Things to fear in 2018

Even paranoiacs, the saying goes, have real enemies. By the same token, some scaremongering fears may well be justified.

I’ll tell you mine, and you can see how, or whether, they tally with yours:

Nuclear war. There used to be only one potential flashpoint: the USSR with its global ambitions and NATO with its commitment to keep those ambitions in check. Now, frighteningly, there are several.

North Korea is rattling her nuclear sabre forged in Russia. Our papers, with their usual coyness, talk about some mysterious rogue scientists finding themselves unemployed in Russia and offering their talents to Kim.

This is rubbish, and ignorant rubbish at that. No Russian scientists, rogue or otherwise, would be able to ply their trade in N. Korea without encouragement or, more likely, assignment from Putin’s government.

Whether or not Kim is crazy enough to swing his newly acquired sabre is anyone’s guess. But we can legitimately fear he may.

Then there’s the Middle East, with the distinct possibility of Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb and dropping it on you-know-whom.

Also, Putin’s aggressive designs in that region come in conflict with America’s interests, with US and Russian armed forces confronting each other there. Even in the absence of intent, one trigger-happy pilot can set the nuclear ball rolling.

Putin sees Eastern Europe, especially the former parts of the USSR, as potential prey. If you doubt that, read Russian papers or watch Russian television. And if you can’t, just take my word for it: the situation there is fraught.

The steady disarmament of Western Europe, often portrayed as a sign of peaceful intentions, in fact increases the nuclear risk no end. Should Russia attack her neighbours, especially those that are NATO members, a nuclear response may be the only option, what with valid conventional means practically non-existent.

All things considered, we have every reason to be afraid: I for one would rather not have nuclear winter as a cure for global warming.

Constitutional crisis in the US. Such a crisis in any A-list country, and especially in the self-appointed leader of the free world, could spell disaster for all of us.

This could easily be brought on by the Mueller investigation into Trump’s links with Putin’s KGB junta. The investigation has lost some news appeal lately, but it is going on, and some key witnesses are cooperating.

Should the investigation show collusion between Trump and Putin, the fallout would make Watergate look like a minor glitch. Nixon, after all, acted on his own behalf, not on that of a hostile foreign power.

Worst case, Trump could be charged with treason, which would leave America in a state of political chaos. All of us in what little is left of the free world pray to God that this cloud will blow over, but it’s out of our hands, and possibly even out of God’s.

Labour victory in Britain. Compared to the previous fear, this disaster would register somewhat lower on the Richter scale. But there would be global shock waves nonetheless.

Corbyn confidently predicts there will be an election in 2018 and he’ll win it. That revolting creature may well be right if the polls are any indication. Should 50 per cent of MPs plus one pass a no confidence vote, a disaster beckons.

Lord Heseltine, who by some oversight is described as a Tory, doesn’t think Corbyn’s tenure would be so bad – Brexit is an immeasurably greater disaster, according to His Lordship. “We’ve survived Labour governments before,” he said, displaying that ontological stupidity of the Left.

First, Britain has also survived two world wars, which, however, doesn’t make the prospect of a third one any less awful.

Second, Britain has never had a hard-Left Labour government before, one that’s explicitly committed to sabotaging everything that makes Britain British in any other than the ethnic sense.

Third, using Heseltine’s own asinine logic, Britain has had Labour governments for a total of 26 years in her history. On the other hand, the country has been a sovereign nation for at least 1,500 years and arguably longer – yet Heseltine doesn’t think we can now survive without being run by the Germans… sorry, I meant the EU.

Fourth, it’s debatable whether any country ever really survives socialism, soft, hard or half-baked. That a commonwealth doesn’t collapse doesn’t mean it remains intact. A country may bleed to death through multiple pinpricks over time, with her constitution, indeed her essence, slowly exsanguinating.

Since 1924, when Britain was first blessed with a Labour government, the country has been bled white. Not only is the Empire gone, but so is much of the country’s constitution – much of Britain’s political lifeblood. As a result, a self-serving nonentity like Lord Heseltine can become an important politician – a tree lost in the forest of other self-serving nonentities.

I’m not attributing all Britain’s ills to Labour governments – for example, all the major steps on the road to the EU have been taken by Tory administrations. At fault there is the socialist corruption of our political culture that makes Labour governments and Lord Heseltine possible.

It’s not only power that corrupts – it’s also socialism. And, with apologies to Lord Acton, absolute socialism corrupts absolutely.

Global economic meltdown. Remember the 2008 crisis? It was caused by profligate governments, irresponsible banks and hedonistic people demanding their material happiness – now. Things have changed since then: governments have become even more profligate, banks even more irresponsible, and people even more hedonistic.

All major Western economies are fundamentally unsound, overburdened by public and personal indebtedness, on-going deficit spending and eroding industrial base. Another crisis, existential more than just economic, is brewing, and who’s to say it won’t happen in 2018?

Such are my major fears, and I won’t burden you with the minor ones, such as more Muslim terrorism (this isn’t so much a fear as a certainty), more alien immigration (ditto) or Western governments legalising more perversions, sexual or other. (May I suggest interspecies marriage? Those Welsh sheep deserve happiness.) At least we don’t have to fear the hoax of anthropogenic global warming, and you can see me wiping my brow even as we speak.

I do hope my fears, and yours, turn out to be ill-founded, and every good wish comes true. A Happy New Year to all.

Charlatans out, pushers in

Finally the truth has sunk in: Freud was a charlatan who produced not a single verifiable story of clinical success.

All his pet theories, starting with the curative properties of cocaine (which he himself snorted like a suction pump), have been debunked. That includes sex abuse in childhood as the cause of all psychoses and hysteria – a demonstrable falsehood Freud later abandoned for the equally larcenous Oedipus complex.

Over a lifetime, I’ve met many people with psychological problems – in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone without at least some quirks. Why, some naysayers have suggested that even I may have a few.

Yet neither I nor anyone I’ve ever met has ever traced such problems back to the urgent desire to kill his Dad, mount his Mum and gouge his eyes out. Since my lifetime has been rather long, the sample is large enough to suggest that Freud’s pet theory belongs only in puerile jokes. (Such as the one about that Jewish woman saying: “Oedipus, Schmoedipus, as long as he loves his Mum…”)

What Marx was in economics and Darwin in biology, Freud was in psychiatry. Like them, he cheated his way to the status of a modern prophet.

