Monday 29 June 2020

Swedish figures show lockdowns were a mistake and Covid-19 is much less dangerous than feared

Prliminary figures for the total number of deaths in Sweden from all causes from November to May are lower this year than in most of the previous thirty years, despite the Coronavirus and despite the lack of a lockdown. If the final figures are not very different they will prove that lockdowns are a mistake and that the virus is not nearly as dangerous as the authorities outside Sweden fear.

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Sunday 28 June 2020

Mass after almost four months

I  came at short notice to Austria to do a health cure in a village near Innsbruck.

Today it was possible for me to go to Mass for the first time since February. Masses and life in general in Austria got largely back to normal on May 15.

I attended a beautiful and agreeably very short Mass (20 minutes) in an old church in the village, but how I wish the Mass were in Latin, not German, and preferably Tridentine, and how I dislike altar girls.

No-one wore a mask. Communion wafer in the hand not on the tongue, quite rightly.  One benefit of Coronavirus: no sign of peace, thank God.

Friday 26 June 2020

Western civilisation under attack and no one says a word

Israeli police of course did not teach Minnesota policemen how to grip felons by the throat. Of course saying they did is not racist.

I almost think that Holand Park should be renamed. Lord Holland the protégé of Fox and patron of Macaulay was the archetypal liberal and a remote progenitor of this stuff. Biter bit.  But no, he was no Keir Starmer but a great Englishman. He also opposed slavery, even if his wife owned slaves.

As Macaulay said, there is nothing so ridiculous as England in one of its periodic fits of morality, but there is nothing in the least ridiculous about this desire to erase the past. It is no joke at all. European civilisation is being attacked head-on. 

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Dawn, the rosy-fingered

I wake early these long days. Today I caught Dawn, the rosy-fingered.

As Logan Pearsall Smith said,

'What humbugs we are, who pretend to live for Beauty, and never see the Dawn!'

I wish I had learnt Greek as I intended to at university and could read Homer.

I just discovered on the net that Wycherley (not a favourite playwright of mine) in old age said:

"It is at dawn, the rosy- fingered, that one must savor the divine Homer. Was he not describing for us the dawn of the world?"

The Great Satan


The article quotes someone called Lord Woolley, who is one of the founders of Operation Black Vote, which campaigns for greater representation of non-white people in politics, and who was an adviser to Theresa May, who enobled him.

“The original image may have been of St Michael slaying Satan, but the figure has no horns or tail and is clearly a black man. It is a shocking depiction, and it is even more shocking that that image could be presented to ambassadors representing this country abroad.

“This is the past that informs the present, and that’s why it symbolises everything that Black Lives Matter are campaigning for. It provides a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to acknowledge it and own it, but the opportunity is to put it right. It is easy to get rid of an image, but I would like root-and-branch restructuring, because most of the institutions created by the empire are still there.

“For most black and brown people, there is nothing good about the empire. Most people will see this as an image of George Floyd on a global scale and a symbol of white supremacy.”

Monday 22 June 2020


“She was also incapacitated by much of daily life and had 'no aptitude whatsoever' for domesticity.” Sybille Bedford
“I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.” Saki 
“Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.” Comte de Chamfort
It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving picaninnies; and one can imagine that Blair, twice victor abroad but enmired at home, is similarly seduced by foreign politeness. They say he is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in Watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird. Boris Johnson in the Daily Telegraph 10 January 2002 

“The UK office for National Statistics has identified the things that matter most for happiness as "health, relationships, work, and the environment" - a list that tallies closely with our basic goods. Given that our lives have not noticeably improved in these respects since 1974 it is hardly surprising that we do not feel any happier.
Are we then suggesting a return to living standards of 1974? Not necessarily, for the luxuries acquired since then may, even if they have added nothing to our real well-being, be painful to forgo. This is an instance of the general truth that damaging social changes cannot always be rectified simply by being reversed, any more than a man flattened by a steamroller can be restored to life by being run over backwards. What we are saying is that the long-term goal of economic policy should henceforth not be growth, but the restructuring of our collective existence so as to facilitate the good life.” Lord Skidelsky

In a blog post in 2016 Harvard professor Mark Tushnet said conservatives and Evangelical Christians have lost the culture wars, and now the question is “how to deal with the losers.”
“My own judgment is that taking a hard line (‘You lost, live with it’) is better than trying to accommodate the losers. Trying to be nice to the losers didn’t work well after the Civil War, nor after Brown. And taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.”

Croats and Portuguese riot in Germany

I saw in the Guardian:
German authorities have expressed shock over a rampage of an “unprecedented scale” in the centre of Stuttgart, where hundreds of partygoers ran riot overnight and into Sunday, breaking shop windows, plundering and attacking police.

Two dozen people, half of them German nationals, were provisionally arrested and police reported 19 officers hurt. “They were unbelievable scenes that have left me speechless. In my 46 years of police service, I have never experienced this,” said the Stuttgart police chief, Franz Lutz.
Tensions built up shortly after midnight when officers carried out checks on a 17-year-old German man suspected of using drugs, said Stuttgart’s deputy police chief, Thomas Berger.

...At the height of the clashes, some 400 to 500 people joined in the battle against police officers and rescue workers.

As officers pushed back against the crowd, they broke up into small groups, carrying on their rampage around the city centre, breaking shop windows and looting stores along nearby Königstraße, a major shopping street.

