It’s Islamic propaganda now – The Times, it’s a-changing

I must admit to a weakness: The Times is the leftmost newspaper I ever read. The reasons aren’t so much political as medical: I’m slightly hypertensive, and the pseudo-intellectual twaddle purveyed, say, by The Guardian makes the condition worse. Ten-quid words masking a tuppence of thought are guaranteed to add 30 diastolic points to my blood pressure. However, even Polly Toynbee couldn’t have damaged my health as much as the article I read in yesterday’s issue.

A Cambridge lecturer Abdal Hakim Murad (né Tim Winter) has converted to Islam. How a presumably educated Westerner can ever do that is beyond me, but I’d be interested to read his personal, well-reasoned account of what attracted him to a religion explicitly hostile to the West.

In general, I welcome arguments against anything I hold dear, provided they are a) intelligent, b) well-informed, c) logically sound, d) driven by a desire to find the truth rather than to score cheap agitprop points. An argument that meets these conditions can make me change my mind or at least treat my opponent with respect. Alas, Mr Murad’s article errs egregiously against a), b), c), d) and every other letter in the alphabet.

It’s natural for someone indulging in eccentric pursuits to put this down to some sweeping trend gaining momentum, rather than to his own quirk. In that spirit, Mr Murad cites a report stating that 100,000 Brits converted to Islam in the last decade – a 40,000 increase on the decade before. That’s supposed to cause a serious problem to ‘Islamophobes’, a term Murad reserves for those who have the slightest of problems with creeping Islamification. (The Murads of this world do tend to replace arguments with name-calling: anyone who doesn’t think women should lead bayonet charges is a ‘misogynist’, anyone who’s opposed to same-sex marriage is a ‘homophobe’, anyone who thinks university admissions should be based on merit only is either a ‘racist’ or an ‘elitist’.)

However, in the next sentence he specifies that three quarters of those ‘new Muslims’ are young women. Murad omits a critical datum: how many of these women have converted under pressure from their Muslim husbands or live-in boyfriends. Such omissions leave room for conjecture, and mine is that it’s probably most. Suddenly, the 100,000 number is edging towards an explanation that has little to do with purely God-seeking urges.

Most converts, as Murad half-admits, come from ‘some deprived areas, where the problem of failed relationships, drink and drugs has reached crisis proportions for many young people.’ So what do you know, not all new converts are Cambridge lecturers or aid workers, like Murad’s fellow convert Khalil Dale, brutally murdered in Pakistan by his new co-religionists.

And why, according to Murad, do all those people convert to Islam? Elementary theology, Dr Watson. They have ‘rejected Christianity because of the complexity of its belief system’. Specifically, they are attracted to ‘Islam’s simple monotheism’ because they ‘are bewildered by the doctrine of the Trinity’. Judging by what Murad has already told us about the conversion demographics, most ‘new Muslims’ would be bewildered by a nursery rhyme – they are the sort of folk who think ‘paediatrician’ is the same as ‘paedophile’.

But even they should be able to get their heads around the verse that encapsulates with divine simplicity the entire ‘complexity’ of Christianity: ‘Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you …’ Out of these 15 words, only one, ‘enemies’, has more than one syllable, and this word shouldn’t cause undue difficulties for Muslims.

They are, after all, attracted to the ‘simple monotheism’ of their own holy book that tells them: ‘The unbelievers are an open enemy to you.’ (4:101) ‘Slay them wherever ye find them…’ (2:91) ‘We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve.’ (3:151). There are 107 such simple verses in the Koran, conservatively counted. One can see how they would be so appealing to the minds shaped by ‘failed relationships, drink and drugs’.

Such simple truths have inspired the likes of Nicky Reilly, who tried to blow up a restaurant in Bristol with a nail bomb, shoe bomber Richard Reid and 7 July bomber Germaine Lindsay. The report from which the 100,000 number comes says the number of such converts represents a ‘very small minority’. (As did the Bolsheviks in 1917, and look what happened.) But Murad disavows such acts: ‘we refuse to be judged by the behaviour of our fundamentalists’.

