Was that anti-Semitism, Mrs Merkel?

Back in 2014, three German Muslims got drunk and threw firebombs into the Wuppertal synagogue. Mercifully, no one was hurt.

The synagogue is rather old, but its building isn’t. The original quarters were burned rather more successfully during the 1938 Kristallnacht.

Both acts of arson suggest that the arsonists had some misgivings about the Jews. The first lot were quite open about this motivation, knowing that the state welcomed it. The trial or two that ensued were perfunctory, and the firebugs got off with only a word of nudge-nudge, wink-wink reproach.

Now, because the current German state hasn’t yet got around to the same delights of Judophobia, the Muslim chaps pleaded innocence of anti-Semitism. They simply sought “to draw attention to the Gaza conflict” with Israel.

One has to say that firebombing German synagogues is both a criminal and illogical way of taking issue with Israel’s policy. After all, most people inside weren’t Israelis but Germans who happened to worship the first part of the Bible more than the second.

Of course back in 1938 that would have been regarded as a distinction without a difference. It didn’t matter how, if at all, German Jews worshipped God. What mattered was that they were Jews. Killing them was laudable because it advanced a noble political cause.

Times have changed altogether though, haven’t they? Well, yes, they have changed. But not altogether.

For last Friday, the regional court affirmed the original court ruling that the firebombing wasn’t anti-Semitic at all. It was a valid form of political protest.

Even taking anti-Semitism out of it, one finds it hard to accept Molotov cocktails as a valid form of political self-expression in a country where legal means exist. A long custodial sentence is the only punishment that fits the crime, with the proverbial key thrown away. Isn’t it?

Evidently not, for the arsonists only got suspended sentences. Their political, as opposed to racial, motivation was seen as a mitigating circumstance.

There’s nothing new about this sort of lenience, and I’m proud to know that Russia pioneered it back in 1877, when the socialist terrorist Vera Zasulich shot and wounded the Governor General of Petersburg Fyodor Trepov.

However, the jury trial, a short-lived novelty in Russia, acquitted Zasulich on the same grounds as those on which the Muslim arsonists were spared jail. Her brutality was political and therefore justifiable, if unfortunate.

Since then, similar suicidal idiocy has taken root even in civilised countries, both in Europe and North America. Any strong political feelings are ipso facto seen as extenuation if not exculpation, regardless of the cause.

But when I read about the German trial, I was aghast and bitterly disappointed. What do you mean Mrs Merkel’s Palestinian guests were drunk at the time?

I thought pious Muslims, those ready to die for their faith, didn’t drink – because Mohammed didn’t drink and he was perfection personified.

It was in a state of perfect sobriety that he had 800 Jews slaughtered by way of saying hello to Medina after his move from Mecca – and yet today his followers get drunk before trying the same sort of thing, if on a smaller scale.

Does this mean the arsonists aren’t real Muslims, and Islam is indeed a religion of peace, as so many of our leaders have proclaimed? This would be a spurious conclusion to draw. The true one is that Islam is neither a religion of peace nor, for most of its followers, at least in Europe, a religion at all.

It’s a licence to kill (mostly Jews and other infidels) and to enslave (mostly women). In common with other violent doctrines, such as communism, fascism and Nazism, the function of Islam is to turn mass murderers into freedom fighters in the eyes of our ‘liberals’.

Yet the only purpose of mass murder is to murder masses – and killing Jews is the only purpose of killing Jews. Everything else is just an attempt at vindication, be it in courts or at fashionable leftie parties hosted by senior Labour figures.

It must have escaped the German judges’ attention that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in European countries is directly proportional to the number of Muslims there. Such incidents may involve murder, assault, desecration of Jewish cemeteries and synagogues – whatever it is, the more Muslims, the more such outrages.

Now we’re talking mathematical relationships, the likelihood of a Muslim committing such crimes is directly proportional to the extent to which he self-identifies as a Muslim. If, say, a British Muslim sees himself as a Muslim first and British a distant second, he’s more likely to firebomb a synagogue than someone who’s British first and foremost.

The task of mullahs and Muslim activists is to draw as many men as possible from the second group into the first. And – back to mathematics again – their success is directly proportional to what they’re allowed to get away with.

Our governments, utterly corrupted by the bien pensant ‘liberalism’ they themselves have fostered, let them and their acolytes get away with anything, including – as in this arson case – attempted murder.

As a direct result, Jews are emigrating en masse from precisely the countries with large Muslim minorities, such as France. In other countries they are warned to take precautions by, for example, not wearing skullcaps in public.

The mathematics I mentioned earlier strongly suggest that the only way to reduce Muslim violence (and not just against Jews) is to reduce the number of Muslims – and also of the venues, such as mosques and Islamic centres, in which they receive their absolution, aka the licence to kill.

I’m not saying anything new here – everybody knows this. Yet few are those who can say it openly – and even fewer the governments capable of doing anything about it.

So yes, Mrs Merkel, zeitgeist says those arsonists aren’t anti-Semites. Were the SA?

The Gospel according to Vlad

Seeing the multitudes, Vlad went up into Moscow: and when he was set, his Ministers and the multitudes came upon him: And Vlad opened his mouth and taught them, saying…

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, that communist ideology is evil, but I say unto you: “Communist ideology, it’s really much akin to Christianity: liberty, equality, fraternity – all this is based on Holy Scripture, it’s all there.”

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, that Lenin hated Christianity, but I say unto you: “Look, Lenin was put into the Mausoleum. How’s that any different from the relics of Orthodox saints or simply other Christians? When I’m told that no, there’s no such tradition in Christianity – what does it mean, no? Go to Mount Athos, have a look, they have holy relics there, and we too have our holy relics here.”

I’m sorry about prefacing Vlad’s gibberish with phrases from Matthew, but that’s really the spirit in which it was meant. Vlad delivered his lines with nothing short of gospel gravitas.

The Ministers and the multitudes were represented by editors of top Russian publications, who came together at the Mount, or rather the offices of Komsomolskaya Pravda, a paper so proud of its Soviet heritage that it has kept its name, Komsomol Truth.

Now, Putin’s ‘conservative’ British fans, otherwise known as ‘useful idiots’, regard Vlad as the last stronghold of Christianity, mainly because he ‘supports the Orthodox church’ and doesn’t support homosexual marriage.

As to the latter merit, it’s commendable but rather insufficient. After all, ISIS aren’t great fans of the new Western institution either, but few will insist that this redeems their other sins.

As to Vlad’s take on Christianity, he that hath ears to hear, let him hear the two passages quoted above. Such an aural effort should suffice to put paid to the frankly idiotic and refreshingly ignorant view of Vlad as the latter-day Fidei Defensor.

