Last night US, Britain and Australia signed a security alliance to develop an Australian nuclear-powered submarine fleet.
The announcement was made by Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and Australian PM Scott Morrison in a joint video meeting. All three leaders delivered speeches afterwards, and I was fortunate enough to obtain the full text of Biden’s address. Here it is:
“My fella Americans! Funny, ain’t it? I always call you fella Americans, even though, as Kamala keeps telling me, some of you ain’t fellas at all. Some of you are gals. So from now on I’ll be calling you my fella and gal Americans.
“I’m happy to announce a new deal I signed with the Brit president Boris Whatsisname and that fella from Down Under. Britain and us, we are gonna develop nucular thingamajigs for Down Under, so Down Under can defend itself from that Up and Over commie place.
“Now that Froggish guy Mackerel, he don’t like that deal one bit. Seems like Frogland had a deal going to supply Down Under with diesel whatchamacallits, but Down Under don’t want that deal no more.
“Seems like nucular thingamajigs go fast and stay long, like my wife Brigitte says I used to when I was young. But that Froggish guy Mackerel, he say: “Yo, Down Under! You can’t welsh on the deal, even if some of you are Welsh. We’ll sue your ass till the kangaroos come home for stabbing us in the back.
“And I say: “Yo, Mackerel! Don’t you ever talk to that fella from Down Under that way! He’s my pal, and I ain’t no square from Delaware, even if I am from Delaware. You talk to that fella from Down Under like this, you’ll have me to get through first.
“And tell your wife Jill not to look down her nose on my wife Brigitte. Brigitte is a better gal than any cheese-eating surrender monkey…
“Speaking of that, that Kiwi gal who lives next to Down Under, she don’t want no part of this deal. She say: ‘No nucular thingamajigs will come nowhere near me as long as I live. There’ll be no Kiwi ports for Down Under. And no wines. We don’t want no Kiwis to glow in the dark.
“She’s one ignorant gal. Those nucular thingamajigs are insular, and no nucular stuff ever gets out. But that’s gals for you. Oops, Kamala told me never to say this…”
The official press release on the joint security pact known as AUKUS smoothed out some of the rough edges. It quoted the three leaders as saying: “We will leverage expertise from the United States and the United Kingdom, building on the two countries’ submarine programmes, to bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date.”
That depends on how you define conservatism: the real, which is to say European, way or the American way.
Defined the real way, conservatism is out to preserve what’s left of Western civilisation. Hence the term is voluminous. It includes aspects of religion, philosophy, culture, law, politics, social structure – and, both last and least – economics.
To most Americans, conservatism means something else. This is understandable. For, as the novelist John Dos Passos once wrote, “Repudiation of Europe, is, after all, America’s main excuse for being.”
There the economic or fiscal aspect is neither last nor least, but topmost, with politics running a distant second.
The traditional Western religion has been disliked and marginalised in America from her founding. And most Americans who call themselves conservative have no truck with effete European culture. As an American conservative, a professor no less, once wrote to me, “You Europeans are welcome to your symphonies and cathedrals. We in America have something much more important.”
He didn’t specify what it was but, if pressed, I’m sure he would have mentioned America’s vibrant economy and commitment to democracy run riot. Having spoken to hundreds of American conservatives, I’d say most share the good professor’s views.
If we persevere with the real definition, then the answer to the question in the title is a resounding no. China has nothing to do with Western conservatism because she is neither Western nor conservative. The country is a disgusting communist tyranny committed to stamp out every shoot of Western civilisation.
However, if we stick strictly to the American concept, then, comparing Biden’s fiscal policies with Xi’s, there’s room for doubt.
The Democrats, led in their inimitable way by Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, have come up with $3.5 trillion spending plans. A big chunk of all those zeros is to be spent on indulging woke fantasies, such as global warming.
Some of those zeroes are to come from large increases in both corporate and personal taxes. The former is to go up from 21 to 26.5 per cent, which, when local taxes are taken into account, means an average of 31 per cent. Had Biden got his way, the figure would be closer to 33 per cent, but the smarter political mechanics within the party managed to get him down.
If acted upon, the plans will bless American businesses with some of the highest corporate taxes in the world. It’s hard to overestimate the power of the blow this will deliver to the economy. For corporations tend to pass their tax burden on to consumers, with the whole economy suffering as an inevitable result.
In a sort of perverse double whammy, top earners will be hit with combined federal and state tax rates of 60 to 62 per cent. Since top earners also tend to be top providers of jobs, this one-two combination may well have a devastating impact. For in our globalised economy glued together by electronic communications, it’s not especially hard for companies and top earners to take their business elsewhere.
The likelihood of them acting in such an unpatriotic manner is high. And if they do, higher tax rates may not even produce higher tax revenues.
That, however, isn’t the point. For the real, underlying purpose of extortionate taxation isn’t economic but punitive. It’s a way for the state to increase its power by punishing economic independence and discouraging its pursuit.
Anyway, the title of this article promised a comparison. So here it is: the top corporate tax in China is 25 per cent, and the top rate of personal income tax is 45 per cent. Hence, if we stick to the American understanding of conservatism, the question is answered.
Compared to President Biden, Chairman Xi is an economic libertarian, a term Americans tend to use interchangeably with conservative. Do you still wonder who will rule the world in a couple of decades?
No, this isn’t a belated exercise in ghoulish humour, showing yet again my crass insensitivity to human suffering.
It’s just that 11 September also happens to be some kind of anniversary of the Soviet secret police, called the CheKa at its founding.
You must see that such a glorious day couldn’t be allowed to pass uncommemorated. And sure enough, it wasn’t.
