What’s behind the mask?

Joe ‘Kinnock’ Biden is a rara avis among politicians: with him, what you see is precisely what you get. Zero.

However, it seems increasingly likely that Americans will let Covid elect their new president, a man who has lost much of his already puny eloquence to senility, but little of his intelligence: he had none to begin with.

Voting choices are these days mostly knee-jerk decisions based on the latest news headlines and the resultant ‘feel-good factor’. Thus, natural disasters have often hurt the incumbent.

Before the pandemic, the US economy was doing reasonably well, and President Trump had a winning hand. All he had to do was sit quietly and wait until his challengers folded.

Then Covid reshuffled the pack. The economy suffered a blow, and Trump found himself holding at best a low pair, rather than a flush. However, even a low pair beats no pair, but we aren’t talking poker here. We are talking elections, where emotions trump reason, as it were.

In a rare display of self-awareness, Trump has attributed his low approval ratings to his personality. He has a point: I for one find his personality repulsive. However, given the choice between Trump and Biden, I’d vote for Trump – even, turning the tables on the Democrats’ time-proven strategy, more than once.

The president ill-advisedly hitched his wagon to the Dow Jones index, which is a notoriously fickle horse. Even without Covid, shares could have suffered a downturn, taking Trump’s chances the same way.

But Covid not only devastated the US economy, but painted a bull’s eye on Trump’s chest that his detractors can’t miss: accusing him of not handling the pandemic properly is the easiest thing in the world.

I’m not qualified to judge the advisability of the anti-Covid measures taken by the US administration. However, whatever they are or could have been, the president was on a losing wicket.

No matter what he did, people would have died and the economy would have suffered. Had he chosen the economy over public health, he would have been portrayed as a heartless murderer. Had he gone the other way, he would have been pilloried for destroying the livelihoods of millions of American families.

The same goes for Trump’s response to the BLM movement. Too soft, and he would have undermined his reputation for commitment to law and order. Too hard, and he would have been damned with all the same epithets he did attract even for his halfhearted response: racist, fascist, polarising, insensitive, supremacist and so forth.

Both Covid and BLM were such godsends for Biden that one can be forgiven for suspecting that the latter was organised specifically for that purpose. Operating in that wretched subjunctive mood, a pretext for such a campaign could have been found even without the brutal death of that drug-addled criminal George Floyd.

One way or another, Joe Biden, easily the biggest nonentity in US history to be a frontrunner at this stage, is leading Trump by eight points in the omnibus polls of voting intentions. Amazingly, he’s even leading in Texas, a state that would be impoverished if Biden were in a position to act on even some of his plans.

Texas derives much of its income from hydrocarbons, and Biden’s plans in that area are dominated by his touting of the climate-change hoax. He is promising “no new fracking”, “100 per cent clean energy” and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

If realised, such plans would reduce my former home state to penury, but Texan voters don’t seem to mind, yet. Their state is hit hard by Covid, emotions are running high and reason dips to a new low.

Biden’s campaign for the Democratic nomination was off to a faltering start. But then his strategists made a startling discovery: the less their candidate appeared in public, and especially the less he spoke, they better he would do.

Every time such exposure couldn’t be avoided, Biden mouthed inanities at best and downright bloopers at worst. At one point, he urged the crowd to vote for him in the Senate race, and it took a timely intervention by one of his staffers to remind the poor man that he was actually standing for a different office.

This explains why Biden carried some states in which he didn’t even campaign, and where his flacks could portray him as a moderate, nerve-soothing establishment candidate with the best chance of unseating that boat-rocking upstart in the White House.

It says a lot about today’s Democratic Party that someone like Biden, who in just about any other previous election would have been considered dangerously left-wing, is now seen as a moderate.

He himself has publicly stated his ambition to “go down as one of the most progressive presidents in American history”. If your political jargon is rusty, ‘progressive’ means, among other things, promiscuously high-spending.

In that sense, Biden is right: his announced plan to provide a further $150 billion to boost the black community will take the projected total spending to four trillion, and few people can even imagine that numeral. Tax increases are bound to follow, which prospect doesn’t seem to scare voters as much as it used to.

Biden’s campaign heavily depends on blacks voting for him as a bloc. By itself, this is nothing new: since 1968 no Republican presidential candidate has polled more than 13 per cent of the black vote, and most have received less.

That makes black voters the most significant swathe of the Democratic electorate, which is just a fact of life. But, in light of the BLM movement, this fact becomes sinister.

For, as the black activist Angela Davis explained, “[This election] will be about choosing a candidate who can be most effectively pressured into allowing more space for the evolving anti-racist movement… Biden is far more likely to take mass demands seriously.”

So far Biden has resisted the most extreme of such demands, those for defunding the police, closing down all prisons and legalising marijuana. The last demand is especially amusing because this is one area where libertarians and left-wing subversives agree.

The former support legalisation out of their fanatical commitment to free personal choice; the latter, because that would reduce the number of blacks going to prison. This concept of law and order makes up in logic what it lacks in sanity.

Indeed, the best way of reducing the numbers convicted of any crime would be to decriminalise it. Britain shows how, by effectively decriminalising burglary. A friend of mine, who often acts as a court expert, has calculated that an average burglary is punished by about three-day’s imprisonment – our shining example that America, for once, can follow.

On balance, I have no doubt that Miss Davis is right – trained by the Frankfurt School, she has perfectly honed instincts for Marxist subversion. A senile, vacillating, intellectually inadequate president with ‘progressive’ aspirations will indeed be putty in the evil hands of those who wish America ill.

Say what you will about Trump, and I do say many things about him, but I’d support him for precisely the same reasons Davis supports Biden: he’d be able to keep her ilk at bay for a while longer.

As to Biden, the only arguments about him are revolving around which black woman he’ll choose as his running mate. That chap wouldn’t dream of considering a candidate of a less fortunate race and sex – regardless of any other qualifications.    

Does music make people smart?

I take a personal interest in the on-going debate on the data showing that musicians tend to have higher than the median IQs.

The answer is, not always

After all, I’ve spent much of my life in the company of musicians, having had the chance to observe dozens of them at close quarters. And true enough, some of them are highly intelligent. (By way of protecting my social and family life, I hasten to state unreservedly and unequivocally that both my wife and one of my closest friends fall into that category.)

However, most musicians I’ve known, including some famous ones, don’t strike me as intellectual giants. And some of those who can get around keys or strings at supersonic speeds, and command stratospheric fees, are simply daft.

Then, as any logician will tell you, correlation doesn’t equate causality. Music may not necessarily make people smarter, but those with high IQs are more likely to gravitate towards the concert platform.