Fraud falsified clinical evidence, lied about case studies, drove some patients to premature death or suicide with his quackery, smeared his opponents, published fake clinical papers – and squeezed every penny out of gullible rich patients, mostly women.

Those interested in the details of this scam should read Frederick Crews’s book Freud: The Making of an Illusion. No reader of that volume will ever again take Freud seriously.

However, while telling us all we need to know about Freud, and possibly even more than that, Mr Crews writes next to nothing about Freudianism as a social phenomenon. He obviously saw that as falling outside his remit, which is fair enough: a book must be judged on what’s in it, not what isn’t, and his is excellent.

However, though every age produces false prophets, only a few ever gain a massive following. What was it about Freud (or, for that matter, Marx and Darwin) that turned a megalomaniac, unscrupulous quack into a ‘climate of opinion’?

Here it’s important to point out the difference between real and false prophets. The former see the future; the latter cling to the present.

Old Testament seers prophesied the coming of Jesus Christ over 300 times, and those prophesies were counterintuitive: most had no link to contemporaneous events and beliefs. The prophets saw something no one else could see  because that something didn’t yet exist.

False prophets are different: they’re nothing but astute salesmen with an uncanny knack for telling the customer what he wants to hear. They fill a hole in the market by enunciating the zeitgeist.

When Freud expertly let the zeitgeist speak through him, the hole was gaping. The West had lost the notion of absolute truth residing outside man – it had lost an objective frame of reference within which a person’s worth could be measured.

Man had moved from the periphery of God’s universe to the centre of his own. The Reformation had taught him that he could find his own way to God; the Enlightenment said he could definitely find his own way, but not necessarily to God because there was no such thing; Darwin had postulated that he was but another ape, although cleverer than most.

Man was now chained to the ground like Prometheus to his rock. Modern Man had lost infinity, both spatial and temporal – and he was told it was good riddance.

That’s what he wanted to hear, but the whole thing still made him slightly uncomfortable. He was proud of having ousted God, but something was missing. He was undeniably an ape, but such a clever one that he couldn’t reduce his whole life to scoffing bananas – his cleverness demanded a transcendent dimension.

That obviously could no longer be found outside himself; nothing could, for nothing outside himself, other than matter, could have possibly existed. The conclusion was natural, and as vulgar as modernity itself. Man could only find the transcendent in the transient: himself.

Hence Modern Man embarked on a never-ending exploration of himself: rather than soaring to eternal heights, he became a spelunker endlessly delving into the dark recesses of his own psyche. That produced a let-down: hoping to find an ersatz God inside himself, man found only himself there.

Left one on one with his own vulgarity and wickedness, he went off the rails. He wanted someone to tell him what on earth was going on, but there was no one to ask but himself, and he didn’t know.

That’s where Freud came in. Man, he explained, had nothing transcendent, but he had the next best thing: something inexplicable. But not to worry: old Sigmund will sort out all those little mysteries. Happiness all around.

Overnight the West was inundated with mountebanks encouraging spiritually deracinated dupes to embark on a lifelong spelunking expedition into their own petty selves. The charlatans were collectively charging billions for their chicanery, but then the penny dropped.

Psychoanalysis has turned out to be nothing but a gift that keeps on giving. Since it answered no real medical need, it could cure nothing. It could only use people as marks in a fixed game of cards in which the dealer had all the aces.

People began to realise that, while they were getting poorer, they weren’t getting better. Their constitutional right to happiness remained unclaimed and unclaimable. They couldn’t avoid sadness, pain or lousy moods. Above all, they couldn’t fill that emptiness inside.

But they knew that emptiness existed. If it couldn’t be filled psychiatrically, it had to be filled chemically. Out went the charlatans and, of all A-list countries, only France still takes psychoanalysis seriously.

Pushers, posing as doctors, stepped in and started flogging feel-good pills in volumes that could make Smarties manufacturers turn green with envy. Antidepressants began to do the job previously done by Freudian and other quacks.

Pills are the cobbles on the road leading from hedonism to decadence and from decadence to degeneracy. They don’t even pretend to create real transcendence – they’re happy faking it with naked cynicism.

One in 10 people in so-called developed countries are now taking antidepressants, and in Britain this obscenity is accelerating faster than anywhere else.

I’m not talking about people with genuine diseases, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder – they must get all the help they need. But most pill poppers suffer from existential and spiritual problems, not medical ones.

They demand their fix, exerting a downward pressure on our overworked GPs and effectively turning them into pushers. People see doctors not to be treated but to score – without breaking the law.

True, by demanding and getting their Prozac or whatever they don’t break any earthly laws. Those they do break are much more vital and less forgiving: no plea bargaining is allowed, and the verdict is always the same: life – meaningless, empty, addled life.

The monumental eyesore of Vienna

Before this Christmas I had been to Vienna a few times, the last one some 20 years ago. The city had changed in the interim, explained the taxi driver who had been a year old at the time of my previous visit.

One conspicuous change was that his insight was offered in understandable English, a language these days spoken by, well, everyone in Vienna.

Yet twenty years ago, it was next to impossible to get around without speaking some German. Mine was rather limited, coming as it did from war films in which SS men clad in well-cut Hugo Boss uniforms said things like “Halt!”, “Hende hoch!”, “Jawohl, Herr Gruppenführer!” and “Ve’ve got vays to make you talk.”

That sort of lexicon put me at a linguistic disadvantage when ordering any food other than the ubiquitously cosmopolitan Wiener schnitzel. (A note to the Viennese: try frying your veal escalopes the way the Milanese do, in breadcrumbs – not in two inches of batter encasing a gossamer sliver of meat.)

No such problems this time: English has made confident strides over Europe, and even street vendors can sell one a glass of punch – quite a few glasses, actually – in the new lingua franca.

Why, the fastidiously law-abiding Viennese even use English to express their misgivings about law enforcement, thereby paying a glowing tribute to the global appeal of our culture.