However, here are a few comments for those of them who are hard of hearing and plagued with learning difficulties – and of course also for normal people who suffer from none of those disabilities and therefore understand what Putin is about.

First, “liberty, equality, fraternity” has nothing whatsoever to do with Scripture. It was a Masonic slogan adopted by the French Revolution, the first massive violent revolt against Christianity. Anyone who has the remotest idea of Christianity would instantly know how un-, or rather anti-Christian that slogan is.

Jesus repeatedly disavowed any association with any revolutionary or liberation movement, to wit: “My kingdom is not of this world”, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” and so forth. He was talking about gaining spiritual freedom through the truth – hardly a demand for political liberty.

Second, equality and fraternity, as used in the secular French slogan, don’t appear – nor could have ever appeared – in Scripture. We’re all brothers because we have the same divine Father, and we’re equal only before Him – not because some blood-thirsty chaps murder all aristocrats.

Third, Vlad’s statement is both ignorant and blasphemous. However, compared to the second statement quoted above, the one equating Lenin with Christian saints, it’s an exemplar of piety and erudition.

Christian saints were different people living in different places and at different times. However, they all had at least one thing in common: they were Christians. I hate to break the news to Vlad, but that’s not quite the same as being anti-Christian.

Lenin, whose relics are as saintly as, say, St Sebastian’s, hated Christianity with every fibre of what passed for his soul. Is Vlad aware of this? He has to be – he did go to a Soviet school after all. Why, he even went to university, where he had to take a course in ‘scientific atheism’, as did we all.

One could quote any number of statements to that effect from a whole library of Lenin’s works. For example, he wrote to Gorky in 1913:

“Any god is necrophilia… any religious idea, any idea of any god, even only flirting with god is unimaginable filth, which is tolerated and even well received particularly by the democratic bourgeoisie – and precisely because of that it’s the most dangerous filth, the most disgusting, the most revolting contagion. A million sins, failings, violent acts, physical infections… are much less dangerous than the subtle, spiritual, clad in luxurious vestments idea of god.”

Lenin’s visceral hatred of Christ and his church couldn’t co-exist with the sight of church valuables, all those icons in enamel frames studded with jewels, heavy gold crosses, precious books in jewelled covers, silver vessels.

Those had to be plundered, along with all other riches amassed throughout Russian history. However, for the first couple of years the saint-to-be had to wait: when the peasants were still too strong to resist, there could be undesirable consequences.

Finally the time came in 1922, during the first murderous famine caused by the Bolsheviks. Lenin wrote a secret circular, saying church valuables could now be plundered, what with the peasants “swelling from starvation… reduced to cannibalism” and therefore too weak to resist.

But it was not all about money. Lenin continued that: “…removal of valuables… must be carried out with merciless resolve and in the shortest possible time. The more representatives of the reactionary bourgeoisie and clergy we shall manage to shoot in the process, the better. It is now that we must teach that scum a lesson so that they will not even dare think of any kind of resistance for several decades.”

That task was accomplished. During Lenin’s tenure (November, 1917 – April, 1924), 200,000 church people, 40,000 of them priests, were slaughtered. As to the number of lay parishioners, massacred out of hand, say by spraying a procession with machine gun bullets, their deaths were too numerous to count.

Lenin was turned into a relic immediately after his death, when, before the current Red Square ziggurat was built, his mummy was placed into a temporary wooden structure. Alas, the builders carelessly punctured the sewer underneath, flooding the sacred remains and giving Patriarch Tikhon, then under house arrest, an opening for a witticism: “The incense fits the relics.”

The Orthodox church was stamped into a puddle of blood under Lenin. However, it came back under Stalin, when the Germans were overrunning Russia in 1941.

With 4,000,000 soldiers taken prisoner in the first three months of the war, many of them without any resistance, Stalin realised that the people wouldn’t fight under the banners of their communist murderers and slave masters.

The Russians had become immune to Marxism, communism and all other Bolshevik poisons. As a matter of fact, Stalin himself had had enough of them, which had been evident for several years before the war. Mussolini observed perceptively that, under Stalin, “communism became a Slavic version of fascism”.

Yet an idea for which people would fight was urgently needed – and it was at that time that the church came back, albeit in a different incarnation.

Ever since Peter I the Orthodox church had been an extension of the state. Peter abolished the patriarchate and had the church run by a lay Synod.

Stalin embellished that arrangement by placing the church under the aegis of the secret police. Coming in from the cold was not only the church, but all other demonstrably un-Bolshevik, nationalist ideas: Mother Russia, Third Rome, Holy Russia – all packaged with the idea of imperial expansion.

When Vlad took over, he looked at that state of affairs and saw it was good. He too needed to rally the populace, and Marxist ideas could no longer work even as window dressing.

The traditional Russian imperial idea based on the delusion of the country’s holy mission was the only available option, the only way in which the criminal KGB colonel could legitimise the rule of his kleptofascist junta.

The church had been house-trained long ago, to the point that all the post-war patriarchs were career KGB agents. Not only the present patriarch Gundiaev (aka Kirill, aka ‘agent Mikhailov’), but also the other two candidates for his post at election time are KGB men, every bit as servile and corrupt as all other members of the ruling KGB elite.

They serve Putin with the same ardour as they served Stalin. It was thanks to their support that the murderous, thoroughly corrupt KGB colonel has acquired the status of the last Christian standing.

Vlad knows that, without mouthing imperial slogans, he’d never stay in power, which is to say alive. That’s why he’s busily reviving every scrap of Russia’s expansionist history – regardless of who was at the helm.

He’ll take something from Ivan the Terrible, something from Peter I, something from Nicholas I, something from Lenin – and a lot from Stalin, whose statues are going up all over Russia.

Now, I’m well aware that I can’t make our ‘useful idiots’ change their minds – if it were possible, they wouldn’t be idiots. But I can feel pity for them: it must be hard going through life spouting ignorant, ideologically inspired shibboleths.

Trump doesn’t rate a royal invitation, unlike…

Emperor Hirohito, who was cordially received at the Palace in 1971. He was the wartime leader of Japan, when tens of thousands of British soldiers lost their lives, many of them in concentration camps (see the film The Bridge Over the River Kwai). Under Hirohito’s leadership, Japan matched the Nazis in genocidal atrocities – including anti-Semitic ones in Indonesia.

Mobutu, in 1975. The dictator of Zaire successfully combined murderous totalitarian oppression with embezzlement.

The $15 billion sum he misappropriated may be smaller than Putin’s achievements by an order of magnitude, but we must make allowances for inflation and also for the Congo having considerably less riches to purloin.

