Monday 28 December 2020

It was hard to come to terms with the fact that I was bringing yet another white man into the world

Emily Ratajkowski, an American model, tells Vogue about her fear of bringing a white male into the world.

"I’m scared of having a son too, although not in the same way. I’ve known far too many white men who move through the world unaware of their privilege, and I’ve been traumatized by many of my experiences with them. And boys too; it’s shocking to realize how early young boys gain a sense of entitlement—to girls’ bodies and to the world in general....

"My friend who is the mother to a three-year-old boy tells me that she didn’t think she cared about gender until her doctor broke the news that she was having a son. She burst into tears in her office. “And then I continued to cry for a whole month,” she says matter-of-factly. After a difficult birth experience, she developed postpartum depression and decided that she resented her husband more than she’d ever imagined possible. She told me she particularly hated—and she made an actual, physical list that she kept in her journal, editing it daily—how peacefully he slept. “There is nothing worse than the undisturbed sleep of a white man in a patriarchal world.” She shakes her head. “It was hard to come to terms with the fact that I was bringing yet another white man into the world..."

This is Vogue, read by rich, snobby fashionistas who are interested in incredibly expensive shoes. If the right has lost the rich fashionistas what hope does it have?

Apparently the answer is manual workers.

Sunday 27 December 2020

Brexit quotations


'Brexit is a great thing from a European perspective. As well as protecting Europe from the vapid trash of Anglo-American culture, it lessens the chance of the disease of PC spreading through the continent, the virus that is relentlessly eating away American, British and Irish cultural and social traditions.'
Karl White
Unfortunately for England, he's right.


Rejoin = 1 Euro 2 Schengen 3 Membership fee with no rebate 4 Giving up control of waters 5 Giving back powers Brexit returned to us 6 Bailing out Italy etc because of Covid 7 Good luck with that Lib Dems SNP 8. We are gone for good

'Adopting an antipodean twang and saying, “Australia is a beautiful country” seemed to be getting Johnson nowhere. He then spoke to von der Leyen in her own tongue: “Viel hummer, kein hammer” (“lots of lobster, no hammer”).
'One of those listening said Johnson also sought to explain the problem with reference to the surreal cartoons in one of Britain’s best-known sketch comedy shows. “We can’t have this Monty Python situation, where we are trapped in the car with a giant hammer outside the gates to clobber us every time we drive out.”
'This was met with silence and then: “OK, thank you, Boris.”
'It was not the first time one of Johnson’s pop culture references had sailed over von der Leyen’s head. A few weeks ago, with the talks then deadlocked over how closely the UK would have to adhere to EU regulations, Johnson told her: “We need to revive this process like that scene in Pulp Fiction, where they stick the adrenaline straight into Uma Thurman’s heart.”
'Von der Leyen replied: “I haven’t seen that film.”
'A Downing Street official said: “She and her team all had to huddle around an iPhone and watch that scene to know what he was talking about.”
'By Monday, more than 4½ years after the EU referendum, these moments seemed to crystallise the gulf separating an EU establishment, whose frames of reference were totally different, from a prime minister they found baffling.'
Tim Shipman in today's Sunday Times
"But the press conferences told the real story of who had won most. Ursula von der Leyen and Michel Barnier looked as if they were delivering memorial speeches at a funeral. Mrs Von der Leyen, who may well have been the quiet heroine of this story, displayed faultless diplomacy in her dignified grief. But the most revealing point in her solemn disquisition was her clear failure, still, to understand what the word “sovereignty” meant. It should be understood, she said, in the twenty-first century to be something more like the EU ideal: solidarity and harmony between partners. But that, of course, is not what it means."
Janet Daley in the Daily Telegraph on Christmas Eve
"I voted for the principle of national sovereignty and I expect to suffer for this choice. You do know there have been actual *wars* of independence, don't you? It will not be easily won. A lot of Remainers seem to be saying that they are *not* prepared to suffer for the principle of national sovereignty and that if we suffer just one jot of inconvenience or anxiety, we should have remained."
Bunny Sheffield

“England has saved itself by her firmness; I trust it will save Europe by her example." William Pitt the Younger after Trafalgar

Tuesday 22 December 2020


'Thick fog in Channel: Continent Cut Off' was something regularly announced on the BBC before the 1939-45 war. I'm sorry to hear a moment ago Sky News announce "Britain is cut off from Europe" and "marooned from much of the world".

