Tuesday, 29 June 2021

"Countries don’t have values, they have characteristics"

The UK "will probably be out of the EU by 2020", Paul Nuttall, Nigel Farage's deputy, in March 2015.

"If we see that Germany is winning the war, we ought to help Russia; and if that Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible". 
Senator Harry Truman, after Germany invaded Russia in 1941 but before Germany declared war on the USA after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

"If we disagree with the Americans on a serious issue, they put intelligence material on the table, compromising for Germany, and they say: 'Either you co-operate or you are finished." Professor Werner Weidenfeld, who from 1987 to 1999 was the German government's coordinator for German-American cooperation.

"Countries don’t have values, they have characteristics, which can also change; before the 18th century the English were famous for their melancholy, while since then they have been characterised by their sense of humour (and very low suicide rate)." 
Ed West

"A few years back an anti-extremism programme for schools instructed teachers to watch out for Muslim boys who expressed a belief in dying for what they believed in or defending their honour by force if necessary. These weren’t “terrorist values”, though, they were the same urges that inspired every nation-builder in ours and everyone else’s history.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Sleepy Joe

I missed these stories. Did you?

This month Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin “President Trump” and in March called his own Vice President “President Harris”. At the G7 in Cornwall he mixed up Syria and Libya, Covid and Covax, and jokingly reprimanded Boris Johnson for not introducing the President of South Africa when Boris had just done so seconds before.


Sunday, 27 June 2021

Why war in 1939?

Bad history means a bad future.

Mistakes about the past cause mistakes in the present, but all societies need historical myths and these are always based on mistakes.

I was interviewed for Queens', Cambridge by Professor Richard Overy who gave me my scholarship when I was 17, but when I went up to my dismay he had moved and been replaced by a specialist in mediaeval Burgundian numismatics.

I normally do not have the patience to watch videos but, on a whim, I googled him yesterday. I came across an interesting lecture he gave the summer before last about why the Second World War broke out. By the way, I can recommend his account of what happened in his book 'The Dictators'.

He is a very good historian who makes the points, still not widely enough understood by the public, that Hitler did not want war with England and France or world domination. 

He did not care about overthrowing Jewish Bolshevism either. He cared about establishing a large colonial empire, but not Bismarck's colonial empire, scraps of territory in Africa and the Pacific which were confiscated during the First World War. Instead he wanted an empire in Eastern Europe, where Slavs in conquered territories lived as helots or were starved to death. 

Hitler believed England and France were powerful because of the size of their empires, even though our so-called White Dominions were by 1935 independent countries and the British Empire cost much more money than it brought in.

Professor Overy says near the beginning of his lecture that Hitler in late 1938 did not expect war with Poland. 

He expected Poland to become a German satellite, like Slovakia or Romania, but the Poles "very sensibly" did not want that.

But was it so very sensible of them? 

Monday, 21 June 2021

1991 starts to look like the Edwardian age

A woman on the BBC World Service talks gushingly about how everyone in the summer of 1991 was talking about Thelma and Louise and makes it sound like the long, hot summer of 1913.

My life changed forever that summer – and it seems very recent. And I didn’t see Thelma and Louise or really understand the spirit of the age then, though much more so than I do now.

Transgender rights were something I did not hear about for another quarter of a century. Single sex marriage came as a complete shock in 2005 when Catholic Spain instituted it, though unbeknown to me the Dutch had done so previously. 

I remember making a tableful of Scandinavians laugh in Budapest in 1993 when I said I thought the only people in Norway who got married were homosexuals.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

In 2016 it become obvious that many on the British left really do dislike their country and democracy. They actually said so. After such knowledge what forgiveness?

I would love to be a published professional writer but Ed West says so many of the things I would want to say (as do Douglas Murray, Rod Dreher and Aris Roussinos). In his recent article in Unherd he makes the same point a friend of mine, who read history at Cambridge, made to me recently - it was nice being liberal minded when most people were not, but not so enjoyable now that most people are.
...the British intelligentsia has hated the country for at least two centuries, to the extent of supporting opponents far more sinister than the EU.