Moreover, those who do make it to the concert platform typically start to prepare for that feat at a time when they haven’t quite learned to talk yet, much less make choices about their career plans. They were led to music by their parents, which at that stage says more about the parents than the offspring.

No such grown-ups can possibly have a pecuniary interest in encouraging their tots to study music seriously. After all, it takes years of lessons to decide whether a child has a professional potential, and more years to judge whether that potential is likely to be realised.

Hence it’s mainly for cultural reasons that parents spend oodles of time, effort and money to guide their children to Bach and Beethoven. They must love music, understand how vital it is to our culture and therefore believe that exposure to music will make their children better people – even if it doesn’t make them international stars.

It’s likely that parents who accept much personal sacrifice to pursue that educational goal are themselves intelligent people. And intelligent people are more likely to spawn clever children.

Also, an intelligence quotient measures not intelligence, but merely the potential for developing it. IQ relates to intelligence the way musicality relates to musicianship – musical people may never become musicians, and people with high IQs may never become thinkers.

For example, everybody considered Bobby Fischer one of the best chess players ever, but nobody – including probably even his mother – considered him an intelligent man. Yet his IQ was off every known scale. (Incidentally, many chess players are musicians and vice versa. The two skills are related: chess players develop the cognitive skills to arrange elements in space; musicians, to arrange them in time.)

This is yet another example of how deceptive statistics can be. An unvarnished datum may be a matter of interest, but it seldom elucidates an issue in all its complexity. That, however, doesn’t make statistics useless. They just need to be treated with caution.

In this case, the link between music and intelligence can’t be dismissed just because statistics don’t paint the full picture. For, combining logic with personal observation, I’m convinced that music makes some people more intelligent.

For example, it’s certain that musicians of the calibre of, say, Gieseking, Menuhin, Gould, Szigeti, Yudina or Grumiaux (and of course the two individuals mentioned in the second paragraph above) had their innate intelligence further developed by music.

The abundance of musicians who acquire the biomechanical skills necessary for virtuoso performance suggests that such talents are spread rather wide. However, great musicians are few because they go beyond that. They combine virtuosity with a deep analytical ability and a broad cultural outlook.

A great musician has to have the intricate mind to analyse the complex relationships of harmonies, tempi, sonorities and dynamics within a piece – and also to understand how the piece fits into the overall work of its composer, how the composer relates to the music of his time and over history, and how music expresses the ethos of our civilisation.

A mindless virtuoso can have a brilliant career without such intelligence. But he’ll never reach the level of the musicians I mentioned above, at random.

For all those Genome Projects and Decades of the Brain, the human mind remains a mystery, unsolved and probably unsolvable. Scientists don’t even know what a thought is, which is understandable. Natural sciences deal with the natural, which is to say material, world. And thought lives in another world, one that materialists stupidly insist doesn’t exist.

That’s why the questions similar to those I’ve touched upon will never be answered definitively. Not in a lab, not by a sociological survey – and, much as I hate to admit this, not even by me.

One thing is beyond doubt, to me at any rate: music too resides in that other world. And, if I can be forgiven wild conjecture, it may well live on a higher floor than even the rational mind.

It’s not money that makes the world go round

Universal prosperity (otherwise known as ‘happiness’) is the implicit legitimising promise of post-Enlightenment modernity.

How very old-fashioned

Dedicated as it is to the advancement of the common man, it has to promise the common man things he needs. And, snobbish but true, that breed has mostly material aspirations – especially now that its traditional metaphysical concerns have been roundly swept aside.

Such is the widespread belief. However, it’s not always, and never wholly, true. For the system best suited to fulfilling the implicit promise of modernity, what Marx called capitalism, comes in conflict with the ideology of egalitarianism begotten by modernity as an accompaniment to prosperity.

Arranging the demography of modern prosperity in any country will produce a pyramid, tapering from economic hoi-polloi up towards the rich. Nevertheless, by any historical standards, Western prosperity is as universal as humanly possible: most of those at the base of the pyramid still enjoy lives that most earlier generations would have regarded as luxurious.

However, ideology isn’t about double-entry accounting. It’s about activating the least laudable human qualities in pursuit of some pernicious purpose, usually political. It’s not for nothing that modern correctness is called political.

People’s ability to earn money varies widely, making it inevitable that some will have more than others. But ideologues promised equality, didn’t they?

And it wasn’t that obsolete namby-pamby equality of all before God either. Since God was replaced by Darwin, equality got to be mostly understood as an entity denominated in units of currency. Alas, while old equality followed from the essence of Christianity, new equality not only didn’t follow from the essence of capitalism, but was made impossible by it.

Hence it was easy to portray any capitalist system as inherently unjust and hostile to modernity’s cherished ideal of equality. By inference, that made everybody who did well out of the unjust system themselves unjust. They were increasingly portrayed as blood-sucking leeches on the body of a nation.

(This, incidentally, explains the predominantly socialist nature of modern anti-Semitism. Christian anti-Semitism went the way of Christianity, while conservative, clubbable anti-Semitism has more to do with snobbery and the desire to keep outsiders outside. As an old Tory explained to me once, “Anti-Semitism is hating Jews more than necessary”.)

Thus modernity differs from Christendom in one critical respect. If the latter tried, with variable success, to encourage the better part of human nature, the former implicitly fosters – and expiates – the full array of deadly sins. Envy and pride lead the way, with greed and anger following closely behind.

In parallel with inculcating such vices into the metaphysical makeup of society, modern Western nations extended egalitarianism to politics by both expanding the democratic franchise ad infinitum and downgrading all competing forms of power.

Specifically in Britain that manifested itself in steadily lowering the voting age and debauching both the monarchy and the upper, hitherto unelected, House of Parliament. That way the masses, brainwashed about the injustice of the traditional economy, could elevate to government those made in their own image.

Such developments can be observed, mutatis mutandis, in all Western countries. As a result, Western governments had to renege on the founding promise of modernity, that of comfort and a steadily improving standard of living. Ideology has begun to rule the roost.

Contrary to what Clinton’s strategist James Carville once said, it’s no longer the economy, stupid. It’s now ideology, stupid. That’s the new god and it’s athirst, demanding greater and greater sacrifices. The economy is one such.

Modern governments, largely made up of spivocratic nonentities capable of only following, not shaping, popular demands, demonstrate time and again their willingness to throw the economy under the wheels of the ideological juggernaut.

For example, it will cost Western governments trillions in any currency you care to name to cater to the climate hoax perpetrated by those who have an anti-capitalist axe to grind. Never in the history of human economics has so much been sacrificed by so many on so little evidence.

