New genre in the art of war

Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as ‘Putin’s chef’, has cooked up something new, putting to shame every military strategist in history, starting with Sun Tzu (d. 496 BC).

Sun Tzu, eat your heart out

Prigozhin, a close confidant of Putin, got his name because his catering businesses used to host Putin’s state dinners. But as a true polymath, Prigozhin has branched out into unrelated areas.

Thus he has founded the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the world’s biggest trolling network employing hundreds of reprobate boffins. Push a button, and their computers whirr into action, flooding the waves with Putin’s lies.

The latest one is that the Ukrainians are fighting so courageously because they are really androids, genetically modified in US laboratories. Early in the war, the IRA talked about specially bred killer birds, but the android story is a definite step up.

That Russian answer to Renaissance man has also founded a network of Private Military Companies (PMCs) called Wagner. Prigozhin’s Wagnerians are mercenaries used by Putin for especially dirty tasks. Even before they moved into the Ukraine, they had committed ghastly war crimes in Africa and Syria, which was excellent training for their present activities.

Yet Wagner shares the problem of all Russian units: it’s running out of manpower, and recruitment is difficult. The promise of looted fridges and raped women doubtless appeals to the multitudes, but rumours of growing casualties are off-putting.

No solution to the problem seems obvious, but Prigozhin didn’t get where he is by sticking to the obvious. Sun Tzu titled his seminal book The Art of War, but he didn’t anticipate the arrival of ‘Putin’s chef’ who invented a whole new genre.

Prigozhin, accompanied by armed bodyguards, has started touring prison camps to recruit murderers, bandits, rapists and even the odd cannibal. Fight with Wagner for six months, he promises, and your slate is wiped clean. You can choose between staying on or going home, but one thing he can guarantee: there’s no return to prison.

The logic is solid. If the war is turning Russian soldiers into criminals, why not turn criminals into Russian soldiers? They may not know much about combat tactics, but they already know how to kill, rape and loot. What more can you expect from cannon fodder?

Some hidden camera footage of Prigozhin addressing convicts at a camp in Yoshkar-Ola is currently making the rounds. His message is rousing.

Not everyone will come back alive, says Prigozhin with seductive honesty. But those who do will be free men who have paid their debts to the state.

Should the recruits be killed, they’ll be buried with honours. Such an outcome is highly possible: “our war is difficult” and “we are expending 2.5 times more ordnance than at Stalingrad”. And oh yes, those who arrive at the front and then decide to change their min will be summarily shot for desertion.

Anyone aged over 18 and under 50 is welcome to join up, generally speaking. But particularly robust over-50s are welcome too, provided they can pass a simple test during the interview.

Now, the official term for the bandit raid on the Ukraine is a ‘special military operation’, not ‘war’. Anyone who speaks out of turn and calls it ‘war’ risks joining those convicts for up to five years. So technically speaking Prigozhin is breaking the law, but mentioning such trivialities in the Russian context is silly.

Some other matters are less silly and trivial. For Prigozhin has no official capacity in government. And yet he is allowed to lead armed men into prisons and promise presidential pardons to the convicts if they do as they are told.

I can’t imagine offhand that sort of thing in any civilised country, but then Russia has forfeited every last claim to that modifier. Neither can she be accused of prudent foresight.

At present up to 10,000 convicts are already fighting with Wagner and more will come in soon. At first, most of them were doing time for murder, banditry or robbery, but they have now been augmented by a sex crime unit (don’t you just love the sound of it?).

Now how do you imagine real Russian officers feel, provided that breed isn’t extinct? They have spent years studying Sun Tzu, Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Suvorov and Clausewitz. They have been indoctrinated in patriotism, taught leadership and the importance of martial honour.

And now not only do they see their soldiers committing blood-curdling atrocities, but their ranks are also swelling with Yahoos who did such things even in peacetime. Who cares about their feelings? I can hear you ask, and you are right. Certainly not Putin.

Nor does he care about the feelings of his own policemen, investigators and judges who caught and convicted those criminals. I can’t imagine them feeling elated about all their good work being stamped in the dirt, along with the law itself.

But what happens after the war ends, no matter how it ends? Hundreds of thousands of murderers, bandits and rapists, including those who have already been convicted for such crimes, will be hastily demobilised.

Those recruited out of prisons won’t go back there – I’m sure Prigozhin is a man of his word. But where will they go? Along with the lads who had never broken any laws before the war, but murdered, robbed, tortured and raped with gusto during it?

Are they going to become systems analysts and civil engineers? Or will they flood the streets of Russian cities where they’ll go on committing the same atrocities without skipping a beat? Do you think they’ll see a valid difference between their Ukrainian victims and fellow Russians? Quite.

The Russian Empire was subverted and corrupted by the Bolsheviks and other Lefties. But it was physically brought down in 1917 by armed deserters, soldiers returning from the battles of the First World War and those undergoing training in Petersburg and Moscow.

But let me tell you: those men were little angels compared to Putin’s and Prigozhin’s bandits pretending to be soldiers. The screams of their victims in their ears, the smell of cordite in their nostrils and the taste of blood in their mouths, they’ll do to the denizens of Voronezh, Tula and Rostov what they did to those of Bucha, Mariupol and Kharkov.

Prigozhin’s Wagner may be the most combat-worthy unit in the Russian army, but it isn’t the only PMC. Gen. Zolotov’s Russian Guards and Kadyrov’s Chechen militants are also doing their best at the behest of their commanders to whom they are fiercely loyal.

A potential is vast not only for a post-war crime wave the likes of which even Russia has never seen, but also for a nice civil war. When a country’s army is run by war lords, who in this case hate one another, and all of whom are loathed by the FSB and the regular army, sparks will fly – and no one will be left unsinged.

The so-called collapse of the Soviet Union was in effect a transfer of power from the Party to the KGB – but not only to the KGB. The other major beneficiary was organised crime, effectively fused with the KGB to a point where it was unclear where one ended and the other began.

The state that until then had jealously guarded its monopoly on crime encouraged that field of endeavour to go private. In a few short years, that licence criminalised the country top to bottom, from Petersburg slums in which Putin had grown up to the Moscow Kremlin in which he now sits.

We’ve seen other criminal states, along with other fascist, totalitarian and aggressive ones. But we’ve never seen anything quite like this. Russia has always prided herself on being sui generis – and she has even more to be proud about now.

The ghost of Powell still haunts

It was in 1968 that Enoch Powell (d. 1998) made his ‘rivers of blood’ speech, in which these much quoted words actually don’t appear.

Liz Truss, as seen by The New York Times

That was the time when Britain’s doors were being flung wide open to Commonwealth immigration, which predictably streamed in. Various ethnic groups tended to concentrate in specific areas, making them unrecognisable visually, depressed economically and distressed culturally.

Powell’s own Wolverhampton constituency was among the worst hit, and the locals were desperate. Many were complaining that England no longer looked like England. Some of his constituents told Powell that the dearest dream of their lives was now to make sure their children moved abroad.

Enoch Powell was among the brightest, best-educated and most honest British politicians during my lifetime. He knew that the social fabric of British society was being torn to tatters, and the holes thus formed couldn’t be darned. They would continue to widen, with potentially awful if unpredictable consequences.

