Reason Trumped

Can we please be reasonable about it?

Donald Trump is neither the best nor the worst president in US history. Neither an angel nor the devil incarnate. Neither an intellectual pygmy nor a giant. Neither an unqualified reprobate nor the paragon of morality. Neither a saviour of the West nor its nemesis.

Any reasonable, dispassionate analysis will probably place him somewhere between any of those extremes. In each case, his exact placement would call for serious discussion.

However, when following the media coverage of the president, especially in the US, one notices that he hardly ever gets the benefit of reasonable, dispassionate analysis, nor indeed of serious discussion.

He’s denied his rightful place somewhere – anywhere – in the middle ground, even if closer to one extreme or the other. All he’s getting is either hysterical attacks or equally hysterical adulation.

When Trump comes into a conversation, reason leaves in a huff. Wings are flapped, voices are raised, spittle is sputtered – and I’m talking about otherwise intelligent people, if usually without much excess intelligence to spare.

This calls for an explanation, especially since Trump himself sounds fairly rational. This isn’t to say that one always agrees with his thinking, but think he does.

The president has a clear view of the world and America’s place in it. Again, my view of America and especially the world is rather different from his, but I can still discern a reasonable pattern to his thoughts and actions.

Reasonable doesn’t necessarily mean correct, and, for example, Trump should suppress or at least moderate his isolationist instincts. His demands that America’s allies take more responsibility for their own defence are perfectly justifiable, but perhaps he should ponder not only the minuses of global paternalism, but also the pluses.

Ever since the US set out to supplant the British Empire as the West’s father figure, the country has been cultivating numerous quasi-vassalages around the world. Since time immemorial, such a quest has involved trading protection for allegiance, and providing protection costs money.

But the allegiance attracted thereby makes the exercise worthwhile. Being the military Leader of the Free World makes it so much easier to be the economic leader as well.

I’d say that simply having the dollar as the world’s reserve currency (in which, incidentally, the US debt is denominated, taking some of the sting out) greatly offsets whatever defence costs the US has to incur – and we haven’t yet even touched on the trade benefits.

There has of course always been a strain of thought in the US that opposes the country’s global role and resents having to pay the cost, both in money and the blood of American soldiers.

In theory, I’m broadly sympathetic with this view and those who espouse it, such as Pat Buchanan and any number of prominent Republicans before him.

However, abandoning world leadership runs against the grain not only of the country’s foreign policy but of her whole history over the past century at least.

And America’s refusal to provide much of the the West’s military muscle is tantamount to forfeiting leadership. Moreover, such an about-face, especially if done quickly, would make the West, including the US, geopolitically vulnerable.

I’m not sure that Trump’s thinking, trained by a life-long veneration of the bottom line, goes quite so far. He seems to want the best of both worlds: America enjoying her disproportionately prominent position while refusing to pay the disproportionately high cost.

Best of luck to him, but I don’t think this is either doable or, given the global situation as it is, rather than as we may like it to be, advisable. However, coming down on either side of this argument shouldn’t be accompanied by, nor met with, hysterical rants and wild personal invective or, for that matter, encomiums.

‘On either side’ are the operative words: Trump admirers are as frenzied as his detractors. Yesterday’s fervent globalists become isolationists overnight and scream about it loudly enough to compete with the opposing din.

This is happening not only with Trump’s foreign policy but with everything he says or does. None of it is cause for rational analysis; all of it is cause for irrational frenzy.

If Trump moves the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, he’s accused of pro-Israeli Islamophobia, a charge made even more frenetic by his stated intent to reduce Muslim immigration.

The same people, mostly those of the neocon persuasion, who 15 years ago preached a virtual crusade against much of the Islamic world, during which perhaps a million Muslims died, now insist, against all scriptural, historical or current evidence, that Islam is a religion of peace.

One gets the impression that, should Trump adopt that line, they’d again agitate for carrying democracy to the Middle East on the sharp end of American bayonets.

If Trump withdraws the tripwire force of 2,000 US soldiers from the Middle East, he instantly becomes an enemy of Israel, the West and everything that’s good in the world.

If Trump cuts taxes, the same people who used to describe themselves as conservatives (usually with little justification) now accuse him of sacrificing the poor to please the rich.

Many of them now claim to be ‘fiscal conservatives but social liberals’, which presumably means they love the indigent, but hate to give them any money.

The poor souls don’t even seem to realise that social liberalism, aka welfarism, and fiscal conservatism are mutually exclusive. But it wouldn’t matter even if they did: they’d call themselves anything as long Trump calls himself something else.

There have been divisive presidents before, but in my, alas rather long, memory I can’t remember anything like this. Nor do I recall any political figure, other than perhaps Nixon c. 1974, whose personality draws more attacks than his policies.

Trump is revolting, scream the haters – and, though I am not one, I tend to agree. But is he more disgusting than, say, Bill Clinton, of the cigar fame?

He’s playing lickspittle to Putin, others blurt, and they have a point. Yet those same people voted for Hillary Clinton with her subversively idiotic ‘reset button’. (If the Mueller investigation produces prima facie evidence of collusion, I’ll repeat my usual proviso: Trump in that case should be not just impeached but tried for treason.)

He’s ignorant and illiterate, the haters insist, has never read a book, his degrees were bought with Daddy’s money. Fair enough, a president who can’t string a grammatical sentence together and manifestly has no sense of style doesn’t add lustre to America’s reputation.

But which of the post-war US presidents was an elegant, erudite stylist? Eisenhower? Ford? Carter? Or even the sainted Reagan?

I don’t know how many serious books Reagan read and how deeply he could delve into the ills of the world. He was an infinitely nicer and more sensible man than Trump, readier to listen to good advice (one of his advisers, William F. Buckley, even applied in jest for the job of ventriloquist), but a major intellect he wasn’t.

Granted, Reagan’s Daddy didn’t buy his degree, but then there was no need: Eureka College isn’t Wharton. Reagan’s presentation was much smoother than Trump’s, but then he was an actor, not a property-developing chancer.

Though Reagan was disliked by many and liked by more, neither emotion ever reached the fervour pitch one observes with Trump. He’s unique in that respect.

The reason may be that, though Trump is neither the best nor the worst president the US has ever had, he’s certainly the most unusual one. Because he’s the first rank outsider to move into the White House, he takes most commentators out of their comfort zone.

Not only is he not a member of the cross-party apparat that has governed America for ever, but he’s openly contemptuous of it. Alas, most commentators hate to be yanked out of the warm confines of their intellectual households.

For too long they haven’t had to think for themselves. A couple of trusted stencils were always close at hand – apply them to any issue, cut away whatever little sticks out, and the job’s done. With Trump, however, the stencils are useless, and so are their nimble but limited intellects.

Passion has to take in the slack thus formed, and in such matters that’s a poor substitute for reason. Trump is in a way the litmus test of political commentators, and most are demonstrably failing it.

P.S. Newspapers often enrage me too. Yet my experience this morning was truly shocking even by comparison to most news items.

One of the clues in the general knowledge crossword of today’s Times was ‘Be (5)’, to which the answer was ‘Exist’. If the crossword compilers are unaware of the basic difference between being and existence, they should read up on their Aristotle or, better still, Aquinas. Don’t those people know anything? Or are they deliberately trying to mislead me?

Would you rather live in Putin’s Russia?

“MI5? MI6? I’ll take KGB any sweet day.”