The less sophisticated mouthpieces of the hoax, such as that poor retarded child Greta, don’t even bother to conceal the anti-capitalist animus behind their crusade against warm weather. The clever grown-ups behind the scenes are more circumspect, trying to hide their true motives behind pseudo-scientific cant and the kind of arguments that any clever secondary school pupil could blow out of the water.

It’s too early to calculate the damage done by our response to Covid, which is probably incalculable anyway. Yet it’s easy to discern an ideological component in the drive for destroying the economy for the sake of rather nebulous health benefits.

Unlike with climate, this isn’t pure ideology, what with some of the dangers being quite real. Yet, comparing Britain with Sweden, where the government’s response was more restrained, one would find it hard to make a persuasive argument for the economic devastation chosen by HMG.

These are just the most recent and visible examples. But there exist many others.

The egalitarian ideology of modernity attacks the economy in all sorts of ways, most camouflaged with bien pensant waffle. If our governments were driven by economic goals, they wouldn’t have accepted the ideologically inspired welfare state – and the attendant ruinous burden of debt.

It goes without saying that civilised governments will make provisions for looking after the old and infirm. But our welfarism run riot goes well beyond civilised decency. Instead it enters the realm of economic madness that has dire social consequences as well.

Everywhere one looks, one can observe a clash between economy and ideology, with the latter running up a huge winning score. For example, ideology demands that all obvious differences between races and sexes be ignored, and the economy docilely complies to its own detriment.

The essence of capitalism, the system that has produced unprecedented, if unequally distributed, prosperity, is competition. And the essence of competition is offering the market the best goods and services at the lowest possible price.

That involves each business hiring the best talent it can afford, which in turn leads to competition not only for markets but also for labour. This is economics at its most basic, but in barges ideology at its most virulent.

It demands that, regardless of talent and ability, all races and sexes be represented in the workplace in proportion to their numbers in the population, or in some cases way beyond such numbers. That makes a travesty out of competition for labour and ultimately for markets.

Forced to hire not the best but the most ideologically acceptable, businesses reduce their productivity, with the quality of their offerings going down and the price heading in the opposite direction. That has a knock-on effect on everything: when businesses become less profitable, the tax base shrinks.

The government then has to borrow even more, and the merry-go-round never stops. Nor is it possible to jump off without risking life and limb.

The upshot is that capitalism is taken away from capitalists and placed in the tender care of ideologues. That means capitalism becomes corporatism at best, outright socialism at worst.

“The moment that Government appears at market,” wrote Burke, and I repeat these words of wisdom often, “all the principles of market will be subverted.” Replace ‘Government’ with ‘ideology’, and the statement will ring even truer.

The world does go round, but it’s not money that makes it do so. Those who insist it is ought to know better, and by and large they do. But ideology doesn’t let them tell the truth.

Those clever Jews

A tribunal of six Solent University governors sacked the lecturer Stephen Lamonby, 73, for gross misconduct, which in this case meant racism.

Soviet cartoon, 1969. I bet the artist also thought the Jews were pretty smart

“We are pleased,” commented the Southampton university, “with the outcome of this hearing and its reflection of Solent’s commitment to our university values and to promoting equality, diversity and inclusivity.”

You may wonder how Mr Lamonby assailed those sacred values with sufficient vigour to justify his sacking. Are you insisting on an answer to this question? Fine. But prepare yourself: the truth is gruesome.

Talking to his colleague, Dr Janet Bonar, Mr Lamonby was complimentary about the Jews’ intelligence, especially as manifested in the field of physics. The Germans, he said, are good engineers, but the Jews are physicists sans pareil. Since Dr Bonar must be good at physics, Mr Lamonby then wondered if she was Jewish.

In response, Dr Bonar called him a racist and stormed off, as befits a modern person. She then reported Mr Lamonby to the authorities, as befits a truly progressive modern person.

Now, this episode can be analysed on many levels, including the least important factual one. First, if I were German, I’d be upset about my nation being deemed to be better at engineering than at physics.

I’d reel off a list of pretty useful German physicists, such as, in no particular order, Gauss, Röntgen, Planck, Heisenberg, Lenard and so forth. And, as Messrs Newton, Maxwell, Faraday and yes, even Hawking could have testified, it’s not just the Germans but also the British who have been known to infringe on the putative Jewish patent in this area.

It’s true that Jewish scientists tend to win about 20 per cent of all Nobel prizes, but then they also tend to dominate the string sections of all major orchestras. Such statistics require a deep, detailed analysis, and they can’t be explained away simply by suggesting the Jews have more intelligence or musicality than anyone else.

On the subject of music, some years ago Encyclopaedia Britannica published a list of history’s 20 most important composers, those without whom music wouldn’t be music. Seventeen names on that list were German, and not a single one was Jewish. Juxtaposing this statistic with the percentage of Jewish violinists, we can make only one conclusion: the issue is so complex that it doesn’t lend itself to any single explanation.

It’s also true that, in America, Jews have a higher median IQ than the rest of the country, except Southwest Asians. However, the Jewish population is almost exclusively urban middle class. And in that demographic group, the Jews’ IQ doesn’t stand out.

This issue can’t be discussed seriously without delving into a wide panoply of historical, cultural, social, political and religious factors. But then Mr Lamonby wasn’t trying to analyse that intricate problem. He casually referred to a widespread stereotype, that’s all.

Then, Solent took exception not to his loose treatment of facts but indeed to his mentioning an ethnic stereotype. That went against the grain of the new-fangled progressive ethic, according to which everyone isn’t just equal but the same.

The sacramental belief of our ‘liberal’ modernity is that no differences exist among various ethnic and racial groups. That is demonstrably false, but this whole thing isn’t about facts, is it? Facts might have been stubborn things to John Adams, but to progressives they are irrelevant things.

Language has had to be modified to reflect the new, heightened sensitivity. The word ‘racism’ used to mean the belief that some races were inherently superior to others. Now it means simply the belief that races may be different in any other than purely chromatic respects.

Thus it doesn’t matter whether or not a statement about such perceived differences is true, nor indeed whether it’s positive or negative. Saying, for example, that blacks can jump better than whites is as unacceptable to the progressives as making monkey noises.

Mr Lamonby is absolutely right in his vociferous protests against the verdict of Solent’s kangaroo trial. He was victimised by what he called denial of intellectual freedom, and what I’d describe, less moderately, as progressive fascism.