“As I look ahead,” Powell said, “I am filled with foreboding. Like the Roman, I seem to see ‘the River Tiber foaming with much blood’.”

The key word there was ‘foreboding’, not ‘blood’. As an educated man, Powell expressed his fears with a reference to classical sources, in this case Virgil’s Aeneid.

But ‘blood’ was the only word his detractors heard, especially since America was in the midst of race riots at the time. In fact, Powell himself encouraged that parallel, by talking in the same speech about “that tragic and intractable phenomenon which we watch with horror on the other side of the Atlantic but which there is interwoven with the history and existence of the States itself, is coming upon us here by our own volition and our own neglect.”

Powell has been proved right: we’ve had our share of race riots since then, although not on the scale customary in the US. He did use some rhetorical hyperbole in his speech, but he could doubtless trace that highly productive oratorial technique back to Demosthenes and Cicero.

Yet the core of Powell’s argument was unimpeachable: Britain was of her own accord creating a destructive racial problem where none existed. Unlike America, Britain had no history of multiracialism and no knowledge of how to cope with it. Yet even in America such experience didn’t come close to releasing the tensions.

The speech exploded on the political establishment, and the shock waves are still with us today. Predictably, the floodgates of Leftie indignation were opened, and Powell was engulfed in effluvia, which are still coming in a mighty stream 55 years later.

Sir Trevor Phillips, former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, commented on that idiocy a few years ago, secure in the knowledge that he could never be accused of either white supremacism or staunch conservatism.

“Rome may not yet be in flames, but I think I can smell the smouldering whilst we hum to the music of liberal self-delusion… Everyone in British public life learnt the lesson: adopt any strategy possible to avoid saying anything about race, ethnicity… that is not anodyne and platitudinous.”

The anodyne and platitudinous Tory leader at the time, Edward Heath, was aghast. He instantly fired Powell from his post of Shadow Defence Secretary. Yet 30 years later, having slid all the way down the greasy pole of politics, Heath admitted that “Powell’s remarks were not without prescience.” (“Enoch was right”, as translated from the political.)

His successor, Margaret Thatcher, made a similar admission close to the end of her political career: “Powell made a valid argument, if in sometimes regrettable terms.”

However, according to The New York Times, both the argument and the terms in which it was expressed betokened nothing but Britain’s innate racism and nostalgia for her imperial past. These are just two of the many reasons to loathe that despicable country.

To vent such sentiments this time around, the paper enlisted the services of another British academic with Third World leanings, Kojo Koram, law lecturer at Birkbeck College, London.

Dr Koram materialised the spirit of Enoch Powell and turned it into a cudgel with which to bust Liz Truss’s head. Not only is she a traitor to the socialist cause she espoused earlier in life, but she has also inherited a full raft of Powell’s policies: “preferential terms of global trade achieved through hardline anti-migrant policies, shrinking the state, undermining organised labour.”

One can infer that the ideal Dr Koram (and evidently The New York Times) sees in his mind’s eye is a Britain reduced to Third World squalor by unlimited immigration, ever-burgeoning central state and unchecked trade union blackmail.

Yet he doesn’t say that in so many words. One can understand his problem: a Leftie ideologue finds it easier to define what he hates than what he loves. On second thoughts, scratch the word ‘Leftie’: any ideology is clearer on its pet hatreds than on any positive ideas.

That is the fundamental difference between an ideology, whichever end of the political spectrum it occupies, and conservatism. A conservative is seldom apolitical but, unlike an ideologue, he isn’t defined by politics.

His view of the world is formed by serene love of the transcendent and the eternal, not agued passion for the transient and trivial. By contrast, an ideologue is strictly a political animal, which typically means a feral one.

Show me an ideology, and I’ll show you “the Tiber foaming with much blood” – literally and not, as Powell meant it, figuratively. Ever since the world turned ideological, the violent death count has been soaring exponentially – and the end is nowhere in sight.

The depth of the NYT’s hatred of Britain is odd. One would think the paper would be happy to see its own ideology thrive on these shores, only ever lagging behind America by a few, and ever-fewer, years.

In any case, I can put its fears, as expressed by Dr Koram, to rest. Liz Truss is no Maggie Thatcher, after whom she tries to model herself, and she is certainly no Enoch Powell.

She way well gnaw at the edges of our dominant ‘liberal’ (illiberal, as translated into English) ideology, although even that is in doubt. But she is unlikely to make any encroachments on its core. That will continue to rot, with the putrid stench tickling the nostrils of Dr Koram – and The New York Times.

Biden, Trump and the broken clock

That even a broken clock shows the correct time twice a day isn’t a matter of ideology. It’s a matter of fact.

Anyone who denies this fact will become an object of ridicule. Yet no one who asserts this fact will win any prizes: the observation is too trivial and self-evident to merit accolades.

Yet when it comes to politics, facts play second fiddle to ideologies. Getting back to our broken timepiece, if people look at it from an ideological perspective, some will say that it never shows the correct time, and some others that it always does.

Both will be wrong because an ideology is the wrong starting point of ratiocination. It blinkers the eyes, dulls the brain and turns people into jukeboxes waiting for their buttons to be pushed to bang out a tune.

This takes me back to the events I wrote about the other day: the Biden administration declassifying and releasing intelligence reports on Russia’s impending attack on the Ukraine.

Such reports should be evaluated, analysed and either believed or rejected on merits. But ideologies don’t allow dispassionate assessment. Everything has to be reflected through their own mirrors, and these are both concave and convex, guaranteed to distort reality.

Western politics has been increasingly ideological ever since 1789, when members of France’s National Assembly split into royalists on the right of the hall and revolutionaries on the left. For the first time, conciliation between political factions became impossible.

By contrast, England’s main political parties of the 18th century, the Tories and the Whigs, disagreed on some issues. But they didn’t hate one another. Both knew they fundamentally wanted the same things and only differed in the relative importance they attached to them.

Swift had nice clean fun satirising this essential kinship, with his Big-Enders and Little-Enders arguing about the more convenient way of breaking a soft-boiled egg. That was a caricature, but it was based on reality.

The arch-Tory Dr Johnson and the arch-Whig Edmund Burke were good friends. Both were champions of tradition and such relative innovations as free trade. They just put accents in different places and neither of them proceeded from an ideological premise.

Fast-forwarding a couple of centuries, do you think Trump and Biden, or indeed their ardent supporters, could be good friends? I won’t bore you with a litany of other binary impossibilities because there’s no need. You know anyway that these days politically minded individuals don’t see their opponents as honourable people they happen to disagree with. They see them as objects of hate or at best contempt.

The great adman Leo Burnett made his employees wear lapel pins saying “Maybe he is right”. This possibility is denied political opponents. Anything they say is wrong because it’s they who are saying it. Instead of evaluating facts and weighing arguments we consider the source.

This leads to appalling errors of judgement, as it did in the reaction to the intelligence report I mentioned, which turned out to be correct in every particular. But because it was the Biden administration that released it, it was roundly mocked by Trump’s fans.

