Sunday 30 May 2021

Back in Venice

"He who has truth at his heart need never fear the want of persuasion on his tongue." 

John Ruskin. But he can fear censorship by Facebook or Twitter.

John Ruskin said it in The Stones of Venice, a book I still haven't read. I shall start by reading quotations from it on Goodreads.

I am in Venice again, ten months after I spent six days here. I decided today that I find it repulsive.

Even though it has comparatively few tourists, which is the reason I flew over when I have a lot to do. Though there are quite a lot more than last July. It will be much better tomorrow though when the weekenders from Bavaria and Austria go home. 

Ruskin's theme was that Tyre, Venice and England were the three great maritime empires and the first two were merely memories. 

Before Margaret Thatcher (to whom I was opposed at the time) most people would have said England's day was over too. Now I don't think that is true but it is very clear that Europe, though never richer, is in a relative decline which seems likely to be terminal. 

Saturday 22 May 2021

Who won and lost in Gaza?

22 May 2021

The Israeli Jewish birth rate overtook the Israeli Arab birth rate in 2018. Israel is becoming more and more religious and nationalist, as religious Jews have more children than secular ones. 

The Labor Party, which governed Israel for decades, won only 7 seats out of 120 at the last election, which was 3 more than it won in the previous election.

The Likud were once the extreme right (they began as the Irgun, a gang of terrorists who murdered many British servicemen and civilians) but they are now the centre.

Hamas, another gang of murderous terrorists, were defeated in the last two weeks far more completely than they expected

Netanyahu won and might thereby have saved his career. 

But Hamas won too. 

The strength of the Arabs is their anger. This has not been mollified. 

Mahmoud Abbas, the 85-year-old leader of the corrupt Fatah administration in the West Bank, who cancelled once more the Palestinian elections (presidential ones were last held in 2005 and elections for the legislature in 2006) is the loser. 

Israel has lost too - not in the court of public opinion, which does not matter, but by failing to weaken Hamas's support among Arabs.

Thursday 20 May 2021

Eyeless in Gaza

My namesake Paul Wood, in a good, balanced article in The Spectator, quotes an Israeli journalist who confirms what I assumed was the explanation for the terrible atrocities in Israel and Gaza.
"All this was set in motion by clashes between the Israeli police and Palestinian shabab — young men — in the Old City of Jerusalem. The police raided the Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-most holy site because rocks were being stockpiled there, said the Israeli authorities. Dmitry Shumsky, a columnist in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, accused them of being deliberately provocative, under orders, he said, from Israel’s ‘pyromaniac’ security minister. The raid happened to be on the Night of Power, the most sacred of the Islamic calendar. Shumsky said this was a calculated attempt to cause a violent reaction and ‘scorch’ any hope of forming a new coalition government to replace Netanyahu’s. If so, it worked.

"His Haaretz piece quoted the former Israeli deputy prime minister Haim Ramon’s remark that ‘an unwritten pact’ exists between Netanyahu and Hamas. Hamas needs an enemy like Netanyahu; Netanyahu needs Hamas to keep the Palestinians divided. In firing the first barrage of rockets, Hamas was no doubt trying to make sure that it (and not the Palestinian Authority) would assume leadership of the emerging struggle on the streets."

I am exasperated and bewildered that many foreigners find a need to take sides in the Arab-Israel dispute.

They include British and European people who support Israel because of their fears about Muslims in the West and British and European Muslims calling for the destruction of Israel. 

I recommend a wonderful article by the great Ed West and particularly these lines.

"The Right is just as bad: during the 2016 presidential race, Ted Cruz was addressing a group of Arab Christians when he proceeded to tell them that they have no greater ally than Israel. Perhaps as a great surprise to him, they didn’t agree and he was booed off stage. But then Arab Christians don’t tend to be especially Zionist, funnily enough. And why should they be? It’s not a civilisational battle between West and East."

Wednesday 19 May 2021

"Poor Boris. Nobody likes him but the people."

"Men are looking for maternal solace in women, and that's the nature of heterosexuality. Now you tell me, who really has all the power?" Camille Paglia

"The important social traditions are not just arbitrary customs, which might or might not have survived into the modern world. They are forms of knowledge. They contain the residues of many trials and errors, as people attempt to adjust their conduct to the conduct of others." Sir Roger Scruton

"My advice, as in everything, is to read widely and think for yourself. We need more dissent and less dogma." Camille Paglia

Tuesday 18 May 2021

The treason of the intellectuals

I agree with this by Charles Moore in the Telegraph today.


'People are a bit puzzled about what “levelling up” is. Given the desire of voters in places like Hartlepool for it to happen, urgent answers are needed.

'I think I have hit on one. Abolish the insistence on a university degree for any job in the public service, perhaps for any job at all. The professions will say they need people with well-trained minds to become doctors, barristers, investment bankers and top-grade civil servants. They do. But what makes them think they will necessarily find more such minds emerging from our bloated university system than from graduates of the “University of Life”, whom they could train themselves?

'Nowadays, policing and nursing are graduate professions, with the result that they disdain the bits the public most value and make entry from poorer areas harder. Even those wandering the richest “olive groves of academe” are not necessarily the better for it. Three years of anti-Brexit prejudice and “decolonising” curricula at Russell Group universities (plus debts of £30,000) may instil lasting bitterness and render alumni unfit for useful employment. Of course, people should go to university if they want to. But why should jobs be specially reserved for them?'

Far too many people go to university in many rich countries, because there are so many more jobs for brain workers rather than manual workers. (There are exceptions though, like Switzerland and Japan.) The biggest problem this poses is the apartheid that separates graduates from non-graduates. This is very true in Romania.

Sunday 2 May 2021

“The welfare of the people has always been the alibi of tyrants"

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving the servants of tyranny a good conscience.”
Albert Camus

"The older I get, the more I'm convinced the greatest form of 'activism' is raising decent children."
Zuby, a British rapper who took a First at Oxford

"I always regretted that M. de Charlus never wrote anything. Of course one cannot draw from the eloquence of his conversation or even of his correspondence the conclusion that he would have been a talented writer…Nevertheless I believe that if M. de Charlus had tried his hand at prose, to begin with on those

Saturday 1 May 2021

Jung on Covid

It is becoming more and more obvious that it is not starvation, it is not microbes, it is not cancer, but man himself who is his greatest danger: because he has no adequate protection against psychic epidemics, which are infinitely more devastating in their effect than the greatest natural catastrophes.

C. G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, acknowledgements to Pelle Neroth Taylor.