Under no circumstances can it be construed that Mr Lamonby’s statement is anti-Semitic. But, and here I’m trying to uncover another layer of the argument, that doesn’t mean Mr Lamonby isn’t.

Here I can offer only a lifelong observation, not any rational analysis. And my observation suggests that, with some exceptions, only two groups are most likely to point out the superior intelligence of the Jews: Jews and anti-Semites.

Both groups can say the same things on the basis of the same facts, such as the disproportionate Jewish representation in science, media, music, show business and what have you. But if Jews are likely to mention such facts with pride, anti-Semites unfurl them out of suspicion at best, envy and hatred at worst.

Neither group is to be complimented for their emotions, although only the second group was driven by theirs to exterminate the first. Let’s just say for now that anti-Semites are perfectly capable, indeed likely, to damn Jews with faint praise of their intelligence – just as genuine racists are capable of damning blacks with faint praise of their athleticism.

However, only in a febrile tyranny can such statements be taken as punishable offences, regardless of the feelings behind the words. Only a febrile tyranny can punish people for what they feel and think, and that’s what we all live under these days.

Our abject surrender

It would be both silly and presumptuous to claim that our great, if underrated, philosopher R.G. Collingwood has agreed to appear as guest columnist in this space.

It would be silly because Collingwood died in 1943. It would be presumptuous because I have no reason to believe that, even if he were alive today, he’d agree to act as my co-author.

Yet the two long quotations I’m going to offer apply to our situation today so accurately and exhaustively that they can almost function as a complete article. All I can offer is some ornamental commentary, pointing out the specific relevance of Collingwood’s insights.

The first one was an observation of how civilisations perish. In a single paragraph Collingwood dismissed simplistic explanations, while at the same time almost making long tomes redundant:

“Civilisations sometimes perish because they are forcibly broken up by the armed attack of enemies without or revolutionaries within; but never from this cause alone. Such attacks never succeed unless the thing that is attacked is weakened by doubt as to whether the end which it sets before itself, the form of life which it tries to realise, is worth achieving. On the other hand, this doubt is quite capable of destroying a civilisation without any help whatever. If the people who share a civilisation are no longer on the whole convinced that the form of life which it tries to realise is worth realising, nothing can save it.”

Collingwood’s second insight points out one key cause of our collective enfeeblement:

“The critical moment was reached when Rome created an urban proletariat whose only function was to eat free bread and watch free shows. This meant the segregation of an entire class which had no work to do whatever; no positive function in society, whether economic or military or administrative or intellectual or religious; only the business of being supported and being amused. When that had been done, it was only a question of time until Plato’s nightmare of a consumers’ society came true; the drones set up their own king and the story of the hive came to an end.”

A resounding yes on both counts. Any physical assault on a great civilisation can only ever succeed if the civilisation has lost its metaphysical core, what’s fashionably called values.

It takes a powerful hurricane to break a healthy oak in half but, when the oak is rotten inside, even a slight push will suffice. Collingwood cites Rome, but the same observation applies to us as accurately.

Anywhere we look we can see every traditional strength crumbling away, every certitude of yesteryear inverted. Man has assumed God-like powers of judging good and bad, virtuous and sinful, right and wrong, only to find that, in human hands, such powers can corrupt more than any others.

The West has abandoned the framework of discipline that’s a prerequisite for the existence of real freedom, making every notion, no matter how idiotic and subversive, acceptable and worthy of a place at the intellectual table.

Predictably that has produced a culture of self-imposed despotism that, uniquely in history, needs little help from the state’s good offices. Such help, however, is always on offer whenever the self-despotism alone can’t pull the garrotte tight enough.    

The real morality of Christendom has been replaced with a fake and ever-expanding code of tyrannical restrictions on every traditional Western freedom, each based on the Judaeo-Christian understanding of man as a creature made in the image of God and therefore possessing sovereign value.

Western economies are bending under the load of unbearable debt, which makes them susceptible to evil regimes ever ready to proffer investment that, upon closer examination, turns out to be economic sabotage.

Much is being written about the report showing that the British economy has become so addicted to Putin’s fiscal poison that going cold turkey may well prove fatal. It’s because of this medical condition that foreign gangsters, working on behalf of their evil governments, have found it so easy to buy British (and generally Western) politicians both retail and wholesale.

Western politicians are still residually accountable to their voters, who have systematically shed any metaphysical yearnings, having replaced them with a craving for physical comfort. They can accept any diminution of culture, social life, morality or civil liberties, but not that of physical well-being.

Hence it’s understandably hard for Western politicians to tell Putin’s agents to keep their trillions to themselves, what with the relative impoverishment that’s likely to follow such a principled stance. That’s why it took our (Conservative!) government almost a year to publish a tepid report on the Russian penetration denominated in political influence.

The report doesn’t go far enough, possessing as it does only some limited ad hoc value. To make a really devastating point the report would have had to reveal many shocking facts that have been coyly kept under wraps – and also put such facts in the context of the accelerating disintegration under way in all Western countries, emphatically including Britain.

It’s not just about a few politicians taking campaign contributions in soiled, and often blood-soaked, millions. It’s about a society growing so feeble, so lacking in self-confidence, so malignantly hedonistic that it’s no longer able to defend itself against its enemies – indeed so enfeebled that it even refuses to recognise its enemies for what they are.

The oak has become rotten inside, and the slightest push may well bring it down. When, say, Putin or one of his successors decides that the tottering has reached a wide enough amplitude, it wouldn’t take a massive assault to bring the tree down.

A little push into, say, Estonia would test the West’s resolve, only to find it non-existent. Dying for Narva would be as unthinkable as dying for Danzig was in 1938.

Our politicians and pundits wouldn’t miss a beat echoing Neville Chamberlain who spoke of “a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing”. When we learned, it was too late to prevent oceans of blood from spilling.

Why, that choir has already started to rehearse, with Peter Hitchens singing the solo part: “They are a poor, under-populated country nearly 2,000 miles away… We have no border with Russia, nor any other territorial, naval or economic conflict… We hardly trade with them…”

Now, Hitchens wouldn’t acknowledge a Russian threat even if a Spetsnaz brigade landed in Kent. But here the Chamberlain resonance is unmistakable, as is a complete, if possibly put-on, ignorance of modern geopolitics.

As ever, Hitchens is self-refuting. He never tires of writing – correctly, as it happens – about the woeful decline of Britain in every conceivable sense, while pretending not to realise how light an external push it would therefore take to bring about a collapse.