Yet English isn’t the dominant language in the city centre and – though this probably only seems that way – neither is German. All one hears in the several square miles around St Stephan’s is Russian, spoken by large and small groups of tourists, families, couples and other picture snappers.

Unlike the Japanese, the Russians mostly take photos with their phones, not expensive Nikons, which must adversely affect the quality of the images. But the quantity doesn’t suffer.

One Russian woman, for example, walked around the Leopold Museum, meticulously photographing every painting on offer, and there are hundreds. Her husband trailed behind, ignoring the art but stealing furtive glances at other women.

Sooner or later they all take their phones to Schwarzenbergplatz, a large square adorned at the entrance with an equestrian statue of Prince Schwarzenberg. That great general omnivorously fought against Turks, with Russians against Napoleon and with Napoleon against Russians, acquitting himself well much of the time.

One suspects that most Russian tourists have only a vague idea of the feats performed by the prince, but he’s not the reason they tote their phones to the square. For sitting in the middle of it is a huge, and hugely tasteless, memorial commemorating the 17,000 Red Army soldiers killed in the Vienna offensive.

The memorial cites the purpose of said offensive as “liberating Austria from German fascist invaders”, and supports this claim with copious quotations from Stalin. One of them says: “Fluttering over Europe henceforth will be the great banner of freedom of the peoples and friendship among the peoples.”

The Russians bow their heads reverentially and whip their phones out. My reaction was somewhat different, skewed as it was by some knowledge of history.

Any nation has the right, indeed duty, to commemorate its fallen soldiers. Yet the tone of the commemoration should reflect the justness of the cause that demanded such sacrifices, the historical background and the local sensibilities. One doesn’t see, for example, similar monuments to American and British casualties: all one sees is crosses at war cemeteries and the odd plaque here and there.

One observation first: every inscription on the memorial is in Russian only, with nary a word of German translation. This identifies the target readership: the text was supposed to be read by the Soviet liberators only, not by the grateful populace they had liberated. The liberators clearly didn’t plan on leaving, for otherwise they would have left behind something the locals could read.

Vienna was at the time divided into four occupation sectors, like Berlin. I don’t know how grateful the populations of the three Western sectors were for their liberation, but the Viennese who found themselves under the Soviets definitely weren’t.

For, just like the murderous Einsatzgruppen riding the coattails of a victorious Wehrmacht, the Soviet liberators were followed in by swarms of NKVD troops, doing what they always did: kidnapping, torturing and murdering all the same groups they pursued everywhere, including in their own country: priests, administrators, professors, doctors, lawyers, aristocrats (there were some Nazis too, but they were a minority).

When I was a youngster in Russia, I was friends with an old woman, the widow of a prominent general. She had done eight years in a labour camp for having been friendly with Stalin’s in-laws, with whom he obviously didn’t get on.

Dying in the barrack next to her was an Austrian woman, wife of a musicologist. On their way to Vienna’s Staatsoper, and dressed in their evening finery, the couple veered into the Soviet sector. There they were kidnapped off the street, never to see each other again. The woman was interrogated by an NKVD colonel who, by way of introduction, ripped her diamond earrings out without undoing them first.

The Viennese were tortured, raped and robbed – more than 90 per cent of the crimes recorded in Vienna at the time were committed by Soviet soldiers (US GIs accounted for about five per cent). It’s only due to the Allies’ fancy political footwork and resolute resistance that the ‘liberation’ lasted only 10 years, not 46, as in Germany.

The liberators finally left, on the promise of Austria’s neutrality. Few locals are still alive who remember the delights of Soviet occupation. But historical memory outlives the people, and not many Viennese are retrospectively grateful to Soviet killers and rapists.

Few, I’m sure, regard the Schwarzenbergplatz memorial as anything but an offensive eyesore. They, along with the Eastern Europeans doubtless see the ‘liberation’ as merely a replacement of brown with red fascism. Though the chromatic difference is clear enough, a substantive one is somewhat lacking.

Similar cynical, mocking cenotaphs have been erected throughout Eastern Europe. In many places they’re being pulled down, but the Viennese show more forbearance. Apart from the odd pot of paint thrown at this obscenity, it still stands unmolested.

Those picture-snapping Russians don’t really know any better, what with the stupefying Putin propaganda glorifying Stalin and everything he represented. But one hopes that someday the Viennese will no longer stand for this affront to their beautiful city.

Vienna can get away with anything

If you want to escape turkey and mince pies, or simply have no extended family to share such delights with, Vienna provides a perfect haven at Christmas.

In the hundred years that Vienna has been a republican capital, it hasn’t lost many traces of arguably one of the greatest empires – and definitely the most musical. If you agree that music is the quintessence of Western culture, then Vienna is the most Western capital.

From Haydn and Mozart to Beethoven, Schubert and Brahms, from Bruckner and Mahler to Schönberg, Berg and Webern, Vienna is only bettered by one musical city, Leipzig, and only because of one man, Bach.

A city is made great by the inspiration behind it, and this came from the Habsburgs, Europe’s most magnificent dynasty. Since for several centuries the Habsburgs were not only Austro-Hungarian but also Holy Roman emperors, their capital was perhaps the most significant city of continental Europe.

To this day it exudes the quiet grandeur, restrained taste and understated self-confidence of the great empire that once was. Though Vienna, like most other European capitals, still coasts on its past, its present is less objectionable than most.

Contrary to Voltaire’s typically lightweight quip, the Empire was indeed Holy and Roman, which is why Viennese Christmas is still Christmas, not a shopping binge with jingle bells on. Church bells were ringing all over the city, and there were Christmas markets at every corner, with names like Baby Jesus or Christ the Child.

Can you imagine such markets in Paris, London or New York? It’s easier to imagine, or rather anticipate, a summary fine or perhaps even imprisonment for wishing someone a merry Christmas.

The markets sold sweets, roasted chestnuts and above all punch and mulled wine. An hourly stop at one of those kiosks was guaranteed to maintain one’s blood alcohol level between two undesirable extremes, too high or too low.

Everyone was drinking steadily, yet there were no incidents of drunken or rowdy behaviour. Call me anti-British, but I didn’t feel any pangs of nostalgia for half-naked slags publicly relieving themselves through every available orifice, their boyfriends calling me “sunshine” and asking “What you lookin’ at?” – why, I didn’t even see one pavement pizza, nor a single street brawl.

