Old pro-Putin warriors neither die nor fade away

“The shocking inability of the Western media and political elite to understand what is going on in Russia continues to astonish me,” writes Peter Hitchens, and there I was, thinking he had stopped playing lickspittle to Putin’s kleptofascism.

From the height of his own self-professed understanding, Hitchens explains that, “for all his grave faults” [a mandatory disclaimer, creating an appearance of balance and supposedly vindicating the ensuing useful idiocy], “Putin’s Russia has totally cast off Communism, knowing in grim detail what it really means, and is more Christian and less Marxist than we are.”

What kind of Communism has Russia cast away? The kind where they talked about the dictatorship of the proletariat and “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs”?

Well, Russia has indeed cast it off, but it happened long before Putin. At the time I left Russia in 1973, the only people who took that stuff seriously were Peter Hitchens himself and other Western dabblers in useful idiocy.

The Soviets used those shibboleths as an ideology legitimising their evil regime, but all true believers in it had been shot by Stalin for being annoying pests. Instead, Stalin created what Mussolini called “a Slavic version of fascism”, and il Duceknew fascism when he saw it.

Hitchens now calls himself a conservative, but he clearly still takes on faith the smokescreen of communist jargon laid by the evil Soviet regime, thinking it reflected actual, rather than virtual, reality.

His credulity knows no bounds for he also takes at face value the Christianist-conservative smokescreen laid by the evil heir to Stalin’s fascist regime.

Hitchens doesn’t realise – which is unfortunate in the context of his claims to superior understanding – that Christianity and other beautiful conservative things are used by Putin exactly the same way that Marxism was used by Stalin and his successors: as propaganda tools legitimising his evil regime and keeping the masses in check.

The evil is different from Stalin’s in that the regime has added the ‘klepto-‘ component to its fascism. In fact, ‘klepto-‘ is the operative part: stealing the country blind for the purpose of self-enrichment is the real desideratum of the Putin gang.

Fascistic elements are deployed when needed operationally or required ideologically. The operational need dictates the suppression of free speech, ballot-box stuffing at election time, the harassment and murder of opposition politicians and journalists.

The ideological need demands a testosterone-driven stance in foreign policy, projecting the muscular image of a Stalinesque empire builder. The Russian Orthodox Church was first coopted for this purpose by Stalin, and it has since acted as an extension of the secret police.

All its hierarchs, including His Holiness the patriarch, are career KGB agents, who know exactly what their role in life is. They too take part in robbing the country, making brisk business in duty-free booze and cigarettes. Using a Moscow monastery as a brothel isn’t beyond them either.

That isn’t to say that there are no sincere Christians in Russia. There are. But there are none in her ruling elite, 84 per cent of which are ‘ex’ KGB officers forming an organic blend with the remaining 16 per cent, the gangsters.

The sight of Putin and his accomplices, who have all purloined billions from an economy in which millions starve, crossing themselves before their get-togethers should nauseate any person of taste. 

As to describing Russia as a Christian country, which is Hitchens’s recurrent theme, that takes an impressive combination of ignorance and dishonesty.

If he simply felt like saying that Christianity is in the doldrums in Britain, while all major parties are socialist and Her Majesty’s opposition is frankly Marxist, he’d find no argument in these quarters.

But touting Russia as a role model has to be a sign of a deep-seated disorder. Hitchens is clearly attracted to raw Russian power, whether wielded by those leather-jerkined Bolsheviks, as it was in his youth, or by the Armani-clad kleptofascists of today. Freud would have a field day.

Hitchens’s article is entitled The Gospel Truth About Russia. I hope everyone realises that the gospel is not so much apocryphal as downright fake.

The spirit of Munich lives on

In 1938 Britain and France went to school to study appeasement. The very next year the lesson was complete: appeasing an aggressor means encouraging him.

The meeting between Western leaders and Putin was reassuringly friendly

The lesson was costly. Its price was 50 million lives, thousands of ancient cities wiped out, tens of millions left starving and despondent, replacement of brown with red evil over half of Europe.

Yet even such compelling teaching aids have failed to drive the lesson home. Another European dictator commits escalating aggression against neighbouring states, threatening to ignite the world – yet the West’s reaction is the same one that was proved to guarantee a catastrophe: appeasement.

In 2014 Putin’s kleptofascist regime annexed the Crimea, sovereign Ukrainian territory, and then proceeded to grab several eastern provinces of that country, killing 13,000 of its citizens in the process – not to mention hundreds of Westerners aboard the Malaysian airliner shot down by a Russian missile.

The West’s response to that blatant rape of international law was meek and grossly inadequate. But at least there was a response: some slap-on-the-wrist sanctions, Russia’s expulsion from the G8 and suspension of her voting rights in the Council of Europe.

Then a few days ago those voting rights were restored.

One would assume that the actions that had caused the suspension in the first place have been reversed: the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine have been returned to their rightful owner; material compensation and profuse apologies have been offered to the victims; the guilt of downing a civilian airliner has been acknowledged, and a promise to comply with any verdict of an international tribunal has been made.

Yet none of this has taken place. What has taken place is the CoE adopting a supine position of appeasement. Their explanation is truly pathetic: it’s unfair to deny Russian citizens the benefit of arbitrage in the European Court of Human Rights, which is an extension of the CoE.

In fact, wronged Russian citizens can appeal to the ECHR, UN, EU or God in heaven for all the good it’s going to do them. Anyone who feels that Russia’s record suggests she’ll comply with the rulings of international law goes beyond naivety: he’s either stupid and ignorant or, more likely, a craven appeaser trying to justify his cowardice and immorality.

Mrs May is about to find that out when, as planned, she’ll demand that the two known Salisbury poisoners face British justice. Putin will laugh in her face. As far as he’s concerned murdering British subjects on British territory is par for the course. 

“Treason is the gravest crime possible,” he explained. “I am not saying that the Salisbury incident is the way to do it . . . but traitors must be punished.”

The cynical effrontery of this pronouncement is hard to match, except by Putin himself. “The Salisbury incident” is exactly the way to do it as far as he’s concerned: after all, he was the one who commissioned the hit. 