Those feral bearded chaps clad in bearskins also looked puny compared to the mighty edifice of Rome, with its well-drilled legions, modern technologies, firmly entrenched economic and legal principles. And then…

And then don’t read Hitchens, ladies and gentlemen. Read Collingwood instead. He saw the signs with the eagle eye of a prophet – who’d nevertheless hate to see his prophesies come true.

Eye-opener for eyes already open

Today’s Times: “The disclosures came 24 hours after the intelligence and security committee (ISC) published its long-delayed Russia report and questioned whether the government ‘took its eye off the ball. by allowing oligarchs to invest billions of pounds in Britain and make high-level political connections.

Hello, England

Who could have thought? Well, false modesty aside, somebody could. This is what I wrote on this subject in April, 2012. Some details mentioned in the piece were transient, indeed including Berezovsky, who was to be garrotted by Putin’s hitmen, but the bulk of it applies today just as it did then.

The other day the French authorities impounded some £11 million belonging to that worthy London resident Boris Berezovsky. The money, they declared, had been acquired in criminal ways and therefore its owner can’t claim legitimate property rights. Since the French acted at the behest of the Russian government, which is itself criminal, their reasons are questionable. But their action does raise interesting issues.

I’m not going to explore how Boris has made his billions. If you’re interested in the subject, read an excellent book Godfather in the Kremlin by Paul Klebnikov. The eponymous godfather is no longer in the Kremlin – having fallen out with Putin, he now resides in England. And Klebnikov is no longer alive – in 2004, as he was researching another book on Russia’s organised crime, he died in a hail of bullets fired (one hears by Chechens) from a passing car in central Moscow.

True to its heritage, Putin’s government spread the rumour that Klebnikov had been killed by a jealous husband. Of course he was. The MO proves that: two men firing submachine guns from a fast-moving car. Love does work in mysterious ways, especially in Putin’s Russia.

And now yet another Mafia hit, this time in London, reminds us that Russian ‘businessmen’ are just as capable of settling their disputes at our doorstep. The only sane response to this is NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). Yet this is a response we are unlikely to give.

Pecunia non olet (‘money doesn’t stink’), said the Roman emperor Vespasian when questioned about his tax on the urine sold by public lavatories to tanners. Vespasian was rather crude even by the standards of Roman emperors, so he can be forgiven for his soldierly directness.

What is upsetting is that after two millennia of subsequent civilisation we still haven’t outlived the principle first enunciated by Vespasian. Except that we couch it in legal cant based on property rights, a subject dear to every conservative heart. However, much as we worship this or any other right, we shouldn’t allow it to turn into a suicide pact. Society has a superseding right to protect itself.

Ever since the ‘collapse’ of the Soviet Union, Russian billionaires have been arriving in England, first in a trickle, lately in a stream. A good chunk of their money arrives with them, and we welcome it. The British can’t afford to buy £40-million houses; good job someone can. Who cares how that £40 million was earned? Pecunia non olet!

Everyone knows, or ought to know, that no one can become a billionaire in today’s Russia without engaging in activities that in any civilised country would land their perpetrator in prison. Since the KGB mafia fronted by Putin controls Russia’s economy, no Russian can become a billionaire without active cooperation with it, if only by paying protection money. And since the mafia is criminal, every Russian billionaire is, as a minimum, its accessory.

They all, possibly with one or two exceptions, have a criminal mentality, and they bring it to London along with their money. We close our eyes on the former because we like the latter. Pecunia non olet!

So we let the likes of Abramovich, Berezovsky and Lord Mandelson’s best friend Deripaska come to London. Their billions are welcomed, as long as we are sure they use our courts, not our dark alleys, to settle their disagreements. Meanwhile, Sloanie dimwits are falling all over themselves to get an invitation to Abramovich’s box at Stamford Bridge.

Girls previously only interested in the hats they were going to wear at this year’s Ascot now profess interest in holding midfielders, wingbacks and second strikers. Thanks to Abramovich’s money footie has become their nostalgie de la boue, today’s answer to the fashionable slumming of yesteryear. And the provenance of the money? Who cares? Pecunia non olet, and those who still remember their Roedean Latin won’t even need a translation.

One would think that the six shots fired into Gherman Gorbuntsov’s body would serve as a wake-up call, even though Gherman himself can hardly be confused with a boy scout. Wanted in Moldova and Russia for the sort of dealings that would tip the Old Bailey scales at the better part of 25 years, he already did some time back in the early 1990s. I don’t know what the charge was in Russia, but I’m willing to bet it wasn’t dissent.

And then Gherman committed the ultimate mafia crime of squealing. Specifically, he agreed to give evidence in the case involving another attempted murder, of the chap whose son at one point owned another English football club. (What is it about football that attracts those people? Why not polo? Go straight to the top, I say.) The death penalty is the only possible punishment, and silly Gherman thought they wouldn’t get to him in London. Little did he realise that, just as the ruling mafia had turned Moscow into the Wild West, so it was turning London into Moscow.

Miraculously, Gherman has survived and now he’s busily naming names, those who ordered the hit. One suspects his loquacity is the price Scotland Yard has demanded for its protection, but be that as it may Gorbuntsov has now pointed a finger at several chaps close to Putin himself. So when he recovers from his wounds, he’ll probably be allowed to stay here, until next time. After all, pecunia non olet, and his money is as good as anyone else’s.

I don’t know if Putin did commission the murder, and frankly I don’t care. It’s enough for me to know that this unrepentant officer in history’s most murderous organisation is perfectly capable of it. What I do care about is the moral damage these Russians are doing to us.

Pecunia non olet? You bet it does. It smells of blood spilled in London streets. It stinks of the Faustian deal we’ve struck. It reeks of a society in decay. Are you holding your nostrils? I am.

Those who think conservatism is a disease won’t like the cure

Andrew Sullivan, a British writer who has spent most of his adult life in the US, describes himself as a conservative. Even better, a Catholic conservative.

The road to hell is paved with those saying ‘it couldn’t happen here’

But then political nomenclatures mean so little these days that they can be safely disregarded. To me, Mr Sullivan is neither a conservative nor much of a Catholic.

In the past he edited The New Republic, a publication to the right of Pravda circa 1970 only marginally and not invariably. Then Sullivan is an HIV-positive homosexual, which by itself doesn’t disqualify him as a conservative. However, he has anonymously advocated unprotected anal sex, “preferably with other HIV-positive men”. I’m sure he had valid reasons, but these must have had little to do with promoting a conservative Catholic agenda.

Sullivan also supports other non-conservative causes, such as homomarriage, progressive taxation, nationalised healthcare and whatnot. And he’s planning to vote for Biden in November.