Yet while such disdain was once confined to small literary circles, today its association with education and high status has allowed it to mimetically spread through the institutions. Today even august bodies like the National Trust are dominated by people who find patriotism just a bit distasteful, and would be horrified to promote it. 

...Explaining why he found Radio 4 so irritating, the novelist Tim Lott once explained that the liberal middle class “is the voice of the upper echelons of the BBC” and they are in conflict with Middle Englanders, “essentially people with nice homes and decent incomes and a commitment to abiding by the law and even a sense of patriotism. The LMC see them as retrograde and primitive – those damn Daily Mail readers.” 

Saturday, 19 June 2021

8 or 9 false allegations against Donald Trump

When I wrote about an article in Unherd that said 7 out of 10 claims by the media, in a list made by Donald Trump since leaving office, were false, I forgot to link to the article. I do so here.

Covid-19 may well have come from a Chinese lab. Hunter Biden’s laptop was real (obviously). Lafayette Square was not cleared for a photo op

The “Russian bounties” story, of which Joe Biden made much, was fake news, vaccines were produced in record time, schools should not have been closed. Did lockdowns work? I’d agree with the Donald that they didn’t and everyone will agree with us in time.

I say 9 out of the 10 were false - a recent study shows that hydroxychloroquine does impede Covid-19 and teaching critical race theory in schools is clearly a very bad idea. The 10th was whether he sealed the Southern border - he did not.

I imagine though that all my readers, however much they may dislike Mr Trump, recognise the remarkable number of falsehoods in the media about him since he stood (ran) for office.

Prince William threw Prince Harry out

I have a kind heart and am very open-minded. 

I didn't spot that the Duchess of Sussex was a wrong' un from the outset, though most of my female Facebook friends did. But it pretty soon became obvious.

I am not a psychologist and cannot diagnose her as a malignant narcissist. 
As she is very litigious, nobody would be wise to do so.

She's not a psychopath, because they are charming. 

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

"What is a man but his old stories?"

"The return to the office is well under way, just as summer in the northern hemisphere begins. Pretty soon, people will be able to resume the habit of staring wistfully out of the window, hoping it will still be sunny at the weekend." The Economist today.

"Everybody needs his memories. They keep the wolf of insignificance from the door." Saul Bellow

"What is a man but his old stories?" Sir John Mortimer

"Who controls the past, controls the future: who controls the present, controls the past." George Orwell, 1984

“There will be, in the next generation or so, a pharmacological method of making people love their servitude, and producing dictatorship without tears, so to speak, producing a kind of painless concentration camp for entire societies, so that people will in fact have their liberties taken away from them, but will rather enjoy it, because they will be distracted from any desire to rebel by propaganda or brainwashing, or brainwashing enhanced by pharmacological methods. And this seems to be the final revolution.” (Aldous Huxley, lecture to the Tavistock Group, California Medical School, 1961)

Susan Michie shows that lockdowns, climate alarmism and communism fit together

"And the third thing is people’s behaviour. That is, the behaviour of social distancing, of… making sure there’s good ventilation, or if there’s not, wearing face masks, and [keeping up] hand and surface hygiene. We will need to keep these going in the long term, and that will be good not only for Covid but also to reduce other [diseases] at a time when the NHS is [struggling]… I think forever, to some extent…"
These words said recently on Channel 5 News by Susan Michie, who sits on the ill named SAGE, a committee of scientists that advises the British government on scientific questions, suggested that she saw social distancing and mask wearing as never coming to an end. 

She is a "health psychologist", by the way, not a hard scientist, still less a medic.

She says her words were taken out of context. 

As Enoch Powell said, all quotations are taken out of context.

What interests me is that she is apparently a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain. 

