Friday 31 July 2020

From Knut Wittkowski's latest broadcast

Lee: If the lockdown didn’t happen, do you think the hospitals would have been fuller of COVID-19 patients?

Knut Wittkowski: No. There’s no indication that, that would have made any difference.

Lee: Why do you think governments made this choice?

Knut Wittkowski: Because they’re scared because what they had seen in Italy, was that many people died. And initially it wasn’t quite obvious that those was who died were people who were very old, with many comorbidities in nursing homes that were not well managed. And so, it appeared that this would be a flu that is more dangerous than other flus, much more dangerous, and in the meantime, we have learned it is not. Yes, it’s more dangerous for those who are older and have several comorbidities, but otherwise, especially for the younger, for the healthy, for the children, it seems actually to be milder than most other flus have been in the recent past.

BBC World Service today

The start to the BBC World Service's Newsday programme a few minutes ago:
Coming up today we'll tackle stigmatisation in India, sexism in Croatia and climate change in [somewhere that I couldn't catch, which turned out to be a Norwegian island in the Arctic].

The BBC woman interviewing the Croatian woman about sexual abuse began a question

Given there is a strong patriarchal society - I think it's the third time I'm saying that...

Then back to the anchor who starts a new item with
The threat from climate change and a warming planet is a clear challenge.
Actually some people disagree, BBC.

The newsreader then tells listeners that President Trump had talked about fraud in postal voting 'without any evidence'.

I can think of evidence.

Then an item about human rights abuses inflicted on African refugees making their way to Denmark. An academic specialising in refugees is asked how they can be prevented but he has nothing to suggest. I asked myself whether Europe not taking in any more refugees might do the trick.

The sports news talked about tennis players wearing Black Lives Manners slogans on their t-shirts and kneeling.

Left-wingers are only criticised when it comes to left-wing tyrannies like Zimbabwe's, but the BBC does not mention Zimbabwe's regime is socialist.

I don't have time or patience to listen to the whole programme. The BBC World Service is paid for by the British Foreign Office.

On Karl Marx's tomb are inscribed the words

The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it.

This is the philosophy of the BBC World Service too.

Sunday 26 July 2020

Empty Venice is a dream

Janet Daley in the Sunday Telegraph says today:
"London, once the most vibrant cultural and social metropolis on earth (believe me, I have lived in great cities on two continents) looks as if it has been hit by a neutron bomb. It became, virtually overnight, a de-populated museum of weirdly preserved, unoccupied buildings like a set in some dystopian cinema epic."
She wonders why no-one seems to want to return to city life, preferring to work far from city centres.
"Where is the understanding that a great cosmopolitan conurbation - which attracts and throws together people of different ethnicities and backgrounds, varying trades and occupations, disparate classes and attitudes - is essential to the progress of civilised life? Indeed, since the Renaissance, the growth of the great cities of Europe has been central to the development of civilisation itself."

Empty London sounds irresistible and yet I know people who are too frightened to walk from Kensington Gardens to the National Gallery or take the tube in from South London.

Your intrepid hero, on the other hand, at very short notice went to an eerily empty Optopeni airport in Bucharest, took a plane that was mostly empty to Munich, sat in an empty first class train carriage (EUR 80) in a train to Innsbruck and then took the train on to Venice and Florence. 

The direct train from Innsbruck to Venice is suspended because of the pandemic and I decided to spend two nights in Verona instead of just changing trains there. I was in a first class carriage in the train from Innsbruck to Verona (EUR 29, a snip) and I shared the carriage with one other person.

In fair Verona where we lay our scene, to quote the second line of Romeo and Juliet, I was ravished by the emptiness. Few people and almost all Veronese. 

Take a cheap plane to Venice, gentle reader, next weekend, provided you are not Romanian. Romanians have to quarantine for fourteen days.

Verona needs two full days. In some ways I like it more than Venice but I would not like it with tourists. I did not bother to see Juliet's supposed balcony. I did eat an excellent risotto cooked in red wine in an empty tourist restaurant called Liston da Barca for three successive meals. 

All churches were closed when I arrived but many opened the next day.

Umberto Eco wrote an essay on the self-confidence of cities. First-tier cities, he said, (Paris, New York, Rome) are slogans in themselves, completely self-explanatory. You are not asked about your opinion on them as there can be only one. He might have included Venice and Florence. 

