Complacent philistines, c.1914, shrugged their shoulders insouciantly.
“Surely mass slaughter can’t happen in Europe.” But it did.
Russian intelligentsia did the same, c. 1917.
“Exterminating whole classes, instigating a bloody civil war and enslaving the entire population? Can’t happen in the land of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky.” But it did.
German social democrats, conservatives and Jews, c. 1933, smiled knowingly.
“Yes, we know Hitler wrote about exterminating Jews in Mein Kampf. Now let’s be serious: it can’t happen in the land of Bach and Goethe.” But it did.
Now the British read about all those cannibalistic Trotskyist rants by Labour politicians and dismiss as alarmists those who say that this lot mean what they say.
A communist takeover of Britain with her oldest and most stable constitution? “We’re British, old boy. Can’t happen here, what?” But it can. And if we don’t do something about it, it will.
“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.” This aphorism is attributed to Burke and, though the attribution is doubtful, the underlying thought isn’t.
The evil scowling through the red flags of today’s Labour presents by far the greatest danger to our survival as a free nation. Greater than the EU, though God knows it’s dangerous enough. Greater than Muslim colonisation, though that too is a major threat.
For some policies being proposed for the Labour manifesto can’t be realised without turning Britain into a giant concentration camp, complete with arbitrary imprisonments and summary executions.
For example, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell promised yesterday to transfer property from private to public hands should he ever get the power to do so.
He finds it terribly unfair that a small proportion of Britons own a large proportion of land. Clearly nationalisation is the only way to right that wrong.
You must understand that communists don’t use the word ‘unfair’ in its normal sense of not getting one’s due. To this lot ‘unfair’ means anything that curbs their power and promotes individual liberty.
When Western civilisation was still embryonic, in Greece c. 500 BC, people already knew that secure private property is the foundation of freedom.
Not only does it encourage citizens to guard their liberty from domestic tyranny, but it also makes them resolute in defending it from foreign despots.
Because the Greeks were fighting for their freedom, their homes and their families, they were able to rout Xerxes’s hordes in, say, the naval Battle of Salamis (in the numbers involved and casualties suffered, the greatest naval engagement in history).
The Greeks were outnumbered three to one, but they were free men fighting against slaves. It was no contest: the Persians fled, leaving at least 50,000 corpses behind them.
Remove secure property, and slavery beckons. That is, of course, exactly what this evil lot are after. Why, they even paraphrase the prescription of that great socialist Benito Mussolini: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”.
This is how the phrase was transformed by McDonnell, who lacks Il Duce’s gift of the gab: “It’s the development of the ideas of ‘in and against the state’ at the local level.”
One thing I can say for socialist cannibals, national or international, actual or aspiring, is that they’re always frank about their intentions. The problem is that decent people refuse to take them at their word.
Having thus borrowed his idea of property ownership from The Communist Manifesto and his phraseology from Mussolini, McDonnell then nicked his tactical prescriptions from Lenin’s What Is to Be Done.
Having boasted about Labour reaching 50,000 members, he then put his own spin on Lenin’s cherished concept of a cadre of professional revolutionaries: “We’ve got to convert ordinary members and supporters into real cadres who understand and analyse society and who are continually building the ideas”.
If you wonder about the physical shape of nationalised British towns and villages this lot see on their mind’s eye, McDonnell’s acolyte, Russell-Moyle, helpfully obliged.
We’ll tear up planning laws, he explained, and encourage local authorities to build tower blocks in the middle of pastoral villages and leafy suburbs. Thus Britain will within a few years acquire that charming shape for which Romania, c. 1960, was so justly famous.
As far as Russell-Moyle was concerned, one of the first things to do would be to reverse Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy policy: “Let’s just talk about council houses – let’s get those bloody private houses back into our hands [my emphasis].”
Collective ownership of land, promised McDonnell, would shake up society. That it certainly would, just the way their ideological brethren shook up Russian society, c. 1917. And those ‘noxious insects’, in Lenin’s phrase, who’d rather not be shaken up were exterminated in their millions.
Once that sledgehammer is first swung, it’ll go on swinging. Acting in the capacity of that tool, McDonnell also announced plans to nationalise, well, everything in the long run, but starting with utilities.
And of course the House of Lords will be replaced by an elected senate. Here McDonnell must be rebuked for resorting to palliatives. Comrade Trotsky would be ashamed of him.
Why not go all the way and replace the House of Lords with a Supreme Soviet, the Queen and PM together with a Secretary General of the Party, and the police with the KGB?
This sounds preposterous, I know. NIMBY, I hear people say. That sort of thing can happen in Russia, North Korea or perhaps Venezuela. Not in Old Blighty.
Well, those people ought to tune their ears to the echoes of 1914, 1917 and 1933, when McDonnell’s and Corbyn’s typological ancestors shattered such hopeful illusions.
What with our electorate thoroughly corrupted by 100 years of leftie propaganda, this sort of thing can indeed happen here. And, if we do nothing, it will.
It takes scientists to be able to state the blindingly obvious and – almost – get away with it.
Having surveyed more than 650,000 people in the world’s largest study of sex differences, Cambridge scientists have concluded that men’s and women’s brains operate differently.
Any sensible person over age 10 or so could have saved them a lot of time and money by simply making this observation on the basis of everyday empirical evidence.
However, any such person making any such observation without supporting it with at least 50 pounds of research data would have his head snapped off, and possibly not just figuratively.
As it is, Prof. Baron-Cohen, who published the study results, has been accused of the hate crime of ‘neurosexism’, thereby earning my gratitude for contributing another word to the already massive English vocabulary.
But that’s not the only thing the good professor, indeed his whole family, has done to earn my gratitude. I love to see my cherished notions confirmed, and here Simon has joined forces with his cousin, the comedian Sacha.
Some 30 years ago I effectively stopped a conversation with a very proper English gentleman who had opined that most American blacks are left-wing because they’re black. “It’s the other way around,” I said. “They are black because they’re left-wing.”
My point was that race was no longer just a genetic notion, but also an ideological one. By creating his Ali G character, Sacha Baron-Cohen proved me right, albeit inadvertently.
He showed that, if he walked the walk and talked the talk, an obviously white man would be accepted as black because no one would dare acknowledge the truth for ideological reasons. It’s not so much the emperor’s new clothes as a man’s new skin, which no one is ready to see for what it is.
And Prof. Simon has heroically confirmed what is even more obvious: men and women think differently. That, however, doesn’t mean women are less intelligent – it only means they are differently intelligent.
Hence let me reassure all the women to whom I’ve ever said “Don’t bother your pretty little head” that I meant it strictly in jest. That is, their heads were indeed pretty, but they were in no way smaller than mine. Just different. So don’t get your knickers in a twist, love.
Men are more capable of structured, sequential, disciplined thought. That enables them to use careful deliberation to arrive at a truth that takes a woman a second to grasp intuitively.
