Equality makes people dumb

If I may be allowed a slight paraphrase, I hold this truth to be self-evident that no two men are created equal.

There’s one born every second

There, doesn’t this tally with our daily observation better than the original text? Clearly, an innumerate chap isn’t equal to a maths professor, an illiterate one to a writer, a child to his father, a criminal to a law-abiding man.

We aren’t even entirely equal before the law: people under a certain age can’t vote, neither can prison inmates, a Catholic can’t marry into our royal family, Americans who inscribed equality in their founding document I bowdlerised above have age qualifications for public offices and a nativity one for the presidency.

Even equality before God only works at birth and perhaps in infancy. Later, if a child grows up to be a thief, he isn’t equal to one who observes God’s and man’s laws. They are no more equal than paradise and hell.

The more we look at the world, the more we realise that it’s organised hierarchically. So was the traditional Western society, patterned as it was on the family.

A family is always vertical, with the father occupying a higher rung than the child and… I almost said ‘the mother’, but stopped myself lest the sky might open and the God of secular virtue smite me with a court summons.

A hierarchy is like the steel carcass of a building: it makes the structure sound and durable. In society, a vertical social arrangement provides a form into which human content can then flow. Remove that, and society becomes amorphous – water on the tablecloth, not in a glass.

It’s precisely destruction of this form that a newly inaugurated modernity declared as its overriding goal. Removing ranks of nobility or at least divesting them of any power was one part of it; sanctifying majority vote as the only just political system was another.

Both may sound like good ideas, but only to those who lack training in thinking things through. Such an exercise, coupled with unbiased observation, would show that egalitarianism has lethal consequences in every walk of life.

Losing its form, society disintegrates into an atomised mass of resentful egotists, giving the lie to the masonic slogan of modernity. For it’s not just liberty, but also fraternity that equality makes impossible.

Revolutionaries who start out by believing that, since all people are equally good and capable, they are only ever held back by the yoke of hierarchy, soon find out they are wrong.

Given equal opportunities for advancement, some people advance further than others, and some don’t advance at all. The revolutionaries become so disappointed with the people that killing them all seems unavoidable.

In more vegetarian societies it’s the people themselves who get disappointed. No matter how vociferously they demand equality, and no matter how hard the state tries to deliver it, the rich remain richer than the poor, the tall taller than the short, the knowledgeable smarter than the ignorant.

That produces social atomisation, for a sense of supposedly unjust inequality breeds resentment, and resentment begets egotism. Feeling betrayed by society, each man locks himself within himself. Rather than seeing his neighbour as his brother, he begins to see him as a competitor. There goes fraternité, biting the dust.

Yet it would be wrong to say that equality is a pipe dream. In fact, every country has achieved it in small enclaves where people’s clothes, food, lodgings and indeed rights aren’t merely equal but identical.

These perfectly egalitarian places are called gaols, and indeed prison is the epitome of egalitarian aspirations, the ideal towards which they strive. Liberté goes the way of fraternité, both ousted by égalité.

Another great damage caused by egalitarianism is intellectual. All classes have been levelled socially, and politically each vote has the same weight at the booth. By unavoidable transference, a belief gradually sets in that all opinions are equally true or at least equally valid.

Phrases like “I have a right to my own opinion” and “let’s agree to disagree” are routinely uttered by ignoramuses arguing with learned men. You think the Earth is round, I think it’s flat, so what makes your opinion better than mine?

Underpinning such exchanges is the dominant belief that greater knowledge confers no more advantages intellectually than noble birth does socially. All idiots are savants or all savants are idiots – take your pick.

Since absolute truth has been declared nonexistent, thought on all subjects other than the narrowly technical ones has lost both structure and a teleological aspect. It too has become amorphous, and the general assumption is that intellectual arguments can be settled by majority opinion as decisively as political elections. “Not many people will agree with you” is seen as a valid QED.

When truth is replaced with a patchwork quilt of supposedly equal opinions, the opinion that most readily appeals to the less intelligent wins out by its strength in numbers: people capable of grasping the totality of a problem are always in the minority.

Witness the ease with which yesterday’s eccentricities become today’s orthodoxies – and also the maniacal stridency with which the huddled masses yearning to be equal enforce the new-fangled orthodoxies.

The views that homosexuals could marry, or that people could choose their sex from a menu of some 20 options, or that a freshly minted man can give birth and become both the father and mother to his child would have been regarded as symptoms of mental illness a generation ago.

Today they are orthodoxies, meaning that no dissent is possible. The same goes for equality between (among?) the sexes.

Ask its champion how come, if the sexes are equal, every time you call for a plumber or electrician a man turns up, and you’ll be told you can’t generalise on that basis – you can’t generalise full stop, under any circumstances.

In fact, the ability to generalise, to think inductively, is a tell-tale sign of an intelligent man – for him, empirical observations fit into a system of thought, rather than walking away in every possible direction on their own two legs, leaving intellectual emptiness behind.

It’s in this context that we can understand the public reaction to the Extinction Rebellion and the mayhem it’s causing in central London.

Anthropogenic (and apocalyptic) global warming is a hypothesis, a theory, just like Darwinism is only a theory. That designation used to presuppose vulnerability to conflicting evidence and certainly a possibility of debate. No longer.

If in the past elevation to orthodoxy took decades, advances in communications technology of which modernity is so smugly proud have shortened that span to days, months at the longest.

Hence the most we are allowed to say is that, while we deplore the disruption those crazed cretins are causing, we wholeheartedly sympathise with their half-baked cause. In fact, as Boris Johnson has grovelled, we are grateful to them for bringing the impending end of the world to our attention.

We are witnessing a delayed-action bomb going off, for modernity, ushered in to uphold reason, has gradually destroyed it in the name of equality. Intelligent people still exist, but they are neither listened to nor indeed heard.

All we hear is the deafening braying of the mob, Chesterton’s village idiots and village atheists coming together not only in the same crowds but also in the same breasts. And then marching towards a glorious dream bound to turn out to be a macabre nightmare.

Sanctimonious, moi?

By itself, taking part in the Extinction Rebellion circus doesn’t make Benedict Cumberbatch a “sanctimonious fraud”, “stupid” or “shallow”, as some of his disappointed fans are calling him.