Imagine - a card-carrying member of the Communist Party! - almost as old fashioned as a Jacobite, but unlike Jacobites, very malign.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Mazzini and a united Europe

I started Denis Mack Smith's biography of Mazzini, a man of whom I knew shamefully little, last night. These are just disjointed quick thoughts. 

As early as 1836 Mazzini used the word nationalist in a pejorative sense to denote chauvinists, xenophobes and imperialists. He thought himself not a nationalist but a patriot and patriotism should serve the wider interests of humanity. "The brotherhood of peoples which is our overriding aim" . 

Less than 5 percent of inhabitants of Italy in the 1840s spoke Italian which is a fraction of the numbers in Transylvania, Wallachia or Moldavia who spoke Romanian or inhabitants of Hungary who spoke Hungarian. 

Historical traditions and sense of community were what mattered, not languaage, Mazzini thought. I am not sure what he thought about Italians as an ethnos. 

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Weekend in Turin

I am waiting for the Wizzair plane to take off and take me to Turin and steel myself for lots of propaganda about the unification of Italy being a good thing. Of course it was an utter disaster. Strange how some nationalists like Garibaldi, Cavour, Gandhi, Lincoln, Kenyatta etc are considered good things but most are for some reason considered bad. What idiotic and often malign ideas the people who rule us subscribe to.

Small is usually beautiful but some unions work. France, Spain and Great Britain do. The union of Great Britain with Ireland would have worked had Ireland been given Home Rule. Italy and Germany have not and Europe would be very much worse. 

Friday, 11 June 2021

Lies, damned lies and statistics (a phrase Disraeli never used) about rain forests and gonorrhea

By this late stage in the Covid-19 pandemic I hope all observant people are tired of experts and the media consistently getting things very badly wrong. 

Great Britain saw how woefully wrong the Bank of England and the experts were about the consequences of a vote for Brexit in the 2016 referendum. 800,000 added to the unemployment figures, grounded planes, super-gonorrhea? 

One good thing to come from the Covid disaster is that it seems very hard now to think that the experts are right about climate change.

As for forest fires in Brazil or news about Brazil in general, where can we go for the truth? 

Not to the BBC or, alas, the Vatican. I am busy but suspected the official story would be wrong as usual and found out from the estimable Zerohedge that of course it was.

"It didn’t take long before BBC’s science editor, David Shukman, brought up the familiar “football field-per minute” metric. The area deforested last year was around 1,552,320 standard British football fields, or over 4,000 of them each day, for just under 3 football fields a minute. While Shukman and countless others have tried to make the topic visually understandable for a layperson – we can imagine the size of three adjacent football fields – our imagination is quickly swamped by a “massively large area that I can’t even grapple with.” Quickly, when we scale those minutes to hours and days, we get the impression that huge areas of this important forest is melting away faster than ice cream on a hot summer’s day.

"But we already know that the Amazon forest alone is some 5,500,000 m2 large, the portion within Brazil’s borders some 4,000,000 m2. What was deforested last year, then, was less than 0.3% of the Brazilian forest left standing. Now, does it still sound like an incredibly vast amount? If we estimate that farmers and loggers deforest a similar amount in the next few years, and we ignore potential runaway feedback processes for a minute, Brazilians have enough forest for 360 years. We know enough about economic development and Kuznets curves to know that Brazilians won’t mindlessly deforest the Amazon for that long."
"Lies, damned lies and statistics" seems to originate with the radical politician Sir Charles Dilke, of the Three Beds Scandal fame.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Rod Dreher in Bucharest

Good readers, I think it was Borges who said, are very black swans. I have such a swan in Toma, who comments brilliantly on my posts and is probably more interesting than my stuff. He just alerted me in a comment to the fact that Rod Dreher was in Bucharest at the weekend and has written about it in a very interesting piece.

Rod Dreher's ideas are very similar to mine and I too want to write to explain to Romanians how much they have here that they are in danger of losing because of the influence of the West.