Nicolae Ceaușescu, in 1978. He was dictator of Rumania, then the most Stalinist country in the Eastern bloc, which is saying a lot. Ceaușescu was a mass murderer, who routinely ordered his troops to fire at protesters.

Hajji Suharto, in 1979. The military dictator of Indonesia suppressed a communist uprising in 1965-1966, which was a good thing. By some estimates, about a million people died, which sounds excessive but, if they were indeed communists, forgivable. Alas, many of them were only guilty of being ethnic Chinese, the most successful and therefore hated group in Indonesia.

Mikhail Gorbachev, in 1989. Before the former KGB chief Andropov elevated Gorbachev to the Politburo, he had run the Stavropol province, one of the most corrupt in the USSR. Even against that background, he was nicknamed Mickey Envelope (Mishka konvert) in reference to his preferred way of doing business.

When moving into the Kremlin, Gorbachev continued Andropov’s programme of sham liberalisation, designed to save bolshevism by making it appear acceptable to the West. When that began to unravel, he ordered his troops to fire at demonstrators in Lithuania and Georgia. Before that, he had mendaciously denied the Chernobyl disaster, which was indirectly responsible for thousands of unsuspecting Soviets dying.

Boris Yeltsyn, in 1992. He too had run a major province, that of Sverdlovsk, before moving to Moscow. Yeltsyn ran Sverdlovsk in a sort of duopoly with the KGB, whose concentration camps provided much of the region’s labour.

That kind of recruitment policy got some Nazis hanged at Nuremberg, but Yeltsyn thrived. While in Moscow, he ordered tanks to fire at the building of the Russian parliament, which was a rather radical version of Colonel Pride’s approach to parliamentarism.

In parallel with moving from Sverdlovsk to Moscow, Yeltsyn made a seamless transition from dipsomania to alcoholism and was never again seen sober. During his prolonged absences, the country was run by Gen. Korzhakov, Yeltsyn’s former bodyguard, ably assisted by the new breed of gangsters, mainly Berezovsky and Abramovich. They in fact chose Putin as Yeltsyn’s successor, a choice Berezovsky later got to rue.

When meeting Her Majesty, Yektsyn tried to paw her, with the Queen setting a good example for today’s indignant soft-porn stars by thwarting his attentions without making a big fuss.

Robert Mugabe, in 1994. Zimbabwe’s Marxist dictator presumably rated the honour by such achievements as crimes against humanity, racism (of the forgivable, indeed commendable, anti-white variety) and championship-calibre corruption.

… Bashar al-Assad, in 2002. His qualifications for the royal honour are too current to require a comment. The only good thing one can say about him is that ISIS is even worse.

Vladimir Putin, in 2003. Though the unrepentant, indeed proud, KGB colonel hadn’t yet got around to having his critics ‘whacked’ with radioactive isotopes in the middle of London, he had already covered himself head to toe with domestically harvested blood.

To ease his way to absolute power, he had several blocks of flats blown up, with the blame placed on Chechnya. The second Chechen war followed, easily as genocidal as the first.

At the time of his visit to Buck House, Vlad was already on his way to becoming the most successfully corrupt leader in history. Under his strong leadership, so admired in some British quarters, Russia has not only maintained but infinitely strengthened her leadership position in global money laundering.

Xi Jinping, 2015. The communist dictator of China is a proud heir to the regime that slaughtered some 60 million and later gave the world Tiananmen Square.

Compared to these gentlemen, President Trump positively looks like a liberal trying to get in touch with his feminine side. Moreover, unlike them he represents Britain’s most important ally.

Historically the UK-USA relationship has only been ‘special’ in the warped minds of British propagandists. Ever since the beginning of the twentieth century, when America began to supplant the British Empire, the relationship has been rather one-sided. FDR, for one, transparently detested the British Empire almost as much as Nazi Germany.

Still, when American interests happened to coincide with ours, the US has been an important ally, and, in peacetime, seldom as important as now – for reasons too widely discussed at the moment to call for my penny’s worth.

And yet Mrs May’s government has allowed subversive socialists like Corbyn and Sadiq Khan to rouse enough rabble to make Trump’s visit untenable. If any justification for the modifier ‘subversive’ is still needed, this repulsive action provides it more than amply.

Personally, Trump isn’t my favourite cup of Bourbon, what with his vulgarity, narcissism and manifest absence of any discernible cultural attainment or dress sense. But his policies have by and large been the best of all other presidents’ I remember, with the possible exception of Reagan’s.

Yet our rabble-rousers object not so much to Trump’s personality or his policies as to his palpable contempt for all their sacred cows – both physical and semiotic. At the moment, for example, they’re up in arms over his describing some downmarket countries as ‘shitholes’.

Now, I don’t think leaders of civilised countries should resort to such uncivilised vocabulary, but implicitly the lefties deny countries that merit this designation exist. Having come from one myself, I can assure them that the description is apt and accurate – including in the most literal of senses.

Preventing our greatest ally from visiting Her Majesty (whom by all accounts Trump admires) shames not only the immediate culprits, but also our limp-wristed government, unable to act in Britain’s interests no matter what. Above all, it shames Britain herself, a country that allows such nonentities to ascend to government.

I hope that Trump will be able to rise above this slight, but I fear that, narcissist that he is, he won’t.

We know something the French don’t

If two parties can’t agree on terminology, they can’t agree on anything. This basic rule is vindicated every time I talk to my French friends about politics or law.

Take the rule of law, for example. I’ve never been comfortable with that notion, if ‘law’ is left unmodified by ‘just’. Yet with the unqualified way the term is commonly used, one may get the impression it’s synonymous with virtue.

However, the two most diabolical regimes in history, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, both had laws galore.

Nazi Germany, for example, enforced Nuremberg Laws, prohibiting on pain of death marriages between gentiles and Jews. Those laws ruled all right, but they had nothing to do with justice.

And the USSR Criminal Code contained Article 70, under which lending a friend a mimeographed copy of, say, a Solzhenitsyn book carried a penalty of up to seven years of hard labour.

All such laws are described as ‘positive’, which means they’re vectored from the state downwards, and their justice is wholly dependent on the moral and intellectual integrity of those at the top.

This brings us back to Roman law, a subject I touched upon yesterday. That positive law arrived in France with the Renaissance and gradually assumed the exclusive role it still plays today, having been refined – or rather exacerbated – by the Napoleonic Code.

That represented a drastic departure from the legal concept prevalent during the millennium of the Middle Ages. The French and proto-French didn’t then widely use the word ‘law’ in the secular context. The word they preferred instead was ‘custom’.