However, there are fields in which structured thought is a job requirement. That’s why women en masse don’t do well there.
For example, I can’t think of too many women philosophers or, this side of Elizabeth Anscombe, a single major one. More knowledgeable people may come up with one or two more, but that’s about it.
Rigid mental discipline is also required for serious creativity, especially in music. Again, I can’t think of a single first-tier woman composer.
However, there have been quite a few first-tier women performers (I happen to be married to one). I’m guessing here, but when the task is not to build a structure from scratch but to convey its meaning, women’s sensitivity and intuitive understanding enable them to delve the emotional and intellectual depths of great music composed by men.
Language in a way provides many ready-made structures of its own, which is why quite a few women poets have achieved greatness (Emily Dickinson and Anna Akhmatova spring to mind).
However, the genre of the novel also relies on many things other than sensitivity, intuition, emotional depth and mastery of the subtleties of the language. That’s why I can’t think of a single first-tier woman novelist, although the second tier is full of them (with due respect to admirers of Jane Austen and George Eliot, I include them into that group).
However, women can be great politicians, such as Elizabeth I, Catherine the Great and Margaret Thatcher .
At a less lofty level, one can observe an interesting division of labour in the industry I know intimately, advertising.
At least half the people on the account management side are women, and many of them are extremely good. On the creative side, however, women in my experience seldom make up more than 10 per cent of the team.
That can’t be put down to discrimination because the same agencies, and usually the same executives within the agencies, hire both groups. It’s just that one area tends to suit women’s talents more than the other.
However, as any scientists researching differences among various groups have learned, and Prof. Baron-Cohen will soon find out, such research is fraught with danger.
Thus the authors of a major study analysing IQ differences among various racial groups found themselves ostracised by the academic ‘community’ (dread word). In vain did they try to claim that they weren’t pursuing any ideologically racist objectives. Theirs was merely the task of studying and analysing data, that’s all.
Well, it never is in our ideological time. Though the words ‘ideas’ and ‘ideology’ are cognates, in reality they’re mutually exclusive.
Ideas are based on thoughts giving rise to inquiry, with the latter producing facts that either prove or disprove the ideas. Ideologies, on the other hand, have nothing to do with ideas, thoughts, inquiries or facts. They appeal gonadically to base emotions, silly biases and puny minds.
In fact, ideologies are downright hostile to ideas if they go against the ideological grain. The fracas following Prof. Baron-Cohen’s study is a case in point.
Having removed God, the only true basis for equality, modernity came up with its own, bogus version. People are no longer just equal before God or the law – they’re supposed to be the same, the better to be bullied by bureaucrats towering above them all.
Before Jesus Christ became a superstar, manifest differences among races and sexes were dwarfed by the ultimate equality of all, at least in theory. If one group’s intelligence was different from another group’s, or God forbid, inferior to it, that didn’t make either group superior or inferior as human beings.
That frame of reference having been smashed to bits, the value of persons is now determined on the basis of their achievements, wealth and other practical considerations.
Since any demonstrable gap in various groups’ ability to acquire such things equally flies in the face of modernity’s totalitarian egalitarianism, it has to be explained by social factors, such as discrimination.
But then come in honest scientists like Prof. Baron-Cohen, showing, data in hand, that some differences are innate, not acquired. That’s like proving that it wasn’t Darwin who created man – the hapless researcher might as well have painted a target on his chest.
I for one have always found the difference between men and women to be a source of lifelong delight. But then I’m not an ideological egalitarian.
Yet another black person has fallen victim to a heinous racial crime. As I write, spasms constrict my throat, tears blur my vision, and fury paralyses my mind.
I can’t find words to express my disgust at racial hatred in general and this incident in particular. So I’ll just tell you what happened, and you can express your own indignation.
Jane Savidge, 69, later described by the local police commissioner as a “pillar of the community” for her devotion to charitable works, was waiting to have her car filled up at a pump.
The car in front of her had already been filled up and still wouldn’t budge, blocking Miss Savidge’s way, “taking ages” in the latter’s description.
Nobody’s patience is endless under such circumstances, and eventually Miss Savidge tooted her horn and waited for a reaction. When none came, she honked again.
I don’t know how the police got involved, but involved they got. An annoyed woman tooting her horn obviously took priority over pursuing burglars or trying to prevent knife crime.
Miss Savidge was arrested and interrogated – but not for tooting her horn. She was suspected of a racially aggravated hate crime. You see, the inconsiderate driver in front of her was a black woman.
Of course Miss Savidge had no way of knowing this because the race and sex of the other driver were impossible to identify through the tinted rear window. But ignorance is no excuse, as far as the Thames Valley police are concerned.
Had she fired a gun out of her window, killed somebody and later claimed she didn’t know there were people in the street, she would have been charged with murder wouldn’t she? In the eyes of our law enforcement, this is a watertight analogy.
To her credit, the black woman in question told the cops it wasn’t a hate crime, but that had no effect. Once a crime has been committed, personal feelings no longer apply. The law takes over.
As a result, Miss Savidge had sleepless nights and could no longer do her charitable work because she was worried that a background check would identify her as someone investigated for a racial hate crime.
Anthony Stansfeld, the police commissioner for Thames Valley, sympathised with her plight. He realised the whole thing was ridiculous, but his hands were tied. The existing law left him no room for manoeuvre.
Seeking justice, Miss Savidge enlisted the help of her local MP, Dominic Grieve. After his intercession her misdeed was reclassified as a ‘hate-related incident’, rather than crime.
As Mr Grieve explained, “The current position is that she has been told by Thames Valley police that as long as she does not come to the attention of the police in future it is most unlikely that any reference would be made to this record even if an enhanced check were carried out into her.”
‘Most unlikely’ is a nebulous phrase. It could mean all sorts of things, such as ‘possible’, ‘probable’ and even ‘almost guaranteed’. But Miss Savidge should thank God and Mr Grieve for small favours: at least she’s unlikely to do time.
Do you sometimes feel as if the sane people of the world fought a war against an army of madmen and lost?
Do you sometimes realise that the idiotic and destructive law about so-called hate crimes effectively criminalises us all?
If honking at a car that happens to belong to a black woman is a hate crime, then what about saying ‘Excuse me’ to a black man blocking your way in a supermarket aisle? Saying ‘watch it’ to a homosexual who accidentally steps on your foot? Smiling at a Muslim woman who then thinks you’re mocking her?
It’s a safe bet that in the course of a busy week, most of us commit hate crimes galore. We’re all criminals, in other words.
Now a state that criminalises everybody is itself criminal. For it issues itself a mandate to expand its own domain indefinitely, while shrinking that of the individual.
In the process, it debauches the very notion of legality: when patently insane laws swell the books, all laws will be despised. And public order depends on respect for the law because fear alone isn’t a sufficient inducement to compliance.
