It wasn’t just the Germans

Having attacked the Soviet Union on 22 June, 1941, the Germans were racing through Eastern Poland (or Western Ukraine, as it had become after the Nazi-Soviet Pact) at march speeds. The Soviets, routed all along the frontline, hastily left Lwów on 29 June, 1941.

The Nazis occupied it on 30 June. During the one day of interregnum, the Poles and Ukrainians inhabiting the city were left to their own devices – and vices.

One such vice was the almost universal hatred of their 200,000 Jewish neighbours. The glowing embers of that unenviable sentiment were fanned into a violent flame when the locals broke into the three NKVD prisons, only to find out that their 8,000 inmates had been massacred by the Soviets before their retreat.

The mob blamed the Jews, even though many of the victims were themselves Jewish. However, when the heart speaks, reason falls silent – especially when people renounce their individuality to join a herd.

That particular herd went on a stampede, and, when the Germans entered the city, they found out that much of their work had already been done. Some 10,000 Jews had been murdered by their gentile neighbours in ways that must have made the victims beg to be simply shot.

But the job wasn’t done yet. Einsatzengruppen and the local collaborators began to round up and shoot Jews. Most of the firing squads didn’t include a single German – there was no shortage of local volunteers. By the end of the war, only a couple of hundred Lwów Jews were still alive.

Thus three times the number of Jews were killed in that one city than in the whole of occupied France, where local enthusiasm wasn’t exactly in short supply either. Why such disparity? What made Lwów so much more efficient?

Actually, it wasn’t just Lwów. Simply compare the numbers of massacred Jews relative to their overall numbers in a small sample of European countries.

Western Europe: Germany, 142,000 out of 565,000; Austria, 50,000 out of 185,000; Denmark, 60 out of 8,000; Finland, 7 out of 2,000; Italy, 7,500 out of 44,500; France, 77,000 out of 250,000.

Eastern Europe: Greece, 65,000 out of 75,000; Hungary, 550,000 out of 825,000; Latvia, 70,000 out of 91,500; Lithuania, 140,000 out of 168,000; Czechoslovakia, 78,000 out of 118,000; Poland, 3,000,000 out of 3,300,000.

You’ll notice that a much higher percentage of Jews were killed in Eastern Europe than even in Germany, which after all initiated the Holocaust and built the death camps.

Why such disparity? I can think of only one answer: Eastern Europeans didn’t mind the Holocaust as much, and were more than willing to lend the Germans a helping hand.

Another question: why did the Nazis set up all the extermination (as opposed to concentration) camps in Poland? Auschwitz, Belzec, Chełmno, Jasenovac, Majdanek, Maly Trostenets, Sobibor and Treblinka were all there.

To some extent, it must have been a matter of logistics: most of Europe’s Jewish population lived there or thereabouts, in what used to be the Pale of Settlement.

But it couldn’t have been just logistics. After all, the Nazis didn’t mind using hundreds of trains badly needed for military freight to transport Jews from, say, France all the way to Poland. It would have been more efficient to kill them in situ.

Also in the back of the Nazis’ mind must have been the issue of post-war deniability for the Germans. Had those crematorium chimneys been spewing clouds of black smoke in, say, Hamburg, it would have been hard for its denizens to claim they didn’t know.

As it was, such claims weren’t all that credible anyhow, as Daniel Goldhagen demonstrates convincingly in his instructive book Hitler’s Willing Executioners. But he also shows that the Nazis were wary of a potential backlash from the Germans had they had to watch mass murder committed on their own doorstep. No such fears in Poland.

This is the backdrop to the bill recently approved by the Polish parliament that will outlaw any public association of “the Polish nation” with crimes committed by the Germans. In other words, had a Pole written the previous paragraphs, he could get three years in prison – the kind of literary prize that’s rapidly gaining popularity in the low-rent part of Europe.

Poland’s president Andrzej Duda navigated the perilous undercurrents with laudable celerity. Yes, he admitted magnanimously, some individual Poles did do “wicked” things to their Jewish neighbours (like hacking them to death with shovels, but the president didn’t go into such graphic detail). But there was no institutional Polish participation in the Holocaust.

Actually, as far as I know, no one has ever suggested that the Polish government in exile issued an order to kill Jews. So Mr Duda is on safe grounds there.

But he then went on to bemoan that Poles are being “vilified” with “false accusations”. I suppose Mr Duda believes that any accusations against Poles ipso facto constitute unfounded vilification.

He also objects to the death camps being referred to as ‘Polish’. I agree that ‘German camps in Poland’ would be more accurate. But those camps wouldn’t have been in Poland if the locals had detested them.

They didn’t. At best, they shrugged their shoulders with indifferent acquiescence. At worst, tens of thousands of them took an active part in the atrocities. And those who deny these facts are the murderers’ accomplices after the fact.

The Poles are Catholics, so perhaps they should begin to act accordingly in this painful matter. Redemption won’t come from denying their sins – it can only come from confession and repentance. Especially since history lays their sins bare for all to see.

Don’t mention ze vor

There’s only one thing the British hate more than being hectored, and that’s being hectored by Germans. Yet that’s precisely what the outgoing German ambassador Peter Ammon did in his valedictory interview.

His Excellence is upset about the frequent references to the war made by Brexiteers, who draw an unwarranted parallel between the Third Reich and the EU:

“History is always full of ambiguities and ups and downs,” he said, “but if you focus only on how Britain stood alone in the war, how it stood against dominating Germany, well, it is a nice story, but does not solve any problem of today.”

Herr Ammon should have got out more when in London. Had he visited, for example, any international football match, he’d know that such sentiments transcend political boundaries.

When England plays Germany, many an English fan holds the index finger of his left hand across his top lip, while raising his outstretched right arm in a well-known salute. And when England plays any other European team, tens of thousands sing as one: “If it wasn’t for England, you’d all be Krauts”.

In fact, before the 2006 World Cup held in Germany, the departing England fans had been briefed on this sensitive issue and told not to mention the war. In compliance, during the opening ceremony many of them sported T-shirts saying “Don’t mention the war”.

One can always rely on any EU ideologue to intersperse truisms with banalities, bromides and platitudes. So yes, history is indeed full of ambiguities. But Germany’s quest to dominate Europe isn’t one of them. It’s an observable fact rooted in national psychology.

The Germans seem to think that their indisputable talents don’t get the recognition they deserve. Western music, for example, is practically all German, which is an unparalleled cultural achievement.

While one can’t say exactly the same thing about Western philosophy, the Germans arguably contributed more to it than anyone else. They also hold their own in literature and science, while their ability to mass-produce premium products is second to none.