Half the people arrested were German nationals and, asked about the nationalities of the 12 non-Germans who were detailed, the police said they came from a range of countries, from Croatia and Portugal to Afghanistan and Somalia. 

But are the Stuttgart police and the Guardian telling us the whole story?

Elsewhere on the net I found the AfD blaming the “civil war” in Stuttgart on the massive influx of migrants to the city, noting that 

It is no coincidence that it hit a city with a 44 per cent migrant population. Without a political paradigm shift, such scenes will repeat themselves in Stuttgart and in other German cities. What we need is consistently controlled immigration, more police and a crackdown on the judiciary against such criminals. 
My suspicion is that ethnic Germans, Croats and Portuguese might not be the majority of the rioters.

Clues are found in the Deutsche Welle account. DW spoke to a bystander called Yussef. 

When asked where the "rage" came from, Yussef explains that many of the young people involved in the clashes, particularly people of color, feel they're too often regarded as suspects by police.

The tensions have become particularly raw in light of the protests against police brutality that launched in the United States.

I wish I watched Romanian TV - I have to endure the BBC World Service

I caught the Pro-TV weather forecast in the dentist. It is a festival of cleavage. The forecast itself is not attractive: more rain, cool. It has been like this for six weeks.

I must start watching TV. I have said this to myself for twenty years. TV puts you in touch with reality. Books and newspapers and the internet don't. 

Because reality is an illusion projected into our homes by television companies.

I used to know a lot about world politics before I came to Romania. In an attempt to know more this year I have been listening to the BBC World Service but the effort is almost killing me.

The other day I tried to listen to World Business Report. The first twenty minutes were about 'Juneteenth' the anniversary of the end of slavery in the USA , which few Americans had heard of till recently, and racism. Two American women who were definitely Democrats preached sermons, then an Englishman from the Bank of England did. You hardly hear a Tory or Republican voice and when you do the presenter argues hard against them. It all sounds like a Joe Biden party political broadcast. 

Just now the first story was Covid-19 deaths in Brazil, where the nuts come from. The presenter tried to get two epidemiologists to blame it on Bolsonaro. They didn't do so. 

Then a Democrat (he wasn't identified as such) talked about John Bolton's new book. The revelations are very important but what shocked the presenter was a Republican saying he would not vote for Trump, as if he were the first.

The elder and young George Bushes come to mind and  a raft of Never Trumpers. Perhaps she didn't know about them.

Then the first item on the sports news is about racism in football (Confederate flags, actually, which is very different), then the news summary and now an Israeli talks to the presenter about neo-Nazi, anti-

How well or badly were slaves treated in the American South?

Since slavery is in the news, here is what I blogged five years ago on the subject, an article I was inspired to write after reading Tolstoy talking about serfs being whipped.

I recently mentioned that the Liberals and the Guardian in England backed the Confederacy but here is another article from 2015 on the same theme.

This link is to a blog post written by someone who calls himself Lorenzo, who talks about Unfree Labor: American Slavery and Russian Serfdom by Peter Kolchin, a book which is on my list to read. Lorenzo says:

Kolchin makes very clear that Russian serfdom was much more like chattel slavery than its medieval precursor. Medieval serfs existed in much more complex social arrangements and generally had relatively static obligations. Russian serfs were literally owned and far more subject to the whims of their owners. 

Kolchin characterises both American slavery and Russian serfdom as responses by elites on the periphery of the capitalist world to labour shortage coming from demand for products of labour coupled with low population density. In both cases, the cost of coercion ‘paid off’ economically, particularly as there was deemed to be no moral cost. Kolchin has an excellent sense of how differently embedded in their different societies American slavery and Russian serfdom were (for example, the slaves lived in a slaveholder’s world, the serf’s in a peasant’s world; American slaveholders were much more effective and empowered as a social group than Russian serfowners; American slavery was vibrant and expanding, Russian serfdom was a system in decay).
It's interesting to learn that American slaves ate better than European workers, including I imagine the Lancashire mill girls, who supported the North even though the Civil War put them out of work, and slightly better than American workers.


Imagine if people took all the energy they're currently expending on pointing out everyone else's perceived faults, and spent it instead on improving themselves, or helping someone, or sorting out the garden, or absolutely anything else. Sam White

The notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past. Barclays CEO Jes Staley in April

Young employees in cities are paid relatively well, but they quickly lose as much as half their after-tax salaries in rent and travel costs. They spend their lives in cramped quarters with multiple roommates. With the commute reduced from five days a week to four or three, the need to live centrally diminishes. Notably, about 250,000 people left London when lockdown was called, according to a University of Oxford study. Most will return; some will not. Rory Sutherland in the latest Spectator

Catholic chaplain at MIT sacked after he questioned whether George Floyd died because of racism

From the New Boston Post quoted in an article by Rod Dreher.

The Catholic chaplain has been forced out at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology because of an email message he sent Catholic students that questioned whether George Floyd died because of racism and stated that Floyd did not live a virtuous life.

Father Daniel Moloney, a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston, was asked to resign last week, according to the archdiocese.

“In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism. I don’t think we know that. Many people have claimed that racism is a major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that,” Moloney wrote in an email message to the MIT Catholic Community, according to a news story published Tuesday night in The Boston Globe.

Moloney, according to the Globe story of Tuesday, June 16, wrote that Floyd should not have been killed by a police officer in Minnesota, but also stated that Floyd “had not lived a virtuous life” and that police “deal with dangerous and bad people all the time, and that often hardens them.”
Some students complained to university administrators, including the university’s Bias Response Team.