France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Southern Ireland and six other European countries last night closed their borders to flights and most lorries, trains and boats from the UK. The ban could be extended to the entire European Union.

I don't think the UK will leave the EU without a trade deal but if we do we'll hardly notice. Sweet are the uses of adversity.

When I told my friend George Alberts that we had no reason to suppose a vaccine for Covid-19 would ever be found he said wisely that so many highly intelligent men and women were working to find one that one would certainly be found. He was right, though he died from Covid, alas, before the vaccine was created.

Now as was inevitable a new variant of the virus has appeared, possibly more virulent and possibly less lethal. This changes things.

It might be a good thing which will prevent deaths and it might if not for human intervention allow us to reach herd immunity without need for vaccines.

Instead it will be used to restrain the population. William Hague, a very clever man, who is wrong about almost everything, insists that it means lockdowns or something like them for months to come.

It now seems inevitable that we shall continue tight restrictions until people are vaccinated. This will cause huge problems for the world economy and for the poor.

Worst of all, lockdowns will be repeated in the future when the next viruses appear.

We live in a age without belief in God where human intelligence is expected to prevent changes in climate, enable people to change their sex and to prevent death.

We are moving from a world that was free, meaning capitalist, to one run by experts concerned above all to prolong life, except when they decide on euthenasia, to prevent inequality (something all conservatives should favour) and to stop global warming.

Janet Daley in the most recent issue of the Sunday Telegraph:

The decline of religious belief which suggested that death gave significance to life seems to have combined with a sense that governments should be directly responsible for the permanent welfare of everyone, to produce a perfect climate for this super-response to a spreading disease. State health systems, and public reliance on them, has created a new moral order in which the success of medicine gives it a civil dominion which cannot be questioned: hence, the insensitivity and authoritarianism of medical and scientific experts who pay lip service to the idea that only elected political leaders can decide policy but clearly feel that they should be in charge even of moral priorities.

Saturday 12 December 2020

Africa is not a safe haven from Covid

Lots of people I speak to are talking about going to Africa for a few weeks to avoid Covid and the winter. 

It is, unfortunately, not true that Africa is escaping the virus. In Tanzania, which is on the way to becoming a dictatorship, all news of infections and deaths with the virus is suppressed by the government. People are buried in secret. As for Sudan, which I had been very tempted to explore, researchers at University College, London research have found that only 2% of Covid deaths in Khartoum were reported.

The pandemic is not as bad in Africa as in Europe, probably because Africans tend to die of other causes before they are old enough to die of Covid, but the African hospitals are no doubt worse than Romanian ones.

I say this without really knowing how bad Covid is in any country. Lots of people are dying, including a friend of mine, but lots of people die each year of flu. The data is very unclear even to experts and we are probably exaggerating the danger, but Covid-19 is highly infectious and dangerous. Five people in one family died in one month in Turkey, all but one aged less than 50, though this is very untypical. Best therefore to avoid holidays in Africa.

Thursday 10 December 2020

I have seen the future


De Gaulle was right: Britain joining the EEC has been a calamity for everyone

Reluctantly, after the emotional roller-coaster of 2016 -20, I have to think again about Brexit, which now reaches its long delayed dénouement.

The Times today said Boris and Ursula had 'three hours of “frank” discussion' last night. 

"Free and frank" in the language of diplomacy is the ne plus ultra. It suggests the participants came close to blows. 

"Frank" might mean as unpleasant as possible, bearing in mind she is a lady of high birth married to a von.

A pity he didn't have dinner with Frau Merkel and M Macron who call the shots in Europe. Ursula can't depart from positions member states tell her to take.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Death notice

The ineffably grand Valery Giscard D'Estang, former President of France, has died of complications linked to Covid-19. He was 94. He said the most bitter regret of his career was the badly drafted family reunification law of 1976, which permitted immigrant workers to bring their relatives to settle in France. 

