The business of government

At various times in history, different professions have been regarded as the best preparation for government. Philosophers, theologians, warriors, priests, artists, intellectuals, lawyers have all been mentioned in that context.

Some of those prep professions still have their champions, although one doesn’t meet many Poles who fancy a concert pianist as their PM (Ignacy Paderewski held that post in 1919).

However, many American fans of President Trump swear that nothing prepares a man for a top political job better than a business career. They may have a point, though not in the sense they mean it.

Like Trump, modern governments finance their projects with other people’s money. If it works out, the government benefits, although not necessarily the other people. If not, the debts are written off – or indefinitely rescheduled, which amounts to the same thing.

The business equivalent is called bankruptcy or, in the US, protection under Chapter 11. That wipes the debt slate clean by letting creditors have whatever the businessman can afford to pay them. Ten cents to a dollar is seen as a victory for the creditor, 20 as a triumph.

If a businessman has kept enough of his borrowed loot for himself, he has no fear of lawsuits: a regiment of lawyers at his disposal can tie up a plaintiff in knots for years.

Modern governments don’t have to repay their debts, although they do have to service them, which they accomplish by borrowing or printing more money. That’s why they don’t mind spending more than they earn and running up debts in the trillions.

One has to admit that some respectable figures in the history of American business haven’t relied on the model so crudely outlined here. For example, unlike Trump, Henry Ford never boasted of his agility in using bankruptcy laws. And Bill Gates hasn’t been involved in thousands of lawsuits.

But then people like them are traditional businessmen, creators of products that make people’s lives more comfortable. They display their shrewdness by making products cheaper and better, not by playing Chapter 11 with Ignacy Paderewski’s virtuosity.

Trump is a different breed. He creates things like casinos for American mafiosi, golf courses for Russian ones and monuments to bad taste in Manhattan. His talent is talking others into chancy investments, and he doesn’t really care if the money comes from the KGB or the Salvation Army. That requires a wholly different set of qualities from those boasted by Messrs Ford and Gates.

Trump is discovering that at the moment, and also finding out that, certain similarities mentioned above notwithstanding, his type of business is different from government.

Trump’s career has been signposted by six bankruptcies, for him a source of pride. There have also been 3,500 lawsuits. Though in his line of work this is considered par for the course, he has fought more lawsuits than the next six biggest property developers combined.

Trump emerged at the other end relatively unscathed, avoiding not only the minimum security facility in Danbury, Connecticut (his colleagues’ frequent choice for prolonged holidays), but even excessive opprobrium. Large amounts of money seem to have redemptive value.

By applying his business experience to his new job, Trump effectively became a lame-duck president from his first days in office, probably the first man to boast that distinction.

In his iffy property empire all his charges worked for him. Now the situation has been reversed: in theory at least he works for his charges, not the other way around.

To make sure this arrangement isn’t merely theoretical, his charges can keep him in check through many institutions over which Trump has little or no control. For example, he can’t fire any of the 435 congressmen or 100 senators, much less the people who elected them.

He can fire heads of federal agencies but only at the risk of backfire if the execution was performed for spurious or corrupt reasons. He can wheel and deal with any foreign leaders he pleases, but only up to a point and not unaccountably.

Trump is also discovering that more rigorous moral standards are applied to his present job than to his previous one. It’s no longer enough for him to stay a whisker within the law or at least not to get caught when overstepping that line. A president is held down to higher standards than those demanded by criminal courts.

By sacking FBI head James Comey, Trump may have broken the law that proscribes obstruction of justice. Comey was leading an investigation into the questionable links between Trump’s campaign and Putin.

As a result of that investigation, Trump has had to part company with three of his closest associates, including National Security Advisor Gen. Flynn who lied about those contacts. According to Comey, Trump asked him not to proceed any further with Flynn because he’s “a good guy”.

That he may be, but someone who tries to sabotage a federal investigation is generally seen as not so good in the US. Comey has documented that request in a memo, though Trump denies all.

Then there’s the business of Trump divulging classified information to the KGB thug Lavrov, Foreign Minister to the KGB thug Putin, with whom Trump has had many profitable dealings.

As president, Trump can legally declassify any material, which he hastily pointed out. Matter closed, or rather it would have been in Trump’s previous (and concurrent) career. But here those higher standards kick in, and Trump is found wanting.

As a matter of courtesy, if not national security, he should have cleared his garrulous generosity with the intelligence agencies involved. Alas, Trump’s self-confidence is as boundless as is his affection for his friend Vlad.

Yet Vlad is certainly not America’s friend, which everybody but Trump and his advisors know. It’s unhealthy when a president’s interests diverge from his country’s.

Vlad’s response to the ensuing scandal amused me no end. “We can see that political schizophrenia is developing in the United States,” he said.

“We’re prepared to submit to the US Congress and Senate the transcript of the conversation between Lavrov and Trump. Of course only if the US administration wants it.”

Don’t know if the US administration wants it, but I certainly do. Even though I don’t read much fiction these days, this would be a masterpiece worthy of the Booker Prize, if not the Nobel.

The information carelessly, if not criminally, divulged concerns IS plans to blow up an American airliner with a bomb hidden in a computer notebook. Since the IS is in bed with Iran, which is Vlad’s client state, one struggles to accept Trump’s explanation that his generosity was proffered for “humanitarian reasons”.

Moreover, the information had come from an Israeli undercover agent, who has now been for all intents and purposes blown. But that doesn’t matter: Trump has dealt with Putin before, and he knows he can deal with him now.

In the past, those dealings were immoral, for Trump has financed some of his deals with Putin’s purloined and laundered cash. Now they may well be criminal – whatever the letter of the law says.

Trump’s fans claim that only left-wingers want to take him down. Well, I’m no left-winger, but I’m scared of what this illiterate chancer can do to the West his country supposedly leads.

He has already done us a great favour by keeping Hillary out of the White House. To preserve this legacy, he should go before he’s impeached. President Pence, anyone?

Alexander Pope was right

As the master of the English language said, a little learning is indeed a dangerous thing – specifically in the area of the English language. That observation was true then, and it’s even truer now.

These days every little bit of learning comes wrapped in ideology. An article by Oliver Kamm, the self-appointed language guru, is a case in point.