I don't know why he included New York. I never was in New York but decided early this year it wasn't interesting and instead bought ticket for New Orleans, which always sounded fascinating.

The premium class carriage from Verona to Venice was far from full but not very empty because it was Friday afternoon and Italians were going to spend the weekend Venice. I stayed in a soulless four star hotel, the Splendid, whose rooms were marked down from EUR 450 to 125, and felt at first depressed by the little shopping street the hotel is on, with expensive shops and tourists.  But only a handful of people make a narrow street busy.

Walking five minutes to Piazza San Marco was a revelation. I was almost alone. I couldn't get enough of this and sat there each day drinking aperol spritzes, which were invented in Venice, at Cafe Florian which claims to be the oldest cafe in the world. 

It was founded in 1720. Older London coffee houses morphed into White's and Brooks's and Lloyd's of London, I suppose. Goldoni was a regular when it opened. Casanova and Byron were fond of this cafe, perhaps because it always admitted women. 

White's and Brooks's still haven't, which is absolutely fine. 

Coffee has Christian origins, coming from Ethiopia, but it is Muslims who brought it to Venice and Europe, for which I am very grateful to them.

Googling on the train told me 2.4% of the almost five million strong population of Veneto (or, as it should be called in English, Venetia) is Romanian. 90% are Italian. 7.6% "others". When I got to Venice I found that most of the others in Venice are Bangladeshi waiters and shop assistants, who are or will become Italian citizens. Venice has a thriving Bangladeshi community and two mosques.

For the 2015 Venice Bienniale the church of Santa Maria dell’Abbazia della Misericordia, which had been closed for forty years, was turned into a fully functional mosque, but after the Biennale the mosque was shut down by the city council, the modern equivalent of the Ten that ruled the Most Serene Republic. The church now stands empty again. 

The Grand Canal was empty too and I glid serenely back and forth on it. I got round at last to reading 'Death in Venice' and sympathised with the bachelor protagonist traveling alone, though unlike him beautiful boys do not interest me. Apparently the fourteen year old boy represents an allegory of the pagan ideal of beauty, but it is obviously also about Mann's repressed homosexuality. 

It would not be published for the first time now, but I didn't think I thought of pederasty when I saw Visconti's haunting film in my first term at university, so unimaginably long ago.

In Italian quarantina means ‘forty days’, from quaranta ‘forty’. Quarantine was invented in Venice and imposed on ships from infected ports, which had to sit at anchor for forty days. 

Shortly after I left the Redeemer Festival would have taken place on the third Saturday in July to commemorate an outburst of the plague in 1575 that caused 50,000 deaths in two years and killed nearly one out of three Venetians. However it was cancelled because of the Coronavirus. 

The permanent population of Venice is now only about 50,000, so a Venetian schoolgirl whom I spoke to in Florence told me, which means it's one third of its population before the 1575 plague and less than a third of its population in 1945 of 175,000.

Venice is the only place I know of where the seaside is the one place free of tourists. It's also beautiful, chic and ten minutes on foot and then twenty by the vaporetto that goes every five or ten minutes to Piazza San Marco.

I don't plan ever to return to Venice but if I did I'd stay at the beach, where the film of 'Death in Venice' is set and which the guide books and the concierge said isn't really worth visiting.  

In fact, now I think of it, the idea of an Edwardian beach holiday there in September appeals....

If you follow my advice and visit, you'll find food in Venetian restaurants is expensive but not fattening as it is mainly freshly caught fish. I cannot praise too highly the fish soup at a newish restaurant with reasonable prices called Gransapor.

The Grand Canal at Venice is on my list of seven wonders of the modern world, but even without tourists Venice is not  a real place but a museum. It is a monument to a lost civilisation, which is now plant for much the biggest industry in the world, tourism.

What struck me in Venice is that all the cities of Europe are museums now and European Christian civilisation will before too long be as dead as the doges. 

The Coronavirus is a symbol. So are the beautiful churches where saying Mass has been made illegal.

Saturday 25 July 2020

What if America this year is not 1968 but 1860?