Having said that, Vienna is full of things I normally dislike – but somehow it can get away with most of them.

For example, Baroque architecture – in fact, Baroque anything, other than music – leaves me cold or, more often, appalled. Yet, though Vienna is predominantly a Baroque city, it pulls it off with epic élan.

We celebrated midnight Mass at a fourteenth-century Augustinian church featuring a Baroque altar. My normal reaction to such aesthetic desecration is to turn around and walk out. Thus I physically couldn’t spend more than five minutes inside one of Christendom’s premier churches, Rome’s St John the Lateran, such was the eye-gouging Baroque vandalism of its interior.

But our Vienna church looked as if it had the foresight to provide for the aesthetics of three centuries later. Its altar didn’t necessarily attract; but then neither did it distract.

The German liturgy was something else again. Somehow Vater unser doesn’t quite have the same ring as Our Father, never mind Pater noster. The priest also cracked a few jokes, which I didn’t understand, but the rest of the congregation laughed on cue.

I’m sure the wisecracks didn’t have the lavatorial slant favoured by Germans, which reminded me that, though Vienna is Germanic, it isn’t German. That’s hardly surprising, considering that it was largely shaped by such cosmopolitan Habsburgs as the Empress Maria Theresa, who freely used the term ‘German swinishness’, even in reference to Mozart’s Singspiel operas.

Also, I prefer cities that develop organically and somewhat chaotically throughout history. However, not much of Vienna is organic and none of it chaotic – the city shows every sign of large-scale urban planning.

Yet the same things I find off-putting in much of Paris and all of Petersburg somehow work in Vienna. Whoever did the planning there had an unerring eye for the interrelation of elements in space. Music too is about arranging elements, in time, and in that sense Vienna’s stones are largely musical.

The stone music is full of pomp. Everything is on a lofty scale: Piccadilly is the width of a Vienna side street. Yet boundless squares fed by impossibly wide streets somehow manage to cut down to size vast apartments blocks that look as if they could withstand a direct hit from a low-yield nuclear bomb.

Vienna is a city of impeccable proportions – so impeccable, in fact, that after a while it may appear staid. But that effect would take longer than a few days to start getting on one’s nerves. Having walked 50 miles over four days in the city, I never felt bored or irritated.

Even massive institutional buildings that would look smug anywhere else come across as modest, almost diffident. They’re overwhelmed and humbled by the vast spaces they fill so sparsely.

And speaking of institutional buildings, the Viennese refer to their House of Parliament as Rathaus. Personally, I wouldn’t push the rodent parallel too far, but the Viennese have clearly grasped the nature of modern parliamentarism.

The clickety-clack of hooves is everywhere, with scores of horse-driven carriages whisking tourists from one place to the next. Normally I despise such pseudo-retro pretensions, but what looks ludicrous in Manhattan or even London somehow doesn’t irritate in Vienna. Perhaps, though London lost its erstwhile imperial status later than Vienna, its vestiges have been more thoroughly expunged.

The Viennese look and act utterly civilised, and one sees many people my snobbish friends call PLUs (People Like Us) even in the very centre. Many women wear fur coats, and they don’t seem to fear violence.

Years ago, I recall, we were in Amsterdam, where a friend commended my wife for her courage in wearing a fur. “You may be attacked,” she said. “The attacker would end up in the canal,” I replied.

Now, a quarter-century later, my flesh is no longer strong enough to inspire such self-confidence, but the spirit is still willing to espy any signs of opprobrium at my wife’s sartorial preferences. Didn’t see any in Vienna – in fact, didn’t see any deviations from civilised behaviour.

No eyesores then? Well, that would be too much to ask. But I’ll save the unpleasant stuff for tomorrow.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all Christians among my readers, celebrating the day Our Lord was incarnate in the Virgin Mary and came to earth for the propitiation of our sins. You will be saved, definitely.

Merry Christmas also to all cultured non-Christians out there, those who espouse any other religion or none, agnostic or atheist, who don’t believe all that nonsense but do know that the culture they love is Christian. Hence they too have something to celebrate for, even if Our Lord wasn’t born on this day, our culture definitely was. You too will be saved, probably.

Merry Christmas also to all those who don’t believe in Christ or God in general, don’t know much about Christian or any other culture and see Christmas mainly as a retail opportunity. You probably don’t care one way or the other whether or not you’ll be saved, but, what with all the Christmas sales, I’m sure you’ve done enough saving of your own.

Merry Christmas also to those who don’t believe in Christ but hate him anyway, who loathe the culture and civilisation that owe their existence to Christ, and who seek to destroy them as fervently as they have done so consistently for 1,400 years. I only wish you a merry Christmas to see that look on your face, to be honest. And I doubt you’ll be saved, but, lucky for you, it’s not up to me to decide.

And a happy, peaceful new year to all!

Naughty, naughty Matt Damon

The actor has committed the worst sin known to modernity: discrimination. Not against anyone of different race, mental and physical faculties, sex, religion or amorous proclivities – God forbid.

Had he been guilty of that, he’d be dangling off the metaphorical gallows even as we speak. As it is, he’s merely having his wrists beaten to raw meat with a metaphorical ruler. For Mr Damon discriminated between crude flirtation and rape.

Speaking on the current sex abuse hysteria in the time-honoured idiom of his profession, Mr Damon dared to aver that “there are a whole shitload of guys – the preponderance of men I’ve worked with – who don’t do this kind of thing.”

What, not every man is a latent abuser and rapist? Call this nuanced thinking, Matt? I call it a slap in the face of modernity. And modernity can slap back, with interest.

He should have left it at that, but no. Damon pressed on, wearing his nuanced thinking on his sleeve, just above his wrist to be slapped: “I do believe that there’s a spectrum of behaviour, right? And we’re going to have to figure – you know, there’s a difference between, you know, patting someone on the butt and rape or child molestation.”

A difference, Matt? Are you discriminating again? Patting the ‘butt’ of an actress whose nude shots and videos adorn thousands of onanistic websites is no different from raping a 9-year-old girl, especially if the perpetrator then marries her?… Sorry, now I’m the one indulging in discrimination, of a worse, religious kind.