Two statues of the CheKa founder, the ‘Iron’ Felix Dzerjinsky (d. 1926), were unveiled on that festive day. One of them was in Krasnodar and the other, significantly, in Simferopol, the capital city of the Crimea, currently occupied by Dzerjinsky’s heirs.
“The Iron Felix,” explained the FSB spokesman, “didn’t just fight counter-revolution. He also raised the country out of ruin and penury… Thanks to him, two thousand bridges, almost three thousand locomotives and over two thousand kilometres of railway tracks were rebuilt.”
That achievement, grandiose though undoubtedly it was, strikes me as somewhat circuitous. After all, that effort would have been unnecessary had the Bolsheviks, including Dzerjinsky, not plunged the country into a devastating civil war. But hey, credit where it’s due and all that.
In a parallel development, two statues of Heinrich ‘Uncle Heini’ Himmler were unveiled in Germany. “Uncle Heini,” said the government spokesman, “didn’t just run the SS with its death camps. He made an invaluable contribution to the country’s economy by ensuring a steady supply of free labour, and thereby promoting liberty. Arbeit macht frei, doesn’t it?”
Sounds unbelievable? Of course, it does. Germany has repudiated her Nazi past, and neither Himmler nor Hitler nor any other comparable figure is likely to rate a statue there in any foreseeable future.
However, should the German government commit – and then defend – such an outrage, can you imagine the ensuing worldwide din? I wouldn’t be at all surprised if NATO troops moved back in to nip the rebirth of Nazism in the bud.
But the statues to Dzerjinsky are real enough, and nobody cares. After all, the Nazis were just awful, while the Bolsheviks were merely overenthusiastic practitioners of the philosophy widely shared within the vociferous classes in the West. Too much of a good thing, in other words, but the thing was indeed good, no doubt about that.
Yet the Iron Felix easily bettered Uncle Heini’s murderous score, and with fewer years at his disposal. He was the one charged with carrying out the Red Terror, in which at least 15 million were dispatched by various means, including artificial famines.
That makes Dzerjinsky one of the worst mass murderers in history – and one of the darlings of today’s Russian government, almost exclusively staffed with veterans of the very service the Iron Felix founded.
Other dubious figures are undergoing a cultural renascence too. One of them is Alexander Nevsky, about whom I wrote not so long ago. That 13th century prince played lickspittle to the conquering Mongols, while doing his utmost to protect his fiefdom from corrupting Western influences.
In that capacity he suppressed several anti-Mongol uprisings, including the one in Novgorod. That Hanseatic commonwealth was run along proto-democratic lines, trading with her neighbours, rather than trying to rob them.
That had to be stopped, and in moved Nevsky, cutting off various portions of the rebels’ anatomy, gouging their eyes out and killing them in their thousands. Since a somewhat less sanguinary version of euroscepticism is part and parcel of Russia’s current policy, Nevsky is being re-canonised.
To be fair though, neither Putin nor Stalin invented that chap’s saintly image. Nevsky was canonised in 1547, in the reign of another courageous fighter against the West, Ivan the Terrible.
And what do you know, his reputation is also being revised in Russia. Five years ago, Ivan’s statue was inaugurated in the city of Oryol, and the general tenor of media comments on the first tsar is laudatory. He is being portrayed as a strict but fair leader who courageously kept the degenerate West at bay, while ruling Russia with an iron hand.
The iron hand moved by Ivan’s indomitable spirit belonged to Malyuta Skuratov, head of the oprichnina, precursor of the CheKa. Malyuta went Nevsky one better by purging Novgorod even more savagely.
Under his leadership, oprichniki first culled all the Novgorod elders, priests, boyars and merchants. Presaging Stalin, they then also murdered their families, tying babies to their mothers and pushing both under the Volhov ice. The river was stuffed with corpses to the gunwales, and the subsequent epidemics complemented Malyuta’s effort nicely.
Unlike Nevsky, both Ivan and Malyuta used to be seen as evil incarnate throughout subsequent Russian history. Stalin, who saw the Terrible as one of his role models, rehabilitated the tsar, aided in that effort by the Eisenstein film (the director earlier provided the same service for Nevsky). Yet even Stalin didn’t glorify Malyuta.
That oversight was partly corrected the other day by Putin, who these days vouchsafes to the public many an historic insight. The good colonel exonerated Malyuta from the 1569 murder of St Philip, one of the few church hierarchs who defied Ivan’s authority.
Malyuta’s guilt is only one of the versions, explained the newly great historian. The implication was that only a rank Russophobe would besmirch the reputation of that great proto-chekist Malyuta.
Now, Philip’s blood added only a drop to the rapidly congealing rivers unleashed by Malyuta. Why bother absolving him of that one crime? That question can only be asked by someone who doesn’t realise that connotation can be more telling than denotation.
By exonerating Malyuta from this crime by denotation, Putin exonerated him from all crimes by connotation — and himself by implication. Malyuta paved the way for the Iron Felix, that great rebuilder of bridges and locomotives and coincidentally the founder of the sinister organisation responsible for the murder of over 60 million people.
Nevsky, Ivan, Malyuta, Dzerjinsky and increasingly Stalin are acquiring an iconic status in Putin’s Russia. Well, show me the icons a country worships, and I’ll show you the country.
However, the fair man in me regrets the rotten deal Uncle Heini gets in Germany. Where are his statues, his face on icons? Sauce for the Russian goose should be sauce for the German gander, I say. And don’t you dare disagree.
Thinking is like music. It too has its own technique, structure and harmony that any average person can pick up if pointed in the right direction. Few people can ever be great thinkers, but most can thereby become competent ones.
Yet they don’t bother. They don’t even realise there is becoming involved, a technique to be learned by lengthy application. No one is born knowing how to play the violin, but everyone is born knowing how to think, goes the popular misconception.