University officials contacted the Archdiocese of Boston, which quickly sought Moloney’s resignation.
This is much shocking even than the case two years ago of the Catholic Chaplain at the University of Glasgow who was removed by the University after he held a novena in his parish church at a parishioner's request, “in reparation” after a homosexual pride march. Not a word was said in his defence by his Archbishop or colleagues but he was fired by the University acting unilaterally, not with the complicity of the Church. 

This time the Church itself removed a good priest, though at the instigation of the M.I.T.

A pedant writes: Rod Dreher says that we don’t know that Officer Chauvin acted out of racism 

but we can know for sure, though, is that Chauvin’s act was evil. 

I don't think that acts are evil. Evil, as the word is usually used at any rate, implies evil intent, either the intent of men or of demonic forces. Thoughts and intentions are often evil. If a man is struck dead by by lightning or by an object inadvertently falling from a great height these things are not evil. The first is what insurance companies call an act of God, the latter an accident. A homicide committed by a madman is not evil either - he cannot be blamed for it. 

I suppose one can use the word evil in an old fashioned sense, as when we say of something 'High unemployment is an avoidable [or unavoidable] evil'. I suspect, though, that Mr Dreher is trying to protect himself from accusations of racism.

Sunday 21 June 2020

The revolution

As long as police exist, there will always be repression. This is why we must accept nothing less than abolition of all law enforcement. Kandist Mallett in Teen Vogue. Yes, Teen Vogue.

If you're worried about the concentration of power in the hands of a few unaccountable actors, and you very much should be, nobody has more unchecked power than Google does.
Tucker Carlson

Prince Harry backs move to ban Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Daily Mail headline (do we detect the Duchess's influence?)

There are two prevailing views: remove all memorials and statues that are deemed offensive in relation to slavery, colonialism, or racism. The other view is that they should remain but have additional information alongside existing information to give a fuller picture.

I have felt the need for such memorials to be placed in a museum, but the second view could also work as we remember the past but add important information to give a full account of the background and implications of such a memorial.”
The Black Lives Matter movement has provided a sense of urgency to the Church of England about institutional and structural racism.
The Dean of Manchester, the Very Revd Rogers Govender

Faces Of The Balkans, 100 Years Ago

"Barbers Mean Nothing In Life: A horny-handed son of the Balkan soil. He has lived the allotted three score and 10 years and then some. And despite the vicissitudes that have swept Romania, he still believes in the future of his country and the goodness of his God. He was a patient in the [Red Cross] hospital but refused to remain if his hair was cut. It is a 50-year growth and he wouldn't part with it."

These very interesting pictures from the Radio Free Europe site were taken in different Balkan countries by American photographer Lewis Hine, who was here with the Red Cross, in 1919 and 1920. 

The captions are original and Radio Free Europe feels it necessary to apologise to its readers for the 'sometimes patronizing perspective of a Western observer of the time' that they display. 

I think almost everything written before the 1990s requires an apology or condemnation from Radio Free Europe, the Guardian and from English literature departments.

Reading the captions and looking at the pictures I think not for the first time that Wallachia and Moldavia are only half Balkan at most, because Balkan is a state of mind, not a place, and a state of mind strongly coloured by centuries of rule by Turkey. Wallachia and Moldavia were only a Turkish protectorate, ruled by Christian princes, though the people including the landowners and princes dressed like Turks until the 1850s.

Smuggling and bear hunting in the Carpathians in the late 1830s

I mentioned a few days ago John Paget's lovely book Travels in Hungary and Transylvania, which I read at university. 

Here is a passage about Wallachian peasants smuggling salt, shawls and Turkey carpets from Bucharest to Krondstadt (Brasov) and on occasion from Roumelia or even Adrianople (Edirne), followed by an account of a drunken Austrian general in a bear hunt being pursued by a bear and calling out 'Back! rascal, back! I am a general!'

Being pursued by a bear is no joke, even if they look like they want to give you a friendly hug. From time to time they succeed in killing people, sometimes in towns. One killed someone in Sinaia a few years ago. 

For some reason the technocrat government, the one before last, decided to make hunting bears illegal. The number of peasants and tourists killed by bears will doubtless increase.

I was fascinated by Hungarian (including Transylvanian) early nineteenth century history at university and some years ago was sad to find the Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford specialises in Hungarian history, which when I was up was an incredibly obscure subject. 

I admit I feel jealous. Failure is not the only penalty for sloth. There is also the success of Sir Richard Evans. 

Rod Liddle today

Now Oxford University has said it intends to “decolonise” maths and science. How will it do that? Surely the speed of light, and Boyle’s law on the pressure of gases, are exactly the same whether you’re black or white?

I have read papers on decolonising the sciences and in every case the subtext seems to mean “make them a lot easier”. Ask students not to calculate the pressure of a gas as its container decreases in size, but how the poor gas feels, alone in its airtight container.

There should be a name for this fervid dismantling of western thought. I think “The Unenlightenment” fits pretty well.

Captain Cook, Lord Nelson and Clive of India were racists

An anti-colonialist 25 year old Australian historian disapproves of statues of Captain Cook, Lord Nelson and my great hero Clive of India.

What would the Whig Lord Macaulay say? His dazzling Essay on Clive was the best thing I'd ever read when I was twelve. Clive's greatness is beyond dispute. He was the conqueror of India, something no Greek or Roman ever was.