It fell upon the actresses Minnie Driver (Matt’s ex) and Alyssa Milano to wield the aforementioned ruler.

Thus Minnie: “Good God, Matt, seriously? You don’t get to be hierarchical with abuse. And you don’t get to tell women that because some guy only showed them their penis their pain isn’t as great as a woman who was raped.”

Let’s see. According to the modern ethos, ventriloquist to Minnie’s dummy, a woman flashed on a bus suffers as much pain as one viciously raped in a dark alley. What if it’s gang rape, Minnie? Accompanied by severe beating? Still no hierarchical discrimination allowed?

Miss Milano added her own contribution to the art of English prose: “Dear Matt Damon, it’s the micro that makes the macro. We are in a ‘culture of outrage’ because the magnitude of rage is, in fact, overtly outrageous. And it is righteous. We are not outraged because someone grabbed our asses in a picture. We are outraged because we were made to feel this was normal. We are outraged because we have been gaslighted. We are outraged because we were silenced for so long.”

I don’t know what ‘gaslighted’ means, but then English is only my second language. For Miss Milano it’s her first, and she uses it with native mastery.

She’s outraged because, according to the culture of outrage, one is supposed to be equally outraged at all outrageous things, regardless of the degree of outrageousness. Therefore having her ‘ass’ outrageously grabbed in a picture (presumably off-screen) is as much of an outrage as the outrage of outrageously raping a 9-year-old girl. Equality rules in outrage, as it does in everything else.

It goes without saying that nothing Minnie or Alyssa does on screen is any cause for outrage whatsoever. If Minnie and Alyssa star in soft-porn scenes, that’s not outrageous at all. (I could provide the links, but won’t: do your own search, you pervert.)

Now ‘asses’ have been fondled, and sex exchanged for roles or credits, since Hollywood came into existence more than a century ago. Anybody who has ever been involved in show business, even as tangentially as my own stint in advertising, knows that there’s hardly a Hollywood actress who hasn’t slept her way to her present status. (‘Hardly’ doesn’t mean they all did it, I hasten to disclaim for fear of lawsuits.)

And everybody in Hollywood has felt “it was normal” until a few months ago. For example, stuck in the middle of a difficult, never-ending shoot on location, Marilyn Monroe famously asked her agent: “Who do I have to f*** to get off this picture?” Doing that to get on rather than off was the norm.

That sort of thing has always been sleazy and sordid, so why have actresses and their bien pensant fans been silent for so long? Why this sudden outburst of outrageously outraged rage?

Simple. It’s the rattling bandwagon of modernity, inviting everyone to jump on. Once the wheels have been set in motion, the modern lot turn into a herd, which is their natural tendency anyway.

They hear the clarion call of modernity in every tonal detail and respond with soldierly obedience. This time the call is accompanied with enticing words: “Now you can! You no longer have to pay PR flacks to do your publicity! You can get it for free – by jumping on that bandwagon! As long as you’re in tune with modernity, you’ll sweep all before you! No one will dare resist!”

The ladies somersaulting on that vehicle don’t even care how ridiculous they sound, even if it’s considerably more so than Minnie and Alyssa, which takes some doing.

One starlet, for example, claimed that Harvey Weinstein raped her against her own coat rack – after which she continued to have consensual sex with him for 10 years. Another said that Dustin Hoffman abused her by public fondling, after which she went up to his room and had sex with him for $20.

Such little incongruities don’t seem to upset anyone. And if yet another psychotic idiocy does bother someone like Matt Damon, off with his head.

Another poor, alienated Muslim drives into a crowd

It seems like every time a Muslim engages in a bit of mass murder, the media describe him as either alienated or a loner or addicted to drugs or having A history of mental problems.

When mass murder is attempted by driving a large vehicle into a crowd, as it was the other day in Melbourne, no one suggests that the chap was simply a poor driver. That’s still to come.

No one identifies the real motivation either, or, if some intrepid paper does so, it’s always days after the fact. In this case, Australian media did mention in passing, after listing all the requisite mental problems, that the murderer was an Australian citizen, albeit of Afghan descent.

This glosses over the real reason for Islamic terrorism. It’s Islam. No other exists.

That doesn’t mean that a murderer may not also be alienated, on drugs or recently abandoned by his wife. But that’s not why he kills. He kills because he’s a Muslim and, as such, doctrinally committed to killing infidels. Drugs or, Allah forbid, booze, if used at all, are there to make suicide easier. But they don’t cause the homicide.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull so far hasn’t explained to the outraged multitudes that it’s wrong to blame Islam for this road mishap. Why, so far he hasn’t followed the example of his American and British counterparts to declare that Islam is a religion of peace.

He hasn’t even done what his future head of state, Prince Charles, did a few years ago. HRH explained that, though all religions start from different points, they all end up in the same place because at base they’re all the same.

As proof of this uncanny similarity, HRH drew a parallel between Jesus and Mohammed, who both had to flee their native land for fear of religious persecution. He didn’t expand his point further, by stating that Jesus and Mohammed also had the same internal organs and the same number of limbs.

More to the point, HRH didn’t mention that the first thing Mohammed did after moving from Mecca to Medina was behead several hundred Jews, many with his own sabre.

Jesus, if the Gospels are to be believed, never did anything quite so adventurous as that. Nor did he rob caravans, launch bandit raids on neighbours or start wars of conquest.

Jesus taught his flock to love not only friends but even enemies. Mohammed taught Muslims to kill not only their enemies, which is to say all non-Muslims, but even their friends, if the latter were wavering in their faith.

Other than those minor details, yes, Islam is a religion of peace that, though it starts from a different point, converges with Christianity at some point. It manifestly hasn’t quite converged yet, but, given the Royal reassurance, it will someday, soon.

Meanwhile, we all brace ourselves for more terrorist acts, which are, as London’s Muslim mayor suggested rather flippantly, to be expected in a big city. Quite. In a big city with a large Muslim population, but the mayor left that detail out.

Now, the facts show that a) close to 100 per cent of terrorist acts in the West are committed by Muslims, b) the number of terrorist acts, anti-Semitic peccadillos and the amount of violent crime in general are directly proportional to the number of resident Muslims so c) what do you think of a) and b)?