How many miles to a gallon is that, Ben?

It makes him a modern man par excellence. I’d even go so far as to suggest that Mr Cumberbatch is the sun for which all modernity tropistically reaches.

The fans detect, and are upset by, some incongruity in Mr Cumberbatch’s febrile hatred of carbon emissions and his frequent lucrative endorsements of muscle cars, such as the MG and Jaguar.

Shilling for the latter, he once delivered a snappy line: “It’s good to be bad.” Possibly, provided one knows what good and bad are. That’s where the problem is.

Good and bad are, or rather used to be, moral and therefore metaphysical concepts. They presuppose the existence of some ideal of moral truth acting as the measuring stick of virtue and sin.

By definition such an ideal has to be absolute and timeless, for if it isn’t, it leaves the realm of truth and enters one of fickle relativities. In the process, words that in the past denoted metaphysical realities are prostituted to physical appetites and thereby desemanticised.

Thus Hemingway, another quintessentially modern man, felt justified to write that “if it feels good, it’s moral”.

If that’s not a category error, I don’t know what is: the writer equates sensual, which is to say physical, which is to say transient, which is to say relative, pleasure with an absolute metaphysical ideal. Hemingway could write, but he couldn’t think.

Such an understanding of morality is consistent with the rampant, all-conquering materialism of modernity. To a modern man, relating his appetites to first principles isn’t so much alien as incomprehensible.

Yet even a modern man is still human. While pursuing material gains in the form of money and the sensations it buys, he still feels a longing for that elusive something he can no longer define, something bigger than himself – or rather something he pretends to be bigger than himself: inveterate egotist, deep down he knows that nothing really is.

Since truth is no longer part of his vocabulary, nor metaphysics a word that means anything to him, he looks for that something in the material passions of today. He seeks the superpersonal while rejecting the supernatural.

For those who retain some vestiges of sanity (and their number is dwindling), this quest is a pleasant, ego-stroking diversion, a way of feeling good about themselves without having to do anything serious to deserve it. Ego thus stroked and purring with delight, they can resume real, material life.

Thus I’m sure Mr Cumberbatch doesn’t quite understand why some of his fans are calling him names just because he promotes carbon emissions on wheels and then protests against carbon emissions.

The first is real life, the second is onanistic self-gratification. What on earth is the problem? Can’t a chap do both? A secular materialist during the day, a secular idealist in the after hours?

Indeed he can. Especially if he doesn’t realise that he, along with all quintessentially modern men, suffers from schizophrenia. When the proportion of such madmen losing touch with reality reaches a critical mass, our civilisation will perish – while ‘the planet’ will remain in rude health.

It’s not long now, judging by the public response to this current bout of madness. What used to be condescending acquiescence has become mandated approval. When it becomes compulsory participation, we’ll know the end is nigh.

At least terrorists do it on purpose

Whenever US and British personnel share military bases, carnage ensues. The Americans kill and are killed, using cars as their weapons of choice.

It’s time foreigners learned to drive properly

Here I’d like to share my experience of driving close to a million miles in the US, Britain and just about every country in Western Europe. Naturally, switching from one place to another, one has to adjust to different road conditions and drivers’ habits.

Comparisons are made, generalisations are drawn, and mine are that Britons are by far the best drivers I’ve encountered, and Americans are among the worst.

Statistics support this observation: in Britain we have 3.1 annual road deaths per 100,000 population; in the US it’s 12.4. Four times as many – even though Britain is cramped and drivers have to fight for every inch, while much of driving in America is done on empty motorways.

I recall driving from Houston to Los Angeles years ago, and for about 300 miles the only other car I saw going in either direction belonged to a cop who gave me a ticket for doing 40 miles over the 55 mph limit.

Other than being done for speeding, the only danger on such roads comes from falling asleep, and this may explain why it’s American and not British soldiers who create fatal accidents when serving together.

The knife’s edge conditions on British roads train drivers to stay focused at all times, never losing their concentration. Luxurious American roads may have the opposite effect – one learns to relax, knowing that it’ll be hundreds of miles before another car appears.

The latest cause for such conjecture is the scandal caused by Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a CIA officer attached to an RAF base in Northamptonshire. Mrs Sacoolas drove on the wrong side of the road and killed a 19-year-old motorcyclist.

She then promptly fled the country under cover of diplomatic immunity, which supposedly protects her as well as her husband.

Now diplomatic immunity may be an essential tool in international relations, but it’s not – nor is meant to be – a licence to kill. Established by the 1961 Geneva Convention, it’s granted with the proviso that its beneficiaries must obey the law.

Causing death by dangerous driving merits up to 14 years in prison. Hence Mrs Sacoolas’s spy-drama escape on a private flight, even though she had promised the police to stay put.

The spirit of the law demands that her immunity be revoked and she face the music in Britain. The British foreign secretary made that request, only to be curtly dismissed by President Trump.

“The spouse of the US government employee will not return to the United Kingdom,” he said, adding an offhand remark that people sometimes drive on the wrong side of the road.

Indeed they do. However, if they kill as a result they tend to be prosecuted, which by the looks of it isn’t going to happen to Mrs Sacoolas.

Americans have form in being confused by unfamiliar traffic rules. Back in 2007 two US servicemen died near RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall. The Suffolk coroner then issued a reminder that Britons drive on the left, and yet in 2016 another American serviceman was killed on the wrong side of the road.

British left-hand traffic causes problems not only for Americans but also for continentals – much to the delight of a friend of mine who lives in Colchester.

His terrace overlooks a roundabout on the road leading from Harwich ferry port. Every Saturday afternoon my friend settles in a comfy deck chair, G&T in hand, and waits for some arrival from the Hook of Holland to cause an accident by driving the wrong way on that roundabout. He seldom has to wait for more than one drink.

All that points to a problem, but there is a solution. Ideally, any American or European planning to drive in Britain should take a remedial driving course. That, however, is neither practical nor promising, considering that those foreigners kill one another with alacrity even on their own roads.

Hence we must make sure that everybody drives on the same side. To that end, both the US and continental Europe should switch to left-hand traffic.

This proposal is inspired not by jingoism but by history, science and common sense.