Having written many subversive articles on vocabulary and grammar, he has now turned his attention to phonetics. Ollie’s chief premise is Panglossian: anything people say and any way they say it is wonderful.

First he treats us to the profound observation that, objectively speaking, there’s no such thing as a more or less beautiful language. The judgement that, say, Italian, sounds better than, say, Dutch is subjective because all aesthetic judgements are.

This betrays ignorance of many disciplines, from aesthetics proper to physiology. A simple experiment could show that things aren’t quite so simple as they appear to young Ollie.

Lead someone who has never heard any classical music to the piano and play the basic triad first, then just put your fingers on the keyboard at random. The subject will unerringly say that the first is more beautiful than the second.

Repeat the experiment with any number of people, and the result will be the same. This hints at some objective criteria of beauty that are physiological and innate rather than cultural and acquired.

Having applied egalitarian principles to various languages, Ollie then narrows his focus specifically to English dialects. Here he leavens his notion of aesthetics with that of class struggle, with disastrous results.

Some people base their judgement of phonetic beauty or ugliness on “social connotations”, which Ollie thinks is wrong. Even as all languages are equally beautiful, so are all dialects.

“The word paint in cockney is the same sound as the word pint pronounced by a toff,” he writes, betraying his class-warrior’s mindset. For one doesn’t have to be a ‘toff’ to enunciate the difference between a pint of beer and a pot of paint.

One simply has to be sufficiently educated not to make what phoneticians call ‘relevant mistakes’, those that distort the meaning of a word. In any case, a cockney’s ‘paint’ doesn’t sound exactly the same as ‘pint’, but then Ollie’s tin ear is the aural reflection of his mind.

He goes on to explain why the social significance of accents is “a destructive myth. Some people who speak less-favoured dialects (say, Norfolk or Geordie) are embarrassed by their speech. They shouldn’t be… We should celebrate linguistic diversity rather than imagine our arbitrary tastes are established truths.”

It has to be said that the linguistic diversity of English is staggering. These rather small islands boast 50 major dialects and God only knows how many minor ones.

Moreover, some rural accents are so different from urban ones that people living in cities may have trouble understanding country folk from five miles away. For example, my wife, who grew up in Exeter, remembers a farmer from whom her family bought apples. Neither she nor her brother could understand a word he was saying, though the amiable intonation was unmistakable.

This diversity springs from England’s political and social history. However, the social and cultural significance of phonetic variants has changed over the centuries.

For example, when Dr Johnson came to London from Lichfield, he spoke with a Staffordshire accent, which he kept until death. Clearly he was under no social pressure to change his pronunciation to agree with some received standard.

Yet the situation changed in the very next century, when modernity vanquished decisively. One of its distinguishing features is a tendency towards political centralisation followed by general uniformity.

Hence regional accents became not just a geographical differentiator but also a social and cultural one. The Received Pronunciation reflected the upper middle class speech cultivated at public schools. The aristocrats added a few touches of their own, but these were minor. As were the phonetic differences separating the alumni of Eton from those of, say, Rugby.

In Victorian times, the regions became as marginalised phonetically as they were politically. The language of the cultural elite became the standard. Any deviation therefrom began to act as a social and economic brake.

Thus Shaw’s Edwardian girl Eliza Doolittle had to take elocution lessons because her cockney accent prevented her from getting a job at a flower shop. GBS’s art imitated life: people all over the country were getting rid of their iffy accents. Received Pronunciation became a social hoist.

How one feels about that development depends on how one feels about modernity. Political centralisation run riot is ultimately a factor of tyranny, and the same argument can be plausibly made about phonetics. Modernity destroys traditional, organic diversity in everything, certainly language.

However, we must deal with things as they are, not how they used to be. We may deplore our centralised society, but we can’t deny it exists. Moreover, political centralisation, its begetter, not only isn’t abating but is getting stronger, imposing uniformity of every other kind.

Given these conditions, lamentable as they may be, most educated Englishmen speak the same way regardless of where they come from. Most doesn’t mean all, and in fact one of the most educated men I know speaks with a Yorkshire accent. But by and large dialectal speech betrays a deficit of culture and education.

Modernity welcomes this: it abhors and tries to expunge not only tradition but also culture. Thus what used to be a celebration of genuine linguistic diversity has become yet another battering ram of modernity – precisely the politically correct flummery Ollie claims it isn’t.

If Dr Johnson came from Lichfield today, he wouldn’t speak with a Staffordshire accent – cultured people tend not to these days.

The neo-diversity Ollie defends isn’t traditional and therefore organic but ideological and therefore artificial. To the likes of him not only all accents are supposed to be equal, but also all tastes, all opinions, all judgements. No absolute standards are allowed to exist; to Ollie all standards are arbitrary.

His hailing of regional accents wouldn’t have been out of place in Pope’s time. Today it’s ideological waffle showing very little learning.

 

Democracy as a suicide pact

It ought to go without saying that no institution should be run by those who hate its core principles.

Could you imagine Hitler at the head of the Committee for Racial Equality? Dr Shipman in charge of care for the elderly? Ian Brady (RIP your throat out) running an orphanage? Kim Jong-un leading a campaign for nuclear non-proliferation?

Utterly preposterous, isn’t it? Yet so many Westerners don’t demur at the sight of communists rising to the political apex. The political essence of communism has remained unchanged since Marx: dictatorship of the proletariat. In practice that means dictatorship of a few cannibals (or just one), which rather goes against the grain of Western polity.

However, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain all have communists sitting in their parliaments.

That’s what Lenin called ‘legalism’: joining Western institutions to undermine them from within, a conspiratorial stratagem later developed by the Frankfurt School. And yet Western countries play along.

In other words, our parliaments include subversives whose mission in life is to destroy our parliaments. That’s akin to an oncologist injecting himself with cancer cells. My sense of logic is offended.

But then again, those countries are rather… how can one put it without causing offence… continental. What else can one expect from those garlic eaters? That sort of thing could never catch on in Old Blighty, what?

Well, it could and it has. Introducing Andrew Murray, a life-long communist just appointed to run Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign (Jeremy himself needs no introduction: his similar credentials are widely known).

Murray resigned his Communist Party membership only last December, at age 57, no doubt in preparation for entry into mainstream politics. In 2015 he wrote: “Communism still represents… a society worth working towards – albeit not by the methods of the 20th century, which failed.”