If you’re like US presidents before Trump or British prime ministers after Thatcher or the EU brass or Mrs Merkel, you must think that the only logical answer to the problem is to import even more Muslims, ideally millions of them.

Since millions of Muslims are guaranteed to include tens of thousands of potential mass murderers, that conclusion seems rather counterintuitive. But our leaders function according to a higher logic beyond our ken. Treat like with like, they preach, like having a hair of the dog the morning after the night before.

Except that this particular pick-me-up is bound to induce reflux, nausea and massive internal bleeding. Alas, one has to question the wisdom of our problem solvers at the helm.

To paraphrase Henry II, will anyone rid us of that troublesome Muslim beastliness? No one will, although some fascisoid groups may try, more in word than in deed.

In a recent survey, German Jews were asked which group they’d prefer as the country’s rulers, their home-grown neo-Nazis or the Muslims. After much soul searching they settled on the neo-Nazis. Given that Nazis and Jews have a bit of previous, the choice tells us more than all the claims about the peaceful nature of Islam.

Please join me in the prayer that we won’t have to make a similar choice. If we do, may I suggest a coin toss?

Pope Francis, impaled by an ellipsis

Pope FrancisThe Pope has much to criticise him for. There are many issues, all springing from his pandering to a secular agenda with a Leftish, which is to say anti-Christian, slant.

His views on the economy, defence, feminism, single world government, homosexuality, euthanasia and so forth could easily serve as planks in the electoral campaign of any socialist party. Hence I sometimes jest that the proper answer to the perennial question “Is the Pope Catholic?” should be “Yes, but…”, followed by the litany of his suspect pronouncements.

Yet criticism should ideally be constructive and definitely fair. Unfortunately, many attacks on the Pope come from people who not so much dislike his views as hate the Catholic Church or, for that matter, Christianity in general.

Now since I object to many of Pope Francis’s views, I’m receptive to similarly minded articles, provided they’re motivated by good will. Yet even I was taken aback by this lead paragraph in an on-line publication:

“Pope Francis was caught attempting to turn his Catholic followers away from Jesus Christ after he warned them that ‘having a personal relationship with Jesus is dangerous and very harmful’.” This “liberal statement”, continues the article, raises “fears that he is, in fact, an illegitimate pope with a sinister agenda.”

The papal statement in fact sounds worse than liberal or even sinister. Since it’s tantamount to telling believers not to pray, it sounds impossible.

No priest could possibly tell that to other Christians. That’s like saying he doesn’t believe in God, and neither should they. Since His Holiness is supposed to have uttered those seditious words to a crowd of 33,000 pilgrims, he must have been off his rocker. Call for the men in white coats.

However, since no one has so far claimed that the Pope is mad, I looked up what he actually said. Sure enough, he did say it’s dangerous to believe one can have “a personal, direct, immediate relationship with Jesus Christ…”

But that wasn’t the end of the statement. It continued: “…without communion with and the mediation of the church.” Suddenly the pronouncement stops being liberal, never mind sinister, and becomes an article of faith in apostolic Christianity.

Rather than turning his followers “away from Jesus Christ”, the Pope decries Protestantism in general and Evangelism in particular, which he obviously and correctly identifies as heretical and therefore divisive and therefore ruinous for Christianity.

But of course subversive types, religious, political or scholarly, always master the art of elliptical quoting. Yet an ellipsis may not only distort the meaning but indeed reverse it.

For example, back in the eighties the US charity United Negro College Fund advertised under the slogan “Because a mind is a terrible thing to waste”. Now abbreviate this slogan to “Because a mind is a terrible thing…” and the well-meaning charity can be accused of rank racism. Such macabre rhetorical tricks are favoured by both Lefties and, as in this case, Evangelicals.

Nailing his 95 Theses to the cathedral door, Luther declared that “every man is his own priest”. That pushed the button on the delayed-action bomb of atheism. And the bomb’s time setting was considerably shortened by Calvin’s Reformation within the Reformation.

For, when a man believes he can be his own priest, his grandson will believe he can be his own God. Eliminating the church, the Body of Christ, as the teacher and mediator means disembodying and thereby marginalising Christ. It’s also an invitation to hubris, the worst kind of pride and the deadliest of the deadly sins.

For Christian doctrine is an extremely complex body of thought, which is why it has taken history’s best minds many centuries to develop. The Evangelical notion, however, is that anyone can glean every doctrinal intricacy straight from the Bible, provided he’s guided by the Holy Spirit. Well, if that’s the case, the Holy Spirit has a superhuman knack at refuting itself.

After all, there are at least 40,000 different Protestant, mainly Evangelical, denominations, each claiming to have been guided by the Holy Spirit to widely diverse, often mutually exclusive, beliefs.

Since they all claim to worship the Bible, they should remind themselves of Mark 3:25: “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand”. The house of Christianity certainly hasn’t stood, at least in the West. In fact, the West today is the only atheist civilisation ever – which is to say it’s no civilisation at all.

For no civilisation can be formed solely by pursuing materialist desiderata. And conversely, a single-minded pursuit of such desiderata has demonstrated its potential for destroying any civilisation, no matter how great.

A system of belief lies at the beginning of any civilisation, but it’s not the end of it. For faith spins out a cocoon of many sub-systems, moral, social and intellectual.

By atomising Christianity into thousands of sects, most if not all downright heretical, the Reformation set the scene for that great misnomer, the Enlightenment, which in due course produced every modern perversion (including those so ill-advisedly advocated by His Holiness).

Encouraged to work out for themselves the intricacies of Christian worship, people began to think they can also grasp every complexity of quotidian life, no outside help necessary, thank you very much.

Moreover, not only can they arrive at an infallible judgement in such matters by themselves, but they have every right to have their opinion heard and acted upon. The Holy Spirit tells them they’re all equal, so who’s to say their judgement on anything is at fault?

This massively encouraged solipsism has produced a moral and intellectual catastrophe, and we’re all reeling from its effects. At the heart of the catastrophe lies relativism: if truth is sub-divided ad infinitum, it’s hard to accept that absolute truth exists at all.