And Skripal had already been punished by serving six years in prison. He was then released, exchanged for Russian spies and allowed to leave the country. The law of the land had spoken – only for the law of the jungle then to take over.

Now Putin is at the G20 Summit pontificating on the death of liberalism. “The liberal idea has become obsolete,” he pronounced. “It has come into conflict with the interests of the overwhelming majority of the population.”

The KGB colonel then proceeded to break said obsolescence down into its constituents: rampant homosexuality, crime getting out of hand, uncontrolled immigration and so forth.

Most of the points Putin made are valid. What isn’t valid is his right to make them.

Thus the care for old people in Britain is often inadequate, but we wouldn’t want Dr Shipman to rail against that iniquity. Children too often receive little attention, but it’s not up to Rosemary West to make that point. Reverse discrimination in America may be getting out of hand, but it’s best that this argument be put forth by someone other than the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

The right to criticise must be earned, and Putin hasn’t earned it. He has created history’s unique regime out of an organic blend of secret police, government and organised crime. The unique blend is so homogeneous that it’s impossible to tell its components apart.

Its methods, however, aren’t unique, common as they are to all evil regimes: suppression of free speech, justice always at the dictator’s beck and call, imprisonment of dissidents on trumped-up charges, harassment and murder of opposition politicians and journalists.

The matchless touches come from the economy, corrupt from top to bottom like no other major economy anywhere in the world. Russia has become the world leader in money laundering, and the whitewashed cash is used to buy palaces and yachts for government officials, gangsters and government officials who are gangsters.

Against the background of 20 million Russians living under the poverty level of about £150 a month, Putin has amassed a fortune making him the world’s richest man. To the Russians’ credit, they are beginning to peek through the thick fog of nauseating, stupefying propaganda.

Comparing the numbers of ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’ on Putin’s recent direct-line Q&A with the nation, one sees a real approval rating of about seven per cent, a far cry from the mythical 86 per cent bandied about.

However, Putin’s approval rating with his Western stooges, such as Donald Trump, is much higher. Yesterday Trump hailed his “very, very good relationship” with the chieftain of a kleptofascist state, adding: “It’s a great honour to be with President Putin”.

Such panegyrics go beyond diplomatic protocol, bespeaking true admiration. Honour? A half-decent man would refuse to shake hands with that creature or, if he had to, would wash them immediately afterwards.

This was followed by a quasi-Masonic handshake, after which Trump winked at Putin with a conspiratorial smile and said: “Don’t meddle in the election, please.”

Let’s turn this into a joke by all means. Putin’s gang is actively subverting the political process in all Western countries, using Western technology to undermine Western values. 

Specifically, the Russian manipulation of US presidential elections is a proven fact. And here is the US president playing the game of nudge-nudge, wink-wink with the man whose actions are threatening world peace more than it has ever been threatened since the Cuban crisis.

I fully expect Mrs May to emerge from her plane waving a piece of paper in the air. And if she doesn’t, Trump will. No wonder Mrs Merkel is shaking all over: Europe’s security may soon be threatened.

Let’s hear it for vacuity

Boris Johnson is under attack across the entire political spectrum for running a vacuous campaign light on facts and bereft of specific proposals on policy.

Not a bad campaign, all told

One can seldom hear so much accurate and justified criticism missing the mark by such a wide margin. For a political campaign has one purpose only: to win.

A good campaign is one that achieves this purpose; a bad campaign is one that doesn’t. That’s the strategy, deciding what needs doing. The rest is tactics – deciding how to do it.

And the tactics of a campaign always depend on the candidate’s pole position. Just imagine a 100m race, where one of the similarly able runners starts from, say, a 30m mark.

The race is in the bag, the only way he can lose is by overextending himself and pulling a muscle. Hence he runs a conservative race, trying not to do anything silly.

The other runners, however, have to strain every sinew trying to catch up. They have to go hell for leather and take risks – if they injure themselves, then so be it, the race is lost anyway.

This analogy works in any competitive situation. Just look at marketing.

The brand leader usually adopts a neutral stance, not stooping to attacks on competition. Its advertising is typically generic, implicitly claiming the benefits of the whole product category for itself.

On the other hand, brands lagging behind behave in an entirely different manner. They attack the leader, hoping to usurp some of its market share. Hence many saloons compare themselves to the BMW 3 Series, but one never sees the BMW 3 Series comparing itself to other cars.

The same logic is naturally transposed into political campaigns, including this one. Johnson clearly feels, and I’m sure his private polling confirms, that the race is his to lose – and he doesn’t want to lose it.

That’s why he plays it safe, refusing to commit himself to anything controversial and trying to avoid outlandish utterances that he has been known to make.

So far I’ve heard only two specific promises: that he’ll leave the EU by the designated date with or without a deal, and that he’ll limit immigration by introducing an Australian-style point system.

In both instances he refuses to be bogged down in detail. How will he be able to keep his promise on a no-deal exit if that’s the only option? Wait and see. Wouldn’t it involve heavy tariffs on British exports? Not necessarily. Why not? Wait and see.

The only alternative to such equivocation would be to say that a) it’s clear that no deal will be acceptable to both our political establishment and the EU; b) leaving without a deal is the only way; c) leaving is a moral imperative because of the referendum, and a constitutional one because Parliament invoked Article 50; d) the purpose of Brexit isn’t to gain more money but to regain our sovereignty.

Yet such a display of moral and intellectual integrity could be equal to a sprinter snapping his hamstring within reach of the finish line. If Johnson were coming from behind, he’d probably be making such statements. As it is, he doesn’t have to.

All he’s really saying is that his government will definitely get Britain out of the EU, which the latest poll shows 57 per cent of the electorate want to hear. Similarly, he’s promising to reduce immigration because most people want to hear that too. A reference to the point system is just adding a touch of verisimilitude to an otherwise general sentiment.

As to Johnson’s private affairs, they are the talk of the town. His colourful sex life, say his detractors, may lay him open to blackmail.