Germans do have much to be proud of, but here’s the rub. People in general, and the British in particular, don’t like high achievers who flaunt their accomplishments too openly. They admire such people only if their success is leavened with diffidence and self-deprecating humour.

Germans aren’t exactly known for these traits, which is why they’re more often mocked than praised. To be sure, envy has a role to play there as well, but it’s not nearly as prominent as the Germans will have you believe.

I’d venture a guess that the Germans’ desire for respect, which they felt they merited and weren’t getting, was a contributing factor in both world wars. It’s also possible that, had, say, Italy been the defeated aggressor in the First World War, the peace treaty imposed on her would have been less harsh than Versailles.

When Nazi German and Vichy French bureaucrats were drawing the blueprint for the EU towards the end of the Second World War, they were both driven by their national desiderata. Having experienced a de facto single European state, they felt the concept was promising.

France, having lost two wars to the Germans in the preceding 70 years, and won a Pyrrhic victory in another, wanted some guarantee of a lasting peace – and a chance to mend her badly dented pride by riding the resurgent Germans’ coattails .

Germany, having lost any possibility of launching military conquests in the foreseeable future, welcomed the chance of rising to a highly predictable economic, and therefore political, dominance in Europe.

Things have panned out as the two parties planned, especially for Germany. She has emerged as the most politically powerful, and the only economically virile, country on the continent. And Germany foots the bill for most EU members in a sort of supranational welfare state.

Here it’s useful to keep in mind that, all the touchy-feely noises aside, the real objective of any welfare state, national or supranational, is to increase the political power of the state over the individual (or country). And Germany does much to vindicate this statement.

In common with all fire-eating ideologues, the good ambassador is adept at denying obvious facts. Hence he mocks the very idea that the EU is basically a German fiefdom:

“When I tell people in Germany I am confronted by this narrative occasionally in public debates they say, ‘This cannot be true. You are joking. This cannot be true. That is absurd.’.” Well, they would, wouldn’t they.

“I spoke to many of the Brexiteers, and many of them said they wanted to preserve a British identity,” laments the ambassador.

Shame on those retrogrades. Preserve a British identity when they could have a German one instead? There’s no understanding some people.

Being a German, he probably doesn’t realise how much political sovereignty determines the British national identity. Germany, after all, became a single political entity barely a century and a half ago, while Britain has been just that for more than a millennium.

Hence Germany has made a rather understated contribution to the art of politics, and what she has made is largely negative. She has been much more successful at churning out food processors and electric shavers.

Neither is France fit to teach politics to the world – any more than a man divorced several times is fit to offer marriage advice on the basis of that experience. While England has had roughly the same constitution since 1688, France has had 17 different ones since 1789.

If France taught the world how to build cathedrals and make wine, and Germany how to compose music and make toasters, England has shown how to run a state without too much social conflict. Germany and France are glued together mainly by culture; Britain mainly by politics.

Hence, throughout their political flip-flops, France and Germany preserved their national identity. France managed to do so even when being part of Germany. As the Nazis were rounding up Jews, Jean-Paul still held court at Les Deux Magots, and his plays were still produced at the Théâtre du VieuxColombier.

Conversely, Britain without her political sovereignty is no longer Britain. But the good ambassador is either insufficiently bright or too German to understand this.

Such failings don’t prevent him from patronising the British: “If you say the words ‘single market’ or ‘customs union’, probably 99 per cent of the population would not understand.”

Let’s see if I can pass the test. Customs union is like the Zollverein, isn’t it? That devious stratagem Prussia used to coerce other German states to come together under her aegis, am I getting it right? Well then, it’s hard not to notice that today’s Germany has absorbed this lesson of history rather well.

And British football fans, for all their supposed ignorance, have absorbed others much better than the good ambassador. They may not be able to define a Zollverein, but when they see it they know it.

Come the BSSR (B for Britain)

What do you call a country where the government can seize legally acquired private property? (I’ll entertain no obscene replies.)

Fascist? Totalitarian? Lawless? Communist? Correct. Or else you can call it Britain after the next general election.

Considering the criminal ineptitude and irresponsibility of the Tories and the disintegration of UKIP, it’s likely that Comrade Corbyn will form the next government. And he doesn’t even bother to conceal his intention of turning Britain into a BSSR.

The latest instalment came in an interview the other day, when Corbyn promised to house all homeless people by seizing luxury flats ‘deliberately kept vacant’:

“There is something grossly insulting about the idea you would build a luxury block… deliberately keep it empty knowing that with property price inflation the investor is going to make 10 per cent or 12 per cent a year…”

I find Corbyn himself ‘grossly insulting’, but I don’t propose he should be killed to spare my feelings. Yet this is precisely what he’s proposing to do to property rights, which more or less define our post-Christian civilisation.

His concern for the 5,000 people known to be sleeping rough is touching. This is indeed a problem, but one that could be largely solved by tightening immigration controls and deporting illegal aliens.

Just walking around London it’s hard not to notice that most rough sleepers don’t really belong in Britain. Those few who do must be helped (many of them psychiatrically) – but not at the cost of blowing up the very foundations of our commonwealth.

It’s indeed regrettable that hundreds of luxury residential highrises going up in London aren’t fully occupied. And it’s true that many of them are bought by foreign absentee owners specifically for the purpose that vexes Corbyn so.

This undeniably has a deleterious effect on the infrastructure in the whole area. If most flats stay empty, so will most shops, restaurants and drycleaners. But their plight doesn’t strike me as sufficient justification for converting Britain into a communist hell.

Yet this is precisely what will happen if Corbyn has his way. How does he see the practicalities involved? Has he at least done his sums?

A whole city of luxury highrises has grown up on the Thames, mostly its south bank, from Putney to Vauxhall. Flats there start at £1,000,000, but they certainly don’t end there.

Now will Corbyn seize 5,000 flats with no compensation or will he pay the absentee owners off? As a free tip, his Bolshevik role models favoured the former option, typically accompanied by the summary execution of the bloodsucking capitalist.

Killing the rich may be a step too far in the next parliament, but robbing them seems to be on the cards – especially since the second option will involve finding a few loose billion to compensate the acquisitive Johnny Foreigner.

And supposing the owner doesn’t want to sell? Barring the sanguinary possibilities, will Corbyn’s stormtroopers kick the door in and claim squatting rights? I can’t help thinking the owners will sue – provided we still have independent courts, which is far from certain. If we do, there may be billions’ worth of settlements against the government.

But even the first option isn’t free. For flats like those carry a five-digit service charge. Multiply 5,000 by £12,000 a year and you get a helluvalot. Will Comrade Corbyn force the building freeholders to forgo the charge?