People used to know that, if X is true, and Y contradicts X, then Y is false. The solipsism initiated by the two reformations has produced the current belief that, if X is true, then all the other letters of the alphabet are differently true.

You can see the results of this thinking in everything, from politics to the economy, from art to science. People no longer seem to pursue the truth – they’re after gaining a short-term jump on the competition, with both sides losing in the end.

I don’t know whether or not the Pope thinks in such categories. I rather doubt it: he seems to be weak at applying orthodox Christian tenets to everyday life. But he does preach such tenets more often than not – and the statement so crassly bowdlerised is one such instance.

Germany celebrates SS Day

Don’t you find it appalling? On 20 December, a supposedly civilised country is celebrating the anniversary of one of history’s most diabolical organisations.

By allowing the festivities to go ahead, Mrs Merkel’s government endorses the murder of 6,000,000 Jews, 2,000,000 Russian POWs, 500,000 Gypsies, thousands of Polish and Russian civilians – it endorses Auschwitz and Treblinka, gas chambers, torture, eugenics, experiments on humans.

The German government not only refuses to repudiate its Satanic past, but it positively glorifies it. In that connection, one is tempted to remember Mrs Merkel’s personal links with the SS…

Got you going for a while, didn’t I? Actually, Mrs Merkel was born nine years after the SS was declared a criminal organisation in Germany, with tens of thousands of its members prosecuted. And in any case, the SS was founded on 4 April, not 20 December.

Say what you will about Mrs Merkel’s government, but it doesn’t treat that day as a national holiday. In fact, anyone who dares celebrate the SS publicly may well have his collar felt.

But 20 December, 2017, is the centenary of another organisation, one much more murderous than the SS, one that annihilated 60,000,000 people in its own country and untold millions abroad, one that turned half the globe into a giant concentration camp. However, unlike the SS, that organisation hasn’t been declared criminal.

On the contrary, its anniversary is widely celebrated all over the country, and no wonder. The country’s president, 87 per cent of his government and the entire hierarchy of the national church are officers or agents of that organisation.

This Satanic anniversary appears in the country’s calendars as Chekist Day. ‘Chekist’ means a member of the CheKa, the Russian acronym for the secret police that was setup by Felix Dzerjinsky on Lenin’s orders.

According to Lenin, the CheKa was “the essence of Bolshevism”. “Every Bolshevik is a Chekist,” declared the syphilitic ghoul, whose mummy still adorns Red Square.

His claim was too narrow. Now, a century later, one can safely say that every Russian accepting Putin’s rule is a Chekist – some by direct association, more as indirect collaborators, most as unwitting accomplices.

Over the past century, Chekism has always been the essence of Russia de facto. But with the advent of the giant disinformation op called ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’, it achieved that status de jure.

For what happened in 1989-1991 wasn’t the end of history, as was claimed by a particularly cretinous US neocon. It wasn’t even the triumph of liberal democracy, as was – and amazingly still is – claimed by just about everyone else.

It was a transfer of power from the Party to the KGB, with two KGB stooges in the Party, Gorbachev and Yeltsyn, kept on for a while as window dressing. (I usually refrain from ‘I told you so’ boasts, but in my case this isn’t hindsight. As anyone who can dig up my Salisbury Review articles from that time will know, I was writing exactly the same things then.)

That power shift was on the cards. For the CheKa was always a state within the state, and it always fought the Party, and to some extent the army, for the privilege of being the state.

The CheKa struck the first blow in 1937-1938, when it succeeded in wiping out Lenin’s party almost to a man, and also much of the army high command. Beria rose to power then and, after Stalin’s death, he effectively became his successor.

It took the combined efforts of the Party and army to overthrow Beria and take their revenge on the CheKa. The organisation was purged, Beria killed and few of his appointees stayed alive or at large.

The CheKa had to regroup, work behind the scenes and wait for an opening. It finally came in 1982, when the KGB head Yuri Andropov became Secretary General of the Party and virtual dictator.

It was Andropov who, using the blueprint first drawn by Beria, set up the ‘glasnost and perestroika’ op, designed to present a softer image to the West the better to defeat it. And it was Andropov who hand-picked Gorbachev as his successor and the best man to carry the op out. The KGB took over, destroyed the Party and now controls the country.

It’s interesting to look at the name changes this organisation has gone through in its lifetime.

What started as the VCheKa in 1917, became the GPU and OGPU (1922-1934), then the NKVD (1934-1941), then the NKGB for six months, then again the NKVD (1941-1943), then NKGB/MGB (1943-53), MVD (1953-1954) – and only then KGB, which in 1995 acquired its current name of FSB/SVR.

These aren’t just semantics: each change reflected political points scored or lost.

The NKGB/MGB, for example, was broken off from the NKVD to remove Beria from his power base. After Stalin’s death in March 1953, Beria succeeded in reclaiming the security police for his own MVD (Interior Ministry), thus becoming the most powerful figure of the interregnum. After Beria was murdered in June, 1953, the MVD lost the secret police arm because Khrushchev sought to bring it under his own control. Hence, the organisation was downgraded from a ministry to a committee (the K in the KGB).

The people, in their tens of millions, were collateral damage in that struggle for supremacy. It was their blood that fertilised the soil on which grew the most diabolical regime in history.

Lenin, whom H.G. Wells called ‘the dreamer in the Kremlin’, declared that he didn’t care if 90 per cent of the Russians perished – as long as the remaining 10 per cent lived under communism. The CheKa in its various guises has done its level best to fulfil the first part of the prophesy, by murdering millions, enslaving the rest – and outscoring the SS even in murders per year, never mind in absolute numbers.

Any halfway civilised country would go down on its knees, repent, beg forgiveness – and punish the surviving murderers. None of this has happened in Russia. Not a single KGB criminal has been punished; not a single crime repented.

The statue of the mass murderer Dzerjinsky, first removed from Lubianka Square, is about to be re-erected. Col. Putin is proud of his KGB career (“There’s no such thing as ex-KGB,” he once said. “This is for life.”) and is governing the country in the best tradition of his alma mater.

No doubt he’ll deliver a celebratory address today, as he has always done on this glorious anniversary. He’ll be celebrating artificial famines and concomitant cannibalism; Solovki and Kolyma; mass shootings and deportations; genocide and democide – evil at its purest.