They know their man was a better president than Biden is, and they are right. They know most of Trump’s policies were commonsensical and Biden’s are at best flimsy. Again they are right.

But they are wrong in not affording Biden the same courtesy as they do to a broken clock, or as Burnett’s employees afforded one another. Biden may be lacking in every faculty of mind and character, but that doesn’t mean he is always wrong.

Nobody is always wrong and nobody is always right. Hence it’s always more profitable to consider the argument, not the source. Once an argument is made, it either stands proud on its own hind legs or falls ignominiously face in the dirt. The fledgling has flown; whence it came is irrelevant.

The accurate intelligence report was ignored by the Trump-leaning public, though mercifully not by the Ukraine. Zelensky’s government wasn’t caught unawares, but indiscriminate followers of anti-Biden prophets were.

One such prophet was Andrey Illarionov, formerly Putin’s economic adviser, and now an anti-Putin, pro-Trump senior fellow at a Washington D.C. think tank.

I watched that normally sensible man mocking the aforementioned intelligence report on a streamed Russian-language interview. The date was 23 February, the day before Putin’s bandits pounced.

Rarely had I seen an analyst speaking publicly with so much conviction. People are saying the invasion is unlikely, sneered Illarionov, but they are wrong. It’s not unlikely. It’s totally, absolutely, utterly, unequivocally impossible. Read my lips: IM-POSSIBLE.

I’m not trying to say it’s wrong to be pro-Trump or anti-Biden. My point is that it’s wrong to be either, or anything else, for ideological reasons. ‘Ideology’ may be a cognate of ‘idea’, but the two concepts are antithetical.

A couple of years ago I was talking to an American pundit who was in the process of crossing the smudged line between neoconservatism and what Americans call liberalism. His attachment to these doctrines was convulsively ideological in both cases.

The subject was the EU, and I tried to present what I believed to be reasonable arguments against it. But my interlocutor wasn’t interested. Never mind the arguments, feel the ideology.

If you are against the EU, he said, you are a Putin stooge. He hates the EU too. That was an ideology speaking, loudly enough to outshout every voice of reason.

The brazen rhetorical idiocy of that response severed my already tenuous links with gentlemanly civility and I said a few things I shouldn’t have said. We haven’t spoken since. There goes another relationship, trampled underfoot by ideology.

Third World scum rises to First World top

Most of the eponymous scum gloating about the Queen’s death are black, but this isn’t about their race. They are also Left-wing, but it isn’t about their politics either. They are none of them particularly bright, but it’s not their understated intellect that makes them scum.

It’s their culture, which isn’t just alien to our Western one, but aggressively hostile to it. They loathe viscerally everything about Western history, civility and polity. Even more to the point, they lack basic decency and taste, and they are smugly proud of this deficiency.

A society not hellbent on self-destruction wouldn’t let such people within spittle-sputtering distance of any respectable public platform. Their lot would be lonely rants at TV screens, and they should only ever subsist on menial jobs.

Yet the scum in question have all risen to the top of opinion-forming professions in the US. To preempt objections, I’m not singling out America for criticism. We have our own throngs of such internal barbarians, although more of them have tended to keep their revolting views about the Queen to themselves over the past few days.


I am simply trying to comment on the delights of diversity, enforced by what Americans call affirmative action and we describe, less euphemistically, as reverse discrimination.

Having learned that the Queen was at death’s door, Uju Anya, Carnegie Mellon professor of linguistics, saw fit to share this tweet with her like-minded followers:

“I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.”

Speaking here is an American professor. Of linguistics. At a respectable university.

For a professional linguist, her disdain for punctuation is as pathetic as her grasp of basic facts of life. For example, “chief monarch” implies the existence of other, junior ones. I know Prof. Anya isn’t British, but an academic should know better. This woman is stupid and ignorant – and that’s before we’ve even touched on her character.

She later continued in the same vein, and with the same stylistic flair: “If anyone expects me to express anything but disdain for the monarch who supervised a government that sponsored the genocide that massacred and displaced half my family and the consequences of which those alive today are still trying to overcome, you can keep wishing upon a star.”

Prof. Anya is from Nigeria, and apparently the calamities she mentions were suffered by her family during the 1967 civil war in that country, when Nigeria had already been independent for seven years.

The war was caused by Biafra separatists eager to kill and die for the independence of the Igbo tribe. I’m sure they were inspired by Prof. Anya’s cultural ancestors disgorging that fetid reflux of the Enlightenment: the right of any ethnic group, no matter how backward, to claim national sovereignty.

The British government did supply the Nigerian government with arms, hoping to put a quick end to the carnage. Unfortunately that didn’t work and a million people died.

This and other tribal massacres in decolonised Africa proved what was clear anyway to anyone not blinded by evil ideologies. Most of those countries weren’t ready to govern themselves. In fact, most of them only became countries because colonial empires found it easier to run administrative units demarcated by geography rather than ethnicity.

Tens of millions of black Africans have since been killed by other black Africans, proving the evils of premature, ideologically driven decolonialisation. But even assuming, for the sake of argument, that the British were marginally at fault, what that woman wrote is savage, hateful drivel that shouldn’t have any place in a civilised society.

I wouldn’t wish an excruciatingly painful death on anyone, even ghouls like Putin, whose demise I’d otherwise welcome. And even if such a vile thought popped up in the back of my mind, I’d have the taste not to air it ad urbi et orbi.

To their credit, many decent Americans expressed their outrage. But the good professor’s response was unapologetic – and as linguistically accomplished as her academic discipline demands: “I said what I fucking said,” she wrote.

She isn’t the only one. Journalists from The New York Times, New York Magazine and The Atlantic, all supposedly reputable publications seen as the flagships of cultured, liberal opinion, have also jumped on that bandwagon.


Thus, for example, Tirhakah Love, senior newsletter writer for New York Magazine: “For 96 years, that colonizer has been sucking up the Earth’s resources. You can’t be a literal oppressor and not expect the people you’ve oppressed not to rejoice on news of your death… Now I’m supposed to be quiet or, better yet, actually mourn what was a barely breathing Glad ForceFlex trash bag? Please, no.”

This is a professional writer, nay editor, practising his craft, getting tangled up in a string of negatives, while holding the Queen personally responsible for the depletion of natural resources. And yet he is held in high regard by his superiors.

This scum ought to talk among themselves to thrash out a common strategy. If Mr Love hates the Queen for the British record of colonisation, his colleague at The New York Times, Maya Jasanoff, a Harvard history professor, holds decolonisation against her:

“The queen helped obscure a bloody history of decolonization whose proportions and legacies have yet to be adequately acknowledged,” she wrote.

Her character and the timing of that diatribe aside, Prof. Jasanoff’s grasp of her own discipline is as wobbly as her command of logic. The Queen couldn’t have been guilty of both colonisation and decolonisation, bloody or otherwise. That’s scum talking, not someone supposedly qualified to teach at a venerable university.


A writer for The Atlantic magazine, Jemele Hill, identified journalists’ duty as covering the “devastating” impact of the Queen’s reign. And a Washington Post hack warded off all objections to the timing of such vituperation: “When is the appropriate time to talk about the negative impact of colonialism?” Never, if it’s scum doing the talking, is the answer to that.

