Monday 28 February 2022


A very dear and very well read friend of mine with no interest whatever in military history recommended Beevor's Stalingrad shortly after it came out. It looked very uninteresting years ago, when I skimmed it very rapidly, but only too interesting today. 

Up to three and a half million Soviet prisoners of war are said to have been starved to death by the Germans, though some historians dispute this figure and think it was fewer than two million. According to Soviet records quoted by Anthony Beevor, 470,000 were killed by the Red Army as punishment for retreating.

Finland station

Finlandisation was always the solution for Ukraine but the Democrats couldn't see it. Why not? It worked wonderfully well for Finland. It would have worked wonderfully for a united, democratic, capitalist Germany when Khrushchev offered it to America in 1955, but the short sighted Americans with their Manichean-Calvinist world view were not really fitted to rule Europe.  Not until Reagan.

This year is even worse than the last two and it's only February 28


The Russian rouble has plunged to its lowest value since Communism ended and the Moscow Stock Exchange will be closed all day. I remember Norman Stone mentioning that the value of the St Petersburg Stock Exchange fell to zero before the Comminists closed it down. Unfortunately it is unlikely to be completely wiped out again.

The wider political and cultural effects of the Ukrainian war

Coming just after the end of the Cold War the Bosnian civil war and the other wars of the Yugoslav succession made people think nationalism was the enemy and internationalism the answer. 

This war in Ukraine might well have the same effect. 

It will strengthen the EU and the globalists, as well as NATO. 

The reverse should be the case. The Ukrainians are fighting for sovereignty and independence, the two issues which made the UK vote to leave the EU. 

But they are also voting to be part of the EU and a satellite of the USA.

This war has in fairly large part been caused by the anti-nationalist American Democrats. Self-evidently it would be very unlikely to have broken out were Donald Trump still in the White House, but politics and war are not fair.

Hitler analogies for once are not misleading but inescapable - but they cut two ways

I  am horrified by and utterly condemn what Vladimir Putin and the  Russians are doing. I utterly condemn Hitler's invasions of other countries too, of course. I say absolutely nothing to defend either man, but the fact remains that Poland presumably would have been very much better off had she accepted the good deal offered by Hitler in late 1938. I wrote about this here recently. Similarly Ukraine should have made an agreement with Putin last year to implement the Minsk II Accord.

It is the fault of Anthony Blinken that Ukraine was persuaded not to do so. The USA sweet-talked Ukraine into defying Putin and then leaves the country to her fate.

Henry Kissinger said well when he said "I pity America's enemies, but I pity her friends more". 

Although I imagine that the Americans are surreptitiously helping Ukraine now. 

Had American troops flown into Kiev a week ago (something I would probably have opposed) what would that have achieved?

Russia without Ukraine is Canada not the USA

Norman Stone wrote: “With the Ukraine, Russia is a USA; without, she is a Canada – mostly snow.” 

(I wish I'd gone to Caius and been supervised by him - or Peterhouse and by Maurice Cowling and Edward Norman).

Sunday 27 February 2022

We all suddenly see now that war is murder

To adapt Lord Acton's aphorism about unconditionally obeying the papacy, if a man admires Vladimir Putin he must have made terms with murder.

Only recently I was saying I disliked Putin even more than I dislike Biden, which though true seems in poor taste now. (Yes. I know George W Bush and Tony Blair invaded Iraq and Hillary and Boris wanted regime change in Syria. That was wrong too. Comparisons are odious.)

After about 18 years I am again watching television. Daniel Treisman, professor of political science at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), said on the BBC World Service TV channel an hour ago that Vladimir Putin told him that the invasion of Crimea was his idea, not that of his advisors, and he was surprised at how well it went.

I can't forgive Vladimir Putin for making me take the same side as Ursula von der Leyen and, much worse, Justin Trudeau.

But I have no choice.