Historically, all of Europe drove on the left until the continental blockade introduced by Napoleon, who presaged Macron in his fanatic commitment to a united Europe.

Since Britain characteristically refused to play along, out of sheer spite Napoleon introduced right-hand traffic in the European countries under his control.

Originally, people drove on the left because carriage drivers wielded their whips with the right hand. That’s why they were unlikely to lash innocent passers-by, only ever endangering other carriage drivers.

When drivers switched to cars, science came in to support left-hand traffic. Tests show that, when a head-on collision is threatened, most drivers instinctively turn the wheel to the left, which in Britain means towards the pavement and on the continent towards the oncoming traffic. That too might be a contributing factor to the remarkably low number of road deaths in Britain.

One wishes those continentals realised the error of their ways and followed our rational example proven historically and scientifically. But they never do, do they?

A bloody good question

“We have been there for 16 years,” writes an American reader of mine in response to my yesterday’s piece on Turkey and the Kurds, “and if you say that we have no exit at this time, how can we end it?”

The problem goes deeper than the odd explosion or shooting

The title above is the short answer, or rather non-answer, to that question. Yet I feel duty-bound not to leave it at that.

The general comment is that the best way to correct costly mistakes in foreign policy is not to make them in the first place.

That, however, is seldom the option, given the calibre of those in charge of global affairs. Today’s politics simply doesn’t attract people capable of thinking as deeply and broadly as this subject demands.

Emotions, ideologies, short-sighted electoral needs, press campaigns, inflamed public opinion all conspire to push our intellectually and morally challenged leaders towards precipitate, often foolhardy, action. Such as the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Fear of Saddam’s WMD, which he didn’t have, was only a pretext for it, not the reason. The reason was an overemotional reaction to the shock of 9/11.

WE MUST DO SOMETHING!!! was the battle cry, and it had merit. Something indeed had to be done, but what?

The answer to that question depends on whether 9/11 is believed to be an isolated incident, one of many such ad hoc events, or a manifestation of a certain pattern of long standing.

Any person whose mind isn’t befuddled by self-righteous ideologies will know that Islam has been waging war on the West for 1,400 years. That religion is doctrinally committed to expanding ad infinitum, and disposing of as many infidels as that goal required.

Obviously, no nation can afford 1,400 years of non-stop action. Even conflicts of considerably shorter duration, such as the Thirty Years’ War, didn’t feature 30 years of uninterrupted hostility. Long wars always ebb and flow, they have peaks and troughs. Islam’s war on the West is like that too.

Whenever the Muslim world is at its most impassioned, and the West at its weediest, the war flares up. When Muslim passions attenuate and the West’s strength increases, there are lulls. Yet the underlying hostility never abates.

At present, the West enjoys an overwhelming military and economic superiority over the Islamic world, sufficient for keeping Islam at bay – provided it doesn’t experience a sharp peak in uncontrollable passion.

The West’s strategy should then be keeping things at an even keel, trying to preserve the status quo and not to inflame too much rage. And, if a major hostile act is nevertheless committed, it must be punished with a sufficient deterrent value to discourage further attacks for a long time.

Under such circumstances the West is justified to treat Islam at large as the enemy, not just the group, or even the state, immediately at fault. Islam must be held collectively responsible for the crimes committed in its name.

A cataclysmic event like 9/11 called for a no-holds-barred response. For example, since the strength of the Islamic world is solely dependent on oil, I would have been in favour of occupying the oilfields throughout the Middle East and administering them long enough for the passions to quiet down.

No force, regardless of how apocalyptic, required to achieve that objective would be off-limits. The West would explain to the Muslims that hostile acts would be punished severely enough to prevent them in the future. They’d get their oil back when they learned to behave, but not until then.

Throughout I’d ignore political realities – the war between Islam and the West isn’t political, but existential. Hence it wouldn’t matter how often, if ever, this or that Muslim state held elections. Elections mean little in Islamic countries that are all theocratic to some extent.

Now, we understand that no Western leader would allow such thoughts as much as to cross his mind. They all fall over themselves like ninepins screaming: “Islam is a religion of peace”.

I’ve heard these very words uttered by a platoon of US presidents and British prime ministers. Clearly, 1,400 years of history fall silent when ideology speaks.

Yet SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE!!! And that something had to be justified, for America must always have a noble reason for any military action.

Enter the neocons, so many Iagos whispering into Othello’s ear. You have a mission in life, Mr President. The Middle East is being run by dictators, the Saddams, Mubaraks and Gadaffis of this world. And yet their people are gagging for US-style democracy, the acme of political virtue and sagacity.

We must get rid of those undemocratic tyrants and bring democracy to every goatherd and Bedouin out there. They’ll become our friends once they’re exposed to the delights of a bicameral legislature elected by universal franchise. That’ll be our response to 9/11.

Er… yes, well, but do we have any proof that Saddam is responsible for 9/11? Oh, Mr President, that’s not the point. The point is that he’s a nasty dictator and has to go. Enter 2003.

I remember talking at the time to a British copycat neocon who has since become a media star specialising in anti-Islam invective (in his case largely inspired by personal resentments). He was all fired up about the attack on Iraq, while I spoke along the same lines as I am here.

“You may be right,” said the copycat. “But let’s just poke the hornet’s nest and see what happens.” Well, we’ve seen it now. The nest has been poked and murderous insects are flying all over the world.

The tyrants were indeed contemptible, but they more or less kept the wild-eyed fanatics under control. Once they were ousted, it immediately turned out that those goatherds and Bedouins didn’t want a bicameral legislature and independent judiciary. They wanted a free hand to kill anyone they didn’t like: Jews, Christians, Europeans, Americans, one another – whatever today’s appetite craved.

The Middle East was aflame, and it instantly became blood-soaked. Millions have died, millions more have fled, mostly to Europe, where they are encouraged to see themselves not as immigrants but as colonisers. And blood is gushing all over the region.

Suddenly the US presence, while criminally idiotic in the first place, has become essential to contain tribal and religious enmities that have been bubbling just under the surface for 14 centuries.

Americans manifestly failed to follow the wisdom of De Niro’s tough character in the film Ronin: “I never go in if I don’t know how I’ll come out.” They went in, and now they are stuck.