No? Then you have a lot to learn from Peter Hitchens, who clearly prefers Russia’s “masculine society” to our effeminate one.

For years now Mr Hitchens has been one of Putin’s most faithful and courageous trolls.

The courageous part is evident from the pundit’s mournful admission that there’s a price tag attached to his shilling for Russian kleptofascism: “I have made many enemies by refusing to join in the anti-Russian frenzy.”

Sorry, I stand corrected. “Refusing to join in the anti-Russian frenzy” is obviously the right way to describe what I unkindly call ‘trolling’ or ‘shilling’. Anyway, whatever you call Mr Hitchens’s stance, I’m sorry many people have become his enemies as a result.

I’m certainly not one of them, in the same sense in which I’m not an enemy to the neighbourhood dog who yesterday relieved himself on my newly washed car. I simply recognise that some of God’s creatures are programmed to act in a certain way, and this setting may override, in humans, such things as free will, reason and moral sense.

It’s in that spirit of compassionate understanding and genuine concern for his mental health that I read Mr Hitchens’s Yuletide offering, in which he compares favourably the Russian aviation business to ours.

Building on his vast personal knowledge of the country, he writes: “On ferociously freezing days when any Western airline would have given up, Russian internal flights took off without hesitation, and arrived on time.”

‘Took off without hesitation’, definitely. ‘Arrived on time’ or indeed at all, well, not always.

Once I’ve finished applauding my former countrymen’s intrepid disdain for the elements, I can’t help juxtaposing Mr Hitchens’s statement with another one, in WorldAtlas:

“In 2011, Russia was considered the most dangerous country to fly from. In that year, the country experienced nine commercial airline accidents, a number so high that it required an investigation into its air-safety practices. The investigation found that the commercial flights were being flown by insufficiently trained pilots who were following inefficient and outdated safety regulations and procedures.”

It’s not just 2011. Historically, only the US has had marginally more airline deaths than Russia, but from a vastly greater volume of traffic. So let’s just say that ‘masculine’ disdain for safety isn’t without its downside.

In fact, some may confuse such masculinity with contempt for human life in general, and not just in the area of civil aviation. But Mr Hitchens forges on undeterred: “Russia… is still a… society, in which the influence of lawyers and social workers is minimal.”

That is undeniably true. Lawyers, and law in general, have next to no influence in Putin’s Russia. Their principal activity is to pass on the sentences pre-determined either in the Kremlin or at a lower governmental level.

That’s why detainees are routinely beaten up, tortured or even killed in Russian police stations and prisons. Anyone who follows Russia in good faith could cite a long list of such outrages, from the highly publicised Magnitsky case to the more obscure ones, such as a man raped to death with a champagne bottle.

In fact, the influence of lawyers – or rather laws – is so minimal that the whole Russian economy is criminalised from top to bottom, with protection rackets and money laundering its principal industry. Nor can laws prevent a spate of gangland and political murders Putin’s lads commit both at home and abroad.

It’s also true that Russian social workers indeed aren’t overburdened with work. That may be partly why at least 20 million Russians starve – that is, live below the poverty line of £200 a month. That’s quite impressive in a country whose population is 140 million, or, if one believes some sociologists, even lower.

“I rather think,” continues Mr Hitchens, “that if anyone was fool enough to fly a drone over one of Moscow’s major airports today, two things would happen within about half an hour. The drone would be shot out of the sky, and the person involved would be in the slammer, contemplating a lengthy spell in Siberia. If the airport ever had closed (which I doubt), it would soon be opened again.”

He’s as right in his guess as he’s wrong in his moral judgement. “The person involved” would indeed be in the slammer, having been beaten, tortured and then sentenced by a kangaroo court. And yes, the airport would stay open throughout – it’s that understated respect for human life again.

Mr Hitchens is full of contempt, this time fully justified, for our “ludicrous MI5”, “MI6” and “the so-called ‘British FBI’, the National Crime Agency”, which he groups together under the rubric of “our own burgeoning KGB-type organisations”.

What isn’t justified is the unspoken but clearly audible refrain of the original KGB being much preferable to those insufficiently masculine outfits. This goes beyond simple ignorance and idiocy, penetrating instead the domain of psychiatry.

True, all those British organisations are ineffectual and frequently incompetent. But, the last time I checked my facts, none of them is responsible for murdering millions of their countrymen and enslaving the rest – activities that are still continuing in Russia, if so far on a smaller scale.

I’d suggest that any man capable of referring to any Western security service as a “KGB-style organisation” should be sectioned or at least have his mental health carefully investigated. And then he ought to be passed on to the care of the social services, busy as they lamentably are in Britain.

Just how free is the land of the free?

Please, Lord, let no one wish me Happy Holidays

I and my friends are getting some Christmas cards from the US, except that they aren’t really Christmas cards.

They all wish me Happy Holidays, making me wonder exactly what holidays we’re celebrating.

Ramadan? Hanukah? Schweinfest? Winter solstice? All of them? None of them? Is Christmas allowed to figure only as the modifier of ‘shopping’?

Even some who do celebrate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ still send out cards leaving room for such guesswork.

I haven’t lived in America for 31 years, so I don’t know if any actual Christmas cards can be bought there. I suspect they still can be, but not easily.

This in a country that prides herself on her Constitution, complete with its First Amendment guaranteeing every conceivable freedom, including one of religious expression.

In the country where I grew up, the USSR, Christmas was celebrated clandestinely if at all.

In my parents’ generation, wishing someone a Happy Christmas could earn a one-way ticket to the GULAG, if not a bullet in the nape of the neck. In my own generation, the consequences would have been less drastic, but there would have been consequences, mostly career-related.

And I along with other Russian children took delight in decorating a New Year tree, which was how the Christmas tree had been known since the advent of universal social justice.

That was par for the course, for we lived under the worst tyranny the world has ever known. Here, however, I’m talking about “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. It appears that the bravery required to exercise freedom just may be in short supply.

The US Constitution is a written document, but demonstrably competing against it is the set of unwritten laws I call glossocratic. These laws aren’t yet enforced by the courts, at least not widely. They are banged into the people’s heads by extra-legal means, and no appeals are allowed.

The logic of shunning Christmas escapes me. After all, Americans don’t mind celebrating Thanksgiving, and pilgrims offered those original thanks to Jesus Christ, not Zeus, Allah or Zarathustra.

Granted, not all Americans are Christians – not all of anyone are these days. Yet it takes rank cretinism to claim that non-Christians have nothing to celebrate on 25 December.

For we owe our whole civilisation to the birth of Jesus Christ, regardless of whether or not it actually took place on that day. Even those Americans who deny the divinity of Jesus or indeed his historicity dine every day on the fruits of Christendom, which is how Western civilisation was called for the best part of two millennia.

Even their much-vaunted Constitution, compiled as it was mostly by agnostics, has clear Christian antecedents, as do most fundamental Western laws.

Those same celebrators of androgynous Happy Holidays look at paintings on Christian subjects, listen to music either coming from or inspired by liturgy, enjoy the scientific discoveries that couldn’t have been made in any other than Christian civilisation.

One has to come to the melancholy conclusion that, when Christ no longer matters, neither does Christendom. In the absence of clay, no ceramic vessel can be made.

Taking the place of faith-inspired culture is the glossocracy-inspired fear of giving offence. But the fear itself isn’t real but glossocratic.

I’ve been friends with a few Muslims in my life, more Jews, agnostics and atheists. Yet I’ve never met a single member of those groups who’d be genuinely offended when wished a Happy Christmas.