Then there’s the small matter of local and property taxes, which the erstwhile homeless will probably be unable to pay. And the lawsuits will multiply…

There’s also the problem of those owners who do live in their expensive flats. How will they like seeing a homeless Romanian move in next door? Call me a snob, but those chaps are slightly deficient in sanitary and hygienic practices. Their approach to fire safety may also be less rigorous than what’s expected in such buildings.

It doesn’t take many such occupants to make property prices plunge. But I’m sure the present residents will be happy to eat those losses. A few hundred thousand is a small price to pay to see social justice done.

In addition to this massive raid on the cornerstone of British legality, Corbyn is promising to build 8,000 houses to accommodate the 5,000 homeless. Coupled with the luxury flats he’ll expropriate for the same purpose, this will turn the poor wretches into absentee landlords themselves – they’ll each have several properties.

But never mind the sums – this isn’t about arithmetic. It’s not even about the homeless. When socialists talk about helping the less fortunate, what they really want is to punish the more fortunate, those who work hard their whole lives to make sure they don’t end up sleeping in the street.

The very idea of money making money is abhorrent to socialists. They’ll just about tolerate a chap who makes a good living by running a grocery – but they won’t let him invest the surplus into non-productive areas.

That, incidentally, partly explains the congenital anti-Semitism of socialists, manifestly including today’s Labour. Following their patron saint Marx, who used the words ‘Jew’ and ‘capitalist’ interchangeably, they identify non-productive investment with Jews. Of course Marx was only marginally better disposed towards even productive private investment, but that’s the second order of the day.

This whole thing brings back fond memories of my Moscow youth. There most accommodation was owned by the state, and the state decided who was entitled to what and how much.

The maximum space allowed was nine square meters (about 90 square feet) per person. Hence a family of four could luxuriate in 36 square meters. ‘Maximum’ is the operative word because most families didn’t have that, but that’s a separate matter.

Now what happened when Grandpa died, turning it into a family of three and creating a surplus? That inequity called for restitution, and the family could be ‘densified’, meaning forced to share their space with at least one stranger.

Corbyn’s evident hatred of property rights means there’s every chance the word ‘densification’ will enter the English vocabulary, along with other lexical contributions made by Russia, such as ‘nihilism’, ‘vodka’, ‘pogrom’, ‘bolshevism’, ‘Soviet’, ‘Cheka’, ‘zek’, ‘gulag’, ‘disinformation’, ‘resident’ (spy handler), ‘collectivisation’, ‘sputnik’, ‘glasnost’, ‘perestroika’ and so forth.

All you have to do is wait until the next general election and then tick ‘Labour’ on your ballot paper. The BSSR will be just round the corner.

Nobody in Europe speaks English

This statement is probably an exaggeration. But not nearly as much as its oft-used opposite, starting with ‘everybody’.

Britons who say it mean that it’s now possible to exchange basic Anglophone units of information with French waiters, Italian shopkeepers and Spanish museum guides.

Language is just a communication tool, isn’t it? If so, most Europeans are indeed capable of communicating in English – or producing write-ups such as the one above, on the wall of Rouen’s Palais de Justice.

The write-up does consummate an act of communication, although not without an effort on the part of a visiting Englishman. But if he’s willing to do a bit of Enigma-style deciphering, he can figure out what this eccentric prose means.

On the other hand, it also casts doubt on the premise. Yes, language is a means of communication. But it’s not just that.

If we bring down to earth the Biblical statement about the Word that was in the beginning, perhaps language is what creates and defines a nation. And if we believe the Babel story, then language is definitely what separates one nation from another – and not just linguistically.

English and Russian, for example, are different in exactly the same ways as the English and the Russians are different. One example: an English sentence is based on the verb, the action word, whereas the centre of a Russian sentence is the noun, surrounded by numerous modifiers.

A Russian sentence can function without a verb – just like a Russian man can function without doing anything much. (However, in jest, it’s possible to make a Russian sentence of nothing but eight verbs in a row. For the Russophones among you: посидели, поговорили, подумали, решили послать пойти купить выпить.)

Hence classical Russian literature, from Pushkin to Goncharov, from Gogol to Tolstoy, abounds in indolent layabouts who talk much and do little. On the other hand, Russian boasts a vast variety of affixation, ideally suited to conveying the shades of emotions in which the layabouts endlessly indulge.

English grammar is formally rigorous, which reflects a propensity for sequential logic and rational thought, just as its reliance on the verb reflects action-oriented pragmatism. The set word order of the English language can only be violated for stylistic effect, while Russian word order follows no rules whatsoever and is entirely stylistic.

That stands to reason. For the Russians despise rigid forms into which their much-vaunted spirituality can be squeezed. Hence they’ve so far been unable to come up with stable statehood or reasonable legality.

Characteristically, Nikolai Lossky’s History of Russian Philosophy devotes 57 pages to the mystical thinker Soloviov and only two to all the Russian philosophers of law combined. Justice – defined as a set of codified laws, not arbitrary feelings – has never interested the Russians much.

According to Lossky (d. 1965), this disdain for form even penetrated the Russians’ gene pool, producing ill-defined facial features so different, say, from the chiselled North European profile. It’s as if, having drawn a sketch of a Russian face, God then went over it, smudging every line with his thumb.

Lossky’s observation may be too sweeping, but it’s certainly evident that the Russians’ amorphousness extends to the way they treat every public institution, political, legal or religious.

Pavel Florensky, the polymath thinker murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1937, commented on the Russian character in essentially the same way: “There is no sun in the Slavs, no transparency, no definition! Clarity and serenity are lacking… It seems to me that this is meaningfully related to their failure… to find the sublime in the here and now and not strain to seek it in the nonexistent or the far-away.”

All this explains why the genre of the rigorously argued philosophical essay is as alien to the Russians as it’s natural to the English. The English vocabulary is three times the size of Russian, which makes the language more precise: a concept can be fractured into many specific fragments, each expressing its own nuance.

Russian, on the other hand, is ideally suited to poetic expression. Poetry imposes discipline on the Russians willy-nilly, while the loose grammar and practically endless morphology of their language open up infinite poetic possibilities.

The morphology of Russian words is so rich phonetically that Russian poets don’t have to rely on consonant endings to produce rhymes: they can find them in the words’ roots themselves. That’s why rhyming patterns are more interesting and less obvious in Russian, and vers libre, though not nonexistent, is rare there. By contrast, rhymed English poetry can easily sound like doggerel.

To be sure, the English have produced more than their fair share of great poets (including the greatest of all, Shakespeare), but one almost has to be that to write superb verse in English. By contrast, Russian poets of even modest talents can often produce excellent poems – their language does much of the work by itself.