Epitaph on a Tyrant by W. H. Auden

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

Putin reminds me of Frederick the Great, of whom Lord Macaulay said, "In order that he might rob a neighbour whom he had promised to defend, black men fought on the coast of Coromandel and red men scalped each other by the great lakes of North America.“

Russian television viewers think the fighting is confined to Donbass, where war has been going in since 2014, and about Russian soldiers defending their people against Nazis.

A word about these Nazis.

The war in Donbass which attracts naturally very right wong young men on both sides is a response to Putin's invasion in 2014 which was purely a response to the revolution in Kiev in 2014.

Saturday 26 February 2022

Quotations relevant to the heartbreaking war now going on

"I pity America's enemies, but I pity her friends more". 

Henry Kissinger 

“But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.” 

Henry Kissinger

"The West is leading Ukraine down the primrose path and the end result is that Ukraine is going to get wrecked."

Professor John Mearsheimer, in a lecture in 2015.

“I think it (NATO expansion) is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the founding fathers of this country turn over in their graves.

“We have signed up to protect a whole series of countries, even though we have neither the resources nor the intention to do so in any serious way. [NATO expansion] was simply a lighthearted action by a Senate that has no real interest in foreign affairs. What bothers me is how superficial and ill informed the whole Senate debate was. I was particularly bothered by the references to Russia as a country dying to attack Western Europe.

“Don’t people understand? Our differences in the Cold War were with the Soviet Communist regime. And now we are turning our backs on the very people who mounted the greatest bloodless revolution in history to remove that Soviet regime. And Russia’s democracy is as far advanced, if not farther, as any of these countries we’ve just signed up to defend from Russia. Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are — but this is just wrong.”

From an interview dated May 2nd, 1998 with George F. Kennan, then 94, the US diplomat who in his 8,000 word Long Telegram in February 1946 recommended his government to adopt the policy of containing Communist Russia. 

“Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the western world, is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counter-force at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points, corresponding to the shifts and maneuvers of Soviet policy, but which cannot be charmed or talked out of existence.”

George Kennan, writing under the pseudonym “Mr. X” in a July 1947 article in Foreign Affairs. He opposed the Cold War and the arms race, hoped American and Russian troops would go home and in 1957 very sensibly favoured a united demilitarised Germany.

'NATO expansion: was there a promise?'

The short answer: the promise to Gorbachev was not to put foreign troops in East Germany.

Jack F. Matlock Jnr., now 92, was the penultimate U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991. He posted this on his blog on April 3, 2014.

The Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda asked me to write an article on what was said regarding NATO expansion during the negotiations concerning German unification in 1990. I submitted the following:

This is not a simple question since much was said by many political leaders and most were proposals or ideas for negotiation, not promises. But the following points seem to me the most important regarding diplomatic contacts between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1989 and 1990:

(1) All the discussions in 1990 regarding the expansion of NATO jurisdiction were in the context of what would happen to the territory of the GDR. There was still a Warsaw Pact. Nobody was talking about NATO and the countries of Eastern Europe. However, the language used did not always make that specific.

Friday 25 February 2022

In Time of the Breaking of Nations

When a 30th century historian looks at the ruins of London Bridge and decides to write a book about the Decline and Fall of the West perhaps he will decide to start in 1990, as Gibbon started his Decline and Fall with the peaceful and contended reign of the philosopher Marcus Aurelius, inspired by hearing monks chanting Latin in the ruins of the Colosseum.

But though in 1914 Europe expected then to rule the world forever the rose was already cankered.

Today Thomas Hardy's poem In Time of 'The Breaking of Nations' from 1915 came to my mind.

Only a man harrowing clods
In a slow silent walk
With an old horse that stumbles and nods
Half asleep as they stalk.


Only thin smoke without flame
From the heaps of couch-grass:
Yet this will go onward the same
Though Dynasties pass.


Yonder a maid and her wight
Come whispering by:
War’s annals will cloud into night
Ere their story die.

Stalin: Breaker of Nations (1991) is the title of a wonderful biography of Joseph Stalin Robert Conquest that I read twice. Now Stalin's successor is the breaker of nations. 
Thomas Hardy's poem take its title from Jeremiah.

Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms.

Putin like Adolf Hitler, Frederick the Great, Louis XIV and innumerable other men and one woman, Catherine the Great, is an Old Testament figure. 

Boris Johnson, Joe Biden, Justin Trudeau and Ursula von der Leyen also have biblical parallels (please supply to taste, gentle reader) but not with warlike or regal figures.

Thursday 24 February 2022

Navalny condemns 'this war unleashed by thieves and gangsters'

'Alexei Navalny, who has been in jail for a year and stands trial on new charges, said in court today: "I'm against this war unleashed by thieves and gangsters. I'm asking the court to uphold my motion and declare for the whole world that this fratricidal war is unacceptable."'

A new chapter in the decline of the West

“Putin knows that when I am president of the United States his days of tyranny and trying to intimidate the United States and those in Eastern Europe are over.” Joe Biden, 2019
I was wrong about an invasion and not even for good reasons. I knew that the way journalists assume economics is what drives politics is wrong and yet I thought economic motives would dissuade Putin from all-out war.

He wants in his seventieth year to leave a monument.

I was wrong and MI6 was right. Missiles rain down on Kiev and an amphibious assault on Odessa is taking place. Does this mean a Russian-Romanian border as up to 1917? Odessa and Kiev suggest Russia means to occupy most of Ukraine. I presume she will not attack western Ukraine, captured by Peter the Great, by Poland in 1919-20, by Stalin in 1939, by Hitler in 1941 and Stalin again in 1944. But who knows for certain?

Those writers like Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (who always write brilliantly and always forecasts doom) who said this was the perfect moment for an invasion, which I accepted, were right in saying one would happen.

In an article in the Daily Telegraph this morning headlined

The world is sliding into a new Dark Age of poverty, irrationality and war 
Allister Heath says,

"Imperialism, war, irrationality, disease and economic dislocation: modernity is ending as it began."

"It is hard to be bullish about the next few years. As the 2020s progress, it will become obvious that our civilisation relied on a series of increasingly invalid assumptions: that genuine, destructive wars are unthinkable between major economies; that real incomes are on a permanent upwards trajectory, powered by globalisation; that technology necessarily empowers individuals; that deadly pandemics are a thing of the past, and biowarfare unimaginable; that our ever-more woke Western elites still believe in liberty, popular democracy and the rule of law."

The irrationality started in the 1960s with the extreme left. Imperialism did a lot of good as well as bad in the 18th and19th centuries. Modernity is surely the problem. Godless, egalitarian and sterile. Allister Heath like me thinks 1990 was the high point of Western civilisation. But the rose was cankered even in 1900.

One can be pretty confident that had Donald Trump won in November 2020 this wouldn't be happening. 

Some deal would have been made between him and Putin, to the latter's advantage.

I presume you do know that Putin is demanding the "denazification" of a country that has a popularly elected Jewish president and recently had a Jewish Prime Minister.

Stephen King the horror novelists two days ago was much more wrong even than me.

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Sanctions against Russia will not deter Putin

Sanctions did not and will not deter Russia. They are necessary for retribution but not deterrence. 

Ricardo thought that tariffs hurt the country that levies them and it might be that sanctions can do the same. It depends on the country sanctioned. They have an effect on Cuba but the Communist government is still there after 82 years.

I was wrong - Russia is probably about to invade

I didn't think Russia would invade and they have, sort of. They were in Donetsk and Lugansk anyway, of course.

Perhaps I was completely wrong and Vladimir Putin wants to take over Belarus and eastern and central Ukraine. Who knows? He admires and resembles Peter the Great, who would have done that.

I still think going beyond the Russian areas (I do not mean Russian speaking areas) would be the biggest mistake he could make and would strengthen not weaken Nato. But Peter would have done it.

It's hard to see any point in Russia going this far and then stopping.

Correction. Russian troops have not yet openly entered Donetesk and Lugansk, though, of course, Russian troops have been there in disguise since 2014.