As any reader of Marx will know, those methods are inseparable from the essence of communism. Predictably this has been proved by every communist regime – as it would be in a communist Britain Murray thinks is worth working towards.

Murray and Corbyn are close friends and colleagues. Both were (or rather are) columnists for the communist rag Morning Star, with Murray having first acquired journalistic experience at the Soviet Novosti press agency.

Andrew displays none of the weathervane qualities of so many politicians. He consistently venerates both Lenin (whose portrait hangs above his desk) and Stalin (who, though a bit “harsh”, laudably installed socialism “in a third of the world”). He expresses solidarity with “People’s Korea”, bossed by my candidate to run the nuclear non-proliferation campaign. He supports Hezbollah and other Islamic terrorist groups (a perfect fit with Jeremy there).

What I like about both Andrew and Jeremy is that they can’t avoid speaking the truth from time to time. Thus Jeremy has described Andrew as “a democratic socialist and a member of the Labour Party like me.” That’s exactly right: just like him. Both are democratic socialists in the same sense in which the Soviets preached “democratic centralism”.

(Democratic socialism is an oxymoron in any sense, but I shan’t expand on it here. If you agree, this would be superfluous. If you don’t, a longer format would be required to prove you wrong.)

And Andrew won a place in my heart by declaring that “If credit were given where it is due, the black banners of the Islamic State… would be emblazoned with portraits of Tony Blair and George Bush.”

And there I was, thinking I’d never agree with a communist on anything. True enough, the IS owes its existence to the criminal (or criminally stupid, take your pick) invasion of Iraq in 2003, which both Murray and I oppose, if for different reasons. Of course, he champions the cause promoted under those black banners, and there we diverge.

I’ve often had the occasion to remark that the West seems to be bent on suicide, a death wish masked by the democratic tag attached to it. People see democracy – which is nothing but a method of government – not only as a be all and end all, but also as a blanket indulgence against all sins and an open door to all evil.

This isn’t merely misguided or ill-advised. It’s insane, in the sense in which suicide is insane. In a mentally healthy society, evil dolts like Murray and Corbyn would be charged with treason. In a mentally healthy but slightly soft society, they would at least be kept out of civilised politics.

Yet Corbyn is in with a sporting chance to become head of Her Majesty’s Government on 8 June. In the unlikely event that were to happen, Murray would probably get a high cabinet post. That would effectively spell the suicide of the United Kingdom, all in the name of democracy.

It’s time we stopped thinking of such matters in the largely meaningless Enlightenment terms of right, left and centre. These only have some – very limited – validity within the mainstream of Western politics, not in the sulphurous swamp engulfing it outside. You know, where the creepy-crawlies like Corbyn and Murray live.

And if they are now part of the mainstream, then you know that a suicide pact has been signed, sealed and executed. Or is about to be.

Harmony in your life, just $10,000

That’s a small price to pay, one would think, for capturing the elusive synthesis that few human relationships can promise.

I can prove this to you, but a few assumptions first: you’re a man, you’ve had some experience with women and you have a certain idealistic streak.

Now forget all the women you’ve ever known, in the biblical or any other sense, and imagine an ideal female, perfect in every physical, emotional, amorous, spiritual and intellectual attribute. Take a minute or two, don’t rush it.

Fine. Now go back to all the women in your life, from the time you tried to look up the dress of your elementary school teacher, and see if any of them have ever overlapped completely with the ideal you see in your mind’s eye.

You’ll probably have to admit that none of them have. Now let’s move away from ne plus ultra images and into the area of hard cash. Have you any idea how much pursuing that mirage has cost you over a lifetime?

Dinners. Flowers. Chocolates. Jewellery. Silk scarves. Theatre tickets. Weddings. Dirty weekends. Lawyers. Divorce settlements. Many expense items that haven’t even occurred to me. Adds up, doesn’t it?

Suddenly $10,000 (£7,734 at today’s exchange rate) looks like a pittance compared to pursuing the ideal you’ve been seeking in vain your whole life. Yet that derisory sum can buy you your ne plus ultra. It can buy you Harmony.

Harmony is the name of a new talking sex doll, otherwise known as RealDoll, manufactured by the appropriately named Abyss Creations. Harmony’s body is a taller and firmer version of Scarlett Johansson’s, her face can sink a thousand ships, she has an unquenchable sexual appetite – and a personality you could mould to your exacting requirements.

“Many people who may buy a RealDoll because it is sexually capable come to realise it is much more than a sex toy,” says Matt McMullen, the chief executive of Abyss. “It has a presence in their house and they imagine a personality for her. [She] gives people the tools to create that personality.”

Harmony has artificial intelligence incorporated into a body boasting dreamlike fertility symbols. And let me tell you: artificial intelligence is better not only than none but practically any other one encounters in a woman.

After all, any woman has had years, probably decades before being blessed by meeting you. That means that not only does she have certain innate characteristics, but she has also developed her personality independently of your input.

What’s done can’t be undone, as many a man has discovered who has tried to nudge his woman’s personality in a desirable direction. That’s guaranteed to be an exercise in futility.

But Harmony turns every man into a Svengali: you can programme any personality into her, including angry, placid, loving or, if such is your wont, jealous. Push a button, and Harmony will ask you in that pointed way of hers who that girl is on your speed dial. Another button, and she’ll say “Never mind, darling, as long as you’re happy.”

I don’t know what her intellectual range is but, given our never-ending technological progress, it must be expandable. I’m sure even now Harmony is capable of conducting the kind of conversations one overhears on public transport when young people are within earshot.

This mostly consists of monosyllabics, interjections and four-letter words, such as ‘like’ and a few others. Nothing, in short, to take Harmony out of her current depth. But Harmony’s depth can be increased, which is probably not the case with the gaggle of youngsters on the 22 Bus.

Harmony may be programmed to enlarge on any variety of topics. Following my friend’s suggestion, she could even conceivably outline the history of how the Chalcedonian Definition received its final formulation.

Can’t you just hear it? “Homoiousios and homoousios are one letter and a whole theological universe apart, darling. Now shall we go to bed?”

Or push another button and out comes “Never mind that egghead crap, love. Three at the back with wingbacks is dog’s bollocks, djahmean? Now fancy a shag?”