Because their language and therefore their mentality don’t encourage philosophical self-expression, Russian thinkers often seek refuge in poetry or the novel.

Dostoyevsky’s novels, for example, are basically philosophy minus the intellectual discipline of the essay. And Tolstoy, possibly the greatest artist among world novelists, often indulged in tedious philosophical asides of the kind that would have destroyed the prose of a lesser artist.

The Russians welcome that sort of mongrelisation – it capitalises on their strength, poetic language, while downplaying their weakness, intellectual amorphousness. But Tolstoy’s Western contemporaries reacted differently. For example, Flaubert, having read the first French translation of War and Peace, exclaimed indignantly, “Il se répète! Il philosophise!

So yes, an increasing number of Europeans and even Russians are now able to communicate in English, after a fashion. But to speak English for real one has to have the mental, emotional and spiritual makeup the language reflects or – arguably – creates.

Some – I’d like to suggest self-servingly – may perhaps be able to achieve this without being raised in an English-speaking country. A certain intellectual and emotional predisposition developed by lifelong study and decades of using English almost exclusively may see to that.

But such rare cases apart, I stand by the title above. If you juxtapose two sentences, “Everybody in Europe speaks English” and “Nobody in Europe speaks English”, the second is closer to the truth.

Crime without punishment

Over 5.3 million crimes were committed in Britain last year, which shows a healthy annual increase of 14 per cent – the biggest since 1990. Robbery, violent crimes and sex offences are doing even better, growing at 29, 20 and 23 per cent respectively.

You’ll find this hard to believe, but gun crime also went up by a fifth. Didn’t HMG do the right thing by banning handguns in 1997? Surely this ought to have put paid to gun crime once and for all. What do you know, before long some inveterate reactionaries may agree with the self-explanatory title of John Lott’s book More Guns, Less Crime.

I’d love to blame Brexit for this, and believe me I’ve tried. However, hard as I try to analyse the issue from every angle, I simply can’t figure out how the very possibility of reducing the importation of cultural aliens could boost crime.

Establishing a causative link between the number of such imports and crime presents an easier task. For example, the population of Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, is almost half Muslim – and the city boasts more murders than the rest of Scandinavia combined.

 And, as a life-long champion of multi-culti probity, it saddens me to observe that the parts of London with the greatest Muslim population have the most crime, although, credit where it’s due, Eastern Europeans work hard to make a meaningful contribution too.

But not to worry: help is on the way. Elect a Labour government, and our streets will become crime-free. Such is the solemn promise issued by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, Corbyn’s former squeeze: “These statistics are an indictment of this Conservative Government’s policies. Labour will address this crisis and recruit 10,000 new police officers.”

True enough, the Tories have inexcusably cut some 20,000 policemen in England and Wales, bringing their total number down to 121,929 – the lowest for a generation. However, the Nazis managed to police occupied France with only 100,000 men – in spite of the supposedly widespread armed resistance. (Isn’t that why every French village has a Place de la Résistance?)

Much as I admire Miss Abbott’s God-given combination of brains, beauty and integrity, a simple increase in the number of officers isn’t going to do the trick. Neither will a drastic reduction in the number of immigrants achieve this purpose, although it’ll certainly help.

The problem is more complex than that, lending itself to neither simplistic explanations nor simplistic solutions. After all, a propensity to commit crimes is an ontological human condition, which it’ll remain until someone repeals Original Sin.

A healthy society starts out by mournfully acknowledging the sinful nature of man. This sounds fairly straightforward, but it certainly isn’t. Today’s Britain makes much better use of Rousseau’s postulate that man is perfect to begin with and is only ever made imperfect by civilisation.

From this it logically follows that, to put it in the language of defence counsel all around Britain, it’s all society’s fault. A poor chap slashes an old woman’s throat for her pension money because we’ve let him down, probably by giving him insufficient handouts. This collective culpability doesn’t wholly excuse the crime, but it certainly mitigates it.

And even after the first offence, we, society, fail to learn our lesson. That’s why half our prison population are habitual criminals, with an average of 15 convictions to their credit. And most of the rest aren’t really first-time offenders but first-time convicts – big difference.

For example, it takes something like 50 burglaries for the poor victim of society to see the inside of prison. The rest of the crimes are unpunished – and typically even uninvestigated.

Hence I agree with those who suffer cardiac haemorrhage at the sight of criminals going to prison, where paid sports channels aren’t always available. It’s indeed all society’s fault – well, most of it.

But it’s not the criminals who’ve been let down, but society itself. It’s our fault that so many crimes go uninvestigated or unpunished. That prison is seen as an educational facility, rather than a punitive one. That police are being transformed into social workers. That officers are prevented from doing their job by political correctness: PC hamstringing PCs.

And yes, there aren’t enough officers. But we could double their number without having the slightest effect on crime if the police are deprived of the tools of their trade. Or if they have little incentive to pursue criminals, rather than chaps who’ve had one lemonade too many.

Disarm 100,000 soldiers, and 100 chaps armed with machine guns will cut them to ribbons. And even if you don’t disarm the soldiers, they’ll still be routed if they aren’t allowed to use their weapons and are encouraged to doubt the validity or morality of their task.

Defence of the realm against foreign and domestic evildoers isn’t just the first task of any government but almost the only one. That’s what brought the state into existence and continues to legitimise it.

However, our spivocrats prefer to follow the road signposted by Rousseau, which is why they cut investment in both defence and law enforcement. They seem to believe – against every bit of available evidence – that creating a huge underclass dependent on the government for its livelihood will open paths to goodness. Original Sin has been replaced by Original Virtue.

Yet that’s not how society works because it’s not how man is. A culture of getting something for nothing produces a broadly shared disdain for the property, indeed lives, of others. The history of every country where welfarism has been tried on a massive scale proves this convincingly.

Back in the 1890s, at the height of the dog-eat-dog Industrial Revolution, people in the East End of London left their doors unlocked – crime was too rare to bother with locks and bolts. This though the welfare state was still half a century away.

Today, after some 70 years of socialism, Britons and their grateful guests are committing 5.3 million crimes a year, and London comfortably leads New York in every crime category, except murder (the gap is closing fast).

When Jeremy’s gorgeous ex claims that Labour will sort this problem out, anyone endowed with a logical mind must cringe. Socialism manifestly begets crime, so what effect will a party have that promises even more socialism?

Alas, the Tories are still the lesser evil. But make no mistake about it: evil they are.

All blacks are disabled by definition

Dr Thomas Sowell, the brilliant economist and social philosopher who probably doesn’t see himself as disabled.