The recent revolutionary events in the USA obviously remind us all of the riots of 1968, which culminated in the famous 'Silent Majority' electing Richard Nixon, not the Democrat Hubert Humphrey, nor George Wallace, the right-wing third party candidate.

Wallace, by the way, did not just win votes in the South. He was the most popular 1968 presidential candidate among young men and popular with blue-collar workers in the North and Mid-West. 

It may well be that a silent majority will re-elect Donald Trump from fear of the Woke movement and the riots, although the media very carefully keeps the truth about the violent riots from the public. 

But what if the best analogy is not with 1968 but with the outburst of moral fervour in the Northern states that led to the election of Abraham Lincoln and the civil war?

The putative Silent Majority are silent for fear of the consequences of expressing conservative positions.

Victor Davis Hanson is an American classicist, historian and journalist. In his latest article he compares 2020 with 1968.

Friday 24 July 2020

Allister Heath: Complacent office workers don’t realise that their jobs can now be done by anyone, anywhere in the world

"Complacent office workers don’t realise that their jobs can now be done by anyone, anywhere in the world."

"In the short term, it’s lower-paid workers who will lose: Shore Capital estimates that up to a quarter of the time office workers were based in urban centres will now be spent in suburbs, meaning more home cooking and a 20-30 per cent decline in restaurants. But having a job that must be based in Britain will become an advantage. This is good for surgeons and plumbers, but not for bankers, HR personnel or architects."

"The globalisation of the jobs market will destroy the idea that trade inevitably focuses on neighbouring regions – the anti-Brexit “gravity model” will be disproved."
 Allister Heath's article is here

Thursday 23 July 2020

"The most logical explanation is that the virus comes from a laboratory"

Norwegian virologist Birger Sørensen and his colleagues have examined the corona virus and believe it probably did not evolve naturally but was invented in a laboratory.  Sir Richard Dearlove, who was M (Head of MI6), cited them in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, saying he thought the virus escaped by accident. 

Yet scientific journals did not seem to want to publish the article, though they raised no scientific objections. Why not? 

A right of centre magazine has done so here.

The threat to the world from the American left

America saved Europe from the Kaiser and Hitler, stood ready to deter an invasion by Stalin that would not have happened, but since Wilson joined the Allied side in the First World War and enunciated his baleful Fourteen Points,  American liberalism has itself been a great threat to civilisation. After say 1964 it has been perhaps the greatest threat. Now, controlling Hollywood and the universities, it is a question whether Western civilisation as we know it can survive.

By liberalism I include the foreign policy of George W. Bush, who was essentially a Wilsonian liberal abroad.

There's another absolute corker of an article by Ed West in Unherd (it's free - I strongly recommend you subscribe). I think he is absolutely as good as Douglas Murray and Christopher Caldwell. More than that I cannot say.

I quote from it.

Indeed, while the “Anglosphere” is a term with strong centre-Right Atlanticist undertones, by any real measurement the English-speaking nations are the most liberal on earth.

In continental Europe, only the small Scandinavian countries are comparable and Germany — and even more so France — are further to the Right on core progressive issues like race relations, gender equality and gay rights. (They may be more socially democratic, but that is another matter). Compare Macron’s firm opposition to the BLM iconoclasm with the British Government’s response.

If Joe Biden wins in November, the continual liberal direction of the US will accelerate, bringing the Anglosphere with it, since we have almost no immunity to American cultural trends. It is true that almost all western countries are becoming more liberal — even in Poland, where conservatives just sneaked the recent election, time may be against them — but the English-speaking world is moving at a more rapid rate. In the US, the youngest generation are way, way to the Left of their elders, while their peers in France are among the biggest supporters of the radical Right.


“The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane, and intolerable...”

H.L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series

"I have criticised Trump for psychological flaws including his volatility, his lapses into an alternative reality and his poor leadership over the pandemic. Yet I also believe that, if the increasingly radicalised Democrats return to power, America will be lost." 

Melanie Phillips, The Times, July 15

John Gray: this is a unique historical moment, bigger than 1968 or 1989

John Gray, in a very good interview with Freddy Sayers on Unherd's Lockdown TV, sees this year as a turning point comparable to 1848 or 1917. This is much bigger than 1968, which had few consequences.