Now the rule of custom takes us away from positive law and gets us close to common law, as practised in the Anglophone countries under the influence of their erstwhile English metropolis.

Unlike positive law, the English Common Law is vectored upwards. Rather than relying on the wisdom and virtue of lawyers and lawgivers, it rules by paying heed to millions of legal precedents accumulated over centuries.

In essence, this means that at the core of English jurisprudence lies the Judaeo-Christian doctrine of original sin. The underlying assumption is that, because man is fallen, he’s fallible, and therefore his judgement isn’t always safe.

Starting from this premise, the English Common Law tries to protect individuals from arbitrary rulings by judges and magistrates. One could argue that, by doing so, it also reduces the epiphanic effect that a brilliant legal mind could have on proceedings.

In fact, my French friends, some of them lawyers, often make that argument, if not in so many words. To them, the compromise implied in the English Common Law is unacceptable. To someone who regards prudence in such matters as a greater virtue than brilliance, it’s not only advisable but uniquely advisable.

Implied in Roman law is what we today call statism, the primacy of the state over the individual. Justinian’s Corpus Juris Civilis was an imperial code designed to strengthen, or rather revive, the central power of Rome.

Though produced in Christian times, the code has distinctly pagan antecedents going back to Hellenic times. In those days, to simplify ever so slightly, the polis meant just about everything and the individual just about nothing.

Public interests trumped private ones, and an individual’s worth was judged in terms of his usefulness to the polis. Laws were designed on that understanding, including laws that turned women into strictly their husbands’ chattels.

In the same spirit, the Greco-Roman civilisation accepted slavery as natural, and that institution shouldn’t be confused with medieval serfdom. A serf was a man; a slave was a possession, not drastically different from livestock.

Christianity changed all that by teaching the inherent value of man, thereby altering his idea of himself – and consequently of the desired interaction between himself and the state. The spiritual revolution that caused the change was by far the most sweeping in history – and in that sense the Renaissance was counterrevolution.

It revived Greco-Roman antiquity with all it entailed, including the inherently centralising Roman law. (Slavery, steadily disappearing throughout the Middle Ages, also made a comeback, culminating in the nineteenth century.) That’s why to the French ear the word étatisme has no negative connotations that its English equivalent has for us.

The French are conditioned by their history to accept the dominant role of central authority. In fact, one could say that, rather than being progressive, modernity is regressive, leapfrogging Christendom in a backward jump to land smack in the middle of pagan antiquity.

Nowadays this affects us as much as the French, but at least in England some rearguard conservative action is possible. In France it isn’t, which is why conservatism in our sense of the word doesn’t exist there.

One can’t argue persuasively that relying on the state’s good offices is a factor of political stability. If England has had roughly the same constitution since the 1688 Dutch occupation, otherwise known as the Glorious Revolution, France has had 17 different constitutions since 1789.

And the number of different laws spawned by those constitutions is uncountable. What is patently obvious is that this system doesn’t foster a visceral, intuitive respect for the law – of the kind the English used to have predominantly and still have residually.

That’s why in England rioting still isn’t accepted as a valid way of settling political disputes – and that’s also why so many Englishmen are intuitively suspicious of the big national state.

That suspicion logically carries over to the rejection of the even bigger supranational state, the EU. By voting for Brexit in unprecedented numbers, the British communicated their misgivings about a political contrivance based on voluntarism and no precedent whatsoever.

This viscerally conservative feeling animates the British opposition to the EU. In France, however, those on the Right, like my French friends, adore the EU, and the opposition to it comes mostly from the anarchic Left.

The French and the English have much common ground in matters cultural, but not political. That’s why we naturally belong together at a dinner table but not within the same state – and both my French friends and I realise this.

Alas, our powers that be don’t.

The French know something we don’t

In my youth I admired Catherine Deneuve in ways I can’t discuss here for fear of causing offence. However, as we both, and especially I, have aged, my esteem for the actress became more cerebral if somewhat less fervent.

Cerebral it remains, but the intensity has grown since Miss Deneuve led a group of 100 prominent Frenchwomen to write a letter saying that les anglo-saxons have gone mad with their neo-puritan hysteria about sex harassment.

The letter points out the difference between rape and flirtation, and the fact that it needs pointing out is a ringing denunciation in itself. “Rape,” explain the Frenchwomen, “is a crime. But insistent or clumsy flirting is not a crime, nor is gallantry a chauvinist aggression.”

True, French women, rather than being offended by male attention, welcome it and, should it get out of hand, so to speak, handle it with aplomb. They accept this as a normal interplay between the sexes.

We, on the other hand, equate hand-on-knee flirtation with ‘medieval oppression of women’, a phrase much bandied about. The underlying assumption is that the Middle Ages, the period roughly demarcated by the collapse of the Roman Empire at one end and the Renaissance at the other, were the epitome of obscurantist savagery.

Now one can’t realistically expect things like erudition and intellectual rigour from militant feminists or, dare I add somewhat controversially, any political activists. But the truth is rather different from the popular mythology.

For it was the Middle Ages that gave us great cathedrals and universities, restraints on absolutism, small central government, musical notation, the printing press, sublime thinkers and theologians, magnificent religious painting and sculpture.

And, relevant to my theme, women during the Middle Ages enjoyed a status and freedom they gradually lost pari passu with the demise of Christianity and advance of modernity.

Even without going into historical facts, anyone with a modicum of intelligence unsullied by ideology should realise there wasn’t much room for oppressing women during a period practically defined by the worship of the Virgin. Also venerated as much as their male equivalents, and often more, were women martyred for their faith, such as St Agatha, St Cecilia, St Agnes and many others.

Medieval queens were no strangers to political power either, routinely governing their countries when their husbands were away fighting foreign wars, ill or dead. It was during the Middle Ages that French queens were crowned side by side with their husbands, and some queens, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine and Blanche of Castile were dominant political figures.

Women were also prominent in the Church, this without the abomination of female priesthood that today is regarded as a sine qua non for empowering women. It was often through the Church that women – and not necessarily high-born ones – acquired tremendous power.

Abbesses, for example, were not only equal to abbots in status and learning, but also, like them, were often feudal lords, in effect governing their provinces and imposing tithes and other taxes on the locals. And, in dual monasteries, where nuns and monks had their own wings, it was often the abbess, not the abbot, who was in overall charge.

Everybody knows the story of the great theologian Abelard and Héloïse. As a result of their love affair, Abelard fell victim to a certain enforced surgical procedure, but Héloïse’s lot is less well known.

In fact, she went on to found the Abbey of the Paraclete and became not only one of the best-educated persons of her time, but also one of the women who acquired religious and consequently secular power in the Middle Ages.