However, he has also advocated some causes that Americans call conservative and I call libertarian. That has proved his undoing, for even such dubious, what he calls ‘moderate’ or ‘anti-Trump’, conservatism turned out to be too much for his colleagues at New York magazine to bear.

They claimed that the toxic presence of even a moderate conservative, however he’s planning to vote, made them physically ill. And I do mean physically, not metaphorically.

That makes conservatism even in its mild forms a deadly contagion, not unlike Covid. The difference is that, while a cure for coronavirus isn’t known, the cure for conservatism is. The honour of its discovery belongs to assorted communist regimes around the world, where the slightest deviation from the party line was punishable by imprisonment or death.

At this point, the only death meted out to dissidents from the woke line is of a professional variety, which is what befell Sullivan. And not only him.

American madness always takes a few years to arrive at our shores, and so far I can think of only one prominent career, that of David Starkey, destroyed by wokish totalitarianism. Prof. Starkey’s crime was making a reasonable point that black slavery, reprehensible as it was, wasn’t genocide for the simple reason that slaves were a valuable commodity supposed to produce material goods.

In America, careers are destroyed en masse. For example, New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss, a rather wokish person herself, had to quit because, as she wrote in her resignation letter, the newspaper fostered an “illiberal environment”. Poor Bari didn’t realise that illiberal is today’s liberal.

Also, the senior curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was made to resign for using “white supremacist language”. The hapless academic refused to stop collecting white artists because doing so, he said, would be “reverse discrimination”.

Another chap lost a senior arts position for publicly expressing “solidarity with the BLM movement”. That language was deemed to be too vapid and wishy-washy – he was supposed to have announced his eagerness to man the barricades, not just mouth those egghead palliatives about some nebulous solidarity.

Sullivan’s transgression was mocking the Critical Theory, which in US academic and media sources functions the way Stalin’s Short Course did in Russia and Mao’s Red Book in China. 

Stripped of its pseudo-philosophical cant, the Critical Theory is a Marxist plan for world domination developed and embellished by the Frankfurt School about which I wrote yesterday. The object of the eponymous criticism is everything that gullible people can be made to believe makes the West evil (discrimination, sexism, misogyny, racism – name your own bugbear).

This functions as received wisdom in American (and increasingly our) academic, artistic and media circles. Even worse, it acts as the party ‘general line’ from which no deviations are allowed and any criticism of which must be punished.

Moreover, people working at such institutions are actively encouraged to denounce their wayward colleagues, either by reporting them to the bosses or posting scathing attacks on social media. You don’t need me to draw parallels here, do you?

But never mind deviations and criticism. Mere silence or tacit acquiescence are indictable offences too. Just like in Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China, the only way for the culprits to avoid punishment is to debase themselves publicly by issuing grovelling apologies and promises to self-correct.

Prof. Starkey has done just that, destroying much of my respect for him. Yet neither Sullivan nor Weiss went without trouble, although Sullivan showed little rancour in his resignation letter.

He stressed the right of the magazine’s editors and staff to choose those they wish to see under their roof, which was something that really went without saying. What needed saying was that bullying someone into resignation for ideological reasons smacks of either red or brown fascism.

It’s tempting to ascribe the Americans’ (and increasingly our) lurch to the left to an onset of some collective madness, mostly afflicting educated people with high IQ. However, that would be a hopeful explanation, because a pandemic can disappear as quickly as it arrives.

But there’s no hope here because no visible counterforce is anywhere in evidence. What we are reaping is the harvest of ideological secularism used for decades as a wrecking ball to smash our civilisation to bits.

That could have been stopped only by another ball of equal mass travelling as fast in the opposite direction. But no such obstacle can possibly exist in a society dedicated to Enlightenment values.

The only thing that surprises me in America is the widespread submission to the proto-communist diktats not only in culture but also in economics. When I lived there (1973-1988), expropriatory taxes and nationalisation appealed only to the lunatic fringe. Now they seem to be mainstream.

Those ‘liberals’ don’t realise that they are signing their own death warrant. When their madness succeeds, and the whole thing collapses, they won’t be the ones to take over. It’ll be the equivalent of China’s Red Guards, and those chaps don’t have much affection for intellectuals – they talk too much and sometimes out of turn, if only unwittingly.

None so hostile as divergent exponents of the same creed, and those woke high-IQ cretins could do worse than remember that.  

Davis + Biden + Putin = love

The other day Angela Davis came off the mothballs to endorse Joe Biden for US presidency. That fact is unremarkable by itself, but what turns it into a story of worldwide importance is its ‘who’, ‘where’ and ‘why’.

Herbert Marcuse came back as Angela Davis

The ‘who’ question is answered by ‘Angela Davis’, her of a most colourful biography. Way back then I couldn’t help knowing every detail of it because Angela was canonised in the Soviet Union.

She had every qualification for communist sainthood. Angela learned her communism from Herbert Marcuse, the shining light of the Frankfurt School of ‘philosophy’ (loosely defined).

Those Frankfurters fell out of Marx’s buns, but their recipes for communist takeover had many more ingredients. These included a gradual undermining of Western institutions from within, specifically exploiting racial, sex and economic inequality and aiming to take control of the press, entertainment and education.

Angela came to appreciate the fine points of that perfidious strategy later in life, but when her hormones were still at a bubble, she plunged headlong into radical politics with the natural impetuosity of youth. She joined the US Communist Party and became one of its leaders, eventually twice standing as the party’s Vice-Presidential candidate in the 1980s.

Not to be pigeonholed into the proletarian cause, Angela also branched out into feminist and anti-war activism, and she belied her anti-racism credentials by joining the Black Panthers, a gang wholeheartedly committed to black supremacy.

In 1971 that got Angela into a spot of trouble because guns registered in her name had been used in a takeover of a courthouse in which several people, including the judge, were killed. Angela spent a year on remand, while the Soviet Union kicked off the kind of worldwide campaign I described the other day. The racism card wasn’t just played – it was shoved down the world’s throat.

That’s when I got to learn so much about Angela that it almost felt as if I knew her personally. ‘Free Angela Davis!’ screamed off every front page, and not just in Russia. In the end the campaign succeeded, and Davis was acquitted.

She was then awarded the Lenin Peace Prize and turned up in Moscow to collect. We were all impressed by her braless good looks, although dispensing with that garment in public was then seen as rather risqué in the faux-puritan Soviet Union.

The answer to the ‘where’ question is considerably shorter, for Davis endorsed Biden in a video played on RT, Putin’s propaganda channel. This choice of venue is telling, for Davis, the heroine of the American Left (and consequently a holder of several professorships), would have had no shortage of indigenous loudspeakers.

