Does Brexit mean spending every holiday in Blackpool?

BlackpoolThey say across the pond that no one has ever gone out of business for underestimating the intelligence of the American consumer. We can say the same about the British voter: no one has lost an election or, more to the point, a referendum for underestimating his intelligence either.

This is lamentable, for an electorate unable to evaluate the facts and make logical inferences makes democracy inoperable: people can’t vote their interests when they can’t understand what their interests are. That makes them easy prey to purveyors of lies, to any tout peddling falsehoods in the secure knowledge that no one will see through them.

The other day, for example, John ‘Edwina’ Major, whose cleverness is only matched by his taste in women, attacked Eurosceptics with spittle-sputtering venom that never looks natural in an Englishman. (Where an Italian screams “Che cazzo!!!”, an Englishman half-whispers “Rather unfortunate, that.” The other way around just doesn’t seem right.)

Sir John now preaches what he practised back in 1990-1992, as Chancellor and PM. Then his commitment to European integration cost the Treasury £3.4 billion in one day, known as Black Wednesday. Now the same genius agitates for more of the same – and people, mentally castrated by our ‘education’, listen.

As if to vindicate this grim assessment of British voters, yesterday’s poll shows that one out of six think Brexit would see them banned from European holidays. It’s no wonder that, terrified at the prospect of holidaying in Blackpool, 88 per cent of that group plan to vote Remain.

The past may not be an unfailing predictor of the future, but it’s the best we’ve got. Hence over 15 per cent have to believe that European resorts had been off limits to the British before Major signed the Maastricht Treaty in 1992.

Yet this isn’t the case. Back in Victorian times the English practically owned such French resorts as Biarritz and Nice. Why do you suppose Nice’s most picturesque walk has been called La Promenade des Anglais since 1860? Because English tourists were banned?

But forget history – most of our school graduates already have: some 64 per cent don’t know the century, never mind the dates, of the First World War. Let’s stay firmly lodged in the present.

A simple extrapolation, one of those the British en masse can no longer make, would suggest that, if EU membership is a prerequisite for European travel, then citizens of countries not blessed with that distinction can’t show their foreign faces on the continent.

No Americans with their loud voices. No Chinese or Japanese with their cameras. Darren and Tracy, when you last lived it up in Ibiffa (Ibiza, as it’s otherwise known) or Costa del Sol, was that your impression? No? Yet none of those nationals carry red EU passports.

Ten per cent of the respondents harboured different fears. They suspected they’d still be able to turn Ibiza and other EU hotspots into hell on earth, but thought it would be too dangerous to do so. The locals would be so cross with Britain for doing the runner that they’d take it out on the tourists.

Chaps, take my word for it: the Europeans don’t bear such grudges. For example, the French love the Germans to bits now, and one would think the memory of 1940 would still rankle. Wayne and Lee, go through your holiday photographs and you’ll see how imbued Europeans are with the spirit of Christian forgiveness.

Remember when you got pissed on cheap beer with shots and wallowed in your own vomit on the dance floor? Remember those chairs you tossed through restaurant windows? Remember copulating with Sharon and Kylie right on the crowded pavement? You got away with it, didn’t you?

So don’t worry about continentals getting overexcited about Brexit. If they don’t mind your vomiting, they won’t mind your voting.

The Remain shills have done their job well: 52 per cent of the respondents say they’re confused about what Brexit would mean to them. Our systematically dumbed down masses confuse easily, and the spivs of all parties know how to exploit this with the sleight of hand to do a riverboat gambler proud.

Even less inert minds might feel inundated with the torrent of scaremongering details dumped on them by the Remain campaign. You show me your figures, I’ll show you mine: which are more believable? For most people, those that appeal to their primordial fears.

Figures, ladies and gentlemen, ought to be at the margins of the debate, if present at all. It’s not about a few pennies on the exchange rate here or there. The real question is so simple that even my hypothetical Darren, Tracy, Wayne, Sharon, Lee and Kylie would have no trouble understanding it.

Do you, Darren, Tracy, Wayne, Sharon, Lee and Kylie, want Britain to be a sovereign nation in charge of her own destiny or a chattel to a giant, monstrously corrupt bureaucracy in whose shenanigans you’ll have no say? Think of this on your flight to Ibiffa.