Thus misled, most people waste their whole lives on the cerebral equivalent of trying to play Beethoven sonatas before learning how to finger scales and arpeggios. As a result, their brains produce the cerebral equivalent of cacophony – but they aren’t even aware of it.
One thing they never learn is an essential element of cognitive technique: the art of asking the next question. Thus, even someone like Richard Dawkins, a man burdened with advanced degrees, is capable of writing that Darwin’s theory of evolution “explains everything”.
So it may, if one stops asking questions at some arbitrary point long before a serious explanation is reached. However, asking that next question will show that the real explanation is like a desert mirage: it moves further away the closer one gets.
I was fortunate to stumble on this realisation when I was a little tot growing up with no friends my age. Since my father was banned from living in Moscow, we kept moving from place to place too often for me to develop a social life.
Hence it was my parents who provided the only outlet for my inquisitiveness, my mother willingly, my father reluctantly. He had more important things to worry about, like putting food on the table. But I was relentless, and one dialogue led me to the art of asking the next question.
“Is there a god, Papa?”
“Do. Not. Be. Stupid. Of course there bloody well isn’t.”
I wouldn’t let him get off scot-free, especially since I was having daily conversations on that subject with my nanny. That illiterate old woman always crossed herself when walking me past the local church converted to a furniture warehouse.
“If there is no God, then who created man?”
“Man originated from the ape. It’s called evolution, and there was this Englishman, Darwin, who proved it conclusively in his book The Origin of Species. You’ll read it when you grow up.”
“And where did the ape come from? The one man originated from?
“From another ape, you know, a lower order of ape.”
“And where did that one come from?”
I’d thus lead Papa all the way down to the amoeba, making him resort to the rhetorical fallacy of telling me I’d find out all those things for myself when I grew up. He was right about that, but the answer to my ultimate next question was provided by neither Dawkins nor Darwin.
The art of asking the next question also comes in handy when dealing with matters transient, not just transcendent. Take politics, for example.
The interrogative chain reaction can be set off by an observable empirical fact, a technique first recommended by Aristotle. The fact in this case is that most of our leaders aren’t qualified to lead.
Yet we dutifully go to the voting booths every few years, hoping that this time things will change. Thereby we walk chin first into the uppercut of Einstein’s terse adage: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
We aren’t insane, Einstein was too harsh there. We simply haven’t been trained in the art of asking the next question. Our minds are so lazy that we accept as axiomatic certain propositions that are so open to questions that the draught of folly blows through unimpeded.
In the case of politics, the questions are as obvious as they are uncomfortable:
Are all modern governments becoming more centralised? Yes.
Isn’t it true that, the more centralised the government, the more important are the personalities of those at the centre? Yes.
If those personalities are consistently inadequate, doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Yes.
So how do we consistently end up with inadequate personalities in government? We elect them.
What does ‘we’ mean? Whoever is qualified to vote.
And who is so qualified? Anyone aged 18 or older, except prisoners serving sentences of over 12 months.
About 80 per cent of the population then? Yes.
Including those who don’t know the first thing about government and understand even less? Yes.
Are such people in the majority? Yes, an overwhelming one.
So on what basis do they select their leaders? Usually on the basis of promises the aspiring leaders have no way, nor indeed intention, of keeping.
What happens if they break their promises? They are either re-elected anyway or replaced with others whose promises will be broken in the next cycle. That’s called one-man-one-vote democracy.
How long has this been going on? With one or two accidental exceptions, at least for a century.
Most people are capable of getting this far, especially if they have no ideological commitment to any particular party. But then comes the art of asking the next question, and few ever dare ask it:
“If the system keeps producing bad results, surely there must be something wrong with the system?”
Serious political thinking and study start with that question. This may lead to an intellectually satisfactory solution or it may not. But if this question is never asked, no such solution will be possible.
Intellectually satisfactory doesn’t of course mean practically achievable – too many unaccountable variables come into play. But no problem can be solved unless it’s properly diagnosed.
The same Socratic art of asking the next question could put paid to any woke fad, such as anthropogenic global warming. The questions could follow this progression:
Is global warming caused by our rapacious consumption of fossil fuels? If so, did it start with the Industrial Revolution, which increased the consumption of such fuels no end? If so, can we assume that there had been no periods of global warming before that time?
That would be it. For, alternating with assorted Ice Ages, there were many such periods, most notably the Roman Warming and the Medieval Warming. Moreover, the Earth has been warmer than it is now for about 80 per cent of its existence, when nobody drove SUVs or used aerosols.
Hence the current interglacial period isn’t caused by SUVs and aerosols. It’s caused by other, natural, factors, and the book Heaven and Earth by Ian Plimer explains them all. Yet no one who hasn’t mastered the art of asking the next question will even think of reading it.
The same trick can work with just about every modern obsession, from sex and racial discrimination to the NHS.
Now, I’m no conspiracy theorist, but could it be that our moron-spewing educational system is specially designed to make sure no one knows how to ask the next question? I wonder.
The other day I inadvertently stated that Her Majesty belonged to an underground al-Qaeda cell.
All right, fine, only joking. I knew you wouldn’t believe I could have said that, even inadvertently. All I actually said was that she merely supported al-Qaeda. What, still no traction? Dear oh dear, you are an incredulous lot, aren’t you?
You are right though: I made no such statement. What puzzles me, however, is that you don’t believe anyone could have said anything so far-fetched.
After all, Sir Kenneth Olisa, Lord-Lieutenant of London and spokesman for the Palace, stated categorically the other day that neither Her Majesty nor anyone in her family is averse to terrorist organisations.
When asked whether the royal family supported BLM, Sir Kenneth came up with an unequivocal reply: “The answer is easily yes.” That answer is easily the most damning thing anyone has ever said about our monarchy (at least since 1649, when Charles I was beheaded).