In the process, Americans have developed an intricate – and fluid – set of alliances they can’t afford to abandon for fear of a global conflagration. Also, the chaos largely of their making has drawn in major strategic players, such as Russia and now Turkey, both run by quasi-fascist regimes with far-reaching objectives.

Given that situation, simply withdrawing US forces is tantamount to a massive strategic shift not just in the Middle East but all over the world, with potentially catastrophic consequences.

That takes us back to the title above as the only, albeit feeble, reply I can give my reader. There’s no satisfactory end to this situation, barring what sociologists call a paradigm shift in the way our leaders and opinion formers think about the Middle East.

That, as we know, will never happen: the weight of ideology cum piety would be too crushing even for stronger intellectual shoulders than those possessed by Mr Trump et al. Hence, with an apology to my inquisitive reader, I don’t have the same clarity now as I had in 2003.

“We deserve perdition, yet God might have mercy on us,” he concludes. I’ll pray for that; the best I can do.

Turkish march

I thought it would take about a week, but I was wrong. Just a couple of days after President Trump withdrew US forces from northern Syria, Turkey launched an offensive designed to rout the Kurdish militia – as a prelude to an orgy of ethnic cleansing.

Trump helps Vlad flex his muscles

Vastly outnumbered Kurds need every man they can find, which is why they’ve had to withdraw their troops from guarding ISIS prisoner camps. Hence the immediate effect of Trump’s action will be thousands of ISIS fanatics re-joining the fight in the Middle East – or, as a safer option, bestowing their attentions on Europe.

But that’s only the immediate effect. Turkey’s certain victory in this conflict is guaranteed to be followed by genocide that may well outdo that of 1915, when the Young Turk government oversaw the murder of 1.5 million Armenians.

Trump’s action constitutes a shameful betrayal of the Kurds, who have lost 12,000 men fighting side by side with Americans and their allies. But ethics aside, the US finds itself in a precarious position.

For Turkey is America’s ally too, a fellow member of NATO. In that capacity she’s open to the kind of invective Trump reserves for America’s friends.

In this case, Mr Trump justified his decision to abandon the Kurds by threatening to “obliterate” Turkey’s economy if she went “off limits”. He demanded that Turkey “not do anything outside of what we would think is humane”.

If he thinks such threats will cut much ice with Turkey, he doesn’t know much about the country’s history, people and government. In any case, even if Erdogan heeds the warning, he won’t necessarily be able to contain the enthusiasm of Turkish commanders and their men.

However, should Trump’s administration indeed try to hurt Turkey economically, her northern neighbour, Putin’s Russia, will happily step in to make up any shortfalls. And that, speaking in coldblooded strategic terms, will be the worst consequence of Trump’s action.

No doubt his friend Vlad Putin is grinning like the Cheshire Cat: well-done, Donald. Yet again. Knew I could count on you.

Ever since joining the war in Syria, Putin has been playing dozens of ends against the middle, trying to become the dominant player in the region. To that end, Russia has been cultivating both Iran and Turkey, whose feelings for each other lack excessive warmth.

Should the Turkish offensive develop as clearly planned, Turkey would act as Putin’s proxy, his battering ram in the Middle East. And Vlad has been running Erdogan in the best traditions of the KGB/FSB, his sponsoring organisation.

Back in July, Turkey took delivery of Russia’s state-of-the-art AA missile systems S-400, brushing aside NATO’s objections that the weapons weren’t compatible with NATO’s. It’s certain that Russian armaments will now flow into Turkey in a mighty stream.

This development threatens to compromise NATO’s southern flank more than it’s already compromised – but then again, Mr Trump rarely makes an effort to conceal his contempt for that organisation. And of course his friend Vlad hates it with an unmitigated passion.

After all, it was NATO that was instrumental in what Putin calls “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”, the breakup of the Soviet Union, which Vlad is desperately trying to reverse.

Southward expansion, gaining a foothold at the Straits, has been the strategic objective of the Russian empire since the 18th century at least. After all, the possibilities of expanding eastwards are limited and northwards, non-existent.

Catherine II (now featuring in a staggeringly awful TV series) explained why. “It’s good that we have the Arctic Ocean on our north,” she once said. “Otherwise we’d run out of soldiers.”

The west is another promising direction, and Putin’s aggression against the Ukraine again follows an imperial pattern of long standing. But it’s southward expansion that’s seen as the most immediately promising move towards the restoration of the Russian Empire, this time run by its secret police.

I’m not going to speculate on the nature of the friendship between Trump and Putin. It’s immaterial whether Trump acquiesces in Putin’s policies willingly or under duress. What’s vital is that he does acquiesce in them, and that – as a minimum – he doesn’t see a KGB-run Russia as the global threat she is.

One thing to be said for Trump is that he didn’t create the current mess in the Middle East. That honour belongs to George W. Bush, with his 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Egged on by his neocon advisers, with their incendiary rhetoric about nation building and bringing US-style democracy to every tribal society on earth, Bush stirred up a hornet’s nest, and the hornets flew out on cue, stinging millions.

That madness had to end somehow, but the trouble was that no sensible exit was immediately obvious. However, there’s nothing sensible about Trump’s betrayal of the Kurds. It’s at best ill-advised and at worst it can be catastrophic.

Bring back water cannon?

That was one columnist’s advice on how to handle the 30,000 Extinction Rebellion fanatics who have shut Central London down for two days – and promise to do so for a fortnight.

One warning burst would do it

All progressive people responded to that recommendation with spittle-sputtering indignation. I share their wrath unreservedly: live rounds would work much better.

Oh well, since unlike, say, China, Britain is civilised, machine-gunning those zealots will have to remain a cherished fantasy. Fair enough, indiscriminate firing at crowds of unarmed protesters would be an overreaction.

However, we run the risk of throwing away the baby of reaction with the bathwater of overreaction. For let’s make no mistake about it: Britain is under an existential threat. Unless we respond forcefully, the country won’t remain civilised for long.

Goethe once wrote that: “Only he is worthy of life and liberty who fights for them every day.” By that standard, we aren’t worthy.

The police made a mere 321 arrests, which didn’t make the situation any better. All the roads and bridges around Westminster were blocked, and patients at St Thomas’ Hospital, across the river from the Houses of Parliament, were stranded.