He had intended relatives to be restricted to children and spouses but he was careless about the way the law was drafted. I am not sure whether he regretted the law altogether. He did not foresee the way it would change France.

De Gaulle, who begins his memoirs saying he always had a certain idea of France, would never have permitted family reunifications. I quoted De Gaulle before on this blog:
"It is very good that there are yellow French, black French, brown French. They show that France is open to all races and has a universal vocation. But on condition that they remain a small minority. Otherwise, France would no longer be France."
Giscard also legalised abortion, against fierce opposition from the Church, most of the Gaullists and much of the UDF, his centre-right party, on a free vote, with the votes of the Communists and Socialists. Thanks to this law there are eight million fewer Frenchmen, women and children.

As well as the transformation of France through far reaching immigration changes, legalising abortion and making divorce easy to obtain, Giscard's other important achievement, with Helmut Schmidt, is the European Monetary System, which became the Euro. 

The evil that men do lives after them.

Unlike his patron De Gaulle, whom he betrayed, and like his protégé Jacques Chirac, who betrayed him, he was an elitist, liberal, progressive moderniser pretending to be right of centre. 

Macron, who resembles Giscard in his enthusiasm for a united Europe and for mass immigration (though these are contradictory), is very much the same, except he admits he is 'neither left nor right'. 

Mitterand, conversely, was on the right or had been, but kept very quiet about it. He was a Petainist pretending to be a socialist.

Wednesday 2 December 2020

2020 news items, including the Washington Post headline: ‘Washington’s aristocracy hopes a Biden presidency will make schmoozing great again.’

Manchester University undergraduates say using the colour black as an adjective, in expressions like black market or black day, is based on 'colonial history' and is now outdated. University students have demanded the word "black" be banned from lectures and textbooks amid claims it symbolises "negative situations".

Women are doing significantly more domestic chores because of the the pandemic. "Everything we worked for, that has taken 25 years, could be lost in a year," says UN Women Deputy Executive Director Anita Bhatia. She says there is a "real risk of reverting to 1950s gender stereotypes".

Former Pfizer Vice President and Chief Scientist, Dr. Michael Yeadon has said: “There is absolutely no need for vaccines to

Thursday 26 November 2020

Lady in Waiting

The review, in my least favourite magazine in a very crowded field, the London Review of Books, of a new memoir of Princess Margaret, contains some gems.

To the reviewer, Mrs. Christopher Logue, I wish to say: the authoress is Lady Glenconner, not Glenconner.

"Glenconner was one of the queen’s maids of honour, attending rehearsals in Westminster Abbey – where it became apparent that the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Marquess of Cholmondeley, was not up to the job. The job was to help the queen change into her various ceremonial robes. The marquess, who had probably never had to ‘dress himself, let alone anybody else’, was completely flummoxed by the hooks and eyes, which had to be replaced with poppers, and the queen reported afterwards that the violent way he pushed her every time he did one up was ‘tiresome’."

"Having Margaret to stay at Glenconner’s own house in Norfolk was like entertaining a well-meaning but impulsive child. Margaret’s attempt to be helpful by making her own morning tea stalled when she couldn’t work the kettle, and ‘more than once’ she was found to have dismantled the chandelier and to be washing it in the bath."

I used to think the 1950s colourless and drably modern, but that was not true. Certainly they were not, and nor were the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s, in what were once called the best circles. It all makes me feel terribly sad to think how England has changed. The intellectuals, many of whom are certifiable, have done so much harm. 

A spectre is haunting Europe

A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. So begins the Communist Manifesto and Marx was right - Communism was a spectre, in the sense of being non existent but causing fear. I stole this idea from AJP Taylor.

Now the spectre that hunts the developed world is Nazism, which is an even less real danger than Communism was in 1848.

Yet this fear is being like the Nazis, in some way or another, is remaking the world.