That choice, among other critical things, is explained by the answer to the ‘why’ question. For Davis explained her reasons for endorsing Biden succinctly and honestly. And these happen to be the same reasons as those motivating RT, a former Trump supporter of long standing.

Biden, explained Angela, falls far short of the ideal she sees in her mind’s eyes. “He’s opposed to disbanding the police,” she complained, which to her must be tantamount to being a right-wing reactionary.

Now America is certifiably mad (about which tomorrow), but she still isn’t so mad as to give a candidate supporting that insanity more than the proverbial chance of a snowball in hell. Angela understands it and doesn’t make her endorsement contingent on this plank.

She realises that in this life ideals are unattainable: “I don’t see this election as being about choosing a candidate who will be able to lead us in the right direction,” Davis said.

“It will be about choosing a candidate who can be most effectively pressured into allowing more space for the evolving anti-racist movement… Biden is far more likely to take mass demands seriously.”

Marcuse, Adorno, Horkheimer and other Frankfurters are smiling out of their graves. Their able student has finally heeded their lessons.

As far as the American Left are concerned, being receptive to subversive anti-racist, feminist, ecological and LGBTQ+ pressures isn’t just the most important qualification for presidency, but the only one that matters.

That and not the odd bit of gunplay will bring down their hated capitalism, democracy, rule of law – in fact, their hated everything. This realisation also explains Davis’s choice of venue, signalling that her objectives overlap with the Kremlin’s.

The other day I wrote about the Russian angle in the BLM movement. Hence I have to be grateful to Angela for providing more evidence that I was right.

Donald Trump has many characteristics admired by Putin, mainly that he admires Putin. Though Trump doesn’t have Putin’s leeway in dispensing with such proctologic nuisances as division of power, he clearly respects leaders who do. His horse-trading approach to life can also be an asset, provided Russia can pay the right price for the horse.

But one thing Trump isn’t is woke. His first reaction to the BLM pogroms was a threat to shoot on sight. He didn’t act on that, but there’s no doubt where his sympathies and antipathies lie.

That’s why, continuing the equine metaphor, it looks as if Putin is ready to change horses, saddling Biden with the onus of acting as the conduit into which all pent-up discontents can flow to a destructive effect.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” This, possibly apocryphal, Burkean adage implies the distinct possibility that torpor on the part of American voters can lead to a triumph of the Frankfurters and their evil disciples.

Given the situation, any American voting for Biden in November will be committing treason in all but name. If you think Trump stinks, chaps, hold your nostrils – but don’t vote the country into an abyss.

The great queen we’ll never have

When Queen Elizabeth II (God bless her) is no longer with us, the throne will pass on to King Charles III (God save us).

That’s how it has always been: the rules of succession are chiselled in stone. Sometimes, however, they can be re-chiselled, as they were by the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act.

Until then, the eldest male heir was first in line, even if he had an elder sister. That arrangement went back to the primogeniture specified in the Salic Law, which is to say to time immemorial.

That, of course, was too discriminatory for our woke (Conservative!) government, led at the time by that self-proclaimed ‘heir to Blair’, Dave Cameron. Having thus established his aspiration to follow in the footsteps of easily the most revolting resident of 10 Downing Street, Dave was true to his word.

Displaying a fanatical determination worthy of better use, he pushed through the homomarriage law, and any number of other affronts to tradition. One of them was changing something in existence for centuries: succession to the crown. Now the eldest sibling, male or female, will inherit the throne.

However, for any foreseeable future that particular affront will have only an academic significance. For Charles isn’t just the eldest male heir, but also the eldest heir, full stop. The same goes for his son William and William’s son George.

Having just scolded Dave Cameron for playing fast and loose with tradition, it ill-behoves me to propose yet another change – and I shan’t. But I wish I could.

For the Princess Royal, HRH Anne, though only fourteenth in the line of succession, stands head and shoulders above the 13 forerunners, and specifically her elder brother. She is consistently the hardest-working royal, a patron of 200 organisations.

However, Prince Charles runs her a close second in that department. Where she towers over him is in such faculties as intellect and character. We desperately need a monarch like Anne, who’d be able to offset to some extent the faddish wokiness of our politicians.

A British monarch has no – or, anticipating casuistic objections, next to no – executive power. The monarch, however, performs vital constitutional and cultural functions, most having to do with spanning the distances of time and geography.

The former has to do with providing unbreakable continuity between generations past, present and future. The latter is unifying all Commonwealth countries into one of the oldest extant alliances in the world (formerly known as the British Empire).

Those functions make our monarchy an inherently conservative institution. A monarch in the thrall of pernicious fads loses the thread of continuity, thereby bringing into question the very existence of the monarchy.

That’s what makes Anne, and doesn’t make Charles, an ideal monarch. For Anne openly despises her brother’s obsession with every wokish perversion coming round.

While her brother hugs trees and talks to vegetables, HRH Anne can barely contain mocking smiles and words. For example, one hobby horse that Charles rides is GM crops, which he fashionably derides (in the kind of fashion set by the same people who’d do away with the monarchy at the drop of a crown).

Anne would have none of that: “It has been an enormous advantage in many parts of the world to use GM wisely for very specific environments. It makes it much more likely to be able to grow what you need… .”

Charles carries on for ever about the perils of ‘climate change’. This is now the accepted wokish term because ‘global warming’ has been discredited by the demonstrable fact that the Earth’s climate has been cooling for the past 30 years.

His sister is openly contemptuous: “Climate changes all the time. It has done so throughout the globe’s history, so there’s nothing new under the sun.” Absolutely. And for about a third of the Earth’s lifespan the climate has been warmer than now.

Charles, though not a vegan himself, respects veganism and vegetarianism. This is de rigueur for any card-carrying wokeman, which is what Charles is.

But not Anne: “You can’t have a world without livestock. They are a necessary and very constructive part of our expectation to feed ourselves… We need livestock as part of the genuine mix that keeps land healthy.”

And then, most tellingly: “Perhaps my biggest irritation is single-issue groups…” She might as well have said ‘my brother’.

As a conservative, I’m opposed to unnecessary changes to ancient institutions that show the honourable patina of time. That’s why I don’t think monarchs should accede on merit – like it or hate it, but upholding traditional succession is more important than any single reign.

However, the English Common Law is based on precedents, and one such was established by the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act, when Parliament overrode an ancient practice. So in theory it could do so again and bypass Charles in favour of his much better qualified sister. Barring that, some sort of regency arrangement could be set up, with Charles talking to courgettes and Anne to heads of state.