One has to be not just impious but downright barbaric to be insulted by an expression of that wish and, though some of my friends are impious, none is barbaric. Neither, one suspects, are many of those Happy Holidays Americans.

They’ve just lost the very modicum of courage required to buck glossocratic laws, to refuse to accept that Christmas offends anybody. It doesn’t really take that much mettle to do that.

Perhaps it would take a bit more to throw those glossocratic laws back into the faces of their propagandists, those who insist on various groups’ mandatory sense of constant offence. Yet their glossocratic tyranny is as oppressive as communism or fascism, perhaps more so.

Those same people who can resist intellectual rape often find themselves helpless when exposed to intellectual seduction. If those Happy Holidays cards are any indication, there were more anti-communists in the Russia of my youth than there are anti-glossocrats in America today .

Still, God loves us all, and it’s a small gesture of gratitude to wish his son a happy birthday.

So Happy Christmas to all of you! May God, in whom you may or may not believe, prove that he believes in you by making your year successful and unsullied by any serious problems.

Martina, the unlikely traditionalist

I hope my fellow conservatives will join me in welcoming Martina Navratilova into our ranks

Martina Navratilova isn’t the first name that springs to mind when one hails champions of traditional values. One would have to go through the whole list of New Age causes before finding one she doesn’t support.

Martina is particularly vociferous when sticking up for animals’ right not to be eaten and for lesbians’ right to be… I almost wrote ‘to be just that’ but then decided against it, this being the Christmas season. ‘Married’, is what I really mean.

To her credit, Martina has the power of her convictions. She doesn’t eat meat and does eat… please Lord, give me strength to refrain from another lewd double entendre.

What I mean is that, ever since she defected from her native Czechoslovakia in 1975, and even before she came out in 1981, Martina has been known as a lesbian. There’s nothing uncommon about that.

I wouldn’t be divulging any secrets if I observed that this little quirk is hardly unusual among female tennis professionals.

Tennis is an aggressive sport, and, as well-publicised experiments on mice have shown, aggression is a masculine trait attributable to testosterone levels. Yet high testosterone levels also tend to make people want to have sex with women, and I hope I’m not making it sound too simplistic.

Hence many women who dedicate their lives to tennis have certain tendencies, and the peripatetic life of a tennis pro travelling the world in the company of other women gives an easy outlet to such proclivities.

(I could give you a long list of Sapphic players, but you can easily do your own Googling. To be fair, some of them don’t look at all masculine and some, such as Gigi Fernández in her prime, are downright gorgeous. What a loss.)

However, not all tennis lesbians are as open about their sex lives as Martina is. And certainly not all of them marry their girlfriends, which she did in 2014.

Martina wasn’t exactly reticent about that happy event. She proposed to her girlfriend Julia Lemigova in a crowded restaurant, with a battalion of paparazzi in attendance.

In the good tradition of matrimony, Martina, clad in a white man’s (or at least manly) suit went down on one knee, making everyone who really respects the good tradition of matrimony rush towards the exit holding his hand to his mouth.

I’m lingering on these salacious details only to enhance the effect of the forthcoming shock. For Martina has got on the wrong side of the ‘transgender community’ after laudably insisting that ‘women’ born men shouldn’t be allowed to compete in women’s events.

“Clearly that can’t be right,” wrote Martina, born again as a traditionalist. “You can’t just proclaim yourself a female and be able to compete against women. There must be some standards, and having a penis and competing as a woman would not fit that standard. For me it’s all about fairness. Which means taking every case individually… there is no cookie cutter way of doing things.”

Martina is dodging the issue ever so slightly. Because there is indeed a cookie cutter way of allaying her objections. It’s called an operation, whereby the anatomical feature Martina sees as disqualifying is removed.

But, keeping as she does her finger on the pulse of modernity, she clearly accepts that anyone is entitled to self-identify his/her/its sex regardless of biochemistry, physiology or anatomy. She’s only objecting to seeing too much of a bulge in the front of a woman player’s knickers.

However, even her understated remarks caused such an outburst of attacks on her ‘transphobia’ that Martina was forced to delete the offensive comments from her website.

Leading the attacks was Dr Rachel McKinnon, a male-born ‘transgender’ activist and competitive cyclist who wins women’s events on the circuit.

“Genitals do not play sports,” explained Dr McKinnon, displaying a keen mind and deep medical knowledge. “What part of a penis is related to tennis?”

I can’t answer that question, certainly not to satisfy the exacting medical criteria evidently applied by Dr McKinnon. I do however acknowledge that genitals don’t play sports, although many ***** do (I’m slapping my own wrist even as we speak – this subject makes me want to use unprintable words).

However, talent and application being equal, a player born with XY chromosomes will wipe the court with one cursed with XX initials. Coming into play here isn’t just testosteronal aggression, but also the manifest male superiority in strength, speed and height.

That’s why the best female players would struggle to break into the men’s top 1,000. And that’s why back in 1973 Bobby Riggs, at a venerable age of 55, was able to beat Margaret Court, women’s Number 1 at the time.

Even more illustrative is the case of Renée Richards, neé Richard Raskind. Dr Raskind was a good amateur player who set out to show that it was possible to play tennis without balls. After undergoing the whole hog of trans-sex procedures, the freshly minted Renée launched a series of legal challenges to be able to compete in women’s events.

He/she finally won the legal battle and began his/her professional career at age 44, when most players have been off the circuit for at least a decade. However, this middle-aged male amateur broke into the top 20 of the women’s professional ranks.

He/she then went on to become a coach, working, among others, with Martina Navratilova. She’s then in an ideal position to know that, though “genitals don’t play sports”, men do, and they have some in-built advantages over women.

However, ever the conciliator, I’m prepared to side with Dr McKinnon. Furthermore, I can develop her argument to its logical conclusion.

The only way to rid tennis of such unseemly squabbles is for men and women to compete together in the same tournaments. The issue of who is and who isn’t a woman will become moot, and tennis jousts will be held not among penises and vaginas, but among fellow professionals.

There’s always the danger that women, unable to make a living under such circumstances, won’t remain fellow professionals for long. But hey, fair’s fair. At least such an arrangement will put an end to any possibility of sex discrimination.

Why Russia is hopeless

Edmund Burke, whose hatred of freedom and absence of independent ideas inspired American conservatism

Some 20 years ago I was splashing about buckets of cold water to douse the universal enthusiasm about glasnost, perestroika and the ‘collapse of communism’.

There’s no tradition of civilised society in Russia, I was writing, and whatever little there used to be has been crushed during the 70-odd years of Bolshevism. Hence the belief that, having shed the shackles of communism, Russia will turn into a Western or even quasi-Western society is, to be charitable, naïve.

There was no viable group to replace the Communist Party in government. Or rather there was one: the KGB. That’s why, rather than hailing what a particularly brainless neocon described as the end of history, I shuddered to think what those people would come up with next.

Now we know: all those wonderful things so beloved of useful idiots amounted to a transfer of power from the Party to the organic fusion of the KGB and organised crime.

Proof was quickly provided, if any was needed, that a market economy not buttressed by a legal tradition of long standing is a synonym for gangsterism – and an attempt at democracy for which there’s neither taste nor historical prerequisites is bound to result in some sort of fascisoid regime.

I can’t claim clairvoyance, much as I’d like to. What I can claim is some knowledge of political history, specifically of revolts resulting in drastic changes to societies.