Ambulances couldn’t get in or out, which put lives at risk. One woman suffering from lung cancer had to wait for more than an hour because a taxi couldn’t reach her. But hey, what’s a life or two compared to the great cause?

The prime minister reacted to the situation with his customary verbal flair, calling the fanatics “the denizens of the heaving hemp-smelling bivouacs that now litter Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park Corner”.

But, rather than proposing a solution, Mr Johnson showed he himself was part of the problem by contrasting the ‘denizens’ to Margaret Thatcher, described as a “true feminist green revolutionary” who took greenhouse gases “seriously long before Greta Thunberg”.

The logical inference is that their cause is noble, but they serve it the wrong way. All the papers reacted in a similar vein, regretting the plight of London and describing the protesters’ demands as overambitious, while dignifying the cause behind those demands with virtue-signalling respect.

They all miss the point: the cause is but a pretext. When a mugger pulls a gun and demands £10, he realistically expects you to give him £10. But if the gunman demands a billion pounds, he’s not out to get your money. He’s out to kill you.

This analogy is accurate. For the ‘denizens’ are agitating for zero carbon emissions and no petrol and diesel cars by 2025. And while we’re at it, all of Britain must go vegan by the same time. They know and we know and they know we know that’s not going to happen.

Hence it’s not what they really want, strategically. Their febrile screams about ‘the planet’ are just a tactic, one among many, but one on which they’ve chosen to concentrate their satanic energies at the moment.

Their real animus isn’t love of nature but hatred of the West in general and Britain in particular. Since they don’t have the minds to understand the complexities of such hated entities, those infernal youths reduce them to one: capitalism, naturally understood in the Marxist sense.

That’s why that poor insane Greta froths at the mouth every time she opens it about the fat cats who profit while ‘the planet’ burns.

“We probably don’t even have a future anymore,” she once screamed. “That future has been sold so that a small number of people can make unimaginable amounts of money.” Get rid of those bloodsuckers, and everything will be hunky-dory, and where have we heard this before?

She and other callow revolutionaries know that without fossil fuels and nuclear energy (their previous, but at the moment secondary, target) ‘capitalism’ will crash, taking Western civilisation down with it. QED.

Should they get their way – and our government’s cowardly, dishonest response suggests they might – the consequences would indeed be unimaginable. The only civilisation that has managed to make decent life available to most people would collapse, burying millions under the rubble.

There would be endless famines, medicines would run out, darkness would descend on our cities, and people would be too hungry, weak and cold to resist the young oppressors, lording it over them with time-proven revolutionary cruelty.

Lacking the energy to survive, the world would have to reduce its population to pre-industrial levels, when all energy was produced by water and wind. Britain’s population in 1800 was 10 million, and that’s what it would be again should those possessed youths get their way. Subtract that number from the current 65 million, and you’ll get the human cost of ‘saving the planet’.

The first batches of victims would fall in the same Third World these pimply ‘denizens’ profess to worship. Those countries already struggle to feed their people or to give them clean water – what’ll happen to them when they have no power stations, tractors or canning factories?

The infernal youths don’t care; such people never do. They’re not out to save anybody or anything – they are out to wreak chaos and destruction, inevitably culminating in mass murder, even if that’s not the original intent.

Rather than spouting nonsense about the “feminist green revolutionary” Margaret Thatcher, Mr Johnson, who prides himself on his knowledge of history, should cast a retrospective eye over every country where gonadic youngsters were given the run of the place.

I’d suggest countries like Russia, China and Cambodia as the most obvious models because all those young Bolsheviks, Red Guards and Khmer Rouge were cut out of exactly the same cloth as this lot.

If we don’t stop them, they’ll ruin everything they hate so much about the West, which is the West. So… well, as I write, the idea of strategically placed machine-guns is becoming more and more attractive. Hypothetically, of course.

Outvandal the vandals?

One can only ever disagree with David Davis, MP, respectfully because he’s widely, and deservedly, respected.

Think again, Mr Davis

Hence I’ll only describe his article Brexit Is the Writing on the Wall for Our ‘Constitution’ as ill-considered.

According to Mr Davis, last month’s outrageous decision by the Supreme Court is “the latest indication that Britain’s so-called unwritten constitution is now failing to deliver either effective or democratic government.” Right. So our constitution is only so-called, not real.

And then: “That centuries-old system, a fluid interpretation of codes, customs, conventions and case law, operated in a way that respected the realities of the day… [and] it worked better than the most elegant legal constructs of other nations.”

That our ‘so-called’ constitution has worked better than any written document produced by other nations is a matter not of opinion but of fact. Yet our constitution has been so successful not because it “respected the realities of the day”, but specifically because it didn’t.

Instead it brought to the fore timeless values that transcended quotidian concerns: common sense, restraint, justice, equity and respect for tradition – which happen to be the defining aspects of the British national character.

Both the character and the constitution have developed in parallel, overlapping so much that almost nothing sticks out: Britain, unlike any other European nation, is defined by her political dispensation. Take that away, and not only British politics will no longer be British, but the British will no longer be British.

Our constitution, incorporating both the monarchy and the Church, is a factor of organic continuity; it’s a bond tying together generations past, present and future. No nation can survive without some such bond, but, of the great European nations, only in Britain is it provided by a constitutional settlement.

Yet Mr Davis is right: at present, our constitution is indeed “failing to deliver either effective or democratic government”.

I especially like this “either… or”. Surely Mr Davis doesn’t believe our government has to choose between efficacy and democracy? He probably doesn’t, but I do – in the sense in which democracy is now used.

A successful constitution usually has enough margin built in to accommodate the odd influx of mediocre guardians, such as politicians, judges and civil servants. But no constitution can succeed when such people either don’t understand it or don’t like it or, especially, actively seek to undermine it.

Hence one test of a sound constitution is its ability to elevate to government those whose intellect and character make them fit to govern. Our constitution has been failing that test over the past decades, and the key problem comes from letting democracy claim the exalted ascendancy to which it wasn’t traditionally entitled.