Splendid. So what should you be judged by then? By the ‘saintly and fearless hero’ Khalil Dale who ‘watched the Iranian revolution in 1979… and sympathised with what he saw as a believing people’s revolt against a cruel Western-backed autocrat.’ If those wild-eyed Khomeini fanatics were ‘believing people’, give me atheists any day and twice on Sunday. Any Westerner who didn’t see them for what they were, ought to have had his head examined.

Though I suspect Mr Murad is beyond help or any rational argument, I’d be happy to explain to him, in words of one syllable, the ‘bewildering doctrine of the Trinity’, or – assuming he can read – recommend a few simple books on the subject. What I wish someone would explain to me is how a formerly reputable newspaper can publish such drivel.




Our neo-totalitarian state is wearing out its democratic mask

Call our state totalitarian, and there will be millions of hands indignantly thrown up in the air. After all, Britain manifestly lacks the outer attributes we associate with totalitarianism: barbed wire, watch towers, skeletal prisoners.

Yet if we delve under the surface, we’ll find that, though so far eschewing all those ghastly things, our state has laid the same groundwork that made them possible elsewhere. For, like Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, it has effectively replaced traditional morality with a self-serving kind. The method used to achieve this terrifying end is also similar: systematic brainwashing, ably boosted by an educational system whose purpose seems to be to benumb people’s minds.

Anything that advances the cause of communism is moral, explained Lenin, anything that doesn’t isn’t. Replace communism with the Aryan race, and Hitler’s dicta were identical. But such pronouncements mostly served PR purposes. Their underlying meaning was that for the Bolsheviks and the Nazis morality was coextensive with the good of the Bolshevik or Nazi state.

Our spivocrats won’t have the nerve to make such declarations overtly, but they clearly operate according to the same inner logic. Thus, for example, they’ve brainwashed the British into believing that it’s moral for a government to confiscate more than half of what people earn in the sweat of their brow.

The smokescreen laid on people’s minds is so dense that it can’t be lifted by a few dissidents demonstrating, figures in hand, that high taxation ruins the economy and increases the number of the poor the state claims to love. We can scream all we want about, say, the Far Eastern ‘tiger’ economies, which are so successful partly because the state claims only about 20 percent of GDP, give or take a couple. We can argue that taxing the economy at twice that proportion (or, in many Western counties, even more) is the chief contributing factor to the present crisis. We can beseech people to glance around them in search of proof that capitalist production can’t support socialist distribution – not indefinitely at any rate.

Such arguments, though factually unassailable, convince a brainwashed statist no more than the incontrovertible scientific refutation of Darwinism stops Richard Dawkins mouthing illiterate twaddle. Statism isn’t real political thinking and Darwinism isn’t real science – they are two confessions of a surrogate secular religion.

While the real religion has produced the grandeur of Western civilisation, the puny pseudoreligion can only deliver either concentration camps or a cozy, soulless hell for the whole family. Regimes that deliver the former are called totalitarian. Regimes that deliver the latter are in fact neo-totalitarian, though they cover their faces with an increasingly tattered democratic mask.

Take the camps away from totalitarian regimes, and they’ll collapse. Take some philistine comfort away from neo-totalitarian ones, and they won’t survive either. When people’s vision is sharpened by privation, they’ll see through the mask.

In 1913,when modernity was getting into high gear, the Sixteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was passed, empowering the Congress to levy federal income tax as it saw fit. In debating the bill, the honourable gentlemen laughingly mentioned 10 percent as a nightmarishly high rate never to be achieved or indeed imagined. A generation later their colleagues were joyously taxing high incomes at 90 percent, thus vindicating the thin-end-of-the-wedge theory of state aspirations. This was accompanied by brainwashing so successful that Charles Lindbergh (who, as a Nazi sympathiser, wasn’t immune to statist propaganda) would add 10 percent to his tax bill because he was ‘proud to be an American’. Proud to be a statist, was more like it.

The only purpose of high taxes in peacetime is increasing the power of the state over the individual, thereby effectively converting a formerly Western state into a neo-totalitarian one. I can’t think offhand of a more immoral objective, and yet even our ill-informed prelates argue for the ‘morality’ of extortionist taxation.