Countries live in the imagination. To renounce England's wonderful past is to renounce our country herself.

The wisest man I ever met was an illiterate Pole who came to England after the war and told me England was the best country in the world. 

Every man thinks his country the best country in the world, in one sense, in the sense that his wife and mother are the best wife or mother in the world, but in England's case it's objectively true.

What is the alternative? The only competitors are France, Ancient Athens and Ancient Rome and we are even better than them, even if being opposed to slavery is the only test. (Just think of the French revolution, if you would put France in first place.)

Oh and I suppose another alternative is China, where political prisoners today provide slave labour.

55% Of Americans Believe Joe Biden Is In Early Stages of Dementia

55% of 1,007 “likely voters” in the USA told polling company Zogby International that they think Joe Biden, 77, “is in the early stages of dementia.”

It's a small survey but it doesn't sound unlikely.

Having seen a recent clip of him I think this will become a much more widely held assessment as the election proceeds. 

think Joe Biden is very unlikely to win, just because of his own weaknesses.

Donald Trump said in March at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina,

“They are going to put him in a home and other people are going to be running the country. Sleepy Joe, he doesn’t even know where he is or what he’s doing or what office he’s running for. Honestly, I don’t think he knows what office he’s running for.”

Donald Trump has a
knack of sensing weaknesses. 'Low-energy Jeb' and 'Pocahontas' (Democrats said that epithet was racist) killed Jeb Bush and Elizabeth Warren. 

Jeb Bush told him, 'You're not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency', but President Trump proved him wrong.

In addition to Biden's menta
l state, I imagine the BLM protests and riots will also help Donald Trump very much.

The BLM iconoclastic outbreak is another attempt by his opponents to destroy Trump, after the Russian allegations and the Ukrainian allegations failed to do so. By opponents I mean his main opponents, the American media, this time in alliance with angry crowds, that on occasion became angry mobs.

But BLM is a Morton's fork for the Democrats. They cannot denounce BLM and I don't think they can win if they endorse BLM.

I was discussing this last night with a very clever and well-informed American businessman, who thinks the same. 

He also thinks that in 2024 a Democrat will win the presidency, of which I am certain too, and then America is finished.

Black Lives Matter UK say they aim to dismantle capitalism

On Black Lives Matter UK's GoFundMe page, a statement was uploaded a few days ago. It explains that the organisation intends to be ‘guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world’.

On the BLMUK Facebook page, the group declares that it is opposed to 

‘homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia, queerphobia, transphobia, sexism, misogyny, misogynoir, enbyphobia, ableism, racism, anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, whorephobia, ageism, fatphobia, eugenics, discrimination, stereotypes, respectability politics, the stigmatisation of HIV and the stigmatisation of addiction.’ 

I learnt all this from an article in the Daily Mail, which makes this point.

If those behind Black Lives Matter UK really do intend to ‘dismantle’ capitalism, what might they wish to replace it with? And how would that benefit people of colour?
The only alternative system practised elsewhere in the world is communism. But as China’s Uighur Muslims, or the 1.5 million people from ethnic minorities who were deported or sent to gulags by Josef Stalin, would attest, that system can be very racist indeed.

Of course the Mail is right to mention Communism, but the one thing Communism is not guilty of is racism. In fact Communists coined the word and invented the concept.

I don't know if the Chinese Communist treatment of the Uigur Muslims is racist, but I'd be surprised. I suspect it is their religion, not their race, which makes the Communists see them as a threat. 

Still, it's a very illuminating article from a much maligned but often very good paper, one which sometimes somewhat timidly critiques the ruling ideology, though often is very PC itself.

As it is in another article in the Mail, which lavishly praises Patrick Hutchinson, who rescued Mr Bryn Male from a BLM mob. It is right to do so but omits to mention that he said he did so to prevent a death making BLM look bad. 

Mr Male, who had ended up on the ground before his rescue, is described by the Mail as 'an ex-police thug' who had a shaven head and a Millwall tattoo. 

Witnesses said he drunkenly declared ‘f*** Black Lives Matter’ before being punched and kicked by rival demonstrators.

The Mail does not say he did anything beyond using a four letter word to bring down an attack that might have cost him his life. It brushes over this, but gives me the impression that it thinks protesting against BLM and hoping to protect statues is damning. 

The article tells us Mr Male is vice-chairman of the social club in the village where he lives.

But for how much longer? A petition to remove him has 380 signatures. 

The ‘Get rid of Bryn Male’ campaign says: ‘On June 13 we all witnessed an honourable man, Patrick Hutchinson, carrying an injured stranger to safety. We are now aware that the injured man was Bryn Male. We cannot allow those... attitudes to be part of the club.’

Saturday 20 June 2020

The Book of Covidicus - Chapter 5 - No BALM in Gilead

I spent far too much time on the internet as it is and rarely read other people's blogs, but I just read Bruvver Eccles' latest post and it's so funny I decided I needed to post the link here.

In praise of inequality

The world is very hierarchical and very unequal. 

This is because nature is very hierarchical and very unequal. 

If you believe in God you believe that this is divinely ordained. 

Conservatives always argued against equality being a good thing in principle, until John Major, asked in the House of Commons by Tony Blair if he believed in equality, answered yes. 

A long time before that conservatives had stopped arguing for inequality as a good thing in itself or in other words the merits of hierarchy, but hierarchy is the most important conservative principle of all, along with preserving the authority of the state.