He points out that nationalism and religion brought an end to communism, not economics. By nationalism I think he includes patriotism. Eastern Europeans didn't want to be ruled by tyrants impose on them by a foreign Bolshevik power - does that make Eastern Europeans nationalists exactly?

At any rate nations, ethnic states, defeated Leninism.

He doesn't mention that the wars in the former Yugoslavia gave the people who ruled the West a horror of nationalism.

Professor Gray says that liberalism after 1989 saw nations as akin to ethnic restaurants in a shopping street, but nationalism and religion are driving the events of 2016 to the present day. 

He sees the Woke movement as a religion, which is certainly true. 

Lenin was a Westerniser and after 1991 another attempt at Westernisation failed. Now Russia defines herself against the West.
'America has probably definitively lost its position as the hyperpower and global hegemonic power'
because of Donald Trump and the riots.

I did know that history had not ended in 1989 and I did know that the Cold War kept the peace. In 1990 I saw nuclear terrorism as the big threat - I still do. I saw Islam and Christianity as natural allies against liberalism. 

John Gray points out that the West has seen itself as universal and, paradoxically, the Woke movement thinks its ideas are universally applicable. Now he thinks we live in an era of rival civilisational powers, which include India and China. Even after Putin goes Russia will not become Western but something Russian. 

Does Europe want to be European (and predominantly culturally Christian)? Or to be a globalist, post-Christian confederation of immigrant societies, based on values?

Wednesday 22 July 2020

How liberal globalism went bankrupt

I used to complain about liberalism at university but in fact I thought liberalism and conservatism were allies, little though I liked what I thought were Margaret Thatcher's nineteenth century liberal policies. 

Now they are mortal foes. Perhaps they always were. 

Liberalism is dying, it seems, but conservatism is being suppressed very hard. There are few conservatives to be seen.

This is the beginning of a very interesting article in the Spectator site, with which I completely agree. Free trade has been used against the West by China.

When future historians chronicle the period after the Cold War, the rise of China will dominate their accounts. Beginning in the 2000s, China unleashed a flood of state-sponsored manufactures, many of them produced by western multinational corporations using Chinese labor on Chinese soil. This impoverished much of the already pressured industrial working class in the US and Europe, triggering populist revolts in rustbelts like the American Midwest, the north of England and eastern Germany.

Sic transit Lord Monckswell

I started my adult life as a lowly official in the House of Lords, a dotty place to start it, and miss the old unreformed upper house so much. 

Hereditary peers were representative of the people because they were there for the reason we are all here - because of birth. That includes Labour peers like the fifth Lord Monckswell, a former lathe operator, van driver, tractor engineer and fruit juice factory operative, who was jailed for 14 weeks for attacking a Mr Robin Cook, a psychotherapist, at a stress clinic in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. 

His is one of the best Daily Telegraph obituaries, which means the best piece of writing you'll probably read this week.

Monday 20 July 2020

Donald Trump, the taxi driver in chief

I heard a former head of Chatham House say that having Donald Trump as President of the USA was like having a NY taxi driver as President of the USA. I thought that sounded like a compliment. 

Taxi drivers and barbers know everything. As someone once said, what a shame all the people who know exactly how the world should be run are driving taxis.

But my joke is serious, like all my jokes. I have huge respect for taxi drivers, in England and in Romania. They very rarely meet the richest or the poor, but they meet and listen to a lot of people. Best of all they don't sit behind a desk or at a computer and don't have a boss supervising or assessing them. They are their own men (or in a few cases women).

In England they seem universally to approve of Brexit. Many like Donald Trump. The few I spoke to did. They were, in my experience, fairly indifferent to Nigel Farage and UKIP but thought Enoch was right. One liked Boris a lot.

In Bucharest they are fascinating, wise, taught me Romanian, form the Greek chorus to the comedy of my life, know much history and are often amateur theologians. Taxi drivers are good people.

Head of Chatham House says V-shaped recovery more likely than not

The Chair(man) of Chatham House, otherwise known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is Jim O'Neill, who is properly styled Lord O'Neill of Gatley, was chief economist at Goldman Sachs and was a British Treasury minister. He therefore knows something about economics and says that key weekly and monthly indicators suggest that a sharp return to growth around the world remains more likely than not. 