Both monasteries and convents were at the time centres of learning, and women were among the most outstanding figures. The abbess Herrad produced the famous twelfth century encyclopaedia, while Hildegarde of Bingen – abbess, philosopher, writer, composer and general polymath – was a true Renaissance woman, something she wouldn’t have been able to become during the actual Renaissance.

For the Renaissance was the birth cry of modernity and therefore the first dying gasp of Christianity. What was reborn in the Renaissance was the culture and ethos of pagan Hellenic antiquity, which was bad news for women among others.

We think of the Renaissance mostly in terms of paintings depicting plump babies sucking rosy-cheeked breasts, testifying both to the technical mastery of the artists and the creeping secularisation of sacred subjects.

But also re-born at the time was Roman law, which, by ricochet, has since done untold damage even in countries like England, which stubbornly stuck to their own jurisprudence.

Roman law was pagan and therefore centralising. It established and protected the primacy of the central state over local government, that natural offshoot of the Catholic concept of subsidiarity, devolving power to the lowest possible level.

As a result, monasteries and convents gradually ceded their position as centres of learning and certainly of secular power. The former was shifted to steadily secularising universities; the latter to the royal court.

A medieval king was merely a superior feudal lord, primus inter pares. But when Roman law came off the mothballs, kings gradually became monarchs who, as the word’s etymology suggests, concentrated more and more political power in their own hands.

Their queens were no longer crowned with them – like women in ancient Rome they became their husband’s chattels, kept in the background. In fact, the king’s current mistress often enjoyed much greater power, which was coextensive with her tenure in the king’s bed.

Step by step, women lost the freedom they had enjoyed during the Middle Ages. More and more they were seen as men’s property, of which men – their fathers, brothers or husbands – could dispose as they saw fit. Women were no longer seen as equal if different. They became different and strictly subservient.

That situation changed in due course, but the dynamic of intersex relations was for ever destroyed. Feminism appeared as a belated reaction, or rather overreaction, to any inequalities, both extant and extinct.

Women no longer wanted to be just equal to men – they now strove for the impossible goal of becoming identical to men. Hence the modern neo-puritanism of attacking flirtation ostensibly as sexual harassment, but in fact for emphasising the eternal difference between men and women.

For neo-puritanism to exist, there had to be old puritanism in the first place. That’s strictly a feature of Protestantism, especially its reformed version. Hence the current Walpurgisnacht is at its most virulent in Protestant countries.

The residual Catholicism of southern Europe, specifically France, has overcome the toxic effects of Roman law and modernity to preserve normal, human relations between the sexes. And we must thank Catherine Deneuve and her friends for pointing this out.

P.S. To keep things in balance, I’ll write a companion piece tomorrow, entitled We Know Something the French Don’t.

Breaking up the EU tango is easy to do

When it comes to Britain reclaiming her sovereignty, it doesn’t “take two to tango”, in Phillip Hammond’s typically hackneyed phrase.

To extend the choreographic metaphor, all it takes is for one partner to disengage and walk off the floor. The abandoned partner may feel jilted, but, if the other dancer doesn’t want to tango any longer, there’s precious little to be done about it.

If, on the other hand, the seemingly reluctant dancer doesn’t really want to stop, then, after a short spat, the tango may well continue – with one partner proud of winning the argument and the other secretly happy that the decision was made by someone else.

There, the metaphor has expanded to bursting point. The thing is, if our powers that be really wanted to leave the EU, it would be as easy as apple strudel, or tarte aux pommes, if you’d rather.

Breaking up only becomes hard to do when both parties want to make it so – the EU, because it wants to keep Britain’s billions in its grubby fingers or, barring that, to encourager les autres; our own Remainers in charge of Brexit because they are, well, Remainers.

Being a simple man, I usually try to untangle the knottiest of problems, reducing them to separate stands even I can grasp. Credit where it’s due, the negotiating parties have managed to encumber the issue with remarkable skill. Still, let’s give it a try, shall we?

Simplifying a problem means stripping it of marginal aspects and getting to its very core. Thus the object of driving a car is to get somewhere, not to listen to music, admire the landscape or flirt with one’s passenger – even though all those activities may well accompany the journey.

In that spirit, let’s accept as an axiomatic premise that the purpose of the whole exercise is for Britain to become again a sovereign nation reigned by Her Majesty and governed by Parliament.

I shan’t bore you by listing every aspect of sovereignty, but one is worth mentioning: a sovereign country’s internal affairs are governed by her own laws and no one else’s.

However, as an ironclad condition for any ‘deal’, the de facto führer of the EU Angie Merkel insists that Britain continue to recognise the jurisdiction of the European Court even within her own borders.

The only possible answer to that is an instant, resolute and non-negotiable no. Accepting the jurisdiction of foreign courts is incompatible with sovereignty, regaining which is, as we’ve agreed, the purpose of Brexit. Therefore even discussing it violates every rule of logic.

Then, sovereignty precludes vassalage, paying tributes to a foreign power for the privilege of conducting the country’s affairs as it sees fit. Such an arrangement would make sovereignty contingent on someone else’s good will – which again debauches the very concept.

Sovereignty is by definition unconditional and unilateral. If gaining and maintaining it depends on someone else’s consent, it’s not sovereignty any longer. Consent can be as easily withdrawn or modified as given in the first place.

What if the feudal lord tells the vassal that henceforth he’ll have to pay more to keep the arrangement going? Should the whole rigmarole start afresh? It’s either that or meek surrender, and there goes the pseudo-sovereignty in either case.

Yet one reads with amazement that Mrs May’s crypto-quisling government is seriously considering the EU’s demand that we keep up payments to its coffers even after Brexit. Otherwise no ‘deal’.

That means Britain will be unlike truly sovereign nations that don’t have to pay entry fees at the door of the European markets. We’ll in effect be the EU’s vassals, an arrangement that hasn’t existed in Europe for a while.

In other words, as far as the negotiating parties are concerned, we can only regain our sovereignty by agreeing not to regain our sovereignty. One can smell a logical rat running about somewhere.

In order to get that blessed ‘deal’, we must agree to submit to the European Court of Justice, which even my fanatically Europhile French friends describe as evil.

That means, among many other things, not regaining control of our borders, with the ineluctable consequence of London turning first into a bigger Malmö and then into a giant Kasbah.

And we’re supposed to keep contributing to the EU budget, but this time without having even a minuscule vote on how this money will be spent. Suddenly the issue becomes so encumbered that the sole purpose of Brexit can no longer be seen through the dense fog.