They ignore overt pronouncements by neo-totalitarians, such as Gordon Brown. When still Chancellor, he dropped the mask by claiming that his government ‘let people keep more of their money.’ As you can let others keep only something that legitimately belongs to you, the message was clear: our money belongs to the state, which decides how much it’ll let us keep for sustenance. Stalin operated on the same logic, if by different means. So did those pyramid-building pharaohs. 

There are still enough people around who refuse to equate goodness with the good of the state. They meekly appeal to what they call Western tradition for fear of calling it what it truly is: Judaeo-Christian, which is to say real, morality. But even such reticence won’t be tolerated by our neo-totalitarian spivocrats. Like wild animals, they can smell danger a mile away. And then they pounce – on everything that remotely resembles Western tradition, and everyone who fights to preserve it.

Their weapons are multifarious, and punitive taxation is only one of them. Mass immigration, especially from societies historically hostile to the West, also acts in that capacity by both diluting – often marginalising – the traditional culture and multiplying the number of those directly dependent on the state. 

Political correctness is another such weapon for, in common with classic totalitarians, the neo variety have grasped the coercive potential of language. If people can be made to talk in a certain way, they can be made to think in the same way, and changing the way people think is a time-honoured totalitarian objective. Moreover, by enforcing political correctness through the courts, the neo-totalitarians unleash a whole raft of anti-traditionalist minority activists who may be a bit unsavoury and occasionally violent, but whose desiderata coincide with those of the state.

Why can’t our government cut tax rates, say, to a flat 20 percent, with the low earners exempt altogether? After all, every bit of empirical evidence proves that the economy will thrive as a result. Why can’t it prevent vociferous, aggressive minorities from imposing their will on a silent, yet decent majority? This would improve society’s moral health no end.

The answer is simple: because by doing so the state will increase people’s power at the expense of its own. Neo-totalitarians will never accept that. And for the time being they can count on those who have swallowed their moralising canards.







It’s good to see the Olympics reviving the spirit of the Blitz

When Baron Pierre de Coubertin coined the Olympic slogan ‘Citius, altius, fortius’ (‘faster, higher, stronger’), what he had in mind was athletes – not the ground-to-air missiles deployed to protect them.

But the beauty of that slogan is in its easy adaptability to modern conditions, where AA defences at sporting arenas are as essential as the arenas themselves. One gets the feeling that perhaps the Olympic ideal has lost its universal magnetic power, if it ever had it. Unless of course by magnetic power we mean the sort of devices that can be so profitably rigged to car doors.

Mach 2.5 Rapier missile systems to be deployed at Epping, Enfield, Blackheath and Greenwich are rather more sophisticated than the kit normally associated with sporting events. True, they are fast, high and strong, but they are designed to defeat bandits at four o’clock, not opponents in 100-metre sprints.

I do have my misgivings about those things, especially in light of the austerity programme currently underway. Our armed forces provide the only public service the British are good at, and yet it’s this service that has suffered the only meaningful cuts. And in this context ‘meaningful’ means ‘debilitating’.

We already know our military no longer has the wherewithal to launch another South Atlantic operation (but please don’t tell it to the Argies). So what makes you think that, come August, we’ll still have enough trained personnel to operate those Rapiers? Call me a sceptic and all that, but I fear that the launchers will be manned, or rather personed, by social workers, whose number is growing fast, austerity or no austerity.

Call me even a worse sceptic, but I also fear that even after a crash course in AA tactics they still will be unable to tell the difference between a rogue plane about to crash into a stadium and a 747 descending on Heathrow. I’d postpone that holiday in Spain till September, or else take it in July, if I were you.

And as to the 7,500 soldiers to be deployed as guards, forget it. Dave will make sure that by that time we won’t have so many left in toto.

So those bandits at four o’clock may very well get through, and London’s East End will be pounded again, as it was during Germany’s previous attempt to unite Europe. This just may provide that sorely needed incentive for the nation to unite again, to rediscover its self-confidence, to scream defiance in the face of adversity.

But we must go further in our preparations. For example, I would suggest a total blackout of London for the duration, except for Westminster when our spivocrats are in session. Issuing gas masks is also a good idea, especially if they are made obligatory for all Londoners sporting facial metal or tattoos.