I hope and even suspect, for what little my suspicions are worth, that he is right. I hope countries get people back to work quickly, for the whole world's sake.

Some Universities Are About to Be “Walking Dead”

Looking back in hindsight, I'd argue that the governments of the world have behaved with criminal negligence in locking down their economies, but not all the economic news is bad.  In an interview worth watching on American public television channel PBS, Professor Scott Galloway of New York University suggests that third class American universities (the great majority of them) will struggle to survive next year.

I hope that many universities in the UK and USA do go bankrupt, partly because they are money making scams whose victims are teenagers, but also because of the left-wing ideology they inculcate in the young. I doubt it will happen though.

Sunday 19 July 2020

Everything's different now

The economic situation is too dark to think about but there is one shaft of sunlight.  People seem to be working effectively from home, whether they work for banks or newspapers or most things, apart from the government. This is one reason why it looks like going back to the world before March of this year will never happen.

At least not till a vaccine is discovered. And as I keep repeating there is no particular reason to think a vaccine ever will be found or that if it it it will be much use, as the virus will have morphed. 

Or till the virus falls away of its own accord or medicines effectively to deal with it are found.

What Gennadi Gerasimov said, talking about glasnost and perestroika, applies to scaring people to death. You can't squeeze toothpaste back into the tube.

And that is bad news for people who own offices, and people who lent money to people who own offices, and people who own or lent money to or work in shops and restaurants close to offices, and for people involved in transporting people from where they live to the office. 

Creative destruction possibly. Who can know?

The post Cold War world is gone. In 2008 everything changed and continues to change (and it has little to do with AI). As Charles Moore keeps saying, everything's different now.

BLM protests were anything but peaceful but were useful to the establishment

Stop pretending the BLM protests were peaceful'. Micheal Tracy points out in UnHerd that the BLM protests were very far from peaceful. The word riots is appropriate but the media do not use it because they side with what they call the protests. 

The same thing happened in London. The BBC tweeted
27 police officers injured during largely peaceful anti-racism protests in London

Professor Carl Heneghan is sceptical about lockdowns and masks

Professor Carl Heneghan, of the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University, recently pointed out that the statistics in England for deaths with (not from, by the way) Covid-19 were very inaccurate because they did not make any allowance for the fat that people recover from it. Someone who tests positives but recovers or never has any symptoms and is killed in a road accident is recorded as a Covid-19 death. 

It takes an eminent epidemiologist to point this out. 

What absolute rubbish is being fed to us by governments and by the media.

This whole panic is driven by social media and bad journalism but bad journalism is part of the human condition. The serpent speaking to Eve was the first bad journalist. Social media and the power that Twitter wields is new. 

Saturday 18 July 2020

Deaths in England and Wales are now slightly below the five-year average

The latest Office for National Statistics data show that deaths in England and Wales are now slightly below the five-year average.

The virus seems to be in decline everywhere and it is now clear that thankfully Covid-19 has not been nearly as lethal an epidemic as many infections in the past, which did not stop the world economy. 600,000 are said to have died with (not of) Covid-19 worldwide so far, though this figure is probably very inaccurate, as compared to 1.1 million for the Asian flu of 1957-58 and 1 million for the Hong Kong flu of 1968.

At least half of the people killed with, but in many or most cases not by, Covid-19 were over 80. Very few people under 50 have died.

Will people understand the lockdown and mass panic was a disastrous and tragic mistake? 

If so, it will be very bad news for the American media and establishment, which is using the pandemic to prevent Donald Trump being re-elected? If not, this disaster will be repeated for future pandemics, with consequences too terrible to think about.