The possibilities are endless, and many satisfied customers are taking advantage of them. One such customer, Mark, programmed Harmony to be “happy, affectionate and talkative”.

Mark enjoys a fulfilling sexual relationship with Harmony, but claims this is secondary. Then again many men have been known to make the same claim without really meaning it.

(This brings to mind a sexist, misogynist and generally fascist joke I once heard in New York: “Why did God give women vaginas? So that men would talk to them.”)

But what Mark really likes about Harmony is that she never contradicts him – can you say the same about your wife or girlfriend? “If I like a hat on her,” he says, “she doesn’t say that she doesn’t like it.”

What more can a man wish for? Especially a modern man, weaned on the notion of progress? Not much.

Progress, understood strictly in the scientific and technological sense, is assured to make every dystopic fantasy come true, to replace actual with virtual reality. We read virtual books, listen to virtual music, think virtual thoughts, elect virtual politicians, put forth virtual arguments, believe virtual truths, eat virtual food.

So why not live with virtual women? No reason at all. We deserve Harmony.

Well done, Your Royal Highness!

We ought to be proud of our future king. For Prince William has just received a unique honour that none of his dynastic predecessors could boast.

Yes, other monarchs and heirs to the throne have won accolades, but those were more or less much of a muchness.

For example, Alfred the Great successfully defended the country against the Vikings – but then George VI successfully led the Commonwealth in the war against the Nazis (Prince William’s great-great-uncle David supported the other side, it has to be said). Henry V showed the French what’s what at Agincourt – but then George III did the same at Waterloo, if not exactly in a hands-on fashion. Elizabeth I found a workable religious settlement – but then so did William III (workable doesn’t mean perfect, but an achievement none the less).

Yet none of them – and I invite you to peruse history books trying to prove me wrong – managed to reach the dizzying heights of achievement scaled by HRH Prince William.

For we can both laud and applaud the prince for having merited a most precious accolade. Last Friday he was named “straight ally of the year” at the British LGBT Awards.

HRH received the award with the dignity for which his family is so justly famous. “Nobody should be bullied for their sexuality,” he said.

Yes, of course he knows, after the sterling education he received, that ‘nobody’ is a singular antecedent calling for the singular personal pronoun ‘his’. But, having established his credentials as a homophile, he wasn’t about to earn demerit points for using the forbidden ‘h’ word.

Also receiving an award was Caitlin ‘Bruce’ Jenner, living proof that the bullying that vexes William so is very much rife. Just the other day she/he was addressing a crowd when a lout yelled “Get your d*** out, Bruce!” Someone has to take a stand against such troglodytes, the way Alfred stood up against the Vikings or George VI against the Nazis.

“It’s so important to be proud of the person you are,” added the prince and, though I agree wholeheartedly (he’s my future king after all), I do wish the statement had been qualified ever so slightly.

Not everyone should be proud of the person he is – sorry, mea culpa, I mean they are. Some people, for example, are violent. Some are kleptomaniacs. Some are drug addicts. Some think Jeremy Corbyn would be brill as prime minister. Should they all be proud? Words should be used with precision, Your Royal Highness, or not at all.

The Prince then expanded his statement: “It is 2017, and nobody should be bullied for their sexuality, or for any other reason.” I’d suggest that a bit of bullying wouldn’t be out of place with some of the categories mentioned above, but HRH is entitled to his own view. Especially since his statement reveals the keen sense of history he boasts.

It is indeed 2017, as opposed to 1017, 1917 or indeed 2016, and the difference isn’t merely chronological.

For 2017 has ushered in a new morality that hitherto was beyond mankind’s – sorry, I mean personkind’s reach. Until 2017 it was perfectly acceptable to bully somebody for his – sorry, I mean their sexuality, or for any other reason. But 2017 has opened up a whole new perspective on such matters, and we must all thank Prince William for having pointed it out.

This is in no way to cast doubt on a man’s right to feel proud about having sex with other men. Seeking recognition for preferring rectal intercourse is perfectly legitimate, although few heterosexuals I know are proud of the way they choose to express their sexual cravings.

Some of them are prideful men, committing thereby the seventh deadly sin. Some are even proud of the number of women they’ve bedded, even though most exaggerate their record mendaciously. But no one I know is proud of being straight qua straight. Perhaps we should be, now that we’ve received a royal dispensation.

“In recent years I’ve become passionate about what we can do to protect people from bullying, particularly online,” added the Prince, with the sensitivity we’ve learned to expect from our younger royals.

This ought to be welcomed, for the realm has few more pressing concerns than stamping out harangues about Caitlin Jenner’s genitalia. After all, none of the monarchs I’ve mentioned ever got around to protecting the LGBT community from abuse.

I bet they didn’t even know the term LGBT, nor realised that people describable by those initials formed a community. This, though some of them could have qualified for membership.

Springing to mind are William Rufus, Richard I (some Lionheart!), Edward II, Richard II and James I (the jury’s still out on Charles I and Queen Anne). Yet even they neglected to protect the LGBT community, instead devoting their energy to the less pressing need of protecting the realm.

That oversight has now been corrected thanks to HRH Prince William. He and his brother are doing all they can to remind us that we’re indeed 17 years into the twenty-first century, which is so much more sensitive and moral than the previous 20.

Congratulations, Your Royal Highness! It’s comforting to know that the future of the dynasty is in safe hands. I’m sure your grandparents are proud of you.

You’re a Nazi murderer

If you wish to contest this irrefutable charge, allow me to guide you through a simple logical process even you could understand:

Man is just an animal.

He may be marginally smarter than other animals, but that’s only a difference of degree.

Therefore a cow is no less of a moral agent than man.

Hence no moral difference exists between killing a person or a cow.

Laws stipulate that aiding and abetting a crime is tantamount to perpetrating it.

Therefore anyone who aids and abets the killing of a cow is as guilty as anyone who aids and abets any old murder.

Eating the flesh of a murdered animal undoubtedly constitutes aiding and abetting murder: if nobody ate meat, animals wouldn’t be slaughtered.

Therefore every time you tuck into a boeuf Bourguignon, you brand yourself as a murderer.

Since over a lifetime you’ve consumed many animals, you’re not just a murderer, but a mass one at that.

The only way for you to redeem yourself is to become a vegetarian, if you aren’t one already. Ergo, since at least 95 per cent of my readers are carnivores, it’s a safe assumption that you’re a mass murderer.