‘The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well,’ said de Coubertin, and I agree wholeheartedly. Except that we must now expand the concept of fighting to include fisticuffs with any suspicious-looking foreigners, especially those toting bags.

To that end, I propose that all Londoners take compulsory courses in how to say ‘let’s see what’s in your bag, sunshine’ in 49 different languages. Here’s my starter for 49: that’ll be ‘Fais voir ce que t’as dans ton sac, mon mec’ in French, ‘Muestre lo que tenes en tu bolsa, hombre’ in Spanish and ‘Pokazhi shto u tebia v meshke, suka’ in Russian. Can’t tell you the Arabic for it – let real linguists (and martial arts coaches) take it from here.

Training and preparation are the secret of Olympic success, including the success defined in terms of wartime defences. The Olympic spirit is dead, long live the spirit of the Blitz, I say.

You may ask whether the whole travesty, which has become little more than a vehicle for assorted tyrannies to advertise themselves, is really worth the trouble. Whether it would be better to save the billions we are tossing at this spectacle and reroute them where they are really needed.

You may be right to ask these questions – before the Olympics. But do get them off your chest now. Once the Games start, such scepticism may be treated as treason, and you may be tried according to martial law, with the firing squad awaiting. Your grandparents didn’t question whether it was all worth it during the Blitz, did they?




Russian ‘businessmen’ aren’t just buying London’s houses – they are buying its soul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t know if Putin did commission the murder, and frankly I don’t care. It’s enough for me to know that this unrepentant officer in history’s most murderous organisation is perfectly capable of it. What I do care about is the moral damage these Russians are doing to us. Pecunia non olet? You bet it does. It smells of blood spilled in London streets. It stinks of the Faustian deal we’ve struck. It reeks of a society in decay. Are you holding your nostrils? I am.






His Eminence should stick to things he understands

A week ago Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Britain’s senior Catholic cleric,delivered the kind of courageous message Anglican prelates tend to save until their retirement.

He referred to same-sex marriage as a ‘grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right’, adding that Dave’s chosen re-election stratagem would ‘shame the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world’. It represents, he said, ‘an attempt to redefine marriage for the whole of society at the behest of a small minority of activists’.

Truer words have seldom been spoken. And the man who spoke them is qualified to do so: marriage being an ancient Christian sacrament, His Eminence was clearly staying within his remit. It is part of his job to comment on any moral choice we face, and such a choice is discernible behind everything in life.

Economic decisions, for example, can – or rather should – never be amoral. Whenever they are, they backfire not only on morality but also on the economy. The present state of the economy was caused precisely by divorcing economics from morality, be that on the part of our governments, financial institutions or indeed us, the public.

But while morality should be an integral part of economic policy, it can’t be the only part. Moral decisions must be taken side by side with purely technical ones, and a true test of statesmanship is the ability to make sure the two aren’t in conflict. Hence a Christian, and especially a clergyman, should refrain from comments on the economy unless he is able to show that Christian moral goals can coexist with successful economic policies.

Cardinal O’Brien’s comments on the economy show that he simply doesn’t understand how Christianity relates to the economy. His Eminence has attacked Dave’s economic policy (and God knows it’s eminently attackable) at just about its sole strong point: opposition to the EU’s tax on financial transactions.

‘I am saying to the prime minister, look, don’t just protect your very rich colleagues in the financial industry, consider the moral obligation to help the poor of our country,’ declares the cardinal. With all humility and respect, this is nonsense. Not the commitment to helping the poor – this is basic Christianity. What is nonsensical is the cardinal’s belief that this or any other tax will serve this purpose. In fact, it’ll achieve exactly the opposite.

His Eminence correctly counts among the poor, or rather the poorer, those pensioners whom the current crisis has robbed of their life’s savings. However, what little money is still left in their pension funds is at the mercy of exactly the kind of transactions the economically illiterate cardinal wishes to tax and thereby hurt. This is just one specific example of his insufficient grasp of economic realities. But the cardinal’s real problem is deeper than that.