Towers of Babel are all around us

TowerBlocksSecondary schools in Scotland now teach classes in what they call ‘small talk’, but what is in fact the basic skills of humans talking to one another in the human language.

The Scots have realised that the pandemic absence of such skills makes the wee tots unemployable in any other than the most menial tasks, a level field in which they’ll have to compete with Bulgarian migrants.

Allan MacGregor, the chief executive of The Bing Group, which funded the first such course, said his firm was committed to “developing the workforce of tomorrow by helping young people hone the interpersonal skills required to impress and succeed”.

At the risk of offending Mr MacGregor, one could suggest that, if that sentence is any indication, his own verbal skills could do with some honing, but that’s not the point. Neither is the noble purpose of improving young people’s job prospects, though that’s probably part of it.

The point is that the young generation seems to be losing the gift of human speech altogether. If so, then the consequences will be far worse than Anglophone natives losing out to Bulgarian migrants in the economic rough-and-tumble.

In God’s eyes, erecting “a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven” with the subsequent disintegration of language was severe punishment: “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

It would never have occurred to the Old Testament writers that a time would come when inflicting a Babel on the world would be done not by God as a way of unleashing his wrath, but by some men as a way of brutalising others.

Just riding a London bus for half an hour (mine is the 22, which runs through some of the best parts of town) and listening to schoolchildren talk will tell you all you need to know. Our education is cranking out millions of little Mowglis devoid of the gift of human speech.

The situation is far worse than many people imagine. Sure enough, one hears many complaints that youngsters don’t know basic grammar, that they can’t express themselves precisely, never mind elegantly, that they can’t write a paragraph that makes sense. All that is true, but alas it’s not the whole truth.

A large and ever-growing segment of our young generation can’t talk at all, never mind with precision or, God forbid, elegance. They communicate not in coherent sentences, but in grunts, interjections and some encoded semiotic signals. That wastes the advantage of being human, indeed brings their very humanity in doubt, for surely speech is a distinguishing characteristic of our species.

It’s fashionable to blame social networks and other electronic media for this catastrophe, and they do probably have a destructive role to play. Yet my friends and I communicate with one another mostly through electronic media, and sometimes we even share our thoughts with the ether of Facebook – this without losing the ability to converse in complete sentences, even in languages other than our own.

We’re products of a different education, or rather self-education, for fundamentally there’s no other. As children, we were motivated, largely self-motivated, to read increasingly longer books, to discuss increasingly more involved subjects, to ponder increasingly more difficult problems.

Language was essential to such activities, and they were essential to honing and expanding our language. This is elementary to the point of banality, but the ensuing question is neither elementary nor banal: Why do most of today’s youngsters lack such motivation, or self-motivation if you’d rather?

Why do our schools allow them to communicate in feral grunts, which even turns their faces feral? Why do their families let them get away with incarcerating themselves in the tower of Babel? Don’t the schools and families realise the calamitous social and cultural consequences of such animalisation?

Some probably do, but that doesn’t matter. Most schools and, more and more, families are run by the state, and the state is run by a small elite that stands to gain everything and lose nothing from this lamentable situation.

By and large, I subscribe to the cock-up theory of history, not the conspiracy one. But it’s hard not to ascribe wicked designs to the people who systematically turned the education system that was the envy of the world into its laughingstock.

People so dumbed down that they can’t grasp the simplest of concepts, nor even express themselves in anything resembling human speech, are putty in the hands of those who seek unlimited and unquestioned control. Nowadays it’s the absence of knowledge that’s power.

Language is how we perceive and express thoughts. Primitive (not to be confused with simple) language betokens a primitive mind – which is exactly the type of mind that prevents people from seeing that our politicians speak in nothing but solecisms, non sequiturs and lies.

Every governing elite fashions a system of public education that educates the public to accept the governing elite. Our politicians can only stay in their ivory tower if their flock lives in the Tower of Babel. QED.



The village atheist and the village idiot fused into one

FusionChesterton once described Thomas Hardy’s work as “the village atheist talking to the village idiot”. The columnist Oliver Kamm proves the two can coexist within one breast.