Now replace Russia with Germany, CheKa with the SS, Putin with Merkel and imagine how you’d react if SS Day were celebrated in the same manner.

I hope our useful idiots, heirs to Wells, Shaw, the Webbs and other agents of influence, are proud of themselves – and Putin’s Russia, which they see as a shining example for us all to follow.

But forgive me for not raising my glass together with theirs. If I did, it would be only to splash the contents into their stupid faces.

Russian poets as Russian fascists

The late Yevgeny Yevtushenko once wrote that “in Russia a poet is more than a poet”. A Western reader would struggle to understand what he meant, but to a Russian that sounded like a truism.

With other media stifled to various degrees throughout the country’s history, it often fell upon poets to expand their remit, venturing into areas of political criticism. By itself that isn’t unique to Russia, but only there has poetry served as the main, at times only, medium for such self-expression.

When Bolshevism arrived 100 years ago, the state began killing poets, including such great ones as Gumilev and Mandelstam. But in tsarist Russia, poets could just about get away with writing things that would get, say, a philosopher in deep trouble.

If the first great Russian poet, Pushkin (d. 1837), would only get a slap on the wrists for writing savage criticism, his friend, the first Russian philosopher Pyotr Chaadayev, was declared mad and consigned to house arrest for his essay Lettres philosophiques.

Many Soviet poets, such as Yevtushenko himself, tried to play both ends against the middle. They’d first write mildly critical verse – only to redeem themselves later by producing nauseating rhymed propaganda.

Yet such duality didn’t start with the Soviets. Even under the tsars, weak-kneed liberals by comparison, poets often displayed almost schizophrenic dichotomies. Thus Pushkin and Lermontov (d. 1841) combined Russian chauvinism with what today would be called Russophobia.

Pushkin, for example, was capable of writing Stances, a fawning panegyric to the tsar, yet also verses saying: “Autocratic villain, you and your throne I loathe; with cruel joy, your demise, the death of your children I foresee.” And in Lermontov’s work the flag-waving patriotism of the poem Borodino happily coexisted with describing his country as an “unwashed Russia, a land of masters, land of slaves.”

Hence Russian poets have always been Russia herself, as refracted through the prism of poetic sensibility. Most have been conformists, few dissidents, many a bit of both. But whatever they were, an attentive reader could use them as a reliable guide to their contemporaneous Russia.

Some poets indeed become more than just poets; some become much less; and some start out as the former and end up as the latter. This brings us to perhaps the most prominent poetic shill for Putin’s kleptofascism, Yunna Moritz.

Back in the old days, she was mostly known for writing good children’s poetry, which was a relatively safe haven. Moritz was also an equally talented translator of verse, which traditionally was a good money spinner even for great poets like Pasternak, who were unable to publish much of their original work.

That way Moritz was spared both penury and the ignominy of being known as a KGB hack. Come Putin’s Russia, however, and the nice Yunna performed an about-face.

To stay attuned to the times, she began pandering to the xenophobic nationalism peddled by the government. And xenophobia inevitably gravitates towards anti-Semitism, even if it wasn’t that way originally.

This state of affairs is at its most virulent in Russia, but it isn’t unique to her. My own, admittedly cursory, familiarity with extreme nationalists in Britain and France suggests an interesting paradox: they hate Muslims but, because most of them also hate Jews, they tend to side with organisations like Hamas in their conflict with Israel.

Having contracted the syphilis of xenophobia, Moritz, with her unerring poetic sense, detected its inner logic of veering towards anti-Semitism. Acting on that understanding must have been difficult because she herself is Jewish.

Yet her concept of civic virtue proved stronger than any personal considerations and, to quote one of her critics, Moritz became blacker than the Black Hundreds. In one of her poems she even enriched the Russian language by coining a useful portmanteau word zlovreistvo, combining the words zlo (evil) and yevreistvo (Jewery).

This is the kind of lexical innovation that was favoured in the past by Julius Streicher, the editor of Der Stürmer who went to his death at Nuremberg screaming Heil Hitler! I don’t know what Moritz’s last words will be, but for the time being she blames zlovreistvo for whipping up global Russophobia, the term Putin’s propaganda uses to describe any objections to Russia’s behaviour.

This is commendably more precise than the usual thrust of such propaganda, where the bogeymen are identified more generally as the US or the West. This poetic preference for the specific rather than general has helped Moritz to pinpoint the latest manifestation of malignant Russophobia: banning Russia from the 2018 Olympics.

The reason for the ban is the state-sponsored doping programme, turning Russian athletes into walking advertisements for various pharmaceutical companies. (The programme was supervised by former Deputy PM and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, one of the functionaries personally sanctioned in the West. He’ll be presiding over this summer’s World Cup held in Russia, proving that, in terms of corruption, FIFA can compete with the Russians on equal terms.)

But to the Russian propaganda media, which is to say the Russian media, doping was only a pretext. The real reason was that same congenital Western  Russophobia.

Russian propaganda tends to seek poetic mouthpieces, and Moritz is happy to oblige. Though I can’t translate her response to the Olympic debacle in verse, you’ll get the idea from the word-for-word translation.

“The concentration camp of world sport// They’re making soap of the Russians// This is a sort of Auschwitz// The camp guard is drunk on happiness…//

“Time to stop playing lickspittle// Time to kill the guards// This is a figure of speech for the choice: to be? not to be?”

“How to kill the guards?// With lawsuits in courts?// By pouring money from different taps to camp guards?

“Can’t you punch them in the snout?// Instead of shilly-shallying?// They’re making soap of Russians// Making lampshades.

“This is a figure of speech?// These are bare facts!// Time to stop playing lickspittle// To this Russophobic ghetto!…

“With a poet’s eyes// I see the Auschwitz of sport,// This is a figure of speech// For a different sort of fascism!”

You may think this is just a deranged rant of a crazed old woman, but it isn’t. This is, in both substance and tone, an accurate representation of Putin’s propaganda. That’s why Moritz’s harangues are published in mainstream newspapers and magazines – she’s an idol of Putin’s fans in Russia.

This ought to give Putin’s fans in Britain some food for thought. Always assuming against all evidence that they’re capable of such exertions.