While, as we know, the poor will always be with us, the success of an economy is measured by how few of the poor still remain. The briefest of glances at any successful modern economy will provide irrefutable proof that it’s not wealth redistribution but wealth generation that reduces poverty. And the two are at odds: the more redistribution, the less growth. This stands to reason: a free-market economy is not a cake that’s baked to a set zero-sum size, and anyone grabbing a large slice will consign everyone else to smaller ones. A dynamic economy doesn’t stay the same size; it grows.

In such economies it’s hard, though not quite impossible, to become rich without helping others to stop being poor. One has to admit sorrowfully that the pre-Christian Chinese understood this simple give-and-take of economics much better than His Eminence does. ‘When the rich lose their money, the poor starve,’ they said, and if modern history proves anything at all, it’s this folksy wisdom.

One hears in the cardinal’s pronouncements the echoes of the harebrained belief that Christianity has much in common with socialism, which is usually held by those who love the latter and hated the former. If they understood either, they’d realise that in essence Christianity isn’t just different from socialism but opposite to it. Good works, of which charity takes pride of place, serve not just a material purpose but above all a spiritual one. A gift generously offered and humbly received doesn’t just improve the recipient’s finances – it elevates both parties’ souls and moves them a tiny step closer to salvation.

Socialism, on the other hand, is by definition materialist and therefore atheist. Its objective isn’t salvation but ‘happiness’, understood in the vulgar modern way. Socialism makes recipients of state handouts not grateful but resentful. And it makes the overtaxed rich run away, leaving the economy so much worse off and the poor so much more numerous.

Nor will His Eminence find many examples of socialist countries where Christianity has thrived. I, on the other hand, could cite dozens where Christians have been persecuted. Those same lands have also multiplied poverty by orders of magnitude, compared to countries where it was understood that the great success of the few produces a moderate success of the many.

‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ said that famous proto-conservative, meaning that his kingdom was higher than this world. But Christ also showed in his own person that the two kingdoms are in fact one. This is the essence of the Christian doctrine, a general guide as it were. However, figuring out the details of how the two worlds interact is no easy matter. By his ill-judged pronouncements Cardinal O’Brien has shown just how difficult it is.



Democracy in action: death doth not them part in Egypt

Americans, lovable as they generally are, have this annoying tendency to suggest, explicitly or implicitly, that they’ve solved every little problem in life. Out of morbid curiosity hordes of them do visit that overseas country called Europe every year, only to remind themselves how much better the US of A is.

An American reader of one of my books, a professor of something or other, once wrote to me, ‘You Europeans are welcome to your music and cathedrals. Here in America we have something much more important.’ He didn’t specify what that was, leaving me to infer that he probably meant that panacea for all ills: democracy, American style.

Americans, especially those of the neoconservative persuasion, have lifted universal suffrage to the moral perch of universal goodness hitherto reserved for God. In a way that’s understandable: in the absence of real God a surrogate is desperately needed.

By way of proselytising their quasi-religion, the neocons have whipped up a hysterical worldwide campaign for the so-called Arab Spring, which is a cryptic term for replacing unsavoury secular regimes with even more unsavoury fundamentalist ones. But never mind the substance, feel the form: as long as them folks down there vote like us, everything’s hunky-dory.

The underlying idea is that the moment Middle Easterners and other foreigners start emulating Midwesterners in their political techniques, they’ll eventually become PLUs – People Like Us. And, like the real thing, the quasi-religion won’t suffer much from contradicting evidence.

For democracy is the neocon God, and God never fails – never mind all those democratically elected Hitlers, Peróns, Mugabes, Putins and Macîas Nguemas (who gratefully murdered a third of Equatorial Guinea’s population that had voted him in). Nor will the God of democracy fail those A-rabs – a voting booth is all they need to become Western, if not quite Midwestern yet.

In the light of that one wonders how the neocon press will cover the news that Egypt’s parliament is about to pass a law allowing men to have sex with their dead wives for up to six hours after their death. I struggle to think of a way in which such developments show a closer proximity of Egyptians to the West – unless one wishes to suggest maliciously and falsely that the ensuing acts will be ballistically similar to those practised by some proper English ladies.