Now either you accept the validity of this logical structure or you agree that the professional atheist Richard Dawkins is an idiot. For the above is exactly what he’s saying, albeit not in the same strict logical sequence (he’s incapable of sequential thought).

And verbatim? “When I pass one of those lorries with little slats and see fearful eyes peering out, I think of the railway wagons to Auschwitz.”

That’s supposed to move Richard to a higher moral plateau than the one occupied by you and me, Nazi murderers for whom the same sight only means boeuf Bourguignon.

Even as Auschwitz was inspired by an ideology of racial superiority, so is meat eating inspired by what Dawkins (and those who are similarly deficient intellectually) describes as ‘specieism’, the belief that man is qualitatively superior to any other species.

This, believes Dawkins, will one day be viewed with the same revulsion as racism: “We put humanity on a pedestal miles higher than the surrounding territory. A human foetus that has approximately the anatomy and brainpower of a worm is accorded more status than an adult chimpanzee.”

That Richard Dawkins is no great mind should be instantly obvious to any intelligent person. So obvious, in fact, that it’s hardly worth talking about. I’m only quoting that deranged drivel to show the depth of the intellectual abyss into which an atheist inevitably falls.

Even Dawkins has enough brain power to realise that – speaking in strictly secular terms – the principal difference between a human foetus and a worm or a chimpanzee is the dynamic potential. Man is the only part of the biological world (I was about to say God’s Creation, but stopped myself just in time) whose lifespan isn’t determined by his chemical, physical or biological makeup.

Thus a worm will remain the same worm as long as it lives. However, something that starts life with “approximately the anatomy and brainpower of a worm” will develop into a human being, even if only one as flawed as Richard Dawkins.

A worm or even an adult chimpanzee won’t be able to explain, not even in Dawkins’s asinine way, why man is no different from them. A human being may arrive at such thoughts at age five, though most, with a few notable exceptions, leave them behind by the time they grow up.

In that sense a worm or an ape is much closer to vegetables or minerals than to man. Their lives are predetermined at birth, whereas man’s conscious choices can direct his life into an endless variety of conduits.

For example, Dawkins could have chosen to read things like philosophy, theology and logic, which might have helped to turn him into an intelligent person, or at least not one manifestly stupid. Instead he chose to make millions writing strident atheistic gibberish that lamentably appeals to our comprehensively educated masses.

Had he taken a different path, he could have learned not to ignore facts that contradict his ideological bias. And had he been able to walk up another couple of intellectual steps, he might even have realised that atheism, especially if taken to its logical conclusion, is an intellectual death trap.

Refusing to see the qualitative difference between man and worms naturally flows out of atheism, and Dawkins is foolishly consistent here (Emerson: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”). Equally consistent is his sermon of vegetarianism, and his woolly arguments in its favour.

In our anthropocentric civilisation, killing animals doesn’t constitute murder, as Dawkins claims. In fact, the Western position on carnivorism was manifestly laid down in Genesis: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”

We no longer follow Biblical prescriptions, but they’ve seeped into the genetic make-up of our civilisation. Therefore even those unaware of the scriptural origin of their everyday practices unwittingly follow them every day.

Ideological vegetarians don’t, not this practice anyway, thereby implicitly denying the spiritual provenance of our civilisation. Intellectually, they’re as anomic as they are anaemic.

Dawkins, who illogically hates God who, according to him, doesn’t exist, practices anomie explicitly and stridently. His turgid musings prove yet again, if further proof is needed, that any intellectual process starting from a false premise will end up like a house built on a termite-ridden foundation – so much rubbish strewn about.

 

Richard, meet Donald

I arrived in the US at the height of Watergate, a week or so after Nixon had sacked Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating the break-in. I remember watching the president assuring the people he was “not a crook”.

Manhattan was awash with posters and bumper stickers attacking Nixon from every conceivable angle, including from behind. One caricature showed the president being raped by a fellow prison inmate, with the caption saying “Justice at last”.

But it was one bumper sticker that caught my eye, making me feel smug. It said “Impeach the Cox sacker”, and I was proud of myself for being sufficiently au courant with idiomatic English to understand the naughty pun.

I’m reminded of my youth by the current brouhaha involving another president, Donald Trump. The parallel, I hasten to add, has occurred not just to me but to just about every commentator. It’s that obvious.

For President Trump has just sacked FBI Director James Comey, who was investigating the more than intimate links between Trump’s associates and Putin’s junta.

Trump immediately stated that he himself wasn’t under investigation, but that sounded like a cop-out. Few people would believe that his closest advisers got in bed with Putin without Trump’s authorisation. His own business links with Putin’s government, which is to say organised crime, also merit more scrutiny than they have so far received.

There’s also another similarity between Nixon and Trump: the predominantly left-wing US media hate both regardless of any wrongdoing.

Nixon found himself on the receiving end of journalistic venom in 1948 when, as a young congressman, he interrogated the Soviet spy Alger Hiss on behalf of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). Nixon nailed Hiss to the wall, guaranteeing himself the enduring enmity of the press.

Many commentators were sure then that sooner or later the press would get Nixon, and so it eventually proved. This isn’t to suggest he did nothing wrong – what he did was illegal, no question about that.

But the press might have been less self-righteous had a similar indiscretion been committed by, say, one of the Kennedy brothers. In all likelihood the hacks would have sat on the story, as they sat for years on every story documenting JFK’s philandering or his closeness to some Mafia chieftains.

Trump is no pet of the media either, partly for all the promises he made during the campaign, all of them right-wing, most of them empty, and partly because he doesn’t bother to conceal his contempt for the profession.

Again, they probably wouldn’t be making such a big deal out of the president’s Russia links if the president were named Hillary Clinton. Hillary and her hubby-wubby were in cahoots with Putin too, but we don’t read about that every day, do we?

However, apart from similarities between Nixon and Trump, there are also vital differences. For Watergate looks like an innocent prank compared to the sort of crimes Trump and his people might be implicated in.

Yes, Nixon’s people, with his blessing, subverted the electoral process by stealing a nocturnal peek at the Democratic Party headquarters. But at least they were Americans acting on behalf of the US president.