Before you accuse me of malignant racism, this notion doesn’t come from me. Nor does it come from any member of the Ku Klux Klan, the BNP, Front National or any other such organisation.

The originator of this astonishing idea is Dr Kimani Paul-Emile, law professor at Fordham University and a black woman herself.

Fordham Law Review describes her as a “foremost thinker and writer in the areas of law and inequality, race and the law, law and biomedical ethics, and health law,” who provides “a fresh perspective on racial discrimination.”

From the vertiginous height of such qualifications, Dr Paul-Emile argues that a black is disabled in exactly the same sense as a blind person or one missing a limb or two. Therefore this state of affairs must be legally recognised.

Hence, whenever the slightest whiff of discrimination can be smelled, disability laws can be invoked to protect the chromatically challenged. Moreover, blackness “was designed” as a disability. “Racial categories were created explicitly to serve as a caste system to privilege some and disadvantage others,” she maintains.

This complaint is best addressed to God, methinks. However, Dr Paul-Emile’s arguments are so persuasive, and her style so elegant, that I hope you won’t mind a long quotation: changing her prose would only mean making it sound less poignant. So:

“Rather than focusing on malicious intent, disability law accepts the impact of even neutral actions, policies, and programs, directly confronting the ways in which social structures, institutions, and norms can ‘substantially limit’ a person’s ability to perform ‘a major life activity’.”

My command of legalese isn’t perfect, so correct me if I’m wrong. But what I think this means is that disability laws should cover all blacks with an infinitely wide shroud, with no attention given to the presence of actual discrimination.

Dr Paul-Emile accepts that at present race laws are “relatively effective”, which, however, hasn’t been the case “historically”. Begging your forgiveness again for my being slow on the uptake, does this mean that the effectiveness of race laws should be averaged out over the past 200 years?

Is there some quotient calculated by finding the average between today’s “relatively effective” laws against discrimination and the nonexistent such laws prior to the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation? If so, there’s a definite cause for concern, especially for those who take such idiocy seriously.

Or perhaps I only think this stuff is idiotic because I don’t understand what it means to be black in America. Fortunately, Dr Paul-Emile is on hand to provide an explanation, and again I have to give the full quote – one can’t add anything to perfection, nor subtract anything from it:

“To be Black means facing increased likelihood, relative to Whites, of living in poverty, attending failing schools, experiencing discrimination in housing, being denied a job interview, being stopped by the police, being killed during a routine police encounter, receiving inferior medical care, living in substandard conditions and in dangerous and/or polluted environments, being un- or underemployed, receiving longer prison sentences, and having a lower life expectancy.”

Allow me to see if I’ve got that right. So a black neurosurgeon is more likely to suffer all those awful things than an habitually unemployed white lout. Correct? No?

Then perhaps the issue is class, not race. Having lived for many years in Texas, “historically” not the most racially tolerant part of the US, I never heard the lapidary phrase “there goes the neighbourhood” uttered when a black doctor or lawyer moved in next door.

True, back in the early ‘70s, Mohammed Ali was unable to buy a house in River Oaks, Houston’s most exclusive quarter, even though he was prepared to pay $3,000,000 cash. At the time I thought it was terribly unfair – until I ran into the boxer at the airport.

He was impressive: a tall, handsome man splendidly attired in a three-piece navy blue suit, white shirt and polka-dot tie matching the suit. Strutting regally through the crowd, Ali looked like a man who’d be welcomed at Buck House, never mind River Oaks.

The trouble was that he wasn’t by himself. Following him was a retinue of a dozen men, wearing pimp clothes and gyrating as they walked to the deafening din coming from their ghetto blasters, of which each had his own.

My finances didn’t stretch to River Oaks. If they had, I would have been happy to live next door to Ali. But, knowing that he came packaged with his acolytes, I would have blackballed him too. A sleepy, affluent neighbourhood can’t really accommodate loud, drug-fuelled all-nighters accompanied by what passes for music. And I would have felt the same way if the group had been all-white and led by, say, Rocky Marciano.

But back to my favourite legal scholar. “Understanding Blackness as disabling,” she writes, “brings to the fore a surprising new approach to addressing discrimination and systemic inequality that has been hiding in plain sight: disability law.”

‘Surprising’ is one modifier that comes to mind, but it isn’t the only one. May I suggest cretinous? Deranged? Insane? Fatuous? The list could be quite long. It would certainly include ‘ignorant’, for surely a law professor must know that a raft of racial equality laws already exist in the US, and they even include provisions for affirmative action, otherwise known as reverse discrimination.

And how would black people like to be seen as disabled simply because of their skin colour? If I were black, I’d think that in this context ‘disabled’ is perilously close to racially inferior. Surely the good professor didn’t mean it that way?

But the real question is what a person capable of extruding this gobbledegook  is doing teaching law at a reputable Catholic university. Especially considering that it’s run by Jesuits, an order that has produced such great minds as Luis de Molina and Francisco Suárez.

Is this the best they can do these days? Probably. Modernity is a contagious disease against which no inoculation exists.

War with Russia: “not if but when”

Gen. Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the General Staff

Such is the assessment of Gen. Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the General Staff. And he doesn’t rate our chances.

I’ve been saying similar things for years. That only goes to show how obvious they are: if a rank amateur like me can spot both the strategic menace and our inability to nullify it, then surely anyone can.

Well, not quite. While few will argue against the second proposition, that Britain is so weak militarily as to be practically disarmed, many are the ‘useful idiots’ who insist on Putin’s good intentions and generally spotless character.

They’ll probably be saying the same things if a Russian airborne division established a beachhead in Kent. You see, they’ll be saying, what our provocations have forced this good, Christian, anti-homosexual, patriotic, strong leader to do.

It’s anyone’s guess whether they’d change their tune if Russian tanks advanced on London. But I prefer to talk facts, not conjecture.

I shan’t repeat Sir Nick’s assessment of the relative military potential of Russia and Britain, or for that matter Europe. Those interested in the technical details can find them in today’s papers.

Suffice it to say that we’re decisively outgunned in every category – and the disparity is widening due to our successive governments’ criminal policy of denuding our military to pre-Napoleonic levels.

Then again, the only thing that matters to our spivocrats is self-perpetuation, which means garnering enough votes to win the next election. Pumping money into defence of the realm won’t achieve this purpose, while bloating welfare and NHS budgets to suicidal levels may.

Hence our spivocrats will throw trillions down the black hole of social spending and foreign aid, while only building, as a sop to the hawks, a couple of aircraft carriers with no aircrafts to carry.

But let’s concentrate on the nature of Putin’s Russia, along with her intentions. These are crucial because HMG’s entire defence policy is based on the assumptions peddled by Putin’s propagandists and their eager recipients in the West.