Of course nonexistent dangers can become real one day - as happened in Russia almost 70 years after Marx wrote, thanks to the cunning of Lenin. Mussolini's fascism or Nazism won't come back, but some extremist ideology might somehow rise from the dead. The liberals of all parties who rule the developed world seem to be doing everything they can to make this possible.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Knut M. Wittkowski said this on LinkedIn yesterday

Never again? — When I grew up in Germany, I understood that "never again" should people die because others were "just following rules". Now in the US, I'm facing the same dilemma Germans faced during the 3rd Reich.
As a virus disease with R0=2, SARS-CoV-2 will spread until 50% of the population are immune. About 25% have immunity from previous CoV infections, 25% need to develop immunity de novo. Of course, vulnerable people should be able to protect themselves by wearing a mask. Then the virus will spread predominantly among low-risk people who will become immune until, within a few weeks, the 25% is reached and the vulnerable can „unmask“.
I'm not obese, don't smoke or have diabetes, COPD, ... , so I'd like to act responsibly and give the more vulnerable an advantage from wearing a mask. Unfortunately, I‘m often forced to wear a mask, too. Hence, if I'm "just following the rules", I'm increasing the risk that somebody vulnerable will become infected and die. Even worse, those who die don't count toward the 25% threshold, so more of the vulnerable will die. (This is one way "mitigation" causes more deaths in an epidemic.)
I'm now facing the same dilemma as my grandparents: as a professional, I need to "just follow the rules" and accept that this will cause deaths.

Yes another Nazi analogy - I wish people would stop making them - but I wonder if he is right. 

Sunday 15 November 2020

Three quotations from today's Sunday Times

“I don’t think he [Donald Trump] has a master plan here,” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative radio host. “You see this with the stumbling and bumbling but generally he realises he needs to position himself not as a loser but as a victim. Being a loser is off-brand for him. But being the victim and a leader of a grievance movement? That has political and commercial benefits.”

David Axelrod, Obama’s former strategist, on CNN during the election campaign: “Biden ... is kind of Mr Magoo-ing his way through. You keep worrying that he’s going to hit a wall, but he’s moving forward.”

“He’s the only person who could have beaten Donald Trump,” a former Obama official said. “Anyone to the left would have completely lost the election, and there is no one further to the right.”

Thursday 12 November 2020

Important clause in small print in the armistice in Nagorno Karabakh

I considered visiting the Azeri exclave of Nakhchivan last year when I went to Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Azeris are Turks or at any rate very close cousins to the Turks. As a result of the peace deal Nakhchivan will now be linked by road as well as air to the the rest of Azerbaijan. This is important because it means Turkey, which has a very short border with Nakhchivan, will be connected by road now to Baku. This is a huge victory for Erdogan.

He also puts Turkish peacekeepers alongside Russian ones in Nagorno Karabakh.

I had hoped to visit Nagorno Karabakh this autumn. In the long forgotten pre-pandemic era it was reachable from Bucharest by a cheap flight at 00.40 to Yerevan and a picturesque 5 or 6 hour drive. lt is much more my sort of peace than this delightful mass market tourist village where I write this- but with only a few people and they mostly Turks I love it. I shall blog about it.

Stefan Voloseniuc and disappearing Romania

Romania-Insider has the story of Stefan Voloseniuc, an impressive man who came to England as a navvy speaking no English and now has a company with a 30 million GBP turnover. He is standing to be representative of the Diaspora in the Romanian Parliament.

What a good idea that is - if the Diaspora should have a vote let them have their own MP.

The article informed me that over 600,000 Romanians living in the UK have applied for the EU Settlement Scheme, which allows them to stay in the country after Brexit. Meanwhile, the total number of Romanians living abroad is somewhere between 4 and 6 million, according to various sources, compared to a resident population of just over 19 million in Romania.

This is a catastrophe for Romania. The same catastrophe that afflicts all the former Communist European Union member states.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

The Knut thinks Covid-19 is gone, lockdowns have bred Covid-20A and will breed Covid-21

I was very hopeful that Covid-19 was fading away fast in August, though certainly not in Romania. Now the word is overjoyed that there might be normality by the spring because of the Pfizer vaccine.

Were I (and many others) far too optimistic or have the epidemiologists who advise governments got things badly wrong? 