Every travesty of justice committed by our governing spivs puts justice in disrepute and us all in danger. Something must be done immediately, and I have a suggestion on how to avoid situations like the one Miss Savidge found herself in.
All members of vulnerable minorities, such as women, Muslims, blacks, homosexuals, cripples and especially crippled black homosexual Muslim women should be obligated to display a ProtectedMinority Onboard sticker.
That way we’ll steer clear of hate crimes by treating such cars with the deference due their owners. And if you like this idea, I have many similar ones in store.
As we bow our heads to commemorate the millions killed in the First World War, we should also contemplate why they had to die.
For that wasn’t a war between two countries, nor even between two alliances.
It was a war waged by modernity against the last vestiges of Western civilisation and, for that matter, civility.
The following are excerpts from my book How the West Was Lost, in which I argued that modernity was championed by a whole new species I called Modman, whose inner imperative was to destroy Christendom and replace it with a new soulless, philistine, godless civilisation.
Neither side was averse to going from the general to the specific in its claims. They were both fighting to save civilisation in a broad sense, but at the same time they were making the world safe not just for democracy (the marasmatic Wilson was welcome to that one) but also for true faith, world commerce, family, security, children, church and prosperity.
Almost instantly the war acquired a character that went beyond any national grievances or indeed economic interests. The world was rife with proposals for unifying the control of global raw materials in a single body that could also administer international taxes aimed at levelling inequalities among nations.
The air was dense with phrases like ‘World Organisation’, ‘The United States of the Earth’, ‘The Confederation of the World’, ‘A World Union of Free Peoples’ and finally ‘The League of Nations’.
Both sides saw themselves as defenders of international law. The British, for example, eschewed self-interest as the reason for joining the conflict, opting instead for depicting the war as a holy crusade for the law of the nations.
Not to be outdone, the French organised a Committee for the Defence of International Law. The Germans were at first taken aback by this sudden outburst of affection for global legality, but they quickly recovered to fight back.
Belgium, according to them, wasn’t neutral in the international-law sense of the word. It was conducting secret military negotiations with the British aimed against Germany.
The British weren’t squeaky-clean either. They were systematically violating the trading rights of neutrals on the high seas.
So Germany was really fighting for the freedom of the seas and the rights of smaller nations to engage in peaceful trade without being harassed by the dastardly Royal Navy.
However, the Entente wouldn’t allow Germany to claim exclusive rights to defending the small and weak. It was the allies who were after liberating the oppressed nations, and not just Alsace and Lorraine.
They also meant the oppressed minorities in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Polish minority in Germany (not to be confused with the German minority in Poland, whose plight was a casus belli for Germany’s next war).
Funny you should mention oppressed minorities, replied the Germans who hated to be outdone by anybody, and especially the British. It was they, the Germans, who were fighting to liberate the small nations of the world. More specifically, such small nations as India, Ireland, Egypt and the entire African continent.
But never mind puny nations. Both sides had broader aims: they were out to save civilisation. Both carried on their broad shoulders an equivalent of the white man’s burden, ignoring the obvious chromatic incidental of both of them being equally white.
A week after the war began The London Evening Standard was already carrying headlines screaming “Civilisation at Issue”. France was fighting a “Guerre contre les barbares”, while Germany was laying about her for her Kultur.
Germany, the nation of composers and philosophers, had established a spiritual ascendancy over the world thanks to her industry, fecundity, wisdom and morality. She was waging war against the degenerate Latins, barbaric Russians and mercantile British in whose assessment Napoleon would have been correct had he not been French.
The British were usurers (a role they were to cede to the Jews before long); the Germans were Teutonic heirs to Arminius and Alaric.
While the British were unable to see beyond their utilitarian little noses, the Germans had the sagacity to penetrate the meaning of life, as proved by their philosophers. The war was fought for heroic, self-sacrificing Bildung and against the greedy British.
Speak for yourself, sale Boche, objected the French. The war was waged by one (good) race against another (bad). The Gauls of France and Belgium were fighting the Hun, and never mind Bildung.
That argument appealed to the Germans who had been beaten to the racial punch that time but decided to store it for future use.
Race more or less equalled God, as far as the French glossocrats were concerned. While every belligerent country claimed that God was on her side, La Croix in France made the case with a forthrightness not normally associated with the French: “The story of France is the story of God. Long live Christ who loves the Franks.”
“La Guerre Sainte”, screamed L’Echo, and La Croix agreed in principle but wanted to expand: yes, it was “a war of Catholic France against Protestant Germany”. But it was more than just that. It was a “duel between the Germans and the Latins and the Slavs”, a contest of “public morals and international law”.
Hold on a minute, the British begged to differ. The French, while on the side of the angels in this one, couldn’t claim exclusive possession of God.
The Bishop of Hereford explained this succinctly: “Such a heavy price to pay for our progress towards the realisation of the Christianity of Christ, but duty calls… Amidst all the burden of gloom and sorrow which this dreadful war lays upon us we can at least thank God that it brings that better day a long step nearer for the generations in front of us.”
(Which generations were to lose, conservatively, 300 million in assorted wars and purges, but then, to be fair, the good bishop had no way of knowing this.)
Never mind God, or in the case of the Germans the Gods of their Valhalla. As a British musical promoter wrote at the time, this was really a war between different types of music: “The future belongs to the young hero who will have the courage to exclude from his library all the works of Handel, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Brahms and Richard Strauss…, who will… find the vigorous rhythms that will tell of the dauntless spirit of those who go to death singing ‘Tipperary’.”
At the risk of sounding like a Hun lover, I’d still argue that the Hunnish music of a Bach cantata is a long, long way from ‘Tipperary’, even though my preference doesn’t come into this.
The gentleman displayed a great deal of prescience, however. His future, and our present, indeed belong to the young hero who courageously excludes Handel and Brahms, while including, with equal courage, Sex Pistols and Band Aid. The impresario inadvertently displayed much insight: the underlying aims of the war weren’t geopolitical but cultural.
The role played by America in the First World War is instructive. On the surface, this wasn’t America’s fight: her geopolitical or economic interests would not have been unduly threatened by any possible outcome.
Wilson’s sloganeering about “making the world safe for democracy” would have sounded ludicrous to any other than a modern audience. Such an aim presupposed that the Great War was waged against democracy, and only Gen. Pershing in shining armour was there to save it.
That simply wasn’t the case. All major combatants were already either democracies or constitutional monarchies – or else were moving in that direction with no outside help necessary.
So the big slogan would be a big lie, but only if we insist on using words in their real meaning. Of course by then Modman glossocracy had taken over, so the word ‘democracy’ didn’t really mean political pluralism. It meant Modman’s rule.
By the time the United States entered the war, Russia had already been paralysed by the pacifist propaganda waged by the Bolsheviks and paid for by the Germans. She had been almost knocked out of the conflict and, with her armies deserting en masse, was months away from falling to the worst tyranny the world had ever known.