In his Times article he sets out to prove that science and religion are incompatible. He only succeeds in proving that both of them are incompatible with the columnist Oliver Kamm.

I can’t think offhand of many beliefs that are as vulgar as atheism in general and materialism in particular. But gradations do exist, and one finds the vulgar end of vulgarity at the rock-bottom level housing Oliver Kamm. Yet even there, the belief that science and religion are incompatible stands out as the world record holder in vulgarity run riot.

I’ve met no theologians suggesting anything like that, and only a handful of scientists. Typically, champions of this harebrained idea know little about science, less about religion and nothing about epistemology. Kamm is a case in point.

Writing about the chemist Harry Kroto, Kamm writes: “He devoted his life to expanding knowledge. In doing so… he also reduced the scope of religious explanations.”

How? Kroto’s main interest was molecular spectroscopy, and I’m not aware of any conflict between his field and religion.

The two planes of knowledge can’t clash because they don’t intersect in their specific objects of study. The only area where they could overlap is philosophy, but it’s not immediately clear why the two are in a zero sum relationship: more of one meaning less of the other.

If Kamm knows why, he should have explained it. Instead, he just drops his pseudo-profound statement like a sack of dung, proving yet again that there’s no fool like a ponderous fool.

Having dug himself into a hole, Kamm does what fools do – he keeps digging: “But religion, even at its most tolerant, is dogmatic. It holds that truth is revealed. Science is experimental. The coexistence of science and faith doesn’t mean compatibility.”

Truth, which is faith, is indeed revealed, and science, or rather some science, is indeed experimental. Both, however, start with an intuitive premise. A theologian would call it belief in God. A scientist would call it a hypothesis.

Both will then hold their intuition to the test of empirical facts to see if they agree. If they do, knowledge emerges at the other end, but the types of knowledge are different – the two thinkers get different answers because they ask different questions.

The theologian answers such questions as “How can something come out of nothing?”, “What is the purpose of life?”, “What is consciousness?”, “What is man’s role in life?” These are questions natural science can’t answer, nor even ask.

(Incidentally, ‘science’ means only ‘natural science’ to Kamm – as if, say, philosophy weren’t scientific. This is exactly the kind of egregious ignorance one expects from the likes of him.)

Theologians, unless they also happen to be scientists, as many are, seldom busy themselves with the arcana of the material world, leaving this endeavour to natural scientists. They respect the knowledge gained thereby for it expands our understanding of God’s design.

This has always been thus, and the supposedly deadly conflict between religion and science is a figment of vulgar imagination. After all, it wasn’t only great cathedrals but also great universities that owe their existence to Christianity. So, to a great extent, does natural science.

Once mediaeval thinkers had corrected the Greeks’ metaphysical error of not recognising the objective existence of the physical world, they could be certain that nature obeyed universal laws – it was after all created by a universal law-giver.

The scientists’ job was understood as finding out what those laws were, and how they are manifested. This understanding lies at the heart of every presupposition of modern research. (This regardless of whether the scientist has lost or preserved the original faith.) That’s why science eventually became incomparably greater in the West than in any other civilisation – only Christendom possessed and cultivated the essential prerequisites.

Alas, modernity saw the appearance of what I call ‘totalitarian scientist’, and what Ortega y Gasset called ‘the very prototype of the mass-man’: “[He] knows his own minimal corner of the universe quite well. But he is radically ignorant of all the rest. We shall have to call him a learned-ignoramus, which is a serious matter, for it means that he will act in all areas in which he is ignorant not like an ignorant man, but with all the airs of one who is learned in his own special line.”

We see such scientists all around us: Wolpert, Dawkins – and Kamm’s idol Kroto. The venerable late chemist claimed to have three religions: Amnesty Internationalism, atheism, and humour. With all due deference, this vindicates Ortega’s observation: only an ignorant fool can say such things – this regardless of his attainments in some technical areas.

Kamm, however, can’t claim even such attainments. What he does possess is the undiluted smugness and high airs of an ignoramus. Then again, a modern journalist obviously can parlay such qualities into a successful career.

Hot off the press: Muhammad Ali is still dead

Muhammad_AliYet another hole has been punched in our firmament, yet another star fell out. The hole and the rest of our universe have been filled with hysterical panegyrics and never-ending chants of quasi-religious worship.