Knut Wittkowski, until 2018 Head of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at Rockefeller university, is sure that they got things badly wrong. he said on Linkedin on Sunday:

The original virus is not spreading anymore in most of Europe and the Northeast. It's an epidemic, not an endemic. It is gone like Influenza-B-19 and Influenza-A-20. What is beginning to spread now in Europe is not the same virus as before, it is 20A.EU1/2 with six evasive mutations to resist natural and vaccine immunity and cause COVID-20. If we don't "mitigate", it will be gone in two months, with lockdowns it will take another 9 months, enough to breed a new strain for COVID-21.

Friday 6 November 2020

Why Trump lost - he did not appeal to white men enough

My instinct was that Trump could win. The polls, which I came round to believing only on the eve of the election, were utterly wrong. Many, many Republicans do not trust pollsters. They think they are part of the Blob. 

I should have trusted my instinct. You always should. In 2016 my instinct told me Trump would win but I let a very intelligent American Democrat pal persuade me he knew better than me. This time, Biden had had a lead in the polls over Trump since September last year but while votes were counted Trump for some time seemed the winner. 

Women didn't lose the election for Trump nor did Hispanics or black voters whose votes swung to him. It was white males who lost it for him. BLM riots should have made them flock to him. His Democrat son in law is to blame. Or to be congratulated, depending on your politics. 

Thankfully, in my opinion, Biden will not seek a second term and the Senate's Republican. The Supreme Court is no longer the judicial wing of the Democratic Party. It will interpret the law objectively, not treat the Constitution as a living document. 

Will Trump win in 2024 or will a new right winger emerge? Whatever happens I hope the Republican Party of the Bushes is dead forever.

Thursday 5 November 2020

No colonial guilt in the 3rd century BC

'So now, in the first place, I shall recount the ancient ordeals of our ancestors, drawing remembrance thereof from their renown. For they also are events which all men ought to remember, glorifying them in their songs, and describing them in the sage sayings of worthy minds; honouring them on such occasions as this, and finding in the achievements of the dead so many lessons for the living.' 

Lysias, one of the ten Attic orators included in the "Alexandrian Canon" in the 3rd century BC. 

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Are vegans pro-life?

The first line of this post on Reddit is: "I got super offended reading through a vegan board saying human life also falls under veganism." Readers add comments to reassure the offended person that pro-life vegans are, in fact, very rare.

The offended person said she had become pregnant as a result of rape and had an abortion. I am very sympathetic to her.

The late Sir John Mortimer, author of Rumpole, used to say it was a shame that people tended to have political views in packages and that to be opposed to hunting foxes meant being in favour of abortion.

He was a socialist who hunted. I think it is odd that many people who think killing foxes is wrong don't think abortion is. But there you are.

Wednesday 14 October 2020

The threat to Great Britain and Europe is not Russia, obviously - you know that

The head of MI5 said today that Russian espionage was the most aggravating problem caused by a state actor, but though Russia provided spells of bad weather and Iran was a danger, China was a far greater challenge in the long-term and resembled climate change.

This reminded me of David Frost saying that in England we have the best secret service in the world. Unfortunately it belongs to Russia.

Churchill suddenly said to Harold Macmillan during the Cairo Conference in 1943 late one night: 
'Cromwell was a great man, wasn't he?' 
'Yes, sir, a very great man.' 
'But he made one great mistake. Obsessed in his youth by the fear of the power of Spain he failed to observe the rise of France. Will that be said of me?
Whether it is said of Churchill or not, it should be. 

Germany was not a threat to the British Empire and would not have been a threat to France had France allowed her a free hand to erase the borders in Central and Eastern Europe created at the Paris Peace Conference. France, of course, had no means of preventing this, even with England's support. 

Bolshevik Russia was to be much less of a threat to Western Europe than Germany. Stalin never had any desire to extend his rule beyond the countries which his army occupied. As for Khrushchev, in 1955 he offered to allow a demilitarised Germany to be reunited, with free elections. Eisenhower and Adenauer turned the offer down.

Now Russia is a declining power, not a threat outside her own backyard, not able to impose order in Nagorno-Karabakh now any more than 30 years ago. 