That’s arrant nonsense. No one can be blackmailed by threats to reveal common knowledge. I don’t think many people would be shocked by yet another revelation that Johnson doesn’t really resemble a monk living on Mount Athos, where nothing female is allowed to enter, including hens and ewes.

Johnson has built up a huge lead against the background of such common knowledge. That’s why he’s refraining from any comments on his recent tiff with his girlfriend.

Nothing he can say will strengthen his position; just about anything he can say will weaken it. So he does the front-runner thing and says nothing.

Jeremy Hunt, if he’s serious about winning, can’t afford such soft pedalling. He must attack Johnson on every front, including his personal life. He must also offer policy specifics by the dozen – which is why he has already promised to increase the defence budget by 25 per cent over five years.

Alas, Hunt closely resembles the male version of Mrs May, but without the dazzle. He may also be held back by the realisation that the race is already dead, while his chances for a high post in the Johnson cabinet are very much alive.

One way or another, he has spurned every opportunity to push Johnson out of the way and win the race. For example, in his interview on Sky TV Hunt refused to comment on Johnson’s picturesque private life. Let’s talk about policies, he said, but then failed to do just that.

None of this should be taken as affection for Boris Johnson. I’m far from sure he can make a good, or even long-serving, PM. However, some things widely perceived as his weaknesses may well be his strengths.

Much criticism centres around Johnson’s being a lazy, delegating, broad-stroke kind of a man who often neglects the nitty-gritty of quotidian politics. But exactly the same criticism was levelled at Ronald Reagan, whom now many regard as a great president.

Much depends on the advisors the PM selects, and I think Johnson is capable of surrounding himself with the kind of men who formed Margaret Thatcher’s inner circle. They’ll be able to sweat out the details, with Johnson’s hand light on the tiller and his speeches heavy on inspiring rhetoric.

No doubt Johnson has much to criticise him for, and he’s indeed an egotistic power-seeker, whose nimble mind tends to skim the surface, and whose elastic morality can get him into many a bind.

And yes, his campaign does look chaotically mad. But there’s method to it, no doubt about that. He and his advisors might have miscalculated, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t calculated.

Intolerance is the new tolerance

The other day I argued that so-called liberal democracies are converging with frankly totalitarian states in their practices – as they’ve already converged with them in their commitment to rampant statism.

Yet another great modern discovery: justice can’t be based on any underlying principles

One such totalitarian practice is stifling debate on any issue on which the dominant ideology has already passed judgement. (In the Soviet Union, this was called ‘democratic centralism’.) That judgement is elevated to the level of the only possible truth, and no deviations are tolerated.

What the issue is doesn’t really matter. It could be the dictatorship of the proletariat (Russia), the supremacy of the Aryan race (Germany) or – closer to home – any New Age diktat inspired by political correctness.

Political correctness is in fact sanctimonious, fascistic totalitarianism backed by the physical might of the political establishment. The latter throws behind PC its power, bristling with restrictive and often punitive measures.

Such violent intolerance is called tolerance, which is Orwellian jargon at its most sinister. To clarify, tolerance extends to anything that assails our residually Christian civilisation, while intolerance is any attempt, however meek, to offer rear-guard resistance.

Thus inspired, in 2014 Michael Gove, then Justice Secretary, sacked Richard Page, the Christian magistrate and executive director of an NHS trust, over his opposition to same-sex couples adopting children.

(This is outside the scope of this article, but do let’s remember that Mr Gove is widely regarded as the embodiment of the Tory intellect and sensibilities.)

Mr Page dared express publicly a view that had held sway unopposed over two millennia of British history, that a child’s best interests would be best served by having a Mummy and a Daddy, not two Mummies or two Daddies.

Mr Gove treated that remark as “gross misconduct” because Mr Page’s comments suggested that he was “biased and prejudiced against single sex adopters”.

We must keep in mind that any statement critical of the New Age zeitgeist constitutes bias and prejudice, while any statement in support of it is an exemplar of dispassionate, disinterested objectivity.

Yet for two millennia Britain organised her affairs on the basis of biased and prejudiced morality, whereas only in the past few decades has the reign of objective truth dawned upon us. (The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany beat us to such objectivity by a long way.)

The underlying assumption is that any a priori judgement, prejudice for short, is wrong if it proceeds from principles that are two millennia old, rather than those concocted the day before yesterday. The clock is reset in every generation, nay every year, with new morality ushered in and old morality consigned to what Comrade Trotsky called “the garbage heap of history”.

However, prejudice (and its corollary, discrimination) is the essence of any moral or intellectual quest. It is what RG Collingwood called “absolute presupposition” and what I usually describe as “metaphysical premise”.

Any serious judgement is a structure erected on the foundation of pre-judgement, which is what prejudice means. But Mr Gove and his ilk aren’t embarked on any moral or intellectual quest – truth to them is whatever is expedient now, today, this minute.

Their power is contingent on their ability to flap with the weathervane of this ‘truth’ and, should the wind die down, to keep rotating it manually, hoping that the vane’s blades will cut off the head of any apostate.

Mr Page was one such apostate, and his head was metaphorically cut off. In desperation he appealed to the Employment Tribunal, but his plea was rejected the other day.  

“The Claimant’s remarks,” explained Justice Choudhury, “were found to be likely to prejudice judicial impartiality.” Mr Page ought to be thankful for being allowed to hold such antediluvian views, explained the judge, but he abused the privilege by actually expressing them.

Worse than that, “The Claimant also accepted that LGBT members of the community suffered disproportionately from mental health problems and that there had been significant difficulties in getting those members to engage with mental health services such as those provided by the Trust.”

Is that true? It’s highly plausible that being a member of “the LGBT community” ipso facto constitutes “a mental health problem”. The opposite argument can also of course be made.

Yet according to Messrs Gove, Choudhury et al, this isn’t a scholarly or any other debate. Who cares about true or false? Mr Page’s position is informed by Christianity, which over the past few decades has been debunked so thoroughly that no reference to it can be made on pain of repercussions.