The only thing that can be seen is the outlines of a scam aimed at making the issue seem so complicated that the whole project will be defeated by attrition. Yet, if we really want to regain our sovereignty, breaking up isn’t at all hard to do.

We simply announce that, effective immediately, Britain is no longer an EU member. All European laws – emphatically the one about uncontrollable immigration, otherwise known as free movement – are hereby declared null and void within the jurisdiction of British Parliament. And all payments to the EU are summarily stopped.

Britain, however, is eager to remain an ally, both military and economic, of all European nations or the single state made up thereof. Specifically, we hope the EU will refrain from cutting off its economic nose to spite its face by declaring trade war on Britain. If, however, it refuses to see sense, we can fight an economic Battle of Britain, doing all it takes to win (see my posting of 6 January).

The band’s last chord is dying; the tango has ended. The dancer left alone on the floor is fuming. But that’s what one gets for stepping on the partner’s toes once too often.

Reshuffle: Is Mrs May Corbyn’s agent?

Surely not. I can’t imagine her surreptitiously sabotaging her own party to make sure the Trot is ensconced at 10 Downing Street.

However, neither can I imagine how differently Mrs May would have handled the cabinet reshuffle if she were indeed Corbyn’s sleeper. In fact, the troubled waters she has created are ideal for subversive demagogues to fish in – even if this wasn’t Mrs May’s desired outcome.

She shows most palpably that, if the solipsistic maxim “I think, therefore I am” doesn’t work very well as first uttered, it doesn’t work at all the other way around. Mrs May is, but she doesn’t think – and least not as a statesman.

An expert card sharp can shuffle a pack in such a way that the ‘loaded’ half of it stays on top even after the pack is cut. Mrs May managed to pull the same larcenous trick with her reshuffle.

Present occupants kept four out of the top five posts, even though they’re dubiously, and the Chancellor not at all, qualified for the jobs. There was, however, a cull of white middle-aged men at the lower tiers, with their jobs going to women, blacks and other ethnic minorities.

Mrs May explained this sleight of hand by her desire to make “the government look more like the country it serves”. There goes that reversed Cartesian aphorism, proved false yet again.

Under no circumstances should the government of Britain look like Britain as she now is, at least not by deliberate design. Belief in the advisability of every group being proportionately represented in anything, and especially in government, is idiocy at its most disproportionate.

For a holder of this belief must also think that the essential qualities required for government are evenly represented among all demographic groups. Superior intellect, erudition, moral integrity, willpower, patriotism and so forth are all supposed to be spread in exact proportion to the numerical strength of each group, is that it?

But this is nonsense, and empirically demonstrable nonsense at that. Such qualities, especially a full complement of them, aren’t characteristic of any group – they’re strictly individual, and a political system succeeds or fails on its ability to find and elevate such individuals to government.

As I never tire of repeating, in this world we aren’t blessed with perfect systems, and no method of government has ever been entirely successful in selecting only those fit to govern. But at least some have tried, whereas the ideological, arithmetical method of choosing leaders is absolutely and unequivocally guaranteed to create a government of, for and by nonentities.

Suitability for the job, not the sex, skin colour or sexual orientation, should be the only requirement. This isn’t to say that women or, say, blacks can’t produce qualified ministers. They can – but only as individuals, not as a group.

I’d applaud a cabinet made up exclusively of women if they possessed the qualities I mentioned earlier. Yet this criterion clearly didn’t even come into consideration. The selection was done with the calculator, not the head.

And even the calculator didn’t work properly. Thus The Times laments that “Justine Greening’s resignation means David Mundell is the only gay cabinet minister.”

Yet the most extensive survey I’ve ever seen puts the proportion of homosexuals in Britain at under 1.5 per cent. That means they’re over-represented among the 22 cabinet minsters and, before Miss Greening’s unlamented departure, they were well-nigh prevalent in statistical terms.

Also, I’m willing to bet that all our ministers can read and write, the latter only after a fashion, but still. So who’s representing the illiterate majority in a country that consistently places near the bottom of most literacy and numeracy rankings?

And, with about half of all British children born on the wrong side of the blanket, are single mothers and fatherless ex-children adequately represented among the ministers? I bet not, although figurative bastards more than fill the appropriate quota.

As if this earth-shattering idiocy weren’t enough, Mrs May has turned government into the only job in Her Majesty’s realm from which people can refuse to be sacked. Can you imagine any company, big or small, where the stern statement “You’re fired!” could be met with a sterner “No I’m not. I refuse to go and you can’t make me!”?

Yet this is exactly the situation our lame-duck, lame-brained, limp-willed PM allowed to develop during the reshuffle. Several of her ministers refused to be sacked or moved sideways, and Mrs May didn’t have the gumption to get her way. She should have simply announced publicly that she’s unqualified to do her job – the effect would have been the same.

To answer the facetious question in the title, no, I don’t think Mrs May has dedicated the latter stages of her career to shoving a Trotskyite government down Britain’s throat. But, should she lose her present job, which will probably happen soon, I think Jeremy should seriously consider hiring her as his campaign manager.

He’d be hard-pressed to find within the ranks of his own party a candidate who could do more to promote his career. And Mrs May won’t even have to retrain.

The N-word worse than attempted murder?

I’ve only been away from England for a month, which admittedly is too short a time to expect that the country’s acute mental disorder would be cured in the interim.

Yet hope, though it may not spring eternal, hasn’t yet been declared illegal. So I hoped that my country’s madness would slip into remission at least. Yet that hope, like so many others, has proved forlorn on my return.

And if you think I may be misdiagnosing the condition, judge for yourself.

The Liverpool Brazilian footballer Roberto Firmino was running full pelt trying to retrieve a ball going into touch. It was a lost cause: no man using only his two legs for locomotion would have caught up with that ball.

But the Everton defender Mason Holgate did catch up with Firmino and assisted his momentum by pushing him in the back as hard as he could with both hands. That turned Firmino into a good imitation of a stone flying out of a slingshot.

The pitch was surrounded by a concrete wall, about four feet high, serving as a hoarding for advertising posters. It was that barrier towards which Firmino flew uncontrollably, head first.

The great athlete that the Brazilian is, he somehow managed to somersault over the wall, landing among the spectators in the front three rows. But what if he hadn’t, as you or I wouldn’t be able to do?

In all likelihood Firmino’s career, and possibly his life, would have ended: running headlong into a wall at 30-odd miles an hour has been known to produce that effect. Holgate, in other words, attempted murder or at least GBH.

Years ago, another Everton player, Duncan Ferguson, proudly became the first footballer in history to go to prison for something he did on the pitch. But Ferguson only ‘nutted’ an opponent and, though a head butt could break a man’s nose, it’s unlikely to kill.