China is a threat but where exactly do her interest and Europe's conflict except in economic competition? Islamic terrorism a bigger one of a different kind, but illegal immigration and massive numbers of asylum seekers are a bigger threat and Islamification the biggest of all, as the late Bernard Lewis and the late Neagu Djuvara warned us. 

Both centenarians who died recently thought it inevitable that Europe would become Islamic, but as AJP Taylor said, nothing is inevitable until it happens.

Covid in Belarus

Data for deaths from all causes suggest that Covid related deaths in Belarus are about three times higher than the 690, out of a population of 9.5 million, to which the government admits. 

Covid deaths are probably often classed as deaths from pneumonia.

Still the number is comparable with the number of deaths from a bad flu season. This is despite a complete lack of social distancing or other restrictions, which make Sweden seem positively paranoid. 

Life expectancy, especially for men, is not long in Belarus anyway because of smoking and heavy drinking. This means Belarussians usually die before they reach the ages at which most people in Western Europe die of Covid.

I have seen a young Belarusian academic in the West and a Belarusian on Twitter say the government's cavalier attitude towards the virus is one reason for the demonstrations each weekend. 

It may be so, but I wonder if they are influenced by opinion among their peers in the West. The Western media repeat this line.

Certainly so far Belarus is doing much better than her neighbours Russia and the Ukraine.

Tuesday 13 October 2020

The battle for Western civilisation is taking place now

The term “political correctness” was coined by Anton Semyonovich Makarenko, Soviet educationalist and NKVD officer, in the 1920s. He was hailed by Unesco in the 1980s as one of the four most influential educationalists of the twentieth century.

Its principles were part of Leninism from the start. In the short-lived Communist dictatorship in Hungary in 1919, Georg Lukacs, the Commissar for Culture introduced pornographic sex education in schools, forced nuns to watch pornographic films and demonised the family.

The Russian Revolution was not supposed to happen in Russia. It was supposed to happen in Germany, and possibly Austria and Hungary.

When the revolutions in those countries quickly failed, Communists asked why and for Marxists there could only be one explanation: false consciousness on the part of the workers.

After the Romanian army marched into Budapest to get rid of the Bolsheviks (whom they knew wanted to recapture Transylvania and other lost Hungarian territories) Lukacs set up the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt to marry the ideas of Marx, Lenin and Freud, from which emerged the Frankfurt School of Marxism.

Lukacs famously asked: “Who will save us from Western Civilisation?” and tried to do the best he could to do so himself.

He was considered a great literary critic in England in the 1970s and 1980s and probably today. At least, his books continue to be published by Penguin Books, that arbiter of literary fashion.

Now we have Black Lives Matter (BLM) saying on its website that it specifically targets “the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement” and Rebecca Futo Kennedy of Denison University argues that Western civilization and study of the classics only provides cover for racism and sexism. Ancient Greece was “an imperialist, anti-immigrant society convinced of its own superiority because of its ethnic purity.” Aristotle “tells his readers that women are naturally subordinate to men.” If men, sorry people, of good will do not denounce Western civilisation, we “give sanction by our silence to the classical past’s uglier tendencies and embolden those who would use it as justification for present racism and misogyny.”

I owe the information in the last paragraph to Paul Gottfried, sturdy fighter for truth, justice and freedom, writing in Chronicles yesterday. He draws the lesson that it is Anglo-Saxon culture and Western civilisation, not the principles of the US Constitution, which are the basis of the USA and which are under attack.

'Confederates were simply the easiest targets in the opening days of the upheaval. Conservatism, Inc. and other useful idiots, blinded by their deification of Lincoln and his misguided constitutional theory, could not accept that the arguments employed against Confederate monuments could be logically extended to the entirety of American history. The cultural revolutionaries want to destroy the civilization that produced not just Lee, but Grant, Webster, Hamilton, Jefferson, and Washington. This is about power and the ushering in of a new order. Paeans to the Gettysburg Address or the Grand Army of the Potomac will only hasten our destruction.  
'As the nation dedicated to a proposition breathes its last, we must embrace Western civilization, which forms the core of our heritage from the mother country. Western civilization is the true target of our enemies, the modern-day Jacobins, and it is the best this world has to offer.'