That will never happen, will it? Unlike Anne, Charles is in tune with modern times and therefore modern parliaments. Most MPs, including those on the Tory benches, see nothing wrong with Charles – and doubtless plenty wrong with Anne.

HRH Anne, a Leo like me, will turn 70 in August. Wishing her a happy upcoming birthday, one can only sigh wistfully about the great queen we’ll never have. 

Who’s behind BLM?

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I do, however, believe in facts. And these are unequivocal: global revolts like Black Lives Matter don’t sprout haphazardly. They require organisation, funding and coordination.

Yes, and what else?

When a revolt is as global and well-coordinated as BLM, it has to be built on a groundwork painstakingly prepared over years by a large group of professionals. By large, I mean thousands, because history shows that’s what it takes.

That group starts with criminal objectives and pursues them by fomenting criminal action, trying to paralyse Western societies, demonise their histories, vandalise their cities, debunk their heroes, vilify their politics and culture, sow discord, promote hatred and polarisation. The ultimate goal is to undermine the West, making it ripe for a calamitous revolution.

As with any crime, any search for its perpetrators begins by identifying those who have the motive, means and opportunity. Before we decide who that might be, let’s look for clues in the documents issued by BLM and allied groups.

Fortunately, such groups are never reticent about their aims. They can’t afford to be because they need to attract followers, who must know what it is they are supposed to follow.

Thus the writings of Marx and Engels contain a detailed blueprint for a communist state. Nothing was left unsaid, not concentration camps, not confiscation of all private property, not relentless brainwashing from cradle to grave, not genocide, not elimination of the wealthy classes.

Their disciple Lenin didn’t go out of his way to conceal his plans either. On the contrary, he had been outlining them in increasingly evil detail for some 20 years before the Bolshevik takeover.

Hitler, who also acknowledged, if less frequently, his indebtedness to Marx, jammed his 1925 book Mein Kampf with numerous rants about the Jews and his plans for their extermination.

The upshot is that evil documents issued by evil men must be studied, analysed – and believed. And when we don’t know exactly who stands behind a subversive campaign, such documents provide a reliable clue.

With that in mind, let’s look at the US website of one BLM affiliate, the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) formed in December of 2014.

Their declared aim is “to develop shared assessments of what political interventions were necessary in order to achieve key policy, cultural and political wins.” They then proceed to make it clear that their wins will spell our losses:

“We believe that prisons, police and all other institutions that inflict violence on Black people must be abolished and replaced by institutions that value and affirm the flourishing of Black lives.”

In other words, M4BL wishes to abolish the rule of law, which is impossible to maintain without enforcement. As justification, BLM cites mendacious statistics, such as that, compared to whites, twice as many blacks are shot by police.

The proportion holds true per 100,000 population – but not per 100,000 crimes. This indeed constitutes gross injustice, considering that American blacks commit 85 per cent of all violent offences. For justice to be restored, the cited proportion ought to be much higher.

“We believe in centering the experiences and leadership of the most marginalized Black people, including but not limited to those who are trans and queer, women and femmes, currently and formerly incarcerated, immigrants, disabled, working class, and poor.”

In short, give us a malcontent, and we’ll provide a cause. This is another confirmation of the interconnected nature of all ‘protest movements’. The exact grievance doesn’t matter – what matters is that a grievance exists and it can be exploited.

“The current systems we live inside of need to be radically transformed, which includes a realignment of global power. We are creating a proactive, movement-based vision instead of a reactionary one.”

In other words, M4BL is calling for a world revolution. That’s a clue if I’ve ever seen one.

Here’s another: “We believe and understand that Black people will never achieve liberation under the current global racialized capitalist system. We are intentional about amplifying the particular experiences of racial, economic, and gender-based state and interpersonal violence that Black women, queer, trans, gender nonconforming, intersex, and disabled people face. Cisheteropatriarchy and ableism are central and instrumental to anti-Blackness and racial capitalism, and have been internalized within our communities and movements.”

I had to look up ‘cisheteropatriarchy’, and found it means ‘misogynist patriarchy’. ‘Ableism’, I assume, means correlating rewards with ability. Can’t have that.

But the general message shines through the dreadful language: these groups want a communist revolution. So who stands behind BLM, coordinating it with all seemingly unconnected movements to turn the West upside down under communist slogans? Who has the motive, means and proven record?

For someone who, like me, grew up in the midst of anti-Western hysteria channelled into similar conduits, the answer isn’t in dispute. It has to be Russia, capitalising on her 80 years’ experience in anti-Western subversion (or perhaps 70 years, if we subtract the 1990-2000 hiatus in such activities).

The auspicious start was the 1919 founding of Comintern, a GPU-run network dedicated to global propaganda, subversion and espionage. Immediately emerging as its star was the German communist Willi Münzenberg, the underrated genius of large-scale brainwashing.

Münzenberg created numerous front organisations he called ‘Innocents’ Clubs’, and Lenin called ‘useful idiots’. The overall objective was to extol the virtues of Bolshevism and demonise the evils of the West.

Many fronts were ostensibly devoted to benign causes, such as famine relief, but they were never allowed to deviate from the main objective. “These people,” Münzenberg once said, “have the belief they are actually doing this themselves. This belief must be preserved at any price.”

The fronts diverted funds into the Münzenberg Trust, a conglomerate of newspapers, publishing houses, theatres, cinemas and film production companies all over the world. Willi was a busy boy, and so he remained until he fell out with his Soviet masters and was ‘whacked’ in a French forest.

It was the Münzenberg Trust that whipped up a global campaign in defence of Sacco and Vanzetti, anarchist murderers eventually sentenced to death in the US. Much was made of their Italian origin, and America was widely portrayed as an inherently racist country.

That theme was never muted even after Münzenberg’s demise. Throughout my youth we were taught to bring racism up whenever talking to Americans. “But you lynch Negroes” was a mandated stock response to any remark, such as “In America, [we can say whatever we want, people don’t live in communal flats, most have cars, leaders are elected, not appointed etc.]”.

Cartoons depicting black people dangling off trees were a daily treat, forming part of a massive anti-American (and anti-Western) campaign. That experience clearly stands the present regime in good stead too.

Instigating and exploiting racial tensions in America is undeniably part of Russia’s offensive against the West, in which so far propaganda plays the main role. Things like assassinations, meddling in Western politics, attempts to discredit offensive politicians and even military action are still secondary, but the strategy can change overnight.

I can’t prove that the Russians are behind BLM. I know they are, but knowledge and proof are different things. Yet with better resources, those that only governments possess, an unassailable case would be easy to make. I hope one day it will be.