Tradition and freedom are very important but less essential, from a conservative point of view. In theory, liberals also believe in freedom and in the nineteenth century really did so.

The conservatives are not defending hierarchy, inequality or the authority of the state very well at the moment, and certainly not tradition or freedom, but nature has a habit of reasserting itself over abstract ideas and human reason. 

In the US and UK the left is an alliance of younger urban graduates and ethnic minorities

The British Labour Party commissioned Ed Miliband, who knows about losing elections, to report on why they lost badly in December 2019. His report found that Labour was a party of younger city-dwelling graduates and of ethnic minority voters. 

Age, education, ethnicity and location are now more important than class.

This is the future of the left in England and America.

In Romania the sizeable ethnic minorities are well established, neither cause or are caused many problems and have lived here for centuries, except the small Jewish community, who are mostly descended from late nineteenth century immigrants from Russia. They have their own ethnic parties, though the gypsy party doesn't count for much. 

Graduates are usually centre right and graduates with jobs in multinational companies, like everywhere, are often globalists. 

The left-wing party, the post-communist Social Democrats, gets the socially conservative, less well educated, especially from the countryside where people so hated Communism in 1948. 

They are somewhere people, but so are most of the centre-right voters. Most Romanians are social conservatives and almost none approve of single sex marriage, few of feminism.

The big drivers for change will be Romanian graduates returning from Western universities with up to date 'woke' ideas, the European Union and Third World immigration which has begun. 

In other words the drivers for social change in Romania are essentially the same as in the West - but Romania is two generations behind. And over two generations much can happen and will, in Romania and in the west. 

In the less than twenty weeks till the US presidential election a lot can happen. That election will have far reaching consequences. 

A victory for Biden will be the end of the attempt at counter-revolution. A victory for Trump will probably kick the can down the road for four years.

Quotations for this revolutionary moment in the West

“The simple step of a courageous individual is not to take part in the lie.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

"You never compromise with violence. You never compromise with intimidation. You never compromise with those who want to use it to extinguish freedom and democracy, because if you do then the very things for which you stand are extinguished." Margaret Thatcher

"I watched greedily, and concluded with absolute certainty that night that nobody was in charge, and that I could do anything I liked from now on. And I duly did." Peter Hitchens on 1967

Quotations, stolen from Toma

I express my thanks to Toma, who comments regularly on my blog and who collected these and posted then on his.

The first quotation expresses what I feel British foreign policy should be.
We can regard the troubles of others with sympathy and patience. We hold out the hand of friendship and peace to every nation in Europe. But the affairs of Europe are not our concern. Every time we have involved ourselves in these affairs, it has brought us great burdens and great loss. We have prospered when we have kept clear of European politics.

Our one duty is to mind our own business. We should set an example of ordered freedom and sensible economics. These things are well within the genius of the British people, even if our Government finds them a bit difficult. For this, too, is one of the lessons of history: the British people are always a good deal wiser and more sensible than those who govern them.

A.J.P. Taylor

Friday 19 June 2020

Boris was right to want to avoid lockdown, but then bottled it

I agree with Fraser Nelson's article in the Telegraph and am terribly ashamed of how my country clings to the lockdown. It's a sort of Stockholm syndrome. Is that also the explanation for the way people back home kowtow to the Black Lives Matter movement?

Boris Johnson was right the first time. He resisted lockdown for as long as he could, regarding it as a draconian, untested experiment that might cause far more harm than good.
Far better, he thought, to ask people to keep their distance, work from home, self-isolate if anyone in their household fell sick. Why pass needless laws and ask the police to pursue workers, lovers and dog-walkers? It’s better, he said, to level with people. Give them the facts, offer advice and trust them to do what’s right.
Only now do we know how well this was working. Most people were staying home on government advice (and their own concern). The virus seems to have peaked by lockdown on 23 March. None of this was known at the time. Instead, we had panic and Prof Neil Ferguson saying that 250,000 would die unless rules were mandatory. So politically, the Prime Minister had no choice.


Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions. After looking at the Alps, I felt that my mind had been stretched beyond the limits of its elasticity, and fitted so loosely on my old ideas of space that I had to spread these to fit it.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., author of 
The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table, misattributed to his son, the judge.

Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
Follow the three Rs:
Respect for self
Respect for others
Responsibility for all your actions.
Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.

'History will judge those who emerged from lockdown to fight the ghost of Cecil Rhodes'

Marie Daouda is a stipendiary lecturer in French at Oriel College, Oxford, and wrote a wonderful article for the Daily Telegraph, entitled 'History will judge those who emerged from lockdown to fight the ghost of Cecil Rhodes'. I quote from it.

I come from a country with no statues.

It is not that Morocco never had statues. Not that long ago it had statues of French officials – of which only one remains, hidden in a consulate garden. It had, a bit earlier, statues of Christian saints and Roman dignitaries, of which there is no trace. Before that, it must have had statues of Phoenician deities. All have been destroyed, and with them visible proof of the complex history of North Africa.

...I will not say that as an African I am oppressed by Oriel’s statue of Rhodes and by the buildings Oxford owes to imperial largesse, nor that I feel incomplete, as a Catholic, by the absence of statues in some of the other niches. I do not wish to change a single stone of Oxford, because I love it. I love it as much, and maybe more, than I love any city I have lived in before.