That’s why sage people have over centuries lovingly nurtured a constitution able to prevent tyranny by both minority and majority. To that end all the elements of our constitution, including the democratic one, have been carefully balanced against one another.

After all, only responsible voters can elect a responsible government. Edmund Burke estimated the number of those fit to vote in his contemporaneous eighteenth-century England at 400,000, which then constituted about eight per cent of the country’s population.

These days we clearly can’t impose the same qualifications on suffrage that were normal in Burke’s day. Yet that shouldn’t mean that no qualifications should be imposed at all. The most obvious one is that of voting age, which has been creeping downwards – to a point where the head of politics at Cambridge University has called for children as young as six to be given the vote, and he was being serious.

In fact, constitutional vandalism has been gathering pace precisely in the decades following 1969, when voting age was lowered to 18. For a broad swathe of the electorate began to vote – and consequently exert upward pressure on the government – with their gonads, rather than their immature minds.

The entire political spectrum began to shift leftwards at an alarming speed, creating a conflict between ‘liberal’ policies and an inherently conservative constitution.

At roughly the same time, the education system fell victim to egalitarian zeal, making sure that even many of those who could develop a political intellect were denied the opportunity to do so.

That has led to intellectually feeble and morally corrupt individuals ascending to government en masse. Once there, they attack our constitution, while claiming undying devotion to democracy.

One can see self-interest at work there. Rather than being just one element in the constitution, democracy now sabotages it by corrupting all the other elements. And only a sabotaged constitution can perpetuate the emerging elite of pygmies.

Mr Davis doesn’t seem to understand the aetiology of the malady he sees. And as to the treatment he proposes, any doctor following the same logic would become a mass murderer unless he were struck off first.

He doesn’t suggest measures undoing the damage of the recent decades, such as restoring the now politicised Lords to its traditional constitutional role, getting rid of the equally politicised and superfluous Supreme Court, preventing parliament from rendering the executive impotent, introducing stricter qualifications on voting and so forth.

Instead Mr Davis would like to destroy the greatest constitution in history altogether by replacing it with a US-style written document.

Now, I often use the same simile when talking about written constitutions, likening them to a prenuptial agreement stipulating the frequency of sex: if you have to write it down, you might as well not bother.

Clearly this applies only to old, organically developed nations, not revolutionary governments that draw up their constitutions when they’ve existed for merely 20 years – like the United States, which Mr Davis sees as our role model.

Such governments may indeed require a written document, and more power to them. But throughout history they’ve looked up to Britain in framing their constitutional thought, not the other way around.

Mr Davis is free to admire whomever he finds inspiring, such as “Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, the great American constitutionalists who authored The Federalist Papers”, but he must realise that what was America’s meat would be our poison.

Mr Davis calls for creating yet another quango, and one would think we have enough of them already. The one he proposes is a royal commission set up to put together a written constitution “not unlike” the one drawn up by his idols.

They expertly fused English common law with new-fangled Enlightenment dogmas to create a document that has succeeded on its own terms. Yet Mr Davis himself acknowledges that our terms are different:  

“Madison’s seminal contribution was about limiting any tendency to populist demagoguery creating a majoritarian dictatorship and also protecting the rights of the minority – an idea that has been implicit in British common law for centuries.” [My emphasis.]

I’m confused. If this idea has been implicit in English (not, in this context, British) common law for centuries, what’s so seminal about Madison’s contribution? What is it we have to learn from the American founders – especially since many of them were horrified when observing the chicken hatched by the egg they had laid?

In 1806 John Adams wrote, “I once thought our Constitution was a quasi or mixed government, but they had made it… a democracy.” And in 1811 he rued, “Did not the American Revolution produce the French Revolution? And did not the French Revolution produce all the calamities and desolation of the human race and the whole globe ever since?”

Thomas Jefferson echoed Plato by observing that: “A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one per cent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”

That’s why Hamilton, aware of the democratic tendency to convert appetites into new rights and ancient rights into anachronisms, campaigned tirelessly against the introduction of the Bill of Rights.

“A new codified constitution,” writes Mr Davis, “would have to incorporate those common law traditions, resettle the balance between the executive, parliament, the courts and the people, address the needs of devolved nations, reform the Lords and secure basic rights.”

Incorporate common law traditions into what? A piece of paper that spells out surrender to our rampaging paedocratic modernity? One that would enshrine every perversion and every act of sabotage?

The whole point about common law traditions is that they are based on a careful accumulation of precedents over millennia, not a sweeping brainstorm of some mythical royal commission.

What Mr Davis proposes, unwittingly no doubt, is the ultimate constitutional sabotage that would implode the entire political history of the country. Blown up sky high would be, inter alia, such institutions as the monarchy and the established Church – they manifestly don’t “respect the realities of the day”.

Following them into oblivion would be not just our constitution but our country – as we know it. This isn’t the outcome Mr Davis desires. But it’s one his proposals would deliver if acted upon.

How to say Muslim without saying it

Accepting life as it is rather than as we may wish it to be, whenever a multiple murder occurs, the first word crossing our minds is ‘Muslims’.

All this fire power – why didn’t they stop him before five people went down?

This isn’t racism, jingoism or bigotry – it’s none of those things. It’s simply an inference from experience, following the same logic that Bernie Russell erroneously decried: if the sun rose yesterday, it’ll rise today.

But, to continue my quoting spree, there’s the rub. The media are actively discouraged from identifying Muslim murderers even when their identities are instantly known.

If the hacks can no longer withhold such information, they must do their utmost to stipulate that the murderer’s identity has nothing to do with Islam, which, as we’ve known for the past 1,400 years, is a religion of peace.

Even if the murderer screams “Allahu akbar” in the act, his motives have to be not religious but personal, most likely caused by a mental disorder of some kind.

Finally, after the media have lawyered up and taken a deep breath, they may admit mournfully that yes, the murderer was indeed a Muslim. However, like a criminal under interrogation, they won’t own up to anything the interrogator doesn’t already know. So a Muslim, yes. But not a Muslim terrorist – unless you can prove otherwise.

This pattern recurs at a level of frequency reaching mathematical certainty, as it has done following yesterday’s massacre at the headquarters of Paris police, a grenade’s throw from Notre Dame. An IT worker employed there went on a stabbing rampage, killing three officers and one administrator, and badly wounding another before himself being shot to death.