Matt Taibbi on 4th July

'In the space of a few weeks the level of discourse in the news media dropped so low, the fear of being shamed as a deviationist so high, that most of the weirder incidents went uncovered. Leading press organs engaged in real-time Soviet-style airbrushing. Here’s how the Washington Post described a movement that targeted Spanish missionary Junipero Serra, Abraham Lincoln (a “single-handed symbol of white supremacy,” according to UW-Madison students), an apple cider press sculpture, abolitionist Mathias Baldwin, and the first all-Black volunteer regiment in the Civil War, among others:
"Across the country, protesters have toppled statues of figures from America’s sordid past — including Confederate generals — as part of demonstrations against racism and police violence."
'The New York Times, once the dictionary definition of “unprovocative,” suddenly reads like Pol Pot’s Sayings of Angkar. Heading into the Fourth of July weekend, the morning read for upscale white Manhattanites was denouncing Mount Rushmore, urging Black America to arm itself, and re-positioning America alongside more deserving historical parallels in a feature about caste systems:
"Throughout human history, three caste systems have stood out. The lingering, millenniums-long caste system of India. The tragically accelerated, chilling and officially vanquished caste system of Nazi Germany. And the shape-shifting, unspoken, race-based caste pyramid in the United States."
'It’s tragic that this even needs saying, but the sudden reinvention in the press of modern America as a Nazi apartheid state is as phony as the thousands of patriotic campaigns that occupied the news media previously. We’re witnessing an obscene malfunction of the elite messaging system.'

The USA as always drags the poor UK in its wake and the BBC referred to the statue of Churchill that was the target of BLM protestors/rioters as the 'controversial statue of Churchill'. 

Friday 17 July 2020

Populism became a derogatory term completely by mistake

Thomas Frank sounds an exceptionally interesting and fun person. He talked on a Spectator podcast about his new book “The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism”, which contains these lines.

“From the very beginning . . . populism had two meanings. There was Populism as its proponents understood it, meaning a movement in which ordinary citizens demanded democratic economic reforms. And there was populism as its enemies characterized it: a dangerous movement of groundless resentment in which demagogues led the disreputable.”

He blames Richard Hofstadter for making populism a by-word for demagoguery and racism in his influential book “The Age of Reform” (1955), which praised paternalist managers running the world while depicting the originally populists, the very radical American farmers' party of the 1890s called the People’s Party, as low-IQ racists and proto-fascists. Does this sound familiar?

Hofstadter's ideas helped consolidate what Paul Gottfried calls the managerial state. Dr. Frank summarises Hofstadter's view as
“When reform came from the bottom up, in other words, it was moralistic, demagogic, irrational, bigoted, and futile. When reform was made by practical, business-minded professionals — meaning lobbyists and experts who were comfortable in the company of lobbyists and experts from other groups — prosperity was the result.”
Hofstadter was not a serious historian, his book was all wrong and his book was ripped to pieces by real historians, but though the book sank the word populist remained a derogatory term. 

Yet more quotations

“Most people who fail in their dreams fail not from lack of ability but from lack of commitment.” Zig Ziglar

“Stated baldly, charity certainly means one of two things–pardoning unpardonable acts, or loving unlovable people.” G.K. Chesteron, Orthodoxy

"The full value of this life can only be got by fighting; the violent take it by storm. And if we have accepted everything we have missed something — war. This life of ours is a very enjoyable fight, but a very miserable truce.” Charles Dickens

Image may contain: 1 person, text that says "lily @lilydevine 8h stop complimenting people's blue eyes. it's basically complimenting whiteness. less than 1% of on-white people have blue eyes. no one ever says someone with brown eyes has beautiful eyes. brown eyes are beautiful. love mine. 312 고 188 873"

It seems Martin Luther King wasn't a Christian

Somebody somewhere on Facebook said Martin Luther King wasn't a Christian, so I Googled. It seems he wasn't, according to the information I found.

His statue is on the West Front of Westminster Abbey but he was not a saint. He slept with two prostitutes on the night before he was murdered and it now appears he beat women. He plagiarised his doctoral thesis.

I say all this not because I am sanctimonious or even dislike him. On the contrary, I admire him. But I do get bored by the way he is treated as a secular saint in the inchoate new religion of equality which is replacing Christianity.

Thursday 16 July 2020

'Jaw-dropping' global crash in birth rates

'Japan's population is projected to fall from a peak of 128 million in 2017 to less than 53 million by the end of the century.
`Italy is expected to see an equally dramatic population crash from 61 million to 28 million over the same timeframe.'

This is from a BBC article headlined

Fertility rate: 'Jaw-dropping' global crash in children being born

We might never go back to real life

'For better or worse, neither West nor East will tolerate a resurgence in infections; they will hunker down again. There is apparently no other plan, no hope until we get a vaccine or cure. This über risk-averse approach will also apply to any major new virus: social distancing, masks and home-working are bound to be reintroduced each time a new infectious disease appears anywhere in the world, and even during significant flu seasons.