I haven’t read those publications since leaving America 35 years ago. Even when living there I only glanced at them sporadically. In those days I physically couldn’t stomach their Lefty, pseud fare. But I don’t recall such obvious scum on their editorial staffs.

Their writers may have extruded excremental nonsense, but they generally stayed within the confines of our civilisation by observing elementary etiquette. Things have evidently changed since then. Third World scum has risen to the top of the pot, rendering the whole contents unpalatable. Things are even worse than I thought.

$300 million greases a lot of palms

This is the second time it has happened. The US has released sensitive intelligence data on Russia in the hope of stopping Putin in his tracks.

The first time was seven months ago, when the US declassified intelligence about the impending Russian attack on the Ukraine. This time it’s about the $300 million spent by Russia to subvert Western politics since 2014.

That sum looks fairly impressive but, according to US sources, it’s merely the first tranche. Hundreds of millions more will soon enter the pipeline pumping blood money into the coffers of Western political parties, think tanks, individual politicians and opinion-formers.

What’s telling here isn’t just the nature of the released intelligence, but the very fact that the US has indeed chosen to release it. By and large the Americans have always tended to reserve embarrassing information about Russia strictly for internal use. Now they’ve decided they can make more hay by shouting “We’re on to you!”

Some facts remain under wraps. For example, it would be interesting to know the specific recipients of Putin’s largesse. As it is, we can only guess, but the guesses are certainly educated.

Combining the forensic principle of cui bono with the biblical “by their fruits ye shall know them”, we can pinpoint the greased palms with a reasonable degree of accuracy. We can also finally ditch the meaningless and misleading political labels of ‘Right’ and ‘Left’.

All Western extremists, whatever tag is affixed to them in the media, are united in their hostility to the West – and hence in the need to look for powerful backers whose hostility is as deep as theirs, but whose pockets are deeper.

Evil gravitates towards evil, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s tinged red, black or brown. Hitler and Stalin eventually fell out, but privately they both expressed mutual admiration. They knew they had more in common with each other than either had with the West.

I’m sure the same realisation – and their shared affection for Putin’s rouble – binds Le Pen’s neo-fascists and Mélenchon’s Trotskyists in France. The former received an $11 million loan from Russia in 2014 and immediately supported the annexation of the Crimea. As for the ensuing Western sanctions, Le Pen pledged: “[If elected] I would envisage lifting the sanctions quite quickly.”

Is Mélenchon just a poor boy with his nose pressed to the shop window where such goodies are on display? I find that hard to believe, especially considering that European Left extremists are matching their Right twins in their quest to become Putin’s clients.

Germany’s Die Linke, the Polish Democratic Left Alliance, the Communist Party of Greece and her governing party Syriza, Spain’s Pedemos party, Hungary’s Jobbik are all fervent, and I suspect not disinterested, friends of Putin.

The European Parliament has had a pro-Putin faction since 2015. Called at the time Europe of Nations and Freedom, it was led by Le Pen and Marcel de Graff of the Dutch Party for Freedom. Since then it has reinvented itself as the Identity and Democracy Group, but its sympathies remain the same.

Extremist parties of every hue are gaining traction all over Europe, and every one of them has Putin’s Botoxed mug on its banners. Some of that $300 million must have added a touch of pragmatism to their heartfelt love of a kindred spirit.

Two of those parties are about to gain power in Italy, a key Nato member, and Sweden, an aspiring one. Both are supporters of Putin and his on-going bandit raid.

In Germany, the extremist Alternative für Deutschland party is so fervently pro-Putin that it’s hard not to detect at least some pecuniary interest. But both the Christian Democrats (‘right-wing’) and the Social Democrats (‘left-wing’) are tainted too.

In their case it probably wasn’t cash on the nail but more subtle emoluments. Those mainstream parties saw a clear political profit in procuring cheap Russian energy. That conferred lustre on their leaders, improving their electoral chances.

This explains Germany’s frankly pro-Putin course under both Schröder (SD) and Merkel (CD). But let’s not discount the more basic motives either.

After the end of his tenure, Schröder has made untold millions in the employ of Rosneft and Gazprom. Would it be far-fetched to suggest that a million or two might have crossed his palm even earlier?

Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, inherited such policies. That’s why, when Putin launched his bandit raid, Germany not only was slow in offering assistance to the Ukraine, but did her utmost to sabotage the supplies provided by other Western countries.

However, yesterday Scholz demanded a cease-fire and a complete withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukraine. That’s fighting talk, but it remains to be seen whether it will be backed up by tangible assistance. One thing for sure – Putin’s client groups in Germany, such as the AfD, will intensify their sabotage to offset the seeming change of Scholz’s heart.

Closer to home, Britain has hardly covered herself with glory. The country has been the staunchest supporter of the Ukraine since the bandit raid began. That redeems many sins, but make no mistake about it: many sins were committed.

It’s a source of national shame that Britain has turned London into Londongrad, a giant laundromat for purloined Russian billions, hundreds of them. Such sums buy political influence, and many British politicians, especially but not only Tories, have accepted contributions in cold Russian cash.

For example, Yevgeny Lebedev, wined and dined Tory politicians with such open-hearted generosity that Boris Johnson made him a peer of the realm. The money for that generosity came from Yevgeny’s father Alexander, a career KGB officer who had bought two British newspapers – and by the looks of it a few British politicians – with the KGB funds purloined from the Russian people.

The Westminster Russia Forum, a Tory think tank, né the Conservative Friends of Russia, was still calling for trying to understand Putin’s concerns the day the bandit raid started. How many roubles had flown into their coffers as either financing or direct bribes? I don’t know. But it would take an exaggerated faith in human goodness to believe that none had.

Russian ‘oligarchs’ used their ill-gotten funds to turn themselves into barnacles attaching to British causes. For example, Putin’s close associate Sergei Yastrzhembsky bankrolled a group lobbying against the ban on big-time hunting.

More worryingly, many Putinversteheren are found within the ranks of Ukip and other anti-EU groups. A few years ago I ill-advisedly accepted an invitation to speak at a conference of one of them, not realising it was both neo-fascist and pro-Putin.

The Brexit cause attracted many activists whose sympathies naturally lay with Putin. Were their hearts made slightly warmer by a few donations? I don’t know. But that $300 million had to go somewhere.

In 2014, Nigel Farage, who then led Ukip, unhesitatingly named Putin as the world leader he admired most, especially for the “brilliant” way “he handled the whole Syria thing.” That was before Putin’s fascists levelled Aleppo, one of the world’s oldest cities, but I’m sure such little incidentals wouldn’t have dampened Farage’s admiration.

Does he also admire the brilliant way Putin handles the whole Ukraine thing, especially the deliberate and indiscriminate bombing of residential areas? I don’t know, but I don’t see why not.

In 2015, after the occupation of the Crimea, Diane James, Farage’s successor, praised Putin’s “nationalism” and expressed her overall admiration. Thus the good cause of British sovereignty I myself support has attracted admirers of (and collaborators with?) the most dangerous fascist regime since Hitler’s.