Different as they might have been, they all have something in common, some sine qua non of revolutionary makeover.

All modern revolutions, whether self-described as bourgeois, peasant or proletarian, were perpetrated by middleclass intelligentsia cohering on the basis of a plausible idea. In revolutions too, the word came first.

Actually, ‘intelligentsia’ is too broad a term, implying a whole class of people. In reality, revolutions are made by a small, vigorous and unscrupulous core within intelligentsia.

In addition to detesting the existing order, such activists always have a clear idea of where they wish to take the country, and they always brandish some easily digestible slogans for public consumption.

Sometimes the idea coincides with the slogans, and sometimes – perhaps usually – it doesn’t. Not to embark on a long foray across many centuries and borders, let’s just look at the two Russian revolutions in 1917.

The February one deposed the tsar whose rule was widely seen as untenable. The active group in the event was formed by left-of-centre liberals, who thought Russia could prosper as a copycat Western-style democracy, complete with all the liberties implicit therein.

Like all revolutionaries, the members of the Provisional Government wanted to destroy something, in that case Russia’s absolutism. Unlike some revolutionaries, they also wanted to create something: a Russia shedding her Golden Horde heritage in favour of Western democracy.

Yet eight months later the Provisional Government was ousted by another, Bolshevik, revolution.

The Bolsheviks, led by a syphilitic ghoul, had no constructive purpose whatsoever. They were driven by zoological hatred of everyone who wasn’t a Bolshevik.

Their hatred was truly classless: they murdered with equal relish aristocrats, officers, priests, engineers, scientists, academics, workers and peasants.

They didn’t really seek anything constructive. All they wanted was absolute power enabling them to spread Lenin’s syphilis all over Europe and eventually the whole world.

The divergence between their desiderata and their slogans was as wide as it could be, for the simple reason that the desiderata owed much to Russia’s Asian, which is to say Mongol, political heritage, while the mendacious slogans came from the European Enlightenment.

By the time I grew up, in the ‘60s, people widely, and the intelligentsia universally, detested communism. The powers that be, on the other hand, having gorged on the blood of 60 million victims, were suffering from reflux: the general slackening of will.

They had lost the taste for mass murder, and inevitably a dissident movement appeared. I was a small part of it, and I remember the all-abiding hatred we all felt for the communists.

But what, other than the death of communism, did we actually want? Whenever that question was asked, a fog descended.

We’d mouth general platitudes along the lines of democracy, liberty and all things Western. Yet we knew next to nothing about the West and understood even less. Even though I was bilingual and read mostly Anglophone books, I was no better than others.

That became instantly obvious whenever we were asked any question beginning with “And specifically…” We couldn’t offer any specifics that wouldn’t be laughed out of a freshman seminar on political science at any Western university.

Predictably, when the sclerotic Soviet Union could no longer survive, it wasn’t my fellow dissidents (I myself left Russia in 1973, half a step ahead of an arrest squad) who took over, but the people they either hated (KGB) or despised (gangsters).

Looking at the situation today, one can detect obvious parallels. The Russian intelligentsia almost universally detests Putin’s kleptofascist regime. That’s good, because it’s indeed detestable.

Those with the gift of the gab write about the Putinistas knowledgeably, convincingly, at times brilliantly. But what sort of alternative do they see in their mind’s eye?

Generally speaking, their frame of reference is yet again negative: whatever Putin likes, they hate and vice versa.

If Putin manipulates religion for his purposes, they’re militant atheists. If Putin is against homomarriage, they’re for it. If Putin is anti-EU, they think it’s the greatest achievement in political history. If Putin were to insist that the sky is blue, they’d argue it’s polka dot.

All that is good knockabout stuff, but specifically, ladies and gentlemen? What kind of Russia would you like to see?

A Western one, comes a reply as thunderous as ours used to be back in the 60s. Yet their ignorance of the West is as staggering as ours was, if less excusable. After all, unlike us they can travel in the West and have access to any information they want.

When I read Russian opposition publications, I’m as impressed by their deep insights into Russia as I’m appalled by their wilful ignorance of the West, married to the typical effrontery of ignoramuses who aren’t even aware how little they know.

As an example, here’s my translation of a recent piece by the popular blogger Mikhail Pozharsky. As far as I can glean from his sketchy bio, he started political life as a Nazi who wanted, among other things, to kill all homosexuals. He then travelled all the way to libertarianism, with an interim stopover at liberalism.

Here he offers his take on conservatism, and I’m publishing this piece in its entirety only because it’s typical of the level of political thought within the opposition intelligentsia.

“The lupine stupidity of conservatism

“Wolves are considered dangerous predators, but they have an Achilles heel: they fear everything new and unknown. That determines how they’re hunted: little red flags are hung around the forest, and, because wolves are scared of approaching them, they run where the hunters await. One wonders why some people and whole nations like to emulate such stupid beasts. However, there is an explanation.

“For wolves are a perfect symbol of political conservatives. What in fact is the conservative agenda? Do you see something new, unknown? Run away, go into a stupor – as long as you don’t get anywhere near! Conservatism is a political ideology without an ideology as such. It is wholly replaced with kneejerk neophobia, an irrational urge to maintain the status quo.

“A conservative’s thought is never independent – he runs wherever he’s driven by representatives of other political forces, mainly socialists (it’s not for nothing that those little red flags are red). Conservatives are driven by the principle ‘I’ll cut off my nose to spite lefties’. Thus they keep running inside the perimeter hung with flags, thereby popularising the left agenda.

“Yet there’s no fundamental difference between conservatives and lefties. The left seek absolute power in order to raze the old society and build a new one in accordance with their utopian fantasies. Conservatives also seek absolute power, but to the opposite end: protecting everything old from natural erosion. That’s why repentant socialists often become conservatives, and vice versa. But they seldom join the ranks of defenders of freedom. They are all enemies of freedom.

“A conservative defending freedom is as rare as a socialist doing so. The USA was initially built on liberal principles. That’s why an American conservative may support free enterprise. However, the same American conservative will be against freedom in other areas – he’ll be in favour of protectionism and a ban on same-sex marriage. Conservative is incapable of pondering and developing the ideas put forth by the Founding Fathers. A conservative is a kneejerk ‘want everything as it was’.

“That’s why supporters of freedom, libertarians, may have conservative views in the area of morality or religion. But they can’t be political conservatives. Political conservatism is as incompatible with liberty as socialism is.”

As one of those lupine conservatives who detest liberty, I don’t think any commentary is necessary. One seldom sees so much ignorant bilge put forth with so much arrogance.

The only true statement in the piece is that conservatism isn’t an ideology, but the poor chap isn’t even aware of the negative connotations of the word ‘ideology’.

Now political taxonomy is a tricky business, and ‘conservative’ means different things to different people. In Russia as often as not it stands for ‘Stalinist’ and, when used pejoratively in that sense, it’s justified.

But Pozharsky is talking specifically about American conservatives, who are supposed to be enemies of freedom and have no ideas of their own, other than opposing same-sex marriage and free trade.

It’s true that conservatives neither want to murder all homosexuals, as Pozharsky did when he was a Nazi, nor to see them marrying, as he wants now he’s a libertarian. Yet he allows libertarians to have conservative views on morality and religion, which views are incompatible with the championship of homomarriage.

But never mind the intellectual muddle, feel the ignorance. Pozharsky – and take my word for it, he’s typical – not only knows nothing about conservatism, but he doesn’t even know what the word means.