Russians in Ukraine

I was told by a senior British diplomat in Moscow in 2015 that the Russians in Donetsk and Lugansk don't care about being in Ukraine or Russia, but just wanted to be left alone.

In 2014 I thought Putin expected them to be happy about being liberated from Ukraine. I know no evidence that they were.

Had they been this might have tempted him to (get his proxies to) take more Ukrainian territory then.

When I first visited Kiev, in March 2006, the Ukrainians I met were all enthusiastic about the 2004 revolution and proud Ukrainians but none of them spoke Ukrainian. 'That's just spoken by people in the villages', one told me. This is changing. Nation building is taking place, thanks to Mr. Putin.

This map might be helpful, gentle reader.

This map from CNN in 2014 gives another impression.

Tuesday 22 February 2022

'Belief in freedom is a key component of White supremacy'

"The primarily White supporters of the Freedom Convoy argue that pandemic mandates infringe upon their constitutional rights to freedom. The notion of “freedom” was historically and remains intertwined with Whiteness, as historian Tyler Stovall has argued. The belief [in] one’s entitlement to freedom is a key component of White supremacy. This explains why the Freedom Convoy members see themselves as entitled to freedom, no matter the public health consequences to those around them."
Taylor Dysart, a candidate for a PhD in the History of Science, in the Washington Post on 11 February.

Everything seems to be in alignment. The world on the news is a dystopia. Here in Romania civilised life carries on.

Monday 21 February 2022

This wonderful and profound remark never ceases to be topical

A. J. P. Taylor: 

''If the Germans had succeeded in exterminating their Slav neighbors, as the Anglo-Saxons in North America succeeded in exterminating the Indians, the effect would have been what it has been on the Americans: the Germans would have become advocates of brotherly love and international reconciliation.''

This profound remark never ceases to be topical, but Taylor, displaying his Shavian gift for paradox, is inaccurate, not for the only time. In fact the Indians died from disease mostly, but probably diseases brought by the white men to which the natives had no immunity. Only a smallish minority were killed by white men. But this does only slightly detracts from his point.

In fact the Germans did exterminate about 25 million Slavs in the Second World War and have become advocates of brotherly love and international reconciliation. 

To Europe's cost, as when Frau Merkel welcomed in a million young men without papers from diverse countries, Germans have moved from insane nationalism to insane internationalism.

Please read this if you are one of those people who think the rich have it better than the poor


"We want me to remind you that Russia has never attacked anyone throughout her history"

"We want to remind you that Russia has never attacked anyone throughout her history." 
So Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, said recently. 

In fact Russia attacked Turkey and Persia and partitioned Poland. (Admittedly, as the great Lord Salisbury pointed out, before Poland was partitioned in the 18th century Russia was partitioned by Poland and Sweden in the 17th.) 

More recently, Russia invaded the Baltic States, including Finland, and half of Poland in alliance with Hitler, Bessarabia (now Moldova) without Hitler's agreement and later Hungary and Czechoslovakia. 

She conquered them all except for plucky little Finland. 

Russia occupied Afghanistan at the invitation of a government it replaced the same day, so a school friend told me at the time. In fact, Russia was not invited and shot the Communist head of state within a day or two of the invasion.

Interestingly, Andropov, Gromyko and Ustinov, supposedly the cleverest men in the Politburo, persuaded the senile, indecisive Brezhnev to make this mistake.

On the other hand, Russia has been attacked by foes from Charles XII to Napoleon, Hitler and (in Vladimir Putin's view) George W Bush. 

The Russian spy turned historian 'Suvarov' argued that Stalin would have attacked Hitler had the latter not got his retaliation in first. 

Two recent books by historians also argue that Stalin intended to attack Germany.

Sunday 20 February 2022

Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of empires

I saw surprised looks on the faces of Andrew Lownie and David Anderson (now, unlike me, highly successful men in London) when I told them at a dinner at university in 1984 that you can't understand Northern Ireland without understanding the history of Eastern Europe.