The only information released in the immediate aftermath stated that the killer lived north of Paris, that there was no terrorist motive involved, and the perpetrator simply had a “moment of madness”.

However, people may be denied information but not the use of their mental faculties. A slight exertion of those, and the jigsaw pieces invariably come together in a complete picture.

The British and other Westerners haven’t yet honed the art of reading between the lines as much as the Soviets used to, but they are getting there. Considering that the Soviets had to develop such roundabout literacy in conditions of no free press whatsoever, this says something about the West that we’d rather not hear.

In this case, it was as if the text between the lines had been written in lemon juice. Hold it to heat, and it gradually becomes legible.

A moment of madness? Well, madness it might have been, but it certainly lasted longer than a moment.

First, the murderer had to go out and buy a large ceramic knife that would beat the metal detectors at the entrance to the police HQ. Then he had to conceal the weapon on his person, nonchalantly carry it through the check and then choose his targets carefully – no mean task in an office full of armed people.

If that’s not careful premeditation, I don’t know what is. So there goes one media canard.

Then what’s that reference to the north of Paris as the murderer’s residence? That area is heavily, though not exclusively, Muslim, so a careful reader would have discerned the first hint at the religion that dare not speak its name.

Another hint is the preemptive denial of a terrorist motive. Why post it in the first place?

Issuing such a denial before all the facts were known was bound to make our between-the-lines reader take a leaf out of my book and again quote Shakespeare: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”.

In effect, the media, both French and ours, said “Muslim” before they actually said it. We understood, and what came next was merely a confirmation.

The murderer has been identified as Michael Harpon, 45, who recently converted to Islam and married a Muslim woman. Well, what do you know, who could have guessed.

The rest of it is still left for our powers of detection to unravel. According to the police, Harpon “was involved in an argument with someone and then erupted in anger, targeting other police colleagues before being neutralised.”

It’s that moment of madness again, and it still doesn’t wash.

I never worked at any one place for as long as Harpon worked at the Paris Police Prefecture, almost 20 years.

But even so, I “erupted in anger” on several occasions. Once, in the early days of my career, I even punched a (much bigger) colleague after he grabbed my shirt front. Yet it never occurred to me to keep a weapon in my desk or on my person to add emphasis to my anger.

Even less likely would I have been to resort to all kinds of subterfuge to smuggle a knife into the building just in case I had a rush of blood to my head. Really, the anger story simply doesn’t work.

As to the absence of a terrorist motive, we’ll have to define terrorism. The standard definition is a criminal act committed for a specific cause pursued by a group to which the criminal belongs.

Then I’d submit that any murder committed by a Muslim for any motive not involving real madness, pecuniary gain or a crime passionel is a terrorist act – especially if perpetrated by a recent convert in the throes of neophyte zeal.

After all, Islam decrees the murder of infidels in hundreds of Koran verses, and a good Muslim must obey the command on pain of perdition, either in this life or the next one. Those 70 virgins don’t come free.

This is the advantage of writing a blog rather than newspapers articles. No paper anywhere in the West would run the piece you’ve just read. Their secular God is athirst – and he demands piety as insistently as Allah.  

BBC impartial? That’s a good one

Whatever indiscretion the BBC Breakfast presenter Naga Munchetty committed, what its former head, Michael Grade, has done is much worse.

I’d go on Naga’s show again, for the sheer pleasure of spending half an hour in her company

Miss Munchetty went beyond her remit by describing President Trump as racist for the advice he proffered to some hard-left congresswomen: “go back to the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came”.

Herself being of off-white heritage, Miss Munchetty explained her outburst on air by her experience of having had the same thing said to her. That left a deep emotional trauma because everything does these days.

But I understand how she feels: Miss Munchetty comes from Streatham, an area that may merit similar descriptors to those Trump used, and the prospect of returning there from the stratospheric heights of her present status must be nightmarish.

No wonder she described herself as “absolutely furious”, adding that many other people must feel the same way – even, one assumes, those who don’t come from Streatham.

At first, the BBC censured Miss Munchetty for compromising journalistic impartiality, for which the Beeb is so widely known among Guardian readers.

Following an outcry from all the predictable quarters, Auntie then rescinded its reprimand because, when all is said and done, calling anybody a racist is everyone’s sacred right.

Personally, I would have rescinded it for another reason: I tend to allow much latitude to women who look as gorgeous as Miss Munchetty, even though I thereby brand myself as a sexist and every other -ist and -phobe in our ever-expanding glossary.

Once I was a guest on her show and found her charming and courteous, even though she charmingly and courteously shut me up every time I tried to suggest that the main purpose of prison is not to rehabilitate but to punish.

Now Lord Gates, true to the ideals the BBC holds dear, has written an article full of compassionate understanding for both Miss Munchetty and her employer. Using the rigorous intellectual standards one expects from our media executives, he unequivocally supported Miss Munchetty, the BBC for censuring her and, again, the BBC for rescinding the censure. 

“The BBC has a paramount duty to be impartial,” he explains. However, “It has always been the case… that racism was not covered by the impartiality guidelines, because there is no defence for racial discrimination: it is not to be treated as a matter of opinion.”

Now, these two sentences amount to one excellent reason to remove the BBC’s charter and let the network fend for itself in the rough-and-tumble of commercial broadcasting.

To begin with, anyone who thinks the BBC unbiased must have been enjoying a lifelong sabbatical in the outer reaches of our galaxy. The Beeb is about as impartial on every key issue as Lenin was on capitalists, Hitler on Jews or Crosland on private education.

Some 90 per cent of its staffers vote Labour or another left-wing party at every election, and the only newspaper that enjoys the riches of BBC recruitment advertising is The Guardian, our leftmost broadsheet.

Thus, if the Beeb had an opening for an old, truculently conservative writer of Russian descent, I wouldn’t know about it because I never sully my hands with that awful publication.

The odd token Tory apart, the network’s talking heads consistently take the liberal position on Brexit, climate change, abortion, immigration, the NHS – you name it.

If you didn’t know that the BBC is staffed with Labour voters, you’d guess it within a nanosecond of watching any of its talk shows or, for that matter, news programmes (bias can skew not only the coverage but also the selection of the news items to be covered).