Talking specifically about American conservatism, he hasn’t read a single word written by Russell Kirk, James Burnham, Frank Mayer, Whittaker Chambers, William F. Buckley, Erik Kuehnelt-Leddihn (Austrian American) and dozens of others I could mention.

Nor is he familiar with the history of conservative thought, signposted – among hundreds of others – by Aristotle, Burke, Goethe, Chateaubriand, de Maistre, Tocqueville or, if he wants to talk about American Founders, Ames, Randolph and Calhoun.

So what will happen to Russia when Putin finally goes, as go he must at some time? Who’ll take over? Pozharsky, of the cutlet fame? His fellow liberal-libertarian admirers of the West about which they know the square root of sod-all?

I dare say it’s more likely, nay guaranteed, that they’ll be ousted, possibly massacred, by heirs to Putin and therefore the Golden Horde tradition of Russian politics – this time with a huge thieving dimension (not that corruption has ever been dormant there).

My advice to Russian intelligentsia would be to stop looking to the West for answers. They should have done so many centuries ago, when the West was in ascendancy. Yet over the past couple of centuries the West has been busily destroying what took almost two millennia to create – what conservatives cherish.

Whatever good is still extant in the West can’t be just run through a copier – the run-out will be garbled. By all means, they should study the Western experience critically, adapting what could be useful, discarding the rest.

But the first order of the day should be for them to generate indigenous ideas based on concrete Russian realities, not on Western ones they don’t understand in sufficient depth.

And they ought to refrain from sweeping statements about the West that upset me so. These are never amusing, grown-up or clever.

Nobel Prize for medicine sewn up

Junk, making his historic speech “I have a dream and a bottle of Glenfarclas”

Or if it isn’t, it should be. For only one medical researcher combines deep penetrating insights with the courage to stage death-defying experiments on himself.

Many doctors, including five Nobel laureates, have gone down in history for exposing themselves to pathogenic, toxic and radioactive substances. Jesse Lazear exposed himself to yellow fever, Max von Pettenkofer to cholera, Daniel Zagury to AIDS – the list can go on and on.

But it’ll never be complete without the name of Jean-Claude Juncker, or Junk as he likes to be known to his friends among whom I proudly count myself.

Last July Junk came up with a daring hypothesis on the aetiology and symptomatology of sciatica. His courageous self-experimentation at the NATO summit then turned the hypothesis into scientific fact.

Junk’s breakthrough discovery was that sciatica is caused by the toxic substances added to Glenfarclas malt whisky. As with all such additives, the adverse effect is directly proportional to the amount consumed and the rate of consumption.

To support this theory Junk self-sacrificially, not to say heroically, consumed a full bottle of the dangerous beverage. Sure enough, he immediately developed a bad case of sciatica, featuring a unique clinical picture.

In addition to pain in the lower back, the virulent form of sciatica caused by Glenfarclas is evidently characterised by zigzagging, stumbling, losing one’s balance, trying to topple over backwards, laughing uncontrollably and for no good reason, kissing everything that moves and forcing foreplay on men and women alike.

At the time I started a campaign demanding that Glenfarclas labels carry a government health warning. Predictably the government, preoccupied with such marginal issues as Brexit, ignored my entreaty.

More evidence, they said, was required before such a step could be taken. My friend Junk, they added, should be encouraged to collect more research data. According to them, the corpus of evidence gathered hitherto only qualified as a promising start.

When I conveyed the bad news to Junk, he took it in his stride. “All we can do, Al,” he said, “is keep plugging away. I don’t care if I have to drink Scotland dry to help all those millions of sciatica sufferers.”

Junk was true to his word. He chose the Africa-Europe summit at Vienna’s Hofburg Palace as an appropriate site for his self-sacrificial self-experimentation. When I later asked him how much Glenfarclas he had consumed to bring on sciatica symptoms, Junk told me it was none of my bloody business.

“Let’s just say it was well in excess of LD50,” he said, yet again resorting to the arcane technical jargon that comes naturally to him but leaves ignoramuses like me bemused.

“LD50, you nincompoop,” explained Junk, sensing my bewilderment, “is Lethal Dose 50, the amount of an ingested substance that kills 50 per cent of a test sample. Well, I’m in the other 50 per cent.” he added proudly. “Tell that to those Brexiteer énculés.”

Even before that momentous event, Junk had staged a lower-level trial to obtain more evidence of sciatica causing bizarre amorous episodes. He had been filmed ruffling the peroxide hair and kissing the cheek of Pernilla Sjölin, the EU’s deputy head of protocol.

Aware of the episode’s medical significance, Miss Sjölin went along, which encouraged Junk to consume more whisky, thereby exacerbating the sciatica symptoms.

He then expanded his sample base by engaging Mrs May in a foreplay session, involving kissing, petting and murmuring sweet nothings into her ear, such as “You nebulous bitch, why don’t you pull your head out of your cul and tell me what the bloody hell you want.”

Yet it was the Vienna conference that was singled out for the full-scale experiment. This time it took several burly assistants to keep Junk upright, while he was laughing uncontrollably and trying to fall down.

The amorous symptoms of Glenfarclas-induced sciatica also manifested themselves with new clarity, this time transcending the line separating the sexes.

Yet again Junk selected a Croatian politician as his subject. If in July he had tried to feel up Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the comely president of that country, this time he focused on Croatia’s PM Andrej Plenkovic (“I thought he was Kolinda,” he later told me. “That’s sciatica for you.”)

When sciatica finally made it impossible for Junk to get up from his chair, he remained seated while trying to, in his parlance, ‘score’ with Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas. Evidently Junk had upped the dose of the control substance to produce a cleaner experiment.

Here’s a man willing to suffer excruciating pain for the sake of medical science. And not just pain.

Sciatica is known to produce other conditions, such as cirrhosis of the liver, hypertension, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia, fibrosis, pancreatitis and imprisonment for affray. Junk is heroically risking all those to advance human knowledge, and I can’t think of a worthier candidate for the Nobel Prize.

I’m also comforted to know that the future of the EU is in such safe, if slightly shaking, hands.

Junk isn’t dedicating his life to this other noble cause in his life for the measly €350,000 a year, plus unspecified expenses. Yet again he’s sacrificing himself for the common good – and how many of us can say the same?

Down with common law

Have you denied animals their legal rights?

Common law may mean different things. In purely legal terms, it’s a judicial system based on custom and precedent, rather than statute.

England and most of her former colonies, such as the US, have this bottom-top system in place. On the other hand, continental countries, such as France, practise top-bottom positive law, with clever chaps who know better getting together and concocting laws for everybody to live by.

But then common law may also mean one judicial system for all, and there the difference between England and continentals is slight. However laws are generated, it’s assumed that they apply equally to everybody.

For a legal system to function properly, there can be no parallel systems or sub-systems. No competition is possible, which is one reason, among many, for banning Sharia law in non-Muslim countries.

This sounds self-evident, but these days nothing is. Hence gathering strength at the expense of the English Common Law is the glossocratic law imposed by a panoply of minority pressure groups.

‘Glossocratic’ means government by the word, of the word and for the word. At its heart lies the understanding that whoever controls language controls minds, and whoever controls minds controls, well, everything.

The two legal systems are vectored in the opposite directions. The traditional common law going back to Scripture is now routinely flouted, with its underlying principles shunted aside.

Crimes that strike against individual property and person often go unprosecuted and even uninvestigated. Burglary, for example, is no longer thought worthy of police attention, and even gruesomely violent crimes often receive derisory sentences if any.