Trump possibly and his staffers definitely might have received tangible help in realising their political ambitions not just from a foreign power, but a hostile one at that. And such a quid had to have a pro quo. Here we might be talking not just dirty tricks but high treason.

Three of Trump’s closest advisers, Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, have had to resign in disgrace. Secretary of State Tillerson and Attorney General Sessions are under a huge cloud – all for the same reason.

So far no criminal charges have been brought but, if I were those gentlemen, I wouldn’t hold my breath. The investigation continues and getting rid of Comey isn’t going to stop it.

Michael Flynn’s case is especially interesting, and he’s likely to be the first one to find himself in the dock. In 2015-2016 Flynn received about $600 million in beautifully laundered Russian cash. Most of it came from the Russian Sviaz’ Bank, acting through Turkish and Dutch intermediaries.

From August, 2015, Flynn was on a salary of $11,250 a month. This came courtesy of various Russian setups, such as the freight company Volga-Dnepr and Kaspersky Laboratory, the latter a widely known FSB front.

The ostensible employers varied, but the sum remained revealingly the same – Putin’s KGB tradecraft let him down there. Thus Flynn received exactly the same amount as a fee for an interview he contributed to a documentary by the Putin propaganda channel RT.

The documentary was never shown and in all likelihood never shot. This was just another conduit for Flynn’s monthly stipend, this time coming from a TV channel specialising in venomous anti-American propaganda.

Gen. Flynn was honoured with a seat next to Putin at the banquet celebrating RT’s tenth anniversary. I’d suggest that for any American to attend such a function would be immoral. For a future National Security Adviser, it was nothing short of treasonous.

Now it’s accepted as a fact that Putin did all he could to ensure Trump’s election. Whether or not his KGB tricks had a decisive effect is open to question. That they were employed is not.

Paradoxically, another man giving Trump a helping hand was Comey, with his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s leaked e-mails. Much of that information came from Putin, and the two men effectively joined forces, if for different reasons.

I’d suggest that, regardless of whether or not Trump is guilty of inappropriate behaviour involving a hostile foreign power, sacking Comey was fundamentally idiotic.

If he was as incompetent as Trump has declared, he should have been fired either before the investigation started or after Trump’s name had been cleared. As it is, Trump looks like a guilty man trying to cover his tracks.

The investigation won’t go away, the incensed media won’t let it. Every step Trump has ever taken on Russian soil will be scrutinised with meticulous attention, every business deal he has had with Putin, every bit of financing he has received, ditto.

Anybody who knows how large-scale business, especially construction, is conducted in Russia will know that no one involved in it can be squeaky clean. Even assuming that Trump isn’t personally guilty of acting in Putin’s interests – and it’s a generous assumption – some dirt is bound to come up to the surface.

All in all, I’d be surprised if Trump serves out his term to the end. One can see the ghost of Richard Nixon floating through the air. Trump himself is aware of the parallel, remembering how Nixon was forced to release compromising tapes.

That’s why he threatened Comey that he had “better hope there are no tapes of our conversations.” What’s he scared of?

Too many people Labour under a misapprehension

The Labour election manifesto is unapologetically Marxist, and in fact its authors don’t apologise for it. Not only do they not bother to conceal they’re Marxists, but they’re openly proud of it.

Most of today’s politicians are crypto-socialists – this is an ineluctable outcome of universal franchise, especially if it isn’t checked by competing forms of government.

The Tories are precisely that: crypto-socialists. They realise that there still exist some residual blocs of voters for whom the word ‘socialist’ leaves an acrid taste in the mouth. They don’t mind socialist policies, as long as they’re called something else.

Our Labourites honestly take the crypto- out of crypto-socialism. Moreover, they go their Tory colleagues one better and publicly praise Marx.

Shadow Chancellor McDonnell said – on the record! – that Britain has “a lot to learn” from Marx. Yet his honesty was outdone by his boss Jeremy Corbyn who combined his respect for the didactic potential of Marxism with accurate self-assessment.

When asked if he too learned his economics from Marx, he concurred with his colleague. “I don’t consider myself the world’s greatest intellectual,” said Jeremy with self-deprecating candour, “but you learn from everybody.”

Hitler? Stalin? Pol Pot? You don’t really mean ‘everybody’, do you, Jeremy? But then again, one can’t expect a man to use words precisely if he himself admits he’s no great shakes intellectually.

Yet however cretinous these chaps are, they have enough political nous not to say something that’s guaranteed to reduce the number of their party’s seats to single digits. Hence, even if they thought it, they wouldn’t say Britain has a lot to learn from Hitler, Stalin or Pol Pot.

But Marx enjoys a benign press in the West. The general consensus is that Marxism is a good idea that was lamentably perverted by the Soviets. The most obvious reason for this on-going acceptance is that for 70 years the most powerful propaganda machine in history brainwashed the world incessantly.

But the real reason lies deeper. For, as any publicity man will tell you, propaganda succeeds only if it appeals to some intuitive cravings already felt. This explains the success of Marxist propaganda: it activates and expiates the least commendable of human emotions, such as envy.

Marxism neither originated when the Soviet Union appeared nor died when it ‘collapsed’. This pernicious doctrine has been so influential not because it lived in Russia, but because it lives in the dark recesses of the human heart.

That’s why people accept Marxism on faith, without ever bothering to read even The Communist Manifesto. In fact, I’m often tempted to have a pocket edition of Marx and Engels with me whenever attending a gathering where such conversations could ensue. For Marxism demonstrably inspires most modern governments.

The nihilist regimes have brought to fruition Marxist dictates on concentration camps (Engels called them “special guarded places”), slavery (Marx: “Slavery is… an economic category of paramount importance”), mass murder (Marx: “the victorious party must maintain its rule by means of the terror which its arms inspire in the reactionaries”), anti-Semitism (Marx: “…the Polish Jews… this dirtiest of all races,” “Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew”), genocide (Engels: “All the other large and small nationalities and peoples are destined to perish before long in the revolutionary holocaust”).

The philistine regimes focus on the less carnivorous legacy of Marxism, singling out its economics as a day-to-day textbook, as do the likes of Corbyn and McDonnell. The destruction they perpetrate is therefore delayed-action, but the bomb is ticking away.