If those people got off their ideological high horse, they’d probably realise (although I may be giving them too much credit) that our whole judicial system is prejudiced by Christianity, and that adhering to such founding principles indeed constitutes “judicial impartiality”.

All our laws covering malum in se, such as murder or theft, have Biblical antecedents, and only laws proscribing malum prohibitum, such as driving after three, as opposed to two, glasses of wine, are wholly secular.

I’m not going to enlarge on the merits of Mr Page’s arguments. I’m not even going to invoke common sense that ought to indicate to any possessor of it that there’s something unnatural and warped about a child trying to figure out who’s Mummy and who’s Daddy all his life.

I’m merely going to reiterate the point I made the other day, that all such cases, and their name is legion, prove the point that modern ‘liberalism’ differs from fascism only in the severity of its methods – and sometimes not even in that.

“The breast pianist I’ve ever seen”

I owe this feeble pun (along with some even feebler ones below) to the viewers’ comments on Khatia Buniatishvili’s YouTube performance of the Schumann Concerto.

This photo shows Khatia at her most demure

There are dozens of comments along those lines, and only one or two mention her playing at all.

This is unfortunate because, though Khatia has always had an impressive pair of breasts, since puberty at any rate, she also used to have a pianistic talent. Not of the top-drawer variety perhaps, but a real one nonetheless.

At the beginning of her career she could play well, promising much more to come. Much more did come, but it had nothing to do with music.

At some point either Khatia herself or, more likely, her handlers realised that talent alone does not careers make. Not these days. Moreover, talent is strictly optional, some will even say superfluous.

What matters is presentation exuding star quality. And star quality for a pianist who happens to be a good-looking, richly endowed girl doesn’t have to differ from what’s expected from Playboy centrefolds or soft porn actresses.

When that realisation sank in, Khatia began to expose more and more of her breasts, and what she exposed was more than most women had in their entirety. Alas, as her décolleté dropped, so did the quality of her playing.

The earlier promise remained unfulfilled – it was only a promise of artistic excellence not of a glittering career. Her breasts, however, could be parlayed into stardom. And so they were.

These days Khatia’s playing is facile to the point of being mediocre. But her impressively cantilevered dresses are true masterpieces of structural engineering.

The cameramen shooting videos of her performances often aim their lenses face on, through the piano. Since the top edge of the piano overlaps with the top edge of Khatia’s dress, she looks topless.

This is a comment on today’s music scene, not just on one particular practitioner. At least Khatia used to have talent, which is more than can be said for another musical nudist, Yuja Wang.

Less richly endowed upstairs, she bares the lower part of her body as well – while playing to the standard of a conservatory prep-school pupil who never ends up admitted to the advanced course.

This is also a comment on our time that makes exponents of the most vital Western art prostitute themselves like pole dancers. None of these girls would have been fit to turn the pages for the great women pianists of the past.

Myra Hess, Marguerite Long, Clara Haskil, Marcelle Meyer, Maria Yudina, Gina Bachauer, Annie Fischer – every one of these artists had more talent in her little finger than today’s lot have in their whole semi-naked bodies.

I don’t know how their listeners commented on their performances, but I’m willing to bet the focus was on the interpretation, individuality, mastery, tonal quality, structure. I do know how listeners, or in this case viewers, comment on Khatia’s Schumann Concerto.

Here are their comments, and I hope, as you smile against yourself, you’ll also shed a tear for the great art of musical performance, debauched, debased and prostituted:

“Never seen a piano concerto played in DD minor.”

“Wow outstanding. Truly a work of art. Too bad my speakers don’t work.”

“I’m stroking my D major key watching this.”

“Even more astounding because she is unable to see her hands!”

“Some of the most udderly clever piano playing ever, absolutely titillating!”

“Legend has it, there’s a piano in this clip.”  

“I have two big reasons for watching this video.”

“Is this Schumann Piano Concerto in D-cup Minor?”

“DD Major if I’m not mistaken, with an incredible climax in the final movement. Amazing recital, she has an incredible mammary.”

“Being musically talented myself I’ll have to get the old skin flute out and play along.”

“She’s got mountains of talent… would love to see her peaks and valleys.”

“I watch this till the end then realised I have sound turned off. No, I’m not deaf.”

“The way she bounces between notes is simply beautiful.”

“…didn’t recognize the music…was that Beatoffen? Gotta say – even the deaf would enjoy her performance… well rounded delivery.”

“As the Germans would say, that performance was WONDERBRA!!!”

“I clicked on the text that said, “show more”… but her top, sadly, didn’t get any lower…”

“At one point the conductor didn’t know which stick to sway.”

“This performance was not flat at all. Her phrasing was round and had a real bounce to it. She showed how classical music can stimulate the imagination. The end was truly climactic (at least for me)!”

“This is amazing. The music isn’t bad too.”

“I wouldn’t touch that piano. It looks booby-trapped.”

“Wait, there was a piano?!”

“This is proof men can concentrate on two things at once.”

“That moment when I knew where I want to end my solo.”

“Schumann is stroking his D Major Scales in his grave.”

“I’m udderly impressed.”

“Simply the breast!”

“To be quite honest, I was kind of scared that her dress might fall off.”  

“What a performance, simply breast-taking.”

“What a use of the Double D Areolian mode. Definitely a jugg-ernaut. An absolute orgasmic performance … at least by me.”

You may or may not be weeping; I know I am. But Khatia is laughing – all the way to the bank.

Mr Liberal, meet Mr Fascist

On 21 June, 2019, a UK court ordered a woman to have an abortion against her will, which put an interesting grimace on my face. It was a mixture of revulsion and smugness.

I wonder where our judges get their inspiration

The reasons for the revulsion will emerge within a few paragraphs, but the smugness was caused by shameful I-told-you-so hubris.

For in my book How the West Was Lost and elsewhere I’ve argued that all modern states, regardless of their self-description, are either totalitarian already or else inexorably moving in that direction.

Regardless of any specific differences in the numerators, they all share the same common denominator: a steady expansion of state power, affecting more and more areas of life that in the past were regarded as private.