Ethnic and religious conflicts are the only game in town.

Empires succeed in containing these conflicts, or else they don't. 

The influence of Marxism hid this obvious truth to some extent. The power of ethnicity and religion are the strongest of all the innumerable arguments against Marxism

Anatol Lieven in Prospect compares the trauma of the end of the Russian (Soviet) empire with the end of the British, French, Hapsburg, German and Turkish empires.

'The Middle East is in many ways still working through the consequences of the collapse of three empires: the Ottoman Empire 104 years ago, and the French and British after the Second World War. These empires left behind a range of largely artificial, deeply internally divided successor states and bitter regional rivalries. American hegemony has sometimes suppressed and sometimes aggravated these conflicts. The Balkans too are still living with the results of the Ottoman and Habsburg empires and their collapse.

'South Asia is still living with the consequences of the end of the British Indian Empire, including most notably the partition of India and Pakistan, and the resulting conflict over Kashmir. As South Asia also indicates, conflicts spawned or exacerbated by empires and their fall can simmer for decades before breaking out: as with the revolt of the East Bengalis against Pakistan in 1971 (leading to Indian intervention and the creation of Bangladesh), and the civil war between Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, which erupted in 1983, 36 years after Sri Lanka became independent. In Africa, innumerable local conflicts can be traced back at least in part to empire and how empire was dismantled, including most terribly the Rwandan genocide, which also occurred more than 30 years after the Belgian empire fell.'

Another example would be Burma. Numerous civil wars began in 1948 when the British left and continue to this day.  

Pat Buchanan has a very good point

'Has not Russian President Vladimir Putin pretty much already realized his principal goal in this crisis -- that Ukraine never become a member of NATO? For if Biden and Cruz are unwilling to send U.S. troops to Ukraine to repel Russian invaders, how could the U.S. bring Ukraine into NATO, where, under Article 5, it would be both our moral and legal obligation to do so?'

Ukraine was not going to be admitted into Nato before this crisis, but Vladimir Putin wanted to make sure of this. 


Saturday 19 February 2022

Far left salami tactics are working

Paul Gottfried in Chronicles draws an apt comparison with the Communist salami tactics in Eastern Europe 1945-48 and what is happening now.
'One does not have to relish the Confederate cause to distinguish it from the Third Reich. Indeed, one can lament the South’s decision to secede, and one may surely disapprove of the practice of slavery. But it is madness or an act of political mischief to equate the Southern battle flag with the symbol of one of the most murderous movements in human history? Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis were hardly predecessors of Nazi leaders.
'After World War II, the Communists gradually discredited all opposition on the right as tainted with fascist associations. They repeatedly characterized non-Communists as “fascist” and as being somehow related to Hitler’s Third Reich. They did it by slicing away at the margins of their opposition, turning a mainstream conservative establishment against its right flank. This resort to a fictitious guilt-by-association allowed the Communists to discredit any resistance that stood in their way while assuming total control. Critics of this strategy use the German slang term anbräunen (“browning”) to describe how the already dominant left invests everything that opposes it with the brown hue of the Brownshirts of the Third Reich.
'The totalitarian left, whether Communist or woke, has never abandoned the privilege of deciding for the right what is fascist or pro-Nazi. Those who avail themselves of this privilege always conceal their ultimate end, which is total domination, achieved by smearing one’s opposition with the Nazi brush. In the end, the retreating opposition surrenders everything out of fear of being identified with fascism or its updated version of “systemic white racism.”
'Here we come back to the American conservative establishment, which, despite minor skirmishes, continues to retreat until it has become, as I have noted in Chronicles, the “late-coming left.” The equation of the Confederate battle flag with the Swastika clearly represents the woke left’s attempt to “Nazify” something that it wishes to render unacceptable, and this move has met with no significant pushback.