Sunday 11 October 2020

R.I.P. George Alberts

I just learnt yesterday with very great sadness that my friend George Alberts died last night a week after being admitted to hospital suffering from Covid. 

In hospital he was put on a ventilator and under sedation and received good care, but the disease had progressed too far. His lungs deteriorated very badly and he died of a heart attack.

He was a very good friend to Romania and a well known Bucharest figure with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the criminology of banking and very much else.  

He gave good parties, had many friends, was very emotional and soft-hearted beneath his crusty surface and a lover of good wine and travel.

I know he would have agreed with at least most of what I have said in the article I posted yesterday, just before I heard the dreadful news, about the way the media suppress discussion of how the authorities are dealing with Covid. 

We agreed about most things, apart from Brexit. He was an ardent admirer of Donald Trump, a lot more than me.

He had a lot of good stories, including ones about being present in Tbilisi as the Soviet Union fell apart and being asked to set up the National Bank of Georgia. Or have I misremembered?

Rest in peace, George.

'From quiet homes and first beginning,
Out to the undiscovered ends,
There's nothing worth the wear of winning,
But laughter and the love of friends.'
Hilaire Belloc - he later disowned this verse because he said it wasn't true and it isn't, but it is not so far off the truth.

From an otherwise silly Nick Cohen article in the Guardian last year

'When Tony Blair was elected in 1997, 60% of the English population was white and had left school without A-levels. When Theresa May lost her majority in 2017, that proportion had fallen to 40%. Over the same period, the share of the English population who were university graduates, members of an ethnic minority group or both went from 17 to 40%. In Britain, as in the US, progressive politics will be drawn to appeal to minorities and the educated, while rightwing politics will be drawn to appealing to “the whites”.'

Apart from that paragraph, the article is not worth reading, just malign nonsense. Mr Cohen's sympathies are firmly enlisted with graduates and ethnic minorities, not "the whites". 

The British Conservatives are not pretending to be PC. They are true believers.

“I’ve been told off in the tea room for referring to ‘my wife’ because that’s ‘possessive’. By a Conservative MP, actually. But that’s the state of the world.” 
Ben Bradley, Conservative MP for the formerly safe Labour seat of Mansfield

Saturday 10 October 2020

Fratelli Tutti

A highly intelligent Catholic friend who unlike me has read the new encyclical sent me this email.

One hallmark of leftist publications is making assertions that upon examination are revealed as false or, at best, half-truths kitted out in the livery of obvious popular wisdom (vox populi). One such example in Frutti Tutti, there are many, is Francis' assertion that the Church has never considered ownership of property to be an inviolable right. This is from paragraph 15 of Rerum Novarum by Leo XIII: "Hence, it is clear that the main tenet of socialism, community of goods, must be utterly rejected, since it only injures those whom it would seem meant to benefit, is directly contrary to the natural rights of mankind, and would introduce confusion and disorder into the commonweal. The first and most fundamental principle, therefore, if one would undertake to alleviate the condition of the masses, must be the inviolability of private property. This being established, we proceed to show where the remedy sought for must be found."

Of course, Francis prefers to cite his earlier writings more than the writings of his predecessors and Scripture - one supposes he places greater faith in the former than the latter two.

Another hallmark of leftist authors is to pull out of context phrases that support their expressed point of view (aka Cherry Picking) but that turn out not to do so when examined in context. See Francis' use of Aquinas on private property or John Paul II on capital punishment.

The third and most common technique in leftist composition is projection, that is, ascribing to others the very thinking that they do themselves. See Francis' reference to the manipulation of words - democracy, liberty, freedom, etc. - to impose ideological conformity and delegitimize contrary points of view.

And, Frutti Tutti is verbose, unstructured, lacks any discernible stylistic quality and if it has a voice, it is a whining garble mixed with a mumble punctuated by hectoring shouting.