And on the Western front supposedly civilised people were no longer fighting a war; they were engaged in mass murder for its own sake.
Under such circumstances, it didn’t take a crystal ball to predict that any possible conclusion to the massacre would come at a cost to traditional institutions. As Western holdouts were being mowed down, so was the habitat in which the West could possibly stagger back to life.
Woodrow Wilson didn’t need fortune-telling appliances to predict such an outcome. And this was precisely what he craved.
Alone among the wartime leaders, Wilson had clear-cut objectives that went beyond simply winning the war. He had heard the clarion call of modernity not as a distant echo but in every tonal detail, and responded by employing every technique at his disposal.
Shortly after the war began, and two years before America’s entry, Wilson set up the greatest advertising agency ever seen, the Committee on Public Information. It included America’s leading propagandists, and was headed by George Creel whose own political sympathies lay far on the left.
Their task was clearly defined: America had a mission to convert the world to her way of life. The President had come to the conclusion that this mission could be fulfilled only by entering the war. Ergo, the American people who, in their ignorance, opposed such a move had to be made to see the light.
Anyway, the American people hardly mattered: Wilson had in mind a programme for all mankind, not just parochial interests, and if the programme could be put into action only at a cost to American lives, then so be it.
Having won the 1916 re-election on the glossocratic slogan “He kept us out of the war”, Wilson went on to demonstrate that every means was suitable for dragging America into the meat grinder.
Technically neutral until April 1917, she had begun to violate the provisions of neutrality from the start. The House of Morgan, for example, floated war loans for Britain and France in 1915, while supplies were flowing from America across the Atlantic in an uninterrupted stream.
The Germans were thus provoked into unrestricted U-boat warfare (not that they needed much provoking), which in turn helped Wilson to build a slender pro-war margin in the Congress.
Wilson viscerally knew exactly what he was after: the destruction of the Western world and its replacement with a world of Modman led by the philistine American sub-species.
That’s why the propaganda spewed out by the Creel Committee went beyond amateurish attacks on the bloodthirsty Hun. Every leaflet put out by Creel, every speech by Wilson, was an incitement to revolution, both political and social, across Europe.
Thus America had no quarrel with the industrious people of Germany; it was the oppressive Junkers class that was the enemy. No sacrifice was too great to liberate the Germans from their own domestic tyrants.
No peace, no armistice was possible until the existing social order and political arrangement were destroyed – in other words, until a revolution took place.
Likewise, Wilson had no quarrel with the quirky people inhabiting the British Empire; it was the Empire itself that he abhorred.
Even though for tactical reasons that particular message couldn’t yet be enunciated in so many words, dismantling the offending institution was clearly one of Wilson’s key objectives.
A fanatic of a single world government, Wilson was at the same time a great champion of national self-determination. There was no contradiction there at all, at least not to a glossocratic mind. The first was the end; the second, the means.
The marginal peoples of the empires, all those Czechs, Serbs and Finns couldn’t make good any promise of self-determination without a prior destruction of all traditional governments. QED.
It was no concern of Wilson that the demise of, say, a rather senile but still workable Austro-Hungarian empire would lead to the creation of artificial and ultimately untenable states. For example, fashioning a federation out of the culturally and religiously hostile peoples of Yugoslavia was tantamount to pushing the countdown button on a time bomb.
But such concerns were never a factor in glossocratic calculations. Nor did it matter to Wilson on which side a traditional government fought.
He was as hostile to the British and Russian empires as he was to the Central European ones. So it stood to reason that he would welcome the destruction of those institutions, even at the cost of reversal in the fortunes of war.
Thus, when the Tsarist regime collapsed, Wilson was ecstatic. Here was another democracy hatched out of the dark recesses of absolutism.
That the new ‘democracy’ was so weak that it couldn’t keep her troops at the front mattered little. For Wilson this wasn’t about winning a world war but about winning the war for the world.
This is the time to pray for the dead – and rage about the vile new world that killed them to advance its own ignoble cause. RIP.
On 3 January the newly elected Democratic majority in the US House of Representatives will come into force.
Is there a constitutional crisis looming on 4 January? Or a couple of weeks thereafter at the latest?
I hope not. An America in crisis spells an America enfeebled and consequently a NATO weakened.
And NATO is the sole guarantor of our liberties, threatened by variously evil empires. That’s how it has been since 1949, and that’s how it’ll remain – or nothing will remain at all.
The classicists among you will notice that I’m paraphrasing the stout aphorism of the great Jesuit Matteo Ricci (d. 1610): “Simus, ut sumus, aut non simus” (“We shall remain as we are or we shall not remain at all”).
Fr Ricci displayed prophetic prescience in anticipating the role NATO plays in European security – and also the idiocy of a pan-European army as a possible alternative.
Lacking Fr Ricci’s foresight and remembering Cassandra’s fate, I refuse to make any predictions. Guesses, however, are a different matter, provided they’re reasonably educated.
First the indisputable facts, all relating to the Mueller investigation.
Four of Trump’s most senior associates have pleaded guilty to assorted crimes, most of them related to illegal dealings with Putin’s Russia.
Threatened with long prison stints, they’ve all cut deals with the prosecution. That means they’ve been baring their souls to Mueller for several months.
However, none of their revelations have so far been made public. Why has Mueller been so reticent?
Granted, he’s institutionally obligated to submit his findings to the Attorney General, not to The New York Times. But come on now, we’re all grown-ups here. We live at a time of inexplicable leaks, with the press getting a whiff of explosive information through unauthorised channels.
Mueller has a large staff, covering many tiers in the ‘G’ structure of federal employment. Since possible findings may include some with the megaton yield of Watergate proportions, newspapers would pay sticker price for any sensational leak. Millions, if need be.
Anyone who insists that not a single person working for Mueller could be seduced by an offer of secure retirement presumes way too much on human goodness. So why has the Mueller investigation gone mute?
Of course one possibility is that it has uncovered nothing worth leaking. But that’s unlikely.
Men like Manafort and Flynn were privy to every secret of the Trump campaign, including its dealings with Putin. Actually, these two in particular were the principal intermediaries in such dealings.
Now it’s not only unlikely but impossible that systematic contacts between a man not overburdened with scruples and a regime closely resembling an extended Mafia family escaped a touch of dirt somewhere along the line.
It might have been a bit of fiscal mud sticking to the shoe sole or a dumper truck tipping its load of collusion manure all over the man, but there was some dirt – guaranteed.
You know it, I know it – above all, Trump knows it. For ever since allegations of collusion with the Putin gang surfaced, Trump has been acting as a man with something to hide.
He tried to make Attorney General Jeff Sessions shut the Mueller investigation down. When Sessions refused, he got into the president’s bad books. Tellingly, he was then sacked the day after the Democrats won their majority in the House.