For BLM is self-admittedly and proudly a Marxist organisation, relying on violence to achieve its aims. The aims are first to remove the police by ‘defunding’ them, and then to proceed unopposed to destroy ‘capitalism’. Anti-racism is merely the umbrella strategy, expressible in snappy slogans.
Patriss Cullors, who co-founded BLM, first cut her teeth in the terrorist Weatherman underground. She describes herself and the other founding members as “trained Marxists… super-versed on, sort of, ideological theories.” That is, Marxism-Leninism.
Nor is she bashful about tracing her lineage back to the US Communist Party, “especially Black communists,” and to “the great work of the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, Young Lords, Brown Berets, and the great revolutionary rainbow experiments of the 1970s.”
We’ve already had a taste of the methods Cullors’s followers propose to employ to achieve their goals. Last year, during the George Floyd riots, BLM gangs burned and looted shops, attacked passers-by, fought the police (who hadn’t yet been defunded).
That’s the red, violent end of its campaign. The violet end is the non-stop propaganda of its slogans in every available medium, regrettably including many mainstream outlets. The spectrum shows that BLM has learned from the best – and in the field of Marxist subversion there’s no doubt that the best is Lenin.
Before he got mummified, the great leader always preached a sensible mix of legal and illegal tactics. The legal ones included participating in the traditional institutions, such as parliaments, the better to subvert them from within. The illegal methods covered a broad range from murders and robberies all the way to a full-blown coup.
Lenin also bequeathed the lesson of broadening Marxist terminology. The word ‘capitalist’ was to him a polyvalent term covering anyone who failed to acknowledge the bright future awaiting the world under communism. In addition to the actual owners of capital, the term described aristocrats, priests, intellectuals who were too clever by half – and of course royalty.
Nor did BLM’s spiritual teacher even attempt to pretend that, to him and his acolytes, annihilating ‘capitalism’ also meant annihilating ‘capitalists’.
One thing I can say for the Marxists is that they are men of action, not just windbags. This they went on to prove everywhere they took over, by murdering, conservatively estimated, some 140 million worldwide – including, and this gets us back to the subject in hand, numerous members of the Queen’s own family.
Since BLM has never repudiated its Marxist-Leninist provenance, one can infer with absolute certainty that, given the chance, it’ll put into practice Marxist theories in which they are “super-versed”.
Contrary to what Lord Russell believed, the fact that the sun has risen every morning in history is ample proof that it’ll rise tomorrow. In the same vein, if victorious Marxists have always murdered whole social classes, starting from the top, they are guaranteed to continue to do so with monotonous regularity.
So let’s not equivocate: by supporting BLM, Her Majesty implicitly supports the cellar in which her whole family, including the children, would be massacred. Hence, since no one has ever suggested that the Queen suffers from maniacal suicidal tendencies, she can’t possibly support BLM.
Therefore Sir Kenneth didn’t really mean it the way it sounded, which he confirmed the next day. All he meant was that all royals abhor racism. Implicitly, however, abhorring racism means adoring BLM. Doesn’t it? No, it doesn’t.
For example, I too abhor racism – or any hatred by category. That doesn’t mean I support black, Muslim or any other terrorism. I’d happily clap into the same prison every BLM member, every Muslim terrorist and every extant Clansman. Let them sort themselves out behind bars.
So what motivated Sir Kenneth to say such a manifestly idiotic thing? Simple. He is living testimony to the efficacy of Marxist, and specifically BLM, propaganda. It has implanted into people’s minds the falsehood that BLM and anti-racism are one and the same.
Exactly the same effect was achieved by Bolshevik propaganda back in the day. Anyone who opposed the murder of millions and enslavement of everyone else was depicted as an enemy of equality, liberty, fraternity, the working classes and social justice. I did say BLM learned from the best.
The subject of race is touchy for the royal family. Ever since one of its members, sure to be identified soon, wondered about the colour of the baby Meghan was about to pop, all in the family have been falling over themselves listing their ant-racist credentials.
For a question like that, if it was indeed asked, didn’t just bespeak idle curiosity and ignorance of genetics (the chances of a half-caste child being darker than his darker parent are one in millions). It was crypto-racism, unvarnished. Simon-pure egalitarians aren’t supposed even to acknowledge any racial differences – just as theatre-goers aren’t expected to find anything strange about a high-heeled woman playing the fearless Roman warrior Agrippa.
Hence our royals had the gun of woke opinion held to their heads. Like the brainwashed mob roaring its demand that Her Majesty show incontinent grief over Diana’s death, today’s mob demands that every royal scream anti-racist disclaimers from every corner of Buck House.
So, if Sir Kenneth did jump the gun, it was only a little bit. Good job Harry didn’t marry a Muslim though. Her Majesty’s spokesmen would be declaring her undying support for al-Qaeda even as we speak.
Boat people became a popular topic thanks to communist dictatorships, first Cuban, then Vietnamese.
One can understand those desperate individuals. They refused to believe promises of a bright future awaiting their families and countries. Instead, they believed their eyes, popping out at the sight of mass executions, torture and general enslavement.
Unable to see the promised paradise beyond that, they put out to sea, steering their jerry-built boats and rafts through storms and machinegun fire. We don’t know exactly what their chances of survival were (low), nor the death toll (high). Communist regimes are reticent about revealing such statistics.
But we do understand why hitherto normal people would be prepared to risk their lives to escape the crushing blows of the hammer and the slashing swipes of the sickle. Communism has a way of turning normal people into daredevils – just look at all those Germans trying to scale the Wall in ways that weren’t so much death-defying as death-begging.