That situation isn’t unique to Britain. Thus Chériff Chekatt was free to have fun at that Strasbourg Christmas market even though he had 27 criminal convictions to his name, most for violent crimes.

Clearly, France’s positive law isn’t doing better than England’s common law in making sure that such human refuse don’t roam the streets looking for prey.

I’m not necessarily advocating the three-strikes-and-you’re-out arrangement, but surely any country not bent on suicide should have such a policy for 27 strikes. Yet all Western countries are exhibiting suicidal tendencies galore.

Meanwhile the parallel glossocratic system is flourishing, with its injunctions enforced mercilessly, surely and universally.

Because glossocratic laws spring from neither precedent nor statute, it’s impossible to contest them or to seek justice. In any case, the glossocratic law isn’t about justice. It’s about power and control.

Three examples spring to mind off the top, all from the past week or so.

The comedian Konstantin Kisin was invited to do an unpaid charity gig at the School of Oriental and African Studies. Richly endowed with a sense of civic responsibility, he agreed.

By way of thanks he was served with a ‘behavioural agreement form’, specifying areas held off-limits for jokes:

“By signing this contract, you are agreeing to our no-tolerance policy with regards to racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism,” went the agreement, adding that such self-restraint will “ensure an environment where joy, love and acceptance are reciprocated by all”.

In other words, making even a remotely funny joke on any subject would contravene the parallel system of glossocratic law, and no appeals were allowed. To his credit, Kisin didn’t even try to appeal. He simply refused to appear and made some laudable statements about freedom of speech.

Going back a few days, advertising regulator, the Committee of Advertising Practice, issued a ban on “gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offence”.

Harmful stereotypes in ads, explained CAP, “contribute to how people see themselves and their role in society”, and can therefore hold some impressionable souls back.

Advertisers will no longer be allowed to show, say, butter-fingered men breaking the dishes they wash, women being weaker (shorter?) than men and in any way subservient to them, or presumably men leading a bayonet charge with no help from the weaker, nay equally strong, sex.

One could of course cite scientific proof of innate physiological differences between the sexes (or rather among the sexes: a bisexual dating site lists 22 of them). But no such evidence is admissible in a glossocratic courtroom.

As I say, no appeals are allowed; due process boils down to morbidly undue sensitivity, institutionally mandated but seldom actually felt.

Another example of glossocratic justice at work was helpfully provided by animal rights groups, which are impervious to the sheer idiocy of the very term ‘animal rights’. Rights dialectically coexist with duties: someone with no duties, such as animals, can’t have any rights by definition.

But glossocratic tyranny is never about the face value of the proposition. Those animal righters don’t really care if you kick Fido every time he crosses your path. All they want is to control your language and thus your mind.

Hence you can find yourself in glossocratic prison for saying “kill two birds with one stone.” The mandated inoffensive alternative is “feed two birds with one scone”. (With or without Devonshire cream? We have the right to know.).

In the same spirit, thou shalt replace “there are many ways to skin a cat” with “there are many ways to eat a kiwi” – or else. Also criminalised are expressions like “go the whole hog”, “sweating like a pig” and “human guinea pig”, which deny their God-given rights to the species mentioned.

Actually I pride myself on having pioneered this long-overdue initiative by taking exception to any idioms including the word ‘dog’. In all of them, I’ve been campaigning, the offensive noun can be profitably and poignantly replaced with ‘wife’.

Hence I suggest such inoffensive alternatives as “let a sleeping wife lie”, “you can’t teach an old wife new tricks”, “sick as a wife”, “a wife’s breakfast”, “a wife in a manger”, “a hair of the wife”, “a barking wife never bites”, “go to the wives”, “if you lie with wives, you’ll get fleas” – though not, again for physiological reasons, “wife’s bollocks”.

However, I face a horrible conundrum. For, having thus found myself on the animal righters’ good side, I’ve run foul of the parallel laws passed by those who are programmed to be mortally offended by any irreverent remarks about women, that long-suffering minority that happens to be a majority.

The tyrannical system of parallel laws is both proscriptive and prescriptive. It not only specifies things that can’t be said, but it also dictates things that must be said.

Moreover, its remit shows a potential for endless expansion, specifically because its laws are demonstrably absurd. That, as Orwell once observed, is the nature of tyranny.

The tyrants know that their laws are ridiculous, and they know that we know. So much more satisfying it is for them to make us comply: when despots speak, reason stays silent for its own good.

Orwell was talking about fascist regimes, and that’s exactly what’s gestating within our body politic: a foetus of fascism conceived by glossocratic diktat.

But none dare call it that. The term ‘fascist’ is these days reserved for hard-working, church-going, Tory-voting conservatives who resist glossocracy in a hopeless last stand.

When it comes to attacking them, the glossocratic law instantly turns permissive: no holds barred. Thus a simple impersonation of cultured diction elicits roars of laughter; the vilest and most groundless accusation is avidly accepted on faith.

It’s only anomic slurs that go unpunished by glossocracy. Quite the opposite – they’re actively encouraged.

That’s par for the course, for the animating impulse of modernity is the urge to destroy everything of long provenance. Including the Common Law.

 

Statesmanship isn’t what it used to be

Does Mrs May salute every morning on her way to work?

Drawing parallels with the past is a perilous pastime for those who’d like to keep some vestige of sanity. Still, just this once wouldn’t hurt.

Reading the account of the exchange between Jean-Claude ‘Junk’ Juncker and our own Theresa May, one wonders if a similar encounter could have taken place between, say, Castlereagh and Talleyrand at the Congress of Vienna.

T: Your proposals are nebulous.

C: Who are you calling nebulous?

T: I didn’t.

C: Yes, you bloody well did.

T: No, I didn’t.

C: You did too.

T: I didn’t either.

C: Did, did, did, did…

T: Didn’t, didn’t, didn’t…

C: Liar, liar, your pants are on fire.

T: Cross my heart and hope to die, I didn’t.

C: Did, did, did, did…

T (sticks his index fingers into his ears and chants): Na, na, na, na…

C (screams at the top of his lungs): You call me nebulous once again, and I’ll shoot you like a mad… Canning!

T (unplugs his ears): Oh yeah?

C: Yeah!

T: Says who?

C: Says I!

T: Well, you can go and…

Hard as I strain my fecund imagination, I still can’t picture this dialogue taking place in 1815. Yet there’s nothing surprising about it having taken place in 2018 (albeit without the few embellishments I added for emphasis).

Old-fashioned things like dignity, manners and style have gone out of modern politics, as they have out of everything else. However, even with that proviso it’s painful to witness the spectacle of Her Majesty’s prime minister haggling like a fishwife with a booze-addled foreigner from one of those iffy countries.

What makes it even harder to take is the realisation that the booze-addled foreigner is actually right, and Her Majesty’s prime minister is wrong. In fact, my friend Junk ought to be complimented on his restraint in having chosen a mild word to describe Mrs May’s performance.

He would have been within his right to use meatier adjectives, such as ‘inane’, ‘idiotic’ or even ‘half-arsed’. Any one of those would have been richly deserved.

Now that we wax nostalgic, let’s agree for old times’ sake that this government has handled Brexit in ways that would make Messrs Pitt, Castlereagh, Palmerston et al spin like tops in their graves.

Sometimes they acted as true statesmen, sometimes they didn’t, but they never went to Europe as supplicants, begging for ‘deals’. Just imagine any one of them imploring chaps from Luxembourg and Poland to let our parliament pass more of our own laws.