Clearly Trump senses a dog fight ahead, and he wants a pit bull in his corner, not a poodle. Sessions was only a minor annoyance when the Republicans controlled both Houses. Once they lost the lower one, he became an unaffordable liability.
Trump has the power to fire Mueller without any help from Justice, but he may remember what happened to Nixon after he sacked Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
“Impeach the Cox sacker”, screamed NY bumper stickers, much to my mirth (and pride at being able to understand such puns just off the proverbial boat). Less than a year later Nixon was gone.
So far Trump has had to content himself with firing Sessions, just as earlier he got rid of FBI Director James Comey, who instigated the Mueller inquiry.
Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’s replacement, has publicly denounced the Mueller investigation, which makes him a perfect choice for the time when the Trump administration goes to the mattresses.
Thus, when Mueller submits his findings to the new AG, the latter will have the constitutional power to redact them, or even suppress them altogether. However, with the Democrats holding a House majority and presiding over all the key committees, they too have the power to fight back.
For example, they may call for a public inquiry and, if they wish, subpoena the entire population of Washington, DC, including the president himself.
A man with nothing to hide would welcome such an investigation because his name would be scrubbed a pristine white as a result. However, when a man uses every means at his disposal to shut the investigation down, his conscience can’t be impeccably spotless.
Yet the question remains: why have we not heard anything from Mueller since the potential jailbirds began singing under oath? Here we have to rely on conjecture.
I dread the possibility that Mueller and whoever is behind his investigation are sitting on explosive findings in anticipation of the Democrats taking control of the House. They may want to drop their bomb only when they know they won’t miss.
The Democrats take over on 3 January. Unless I miss my guess, the next day Mueller will submit his report to the Attorney General, who won’t release it to the public if there’s anything incriminating there.
A public inquiry will follow, and within a few weeks America may find herself embroiled in Watergate Mark II. I dread this possibility, and not just because this would make NATO vulnerable.
For, much as I find Trump personally hideous, most of his policies reflect a statesman’s mind and courage. A US president doesn’t have to be erudite, well-mannered, well-dressed and intellectual. He has to be effective, and Trump certainly is that.
He has already shown that, on balance, he’s a good president, certainly better than any of his post-Watergate predecessors, with the possible exception of Reagan. In time he may become a great president, which would benefit us all.
However, if his romance with Putin ever went beyond foreplay, none of that matters. Impeachment would be too mild a punishment. Flailing alive would be more fitting, although I don’t think US jurisprudence provides for this option.
Let’s wait and see – with our hands over our hearts, as if trying to contain the frenetic beats. I do hope America will remain at peace two months from now.
Bring something virtuous instead, if you want to get on the right side of the government and do your bit for the NHS.
Stock up on alfalfa, some nuts, perhaps a little tofu – all those things that are are both more and less than food.
Less, because anyone who prefers that stuff to a rare sirloin or full English hates food – and also God who provided it. More, because by going veggie, one sends a message of virtue urbi et orbi.
Alas, we’re all sinners and there’s a price attached to sin. It used to be believed that payment will be exacted in the afterlife, but that’s oh so yesterday.
If you sin against ‘our planet’, your body and consequently the NHS, the state will step in and make you pay instantly. Cash on the nail, son, without trouble like.
That’s why the government will almost certainly follow Oxford scientists’ recommendation that a 79 per cent tax be imposed on bacon, ham and sausages, and a 14 per cent one on raw meat.
Our governing spivs can be trusted to accept as gospel any pseudo-academic prescriptions that involve raising taxes. If tomorrow a Cambridge don recommends taxing dog owners or golfers, be sure that recommendation will be followed with alacrity.
With the fraudulent precision so characteristic of today’s academics the Oxonians promise that such a measure would prevent 6,000 deaths annually by dragging us towards healthier gastronomy.
They’re missing a trick there. Take it from an old advertising hack, chaps, never give round numbers if you want to be believed. Thus 6,054 would have sounded more credible than 6,000.
Equally suspect is their assertion that squeezing us with even more taxes would save the NHS £730 million by reducing the need for care. Again, take my advice, lads: either say ‘£729 million’ or, if you insist on round numbers, say ‘just under a billion’.
Lead researcher Dr Marco Springmann explains that: “The consumption of red and processed meat… is having significant impacts not only on personal health, but also on healthcare systems, which are taxpayer-funded.
“We are not saying do not have any meat, just pay a fair price for it that reflects the cost to your health and the pressure on the NHS.”
I suspect it would be easier for Dr Springmann to lose the redundant last letter in his surname than to abandon his canine devotion to the good of the state. But I admire his omniscience in knowing what is and what isn’t a fair price for a BLT sarnie.
Alas, in the fine, if recent, tradition of our academe he seems to be incapable of making a sound argument focusing on the crux of the matter, rather than on peripheral issues. It’s not about us deciding to eat more or less meat; it’s about the state making that decision for us.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a close friend, who at that time, some 30 years ago, was an NHS doctor. Having just moved to England from the US, I was appalled to see that not wearing a seat belt was punishable by law.
Such negligence, I said, could potentially harm the driver but no one else. And the government’s function is to protect us from others, not from ourselves.
Yes, said my friend, but if you get injured as a result of not wearing a seat belt, treating you would cost the NHS a lot of money, which makes it the government’s business.
That, I replied, is the strongest argument against the NHS, proving my point that a government that does a lot for you will end up doing a lot more to you.
Nationalised medicine enables the state to dictate what and when we should eat, how many hours or with whom we should sleep, how much exercise we should have and so forth. Yet I’d rather risk health problems than see my liberty curtailed wantonly.
To his credit, my friend has since mitigated his adulation of the NHS, but at that time he almost snapped my head off.
The NHS, you see, isn’t just a (grossly inefficient) system of financing healthcare. It has become a cult, a National Holy Service, and things like infidelity, apostasy and heresy are unthinkable.
Not being an expert, I’m not prepared to argue the health aspects of eating red meat. On general principle, I’m sure that eating too much of anything is bad for you, and meat is no exception – just as I’m certain that moderate consumption of any food God gave us in his munificence can’t harm anyone.
However, if those learned Oxonians want to elucidate the medical aspects of food, by all means they should. That’s what they get paid for.
But when they recommend punitive action, coinciding with the state’s urge to put its foot as far down as it’ll go while extorting even more money from us, they step way outside their brief.
I can only repeat what I said to my friend 30 years ago: it’s not the state’s remit to save us from ourselves. It is, however, its remit to save us from domestic criminals and foreign enemies.
For example, the state should pursue to the ends of the earth the vegan scum who issued death threats to that Devon turkey farmer – and send them down for many years, with nothing but meat on their prison diets.
Neither would it go amiss to treat knife wielders as vicious criminals to be locked up for life, rather than misguided youngsters in need of mollycoddling care. And yes, perhaps catching and convicting some burglars would be helpful too.