Holgate’s life-threatening assault was much worse and, understandably, Firmino was incensed. No sooner had he extricated himself from the crowd than he rushed towards his assailer screaming invective.

One of the words he shouted, after inquiring in Portuguese whether Holbate was crazy, was an Anglophone racial insult. I don’t know if the referee heard it, but he had certainly seen the assault – and yet took no action.

That means the Football Association won’t punish the attempted murder either – its rules say that, if a referee sees a transgression but chooses to ignore it, the culprit gets off scot-free. However, if, as Holbate claims, Firmino used the N-word, the FA can and will act.

The Brazilian will probably be banned for many games and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he’s criminally prosecuted. Hence my worst fears have been realised: England hasn’t become any saner in my absence.

What happened to sticks and stones, one wonders, those that, according to the popular ditty, can break one’s bones, whereas words can’t? Well, you see, that proverb was made up at a sane time, when a sense of proportion hadn’t yet disappeared, and society was at one with man.

They’ve now gone their separate ways, with most people retaining their sanity, while society has gone bonkers. Breaking a man’s bones, even fatally, is now a crime against that man only, which society may not condone but won’t treat as too big a deal.

However, uttering the N-word or even its faux cognates and vague homophones, such as ‘niggardly’, goes way beyond that. It’s a slap in the face of the modern ethos that has ruled that ‘racism’ is a crime worse than most others, possibly including murder.

Trying to break a man’s neck by hurling him towards a concrete wall offends no one but the victim. A cross word uttered in response commits a crime against our civilisation, or rather the bogus caricature of one that now rules supreme.

This is the message of the article written by Martin Samuel, one of our best sports writers but a paid-up modern man. Here’s what Mr Samuel wrote to call for a sensible balance:

“However angry he [Firmino] may have been, there are plenty of epithets he could have used to express his feelings without mentioning race. He does not get a free pass, no matter the provocation.

“And, yes, racism has been responsible for extremes of misery and suffering through the centuries and must be addressed. But mindless acts of violence are no lesser crime.”

Quite. Firmino should have picked himself up, dusted himself off and remonstrated in a gentlemanly fashion, by saying “A jolly bad show, old boy, what? One is aggrieved at this display of ill will, isn’t one?”

If this is Samuels’s protest against injustice, the hack doth protest too little, methinks. For one thing, in common with all modern cretins, even those who write for a living, he doesn’t use words precisely – especially words that convey modernity’s opprobrium at whatever peeves it.

‘No lesser’ means about equal. So attempted murder is as bad a crime as using an ill-advised word, and I suppose we must thank Mr Samuel for recognising this – many wouldn’t.

However, since the context he himself has outlined includes no mention of things like slavery or genocide, the “extremes of misery” he has in mind must have been caused by verbal insults. Surely that can’t be as extreme as all that?

Call me a crypto-racist insensitive to human suffering, including my own, but I’d rather someone called me every name in the unabridged dictionary than tried to kill me. But it’s not about me, you or any other person, is it? It’s about the modern ethos, today’s surrogate god.

And that god punishes blasphemy as surely, if not yet as severely, as blasphemy against the real God has ever been punished. Word has become graver than deed.

We ought to be thankful that guardians of modern probity haven’t yet learned to read thoughts, for otherwise we’d all be in trouble. Then again, one may interpret this whole mess as another proof of the primacy of the word.

Or else one may interpret it, with better justification, as the world turning into a madhouse. The frightening thought is that Britain may not even be the most violent nutcase.

Ignorance at its most dangerous

I’ve shamelessly stolen this title from Peter Hitchens’s piece because I can’t think of a better way to describe, well, Peter Hitchens.

Mr Hitchens watched University Challenge and was rightly appalled about the Reading graduates’ ignorance of Russia.

They “clearly had no knowledge of the Russian alphabet”, couldn’t identify a single Russian city on a map and “didn’t even know that St Petersburg is on the sea”.

The knowledge of the Cyrillic (not Russian, now we’re casting ignorance stones) alphabet doesn’t have much to do with anything. It’s possible not to know other alphabets and still escape accusations of ignorance. Does Mr Hitchens know the Chinese alphabet? Thai? Arabic? I know I don’t, and I like to think I’m not a particularly ignorant man.

But the rest of his point is valid, as is the observation: “This is normal among educated British people”. The alphabet apart, I doubt that not knowing that Petersburg is on the sea qualifies a person as educated, but the term does have many meanings, so let’s not quibble.

However, the epistemological aspect of it is worth discussing. Ignorance manifests itself in many ways, and unfamiliarity with elementary facts is only the most basic of them.

Knowledge isn’t a collection of data; it’s what happens as a result of collecting data. Just knowing the facts isn’t knowledge, it’s preparation for a trivia quiz, such as University Challenge (a fairly vulgar programme by the way, but that’s by the by.) Knowledge emerges after the facts have been processed, analysed and inwardly digested to enable the person to come closer to truth or, ideally, the truth.

By way of a simple illustration, before going on a motoring holiday in France, an Englishman would be well-advised to learn that in that country they drive on the right, not left. However, now he’s in possession of that fact, he still has to decide whether he’ll go along with the quaint froggish custom and not drive on the left. Unless he does so, he’ll remain ignorant – in the most dangerous way.

Mr Hitchens doubtless knows the ‘Russian’ alphabet, and I’m sure he can say “Hello, my name is Peter” in recognisable Russian. Moreover, I’m convinced he knows more University Challenge type of trivia about Russia than “is normal among educated British people.”

But that command of facts has produced no knowledge at the other end, as demonstrated by his concluding comment that, if those people are so ignorant, “how can so many of them have such strong opinions about the alleged Russian threat? I think it’s the ignorance that breeds the fear.”

Now I hope you won’t think me immodest if I boast that not only do I know the Russian language rather better than Mr Hitchens does, but I also have immeasurably more academic knowledge of Russia. In addition I have the native understanding of it, which is invaluable in the case of a country that makes a profession of being enigmatic.

And yet I regard Putin’s Russia as a deadly threat to Britain, and the West in general. First a few general points.

A major nuclear power that routinely murders or imprisons dissidents, suppresses free speech and runs a gangster economy is a factor of danger simply because of its malevolent presence in the world – and it would be even if it didn’t make any overtly aggressive moves.

When that country commits one act of aggression against its neighbours after another, explicitly threatens the integrity of NATO members and indulges in brinkmanship all over the world, it’s no longer dangerous just generally – it becomes so in a most palpable way.