(Incidentally, if downloading child porn is a criminal offence because this encourages uploading it, then surely downloading RT should be as well. A few perverts aren’t going to cause nearly as much damage, after all.)

Alas, even reasonably unbiased Britons don’t understand the profoundly evil nature of Putin’s kleptofascist regime. We’ve lost the capacity to identify evil – or indeed to acknowledge it exists, this side of the Muslim world.

Those Britons don’t know much about evil regimes, and understand even less. Hence Lenin’s and Stalin’s nightmare had millions of supporters, especially within the fashionably lefty lumpen intelligentsia.

Hitler too had his supporters, drawn mainly from the classes above the intelligentsia. And the likes of Lloyd George and G. B. Shaw successfully spanned the two groups by favouring both red and brown Satanists.

Typologically, British fans of Putin resemble the group that supported Hitler, although their accents aren’t usually as upmarket. They certainly cite similar reasons: our government is weak and vacillating (true), their idol is strong (equally true), he’s patriotic (true about Hitler, less true about Putin), he’s the only hope of the world (false in both cases).

And even those who generously acknowledge that murdering or imprisoning dissidents, suppressing free press, turning the whole country and much of the world into an organised crime mob, attacking neighbours and grabbing pieces of their territory aren’t nice things to do still find excuses for the KGB colonel.

It’s all our fault, they say. We’ve provoked Putin by supporting the Ukraine’s independence and expanding NATO to include the Baltics.

This only goes to show that their moral compass must sit next to a powerful magnet. Chaps, the Russians deliberately starved millions of Ukrainians to death, forcing parents to eat their children. And in the next decade they murdered or deported about a quarter of the Baltics’ population.

In both places, guerrilla warfare against the Russians went on throughout the 1950s, with young people heroically going to their deaths to resist their murderers, torturers and suppressors of their national culture.

When their descendants finally managed to gain their independence, surely it’s the moral duty of the West to offer every possible support and protection? Even at a cost to itself?

However, Putin’s fans profess thinking in realpolitik, not moral, categories. But they wouldn’t know either morality or realpolitik if it bit them on the, well, nose. Because of that cognitive disorder they don’t realise that this is one of those rare instances when morality and realpolitik coincide.

They think Russia’s massive military build-up (see today’s papers) is just for show. They think that Putin’s hysterically bellicose propaganda identifying the West as both the enemy and the target is just a political stratagem designed to win the next election.

This only shows their pro-Putin bias married to cataclysmic ignorance of history, Russia, propaganda, military build-ups and just about everything else involved in the problem at hand.

Correcting such all-embracing ignorance in a short piece is an impossible task, but I can still outline some stab points. The most important one is that runaway militarisation coupled with total – not to say totalitarian – war propaganda acquires an inner logic all its own.

At some point militarisation becomes mobilisation and, as the German strategist Helmut von Moltke postulated, mobilisation is war. Once that juggernaut gathers speed, it soon reaches a point of no return.

I’d argue – and so evidently would Sir Nick – that Russia’s militarisation has already reached that point. So has her propaganda.

Bugles haven’t tooted and drums haven’t rattled so loudly in Russia since the 1930s, when Stalin was turning the populace into unthinking murderous automata ready to roll over Europe. I certainly never saw anything on the same scale during my 25 years in Russia (ending in 1973).

This sort of thing has the same effect as mobilisation. When the state’s whole raison d’être is rattling its sabre, at some point that sabre has to see the light of day. Otherwise the state will lose its legitimacy, a loss that its leader will be unlikely to survive physically.

Parallels with 1914 are being drawn all over the place, but the most critical one escapes most commentators’ attention. None of the future combatants wanted war then; they all hoped to achieve their ends by peaceful means. To that end, they all militarised, made bellicose noises and flexed their muscles.

They thus breathed life into the genie of war and consequently lost control over it. The genie came out of the bottle and wouldn’t be put back.

Putin runs a country where at least half of the population (and I’m being generous) live in appalling poverty, many of them actually starving. At the same time the country is facing a demographic catastrophe, with its population declining as a result of low birth rates, third-world life expectancy, practically non-existing medical care, undernourishment – and mass emigration.

Against that background, Putin and his junta are stealing the country blind, transferring trillions into various offshore havens. Putin has turned his whole entourage into billionaires, from his family and friends to his bodyguard and cook.

There’s a constant rumble of tectonic discontent in Russia, and an eruption can only be prevented by offering a metaphysical compensation for all the physical deprivations. Putin remembers Herzen’s maxim: the strongest chains tethering the people are forged out of victorious swords – or, to start with, out of the promise to unsheathe those swords.

But the deprivations are real, made even more so by the fact that Russians are allowed to travel to the West and compare. Since, in the good tradition of both the tsars and the Bolsheviks, the government is above reproach, that state of affairs has to be blamed on someone.

When Hitler took over a destitute, humiliated Germany, he identified the culprits rather narrowly: the Jews. So far this traditional enemy of everything that fascists of every hue see as good hasn’t been mentioned in Russia, at least not publicly by its government.

For the time being Putin has set his sights wider: the West. And he has made a solemn promise, sometimes in so many words, sometimes tacitly, that the West will pay for its perfidy.

Hence the whole logic of Russia’s kleptofascist regime demands war. Promises are supposed to be kept, and those who break them will be held accountable.

For all intents and purposes, Russia’s KGB government, backed by her KGB church, has already declared a crusade on the West. Sir Nick seems to realise this, and he’s aghast that the government doesn’t seem to.

In fact, the war is already in full swing, but only one side is fighting it – so far mostly with electronic and information weapons. Sir Nick knows that in modern warfare these are as deadly as tanks and missiles. So he screams, but, though his isn’t exactly the lone voice crying in the wilderness, it’s certainly not part of the mighty choir we need.

I do disagree with Sir Nick on one point. We aren’t facing the greatest threat since the Cold War. It’s the greatest since 1939 – and the only way to confront it is with a resolute show of strength.

With our government, I’m not holding my breath.

A shopper’s guide to drink-driving

The last time puritanism flared up in England, a king was decapitated. I do hope no such fate awaits Her Majesty, for puritanism is on the rise again.

This time, however, it springs not from a dour misreading of Christianity, but from replacing it with a kind of pagan moralising underpinned by ersatz virtue.

It’s in that spirit that Chris Tarrant got shopped.

The TV presenter had four drinks at a village pub just over a mile from his Berkshire house. He then drove home and relaxed. He shouldn’t have.