Not even such facetious arguments will be applicable to another piece of legislation about to go through Egypt’s newly westernised parliament. To make sure that couples will postpone necrophiliac sex until a very distant future, the new law will lower the minimum marriage age to 14. And to make sure those barely post-pubescent girls won’t be distracted from their mission in life, another law will deprive women of any rights to employment and education.

Let US neocons and their followers elsewhere talk their way out of this one. On the one hand, Egypt is now laudably democratic. On the other hand, their laudably democratic parliament will soon pass lamentably misogynist laws, those consistent with Islamic rather than Western jurisprudence. A case of clashing pieties if I ever saw one: democracy good, misogyny bad. Which one should come out on top? Beats me, but I’m sure neocons won’t let facts interfere with a good story, or rather fairy tale.

Perhaps they’ll point out that some American states also have quaint sex laws, so what’s the difference? Well, the difference is in the degree and nature of quaintness.

For example, in Illinois it’s illegal for a husband and wife to have sex while out hunting or fishing on their wedding day. Juxtaposed to that Midwestern law is the one recognised in most Middle Eastern countries, stipulating that, after having sexual relations with a lamb, it’s a mortal sin to eat its flesh. In Arkansas, adultery is punishable by a $100 fine. In Indonesia autoeroticism is punishable by decapitation. Moreover, one has a sneaky suspicion that some of the bizarre American laws are enforced less rigorously than their counterparts in the newly democratic lands.

Nowt as queer as folk, as they say upcountry. And the queerest of all are the folk who base far-reaching geopolitical decisions on silly pieties, woolly thinking and ideological afflatus. Come to think of it, that describes our neocon friends with startling accuracy.

The economy is running aground – full speed ahead, says Dave

In 1989 the Nobel-winning economist Paul Samuelson confidently predicted that in a few years the Soviet economy would lead the world. Two years later the Soviet Union ceased to exist, as if to remind us all that economists’ predictions should be taken with a bag, not merely a grain, of salt.

This time the economists almost got it spot-on. They predicted a 0.1-percent growth in the first quarter of 2012; instead we got a 0.2 slump, and the difference is more significant politically than economically. Not bad, as far as predictions go. One only wishes they had told us that either figure spells disaster.

This is the first double-dip recession since 1975, when Harold Wilson’s socialist government was on its last legs. It’s 2012 now, and David Cameron’s socialist government is also… Sorry, I forgot. There are still three years before the next election, and Dave isn’t a socialist but a Tory. He’s also living proof, as if any more were needed, that one doesn’t preclude the other.

Admitting sportingly that the figures are ‘disappointing’, Dave manfully agreed not to ‘seek to try to explain them away’. He’s right: explaining them away is impossible. However, simply explaining them is part of a PM’s job, the one we pay him to do. And the next part is to reverse them, let’s not forget that. ‘Right hand down a bit’ won’t do any good.

The so’s-your-aunt-Tilly explanation offered by Dave’s Treasury doesn’t really wash. Yes, Britain isn’t the only European country in recession, and it’s nice of the Treasury to remind us that Slovenia and Greece, not to mention a few EU A-listers, are in the same boat. It would be even nicer if they owned up to why the boat is heading for the sand bank.

Dave stated, correctly, that it would be ‘absolute folly’ to reverse the austerity course, as Labour is suggesting. You can’t get rid of the debt by borrowing even more, he said, and truer words have never been spoken. Labour-style borrowing isn’t a solution; it’s the problem. Now the Coalition’s quantitative easing, presumably ‘queasing’ for short, is a wholly different matter. Yes, the government has borrowed the better part of a third of a trillion pounds trying to ‘quease’ the economy back to health. But that wasn’t real borrowing – it was ‘queasing’. And ‘queasing’ doesn’t count.

No, we must stay the course of ‘austerity’, and let those Labour spoilsports scream themselves hoarse. Austerity will produce growth faster than you can say George Osborne. And how do we define austerity? Or rather what definition can we infer from the government’s policies, not its rhetoric? Well, austerity according to Dave is increasing government spending more slowly than before. Not really reducing it, God forbid. That sort of thing could lose Dave the next election, even though it’s still three years away.