Once the state has taken care of its prime responsibilities, by all means let’s talk about Sunday roasts and bacon rolls – provided that chitchat doesn’t turn out to be yet another pretext to extort more of our money.
We’re sensible people, and we’ll listen to sound advice. But that’s all it should be, advice. Not a diktat, not a robbery attempt, not a way of reminding us who’s boss.
As to Dr Springmann and his fellow cardsharps, perhaps they should retrain as butcher’s assistants. They’d be able to do something useful for a change.
Macron’s ratings are heading down towards room temperature (Celsius), which exerts an unbearable pressure on his already overburdened mind.
And it’s worse than just the opinion polls. The French tend to express their disapproval of the government not only by talking to pollsters but also by burning cars, building barricades and tossing bricks through elegant shop windows.
Now, since Manny has announced his intention to raise petrol taxes even higher, the rioting season is about to start, and Manny is going off the rails.
Symptoms of an incipient mental disorder were particularly evident the other day, when Manny explained to the seething French that what they need in their lives isn’t affordable petrol but a united European army.
The need for it, according to Manny, is urgent – how else can we “protect ourselves against Russia, China and even the United States of America”? He didn’t mention Britain explicitly, but I’m sure in his febrile mind it’s but a subset of a vast, hostile entity called les anglo-saxons.
These are the countries Manny sees as immediate geopolitical threats to Europe, the kind of threats that only a pan-European army, presumably led by Angie as Generalissimo and Manny as Chief of the General Staff, can preempt or, barring that, repel.
Or perhaps I’ve got the pecking order wrong. After all, Manny sees himself as a present-day Charlemagne, the natural leader of a united Europe. Since after we leave the EU France will be the only nuclear power in the good part of Europe, perhaps it should be Manny taking charge.
I’m sure some modern answer to David and Delacroix has already been commissioned to paint Manny, sabre in hand, astride a white steed. May I suggest Toujours de l’audace! as the title of the painting?
Conceivably one can see how Russia can be cast in the role of potential aggressor, what with the increasingly bellicose noises emanating from the Kremlin. So, should the Russian army sweep across the plains of central Europe, Manny will be the first to man the Maginot Line, whatever is left of it after Germany’s previous attempt to unite Europe.
However, it’s not immediately clear why a pan-European army is required to counter the China threat – which isn’t to say that no threat exists. However, in any foreseeable future, China’s threat to France is economic, not military.
After all, the distance between the two countries is a densely populated 5,000 miles, which is a long hike even for a well-trained army, especially since it might have to fight its way through a few other countries en route.
Of course, China may opt for a massive ICBM strike instead, but then it’ll be down to France alone to retaliate, with other EU members watching from the sidelines. The Bulgarian, Romanian or even German contingents will realise that their small arms are useless against nuclear blasts.
Discounting therefore China as an immediate military threat, we move on to the looming menace of les anglo-saxons, with les yanquis leading the way and les rosbifs bringing up the rear.
As these abominable characters demonstrated on 6, June, 1944, they have the knowhow to get a vast force across La Manche and wipe the floor with Germany, united with France at the time and, come to think of it, at present as well.
One can see Manny’s point: France wouldn’t be able to resist such an invasion on her own, what with US and British armour rolling through the Channel Tunnel, oblivious of the beefed-up customs checks.
Hence the need for all continental countries to hang together, hoping les anglo-saxons don’t join forces with Russia, which will then stab France in the back – the way those ghastly Italians did in 1940.
If this is the way Manny’s geopolitical cookie crumbles, call for the men in white coats. An early diagnosis and immediate treatment just may take care of the problem before things like frontal lobotomy become necessary.
I think his foster mother Brigitte will be remiss in her duty of care if she ignores the emerging clinical picture. Act now, Bridge, before it’s too late.
Manny should read his briefings to learn that a united army able to stop Russia in her tracks already exists. It’s called NATO, which admittedly depends on les yanquis to remain a formidable force.
If Manny were medicated to get rid of his delirium about the impending US threat, he’d realise that simply matching the EU defence budgets with American (in GDP percentage terms) will provide all the military protection Europe will ever need.
And if he wants to fight les yanquis and the Chinese on the economic battleground, he should make France friendlier to business, both domestic and international.
Cutting taxes (including those on petrol) would be a good start, followed by stepping on the unions and a vast reduction in red tape (the amount of it in France looks insane even to les rosbifs, themselves no slouches when it comes to bureaucracy).
However, even suggesting this sort of thing to Manny is impossible. That’s like asking a madman who insists that he’s Napoleon to change his tack and declare himself Charlemagne instead.
For Manny is what psychiatrists call a monomaniac. He doesn’t really care about improving the business climate in France, any more than is absolutely necessary for his re-election.
Nor does he have sleepless nights about the 82nd Airborne securing a bridgehead in Normandy. Manny’s fixation is on one subject only: a single European state, ideally with him at the helm.
Merging the armed forces of all EU members would take a huge stride towards that goal, for a country whose army isn’t under its own command is no longer a sovereign country.
Hence all the gallimaufry that comes out of Manny’s mouth, about the danger of the US joining forces with China to crush France in a pincer manoeuvre, with Russia chipping in from the north.
Manny had a rare flash of lucidity in the same speech, when he spoke about the threat of fascism in Europe.
Indeed, the National Front, or whatever it calls itself now, already outpolls Manny’s own party in France, while populist, in fact crypto-fascist, parties are making inroads in Germany, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Italy and elsewhere.
Yet Manny’s brittle mental health prevents him from realising that this worrying development is a direct reaction to what Euromaniacs like him are doing to Europe: stamping national identities into the dirt and replacing them with bondage to the throng of corrupt and unaccountable bureaucrats.
I must put a quiet word in Brigitte’s shell-like, to the effect that there’s plenty of work still to be done on Manny – provided his treatment works.
On his visit to Ghana, Prince Charles felt called upon to refer to the horrors of slavery as “the most painful chapter of Ghana’s relations with the nations of Europe, including the United Kingdom.”
“The appalling atrocity of the slave trade, and the unimaginable suffering it caused,” added HRH, “left an indelible stain on the history of our world.”
This suggests, and not for the first time, that HRH himself is a slave – to the liberal twaddle that passes for consensus in the more fashionable postcodes of London.
Yes, slavery is an awful institution that harms slaves and masters alike. If the former suffer physical pain, the latter are damaged morally and, in the long run, economically.
After all, free men work better than slaves. The desire to improve one’s lot is a greater inducement to productive labour than an overseer’s bullwhip.
Having said all that, Prince Charles’s pronouncement brands him as a slave as surely as the iron in the hands of the Virginian planter used to do.
It’s true that Britain, along with the US, Spain, Portugal, France and Holland played a shameful role in the slave trade. But their role was that of buyers.