So-called democratic countries aren’t exempt from this observation, even though they differ from the states widely known as totalitarian in that they tend to desist from expanding and enforcing their power by unrestricted brutality and inhuman cruelty.

However, this is a variance of methods, not principles – different roads leading to the same destination. The destination was signposted by that expert in the subject, Benito Mussolini: “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.”

The states that have already arrived at that destination, such as the USSR, fascist Italy, Nazi Germany or communist China, take this dictum to its logical end by reserving for themselves the prerogative of deciding who should live and who shouldn’t.

This decision tends to be blood-chillingly rational: raison d’état. Its declared reasons may vary from one totalitarian country to another, but they all spring from the same source.

They could be based on class, such as in Bolshevik Russia, where whole classes were exterminated because they were seen as hindrances on the road to the communist millennium. Or else the motivation could come from considerations of racial purity, as in Nazi Germany, where Jews and Gypsies had to be prevented from sullying the otherwise pristine Aryan blood.

But the Nazis were nothing if not thorough. They protected their genetic pool from not only those impure racially, but also those unsound mentally.

Thus retarded people were castrated if they were lucky, or killed if they were not. Those pregnant women who were either retarded themselves or had conceived by retarded men had their pregnancies forcibly aborted.

This last practice is also widespread in communist China, though there it’s motivated by demographic reasons, those of overpopulation. Having introduced a one-child policy, Chinese authorities enforce it with merciless consistency. For example, in 2012 a woman was forced to abort a 7-month-old foetus, but then numbers should never be allowed to interfere with the principle.

To its credit, the US Congress seems to be as revolted by such practices as I am. In 1997 it introduced a bill, tautologically condemning “those officials of the Chinese Communist Party, the government of the People’s Republic of China who are involved in the enforcement of forced abortions” and barring them from entry into the US.

It’s comforting to know that, given the choice of the two models, Chinese and American, a British court has chosen the latter by ordering that a woman with learning difficulties abort her 22-weeks-old foetus.

The doctors argued, and the judge concurred, that an abortion was in the woman’s “best interests”. I don’t know if they also argued it was in the unborn child’s best interests, but I wouldn’t put it past them.

The woman in question is a Catholic and, though her mental age is only about six, that’s old enough to know that her religion treats abortion as infanticide. But that’s a separate matter from the one that concerns me here.

That matter is the obvious and demonstrable convergence of liberalism, as the term is understood nowadays, and fascism – which is a useful shorthand for describing the mentality of countries like communist China.

All this talk about the woman’s best interests is codswallop: Justice Natalie Lieven made her ruling for the same reason a dog licks its private parts: because she could.

And she could do so because our liberal zeitgeist is thundering into her ear that the state’s interests take precedence over an individual’s interests and indeed life. It was a demonstration of naked, fascistic power – not even of any common sense.

I don’t know who is the father of the child to be aborted. Is he also mentally deficient? If he isn’t, the baby could still be normal. And even if he is, genetics works in convoluted ways.

Children don’t necessarily get their genes exclusively or even mainly from either parent. Some genes are recessive and only reveal themselves after a number of generations.

However, not being an expert in genetics, I shan’t argue the case on such considerations. Mercifully there’s no need: the woman’s mother has offered to look after her grandchild, mentally competent or not.  

But Justice Lieven was on a roll. Caring for both her daughter and grandchild, she explained, would be too difficult for the grandmother. So it’s not only the mother’s best interests she protects, but also the grandmother’s.

And also, one suspects, the state’s – what if the grandmother can’t act on her promise or, God forbid, dies? The state would then be burdened with the care of another human being, and the state’s interests reign supreme.

I wonder if Justice Lieven is aware of the monstrosity of her ruling, which reduced a human life to merely its utilitarian value. Does she realise that she has shortened no end the distance separating Britain from such evil regimes as Nazi Germany and communist China?

She may or may not, but that’s not even the point. The point is the one I’ve made often: modern ‘liberalism’, with its ideological destruction of our civilisation’s spiritual and philosophical underpinnings, is innately totalitarian.

It differs from more accomplished totalitarianism only in its methods. And, by the looks of it, sometimes not even them.

Prince William is learning from the best

Pop produces many revolting characters. If I were a less timid character, I’d say it produces only such characters.

Newly appointed advisor to HRH

Yet Lady Gaga stands out even against that background, which has served her well. Since success in that genre is directly proportionate to repulsiveness, that creature has sold zillions of records and amassed a fortune measured in hundreds of millions.

Some of it is donated to charitable causes, mainly of the LGBT variety. Such causes are close to Lady Gaga’s heart, and not entirely for disinterested reasons.

Well, it’s her money and she can spend it as she sees fit. I happen to be uneasy about mixing charity with political activism in general and propaganda of sexual perversion in particular, but obviously Lady Gaga sees no such problems.

Neither, by the looks of it, does our future king Prince William, and that does look like a problem – specifically because he’s our future king. In that capacity, HRH has a constitutional duty to maintain the honour and dignity of the monarchy, which is his main role in life.

It’s not immediately clear how well that role is served by associating with creatures like Lady Gaga, especially taking their advice on any matters. After all, monarchy is a conservative institution by definition, an axis linking generations past, present and future.

Hence conservatism is an essential job requirement for any member of the royal family, and especially one in the direct line of ascent. Whether or not this includes political conservatism doesn’t really matter because British royals have few opportunities to make their political views known.

But cultural and social conservatism is to the royals what a good voice is to opera singers: a sine qua non. This is an institutional requirement that ought to be unaffected by any innermost personal preferences.

Now my contention is that Lady Gaga’s pseudonym is actually an aptonym, for she surely must induce a gagging effect in anyone blessed with good taste – and certainly in any conservative. Yet HRH not only associates with that creature, but actually takes her advice on worthy causes.

Under her guidance, the prince is going to become the patron of The Albert Kennedy Trust (Akt), devoted to the needs of homeless LGBT children.

What I like about this charity is its portmanteau quality. It blends together several worthy causes – the homeless as such, homeless children specifically and LGBT rights all come together in one entity. But why stop there?