'The implications will, in many cases, be catastrophic. The old order could have survived a once-in-a-generation government-subsidised hibernation, an extended Christmas holiday; it cannot cope with indefinite social distancing, and the threat of similar shocks every three to four years. We now face an excruciating period of destruction as malinvestment is purged, jobs are cut, debt is written off and resources are reallocated.'

This is by Allister Heath, who is now Editor of The Sunday Telegraph, writing yesterday in the Daily Telegraph. He says he does not know a single employer who believes they (sic) will revert to previous levels of office working.

Monday 13 July 2020

Florentine early morning walk

I thought I hadn't seen them on Friday. These wolves and the hunter they surround arrived last night, according to the good looking young man with a beard in a suit, who told me he was the Deputy Mayor for culture. What a heavenly job.

The sculptor is Chinese. The wolves are intended to remind us that nature comes back to bite us, or something like that.

Great idea anyway which brings alive the beauty of the square.

I recall that the left-wing Mayor of Florence in February advised the worthy burgesses of the city to hug passing Chinese, in order to defy racism. Some did, with what results for them the history does not relate.

America has done far more harm to the West than Russia ever did

People of my generation feared Communist Russia or were supposed to. I wonder how many people in Western Europe feared Russia would invade the West. I certainly didn't, because I knew she was what Bismarck's Germany was after 1870, a satisfied power. 

Now shallow thinkers fear post-communist Russia, but the country that has done most damage the world since about 1964 is the USA. The political and social revolution that began in America in around 1964 didn't end. It continued and took over America and the Western world. 

It led directly to political correctness and all the horrors the whole world faces now.

Sweden: deaths and infections with Covid-19 have now fallen a long way, without a lockdown

"Between June 30 and July 6, Sweden recorded fewer than five deaths per day on all days but one. The decline in newly diagnosed cases has been even more dramatic. In late June, Sweden diagnosed more than 1,800 people per day as COVID-19 positive. Today, just two weeks later, only one-sixth of that number are testing positive on a daily basis." 

This is from the left of centre Business Insider, which then says Sweden's policy has been a big failure because eleven times more people died in Norway per capita. This is true and it's to a large extent because Norway and Sweden had very different records on old people in care homes, who were not affected by lockdown or lack of lockdown. In any case the numbers of deaths in Sweden so far this year were fewer than in several recent years.

Saturday 11 July 2020

Decline of the West

From a story in The Times.
'The next time the BBC director-general opens his inbox, he may well have received an email from “Huw Edwards, he/him”, or “Laura Kuenssberg, she/her”.

'The broadcaster is encouraging all staff to start including their pronouns in their email signatures, as part of a drive to make transgender and non-binary colleagues feel more welcome.'

O tempora, o mores!

Lockdowns did much harm, but it was care home workers who should have isolated

Most people in England and throughout Western Europe who died of Covid-19 did so because care home workers are badly paid and have two jobs so cannot isolate. Immigrants undercutting British workers and pushing down wages are part of the reason.

When Eastern European girls rushed home to mum and dad, due to fears about the virus and lockdowns, this left care homes dangerously short staffed, while residents like everyone else panicked.

On the other hand Austria where I just stayed a week did a good thing by closing her borders. Closing borders makes good sense. I don't think lockdowns did.

Hagia Sophia

The Turkish courts ruled yesterday afternoon that the Hagia Sophia should never have ceased to be a mosque and within an hour Erdogan had made it one again.

This news is huge. Infinitely more important than the death of a criminal high on drugs in some place in America. 

Constantinople had a Christian majority before and after the First World War, in which one of Russia's war aims was that the divine liturgy would be celebrated in Hagia Sophia.

The Turks can do as they please, since they kept hold of Constantinople after that war (it and Jerusalem should have been made free cities), but it's symbolically very important because it's the end of Ataturk's secular republic, which was as secular as the French Republic. 

Thursday 9 July 2020

Covid-19 is not the big deal the media tell us

"Compare this April with last and yes, you will find an enormous number of ‘excess deaths’. But go to the Office for National Statistics website and look up deaths in the winter/spring seasons for the past 27 years, and then adjust for population. This year comes only eighth in terms of deaths. So we ought to put it in perspective."