What I find harder to understand is the new generation of boat people, all those Muslim refugees braving the Channel. Hence the question in the title, which is especially apposite since one doesn’t hear of too many refugees taking their lives in their hands to sail in the opposite direction.
We may joust about the comparative merits of Britain and France till the refugees go back home. Yet the upshot of all those rhetorical thrusts and parries is predictable: there isn’t much in it. Six of one, half a dozen of the other, at least for newcomers to either place.
They are called asylum-seekers, not boat people. But asylum-switchers would be a more appropriate term. After all, if the law says they must seek asylum in the first safe country they reach, then it’s hard to argue that Britain is conspicuously safer than France.
So there must be a good reason for those people to put their lives at risk in illegal attempts to cross the Channel, which wouldn’t be my first choice of a waterway friendly to such adventures. More than 300 have already drowned – and yet thousands of others keep trying.
Over 14,000 of them have succeeded so far this year, much to France’s joy and Britain’s dismay. Such contrasting reactions are guaranteed to cause conflicts.
France’s desire to ship a large consignment of refugees our way is understandable. With 10 per cent of the population, the country already has more than its fair share of Muslims, merci beaucoup. On the other hand, our wish to keep illegal immigrants at bay isn’t unnatural either.
Every sovereign country has the right to decide whom to invite as its guests, and how many. That was one of the arguments in favour of Brexit and, at a guess, the most important one for most of those who voted for it.
One would think that the Royal Navy wouldn’t need France’s help to protect our borders. After all, it managed to discourage both Napoleon and Hitler from attempting an invasion. Surely it ought to be strong enough to stop a few unarmed punts?
Apparently not. Maritime law says we can’t just turn those boats around, and of course sinking them is out of the question. Hence the flesh is strong, but the spirit is unwilling. We may have the physical wherewithal to confront the paddle boats, but not the will to use it.
That means we need France’s help, which the French are reluctant to provide. They’d rather all those ‘women and children’, who on closer examination turn out to be strapping, unshaven lads, were our problem.
Given that reluctance, HMG, as personified by Home Secretary ‘Very’ Priti Patel, appealed to the innermost cockles of French hearts by offering to pay £54 million a year for France’s cooperation. The French kindly agreed to take the money, but so far the cooperation has been begrudging to non-existent.
As a result, the stream of Muslim refugees arriving illegally at our shores has received a boost, assisted by the clement weather in the Channel. Our uninvited guests are now crashing Britain to the tune of 800 a day, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight.
Miss Patel has responded to the worsening situation by first threatening to withhold the £54 million, which after all wasn’t meant to be strictly a charitable donation. And then she ordered officials to rewrite maritime laws to allow Border Force to turn boats around.
Predictably, the French screamed bloody murder. Such heavy-handed tactics, they threatened, would have a “negative impact” on their cooperation, which has gravitated towards the negative end anyway.
Now, I’m no expert in the minutiae of either maritime or immigration law. But on general principle, I don’t see how the French can in good faith refuse to keep all those refugees, or indeed to prevent them from committing illegal acts (entering Britain uninvited is one such).
And I especially want to emphasise that the question in the title isn’t rhetorical. I’m genuinely puzzled why those unshaven lads find France wanting and Britain attractive. Is it the food? Employment possibilities? Language? More generous social services?
None of these seems a sufficient reason to brave the raging seas in canoes. Whatever we may think of France, it’s a far cry from Cuba and Vietnam. So I’d like to get to the bottom of this, and I’ll appreciate all the help I can get.
We are still a low-tax party, says Health Secretary Sajid Javid. A laudable sentiment, that. It’s only that I’m not sure Mr Javid has chosen the best moment for expressing it.
For his boss, Boris Johnson, has just announced a 1.25 per cent tax hike supposedly required to plug the more gaping holes in the NHS. That raises our tax burden to a level unseen for half a century.
Now I’m not going to repeat what I’ve been writing about the NHS for decades, along the lines of Britain being the only first-world country cursed with a third-world health service. I am, however, going to refer you to the first article I’ve ever seen saying all the same things in a mainstream publication.
What interests me today is the way our successive Tory governments go about changing their reputation. I often call the Tories Labour Lite, but Messrs Cameron, Johnson et al. have been doing their best to lose the Lite modifier.
All their policies, social, cultural, constitutional and fiscal, inevitably raise the question in the headline above. For it’s not immediately obvious how different Labour governments would be.
In fact, I’m not convinced that, however willing their spirit might have been, they would have been able to get away with the level of cultural vandalism and economic irresponsibility routinely practised by the misnamed Conservative Party.
The problem isn’t parochially British. For modernity reaches out tropistically for the bright sun of uniformity. While paying lip service to individualism, it applies the same stencil to everything and takes scissors to anything sticking out.
Thus all modern Western governments pull in roughly the same direction. The odd exception here or there is invariably of the kind that proves the rule.
The direction is vectored towards expanding their own power at the expense of individual sovereignty and self-sufficiency. And extortionate taxation is a tactic they all use.
The modern state sees every loose coin in a citizen’s pocket as either loot or challenge or personal insult. That stands to reason for economic independence is a factor of independence tout court.
Anyone blessed with the knowledge of basic arithmetic can figure out what kind of pension and medical care he could procure for himself had he kept over a lifetime the cash the state extorts from him to provide the same services. And anyone blessed with common sense will realise that a giant socialist bureaucracy like the NHS will always use an ever-increasing proportion of its budget to sustain its burgeoning staff of administrative parasites.
But the state doesn’t want the people to be independent of its power. Of which the NHS is an extension.
It’s not just the modern state that’s congenitally committed to increasing its power. The servants of the state, government members, want to remain in control of the levers for as long as they can conceivably hang on to them.