How about homeless black Muslim LGBT children blown up with landmines by fracking whalers in the Amazon rainforest?  It’s always best to concentrate one’s resources rather than splitting them up among various causes.

It would be heartless to sneer at the plight of any homeless children, whatever their sexuality. Children aren’t stray dogs; they mustn’t be allowed to roam the streets in neglect.

Any real charity devoted to finding loving homes for those poor souls goes back to the Christian roots of our civilisation; few causes are worthier than that. (‘Real’ is the operative word: most vast charities spend around 90 per cent of their income on themselves, not their raison d’être.)

But the moment this overall cause is particularised into a sexual subset, it acquires a political aspect, and an objectionable one at that. Lady Gaga clearly doesn’t mind that because she has a warm spot for the B part of LGBT. But how come Prince William doesn’t either?

One would hope HRH could enlist less disreputable advisors than Lady Gaga. Then again, perhaps he can’t.

For even before this new friend began to teach him the facts of life, someone had steered HRH to appear on the cover of the homosexual magazine Attitude and state his commitment to easing mental problems arising from “homophobic, biphobic and transphobic” bullying.

Since people of any description shouldn’t be bullied, why single out this narrow aspect of that objectionable practice? Why not just decry bullying in general?

The reasons for such particularism are all political, or rather politically correct. Our royals aren’t allowed to say what they think of Brexit, but they’re welcome to pontificate on other issues of great political and social import. However, politicising sexuality doubtless makes the problem worse.

A massive propaganda effort is under way to brainwash people into denying any moral difference between normal and perverse sexuality. This incites homosexual militancy, throwing down a gauntlet to millennia’s worth of moral and social tradition.

Most people bend under the weight of zeitgeist, but some stubborn souls don’t. Those among them who aren’t overburdened with conventions of civilised behaviour resist in the only way they know how: bullying.

True, homosexuals had been bullied long before they began to use their proclivity as a form of political expression – people are often uncomfortable with those who are different, and they may display their discomfort in reprehensible terms.

Yet the remedy for that would be to teach the nature of humanity, the meaning of charity, the essence of our civilisation, and plain good manners – not to impose a newly contrived morality of universal equality. The deeper the inroads thus made on our tradition, the more brutalised our masses become, the more likely to bully anyone they don’t like.

Someone ought to have explained to HRH such basics. Our monarchy is hanging by a thread as it is, without turning into an extension of pop sensibilities and taking sides with dubious issues.

Instead HRH chooses to hobnob with the likes of Lady Gaga. And worse still, rely on them for advice.

What if it had been an anti-abortion protest?

First the facts. A group of 40 Greenpeace fanatics stormed a City banquet just as Chancellor Hammond was about to speak.

Mark Field won’t be smiling for much longer

As one wild-eyed woman rushed towards the Chancellor, Foreign Office minister Mark Field grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and marched her out of the room.

The ensuing outrage couldn’t have been any more hysterical had Mr Field smashed the fanatic’s head with a champagne bottle. Both Labour and LibDem spokesmen are demanding that Mr Field be summarily sacked.

The word ‘assault’ has been bandied about, accompanied by feigned amazement that the police hadn’t been involved. Assault is of course a crime with, depending on its severity, a custodial sentence a possible outcome.

Greenpeace have issued a whining statement about Mr Field’s utterly unwarranted brutality. After all, they merely intended to “flash-mob the Chancellor’s podium, hijack the microphone and give the speech we all need in a climate emergency.”

Allow me to paraphrase. Those crazed extremists breached the security of a private gathering, disrupted the Chancellor’s speech and rushed towards the podium, intending to yank the microphone out of his hand by force and scream frenzied gibberish at the bemused attendees.

It was a distinct possibility that the Chancellor was facing a physical threat as well. Those zealots have been known to resort to fire bombs, not just the flash ones. The ejected woman could well have had a weapon in her handbag, and any sensible person should have accounted for that possibility.

Greenpeace described their action as “peaceful protest”, but I beg to differ. True, the fanatics involved turned out to be unarmed, but breaking through a cordon of security guards and rushing towards the podium was a violent act in itself, even if it wasn’t followed by a fusillade.

At such stressful moments one must expect the worst. For example, a burglar breaking into a house at night may ‘only’ want a computer, a TV set and perhaps some jewellery.

However, the man of the house is unaware of the criminal’s intentions. He owes it to himself and his family to assume that it’s not just their property but also their lives that are in danger. The man is therefore justified in thwarting the crime with any weapon he has at his disposal.

This principle is no longer valid in our courts, and hasn’t been since justice and morality went their separate ways. However, bringing them back together, it takes a warped, or else non-existent moral sense to deny this simple, millennia-old logic.

In other words, Mr Field acted preemptively, decisively and justifiably. Yet he may still fall victim to the pernicious New Age cult of modernity. It’s not his action that’s deemed to be ipso facto objectionable, but its target.

Greenpeace activism (along with other faddish crazes, such as animals’ rights, militant feminism or anti-fur fanaticism) has been raised to the top of the totem pole that, in the absence of real religion, acts as its surrogate.

The idol sits so high up the pole that no criticism can reach it. In fact, taking issue with it can’t even qualify as criticism any longer – it’s blasphemy at best, apostasy at worst.

Now imagine it wasn’t a Greenpeace gang breaching the security at a City banquet, but a group of anti-abortion protesters disrupting a speech by the shadow chancellor. Imagine further that a Labour MP acted in the same manner as Mr Field did.

Do you think the public reaction would have been as loud and uncompromising? Do you think we’d be hearing demands for the culprit’s dismissal or even arrest?

If you do, you live in a world that these days is but a figment of romantic fancy. That chap would have been praised to high heaven for his bravery, with one or two insincere regrets expressed about the excessive physicality of his otherwise laudable response.

It’s not the action but the cause that’s at issue. Protesting against warm weather in even a violent manner qualifies as a sacred right; protesting against abortion or euthanasia doesn’t.