Were such groups funded by the Kremlin? Possibly. Probably. But even if they never received any direct backhanders, enough of Putin’s manure was spread around to fertilise the soil where such views could be expressed openly by otherwise respectable figures.

And quite a few unrespectable ones as well. For example, Jeremy Corbyn, recent leader of the Labour Party, Seumas Milne, his chief advisor and George Galloway, the former Left-wing MP, are known Putin stooges.

They advertised the Russian propaganda outlets, RT and Sputnik, which Corbyn described as “more objective” than most. And they vigorously campaigned against the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine.

Some of our journalists are still acting as loudspeakers for Kremlin propaganda. I’m sure that not all of them are bribed to do so. But I’m equally sure that some are. With a rain of gold coming down, it’s against human nature not to open one’s hands.

Since the sadistic, genocidal nature of Putin’s bandit raid became known, expressing open sympathies for the ‘special operation’ has lost whatever street cred it ever had. Also, some purveyors of Russian cash have found themselves under sanctions, and some of their funds have got impounded.

But that has only happened in the past seven months. The newsworthy $300 million have been spent over the past eight years, and judging by the events spaced along that timeline, the money has been spent well.

Can we please return to reality?

It’s sometimes called progress. At other times, paradigm shift. Some prefer talking about evolution.

I call it the onset of schizophrenia, a chronically abnormal perception of reality. A sufferer creates his own, virtual reality that has nothing to do with the actual kind.

Any connection between the two is lost. His own mental images overpower his common sense, experience, even his eyesight. He sees only what he believes, never vice versa.

When this awful disorder afflicts a person, that’s bad news for him and his family. When it plagues a society, that’s bad news for the whole civilisation. For collective schizophrenia is like the individual kind: it’s progressive.

Medicine uses this word more precisely than does the common parlance. For ‘progressive’ doesn’t mean ineluctably getting better. When it comes to diseases, such as schizophrenia, ‘progressive’ means steadily getting worse.

I first wrote about this at length in my 2010 book The Crisis Behind Our Crisis. The subject was specifically our economic ordeal, but I treated it in the context of general decline.

Now, quoting from oneself may be in bad taste, but such quotations have the indisputable advantage of being easy to find. So here’s what I wrote then:

“We have replaced religion with (at best) religionism, Christianity with Christianism, freedom with liberty, wisdom with cleverness, sentiment with sentimentality, justice with legalism, art with pickled animals, music with amplified noise, statecraft with politicking, love with sex, communication with sound bites, self-confidence with effrontery, equality before God with levelling, respect for others with political correctness, dignity with amour propre – in short, everything real with virtual caricatures. We now live in a virtual world – so is it at all surprising that we live on virtual money?”

A dozen years have elapsed since then, and one can’t help noticing that the diagnosed condition has indeed progressed, largely thanks to the self-deception at which modern people excel.

Historically speaking, 12 years is a whiff of air, a fleeting glance, a grain of grit in the Alps. And yet… and yet.

If in 2010 someone had told me, or I am sure you, that people would eventually accept without screwing their index finger into their temple that a woman could impregnate a man, and that this would be treated as a blow struck for human rights, we would have called for the men in white coats.

We would have responded the same way to the view that kindergarten tots should be given a shopping list of every sexual abnormality and encouraged to choose one that particularly appeals to them. We’d even look with genuine concern at someone telling us that there exist over 70 sexes, not the actual two we knew.

Yesterday’s insanities are becoming today’s orthodoxies at an ever-accelerating speed, and not just in matters sexual.

We no longer think we are dealing with a lunatic when a prime minister boasts about the number of women and ethnic minorities in the cabinet, as if such a demographic cocktail were righteous in itself. Or when another politician defines virtue as flinging the country’s doors wide-open to all comers. Or when one can be censured for refusing to accept that, in a realm whose sovereign swears to uphold Christianity, all creeds should be equal not just legally but in every sense.

Those who build our virtual reality piece by piece are indeed schizophrenics for they do so with utmost conviction. I used to think they are simply out to deceive the masses the better to control them. Now I incline towards the view that above all they deceive themselves. They believe their own lies.

Like all progressive diseases, this one showed rather mild symptoms at first. The founding document of modernity, or rather the first triumphant statement of its victory, proclaimed that “all men are created equal”.

That was a symptom of incipient schizophrenia. For the evidence before their own eyes should have convinced the sufferers that all men are created unequal physically, intellectually, morally, socially and in every other conceivable way.

If they meant that all men should be equal before the law, then this is what they should have said. But even that equality isn’t something man is created with. It’s a matter of political consensus, not innate endowment.

Even the paragons of liberal virtue, the US and the UK, set limits on such consensus. In America, no one under 35 or born outside the 50 states can become president. In Britain, a Catholic can’t become king.

As for seeing social and economic equality as a desirable and achievable desideratum, holding this belief is a tell-tale clinical symptom, especially if accompanied by professed attachment to liberty. Because all men are created unequal, social and economic inequality is a natural condition that can only be eliminated by unnatural means.

Since people themselves will never do that, such equality can only ever be imposed and enforced by the state. That state would be despotic, no matter what it called itself.

There have been reasonably successful despotic states. In fact, in the 18th century ‘enlightened despotism’ became the buzz phrase of absolute monarchs who claimed affection for the ideas of the Enlightenment. That by itself was symptomatic of an intellectual shortcoming, not a mental disorder. But insisting at the same time that despotism was liberty definitely was just that.

Another symptom is a sufferer’s insistence that men and women are not just equal but the same in every faculty of body and mind. Divorce from actual reality is very much in evidence there.

Wise men of the past cautioned against even legal egalitarianism in that area. For example, Dr Johnson once said: “Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little.” Today that quip would have him drummed out of polite society. He’d quickly feel tired not only of London but also of life.

Schoolmasters and university professors are being reprimanded or even sacked for pointing out physiological and psychological differences between men and women. The detractors of such intrepid academics are schizophrenics: their perception of reality is warped.

Or look at the global warming madness. Somehow people have been forced to ignore that warm and cold periods alternated throughout history even before man graced the Earth with his presence. And they continued to do so even long before man began to rely on hydrocarbons to make himself prosperous and longer-lived.

Ancient Romans, for example, didn’t have a hydrocarbon-fuelled economy, and yet the climate was then several degrees warmer than it is now. However, most people have now swallowed the global warming canard because a few lunatics screamed about it loudly enough.

It’s an amply described social phenomenon that evil madmen exude powerful psychic magnetism that can get hold of the masses and lead them to perdition. This quality is often described as charisma, but madness is usually closer to the clinical truth.

Trotsky and Hitler were prime examples, but they were different from run-of-the-mill propagandists of today. Those villains preached hatred based on pride in one’s own class or race. Their current equivalents sermonise hatred based on shame of one’s own class (if not low), race (if white), sex (if male) or at least car (if not electric).

And enough people are attracted to such drivel to go along with it and vote such madmen into various public offices. So forget Covid. It’s the pandemic of schizophrenia that’s destroying our civilisation. And so far we haven’t come up with an effective vaccine.

Or rather we had one, but chose to toss it out of the window. The tossers are called Enlighteners. I call them schizophrenics.