That’s why they can’t afford to be too blatant about things like adding thousands of pounds to the tax burden on the voting middle classes (and who these days isn’t middle class?). They need to wrap each new outrage into a warm, fluffy blanket of dire necessity.
That’s why major disasters, like wars or epidemics, mean such different things to the state and the people. For the latter, they are tragedies. For the former, they are godsends.
A war, an epidemic or a natural disaster provides a useful pretext for the state to increase its might at the people’s expense. The state can claim emergency powers, promising they are only temporary. And some of them usually are. But the state never relinquishes every power it has grabbed. Some have a way of sticking to its fingers.
You can find this thought developed in my book How the West Was Lost, written more than 20 years ago. Since then, successive Western governments have been falling over themselves trying to prove me right.
Since we all like to win an argument, in some warped way I’m almost grateful to them. And Boris Johnson deserves as much gratitude as any of his colleagues.
His whole demeanour communicates deep regret over the unfortunate duty to extort even more money from us. But a duty, alas, it is.
You see, the NHS is trying to rise, Phoenix-like, from the ashes left behind by the wildfire of Covid. We all love the NHS, don’t we? Of course we do. We are proud of it, the best healthcare system known to man.
The NHS is God, the state is its church, and Mr Johnson is the chap taking a collection plate through the aisles. You wouldn’t mind dropping a fiver in, would you? Well, this extra 1.25 per cent is that same fiver, appropriately multiplied.
Now the NHS can return to its unmatched pre-Covid standards – and I’ll again refer you to Christopher Snowdon’s article (or my own writings on the same subject) to find out just how unmatched those standards had been.
This morning I talked to an Israeli friend of mine, who had caught Covid a few weeks ago. He had to spend four days in hospital, and then went into quarantine at home.
After his discharge, the hospital set up an oxygen machine at his place. And he has been receiving daily visits from a doctor and a nurse, checking on him and running all the essential tests. If you happen to live in Britain, I can just see you turning green with envy.
Israel, like most European countries, has a system of compulsory social insurance, not a giant state Leviathan into whose bottomless gullet the people keep pumping their tax money. I wonder if they are as envious of our dear NHS as its champions claim.
This isn’t to say that those other governments are fundamentally different from ours in their core aspirations. It’s just that they use different mechanisms for increasing their power. Perhaps they haven’t yet discovered the clockwork excellence of fully nationalised healthcare in pursuing that objective.
Say the magic word, NHS, and the Sesame of people’s pockets opens gaping wide with nary a demur to be heard. Just ask Boris.
People who coalesce in groups to pursue a common goal are expected to inscribe that goal on their banners. Except they hardly ever do.
Their banners are really false flags. They flap in the wind not to declare but to conceal.
Just look at all the mass murders in history, be they genocide, democide or simply homicide. Each one hid behind a seemingly rational, perhaps even worthy, cause. This though murdering masses is the only real purpose of mass murder. Yet that desideratum would look uncomfortable if used as a slogan – hence the false flags.
The same goes for most of the ostensible causes championed by mass movements. That’s all such causes are – ostensible. They belong on the false flags, not in the hearts of their wavers.
MeToo and other feminist movements? False flags. Activists put them out to conceal their real animus.
All these movements are Marxist, openly, covertly or at least typologically. They are driven not by a desire to improve the lot of their favourite group, but by the urge to destroy everything our civilisation has ever stood for.
Like all revolutionary movements, each of them starts with a core of hardnosed militants who gradually accumulate a coterie of duped followers, of the type Lenin ungratefully called useful idiots. All of them follow the strategies of Marxist subversion, even if some may be unaware of the provenance.
Most malcontents have never even read The Communist Manifesto, never mind Das Kapital. But there’s no need: the venomous miasma of Marxism has by now saturated the ambient air.
Every word written by Marx sputters malice and hatred. The bearded one loathed everything about our civilisation: the religion that inspired it, the culture produced by the religion, the rich (except his acolyte Engels who paid Marx’s expenses), capitalists, priests, aristocrats, landowners, bankers, non-Marxist intelligentsia.
That whole edifice had to be brought down to satisfy Marx’s vicious cravings, and he mapped out a strategy to achieve that demolition. A revolution would provide a thunderous finale, but it had to be carefully prepared to make sure it wouldn’t be drowned in blood, the way all those 1848 revolutions and the 1870 Paris Commune were.
Numerous pinpricks had to set up the final thrust, and each pinprick was supposed to punch a hole in the fabric of Western society. For, according to Marx, the West was being torn apart by its “internal contradictions”, which were ultimately exploitable.
Marx focused his attention mainly on the conflict between the rich and the poor, or, as he put it, between the exploiters and the exploited.
True enough, the Industrial Revolution brought class tensions to the fore by creating ample opportunities for both quick enrichment and equally quick impoverishment. Masses of former peasants were leaving villages to become urban workers, and the initial shift was far from painless.
But Marx and Marxism weren’t driven by love of the downtrodden, much though they professed it. Their aim was to rend Western society asunder by sermons of resentment and hatred. “Class struggle” between the “capitalists and the proletariat” was at the time the most obvious slogan they could inscribe on their banners, but those flags were false.
That was subsequently proved by every country taken over by Marxists. Having seduced the masses by mendacious promises, they instantly went on to break every one. And, when the proletarians tried to protest, machineguns opened up, covering the ground with the corpses of the very people in whose name the takeover had occurred.
But sowing class hatred was a useful battering ram. Swing it often enough and hard enough, and it’s just possible that the edifice will begin to crumble.
Yet the strategy of destruction has developed from Marx’s time. Class resentment still provides productive seeds, but they aren’t the only ones. Actually, they now play a minor role in the crop rotation. After all, every ‘poor’ person driving a car, living in a private flat, sporting £200 trainers, and munching hamburgers while playing computer games is a walking argument against wholesale pauperisation.