There is no shame in loving the country you belong to. We immigrants love it, too. It is possible to criticise a country and the people who built it, while still loving it. Without a French presence in Morocco, I doubt I would have had any chance to enjoy an international academic career, let alone as a woman. My mother insisted that I should be educated in the French system; my grandmother’s pride was that I ended up teaching French to French teenagers.

Could I decolonise myself? No; nor do I wish to. I am proud of what the complicated past of colonialism made me. I feel no guilt about it, and the last thing I need now is the apologies of a French person feeling sorry for me.White guilt is unhelpful and condescending. Whenever someone tries to deploy it, I tell them that my ancestors were involved in the slave trade, too.
He wanted his scholarships to create amity between the English speaking peoples and I assumed he did so because Anglo-Saxons and Germans are Teutons, but Dr. Daouda quotes from his will: 

“no student shall be qualified or disqualified for election to a Scholarship on account of his race or religious opinions.”

Why did England leave it to football supporters and the far right to protect the Cenotaph?

A very intelligent and highly successful Cambridge educated Facebook friend posted this status about the recent riots in London.

Why did we rely, complacently, on the Football Lads Alliance and Britian First (sic), to support the veterans who wanted to protect the Cenotaph that commemorates Our Glorious Dead? It should have been the Police's job to do that, over the past three weeks, and just to be clear, All Cops Are NOT Bastards, particularly in the UK. But, as part of the mainstream conservative majority of our great nation, I am hanging my head in shame because I, and millions of us, were too frightened to come out last weekend and contest the hateful narrative that Great Britain is a historically and systemically-racist nation, rather than a shining light that did more than any other nation over the centuries to end slavery. For those of us who are Conservatives, marching, even protesting, isn't really our thing. We were worried that, if we supported the veterans and stood up for ourselves, some people (who, for some reason, we would still like to consider our friends) would openly denounce us as racists. Yes, we wanted to obey the law and socially-distance; yes we didn't want to antagonise our children some of whom were were marching with BLM; yes, we were surprised that some people off the telly, that we quite like, came out to support BLM; yes, we were horrified by the capitulation of our Police, forced to kneel, initially for their own safety, but then advised to do so by their useless commanders and yes, we were disgusted when the leader of the opposition followed suit. Some of us probably still believe what we are told by the BBC. But, none of us should welcome the Cultural Revolution being encouraged, and perhaps soon to be demanded, by these protests

Thursday 18 June 2020

Not so Imperial College - not Imperial at all in fact

Imperial College London has dropped the motto “scientia imperii decus et tutamen” (“scientific knowledge, the crowning glory and the safeguard of the empire”) from its crest, but has not asked the Queen to change its name.

Imperial College said the move would help promote diversity.

“We know that this motto is a reminder of a historical legacy that is rooted in colonial power and oppression.”
Bristol University said it was reviewing using the crests of Edward Colston (whose statue was toppled into the harbour), Henry Overton Wills III and the Fry family. The Frys made chocolate, were Quakers and therefore pacifists and were leading liberals and social reformers, as I recall.

Oriel College Oxford, the last Oxford college to admit women, is going to get rid of the statue of Rhodes, founder of Rhodesia.

Rhodes donated scholarships to help amity between the English speaking peoples and their German cousins, but now they are open to people from anywhere and promote left-wing causes he would have detested. Someone should sue the trustees.

So farewell then, Dame Vera Lynn and Jean Kennedy Smith

Dame Vera Lynn has died.

Her songs are not my cup of tea, but another figure from the Second World War and the end of British glory is gone. Rest in peace and God save the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, who served in the forces in the war.

I cannot mourn Jean Kennedy Smith, Bill Clinton's Ambassador to Eire and one of the architects of the Good Friday Agreement, by which we let the IRA share in running the Six Counties, but may her sins be forgiven her.

Lionel Shriver is 'controversial'

Anglo-American writer Lionel Shriver was interviewed by Alison Pearson on a Telegraph podcast. She has said she is "profoundly disappointed" in the British people for their tolerance to the UK's strict lockdown during the global pandemic.
"The British people have never more profoundly disappointed me. It seems so un-British to say, alright then I’ll just roll over and I’ll stay home. I think part of it was being able to feed into the Blitz narrative....
"The bizarre attachment to being confined to your homes and not making a living and relying on the government...I’m just dismayed." 
She is a Democrat and feminist who likes Mr. Obama very much, came slowly to like Hillary and absolutely detests President Trump, but the Telegraph, a supposedly Conservative paper, feels it necessary to call her "controversial" to distance itself from her views on identity politics. 

And possibly the lockdown.

She said that in 2008 
'Ever opposed to nepotism, I disliked the prospect of our first female head of state achieving the position through marriage to a previous president, a cheap shortcut I considered anti-feminist. Besides, I opposed the political dynasty in principle. The US famously rejected monarchy in 1776, and phenomenons like the Kennedys, Bushes, and Clintons seemed antithetical to the American project.
'When in those early, why-can't-we-all-be-friends days of the Obama administration, the new president called a truce by appointing his rival secretary of state, I was disgusted. The woman lost. She wasn't due a compensation prize. By then well weary of her strained attempts at populist folksiness, inconsistent put-on drawl, unpersuasive tearfulness and gratingly nasal voice, I didn't want to have to keep looking at her face.'

She was absolutely right, but later changed her mind about Hillary, despite the destruction of Libya.