Dr Lee writing in the Spectator is referring to British figures but I bet it applies generally.

Sunday 5 July 2020

UNHRC is evil

Like many UN bodies, including UNHCR and arguably even UNESCO, the UN Human Rights Council, is an evil organisation. Its 44th session is voicing support for China's genocide of the Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.

The last head of the UNHRC was an Arab prince whose main priority was making blasphemy a crime under international law. Yet the Pope is hugely enthusiastic for the United Nations which works to provide artificial contraceptives and to legalise abortion. What a strange world it is.

Cultural revolution

Why did Constantinople get the works?

Another terrific article by Ed West, this one about the recent habit of decolonising place names. Should we therefore rename Istanbul Constantinople, he asks.

Yes say I. And call Peking and Bombay by their proper names. And Angora while we're about it.

Black lives matter

I am told that yesterday and early this morning there were fifty shootings in Chicago and all of them black on black. This puts the BLM riots into context.

What causes the outbreaks of disorder? It's murky and we shall only know the details in time.

On one level they are organised by very dangerous extreme leftists who say they want to abolish the family and capitalism. But this doesnt explain the real reasons behind it or the reason it's supported by big business, academia and much of the state. The real purpose is to prevent Donald Trump winning a second term. This is another coup attempt.

He has handled the riots very badly and done nothing to suppress them but I still expect that they will give him victory at the polls. But he is very far behind in the polls in Florida and Pennsylvania, which he must win. He has to up his game and, if Tucker Carlson is well informed, which I imagine he is, listen much less to his Democrat daughter and son in law and more to his own instincts.

And the repercussions of BLM in Europe? I don't understand why the political establishment sides with rioters or sees boys trying to protect statues of heroes as the danger to the commonwealth. 

Gentle reader, if you know please of your charity leave a comment to inform me and my readers. 

Saturday 4 July 2020

A forgotten English politician who died young, George Wyndham, said the gentlemen of Europe must not abdicate but alas after 1918 they did. The result was fascism, Hitler, Communism and now intersectionality and Black Lives Matter.

Wednesday 1 July 2020

Hate speech by a Nobel Prize winner

"It’s hard to believe but June 2020 is still not over yet. To me, it’s felt like the first time in my adult life that I’m living through history; strangely, even 9/11 and its aftermath didn’t feel quite so portentous, nor the whole Brexit saga.
But the major emotion I feel is one of unreality, not helped by the fact that I’ve met a total of about five adults over the past three months. It feels unreal, and rather like I’m living in one of these medieval periods of crisis when everyone started whipping themselves or spontaneously dancing."
Ed West a few days ago.

I agree with him. This month which ends in a  few minutes is the most extraordinary month I can remember and I have followed politics since I was a boy of eight. It is also the most dismaying period I can remember. At least in 1968 the institutions stood up to the crazy leftists.

I just picked up coincidentally a book about the French Revolution and reread AJP Taylor's introduction to the Communist Manifesto, which Marx wrote early in the revolutionary year of 1848. Both books seem remarkably topical.

Reading with the wisdom of my years I find Marx's ideas preposterous, yet they strongly influenced non-Marxist historians when I read history and even more today. Marx's ideas are as misguided as those of racists like Gobineau and HS Chamberlain. Class struggle does not drive history. Lots of things do but class struggle only rarely and when it does it usually involves peasants not manual workers. Nations, ethnicity and religion are much more important than class and yet the Marxist idea that nations are false consciousness is only too widely held. 

Lennonism not Leninism.
"A political shift is certainly accelerating within elite institutions, where the younger generation is trying to establish a new ideological consensus, a new set of standards and boundaries for behavior and opinion, that otherwise would have advanced more slowly, with more contestation, over the next 10 years." Ross Douthat thinks big business, big universities and big newspapers will increase in power and wealth thanks to the pandemic accelerating changes that were happening anyway, while churches, small businesses and conservatives do badly.

In other words he sees a new elite taking over America and ruthlessly getting rid of its rivals. It is reminiscent of Leninism but this is pushed by big business. One third of major brands, says the FT, threaten to boycott Facebook unless it censors conservative opinions more severely.