In compiling their own manifesto, Comrades Corbyn and McDonnell were clearly inspired by the original document. Hence their proposals to add billions to the already suicidal social spending, repeal the Trade Union Act and introduce greater and stronger unionisation, reintroduce national pay bargaining, tax the ‘rich’ even more and so forth.

And of course they refuse to make “false promises” on immigration, meaning they won’t limit it in any way. That’s another lesson they learned from Marx who taught that “the workers have no motherland”.

“Abolition of all rights to inheritance” is another dictate from the Manifesto. This worthy goal is very much on the agenda, but it’s hard to achieve all at once without ‘revolutionary terror’, so beloved of Marx. In its absence, the lower-case manifesto promises to lower the threshold of inheritance tax.

Now the experience of every country where such policies have been tried shows that their net effect on public finances is negative. But our visceral Marxists prove that sound reason need not apply where evil emotions are at work.

They’re driven by Marxist envy and resulting hatred, not by accountancy. Their aim is not to cushion failure but to punish success. If this destroys the economy, then so be it. For it’s destruction and not creation that every Marxist sees in his mind’s eye.

Our brainwashed populace is too timid to protest against Marxist prescriptions, such as “a heavy progressive and graduated income tax”.

Yet this abomination violates the most fundamental principle of our polity: equality before the law. Those who make more money obviously must pay a greater amount in tax. However, making them pay up to five times the proportion of their income is unjust, not to speak of economically counterproductive.

Yet our most sacred tenets have no chance when assailed by Marxist envy. The situation would perhaps be slightly better if people actually read Marx. But it wouldn’t be much better: the poison of Marxism has seeped into the bloodstream of the West, and nothing short of a complete transfusion can cure it.

Thanks to people like Corbyn and McDonnell, Marxism lives – so the West may die.

Vlad parades his friends

“Russia,” said Alexander III, “has only two allies: her army and navy”.

That hermeticism was very much on display yesterday in Red Square, where the Russians were celebrating their single-handed victory over Hitler.

As columns of soldiers and tanks marched by, standing next to my friend Vlad were heads of other states and governments. How many? Well, in round numbers… one. The president of Moldova, a country wholly on Vlad’s payroll.

(The planned fly-past by the air force was cancelled due to bad weather. At least back in the good old days the Soviets knew how to disperse clouds to make sure it never rained on their parades.)

Demonstrably missing were leaders of Soviet allies in the war Russia won single-handedly. And if you wish to contest this take on recent history, you obviously haven’t been following the Russian press.

The papers and TV stations explain to the Russians in simple words even they can understand that neither Britain nor other Commonwealth countries nor the USA nor, well, anybody, had the tiniest hand in the victory. It was all Russia – not even the Soviet Union, as yesterday’s irrefutable truth went.

Londoners dying in 1940 under Luftwaffe bombs made in the USSR had nothing to do with the war. Neither did the British and US troops fighting in Africa, Asia and later in Europe.

Neither did the French, mocked by the Russians over their collapse in 40 days – even though the French downed more Nazi planes than did the Soviets in the first 40 days of their war. The Nazis also advanced through France at a much slower pace than they did through Russia in June-July, 1941.

Ask almost any Russian when the Soviet Union entered the Second World War, and he’ll tell you she didn’t. Russia took part in a different war, the Great Patriotic one that began on 22 June, 1941, and ended on 9 May, 1945 – a day after the Second World War ended.

This is the sort of malodorous fare the Soviets were fed before the ‘collapse of the Soviet Union’, when there was no Internet and when listening to Western radio stations was a crime punishable by concentration camps. It’s astounding that even today, when anyone with a computer on his desk can find out the truth, the Russians still eagerly gobble up the same slops.

It’s good to know that even young Westerners refuse to choke on that fodder. Yesterday an RT reporter was assailing people in Paris streets, asking if they’re thankful to Russia for defeating Hitler and thereby liberating France.

“France,” replied one youngster, “was liberated by US troops with the help of the French Resistance. The fight between Hitler and Stalin was one between two fascists.”

While quibbling about the exact political nomenclature, one has to congratulate the French student: he knows history much better than most Russians.

The Second World War began on 1 September, 1939, eight days after the Nazis and the Soviets signed a criminal pact dividing Europe between them. The Nazis attacked Poland from the west, and 17 days later the Soviets attacked her from the east.

Without that alliance Germany wouldn’t have been able to conquer Europe, nor conceivably even Poland. Having caught their breath after the original shock, the Polish Army Group Poznan, still possessing 1,000 tanks, regrouped to the east of the Vistula, and the Nazi offensive was running out of steam.

The Germans were short of essential ordnance, such as aircraft bombs and heavy artillery shells. The outcome of the war was far from certain – until the Soviets stuck a knife into Poland’s back.

Yet according to Soviet and Putin’s propaganda only the German and Polish soldiers who died during those three weeks were killed in the Second World War. The 3,000 Soviet casualties weren’t. The USSR didn’t start fighting until 22 June, 1941, remember?

The Soviets then proceeded to occupy, bloodlessly, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and parts of Romania, including one that hadn’t been mentioned in the Soviet-Nazi Pact. Their attempted conquest of Finland in the winter of 1940-1941 was far from bloodless: half a million Soviet soldiers died fighting against a tiny country that had just a few outdated tanks, and practically no navy or air force.

Yet they didn’t die in the war – the war, as you recall, hadn’t yet begun. An exchange of prisoners followed that non-war, with the Finns delivering 10,000 emaciated, frost-bitten Russians to the Soviets. They were immediately taken to a polar concentration camp and shot to a man – but the war hadn’t yet started.

It started on 22 June, 1941, when Hitler delivered his preemptive strike, realising that was his only chance to beat Stalin to the punch. Modern historians show that Hitler acted in the nick of time: Stalin’s military juggernaut was ready to roll a week later, no more than two.

Even that wasn’t a Great Patriotic War, at least not just that. For unfolding in parallel was a civil war waged by Soviet slaves against their slave master. Before the end of 1941 the Germans took 4.5 million Soviet POWs, of whom about a third took up arms against the Soviet Union – a pandemic outbreak of treason without parallels not only in Russian but in world history.

Also, Ukrainians, Balts, Caucasians and other denizens of the non-Russian parts of the USSR were eagerly joining Waffen SS and other Nazi formations, showing little gratitude for all the Russians had done for them. (For details, Google Holodomor, Russian genocide by famine in the Ukraine.)