That much is so evident it’s barely worth discussing. What is, however, noteworthy is Lord Grade’s it-goes-without-saying statement that only racism isn’t covered by the impartiality guidelines.

That racism, properly defined, is reprehensible indeed goes without saying. However, the parenthetic qualification is necessary because, like all modern -isms and -phobias, it’s often defined too loosely and broadly.

The definition goes well beyond racial discrimination or supremacism; it extends, for example, to a simple statement that races may be different or that some are disproportionately represented in the prison population. Sometimes the word is used simply to demonise any conservative, even one who has never opined on race in his life.

Such perversions apart, racism qua racism is a mortal sin. But surely it’s neither the only nor even the worst one. Why should it enjoy the exclusive status of the sole mortal sin not covered by BBC impartiality guidelines, such as they are?

A communist politician in all but name may go on a BBC show and froth at the mouth about everything that defines Britain, monarchy, free enterprise, law enforcement, defence, laws, whatever, and the BBC is duty-bound to stay objective.

He may then describe the entire history of the country as nothing but oppression, violence, racism and any other -ism or –phobia, and a BBC journalist must remain soft-spoken, non-judgemental and poker-faced.

But branding the leader of a friendly nation as racist – with or without reason – is par for the course. No partiality anywhere in sight, not as defined by the BBC.

If Lord Grade could think before writing, he wouldn’t have led the BBC, nor could he have been employed there in even a lesser capacity. Because, if the BBC were led by honest, serious thinkers, it wouldn’t be the liberal flagship it undoubtedly is.

How smart was Hume, anyway?

An intelligent man is perfectly capable of making a wrong argument, but never a weak one.

A brilliant essayist, but…

If you accept this distinction, then you have to ask yourself the question in the title. For Hume (d. 1776) decided to find an intellectual basis for his atheism (or, if you insist, agnosticism – a distinction without a difference).

In the process he committed a fallacy that philosophers call ‘category mistake’ – shifting things that belong in one category into another (e.g. “I’m pursued by money problems and the odd stray dog.”) Serious thinkers avoid such basic errors.

Hume should have stayed within the category of observable, or perhaps scientific, facts and rejected outright any terms of debate that didn’t belong there.

For example, he could have said he considered religion a silly superstition that both began and ended with an act of blind faith. If his opponents chose to believe that nonsense, it was their privilege. But no rational debate about a patently irrational proposition was possible.

Any competent debater could have then engaged Hume on that battleground and trounced him, although Hume would never have acknowledged defeat.

Even now, when science is immeasurably greater than at that time, it fails not only to answer what Dostoyevsky called ‘accursed questions’, but indeed even to ask them. Dishonest scientists try and fail. Honest ones shrug and say: “Let’s not go there – we can’t know such things.”

They are right: they can’t know them because they use a wrong cognitive system. But at least they avoid the category mistake into which Hume blundered so blithely.

He used a methodological trick wielded by many historical personages, from Socrates to Stalin: that of asking himself a question to which he already knew the answer. Hume in effect said: “Fine, let’s assume that God exists.”

On the basis of that assumption, which he knew a priori to be wrong, he then asked a series of questions that have since then been repeated by such worthy organisations as Lenin’s League of the Militant Godless. (Their arguments carried the extra weight of being backed up with firing squads.)  

The questions Hume asked and considered rhetorical were: If God is merciful and good, then how does he permit evil? If it’s beyond his control, then how omnipotent is he? And if he doesn’t know what’s going on, is he really omniscient?

In other words, as far as he was concerned, the existence of evil proved the non-existence of God. Alas, Hume didn’t realise that he had strayed out of one category into another, and now had to engage his opponents on the ground of their choice.

For, by allowing the possibility of God’s existence, if only hypothetically, he entered a categorically different system of thought and had to accept its terms. In response, a Christian thinker no longer had to wade through a swamp of material facts. He could now field Hume’s questions within the confines of Christian doctrines.

The two doctrines that dismiss Hume’s questions scornfully are those of original sin and free will.

God gave man, as personified by Adam and Eve, a free choice between virtue and sin. Our progenitors chose wrong: they refused to obey God, and hence mankind was stigmatised with original sin corrupting not only man but the whole natural order.

God’s subsequent Incarnation as Jesus Christ, fully divine and fully human, his death on the cross and Resurrection established a new covenant between God and man.

Christ’s sacrifice wiped man’s slate clean of original sin. Yet as the evidence shows that man didn’t become pristine as a result, a second sin, Mark II as it were, must have replaced the first one, and chronologically this substitution could only have occurred after original sin had been redeemed.

Logically, this must have been the sin of rejecting Christ. That offence isn’t identical to original sin, though neither is it dissimilar to it. Both, after all, represent rejection of God: the first by disobeying and the second by failing to recognise him. If original sin Mark I was disobedience and therefore rejection, then Mark II is rejection and therefore disobedience.  

At the centre of the new covenant is God’s reiteration of his greatest gift to man: free will, the ability to make a free choice between good and evil. For that gift to have any meaning, evil has to exist.

Free will thus becomes the most important possession of man, and it can only remain so if we stand to gain from a correct choice or suffer the consequences of a wrong one. In fact, if our will weren’t free, if we were but puppets on God’s string, one would struggle to see why God would have bothered to make us so different from animals, or indeed to create us at all.

If we accept as a given that God loves us, then we must find it hard to explain how such love could have been expressed by removing evil and thereby depriving us of our freedom, making it irrelevant. God’s is the absolute freedom, but since we are created in his image, ours has to be at least a relative one. Only God can be totally free, but that doesn’t mean man has to be totally enslaved.

All this is basic theodicy, and its precepts were formulated by great men, from Paul to Augustine to Aquinas. They created Christian theology and then spun out of it a comprehensive system of philosophical thought.

Hume with his Socratic questions barged into that system and paid the heavy price of coming across as intellectually vulgar – at least within its confines. As Clint Eastwood said in one of his films, “a man should be aware of his limitations”.

P.S. I’d like to apologise to President Macron of France. The other day I inadvertently stated that he plans to replace the national anthem, La Marseillaise, with the hymn O Come, Emmanuel.