For the record, I would have felt the same way had a right-to-lifer been involved in the situation I’ve described. We in Britain still have many channels for expressing legitimate protest without having to act in an asocial, disruptive and threatening manner.

Hence I would have applauded that hypothetical Labour MP as much as I’m now applauding Mr Field. Alas, no one else is joining in the applause.

Facing the likely end of his political career, Mr Field has been forced to apologise “unreservedly” and to claim he “deeply regretted” his actions. 

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis added that the party would investigate the incident, a suspension looming large in the subtext. And even the City of London Police have confirmed they have received a “small number of third party reports of an assault taking place” that are “being looked into”.

I don’t know if criminal charges will be filed, but one way or the other Mark Field will be sacrificed at the foot of that totem pole. New idols have taken over and they are athirst.

P.S. Speaking of the Conservative Party, now Jeremy Hunt has made it to the finals, I anticipate new Cockney rhyming slang expressions, such as “don’t be such a Jeremy” and “he’s a big fat Jeremy”.

A man who tried to drown his greatness

Prof. Norman Stone was always so much alive it’s hard to believe he is dead. His appetite for wine, women and song was insatiable, although he could compromise on the song.

Norman was also one the most brilliant men I’ve ever met, and one of the most likable.

It was as if he was so embarrassed about his prodigious gifts that, out of consideration for the sensibilities of lesser mortals, he tried to lower his level by drinking toxic amounts of alcohol throughout the day, starting with G&Ts at breakfast and gradually building up to three bottles of red wine in the evening.

How drinking on that epic scale didn’t prevent him from becoming an insightful historian, tireless and meticulous in his research, sound and daring in his concepts, is one of those baffling mysteries of life. The solution probably lay in his mind, so vast to begin with that booze could only chip away at it without wreaking total devastation.

Yet chip away it did, and his later output fell short of the sterling standards he established with his early book The Eastern Front 1914-17, which remains the definitive text on the subject.

As myself a bit of a linguist, I was shamelessly envious of Norman’s command of languages. How many, I’m not even sure.

French, Spanish and German were a good start, but that was just by way of a warm-up. Having gathered speed, Norman also learned devilishly difficult Hungarian, one of only two people I’ve ever met to have done so.

He then picked up Russian, which I can testify he knew well, and then, building on that Slavic foundation, added Polish and Serbo-Croatian. Italian came almost as an afterthought, and during his tenure at Ankara he also got enough Turkish to get by.

Polyglots often have little to say in any of their languages, but Norman could offend leftie sensibilities in all of them. He was for a while the sole specimen of that rare breed, a conservative Oxford professor of humanities.

His leftie colleagues might have resented his judgement, but conservatives always respected it even when they disagreed. Margaret Thatcher in particular was an admirer, and she used Norman as speech writer and advisor on foreign policy.

Norman’s pet hatreds were always justified; his pet loves perhaps not invariably. Yet both were professed with verve and passion.

As an example of the former, Norman virulently attacked EH Carr, the communist historian whose writings were indistinguishable from the output of the Moscow Institute of Marxism-Leninism, except that Carr also liked Hitler for his commitment to social justice.

Norman expertly tore Carr to shreds, and he meted out similar treatment to many of his Carr-minded colleagues. His distaste for them displayed a 20/20 acuity of vision, but his loves were sometimes blind.

For example, some 15 years ago he wrote an article in The Times extolling Putin. Norman, incidentally, always supplemented his academic salary with lucrative journalism, which he regarded as hack work and treated as such.

His article on Putin was so bizarre that, though we were friends, I had to publish a piece in Salisbury Review, pointing out some of the crazy things Norman had written. For example, he listed among Putin’s achievements his kindness towards ethnic minorities, especially the Tartars.

As an example of such benevolence he cited Putin’s treatment of the great dancers Nureyev and Baryshnikov. Now Nureyev was indeed a Tartar, but he defected from the USSR in 1961, when little Vova Putin was still going to primary school.

And Baryshnikov isn’t a Tartar at all, even though his name, as Norman correctly pointed out with his sterling erudition, is indeed of Turkic origin. In any case, Baryshnikov defected from the USSR in 1974, when Putin was just embarking on his KGB career.

Another of Norman’s blind spots was his love of Turkey, where he escaped in 1997, having got sick of both Oxford and New Labour – a feeling that was as justified as it was reciprocated. Having received a chair in international relations at Bilkent University, Norman moved to Ankara and became a staunch defender of Turkey.

The Times published many of his panegyrics for that country, in which he claimed that Turkey was so far in advance of Europe that the EU badly needed her as a member. Norman also denied that the 1915 massacre of Armenians constituted genocide.  

All that came later, but when I knew Norman in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, he exuded charm, undimmed intellect and deliciously iconoclastic humour. I remember one of our last meetings, when we bumped into each other by chance at the National Gallery.

Norman was accompanied by a young, exceedingly pleasant black man who was incongruously calling him “Dad”. He turned out to be Nick, Norman’s son from his marriage to the niece of Papa Doc Duvalier’s finance minister. (Nick later became a bestselling thriller writer.)

I was admiring Zurbarán’s St Francis, which Norman dismissed as “Counter-Reformation rubbish”. “I come from solid Protestant stock,” he explained in his slight Glaswegian brogue.

Such aesthetic and religious differences could only be solved over a drink, but there we were thwarted by the licensing hours, which have since been mercifully softened. But then no booze was to be had around Trafalgar Square in mid-afternoon.

Norman’s mind knew that, but his heart refused to accept it. So Penelope, Nick and I had to trail in his wake from one closed pub to another, with Norman trying every doorknob in vain and fuming at state bureaucracy.

In 1995 Norman’s wife Christine and I were among the group of foreign observers at the Belarus elections, and an echo of Norman reached me through Mrs Stone’s stern rebuke.

We were all having dinner in a Minsk restaurant, where I as the only fluent Russian speaker did the ordering. As part of my duties, I ordered a bottle of vodka, which wine of the country I thought was an appropriate accompaniment to our repast.