BLM in Iceland

Gunnar Smári Egilsson, founder of the Socialist Party of Iceland, wants the statue of founder of Iceland Ingólfr Arnarson taken down because he “murdered” and oppressed “freedom heroes” and owned slaves. He wants to replace the statue with that of slaves.

The revolution in the American media

It became very clear as soon as Trump was sure to win the Republican nomination that most American journalists working for major newspapers, sites and even TV channels had become political actors rather than news-gatherers but this process has this year gone even further. Very much further.

I just found two must-read articles on this subject. 

From an article on a site new to me:
Yet Fang found himself denounced online as a racist, then hauled before H.R. His crime? During protests, he tweeted this interview with an African-American man named Maximum Fr, who described having two cousins murdered in the East Oakland neighborhood where he grew up. Saying his aunt is still not over those killings, Max asked:

I always question, why does a Black life matter only when a white man takes it?... Like, if a white man takes my life tonight, it’s going to be national news, but if a Black man takes my life, it might not even be spoken of… It’s stuff just like that that I just want in the mix. 

Shortly after, a co-worker of Fang’s, Akela Lacy, wrote, “Tired of being made to deal continually with my co-worker @lhfang continuing to push black on black crime narratives after being repeatedly asked not to. This isn’t about me and him, it’s about institutional racism and using free speech to couch anti-blackness. I am so fucking tired.” She followed with, “Stop being racist Lee.”

Boris Johnson, Evelyn Waugh and Churchill: three very different Tories

Evelyn Waugh on Churchill:

'Rallied the nation indeed! I was a serving soldier in 1940. How we deplored his orations.'

'Churchill was a radio personality who outlived his prime.'

Boris Johnson on Evelyn Waugh on Churchill: 

There are some people…who may be tempted to dismiss or downplay the virtuosity of Churchill as a writer …. Indeed, he has always had his detractors. Evelyn Waugh, that inveterate Churchill-basher, said he was a “master of sham-Augustan prose”, with “no specific literary talent but a gift of lucid self-expression”. After reading Churchill’s Life of his father Randolph, Waugh dismissed it as a “shifty barrister’s case, not a work of literature”…

Why did Waugh sneer at Churchill’s writings? Notice that he–Waugh–had actually tried to emulate Churchill in the 1930s and got himself sent out to cover a war in Abyssinia. He produced Scoop of course, one of the great stylistic landmarks of the twentieth century. But his reporting had nothing like the same journalistic impact as Churchill’s. Is it that Waugh was just a teensy bit jealous? I think so; and it was not just because Churchill had become so much more famous than Waugh had been, by the time he was twenty five, but that he had made such stupendous sums from writing. And that for most journalists, alas, is the truly sensitive point for comparison.
This explains one important reason why British journalists so much dislike Boris, though there are certainly others. Boris, when writing about Churchill, is talking about himself. 

Charles Moore made the case the far left should make about the European Union

Labour, writes a well-known political journalist, embraced the idea of Europe in 1998, as it was the best opponent of Thatcherism and seemed to mean trade union and welfare rights. But this came at a high cost, he writes. "In doing so, however, it abandoned the classic left-wing vigilance against the 'bankers' ramp' , the device which allows democracies to be overpowered by banks, central banks and their lackeys to run an economy in their own interests. The euro is just such a ramp. It was imposed without democratic endorsement and cannot be unstitched by democratic rejection. Hence perma-slump in large parts of the eurozone, 50 per cent youth unemployment in the worst bits, and German domination of the whole. Never, since the age of the dictators, have the workers been further from control over the means of production, distribution and exchange than they are in the EU today."
Oh glory be, at last someone has spelled out the left-wing (very left-wing) case for Brexit. But who is this seer? Gosh, it's Charles Moore, a high Tory, in the Spectator, the weekly conservative magazine. And some of you criticise me for writing in the Daily Mail. But it is here, on the right, that the left-wing case for Brexit is being made. Where Is The Thinking Left in this debate? 

Adam LeBor, 17 June 2016, six days before the referendum which changed everything.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Theodore Dalrymple's words are very topical this week

“Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, not to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.”

Tuesday 16 June 2020

BLM is gaining support

A poll by Rasmussen yesterday showed 62 percent of likely American voters have a favorable opinion of BLM, higher than the numbers who approve of Messrs Trump or Biden.

Tucker Carlson is losing sponsorship for his TV show because he criticises BLM. A number of prominent people have lost their jobs for doing so or for prejudiced remarks, often on social media.

How will this impact the election? Lord Black says Trump should win but that does not now provide any certainty that he will.

Meanwhile in England Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, has told students that they can apply for “mitigating circumstances” if their performance in exams was affected by George Floyd’s death. She said that the university is “determined to support our black students in every way possible”.

There has been widespread disorder at Black Lives Matter demonstrations in France and at night disturbances involving Chechen gangs in Lyons and Dijon. In Dijon the Chechens have been fighting Arabs for four nights. Some reports suggested Chechens had travelled to Dijon from all over France to take part as well as from Belgium and Germany.



From "Watermelons" by James Delingpole

Mark Thompson, Sky News reporter

Would You Care if a White Man Cured Covid-19?

That's the title of an article by Heather MacDonald published in the Wall St Journal on April 17, 2020, which someone sent me and I just got round to reading. It's more topical now, two months later, thanks to Black Lives Matters protests. The sub-headline precises the argument: Hiring researchers by sex and race rather than scientific prowess is dangerous nonsense.