P.S. Well-done to Manny Macron, and I thought these words would never cross my lips. He has ordered that all flags in France be flown at half-mast until the burial of our Queen. 

Western conduits for Russian threats

Imagine for the sake of argument that you are in charge of Putin’s propaganda. You know and your boss knows and everybody knows that the bandit raid on the Ukraine has been a resounding failure.

No, this isn’t a nuclear mushroom

If you two harboured rosy hopes a week ago, the brilliant Ukrainian breakthrough over the past few days has disabused you of any such notions.

You know and your boss knows and everybody knows that only one development could stop the Ukrainian army in its tracks, saving what’s left of Putin’s forces and indeed his very regime. The flow of Western arms to the Ukrainians must slow down to a trickle or, ideally, stop altogether.

You rack your brain and ask yourself how your role model, Dr Goebbels, would approach the problem. A clever man, he would first have assessed what had been done so far.

Putin set high hopes on the energy blockade of Europe. Make those soft Westerners pay through the nose or freeze in the dark and, faster than you can say blackmail, they’ll twist the Ukraine’s arm into surrender, otherwise known as a peace process. Alas, those hopes have so far proved forlorn.

Europeans have not only managed to fill their gas storages to the brim, but they’ve also set in motion the wheels of energy independence. Nuclear reactors and even fracking are no longer seen as the work of the devil, and a stepped-up production at existing hydrocarbon fields no longer appals Western politicians.

What next then? You’ve thought long and hard about this conundrum, you’ve consulted Putin, your girlfriend, your wife, her boyfriend – anyone willing to listen and offer advice. They all agree with your innermost conviction: the only way to make the West back off is to threaten the use of nuclear weapons – first on the Ukrainians and second on anyone daring to interfere.

Sorted. The regime’s USP has been established, and it will now become the hub around which the whole media strategy will revolve. Mind you, Russian propagandists don’t even have to be briefed: they’ve already been sputtering nuclear threats for years.

You know, turning the US into radioactive ash, creating the Stalin Strait between Canada and Mexico, sinking the British Isles, that sort of thing. But those chaps have become a bit of a joke. Nobody in the West pays any attention to them any longer, and even the Russians are beginning to get jaded.

The boss himself has made similar threats, and they carried some weight for a while. At first, the West was in no hurry to arm those bloody Ukies. But when the Russian offensive ran out of steam, Westerners, especially those satanic Anglos, got emboldened. Rather than dwindling away, the arms supplies to the Ukraine grew exponentially.

No, for that threat to be credible it has to come from respectable Western sources, journalists perhaps or, even better, academics or, better still, academics who are also journalists. Let’s see, who’d be up for it?

Enter Mark Almond, Director of the Crisis Research Institute, Oxford. You know Mark well – until such moonlighting lost street cred, he had appeared a few times on your propaganda channel RT, mouthing sweet nothings about an urgent need for peace based on mutual understanding.

Not only does he not mind taking RT’s rouble, but he has also established himself in his own right as a reliable Putinversteher, to use that apt German neologism. Someone who understands Putin, feels his pain.

Easier done than said. You didn’t even have to ask, Putinversteheren get messages from ambient air, osmotically.

Sensitive to such emanations, Almond knocked off an article for The Mail in which he poses the big question: “Will Vladimir Putin go nuclear so that he can save his own skin?”

Back in 1995, I happened to spend a few days with Mark in Minsk, where both of us were British observers at the Belorussian elections. At that time I vouchsafed to him an observation that took our hacks another 10 years to make, and some still haven’t cottoned on.

Nothing, I said, had changed in Russia fundamentally. All those much-vaunted glasnosts and perestroikas were merely a transfer of power from the Party to the KGB.

Mark cast a furtive glance around to make sure no one was listening. “You can’t say that,” he half-whispered. “The most you are allowed to say is that unfortunately democracy in Russia isn’t developing as rapidly as we hoped.” “Allowed by whom?” I sneered, showing how badly I knew the lie of the media land.

At that time I ascribed Mark’s reaction to his unswerving devotion to the middle of the road, so characteristic of the British middle classes. Now, having since seen him on RT and read his articles, I am not so sure.

Having first treated his readers to a few truisms, such as describing the Ukrainian advance as “a brilliant tactical move” and praising the Ukrainians who, in contrast to the Russians, “are willing to die for their country”, Almond delivered the kernel of the message:

“… we may be approaching the most dangerous moment in the war. Schooled in Russia’s history and the ignominious end of so many of its leaders, Putin might be willing to do anything to prevent his assassination – even going nuclear to save his own skin.

“This counter-offensive is hugely significant, then – and we must cheer that Ukraine has gained a crucial military initiative. The risk, however, is that it prompts a far more terrible response.”

Why bother saying that? As you have surmised by now, my suspicion is that Almond is simply echoing the media strategy worked out in the Kremlin (or rather whatever bunker Putin is cowering in – no Zelensky, he). But I am prepared to entertain other ideas.

One idea is that Almond can only ever think in truisms and banalities. For he made no points that any mentally competent 10-year-old couldn’t have made, provided he had been following the hostilities.

Yes, Putin’s war isn’t going according to plan. Yes, the Ukrainian counteroffensive was brilliant. Yes, Putin can’t afford to lose the war. Yes, there’s the danger of him using last-resort nuclear weapons. All true. But why state the bleeding obvious?

A serious analyst would have played out the possible scenarios to decide how likely such a desperate measure was. He should have mentioned, if only for the sake of dispelling it, the rumour that Nato has put a quiet word into Putin’s shell-like that any use of any nuclear weapons, big or small, would lead to a deadly attack not on Russian troops but on him personally.

He should have tried to gauge the possible public reaction in Russia to the use of nuclear weapons. Every indication suggests that the support of the war is waning already. What would happen if the Russians felt they could find themselves under nuclear attack?

Would even the countries tepidly friendly to Russia, such as China, continue to be her friends if Russia resorted to nuclear terrorism? In the likely event that they wouldn’t, how would the Russians like their country becoming the global pariah it has never been in the past, not to the same extent?

Even if the Russians only used battlefield nukes, the neighbouring Nato countries would probably suffer from a deadly fallout. Would that be treated as a sufficient cause to trigger Article 5 of the Nato Charter?

The order to launch a nuclear strike has to circulate through different intermediate stages and can be countermanded at any of them. How likely would that be? Or even, how likely would it be that some high-ranking Russian officer would do a Stauffenberg in response?

At least two Soviet officers, Adm. Vasili Arkhipov in 1962 and Col. Stanislav Petrov in 1983, disobeyed nuclear orders in the past. It’s improbable that Putin enjoys more canine obedience from his officers than, respectively, Khrushchev and Andropov enjoyed from theirs.

Having analysed all such factors, a serious analyst would have come to the conclusion that a Russian nuclear strike in the Ukraine is hard, though of course not impossible, to imagine. In any case, such fears aren’t realistic enough to keep the West from pressing ahead. Supplying the Ukraine with the tools to finish the job isn’t merely our moral duty but, more important, also a matter of strategic necessity.

That’s how I’d write about the Russian nuclear threat. But then my aim would be to understand the problem and then communicate that understanding as best I could.