'Do Fox News conservatives find it inappropriate to make a needed distinction between a longtime American historical symbol and a symbol of genocidal crimes? Have they become so craven that even here they give ground to the left? Such gutlessness has no place in what claims to be the right. These questions needed to be addressed. Otherwise, the salami tactics will go on until an already weakened opposition no longer looks even remotely credible.'

Russia might now intervene in Ukraine. Only Putin knows, unless he has not decided.

I said that Russia would not invade Ukraine a few days ago but things have changed. Then she did not have enough troops in place (so people who know say) and had made no attempt to prepare Russian public for an invasion. Now they more troops at the border, despite saying they were reducing the number, and the media in Russia is talking of provocations. Tass thinks there will be a war. One started by Ukraine. I think we can no longer know. Either only Putin knows or even he has not decided.

I can't imagine he would be so stupid as to seize Kiev and most of Ukraine

It would achieve everything he most wants to avoid.

But an intervention in Donbass or Lugansk is possible. 

Or the mercenaries of the Wagner Group could do something deniable.

Or this stand-off could continue for years. 

It serves some purposes for Putin. 

Der Spiegel reported yesterday that US political scientist Joshua Shifrinson found a note in the British archives, revealed under the 30 year rule, supports the Russian claim that the West violated promises made in 1990 to limit NATO's eastward expansion. "We have made it clear that we will not expand NATO beyond the Elbe," wrote German diplomat Jürgen Chrobog of a March 1991 meeting of the United States, Britain, France and Germany. This document confirms Russia's view of eastward enlargement. A promise was made to the Russians which wasn't kept. Another promise not kept is that made by Russia to guarantee Ukraine when she foolishly gave up her thousands of atom bombs in 1992.

Whatever happens the European Union and the Nato alliance have been shown to be very disunited. 

An EU army after this? 

To do what?

Why doesn't the UK get out of a pointless military alliance and concentrate on trade?

The Dâmbovița and Pasajul Englez yesterday


The Dâmbovița is an unimpressive river which looks like a canal. Bucuresteni forget it exists but I pass it every morning and esteem it.

Calea Victoriei, which I walk up each day, is becoming shockingly posh, but Pasajul Englez is a hold out from the film noir city I knew in the 1990s.

How dangerously ignorant Westerners are of recent history - Eastern Europeans are more astute

I am depressed at how many people think Germany might have invaded England in 1940. What people understand of world history from 1939 onwards is largely mythology. And before 1939 too when it comes to American history, which is political myths from start to finish.

In 1940 Churchill sometimes thought an invasion possible and sometimes not. But there is no excuse for people nowadays who say that were it not for victory over Hitler we'd all be speaking German. 

The end of British Christianity

I attended a godless state grammar school in Westcliff-on- Sea, Essex, across the road from a Catholic secondary modern school called St Thomas More's. 

I thought  at the time that I would have killed myself had I attended a secondary modern or comprehensive. I wouldn't, but some sensitive children do.

A couple of days ago a Catholic friend of mine, who lives in my home town, sent me this letter produced by the headmaster of St Thomas More.

I reread and commend to you this article by 
Damian Thompson from 2015 headlined 

2067: the end of British Christianity

I 'went against' Facebook's standards on hate speech and inferiority by mildly teasing an American friend

I think this is my first (and very mild) punishment by Facebook. 

Shortly after that someone posted this.

I was once warned that sharing something about Covid from some epidemiologist would result in fewer people seeing my posts. I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and chose to step back in order to spring forward further in the future.

I was also once prevented by Twitter from replying to tweets for 12 hours after I regretted that we did not succeed in hanging George Washington.

These rich, progressive American young people who run these companies are spreading their ideas to the whole world. Even Eastern Europe is affected. 

And not just the social media. This suppression of ideas and of the public is part of one big thing, from Justin Trudeau persecuting lorry drivers to Macron persecuting the yellow jackets and on and on and on. 

It is driven by fear - fear among well educated and often rich people of fascism. 

And yet fascism scarcely exists.

If they carry on like this the authoritarian right will have an almighty resurgence. At the moment it is the poor libertarians who are being clobbered.