For one of his fellow drinkers had shopped him to the cops, which is par for today’s course. The same people who, as children, knew not to grass up a classmate, now sanctimoniously denounce anyone who contravenes the new pseudo-morality, be that by having a tipple or patting a girl’s behind.

The cops banged on Tarrant’s door 13 minutes after he got home and found him to have 50 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. Since the legal limit is 35 microgrammes,  Tarrant was done – for having roughly one drink too many to satisfy the exacting legal requirements.

When he was tried at Reading Magistrates Court, both his prosecutor and judge were Muslims, or at least had Muslim names, Hasrat Ali and Shomon Khan respectively.

I’m not suggesting any bias on their part, but, had Mr Tarrant been tried by a jury, gentlemen with those names wouldn’t have been on it. Having Muslims try a drink-driving case is like having RSPCA members pronounce on cruelty towards animals.

It’s hardly surprising that His Honour ruled that the “relatively low reading” couldn’t possibly “reduce the seriousness of the offence”. He then banned Mr Tarrant for a year and fined him £6,000.

The law was thus served – and justice abused.

Most people would disagree with me, but I have a problem with prosecuting drink-driving in general, provided the imbiber drives normally. If he veers all over the place or, God forbid, runs someone over, then by all means throw the book at him. But if his driving isn’t affected, arresting him for having three glasses of wine instead of the allowable two smacks of preventive arrest.

I’ve heard arguments that a chap who has drunk half a bottle of wine is statistically more likely to have an accident. That may be.

But since when do we arrest people on statistical probability? For example, statistics show that a black man is more likely than a white one to commit a crime. Does this mean we should arrest all black men just in case?

However, even assuming that a law against drink-driving has some merit, surely it must be applied sensibly. For example, there’s less excuse for DUI in London, where one can just get into a taxi, than in the country, where no other transportation is available.

The issue is dear to my heart because I spend almost half my time in rural France, where we often go to friends’ houses for dinner. The party usually lasts some four hours, over which time I’d typically have a couple of glasses of bubbly before dinner and perhaps a bottle of wine with it.

After that I drive home, on the roads that are empty even in daytime, never mind after midnight. Since I metabolise alcohol efficiently, I’m probably within the UK limit, but conceivably outside the French one, which is a third lower. So what should we do, walk 15 miles home? Or not drink at a French dinner party? (The former is more plausible.)

Fair enough, if I had a bottle of whisky rather than wine, I shouldn’t be driving, as, to my eternal shame, I used to do in my youth. (I still warmly remember that Texas cop who stopped me, demanded that I get out of the car, realised that I couldn’t and still let me off, saying to my wife: “Lady, either you drive or I take him to jail.”)

I wouldn’t do that now, having acquired some common sense and civic responsibility. But any experienced driver is capable of driving home safely after a few glasses of wine – especially on empty country roads.

The argument that one’s reflexes are dulled by alcohol doesn’t quite wash either. A friend of mine has a 93-year-old father who can still legally drive from Paris to our neck of Burgundian woods. I bet my house against your pint that I have sharper reflexes after a bottle of wine than he has stone sober.

So, if the speed of reflexes is an issue, which of us should be arrested? And if the authorities are so concerned about reaction time, why not measure that instead of the blood alcohol content?

Getting back to Mr Tarrant’s case, preventing an accident was clearly not on the policemen’s mind. After all, he was already home safely. So why go after him with so much determination?

Then there’s the size of the fine. I Googled drink-driving penalties on the government website, and it mentions a fine of up to £2,500. How come Mr Tarrant was fined £6,000?

Oh well, you see, he’s a wealthy man, and our judges are soldiers in the frontline of class war. A smaller fine, they probably think, wouldn’t hurt enough to constitute a punishment or deterrent.

Fine, I accept that logic, but only if we extend it to other types of punishment as well. For example, a thug who has been in and out of pokey since he was 12 wouldn’t suffer imprisonment as much as a tweedy middle-class chap. So, should they both commit the same crime, say running someone over when drunk, shall we give a much stiffer sentence to the thug?

If drink-driving is indeed a genuine problem, rather than merely another opportunity for the bossy state to put its foot down, then there’s a better way of solving it. Paradoxically, it should be decriminalised.

However, drinking should be treated as an aggravating circumstance in any other infraction, from bad driving to causing a fatal accident. The latter should be treated as manslaughter calling for a life sentence with no tariff. And even simply hurting another driver should draw a custodial sentence.

This would prevent drink-caused accidents more effectively than the possibility of a ban and a fine. But that’s not what the state is after, is it? (See Orwell’s 1984 for details.)

If done, Brexit won’t be undone

Mrs May’s de facto deputy David Lidington (hereinafter referred to as Dave Mark II) has done nothing to improve my judgement of our politicians’ intellectual and moral integrity.

It’s possible, he said, that in the next 10 to 20 years the EU will be so different that we’ll happily come back into the fold (that is, provided we actually do leave, was the unspoken refrain).

Across the Channel, Manny squeezed that time frame to “a few years”. After that time has elapsed, explained Brigitte’s foster son, the UK could “find its place” in a “reformed and simplified EU”.

Now Manny, being the EU’s flesh of the flesh, can’t be expected to say anything different. But it’s appalling to see a senior British minister display so much ignorance about the organisation to which he fervently believes Britain should belong (Dave Mark II is a fanatical Remainer).

The two forecasts are identical in everything other than the time element. Dave Mark II thinks it’s impossible to predict what the EU would be like “in 10 or 20 years’ time”.

Clearly, his assumptions are that 1) the EU is bound to change drastically and 2) the change can only be for the better (this suggests something that Dave Mark II couldn’t possibly have meant, that the EU is so wretched that it has no way to go but up) and 3) the British will miss the EU so much that they’ll be delighted to crawl back on their hands and knees.

Manny agrees with it all, but he’s more specific: the EU will be reformed towards greater simplicity. Of course, all God’s children like things simple, but Manny was very economical with details. Simplified how?

Now arguing with the French on this subject is like trying to argue with an ayatollah that there is a God other than Allah, and Mohammed isn’t his prophet. Or to convince a senior Western politician that ‘Allahu akbar!’ isn’t the Arabic for ‘has nothing to do with Islam’.

But, in theory at least, Dave Mark II ought to know something about the organisation for which he has found so much love in his heart. Some knowledge of general political history wouldn’t go amiss either.

First, giant ideological contrivances created by a few fanatics to achieve a specific purpose are too rigid to reform. They either do what they set out to do and then have a free run for a few centuries or else collapse. Examples for either possibility are both too numerous and too obvious to mention here.

The EU was concocted for one purpose only: to create a single European state under the aegis of Germany, with France bringing up the rear. C’est tout, as Manny would say.