The obscene rite in Red Square celebrated a calamity for which the USSR was as responsible as Nazi Germany – a calamity above all for the Russians themselves. According to recently declassified archives, the country lost 41 million souls in that war, a demographic catastrophe from which she still hasn’t recovered.

Almost half of them were civilian losses, while the military casualties included at least half a million Soviet soldiers executed by their own side. Over 150,000 were condemned by military tribunals – probably twice as many were just shot without even that travesty of justice.

Russia wasn’t an innocent victim in that murderous war: she was one of the murderers, as culpable as the Nazis but much more successful. Largely thanks to the help of those countries who, according to Russian mythology, took no part in the war, the Soviets got to rule almost half of the world.

They no longer do so, having lost thereby their raison d’être. Hence the war and Russia’s ‘single-handed victory’ have been turned into a religion, or rather a gruesome pagan Walpurgisnacht.

 BMWs and Mercedes sporting incendiary bumper stickers saying “We’ll do it again if we have to” and “To Berlin!” are inundating Moscow streets. Starbuck outlets are doling out replicas of the side caps worn by the Soviets during their triumph of 70-odd years ago.

And Vlad, haltingly reading from a crib, is bragging thatthere is no, there was no, and there will be no force that can conquer our people… the armed forces of Russia are capable of warding off any potential aggression.”

I’ve got news for Vlad: no one wants to attack Russia. I realise that mouthing that paranoid gibberish is something he has to do to assuage the possible unrest among his half-starving people, which is why he also has to talk about learning “the lessons of the war”.

There’s only one lesson: Russia herself is to blame for the unparalleled losses she suffered in that war. Rather than being proud about losing 41 million in a war Stalin started together with Hitler, the Russians ought to remind themselves what happens when they pounce like rabid dogs on anyone within reach of their fangs.

Or perhaps the Russians can look forward to another successful conquest. After all, they have a powerful ally in their corner: Moldova.

The village atheist as the village idiot

Chesterton described Thomas Hardy’s work as “The village atheist talking to the village idiot.” Stephen Fry, a comedian, author, left-wing activist, and CELEBRITY, proves that the two personages can co-exist in the same breast.

He’s not the only one. Even men considerably brighter than Fry begin to sound idiotic the moment they spout arguments, never mind diatribes, against God. It’s as if God punishes aggressive atheists by turning their minds to ordure.

Fry’s diatribe came on Irish TV, where he was asked what he’d say if confronted by God. The poor chap got excited and began to sputter spittle:

“How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?… Bone cancer in children? What’s that about?”

It’s worth mentioning that Fry has largely built his public persona by purveying two assumptions: 1) that his manic depression makes him interesting and 2) his facile cleverness propped up by a good memory for quiz trivia makes him not just a CELEBRITY but also a THINKER.

That the two canards are readily swallowed by the public says more about our time than about Fry, who’s entitled to make a living as best he knows. But he ought to control his girlish emotiveness if he expects to be taken seriously by people a notch above his TV audiences.

Irish police are currently investigating Fry for blasphemy under the Defamation Act. If tried and convicted, he could be sentenced to a €25,000 fine, a derisory sum for a CELEBRITY.

But another charge, that of stupidity, has already been filed. Fry has been tried and convicted on the evidence of the above hysterical harangue.

Intelligent atheists – and this description approaches an oxymoron – know that trying to argue the toss will make them sound silly. That’s why they tend to hedge their bets by claiming to be agnostics, rather than atheists.

We just don’t know, they say. Neither the existence nor nonexistence of God can be proved, so it’s best not to talk about it. Naturally to this lot ‘proved’ means empirically proved: atheists can’t accept the existence of any other than empirical knowledge.

That by itself is a puny, not to mention self-refuting, position: denied thereby is the possibility of any knowledge obtained not only by grace or intuition but even by rationalisation, which is the tool they claim to be using. If empirical knowledge is the be all and end all of cognition, then not only philosophy but even natural science is impossible. Most great discoveries have been made not by rationalisation but by the post-rationalisation of intuitive knowledge.

But at least such men shy away from illogical attacks on God, who according to them doesn’t exist. Thus they prove that, though somewhat wanting in the area of high intelligence, they aren’t devoid of common sense.

Fry has neither. If he had some of the latter, he’d have answered the interviewer’s question by saying that he couldn’t possibly say anything to God because God doesn’t exist.

A theologian, incidentally, would agree: God indeed doesn’t exist, in the usual sense of the word. It’s because of God that everything exists. However, since TV hacks aren’t known for their command of philosophical subtleties, the reply Fry didn’t proffer would have ended the subject: “Next question, Stephen. How’s your husband these days?”

That way Fry would have stayed in his own world, one inhabited by CELEBRITIES and other luvvies. However, by implicitly accepting that God, however awful he might be, does exist, he entered a different world, one with its own philosophical system, language and corpus of knowledge.

In that world even an average theology student would be able to tear Fry’s hysterical harangue to shreds by arguing from basic theodicy.

He’d explain to Fry the concept of original sin corrupting both man and the natural world. He might even quote Russia’s first philosopher Pyotr Chaadayev, who said: “Our concern should be not combatting natural disasters but trying not to deserve them.”

The youngster could also point out that God is outside time and space, and therefore outside man’s notions of what is or isn’t just. A higher system can know all about a lower one, but not the other way around. Hence it’s not only possible but certain that divine justice differs from the human version.

If Fry chooses to operate within the world into which he barged without wiping dung off his shoe soles, he should accept the concept of life eternal, within which life in earth is but a passing instant. In earth, dying of bone cancer at 10 is more tragic than doing so at 90, but compared to eternity the difference isn’t just small but nonexistent.

It’s also worth mentioning that a man with artistic pretensions is singularly unobservant if all he sees in the world is misery, evil and cancerous children. God not only created man but continues to delight him with endless variety of flora and fauna, melancholy rivers and rowdy seas teeming with fish, craggy mountains, wild forests and gentle hills alive with birds and beasts.

My advice to Fry is to shut up on such subjects and stick to milking his bipolar disorder and homoactivism for what they’re worth. He’d still sound no less pathetic but considerably less stupid. And Stephen? Take on Mohammed next, see how you get on. You won’t get away with a fine, I can tell you that.