The sellers were Africans themselves. In fact, 90 per cent of those suffering bondage in Europe and America were originally enslaved and sold to white traders by Africans themselves.
Especially active there were the slave-trading kingdoms of central and western Africa – of which the briskest trade was done by the Akan of the kingdom of Asante.
That place is no longer a kingdom, nor indeed a colony. It’s an independent republic called… Ghana.
That made it an unfortunate venue in which to preach the evils of slavery. But then of course HRH wasn’t referring to the role played by the proto-Ghanaians in enslaving masses of their own tribesmen.
He was generously assigning all of the blame to his own tribesmen, the British. The White Man’s Burden has become the White Man’s Burden of mandatory guilt.
This a gross distortion of historical facts, an attempt to bend history to ideology, which is always pernicious.
Of course slavery is shameful, and only savage brutes refuse to acknowledge this. But that’s precisely why this issue is so easy to exploit for political (or politically correct) purposes.
The American Civil War is a prime example of such dishonesty. For abolition was only the pretext for the hostilities.
True enough, the eleven Southern states seceded largely because the federal government had put obstacles in the way of spreading slavery into the newly acquired territories.
However, Lincoln and his colleagues explicitly stated on numerous occasions that they had no quarrel with slavery in the original Southern states.
Their bellicose reaction to the secession was caused not by slavery but by their in-built imperative to retain and expand the power of the central state to ride roughshod over local government. “If that would preserve the Union, I’d agree not to liberate a single slave,” Lincoln once said.
Note also that his Gettysburg Address includes not a single anti-slavery word – and in fact Lincoln dreaded the possibility that he himself might be portrayed as an abolitionist.
The potential of slavery to be inscribed on the banners of unrelated politics is lamentable, but it adds nothing to the intrinsic value of this abominable institution. So yes, slavery did leave a stain.
But an indelible one? That’s an unfortunate choice of adjective by the future head of the Church of England (provided HRH will accept that role on his accession, which in view of some of his past pronouncements isn’t a foregone conclusion).
Surely a Christian must believe that honest repentance can redeem sins. And Britain has done more than just repent.
Having become in 1807 the first country to ban the slave trade, Britain sent the Royal Navy to blockade the coast of Africa and intercept slaving ships. That effectively put an end to it by delayed action, although US slavers were allowed to run the blockade for a while (the first intimation of the special relationship?).
A Christian, which one has to believe HRH is, must also be aware of the redemptive potential of sacrificing one’s life. After all, such an act founded the faith he’ll be institutionally bound to defend.
Now thousands of British sailors died enforcing the blockade and engaging slaving convoys. Surely their blood washed off some of the ‘indelible’ stain?
The stains of past sins only become indelible when they are neither repented nor redeemed. HRH would have done much better commenting on the marks left by inhumanity on more modern countries: Germany and Russia, especially the latter.
Germany did make an honest effort to repent and atone for the diabolical horrors of the Third Reich, although her subsequent attempt to create a Fourth have undone some of the good work.
But Russia has made no such effort, quite the opposite. Her present government is actively exonerating and glorifying those who enslaved the whole country and murdered 60 million of the slaves.
That’s hardly surprising, considering that 80 per cent of Russia’s high officials come from a KGB background and still proudly pledge allegiance to history’s most murderous organisation (“There’s no such thing as ex-KGB,” said Col. Putin. “This is for life.”)
Now that stain is truly indelible, and it’s spreading wider. The stain of slavery, however, has been erased by Britain – in every sense other than the PC one.
One can’t say the same with equal certainty about most of the erstwhile slave kingdoms of Africa, including Ghana, whose citizens aren’t invariably treated as free men and women.
Do let’s encourage them to redeem their sins too, while casting aside the leg irons of intellectual slavery. I do hope HRH frees himself from it before his accession – while praying for this event to be delayed for a very long time.
Taharka Ekundayo, ne Anthony Lennon, has lit up a path to self-advancement that I’m prepared to follow even at my advanced age.
Taharka (Tony for short?) is a white actor and theatrical art director who some years ago decided he was black at heart.
That didn’t mean he considered himself irredeemably wicked. His self-discovery wasn’t moral but racial: he self-identified as a black man even though there wasn’t a single drop of tar in his family barrel.
“I was at a stage in my life where to address myself as Anthony Lennon did not fulfil me; it didn’t seem to allow me to express myself as I saw fit,” explained Taharka-Tony. “I prefer to call myself an African born again.”
The cynic in me would point out that Taharka-Tony’s ability to express himself after his rebirth was boosted no end by a £100,000 Arts Council grant for ‘theatre practitioners of colour’, for which he qualified on the strength of his newly discovered identity.
But then the unabashed believer in free choice takes over, silencing my internal cynic and shaming him into a humiliating retreat.
The implications are theological, more specifically Christian. For free choice springs from free will, God’s greatest gift to us.
Originally the concept only meant the ability to make a free choice between good and evil. But the human race evolves, thanks to Darwin.
Therefore over time our God-given free will has acquired new dimensions, such as political and economic.
Politically we can make a free choice among politicians we don’t know from Adam (an appropriate Biblical reference, if I say so myself). The choice may not always be informed, but it’s always free.
Hence we rejoice at the sight of the nonentities we’ve freely chosen to govern us, leading us on the road to liberty and prosperity for all, amen. Or else on the road leading to the outskirts of the German empire, which is fine too – we’ve freely chosen our representatives who’re now free to do as they see fit.
Some of us may notice that exercising this particular freedom unfailingly elevates to government those unfit to govern, but that’s not the point, is it? The point is that we’re free to choose, with thanks to Milton Friedman, who put this phrase in the title of his book.
Prof. Friedman applied the phrase to economics, specifically consumer power. For it’s our freedom to choose synthetic over natural fibres and frozen pizzas over fresh fish that drives economic competition – which isn’t only a good thing, but, according to Prof. Friedman, the only thing that matters.
Now progress is nothing if not expansive. New concepts gather strength in one area, and then effortlessly segue into others.
As a life-long progressivist myself, I’m ecstatic that, for example, the notion of evolutionary natural selection has left its original confines of biology to blaze new trails in social, political, economic and cultural life.
In one era, out the other, I say. Anything new is by definition better than anything old, just as anything big is better than anything small (although I’ve spent a lifetime trying to disabuse women of this notion).
Thus I’m happy that the goodness of free choice is now available in the areas that have hitherto suffered from reactionary determinism. Such as sex – pardon me, gender.
The chromosomal determinism of ‘XX, you’re a woman; XY, you’re a man’ used to block the concept of free choice from entering this domain. Well, no longer.
If we’re free to choose our socks or underwear, why can’t we choose – freely! – our sex? Never mind the chromosomes, feel the free choice. We are what we say we are, and that’s all there is to it.
In the past, exercising our free will in this area involved complex surgical procedures. But then more progress kicked in, and this is no longer necessary.
