Stalin, they see mass migration of people from war zones in the Middle East and Asia as another chance.

The masses in the European colonies were identified by Lenin as the victims of capitalism and non-whites remain so in the left-wing imagination. Now immigrant masses can be the troops that overturn the system without bloodshed.

The soft left, the moderates and the Blairites don’t want revolution but they share this desire to use immigration to weaken small 'c' conservatism, which has the happy effect of adding millions of left-wing voters and clients to the electorate.

They don't see that immigrants are like salt. A reasonable amount is necessary for flavour. Too much spoils the soup.

Clearly, Theresa May has many strong reasons, philosophical and partisan, for wanting to reduce immigration sharply, and she wants to do so very badly, but she has failed to do so and will continue to fail. She will at most slow down the transformation of her country.

Please click on this wonderful article by Niall McCrae, The real hate crime is the Left’s loathing of Britain, in The Conservative Woman, about a Socialist Workers' Party (Trotskyite) meeting he attended. This is a quotation.
To the far Left, every crisis is an opportunity to bring down the established order. It did not happen after the global economic shock of 2008, but the migrant crisis presents much greater prospects of destruction. Immigrant masses are the storm-troopers, and no bullets need be fired for the system to be overturned. Meanwhile, the danger of terrorism is cast as a racist trope. 
Niall McCrae asked the speaker if there were an upper limit on the number of immigrants Britain should absorb and received no reply, from which he understood, rightly, that for Trotskyites there is not. 

Nor is there for Jeremy Corbyn. Nor for Greens, despite their concern for pressure on open spaces, nor for a lot of people who are not far left.