Almond’s objective seems to be Kremlin-inspired fearmongering, though couched in the vapid terms of mainstream journalism.

Kharkov, 80 years on

My former countrymen tend to play truant when history teaches its lessons. To be fair, they aren’t the only ones. They just happen to be even worse pupils than most.

Ukrainian troops in Kupyansk yesterday

If history were a school teacher judged by results, it would have been sacked a long time ago. But let’s not anthropomorphise history – it’s merely an inanimate passage of time jam-packed with events. The fault lies not with the teacher but with the pupils.

Each generation believes, wrongly, in its own uniqueness. Hence, contrary to Einstein’s caution, they all do the same things over and over, while expecting to get different results. Logic triumphs; they fail.

The on-going bandit raid is the first traditional war Russia has fought since 1945, and the Second World War was the latest teacher offering lessons to heed or ignore. (As the British can attest to from personal experience, the Afghan war was sui generis for Russia too.)

The rout suffered by the Russians over the past few days shows that their generals chose not to study the Second Battle of Kharkov fought on 12-28 May, 1942. George Santayana must be smiling in his grave: those who do not learn history are indeed doomed to repeat it.

It’s not just history that’s screaming parallels but also geography. Battlefield reports are again bulging with the names of the same cities, towns, villages and rivers as they did 80 years ago: Kharkov, Izium, Balakleya, Kupyansk, Seversky Donets.

Then, in 1942, the Red Army was trying to develop its counteroffensive after stopping the Wehrmacht at the gates of Moscow. The Germans retreated and the Soviet High Command sought to build on its temporary strategic initiative.

Yet the Red Army had suffered appalling casualties in the first 11 months of the war. In fact, until the Battle of Moscow in December, 1941, the casualty ratio was 10 : 1 in favour of the Germans.

That defied the basic tenets of military science, according to which the attacking side usually suffers two to three times as many losses. It’s only in colonial wars, when Europeans armed with cannon attacked natives wielding arrows and hoes, that defenders ever lost ten times the number of men lost by attackers.

Straining every sinew, the Russians stopped the Germans at Moscow, but their regular army had for all intents and purposes been wiped out. The gaping holes were plugged with recruits, hastily armed and even more hastily trained, if at all.

Yet Soviet military doctrine called for offence at all costs, and at first the Red counteroffensive developed rapidly. But its momentum was attenuating.

Vindicating another military cliché, the Red commander, Marshal Timoshenko, was still fighting the previous war. He had been a divisional commander in the First Horse Army wreaking havoc on the Whites during the Civil War. In his mind, Timoshenko was still leading, sabre in hand, a daring cavalry charge.

He was soon taught a lesson about modern war. Using their Izium salient as a springboard, the Soviets launched an attack against the German 6th Army. Yet on 15 May the Germans managed to stop the huffing and puffing Red forces.

Any wise High Command would have sensed a change in momentum, regrouped and got ready for defence. But Timoshenko continued to attack when his troops had been depleted and such an aggressive strategy was no longer on.

That left his troops open to a devastating pincer attack at his flanks that cut off three Soviet armies. After six days of desperate fighting that army group was wiped out, with the Soviets losing 280,000 men, compared to just 20,000 for the Germans. The theory-defying 10 : 1 became even a more improbable 14 : 1 in favour of the attacking side.

Exactly the same scenario has been played out on almost exactly the same terrain over the past few days. The Ukrainians first launched a strike in the southerly direction, towards Kherson.

They made some modest gains, but the Russians didn’t feel there was real cause for concern – especially since they were redeploying there significant forces from the Kharkov theatre. With those reinforcements, the Russians were ready to handle anything the Ukrainians could throw at them.

They didn’t realise that the attack in the direction of Kherson was to a large extent an exercise in military deception. Having made sure sufficient Russian forces had been diverted from the Kharkov region, the Ukrainians struck.

Fearing a total encirclement, the Russian forces retreated or, to be more precise, fled. Many surrendered, and Ukrainian soldiers ought to be praised for agreeing to take prisoners at all. After the unspeakable atrocities perpetrated by the Russians, one could understand, if not condone, summary executions.

Yesterday the Ukrainians took Izium, the focal point of the 1942 operation. Kupyansk, an important railway hub, was next, and both towns were taken practically without a shot. The Russian Defence Ministry explained that a decision had been made “to regroup the Russian troops deployed in the Balakleya and Izium areas”.

Like their predecessors in 1942, the Russians have finally understood the need to set up a line of defence. Yet this is where the parallel ends.

The 1942 defence line was set on the Volga, over 500 miles from Kharkov. There the same German 6th Army suffered a crushing defeat at Stalingrad, and the Soviets eventually won the war – with a lot of help from their Western friends.

They have no Western friends now, and the Ukrainians have more modest objectives than the Germans had. The German Nazis wanted to conquer the Soviet Union, annihilate the Soviet state and enslave the Soviet people. By contrast, the Ukrainians simply want to prevent the Russian Nazis from conquering, annihilating and enslaving them.

They have no far-reaching ambitions to capture Moscow. All they want is to drive Putin’s bandits from their territory. Judging by the morale of their troops, the support from the whole population and the military talent of their generals, that goal is well within their reach.

Yet all those factors would go to naught if the supplies of Western arms slowed down or, worse still, stopped. It’s in this area that the current success of the Ukrainian army has secured a crucial victory.

For Western countries have been dreading Afghanistan Mark II, when they poured billions’ worth of arms into the country, only to see them end up in the bloodstained hands of the Taliban.

Now we can see how effectively the Ukrainians are using our supplies, how with their help they are putting the Russian army to flight. It’s possible that the on-going counteroffensive will make the West’s resolve even firmer, and the stream of arms flowing into the Ukraine even mightier.

Generally speaking, I avoid slogans, but I can’t exercise such self-restraint now. Slava Ukraini! (Glory to the Ukraine! – the traditional call of Ukrainian patriotism.)

What’s the point of the monarchy?

While paying tribute to the late Queen, Sharon Osbourne nevertheless observed that “many people miss the point of the royal family.”

HM Charles III addressing his subjects yesterday

If she meant foreigners, then what does she expect? If, however, she was talking about Britons, then this is a death certificate issued to our education.

For anyone who misses the point of the royal family, also misses the point of Britain, her constitution, her laws, her history, her religion, her national character – her soul.

This is no mere oversight. It’s the pigheaded ignorance of those who are either proud to be ignorant or too lazy to do something about it. However, on the off-chance that such underachievers really want to learn, here are a few signposts on the route to understanding.

A question first: What’s the point of a military parade? After all, it has nothing to do with the challenges the troops will face on the battlefield.

Soldiers won’t be goosestepping there. Neither will they all be bunched together, marching in formation. There will be no brass band playing. The officer leading them will be carrying a rifle, not a sabre. They’ll be wearing body armour, not lurid uniforms and bearskins. They’ll be hearing explosions and machinegun bursts, not cheering and applause.

And so on ad infinitum. There’s absolutely no point to a military parade, and don’t get me going on the Union Jack flapping in the wind and the accompanying sound of the national anthem.