When the same country opposes the West in every conflict around the globe, finances and arms the West’s enemies (some, like N. Korea with nuclear weapons and ICBMs) and conducts large scale electronic warfare aimed at subverting Western politics, it may provoke a global conflict at any moment.

Surely one doesn’t have to have Mr Hitchens’s self-proclaimed erudition to fear such things? And I haven’t even begun to talk about Russia’s massive rearmament programme, bringing on stream more and more rather diabolical weapon systems.

Yet not all threats presented by Russia are physical. Some are moral, produced by the toxic fumes emanating from its organic fusion of secret police and organised crime – the first such governing elite in history.

I realise that, as a communist well into his mature years, Mr Hitchens has a residual warm spot for the KGB or whatever it calls itself now. He sees nothing wrong in the fact that 87 per cent of the country’s government are unrepentant officers in history’s most murderous organisation.

I say ‘are’ rather than ‘were’ out of deference to Col. Putin, for whose strong, muscular leadership Mr Hitchens feels an almost homoerotic affection. “There’s no such thing as ex-KGB,” Vlad once said. “This is for life”.

This KGB government has fused itself with organised crime to transfer its ill-gotten gains to the West. The money stolen from the people, at least 20 million of whom live under the poverty line of £200 a month, then is laundered through Western banks.

Money may not smell, if one believes Emperor Vespasian. But dirty money soils not only its owner but also its recipients.

Pecunia non olet being the only remaining faith among Western politicians, other than their own power, they close their eyes on their financial institutions and, by ricochet, their whole societies being turned into gangster molls.

They cordially invite Russian bandits (otherwise known as oligarchs) to their countries, rub shoulders with them at social dos, receive their campaign contributions and smooth their way into money laundromats.

At least the US Congress is beginning to do something about it, over President Trump’s objections. The Congress has authorised investigation into the provenance of some trillion dollars of purloined Russian money sitting in American banks. Those assets may well be impounded if the investigation shows they were indeed acquired by criminal means.

Western Europe, mainly Britain, happily lets Russian gangsters launder at least as much again through its own banks – ignoring the moral damage. And London has become a version of Chicago circa 1930, with some Russian gangsters ‘whacking’ one another, and Putin’s hit men ‘whacking’ some others.

I’m sure Mr Hitchens is aware of these facts. But that awareness has produced no knowledge, in its true epistemological sense. And this obtuse ideological ignorance is more dangerous than any other.

Manny wants to grab our assets

“But Manny, you haven’t tried to grab my assets for years,” smiled Macron’s foster mother Brigitte in that seductive way for which French women of any age are so justly famous.

“That’s because English assets are so much more tempting, maman” explained Manny, who’s known for his Anglophilia. Of course he’s also known for his fanatical Europhilia, and this passion easily overrides whatever mythical affection he may feel for England.

That’s why Manny has been issuing threats to Britain ever since the Brexit referendum, when he even wasn’t yet France’s president. One such was that, by leaving the earthly Eden of the EU, Britain would descend into Hades by becoming like Jersey and Guernsey.

Yes please, I wrote at the time. General prosperity, social tranquillity, top tax rate of 20 per cent, almost nonexistent crime – what Manny saw as a threat looked more like a promise to me.

But now that he has moved his foster mother into the Élysée Palace, Manny is threatening to go back on that promise by crippling the City of London. Though financial services aren’t quite as crucial to England as they are to Jersey, that square mile of our capital produces some 25 per cent of our GDP.

By way of punishing Britain, and also pour encourager les autres, Manny is threatening to limit British fund managers’ access to EU money. That would force a movement of assets away from the City and into Paris.

Considering that the City manages close to a trillion pounds’ worth of assets, the blow would indeed be heavy. But that’s where Newton’s Third Law comes in: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

England isn’t a schoolboy, as Manny was when he first met his foster mother. We don’t have to bend over and accept chastisement meekly just because 17.4 million of us have voted to reclaim our ancient sovereignty.

We can fight back by making Manny’s earlier threat real and turning ourselves into a giant Jersey, complete with no red tape and huge tax breaks for investors, both financial and, in our case, also industrial.

Manny and Brigitte should bang their heads together and figure out what would happen if foreign manufacturers paid a corporate tax of 10 per cent or less in Britain, as opposed to the 28-33.33 per cent rates that currently exist in France.

Actually, what would happen to some French manufacturers as well? Would they be prepared to punish their shareholders in order to punish Britain? Much as one is confident of French businessmen’s patriotism, somehow one suspects they’d be moving across the Channel en masse.

In short, Manny has been a naughty boy. However, he has earned a few merit points by announcing plans to stop Russian propaganda channels RT and Sputnik from spreading fake news, especially in the run-up to elections.

Marine Le Pen, that great champion of civil liberties (except for the Jews), threw her hands up in horror. Freedom of speech is sacrosanct, she screamed, and Manny is jeopardising democracy.

Le Pen’s party receives not only moral but also financial support from Putin, which diminishes the effect of her outrage. But, if we disregard the source, the underlying argument is worth a comment.

Freedom of speech isn’t a suicide pact. If an enemy wages information war against a country, that country is justified in trying to spike his information guns – even at some cost to free speech.

Let me put this in French terms, so that Marine can understand. France declared war on Nazi Germany on 1 September, 1939, but the guns stayed silent until 10 May, 1940. That period was known as the Phoney War.

Could France have been accused of abusing free speech if she jammed Nazi propaganda broadcasts during the Phoney War? Of course not: propaganda is as much of a weapon as cannon and tanks. (I realise Marine could give a different answer to that question, what with her manifest attraction to strong foreign leaders.)

If that was the case then, it’s 100 times truer today, when the information weapons at the tyrants’ disposal are so much more sophisticated. Marine must realise that, though she correctly identifies Putin as her friend, whatever is left of the free world sees him for the implacable enemy he is.

Western democracies have laws governing political campaigns, their financing and use of media. Putin’s kleptofascist junta consistently tries to subvert that process, by dumping a torrent of fake news in support of its preferred candidate, typically one of neo-fascist leanings, like Marine.

It’s the government’s duty to defend the country against this kind of enemy action, and Manny is absolutely right in doing just that. I’d block Russian channels altogether, not just during election campaigns, but, as Thomas Jefferson put it, “Half a loaf is better than no bread at all”.

To sum up, Manny’s report card shows an F (with conduct marks) for his ill-advised threats against Britain and an A– for his understanding something Marine, and her like-minded friends in other countries, don’t: Putin’s Russia is the West’s enemy and should be treated accordingly.

I wonder if Brigitte agrees with my rating of Manny’s performance. Possibly not: for all I know, she may mark him down deliberately, for the sheer pleasure of whipping that cane out.