However, Christine, who was a lovely, kind woman, admonished me for my profligacy in no uncertain terms, which surprised me. But then I realised that men drinking booze occupied a particularly unpleasant place in her heart.

Christine is gone now, and so is Norman. What he did in his life would have been enough for a dozen successful academic careers. One can only wonder how much more he would have achieved had he not imposed that handicap on himself.

But then he wouldn’t have been Norman, the man we all loved.

Prof. Norman Stone, RIP.  

It’s time we learned the ABC of politics

Watching Tory hopefuls jousting on TV, it was clear they were all ignorant of the basic principle I call the ABC of politics: Anyone But Corbyn.

The C in ABC

The consequences of Marxist thugs taking over the government would be so comprehensively – and perhaps irreversibly – catastrophic that not just the Tories but all sensible politicians should set their squabbles aside and concentrate on just one goal: stopping that blight.

Can they? Will they? I’m not so sure.

Modern politics throws up characters singlemindedly committed to their own bono, not bono publico. I can’t think offhand of any who would put the country’s interests ahead of their own.

Their whole being is permeated with the urge to fulfil personal ambitions by scoring points off rivals. Whoever scores most points will see himself as the winner – even if the country ends up the loser.

Witness the Rory Stewart phenomenon. This nice chappie who looks like a cartoon character is moving up the charts even though anyone with a modicum of political nous will know that a vote for Stewart is a vote for Corbyn.

Corbyn’s message to the masses is simple enough for the masses to grasp. Marxism is monstrous, but it has an advantage over conservatism: it’s readily reducible to catchy slogans.

Thus its core slogan ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs’ is instantly understandable even to the dimmest people.

But even the brightest conservative would struggle to counter with a catchy phrase of his own. To argue against the Marxist slogan, he’d have to explain that for this idea to be applied in practice there would have to exist an authority empowered to decide what constitutes both ‘ability’ and ‘need’. Such an authority would inevitably become downright despotic.

This is true, but a catchy slogan it isn’t, and it’s presuming too much on human goodness to believe that voting throngs are averse to demagogic sloganeering. They aren’t; quite the opposite.

Hence there’s a distinct danger that the electorate will fail to realise that all Corbyn slogans are reducible to one: eradication of everything that makes Britain British. Corbyn’s economics, for example, is tantamount to an all-front assault on private property with the ultimate goal of its elimination.

His foreign policy is circumscribed by seeking alliances with every avowed enemy of Britain, while alienating our friends.

Corbyn’s domestic policy will involve curtailing law enforcement, inviting as much immigration of cultural aliens as Britain could physically accommodate, destroying what’s left of decent medicine and education, and tacitly encouraging the abuse of whites in general and Jews in particular.

As to his stand on Brexit, which is the central issue of today’s political discourse, it depends entirely on the damage it could do to the Tories.

In that spirit he is expected to come out in favour of a second referendum, which is the most cynical of all available options.

An honest statesman believing that Britain’s interests will be best served by leaving the EU would declare his commitment to doing so with or without a ‘deal’. Conversely, an honest Remainer would promise to keep Britain in the EU, regardless of the referendum results.

“I realise,” he’d say, “that you voted for Brexit. But my remit as prime minister is to act in accordance with your interests, not your wishes. Therefore, since I’m convinced it’s in your interests to stay in the EU, I intend to exercise the Royal Prerogative and do just that.”

Such a politician would be sorely misguided and in my view even treasonous, but at least he’d have the power of his convictions. A demand for a second referendum, on the other hand, is an attempt to get the same result by disgraceful subterfuge.

And it’s not even the result Corbyn would want ideally – the EU is evil enough, but it’s the wrong kind of evil as far as he’s concerned. Commitment to permanent class struggle under the red banner is regrettably lacking there, so the EU isn’t ideologically pure.

However, a second referendum or even a demand for it may deepen the rift within the Tory party, thereby smoothing Corbyn’s way into Downing Street. QED.

The only way to stop this calamity is for the Tories to unite behind a candidate best able to beat Corbyn – and also to ally themselves with the Brexit Party that’s threatening to siphon off millions of votes from the Tories if they continue to vacillate on Brexit.

Yet vacillating on Brexit is precisely what Rory Stewart proposes. He’s committed to keeping Mrs May’s ‘deal’ alive – this though it has been thrice comprehensively defeated in Parliament. His goal isn’t so much reanimation as resurrection, and I don’t think Rory possesses such powers.

In other words, he’s proposing nothing but political impotence, intellectual vacuity and moral decrepitude – which is to say he’ll hand to Corbyn the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Much as it pains me to say so, the only candidate capable of uniting the Tories, creating a quasi-conservative Brexit coalition and ultimately defeating Corbyn’s Marxists is Boris Johnson.

He’s louche, unreliable, unprincipled and dubiously moral – but he’s all we’ve got. Johnson can match Corbyn demagoguery for demagoguery, except his will be cleverer, more erudite and better delivered. Moreover, he has twice defeated Labour in its own backyard, London.

Johnson’s professed refusal to take no-deal Brexit off the table will attract Farage fans and possibly many non-Corbyn Labourites – even though I don’t believe he’ll have the guts to deliver on such a promise. But that’s not the point: we’re talking stopping Labour here, nothing else.

So far Johnson has fought a clever campaign following the strategy associated in marketing with brand leadership. The runaway leader should say nothing but say it well: he doesn’t need to score any more points; all he needs is not to lose any.

Once Johnson has won the Tory race, his strategy will have to change. At that point he’ll have to do two things: first and foremost, to communicate to the public how catastrophic a Corbyn government would be; second, to come up with sound alternatives to Corbyn policies.

The two objectives are in a descending order of priorities, but with one exception: Brexit. If Prime Minister Johnson fails to deliver it quickly, his tenure will be brief. The sun will then shine on Labour, and they’ll make much hay.

This is a distinct possibility, considering how hard the Tories have made the task of leaving that vile contrivance. But at least Johnson offers a sporting chance of stopping Marxism. No other Tory candidate does, and the sooner they, their party and the rest of us realise this, the better.