In my not so humble opinion. Yours Ed

Friday 9 October 2020

Churchill on rule by experts

"Nothing would be more fatal than for the Government of States to get in the hands of experts. Expert knowledge is limited knowledge, and the unlimited ignorance of the plain man who knows where it hurts is a safer guide than any rigorous direction of a specialized character.
Sir Winston Churchill

This reminds me of the words I quoted not long ago from Lord Salisbury:

"No lesson seems to be so deeply inculcated by the experience of life as that you should never trust experts. If you believe doctors, nothing is wholesome: if you believe the theologians, nothing is innocent: if you believe the soldiers, nothing is safe."

Ray Bradbury saw it all coming

"They passed a law. Oh, it started very small. In 1950 and '60 it was a grain of sand. They began by controlling books of cartoons and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures; there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.”
The Martian Chronicles; 1950. Acknowledgements, Chris Carter

Wednesday 7 October 2020

What authority does Pope Francis's new encyclical have?

'This was the week Pope Francis chose to issue a left wing pamphlet, which being pope he was able to dignify with the status of papal encyclical.' 
Damian Thompson, until this year editor of the Catholic Herald, on Fratelli Tutti.
The new encyclical "Fratelli Tutti" is basically an ode to Fraternity, in the French revolutionary concept of the word

He doesn't mention the word "abortion" but defends the lives of the unborn in the context of a "throwaway society".

'Neoliberalism is, in fact, a very Catholic set of beliefs....The Pope says that he fears that the world is becoming deaf, incapable or unwilling to listen to the complexities of others. But that’s nothing to do with liberal economics. Indeed, it is the market that allows us to listen, see, hear, and reach out. Its flourishing has been the most incredible force for good that humanity has ever seen.'  
Matt Kilcoyne in the really excellent Unherd (it's free, by the way). 

Personally, I associate Catholicism rather with feudalism than neoliberalism or social democracy, but I know this is out of date and not in line with modern European values.

Do Catholics have to accept what the Pope teaches about economics, politics and climatology? 

The first Vatican Council, the one conservatives like, said in Pastor Aeternus, chapter 4, n.7.
This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all.
That does not mean Catholics always have to agree with the Pope. They certainly don't, as the great Mgr Alfred Gilbey told me, but Pope Pius XII's encyclical Humani Generis says:
Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: "He who heareth you, heareth me"; and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.

But what exact authority do these words in Humani Generis have? It's something of a circular argument.

The Syllabus of Errors was an annex to the encyclical Quanta cura and condemns socialism and modern civilisation. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannia,

As the errors listed had already been condemned in allocutions, encyclicals, and other apostolic letters, the Syllabus said nothing new and so could not be contested. Its importance lay in the fact that it published to the world what had previously been preached in the main only to the bishops, and that it made general what had been previously specific denunciations concerned with particular events. Thus perhaps the most famous article, the 80th, stigmatizing as an error the view that “the Roman Pontiff can and should reconcile himself to and agree with progress, liberalism, and modern civilization,” sought its authority in the pope’s refusal, in Jamdudum Cernimus, to have any dealings with the new Italian kingdom.

The Pope's latest encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, was greeted with very much less deference than encyclicals by previous popes, but then when Pope Pius IX promulgated the Syllabus of Errors Twitter had not been invented.

Catholic Twitter made much of these words of the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, who is quoted several times and praised by the Pope as his inspiration in the encyclical.
"The four schools of law all concur that apostasy is a crime, that an apostate should be asked to repent, and that if he does not, he should be killed." 

The Imam does not share the Pope's view on the death penalty, nor can a Muslim, but criticism of him for approving of it for apostasy is unfair. The Imam has to believe in his religion or convert, just as popes are supposed to believe in theirs.
By the way, did you know the Chief Rabbi of Italy converted to Catholicism in February 1945, partly because of his admiration for Pope Pius XII? 
Let us hope the Imam follows this excellent example.
A liberal theologian very active on Twitter called Massimo Faggioli says that the Church is changing and changed in the past, over for example her teaching on war and usury. I thought the teaching on usury had not changed but been politely ignored. 

Now the Pope admits to changing teaching on capital punishment and seems to make other changes. It is confusing for us laymen with busy lives and disquieting. 
But it sounds like Professor Faggioli, who seems to think liking Donald Trump incompatible with Catholicism, is saying what many others think: that the Church since the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s is not the same Church as the one before.