It’s time we admitted to ourselves that what we are witnessing isn’t a transient dip, single, double or whatever. We are hearing the crunching, crashing noise of an economy hitting the rocks. We are hearing its desperate pleas: Please, please, don’t let misconceived politics steer me any further. Find a skipper who is a statesman, not a PR flak. Reverse my course, rather than choosing which rock I should hit first.

In more prosaic terms, we can no longer afford – never really have been able to afford – an economy that’s little more than a Ponzi scheme run by self-serving politicians. Balance a pyramid on its point, overload the top, and down it will come with one mighty thud every time. To put it even more prosaically, neither we nor any other European economy can any longer afford the welfare state.

We can afford some welfare, making sure that nobody loses too badly in the game of life. But we can’t afford the economy-busting welfare state making sure that no one will ever lose. For if we try, no one will ever win – except the PR flaks on the state payroll, and their trusted friends.

I know this cracker-barrel economics is less impressive than all those curves, graphs and computer models our macroeconomists can lay on you at the drop of a hat. But it’s true – and theirs has been proved to be false.

Real austerity, as opposed to the bogus kind peddled by Dave and George, would definitely produce growth. May I suggest halving income tax, reducing corporate tax to 10 percent, eliminating inheritance tax altogether, making the welfare Leviathan redundant by encouraging charitable donations (say, by making them tax-free, rather than merely deductible), offering bigger tax incentives to overseas investors, and capping government spending at 20 percent of GDP? For a start? Of course I may. Except that no one will listen.

You see, such radical ideas are impractical. They aren’t politically feasible. Therefore they are insane.

That’s true, they are all those things. The only policies that are practical, politically feasible and sane are those that are beggaring us all. That means they’ll continue, and there’s nothing we can do about it. I just wish we could be spared the nauseating, mendacious hypocrisy. 









Globalised people do learn from one another (alas, all the wrong things)

Tattooed feral boys, drunk and awash with testosterone, terrorising the city centre. Teenage girls throwing up in the street, then passing out in the gutter. Air reeking of obscenities and urine. Boys cheering as girls punch each other in the face. Smell of decaying civilisation and rotting civility – or is it vomit? – filling your nostrils.

The picture is all too familiar, but where was it drawn? Cardiff or Sheffield on a Friday night? Well, you’re half right. It is Friday night all right. But it isn’t Cardiff. It’s Bordeaux. We can no longer claim exclusive rights to teenage binge drinking; the French are catching up fast.

The CHU, Bordeaux hospital trust, has harrowing stories to tell. Every Friday and Saturday night, its casualty departments are filled to bursting with middle-class boys and girls suffering from acute alcoholic intoxication or drunkenness-related injuries. On average, two girls are treated for alcohol-induced coma every weekend.

The pattern is slightly different from the one we know and love. Our youngsters may tank up before going out, but they do their terminal drinking in pubs, taking advantage of deals like ‘all you can drink for £20’ or ‘each shot £1’. The French adolescents get smashed at home, playing drinking games. For Bordeaux girls, their beverage à la mode is Desperado, a volatile mix of beer and tequila. Who can drink the most? A quick competition, the proud winner is picked up by an ambulance, the runners-up go out to apply a few finishing touches and then to catch up with their copine at the hospital – unless they first get lucky on a park bench with foul-smelling males.

Good to see that the French have learned something from us. Not our legal system, which, for all the fine work done by our successive governments, is still superior to theirs. Not our politics – ditto, though that’s not saying much. Not our labour laws – ditto. Not our sense of fair play, badly eroded but still vestigially observable.

No, what they learned is barely post-pubescent Lolitas drinking themselves rigid and then falling into bed with multiple strangers. And they’ve learned to appreciate the aesthetic refinement to be found at piercing and tattooing parlours, almost nonexistent in the provinces 10 years ago and now doing brisk recession-defying business everywhere. Lord of the Flies all over again: it’s children’s time, and there are no rules.

The French have also learned from us how to explain this beastliness, the trick we ourselves learned from the Americans. Our youngsters have become little savages not because our anomic, materialist, ignorant adults have created a Walpurgisnacht in their own image – no, the real reasons are deeply psychological, in fact too deep for us to understand.