Would the soldiers shoot straighter if the former were replaced with the Jolly Roger and the latter with a song by Mrs Osbourne’s husband? See what I mean? There’s no point either to the flag or to the music.

At this point any sensible person will disagree. He knows that what makes an army victorious isn’t only the soldiers’ physical combat skills and weaponry, but above all their metaphysical sense of higher purpose, discipline, sense of camaraderie, esprit de corps, patriotism they affirm each time they salute the flag or the anthem.

Agreed? Then what’s true of an army is also true, many times over, of a nation. And in specifically the British nation the royal family embodies its metaphysical essence to such an extent that the nation and the family are one.

But can’t the same be said about the president of a republic or a prime minister wielding executive power? Perhaps it can. But not nearly with the same conviction or the same accuracy.

A useful clue is provided by a dialogue that took place on 2 June, 1953, at Her Majesty’s coronation.

Archbishop: “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England?” The Queen: “All this I promise to do.”

This was a reminder that it’s not any political post in the offices of Westminster but priestly service at the altar of God that’s perhaps the closest approximation of the monarch’s mission.

Self-abnegation for the sake of something greater than oneself, offering one’s whole life as a conduit of transcendence, submitting one’s own self to a greater good – that’s what a priest’s job is. And the monarch’s.

Both derive their remit and inspiration from God, and the divine right of kings used to be the basis of Western statehood. That doctrine has fallen into disrepute, but only an obtuse ignoramus will deny that monarchy is not just a secular institution, but also a sacral one.

When the French debated the notion of the divine right of kings, Joseph de Maistre remarked that the origin of royal legitimacy can’t be readily traced back to any other source. It goes so far back that we might as well assume it derives from God.

In the British constitution the sacral nature of the royal remit is a matter of law, not just philosophical speculation. Our monarchs are given the traditional title of defensor fidei, Defender of the Faith, first granted to Henry VIII.

It remains to be seen if Charles III will accept that title: in his pronouncements as the Prince of Wales he hinted he saw himself more as the “defender of faith”, meaning all faiths. I hope he has reconsidered, for dropping that definite article would be constitutional sabotage even worse than anything Blair perpetrated.

After all, our monarch is also the Supreme Governor of the established church, which job ought to make it hard for him to defend, say, animism, Flagellantism or any cult involving human sacrifice.

Defending the faith also means defending the culture and civilisation based on the faith, preventing any unbridgeable fissure appearing among the generations past, present and future. In this the monarch is supposed to be assisted by both Parliament and the established church.

These aren’t just any old institutions. They are all instruments of historical continuity, bodies that protect, define and perpetuate the nation as a cohesive entity, not an aggregate of atomised individuals.

The recent record of both Parliament and the church in this vital aspect of their mission can only charitably be described as mixed. That places an even heavier burden on the monarch as a factor of constancy, the sentinel of the British national soul.

Our world is in flux, with every traditional certitude being replaced at a kaleidoscopic speed. The speed is much greater than ever, but things have never stood still: the wheels of life are spinning and they have always done so.

So much more vital it is then that they spin around a sturdy axle, and that, no matter how much any specific laws change, their constitutional essence remains constant and immutable.

Speaking in a different context, the great missionary Matteo Ricci (d. 1610) said: “Simus, ut sumus, aut non simus” (“We shall remain as we are or we shall not remain at all”). This adage applies, or rather should apply, to the British monarchy, although not with dogmatic commitment to every detail.

The mission of our monarchy isn’t to prevent change. It’s to make sure that, in the midst of chaotic, often irreversible toing and froing, the metaphysical, constitutional and legal essence of the nation remains the same – for otherwise it may not remain at all.

Lest you may think it’s all about metaphysics, it isn’t. There exist a ganglion of intersecting synapses of government, mainly legal, that would all atrophy without the monarchy acting as the cortex.

Tony ‘Anthony’ Blair found that out the hard way, when, in the midst of his orgy of constitutional vandalism, he tried to abolish the post of Lord Chancellor. The post predates that of prime minister, in fact it predates the Norman Conquest, but the patina of historical continuity means nothing to modern barbarians.

However, Blair discovered to his chagrin that abolishing the post would produce an irreparable legal mayhem, bringing down the whole constitutional edifice of Britain. Hence even he had to backtrack and reconsider.

Yet the Lord Chancellor is a mere bolt in the vehicle of our legal system, whereas the monarch is its engine. Remove the monarch, and our legality, which is to say our polity and civility, will sputter to a juddering stop.

This isn’t an attempt at an exhaustive exegesis of monarchy as a key British institution. As I mentioned earlier, it’s merely a few signposts for those who “miss the point of the royal family” to find it by their own efforts. This job should have been done in elementary school but, by the sound of it, hasn’t been.

As I write this, the Privy Council has just proclaimed our new monarch, King Charles III. God bless him.

The Queen is dead, long live the love

I’ve never felt anything like this. I’ve never seen anything like this. So much love for a woman most of us have never met.

A public, especially political, figure can be liked, respected, appreciated, worshipped even. Yet in my rather long lifetime I’ve never seen one who could be loved. Except her.

For love, in any other than the Christian sense, is too intimate a feeling to spread around widely. It’s something we reserve for the family, the closest of friends and, of course, God.

What do we love them for? It doesn’t matter. We just do. Because they just are.

How did the head of a state foreign to most people of the world earn such unquestioning, self-evident, matter-of-fact love even beyond her native shores? I don’t know. But I do know she did.

My brother-in-law and his wife are in the South of France now. Strangers – Frenchmen! – are approaching them in the street to say how deeply sorry they are. Our French and American friends have rung or written to us, each word touched with genuine sadness.

None of them have any attachment to the institution of monarchy, not self-admittedly at any rate, and some of them have a historical axe to grind with the British monarchy in particular. Come to think of it, I even know a few misguided Britons who share those sentiments.

But here’s the amazing thing. Many people may have a high regard for an office, but not necessarily for its current holder. (The Papacy springs to mind, as does the Archbishopric of Canterbury.) But with Her Majesty it was often the other way around. Even inveterate republicans and anti-monarchists loved her personally. And now they are grieving with the rest of us.

Obituaries are talking about her dignity, sense of duty, dedication to public service, fortitude and many other things, each of them true, each of them superlative. Singly, each of them is enough to explain respect, all of them together perhaps even adulation. Yet none of them explains love.

I can’t explain it either. It could be that Her Majesty was so much at one with all her subjects, that we now feel that something of us has died. Or else the Queen has become so synonymous with England that people may think that some of England has died.

All that may be true. But love doesn’t die. It hasn’t. And it won’t.

We’ll never see anything like this again. I don’t know what kind of king Charles III will be, although I have my doubts. But even if he turns out to be a sage monarch, he’ll never be loved as much as Her Majesty. Liked and respected, possibly. Loved, I don’t think so.

Obituarists are saying she was the glue that made the kingdom united, and they fear that without that glue the realm will come unstuck. That’s a legitimate fear, and I share it. But all this is for another day, and not very soon either.

Today is about grief, sorrow, mourning – and love.

Her Majesty Elizabeth II, our beloved sovereign, Requiescat In Pace.