That’s why sprouting more luxuriantly are other cultures, or rather sub-cultures. The strategy remains the same: gradual undermining of Western society. But the tactics have been multiplied and refined.
Sowing racial hatred is one such. Here white ‘liberals’ have learned to exploit black militancy with consummate mastery.
To give credit where it’s due, the vanguard of the black movement, which started in the US, has always been laudably honest. Groups from the Black Panthers to BLM have never denied their Marxist inspiration and affiliation. Quite the opposite, they are proud of it.
Yet the flags they wave are false. They haven’t always been, but they are now.
Peaceful protests against discrimination and segregation were justified when they began. People shouldn’t be mistreated because of their skin colour – any decent person would agree with that.
However, that fight was won in the 1960s. Whatever racial discrimination exists now, it’s in favour, not against, black people. (As Thomas Sowell showed so brilliantly, the common mistake is ascribing any shortfall of attainment to discrimination.)
Yet the success of the civil rights movement encouraged Marxist groups to put anti-racism slogans on their false flags. Their aim is to knock some keystones out of the Western edifice, and the race sledgehammer proved its usefulness.
Hence today’s BLM movement, rioting and screaming that black lives matter every time a white policeman takes one. That flag is as false as they come.
Considering that blacks commit about 85 per cent of all violent crimes in the US, some black criminals will inevitably die in clashes with police. In fact, white cops kill an average of about 200 black criminals a year, almost always in self-defence.
Yet over the past 35 years, an estimated 324,000 blacks have been killed in the US by people of the same epidermal pigmentation. But those lives don’t matter. If they did, BLM thugs would be demanding that police be funded more generously, not defunded.
The real purpose of groups like BLM is to alienate the races, thereby enfeebling society, making it less resilient in the face of cultural and physical vandalism. Alienating the sexes pursues the same objective, whatever slogans are superimposed on the false flags.
Divorce and abortion on demand, generous single-mother allowances, encouragement of homosexuality and other perversions to the point of legalising homomarriage, MeToo – all these are Marxist tactics embodied to achieve Marxist ends.
In a way, these ends are even more pernicious than those of BLM for they strike at the family, the building block of Western society. Yet all such groups invariably put liberation on their false flags.
If you look specifically at abortion and homosexuality, can you think off the top which country was the first to legalise them?
Actually, it was Soviet Russia, in 1920 and 1934 respectively, which was neither the place nor the time otherwise known for a commitment to liberty. The Bolsheviks were out to uproot traditional Russia and spread salt on the ground to make sure nothing worthy would ever grow again.
They too were successful, after a fashion, and they have helpfully shared their experience with their Western followers. The most famous conduits for such knowledge are the Frankfurters who had fallen out of Marx’s buns, all those Marcuses, Adornos, Benjamins et al., who found American universities to be a fertile soil for their poison.
But the Frankfurt School isn’t the only culprit. In fact, both the Soviets and their descendants have always cultivated every seditious movement capable of fracturing the West. And they are still at it: for example, recently the Russians have been found to provide support for the Catalan separatist movement in Spain.
Trust me: few Russians toss and turn at night worrying about the oppressed Catalans. I’m not sure many Catalans do either – it’s hatred of Spain that keeps them awake.
However, it would be wrong to blame the Russians or anyone else exclusively. Once subversive groups have received the initial push, they begin to roll along, gathering momentum as they go. And the faster they go, the louder the flapping sound of their unfurled false flags.
If you, like me, grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, you probably know how to discourage aggressive bullies.
As with many other parts of life, it’s not so much reality as appearance that matters. Your whole demeanour, from gait to facial expressions, should communicate menacing strength. Your body language must be sending a signal: don’t mess with me.
A bully usually gets the message. He is bigger and stronger than you, but attacking you may be more trouble than it’s worth. He may eventually win a fight, but at an unpredictable cost. So why bother if there’s easier prey about?
Extrapolating such street smarts to geopolitics, you’ll find the same survival tactics work there just as well. It’s not so much strength as projection of it that matters.
Switzerland is a good example of that: her resolute government and small but well-trained army kept the Nazis at bay during the war. Hitler weighed the costs of invading Switzerland against the benefits and turned his gaze elsewhere.
Another example is Finland that showed so much courage and martial skill in the Winter War against Stalin’s hordes. Towards the end, the Soviets had a good chance of occupying the whole country, but the cost began to look prohibitive. (Britain’s threat of using the RAF Iraqi base at Mosul to take out the Baku oil fields also added a few zeros to the possible cost.)
Conversely, JFK took the world to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe by betraying the Cuban refugees at the Bay of Pigs. Their force, trained and armed by the CIA, landed at playa Girón to advance towards Havana and unseat Castro’s communist regime.
The Kennedy administration had promised air support, without which the mission was doomed to failure. Yet at the last moment Kennedy got cold feet. No air support arrived, and the invading force was cut to pieces on the beaches. The Soviets got the message: the president was a weakling. The Cuban Missile Crisis followed a few months later.
That is the real problem with weak governments: they emit wrong signals. Rather than implying with their every move that their countries will fight to the death for their interests, their body language communicates weakness and vacillation. They are scared of a fight, which means they are more likely to get it.
That’s why Joe Biden, for all his pacifist instincts, creates a real danger of war, possibly setting the whole world on fire.
Now, I don’t know if he really has Alzheimer’s or other forms of serious senile dementia. He obviously suffers from some form of cognitive decline, but take it from me: most people his age or thereabouts aren’t what they used to be.
But, unless a serious degenerative problem exists, we learn to adapt, compensating with wisdom and foresight for any loss of sharpness. For example, I never used to rely on written notes when speaking in public, but now I do. Jotting down the odd note also helps to keep one’s appointments.