A man can keep his bits and still declare he now identifies as a woman, which is tantamount to kicking in doors to women’s lavatories and showers. (Not yet invariably though, as I found out trying to gain access to the women’s showers at my tennis club, by claiming that I identified as a woman for the next 20 minutes.)
A physician reader of mine was recently asked to treat a female patient who had presented with prostate cancer, which by the sound of him he found ludicrous. Oh well, I can’t choose my readers, and some are obviously less committed to the notion of free choice than I am.
Long live women with prostates and men with cervixes, provided they chose their new identities freely. Penis envy? Not to worry: just have one sewn on, and Freud can go suck his cigar.
Now Taharka-Tony reminds us that free choice can be extended to race as easily as to sex. Moreover the choice can be not only free but also profitable, provided you play your cards right, meaning fraudulently.
So, with thanks to Taharka-Tony, I hereby declare that I’ve discovered my true Chinese identity. I’ve seen the right, as we say in China.
You may expose your reactionary nature by objecting that I don’t look Chinese. But Taharka-Tony doesn’t look black either, yet he collected the Arts Council shilling faster than you can say “I’s socioeconomically disadvantaged”.
From now on, I wish to be known as Boot Alexander, not Alexander Boot (in China we put the surname first, as in Mao Zedong, not Zedong Mao).
I’ll be using the masculine and feminine personal pronouns interchangeably (as in “my wife is overusing his credit card”), with the added benefit of stressing the fluidity of sex identity.
I’ll dispense with the plural endings (as in “we’re governed by many spiv”). And I’ll replace the whitey system of English tenses with the Chinese way of putting everything in the present, as in “before he become black, Taharka-Tony is white”.
And if you find anything wrong with any of this, I’ll report you to the Commission for Racial Equality.
Does anybody have their email address? And give me the one for the Arts Council while you’re at it. It’s time to cash in my Chinese chips.
Last night London sounded like Beirut, c. 1980. Mercifully, it was fireworks rather than mortars, but the nervous souls among us jumped up all the same each time a bomb-like device went off.
The staccato cannonade had a crescendo built in, and tonight it’ll reach a thunderous finale (Penelope, where the hell are those earplugs you got me last year?). Technically the big bang should come tomorrow night, but weekends are more conducive to festivities.
“Always remember the fifth of November”, goes the popular ditty, and obedient Londoners always do. That’s why every year on this day, give or take a couple, fireworks light up the night sky, turning light sleepers like me into swearing insomniacs.
Bonfire Night is a big event, celebrating the failure of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, when the professional soldier and converted Catholic Guy Fawkes placed 36 barrels of gunpowder under the Houses of Parliament.
The aim was to blow up King James I, along with the House of Lords, to trigger a popular revolt and restore Catholic monarchs to the throne. The plot failed, and England remained staunchly Protestant, which ineluctably led to her becoming staunchly atheist.
This observation is inspired not by any personal convictions but simply by observation: the Reformation demonstrably acted as the anteroom to atheism.
Invited by Descartes (himself a semi-lapsed Catholic) to doubt everything, by Luther to become their own priests and by Calvin to disdain all spiritual authority, people were cast adrift in the raging sea of their own devices.
The reefs of atheism beckoned invitingly, and people happily sailed towards them. A Richard Dawkins – throngs of Richard Dawkinses – became inevitable, new prophets of the new materialistic gods always athirst.
These are the most obvious thoughts that Guy Fawkes night bangs into my mind. There are also less obvious ones, those having to with politics, not religion.
My contention is that violence is the only way to supplant any modern democratic state.
I’m not talking here about people voting to replace, say, Socialists Lite, aka Tories, with Socialists Full Strength, aka Labour. What I have in mind is rather changing significantly the existing constitutional arrangement if it doesn’t work well.
This brings us to ‘consent of the governed’, the defining feature of the modern state in the eyes of its founders. As do so many liberal notions, this one derives from Hobbes and mostly Locke, the inspiration behind both American and French revolutions, and therefore modern politics.
An idealised picture Locke must have had in mind was that of ‘the people’ coming together at some instant in the past to decide on accepting or rejecting the post-Christian idea of secular government unaccountable to any absolute moral authority.
Upon mature deliberation they chose to give their consent to the liberal, secular state. No doubt a show of hands must have been involved, all perfectly equitable and democratic.
This idea is doubtless attractive and it would become even more so if any evidence could be found to suggest that this meeting of minds ever took place. Alas, no such evidence exists.
In fact, no modern attempt to replace a traditional monarchy with a ‘liberal’ republic, be that the English revolutions of the seventeenth century, the American and French ones of the eighteenth, or the Russian ones of the twentieth, involved campaigning for the ‘people’s’ consent or asking them what they wanted.
What they all did involve was unbridled violence unleashed in ‘the people’s’ name by a small cadre of subversives and their variously named revolutionary committees.
Since neither Locke nor his followers could pinpoint the granting of ‘consent’ to any specific historical event, they had to talk about some nebulous ‘compact’ or ‘social contract’, to use the phrase first popularised by Democritus and later by Hobbes and especially Rousseau.
However, according to the legal principle going back to the Old Testament, for any contract to be valid it has to be adjudicated by an authority holding sway over both parties, one whose judgment they accept as binding. In any reasonable sense such an authority has to be institutionally superior to the two parties.
The only authority that can be deemed superior to both the state and the individual is God. Hence frequent, if insincere, appeals to the deity in various founding documents of the early liberal states.
However, one would look in vain for any scriptural references either to ‘government by consent’ or to ‘social contract’. Nowhere does it say that a third of the electorate, a proportion deemed adequate in most modern democracies including Britain, can cast their vote in a way that will give them absolute sovereignty over the remaining two-thirds.
An important aspect of ‘consent’, as understood by Lockeans everywhere, is that it’s irrevocable: once given, or presumed to have been given, it can’t be reclaimed by any peaceful means.
Yet in no conceivable way could it be true that a third or even a fourth of the population voting in a government has given consent on behalf of the rest of the people as well. This is patently ludicrous, as is the whole idea of consent, which in reality is neither sought by politicians nor given by voters.
Any real agreement includes terms under which it may be terminated. In the absence of a higher adjudicating authority, no ‘social contract’ can have such a clause.
Therefore violence is the only recourse either party has, meaning that in a modern state a revolution is not so much an aberration as a logical extension of the ‘social contract’, the only way for the people to withdraw their ‘consent’.
I don’t know whether Hobbes and Locke realised that their theories implicitly issued a carte blanche to revolutionary conspiracies. But Guy Fawkes illustrated – and presaged – their theories perfectly.
So perhaps some of the fireworks should be set off to commemorate his valuable contribution to political science – rather than to celebrate the failure of his attempt to put it into practice.
Was he aware of his pioneering effort? Who knows. A penny for your thoughts, Guy.