Monday 14 February 2022

From Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy

I hear new news every day, and those ordinary rumours of war, plagues, fires, inundations, thefts, murders, massacres, meteors, comets, spectrums, prodigies, apparitions, of towns taken, cities besieged in France, Germany, Turkey, Persia, Poland, &c., daily musters and preparations, and such like, which these tempestuous times afford, battles fought, so many men slain, monomachies, shipwrecks, piracies and sea-fights; peace, leagues, stratagems, and fresh alarms. A vast confusion of vows, wishes, actions, edicts, petitions, lawsuits, pleas, laws, proclamations, complaints, grievances are daily brought to our ears. New books every day, pamphlets, corantoes, stories, whole catalogues of volumes of all sorts, new paradoxes, opinions, schisms, heresies, controversies in philosophy, religion, &c. Now come tidings of weddings, maskings, mummeries, entertainments, jubilees, embassies, tilts and tournaments, trophies, triumphs, revels, sports, plays: then again, as in a new shifted scene, treasons, cheating tricks, robberies, enormous villainies in all kinds, funerals, burials, deaths of princes, new discoveries, expeditions, now comical, then tragical matters. Today we hear of new lords and officers created, tomorrow of some great men deposed, and then again of fresh honours conferred; one is let loose, another imprisoned; one purchaseth, another breaketh: he thrives, his neighbour turns bankrupt; now plenty, then again dearth and famine; one runs, another rides, wrangles, laughs, weeps, &c. This I daily hear, and such like, both private and public news, amidst the gallantry and misery of the world; jollity, pride, perplexities and cares, simplicity and villainy; subtlety, knavery, candour and integrity, mutually mixed and offering themselves; I rub on privus privatus; as I have still lived, so I now continue, statu quo prius, left to a solitary life, and mine own domestic discontents: saving that sometimes, ne quid mentiar, as Diogenes went into the city, and Democritus to the haven to see fashions, I did for my recreation now and then walk abroad, look into the world, and could not choose but make some little observation, non tam sagax observator ac simplex recitator, not as they did, to scoff or laugh at all, but with a mixed passion.

From Robert Burton's WONDERFUL Anatomy of Melancholy. Acknowledgements, Colin Cavendish-Jones

Sunday 13 February 2022

Did slavery or colonies make Britain rich? No.

An article in the Spectator by Sam Ashworth-Hayes shows that neither slaves nor colonies made England rich, should you have thought they did.

"And for the country as a whole, the Caribbean colonies were not profitable. They functioned because the government levelled tariffs on cheaper sugar produced by competing European powers, and because the costs of naval protection were borne by the taxpayer. British national income would arguably have been considerably higher if the colonies had been given away; this is a story repeated across the old Empire. So why did Britain bear these costs? Put simply because the interests of wealthy plantation owners and traders were well-represented in a Parliament where seats could be bought."

Saturday 12 February 2022

John Mearsheimer is pretty well always right

Professor John Mearsheimer the famous American foreign policy realist, talking to an idealistic left-wing journalist on The New Yorker.  

"The question on the table is: who bears responsibility for this crisis? Is it Russia or, let’s be honest, is it the United States? The Russians made it manifestly clear after the Bucharest declaration in 2008 that they were adamantly opposed to nato expansion into both Ukraine and Georgia, and that it was not going to happen. They made that point manifestly clear after February, 2014. Throughout this crisis, they have emphasized time and time again that it is not going to happen. .... The only way this can be resolved is with the U.S. and nato saying that Ukraine will not become part of nato. The Russians want it in writing. And I think this crisis will go away once this happens.”

'The Strategic Consequences of Chinese Racism'

The United States used to be a strong society that the Chinese respected when it was unicultural, defined by the centrality of AngloProtestant culture at the core of American national identity aligned with the political ideology of liberalism, the rule of law, and free market capitalism. The Chinese see multiculturalism as a sickness that has overtaken the United States, and a component of U.S. decline.