If that wicked contrivance can achieve that objective in its present form, it’ll probably hang on for quite a while – until it implodes in the blood splatters of an all-out civil war. If it doesn’t achieve its purpose, it’ll disintegrate – probably again with some bloodshed, but less than in the first option.

The objective of a single superstate is as immutable as an ayatollah’s belief that all infidels should be either killed or enslaved in a global caliphate. Hence no serious EU reform is on the cards – all that’s possible are a few tactical tweaks here or there.

Hence, the only conceivable ‘simplification’ of that bureaucratic Leviathan is reduced membership. Some EU countries may be forced out by bankruptcy, some may get sick and tired of being bossed around by foreigners, some may have unsolvable internal turmoil.

In fact, such simplification is likely. One can easily imagine an EU shrunk to just Germany, France and possibly the Benelux countries. But I wouldn’t describe this development as reform. That’s like saying that D-Day reformed Nazi Germany.

Dave Mark II has to believe that, once Britain has been out in the cold for 10 to 20 (or just a few) years, she’ll be anxious to join the new European state, possible called Francmany or Germance. Somehow, that’s not a plausible prospect.

Conversely, the EU may keep its name and all its members (perhaps adding a few others, such as – Turkey? Saudi Arabia?) and stitch a new supranational state together out of those pieces. Would that make the British any more likely to want to rejoin?

You’ll remember that for two generations now our Europhile politicians have been lying through their teeth that the EU (or EEC) has no desire to create a single European state. It’s only after greater peace and prosperity.

That lie is the only reason the British voted to join the EEC in 1975, and without that lie the Brexit margin of victory would have been much wider, gravitating towards unanimity.

However, when the EU actually does become an unapologetic single state, be that of 30 members or three, that lie will no longer be possible. Now, unless a cataclysmic genetic catastrophe occurs, I can’t imagine too many Britons ever wanting to become a province of Germany de jure (de facto, we’re exactly that now).

So you see, Dave Mark II, predicting the future of the EU isn’t as hard as all that. All one has to do is read a book or two, think for a while and – most important – learn to respect one’s own country and its two-odd millennia of history.

Young Americans for tyranny

It’s a fact provable both physiologically and empirically that ‘young people’ is an oxymoron.

The human brain isn’t even wired properly until age 25 or so. Add to this a comprehensively available education that doesn’t educate, and the path leading youngsters to full-fledged humanity is very thorny indeed.

If anyone still harbours reservations about this, a recent YouGov poll should dispel them. It asked American ‘millennials’ what kind of country they’d rather live in, capitalist, socialist, communist or fascist.

The findings go a long way towards proving the mental deficiency of youngsters: socialism outscored capitalism 44 per cent to 42, with the rest of the vote evenly divided between fascism and communism.

In other words, 58 per cent of young Americans choose various types and degrees of tyranny over freedom. These are the terms I prefer to the Marxist dichotomy of ‘socialism’ and ‘capitalism’.

The very fact that the question was worded that way shows the triumph of Marxist terminology, made possible by a combination of what I call totalitarian economism and ignorance.

The antonym of socialism isn’t capitalism. It’s freedom – or liberty, to be more precise. Socialism, whether democratic, national or international, is defined not by the economy but by the primacy of the state over the individual. That’s its immobile hub, and everything else, including the economy, spins around it.

Hence socialism entails a drastic diminution of civil liberties and individual freedom – how drastic depends on the type of socialism and its success in putting its foot down. But doing so is its innate desideratum, which is why ‘democratic socialism’ is another oxymoron.

Marx defined society in strictly economic terms springing from private or public ownership of the means of production. Derivative from that was class war between the haves and have-nots in a capitalist country, where greedy fat cats own the means of production and the workers starve.

That gibberish was nonsensical even at the time it was put forth, in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. Repeating it these days, which most people do, it’s frankly idiotic.

Marxism is based on a purely materialist view of man, which doesn’t make sense even in a purely secular society. Man, even post-Christian man, has aspirations produced not only by his stomach, but also by other parts of his body, such as head, heart and, well, the other one. Homo is indeed sapiens, not economicus.

Hence freedom – however defined – or lack thereof is a more telling feature of a country than who owns the factories. Whether or not a citizen can read whatever he wants, pray to God in any way he desires or say anything that comes to mind without fear of prosecution says more about society than the size of the public sector, although the two are usually linked.

To the American youngsters’ credit, their choices were motivated not so much by congenital stupidity or a lust for tyranny as by simple ignorance. When given the definitions of the four systems, they had problems identifying which was which.

Thus a third of them didn’t recognise capitalism from this definition: “Economic system based on free markets and the rule of law with legal protections for private ownership”. And two-thirds failed to spot socialism behind this description: “Economic and social systems characterised by social ownership and state control of the means of production as well as political theories and movements associated with them.”

Interestingly, most subjects felt well-disposed towards freedom of speech. However, they were so swamped by the totalitarian economism of the definitions on offer that they failed to grasp the inverse relationship between free speech and socialism.

Lest you might think I’m picking on Americans, I haven’t got the slightest doubt that a similar poll in any Western European country, including Britain, would yield similar or worse results.

What percentage of Oxford or Sorbonne students do you reckon would opt for socialism? My guess is five per cent on either side of 80, and I’m in a mellow mood.

Socialism will continue to triumph for as long as totalitarian economism does. For this philosophical aberration unites the seemingly incompatible political extremes.

Nationalise the means of production, claim the socialists, and everything else will follow. Socialism good, capitalism bad. Privatise the means of production, object the libertarians, and everything else will follow. Capitalism good, socialism bad. Like Orwell’s farm animals, both species reduce everything to a single issue. They just can’t agree on the number of legs.

This type of thinking is primitive; when applied to formulating policy, it’s dangerous. And it largely explains the gallimaufry of political thinking among young people. Yet some clarity of thought among them would be desirable because, by historical oversight, they’re allowed to vote.

That today’s young people aren’t taught the proper basics of politics, as related to philosophy, morality and civic virtue is fairly obvious – as is their inability to think such things through for themselves.

Hence, if I had to compile a similar questionnaire, I’d keep it simple. Instead of expecting the youths to find their way through the thicket of recondite and largely meaningless terminology, I’d ask just one question:

How much control over the individual should the state have, on the scale of 100 (total control) to 1 (only as much as is strictly necessary). This sounds simplistic, but then so are our youngsters’ minds. At least we’d get a reliable reading that way.

The young, said Trotsky, Corbyn’s role model, are the barometer of a nation. Alas, nobody notices that the barometer has fallen off the wall and shattered. Careful you don’t cut your feet on the shards of glass.