In fact, Ali symbolised much of what’s worst in America specifically and the modern world generally. He doubtless earned his pugilistic fame, but outside the ring he only earned infamy. Or rather that’s what he would have earned had the world remained sane. As it was, the world was willing to issue him a line of credit, as unlimited as it was unearned.

Even his crude doggerel was hailed as displaying a “talent for verse” (The Times obituary), whereas it fell short of even competence. To wit: “Now Clay swings with a right, what a beautiful swing,// And raises the Bear straight out of the ring…”

Such praises were reverse racism: had a white schoolboy written something like that, he would have been told never to rhyme words again. But for a black man such helpless versification was seen as an achievement: to paraphrase, it’s not how well he did it that was amazing, but that he did it at all.

Similarly, Ali’s cracker-barrel philosophy was praised even by those who ought to have known a vulgar platitude when they heard one. Yet they kept hailing Ali’s aphorisms the way they never hailed, say, La Rochefoucauld’s. And the aphorisms kept coming: “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life…” “A man who has no imagination has no wings…” And so on.

Most of us would be embarrassed to utter such adages, but Ali had a great talent for self-promotion. He knew white ‘liberals’ would swallow anything he threw their way because they detected a kindred soul, someone as consumed by hatred of the traditional West as they were.

If anything gives the lie to the American term ‘liberal’, it’s the leftwing adulation of Muhammad Ali, whose views couldn’t possibly be covered by the notion, no matter how far stretched. In fact, his beliefs were as illiberal as anything ever proclaimed by a Jim Crow enthusiast.

Imagine a white conscientious objector saying “My enemy is the black people, not the Viet Cong.” He would have been tarred and feathered, if he was lucky. Yet, replacing ‘black’ with ‘white’, this is exactly what Ali said when refusing to fight in Vietnam.

Admittedly the parallel isn’t quite exact, for the blacks were indeed victims of shameful discrimination, a blotch on American history that has never quite been expunged. Action causes counteraction, which is why black racism can be understood, if not vindicated. Yet racism it is, and describing it as something consonant with liberal ‘values’ is pathetic. It jibes not with the ‘values’ but with the underlying hatred.

Ali claimed he couldn’t serve in the US army because of the pacifist nature of his religion, Islam. The poor man was obviously unfamiliar with the scripture and history of his new creed. Suffice it to say that pacifism isn’t high on the list of Muslim tenets.

It was even lower on the list of the tenets preached by Elijah Muhammad, the extremist who founded the Nation of Islam sect, the one Ali joined under the influence of another extremist, Malcolm X. In fact, the ‘Black Muslims’, as they were called, openly preached violence as a means of ending racial discrimination.

Ali said, “You want me to go somewhere and fight when you won’t even stand up for my religious beliefs at home.” What did he expect? That Americans, many of whom are white Christians, would stand up for Islam at its most radical, that is at its most violent towards Christians and, in this case, whites in general?

Ali’s conversion to Islam was quite ridiculous. He refused to be called Cassius Clay, which he described as a ‘slave name’. In fact, Muhammad Ali was more of a ‘slave name’ than Clay, for few Africans had ever espoused Islam until forcibly converted to it by Muslim slave traders.

Ali had Irish roots on his mother’s side, but of course that prevented neither him nor his ‘liberal’ admirers from regarding him as fully black. If Obama’s white mother is ignored, then why not the Gradys of Western Ireland, one of whom married a freed American slave? Curiously, the ‘liberals’ seem to subscribe to the same philosophy that the worst racists encapsulate in the rant ‘a drop of tar, all nigger’.

When I first moved from the US to England, a middle-class gentleman suggested that people like Ali were mostly leftwing because they were black. “It’s the other way around,” I replied. “They are black because they are leftwing.”

Indeed, negritude has become more of a political statement than a race. And few things are worse than a race or a religion being used as a veil for political resentments – a tendency Ali personified most vividly.

One hopes that the hysterical adulation will abate in a day or two, and Ali will be remembered for what he was, a great boxer, and not for what he wasn’t, a great man. He was, however, a man for our time – but that’s the time’s fault, not his.