'Scientists at Oxford University and King’s College London are racing to develop an inexpensive ventilator that can be quickly built with off-the-shelf components. Should it matter that all the lead researchers on the project are men? If you believe university diversity bureaucrats and many academic deans, the initiative will be handicapped by the absence of women among the project heads. If there is a silver lining to the Covid-19 pandemic, it may be to expose as dangerous nonsense the practice of hiring researchers by sex and race rather than scientific accomplishments.

How to have style

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.
Gore Vidal

A mind that is stretched by new experiences can never go back to its old dimensions.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The real man

Sir Joshua having also observed that the real character of a man was found out by his amusements, --Johnson added, "Yes, Sir, no man is a hypocrite in his pleasures."

Boswell's Life of Johnson

The Guardian backed the South in the American Civil War

I have written a lot about slavery in America and about the US Civil War on this blog. As the Confederate heroes are being toppled, it seems topical to link to this post about the Liberal Guardian newspaper backing the South in the American Civil War, as did the British establishment, but not the Lancashire mill girls thrown out of work by the war. 

The Conservative magazine the Spectator, on the other hand, always opposed slavery and lost readers by backing the North, as its editor recently explained.

Lockdowns must never be repeated

It seems that Covid-19, fortunately, is not a very dangerous infection, though it can cause a very unpleasant death and possibly (we don't know) lasting harm to the lungs of patients.

We must not end up with a new normal but return quickly to the old normal. Whatever happens, the lockdown must never be repeated, even for a much more dangerous infection, in the future. 

Former British Foreign Secretary, Conservative Party Leader and destroyer of Libya William Hague agrees with me, but he spoils it by agreeing with Tony Blair on the efficacy of testing, which quite a few epidemiologists argue persuasively are pointless.

The top American epidemiologist Dr Anthony Fauci seemed impressive when he entered the stage, though perhaps his Jesuit education should have made me doubt him. He lost all credibility in my eyes when he suggested that mankind would have to stop shaking hands. 

I say this because the remark is obviously bonkers. Shaking hands is not something we Englishmen like doing. I do it a lot, but that is because I live in Romania where all men shake hands all the time except when they kiss each other. (Men used to air kiss women's hands but that seems to have entirely died out.)

Unfortunately lockdowns got entangled in politics, even though epidemics have nothing much to do with political philosophies, though admittedly the idea for lockdowns comes from the Chinese Communists. 

To quote the late Denis Healey, we were out of our tiny Chinese minds to close down the world economy. 

If we stop now things might be saved. I do not know but I know that we are on the brink of a catastrophe. 

The economic disaster caused by lockdowns, along with the BLM riots, does make it look like Western civilisation is in grave trouble - but there were already many other reasons to think this. The French left are gripped by the ideas of 'collapsology' and the French right by 'the great replacement'. 

Politicians must not shirk their responsibilities by delegating them to or hiding behind scientists, though I understand why they did. 

Politicians are in general cowards. They find safety in crowds and

Monday 15 June 2020

Romanian Shepherd Family from the Sibiu area

Image may contain: one or more people, sky, tree, outdoor and nature

A Romanian Shepherd Family from the Sibiu area, wearing very similar clothes to what the Getae wore on Trajan's Column and in statues found in Italy. The painting is XIXth century, by Hungarian painter Miklos Barabas.

I like it very much and it reminds me of the English writer John Paget and his interesting book Travels in Hungary and Transylvania. I read it when I was at university, even though Hungarian and Romanian history were only a tenth of a question on the 1848 revolutions. It's available on Google Books free.

From today's Spectator Covid-19 update: Is London now virtually Covid-19-free?

'Barely three months ago, face mask adverts were banned by the UK Advertising Standards Agency for ‘misleading’ claims that they help protect against Covid-19. Now, we have police enforcing such masks, and without any debate in parliament about the need for such a measure. Whether this will boost confidence or undermine it remains to be seen.'

Man is imprisoned for urinating near a statue - BLM protesters who defaced statues and threw one into Bristol harbour not charged

A man who was photographed urinating against or through the wall of the Houses of Parliament has been sent to prison for two weeks. The fact that trial and sentence was so quick and that somebody called the Chief Magistrate (a title devised by New Labour in 2000) delivered the sentence suggests an example is being made. 

I don't like the way England has become a nation of police informers but he did deserve to be arrested and charged and did deserve a not too heavy fine. Poor man, after many pints of beer he had little choice. 

The BLM protesters who defaced statues and even threw one into the sea meanwhile have not been charged.

The Avon and Somerset Constabulary made clear their sympathy with the reasons for which the statue in Bristol was thrown into the sea, even though they regretted law-breaking.

The Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said: 

Better to ban cars, not shops and restaurants, if Romanian lives matter

In 2019 Romania had the highest road fatality rate in the European Union, 96 deaths per 1 million inhabitants, according to preliminary figures published on June 11 by the European Commission. It marks a big improvement on 2010 though, when there were 110 deaths per million.

Almost 2,000 deaths. How much better had the Romanian government not had a lockdown but banned all journeys by motor vehicle for a year, with exceptions only for police, ambulance, fire engines and girlfriends of politicians.

It would have caused huge inconvenience, it's true, but it would have saved two thousand lives to make up for any excess deaths from Covid-19 caused by not having a lockdown ('carantina' in Romanian). 

Unlike the people dying of Covid-19, the people whose lives would have been saved would be of all ages and mostly in good health. It would have caused infinitely less damage to the economy and infinitely less suffering in the long term.