The very concept of a deal is deeply flawed anyway, borrowed as it is from commerce. Merchants live or die by deals; statesmen operate in pacts, treaties, alliances – or, barring those, conflicts.

A deal presupposes both sides relinquishing something for the sake of a greater mutual good. Yet one thing that a self-respecting country can never relinquish is its sovereignty, not without a fight anyway. British sovereignty is vested in Parliament, and no fragment of it can be broken off and traded away.

For an equitable deal to materialise in commerce, both sides have to be trading in good faith. If one of them isn’t, no deal is possible. Yet in this case, neither side is.

The EU doesn’t want an equitable deal. It wants to stop Brexit in its tracks or, barring that, to make it so painful that other members will think twice before following Britain’s suit.

And Mrs May doesn’t want to leave at all. She seems to think that Britain’s sovereignty rightfully belongs to an unaccountable foreign body with generous pension provisions for its operators. So she works surreptitiously to undermine the popular mandate, while making a show of respecting it.

Any courageous, statesmanlike PM would be telling the EU what we’re going to do, not asking if we could please do it. Britain may not be the great power it was at the time of Pitt, Castlereagh or Palmerston, but that doesn’t mean it has to humiliate and dishonour itself.

Yet humiliating their own country comes naturally to our spivocrats, nonentities to a man, or in this case woman. They are driven by self-interest and self-perpetuation, not by any considerations of bono publico.

In pursuit of such ignominious ends, they effectively act against their own country, joining forces with foreign governments, few of which have Britain’s best interests at heart.

I’m not as ready as some of my friends to bandy the word ‘treason’ about, what with its very specific legal implications. But used loosely, treason is exactly what Mrs May’s government and the so-called Remainers are committing.

If they acted as British statesmen, rather than as European bureaucrats of, well, nebulous allegiance, they wouldn’t negotiate at all – or if they did, they’d do so from a position of strength.

They wouldn’t genuflect before Junk and his accomplices, begging them for a deal. And once some thin gruel were served to them, they wouldn’t do an Oliver Twist and embarrassingly ask for more.

Instead they’d prepare the ground for an orderly fall-back and leave unconditionally and without paying any exit fees, making clear to the EU that, if we assume our share of liabilities, we must also have our share of assets.

That out of the way, by all means we could then discuss free trade agreements or any other ‘deals’. But making the exit contingent on a ‘deal’ puts those who are desperate to reverse Brexit into a powerful, nay dominant negotiating position.

Junk and his gang have effectively been handed veto power over Brexit and a decisive say in Britain’s internal politics. They could, for example, oust Mrs May by refusing to be enveloped in the nebula of her waffling and announcing harsh punitive measures awaiting a no-deal exit.

In effect, they could reduce Britain to a third-world status by facilitating the advent of a Trotskyist government that sees Venezuela as its role model.

Messrs Pitt, Castlereagh, Palmerston et al had their failings. But they would never have prostrated themselves in such a humiliating manner before a continental power.

But then in those days Britain had proud statesmen. All we have are spivocratic, deal-making nonentities. Is that really the kind of government we deserve?

The good Muslim of Strasbourg

A ho-ho-whole lot of targets – that’s what a Christmas market is

Assorted presidents and prime ministers have assured us that Islam is a religion of peace.

Unfortunately, no one told that to Chériff Chekatt, and neither had he demonstrably ever heard the assurances of assorted presidents and prime ministers.

Thus unenlightened, Mr Chekatt screamed the lapidary slogan ‘Allahu akbar!’ and shot up a Christmas market in Strasbourg, killing three (so far) and wounding 12.

The next day the police caught up with him, and he was killed in the ensuing shootout. Now Mr Chekatt faces the arduous task of entertaining the 72 virgins of paradise, which has to be the only place where so many virgins can be found.

Then again, since Islam is rather permissive on the minimum age of consent it’s quite possible that Mr Chekatt’s love interests still wear nappies. One way or another, he deserves a bit of posthumous fun for having proved true to his religion.

He was a good Muslim, meaning he acted according to the commandments of his faith as laid down in its holy book. That is a reasonable definition of a pious man.

Thus a good Jew is one who observes the Ten Commandments and loves his neighbour as himself. A good Christian also observes the Decalogue and loves his neighbour, but with embellishments:

“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, be good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

Since we’re all committed to diversity, however it manifests itself, we must be happy to know that the Koran imposes rather different demands on its followers:

“When the sacred months have passed, then kill the Mushrikin [infidels] wherever you find them. Capture them. Besiege them. Lie in wait for them in each and every ambush…”

The Koran contains roughly 300 verses elucidating various facets of the same general entreaty. Since Mr Chekatt followed his holy texts faithfully, he definitely qualifies as a good Muslim: he did kill the infidels wherever he could find them.

At this time of the year a Christmas market provides a promising hunting ground for infidels: one can confidently expect to find crowds of people who think there just may be a god other than Allah, and Mohammed isn’t his prophet.

There’s also the off chance that the shooter might bag, in addition to a few infidels, the next worst thing: a bad Muslim, one who doesn’t go around killing people even though the Koran says he must.

Mr Chekatt in fact had the good luck of doing just that: one of his victims was Kamal Naghchband, who had fled the Taliban and obtained asylum in France 15 years ago. Mr Naghchband was a peaceful man, who ran a garage at his local mosque and left infidels to their own vices and devices.

He was thus a bad Muslim, which clearly doesn’t preclude being a good man. Mr Chekatt, on the other hand, was a good Muslim, which means that under no circumstances could he have been a good man.

Actually he wasn’t. By age 29 Mr Chekatt had amassed 27 criminal convictions for violence, robbery and theft. It was during one of his stints in prison that he learned what being a good Muslim meant, and who says custodial sentences have no educational value.

The piquancy of the situation is that the French police had known all about Mr Chekatt’s piety long before he went Christmas shopping. But, if you listen to them, there was nothing they could do.

This is a case of what I call ‘faitaccomplism’: governments act ill-advisedly, not to say criminally, to create a potential for catastrophe. And when it duly arrives, they shrug their shoulders: “There was nothing we could have done”. Quite. Other than not acted with criminal negligence in the first place.

In that spirit, European governments have hospitably welcomed tens of millions of cultural aliens, actually hostiles, over just a few decades.

Even if only an unrealistically low one per cent of them are good Muslims, ready to kill infidels wherever they could find them (such as at a Christmas market), we’re blessed with tens of thousands of potential murderers roaming our streets.

Many of them are citizens of European countries; some, like Mr Chekatt, their natives. So indeed there’s little the police can do to prevent murder.

They can’t deport a citizen, born and bred in the country. They can’t even deport a non-citizen who’s in the country legally. Theoretically they’re able to deport an illegal alien, but that’s often more trouble than it’s worth.

They can’t imprison someone preventively simply on the basis of his belonging to a high-risk group. According to the French police, they don’t even have the manpower to keep tabs on the 12,000 known jihadists – never mind the tens of thousands of likely ones.

It’s faitaccomplism at work. Had France not allowed millions of Muslims into the country, the problem wouldn’t exist. But, as cliché-mongers will tell you, history knows no subjunctive mood. France does have at least five million Muslims, and that’s it. Sorted. Fait accompli.

Now I know little about France’s criminal law, but on general principal there must be provisions for keeping in prison a recidivist with 27 convictions to his name, regardless of the chap’s religion.