Even though I occasionally poke fun at Biden’s bloopers, I have no bona fide reason to doubt he has found ways to keep himself on the straight and narrow when it comes to policy decisions. And if he does need help, he has a large staff of advisers to provide it.
That’s not the point. The point is that, every time the president confuses his sister with his wife or a congresswoman with his dead son, he sends a message of weakness urbi et orbi.
That emboldens the neighbourhood bullies by giving them ideas of impunity. And it terrifies America’s allies who feel the protective umbrella just might have been folded.
The two major geopolitical bullies are Russia and China, whose Damocles sword is hanging over the heads of the West’s allies: the Ukraine and other former Soviet colonies, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, perhaps even Australia.
The bullies know that even at his best Biden’s instincts pulled him towards pacifism or at least isolationism. Now that he is no longer at his rather puny best, far from it, his chaotic retreat from Afghanistan, relatively unimportant as such, sends an invigorating message to enemies of the West: America appears to be ready to renege on her international security commitments.
“What if…” questions are flashing through the minds of global bullies, and their eyes light up. Of the two I mentioned, Russia is more dangerous by far, even though she may be physically weaker than the other bully, China.
China is becoming the world’s economic powerhouse, and the Chinese may well feel they have more to lose than to gain by challenging the West militarily. They too have learned the value of projecting, rather than using, strength. Everybody knows their regime is both evil and well-armed, and that knowledge suffices as China’s protective mechanism.
Xi and his communist clique have an ideological commitment to annex Taiwan at some point, but they may well be pragmatic enough to wait until their growing economic strength turns into outright dominance. The Chinese have infinite reservoirs of patience, and they may feel that time is on their side.
With Russia things are different. Putin’s kleptofascist regime is running the country into the economic ground. There is no guarantee that the Stalinist mythology of Russia’s greatness will keep the impoverished populace docile indefinitely, especially in the absence of Stalinist violence. In what the Russians call a war between the TV set and the fridge, the TV set may suffer defeat at some point.
Foreign adventures are a well-known stratagem for distracting the populace from empty fridges, and Putin’s sabres are rattling with an ear-piercing jangle. Looking at Biden’s feeble attempts to negotiate the steps or to remember which country is which, Putin may well decide to grab what’s left of the Ukraine – or even to attack the NATO members in the Baltic area.
That by itself would be catastrophic, regardless of whether or not America will honour her security guarantees, or who will emerge the winner if she does. That’s why it’s vitally important that Biden be removed from office, be that by invoking the 25th Amendment or forcing him to resign of his own accord.
Looking at his possible successors, it’s hard to expect them to be much better. In fact, hard though it may seem to believe, they may well be much worse.
But at least they may be compos mentis, sufficiently so not to communicate exploitable weakness. I’d love to tell you their names – but I forget.
If the upper-case Word that was in the beginning created everything, then would it be too much to suppose that lower-case words lie at the beginning of nations?
Perhaps it would be. It’s too daring a jump to suggest that languages create nations, not the other way around. But what’s indisputable is that a nation’s language gives a clue to its character – and vice versa.
I’ve often compared my two best languages, English and Russian, to point out how much the differences between them tell us about the respective national characters.
The language of the dynamic, pragmatic, can-do English revolves around the verb, the action word. The best English sentences tend to have no more than a few non-verbal parts of speech to each verb, and the verbs are ideally as active as possible.
Moreover, since the verb forms the fulcrum of an English sentence, it must be used precisely. Hence the multitude of verbal tenses, each appearing in their infinitive, continuous and perfective variations.
The Russian verb, by contrast, is a poor relation entitled to three tenses only. The more static, contemplative, emotional Russian character needs a different language to express itself, one that can at times dispense with verbs altogether. Nouns and modifiers come to the fore instead, many with numerous affixes conveying nuances of meaning and emotional colouring.
If a nation’s character finds its exhaustive expression in its language, a nation’s language finds its artistic expression in its literature. And here a friend of mine has provided a helpful insight that’s worth developing.
Russian children grow up reading adventure stories. Americans Jack London and Mayne Reid, Frenchmen Jules Verne, Alexandre Dumas, Louis Boussenard and Gustave Aimard, Britons Robert Louis Stevenson, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Walter Scott and Daniel Defoe are among their favourites, and there are quite a few others.
But did you notice something? There isn’t a Russian name among them. Russians love reading adventure stories, but they refuse to write them. And yet most of the writers I mentioned lived in the 19th century, the time when Russians created one of the great literatures of the world.
Pushkin, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov (to name the most famous ones) delved the depths of human nature and condition, uncovering many a stratum few Western writers ever explored. However, the genre of picaresque or adventure novel seemed to have passed them by.
Yet even great English writers, such as Fielding, Swift, Thackeray, Trollope, Dickens in some of his novels, felt no compunction about turning to that genre. They didn’t think its constraints prevented them from hitting their artistic targets.
I’m convinced that this too reflects the difference between the Russian and English languages, which in turn elucidates the difference between the two national characters.
While the Russian keeps asking multiple variations of the same question, ‘Why-oh-why?’, the Englishman instantly segues to ‘What are we going to do about it?’. His very viscera craves action, not so much rumination.
When replying to questions posed by English audiences, I sometimes try to slow them down, suggesting we first understand the problem before rushing to solve it. No such issues with Russian audiences. They are happy to contemplate, sometimes bewail, the problem for so long that there’s no time left for a solution.
You understand of course that this is an oversimplification, a mere attempt to outline a tendency, rather than trying to jump to an all-encompassing conclusion. Still, there’s a hint there somewhere at the workings of the Word that was in the beginning – and of many words that followed in its wake.