From a 2013 Pentagon report, The Strategic Consequences of Chinese Racism: A Strategic Asymmetry for the United States, recently published following an application court under the Freedom of Information Act 1967.

Thursday 10 February 2022

"Europe doesn't matter any more"

"And Europe doesn't matter any more. Europe is basically a giant museum; that's why you all go to Europe. It's a museum." So said the great Professor John J. Mearsheimer. 

Historian Jeremy Friedman said the same thing about European cities when I shared a sleeping wagon with him going to Belgrade 13 years ago. 

Then I was shocked - now it is obvious. 

He made an exception for London, which he said was as alive as an American or Chinese city.

But then England is not in Europe.

Sunday 6 February 2022

Facebook reminds me of things I posted on this day in other years

2010. In the beginning, there was nothing. And God said, 'Let there be Light.' And there was still nothing, but you could see a bit better

2011. Romanians are theologians who understand original sin. They are also metaphysicians who know that time and space do not exist.

2011. "The Irish are a very fair people, sir. They never speak well of one another." (Dr. Johnson.) He might be talking about Romanians.

Seventy years a Queen

Today Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne 70 years, more than 6 years longer than Queen Victoria and almost 10 years longer than King George III. Send her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us, God save the Queen!

I walked past this place for fifteen years - picture Davin Ellicson


Saturday 5 February 2022

Nationalism and love of country

Nationalism in the French Revolutionary sense - a derivation of 'fraternité', implies people have the right to rebel against a foreign monarch or ruler. It is something I reject. All Christians should - we are called to be submissive to the lawful authority placed over us (think the Emperor Tiberius). It leads to all sorts of bad things like the American revolution and other insurrections. It leads to people like Gandhi, Nehru, the Stern Gang, etc. People sometimes nowadays seem to confuse nationalism, a revolutionary doctrine, with putting the nation in first place in one's list of political priorities, something all patriots do.

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Nicolae Bălcescu: "Freedom can be easily regained, if it is lost, but not ethnic identity.”

Nicolae Bălcescu, the Romanian revolutionary of 1848: 

“For me, the question of ethnic solidarity is more important than the question of freedom. A people can use freedom only when it’s able to survive as a nation. Freedom can be easily regained, if it is lost, but not ethnic identity.”
In South-Eastern Europe the French revolution and Robespierre's revolutionary principle of Liberté was understood as national freedom or at least, for those Greek Phanariots like Alexander Ypsilantis who wanted to revive Byzantium with the Tsar's support, freedom from rule by infidels. 

Ypsilantis's revolt was defeated after failing to win the support that he expected from Romanians, who cared not a fig about Greeks. Thereafter Balkan history was about ethnic solidarity and identity.


"What you are is determined not by a cheery self-assessment of the ‘real you’, still less by what you want for yourself, but by what you have done."

Andrew Mckie reviewing a book by William Trevor in the Spectator

"Be content to remember that those who can make omelettes properly can do nothing else." Hilaire Belloc

"Christians have killed each other, quite persuaded/That all the apostles would have done as they did." Byron's Don Juan

Tuesday 1 February 2022


"As a child, I wanted to be a physicist. I begged my mother to let me go to Tokyo to study physics. I promised I would win the Nobel Prize in Physics. So, 50 years later, I returned to my village and said to my mother, 'See, I have kept my promise. I won the Nobel Prize.' 'No,' said my mother, who has very fine sense of humour, 'You promised it would be in physics!''

Kenzaburo Oe, awarded the 1994 Nobel Prize in Literature.

"Fall in love with some activity, and do it! Nobody ever figures out what life is all about, and it doesn't matter. Nearly everything is really interesting if you go into it deeply enough. Work as hard and as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don't think about what you want to be, but what you ...want to do." 

Richard Feynman

“I am afraid that woman appreciate cruelty, downright cruelty, more than anything else. They have wonderfully primitive instincts. We have emancipated them, but they remain slaves looking for their masters, all the same. They love being dominated.”

Oscar Wilde