Yet even if the criminal law provides for something like that, the law of political correctness doesn’t, and that’s the one that takes priority. European governments have sleepwalked into the rule of glossocratic non-law, where abstract (and hare-brained) principles trump any concrete considerations of citizens’ safety.

In this legal system, someone who shows, Koran in hand, that Islam is at least partly to blame for the crimes committed in its name presents a greater danger than the good Muslims who do murder because that’s what their religion tells them to do.

The good Muslims only attack individuals, while a truculent breaker of politically correct non-laws attacks the central ethos of society. Off with his head.

This leaves us pondering an interesting linguistic dichotomy: for a Muslim to be a good man, he has to be a bad Muslim. And vice versa.

Gerard Batten’s rock and hard place

Gerard Batten: damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t

First a disclaimer: I know and like Gerard. That’s hardly unique, for he’s known and liked by many.

Nor can I claim any originality in deploring his choice of the thuggish criminal Tommy Robinson as his adviser. I’m sure many of Gerard’s friends feel the same way.

Where I diverge from some is in understanding, compassionately, why Gerard did what he did, going I’m sure against his better instincts.

Whenever a friend of mine has a problem, my first impulse is to offer help, if only in the shape of unsolicited advice. Alas, I can’t do so in this case – for the simple reason that I can’t find anything sensible to suggest.

The problem is that, though Gerard’s heart and head are both in the right place, his party isn’t. In fact, when Gerard took over as Ukip leader, the party was moribund.

It was sinking fast, and it took all of Gerard’s administrative talents to keep it afloat. But a ship that’s not structurally sea-worthy will sink sooner or later, for all the best efforts of its captain and crew.

That I’m afraid is Ukip’s situation, and it largely derives from the party’s nature. For Ukip isn’t really a party, in the sense in which we usually understand the word. It’s more of a pressure group, pressing on a single point: getting out of the EU.

For Ukip is a party not just of a single issue but of a single hope. The hope, even if continuously frustrated, can sustain the party’s life. But the hope fulfilled will have the same effect as the hope stamped out: death.

In other words, the party’s success would spell its demise, which isn’t how other political entities typically define achievement.

A political party is deemed successful when it gains enough votes to win or at least influence elections. It may or may not become king, but, to justify its existence, it must always have the capacity to be a king maker.

A party can become successful only when it enjoys a broad, and expandable, support base. It doesn’t have to be all things to all men (although most parties try), but it does have to be many things to many men.

A single-issue party is thus at an inherent disadvantage, which Ukip illustrates vividly.

I once asked a senior Ukip figure if the party could extend its life expectancy by positioning itself as the true conservative party, as distinct from the Labour Lite that has appropriated the name.

That was an ignorant question, my interlocutor was quick to explain. For Ukip isn’t only, perhaps not even predominantly, conservative.

For the issue of Brexit is narrow enough to attract broad masses. People who disagree on everything else may still overlap on that one point.

Generally speaking, they are all disaffected with the existing establishment, Tory, Labour or especially the cross-party apparat that transcends any nominal affiliation and governs on the basis of narrow self-interest. But they do fall into separate, sometime irreconcilable, groups.

One group is indeed formed by intuitive conservatives, those who realise that a transfer of sovereignty from Parliament to any foreign body invalidates Britain’s constitution and hence effectively Britain herself. Anyone who knows Gerard Batten or has read his book on Henry VIII will know that this is the group to which he belongs.

Another lot are old-fashioned patriotic Labourites, who are socialists not because they wish to destroy Britain but because they’re misguided into believing that socialism won’t do that.

Yet another group are hard-Left socialists in the Corbyn vein, for whom the EU isn’t socialist enough. They do want workers of the world to unite, but only under the Corbynites’ own aegis. If conservatives are loath to weaken the constitutional mandate, this lot hate weakening their own power.

And then there’s another wad of humanity, one with which the Remainers perfidiously identify the whole Brexit movement: fascistic thugs. This group is best exemplified by Tommy Robinson.

If the conservatives and old-fashioned Labourites are chiefly motivated by love, the Tommy Robinson types are driven by hate – of foreigners, minorities such as Muslims and often also Jews, poor people, rich people, you name it.

A conservative may deplore the uncontrolled influx of Muslim immigrants because he is aware of the cultural and demographic catastrophe that may ensue once a certain critical mass has been reached. But he won’t viscerally hate individual Muslims, the way fascistic types do.

So why did Gerard welcome that criminal thug into the inner sanctum of Ukip? The answer lies not in any imperfection of Gerard’s character, but in the structural defects of his party.

Dave Cameron put Ukip in the coffin by agreeing to hold a Brexit referendum. And, when more Britons voted to leave than had ever voted for anything else, they nailed the lid shut. The single issue seemed not to be an issue any longer.

A succession of Ukip leaders followed, until the reins were taken by someone with all the requisite qualities: Gerard Batten. He prised the coffin lid open because Ukip couldn’t be buried yet.

Hence Ukip had to go back to acting like a party, which entailed standing in all sorts of elections, winning some, affecting the outcome of most and thereby putting a squeeze on the mainstream parties.

After all, Dave Cameron didn’t call a referendum out of the goodness of his heart. He did so because Ukip was cannibalising the Tory vote, delivering marginal seats to Labour.

Since the cross-party apparat is tirelessly working to undermine, ideally torpedo, Brexit, the need for Ukip is as urgent as ever. But the core support for it has been compromised.

The disaffected Tories have gone back to their political roots, as have the disaffected Labourites. After all, both their parties claim to be committed to Brexit.

Those prodigal sons will smell a rat sooner or later, but later is no good for Ukip. It needs to make its comeback now, before the coffin has been lowered six feet under.

The most immediate political opportunity lies in bringing under its unifying banners all sorts of marginal groups, those that go by the misnomer of ‘extreme right’. There are at least half a dozen of them around, and I mean only the largest ones, those that call themselves a party.

However, Ukip’s charter wisely ostracises BNP types and their ideological relations – it’s incumbent on a serious political party to disavow any extremist group claiming affinity with it.

When a party refuses to do so, it thereby brands itself as not serious. Corbyn’s Labour springs to mind.

Throughout its life, the Labour party has tried to keep communists and other hard left riff-raff out. In that effort, the party has been only variably successful, but at least until now the hard left has been unable to claim the party as its own.

Now the loony left are in charge there, and one can only pray that the British have enough nous left to keep that bunch out of power – for all the vacillating inadequacy of the Tories. Alas, I’m not sure electorates are capable of thinking in terms of lesser evil.

Labour didn’t have to open its doors to the lunatic fringe, but I’m sure Gerard Batten feels Ukip is in no position to be fastidious. If it can survive at all, it has to get support wherever it can find it. It can no longer afford to pick and choose.

Having said all that, if I were a member of Ukip, I’d leave it over this out of sheer squeamishness – just like many years ago I stopped attending parties at a conservative magazine because I had espied some BNP types there.

Mercifully, anticipating just such a situation, I never joined Ukip even though I faithfully voted for it in a number of elections. Now I’m not bound by party loyalty to defend the hiring of Tommy Robinson.

I would never hire scum like that in a million years, and I’d leave any room he’d enter. But I have the luxury Gerard lacks: reaching for the high moral ground.

I’m responsible to no one but myself; he has a party to run. I can afford being uncompromising; Gerard can’t. So I’m sorry he did what he did – but I understand why he did it.