"The peoples of this part of the world looked to the West for hope and direction when they suffered under Communist dictatorship. They still hold the West in high esteem. Yet they also experience a great deal of Western arrogance, mostly from western Europeans, but also Americans — liberal elites who treat them like primitive children who need to be taught how to be proper moderns. Perhaps the main source today of Western contempt has to do with the natural conservatism in this part of the world vis-à-vis LGBT rights. Billionaire George Soros, among others, has poured money into countries like Romania via his NGOs to try to undermine traditions on the family, and religious authority. I had heard on my first night in Romania, and in various conversations throughout the day, that political elites in Bucharest routinely mock social and religious conservatives, in particular over their views on family and sexuality.

Monday, 7 June 2021

Michel Houellebecq: The world will be just the same after the banal virus - just a bit worse

He wrote this a month ago on the website of France Inter, which is part of Radio France and I imagine is the French equivalent of the BBC World Service,  answering a good question.
Emmanuel Carrère (Paris-Royan; he seems to have found a valid reason to travel). Will interesting books be written inspired by this period, he wonders.

I wonder too. I really asked myself the question, but deep down I don't think so. We have had a lot of things about the plague, over the centuries, the plague has interested writers a lot. I have doubts. I don't believe for half a second in statements like "nothing will ever be the same again". On the contrary, everything will remain exactly the same. The course of this epidemic is even remarkably normal.

 

The West is not for eternity, by divine right, the richest and most developed area in the world; it's all over, for some time now, it's not a scoop. 

...The main result of the coronavirus, on the other hand, is to accelerate certain ongoing mutations. For quite a few years, all technological developments, whether minor (video on demand, contactless payment) or major (teleworking, Internet shopping, social networks) have mainly been consequence (for main objective?) to decrease the material contacts, and especially human. The coronavirus epidemic offers a

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow

“Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.”
Oscar Wilde

"There are three things extremely hard - steel, a diamond, and to know one's self."
Benjamin Franklin

"Only the shallow know themselves."
Oscar Wilde

"The first thing to be decided about a script is whether it is a winning one or a losing one. This can often be discovered very quickly by listening to the person talk. A winner says things like "I made a mistake, but it won't happen again.” A loser says “If only... I should've... Yes, but.”"
Eric Berne

“There was never any lockdown – there were just middle-class people hiding, while working-class people brought them things.”
JJ Charlesworth, quoted without naming him by Julie Birchall

Saturday, 5 June 2021

St Athanasius was one of the six most important men in history



Had Arius defeated St Athanasius in their disputes and the Arian heresy been adopted by the Catholic Church, the world thereafter would have been very different. 

I thought, when I stumbled across the tomb of St Athanasius on Sunday in the beautiful church of San Zaccaria in Venice, that Athanasius is perhaps one of the six or so most important figures in world history. 

Jesus of Nazareth, Paul of Tarsus and Mahomet would be the first three. 

Who would the others be?

Lockdown scepticism and IQ

I am deeply ashamed that I ever gave up on the Tory party as I did in the late 1980s. It had grave faults then and is far, far worse now, but it is the one political camp with a chance of power that has some people with good instincts, a belief in freedom and common sense. This is best shown by lockdown-sceptic Tory MPs. 

Lockdown sceptics are almost silenced in the UK but the tradition of parliamentary government is not extinct and allows their speeches to be reported. 

We have come to the point where we have to be grateful to the media for that mercy.

It is hugely to the credit of Toryism that the Tory house paper, the Daily Telegraph, tends to be lockdown sceptic too. 

Lionel Shriver (an American novelist and Democrat living in England, who supported Brexit) was interviewed in it today. I agree with her when she said this.

“It is about what we have done to liberal democracy all over the world. We used to have civil rights. They were irrevocable. Now, they are revocable.

Friday, 4 June 2021

The decline of Europe is impossible to ignore now

From what, partly because of its enthusiasm for the European Union, has become my least favourite magazine, The Economist.

Just two decades ago, America was reeling from the dotcom crash, China was struggling with its Maoist past and Europe, with its new currency and a burgeoning single market, seemed on the threshold of something spectacular. Today America and, increasingly, China are ascendant, accounting for 76 of the world’s 100 most valuable firms. Europe’s tally has fallen from 41 in 2000 to 15. Of the 19 firms created in the past 25 years that are now worth over $100bn, nine are in America and eight in China. Europe has none.

The Common Market, the Single Market and the Euro have not made Europe more powerful or richer in comparison to the other rich parts of the world. The Euro has had the opposite effect in spades, though it has made Germany richer.  I read yesterday an article by an economic analyst comparing the EU with deflationary Japan which said 

'The shocking truth is Europe may actually be in much worse shape than Japan ever was.'

I have no idea if this is true in economic terms but we should start to think of European decline as comparable with the decline of Japan. 

For certain, Japan is doing much better in general than Europe. 

She governs herself, has her own currency, a thriving manufacturing sector, far fewer graduates than Europe, because of her pacifist constitution she avoids liberal wars for values (much more even than in Europe her defence is outsourced to America), has enormous social cohesion, very low crime rates, is nativist and therefore does not deal with the political consequences of mass migrations. 

She avoided the 1960s social revolution and is free from political correctness and Woke, which are the continuation of the 1960s revolution. These social movements are ultimately distortions of Christianity.

Modern civilisation is a universal conspiracy to destroy the inner life

"...the only problem that concerns you is how to get your carcase conveyed from one place to another at a speed faster than lightning. Fools! Who are you running away from? Alas! you are running away from yourselves—everyone of you is trying to escape from himself, as though he believed that by faster and faster flight he could, at last, get out of the close sheath of his skin… One cannot understand the least thing about modern civilisation if one does not first and foremost realise that it is a universal conspiracy to destroy the inner life."
Georges Bernanos (1888-1948) in his 1944 essay La France contre les Robots. (He was a Catholic and monarchist who supported the Free French and De Gaulle during the war from the safety of his voluntary exile in Argentina, in case you wondered about his war record.)

Is technology a conspiracy to destroy inner life? Undoubtedly - and outer life too, as was clearer in 1944 than now. For some planes and trains (not automobiles) provide the best times for reflection but others work on their laptops. 

Thursday, 3 June 2021

The Decline of the West


11 Chinese universities teach Greek and Latin. Another 20 seek staff to so as well. Back in the US, the Princeton CLASSICS department has just eliminated the Latin or Greek requirement "to address systemic racism". Truly racist say I. Why not just end it ? Jobs await in 中国

"The past two decades of globalisation are only comprehensible if you understand the role China has played in the process and the deflationary shock that its entry into the world economy has created.

"China’s admission into the World Trade Organisation in 2001 can best be understood in the context of the West’s confidence that history was coming to an end after the fall of the Berlin Wall."
James Forsyth

"It is a minefield on virtually everything. If you are of a certain generation you are not sure what you can or what you can't say. Or whether you can make a joke about something you cannot make a joke, so I will leave it at that."
Tony Blair, interviewed on ITV's Good Morning Britain, May 11 2021

"He was one of those rare people who had found a philosophy for himself and whose life was occupied in trying to live it"

"I see now that he was one of those rare people who had found a philosophy for himself and whose life was occupied in trying to live it."
Lawrence Durrell on Baltazar in the eponymous novel.

"He had been a fellow-student and close friend of the old poet, and of him he spoke with such warmth and penetration that what he had to say always moved me. ‘I sometimes think that I learned more from studying him than I did from studying philosophy. His exquisite balance of irony and tenderness would have put him among the saints had he been a religious man. He was by divine choice only a poet and often unhappy but with him one had the feeling that he was catching every minute as it flew and turning it upside down to expose its happy side. He was really using himself up, his inner self, in living. Most people lie and let life play upon them like the tepid discharges of a douche-bag. To the Cartesian proposition: “I think, therefore I am”, he opposed his own, which must have gone something like this: “I imagine, therefore I belong and am free”.’