‘It’s an act of rupture from reality, of discontinuing the state of suffering,’ says Dr Xavier Pommereau, a CHU psychiatrist in Bordeaux. Of course it is. The little barbarians act that way because they suffer. And they suffer because they act that way. A young Cardiff nurse explained in similar fashion her typical Friday-night routine of doing a bottle of vodka first and a few nameless boys second. Mercifully, however, she eschewed the psychobabble: ‘I do it,’ she said, ‘because my life is shit.’ You can figure out for yourself the complex interplay of cause and effect.

The French have learned binge drinking form us, we’ve learned political correctness from the Americans. Just before leaving New York for London some 25 years ago, I talked to my friend’s sister at a party. An earnest girl in her early 30s, she worked at one of those do-good UN agencies that do no good. The conversation veered towards racial issues, with the UN person citing the heavily ethnic population of American prisons as proof of the country’s unwavering commitment to racial discrimination.

‘That,’ I allowed, a fish trying to avoid the hook, ‘is one possible explanation.’ The girl wouldn’t let me get away quite so easily. ‘What other explanation can there be?’ she reeled me in. ‘That they commit more crimes.’ That was the end of the conversation. My friend’s sister didn’t speak another word to me at the party, and hasn’t since then. I was an infidel to her religious fanatic.

Arriving in London after 15 years of that madness, I felt like a fish that had wriggled off the hook. People’s minds hadn’t yet been numbed by meaningless, semiotic mantras – it was still possible to presume that one’s interlocutor was a sentient, thinking adult rather than a child who does an impression of Pavlov’s dog with its reflexive responses to external stimuli.

That, however, didn’t last. I thought I had escaped the loony bin, but it had caught up with me: in a few years the British learned how to insist that a man chairing a meeting is actually a piece of furniture. They didn’t learn the Americans’ affable equanimity, their respect for hard work and the success it delivers, their intuitive distrust of big government. They learned none of the good things, just the rotten ones: verbs made out of nouns, baseball caps worn backwards – and PC jargon.

Call me a pessimist, but it’s hard not to conclude that, as the West becomes one giant melting pot, the resulting alloy rejects everything worth keeping. Only the beastliness remains. 









A Europe diseased will never choose real austerity – until there is no choice

The disease is called statist corruption, and every country in Europe is an acute sufferer.

Germany pretends to be a doctor, but in fact she’s one of the patients. Admittedly, she is an experienced patient, one who had an attack in the past and got over it. But recurrence is upon her, and this time the same cure isn’t available.

The post-war Germany inherited by Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard was a far worse shambles than Greece is today. Moreover, the occupying powers pushed for the Keynesian way out of trouble – state activism funded by the printing press.

Yet Adenauer and Erhard explained to the Germans that no deficit spending was on the cards. Until the economy got up on its feet, the Germans were told to tighten their belts, work hard and count their pfennigs. The ploy worked, and within a few years the country climbed up to the economic summit.That was the nature of Germany’s economic miracle (Wirtschaftswunder for short), spearheaded by two sage men.

Glancing around, one has to acknowledge mournfully that no Western government is blessed with such leaders at this troubled time. To be sure, Angela Merkel, the genetic memory of Wirtschaftswunder coursing through her veins, keeps insisting, in rather imperative tones, on pan-European austerity. Little does she understand that even Adenauer and Erhard, should they miraculously resurrect, would be unable to impose anything of the sort on the EU in general or any member in particular, Germany included. The lady simply refuses to accept that the post-war West has suffered a genetic mutation, and it’s nothing short of catastrophic.

To put it bluntly, today’s governments can’t eliminate promiscuous spending because their survival depends on it. They haven’t just created a dependent class; they’ve created a dependent mentality, and for this disease there is no cure.

Merkel can scream all she wants about austerity, and others may even listen – only then to go their own way. So it’s no surprise that on the same day Angela reaffirmed her commitment to Ludwig Erhard’s memory, the EU announced a proposed 6.8-percent increase in its budget.

Each EU member is obligated to cut public spending and cap its annual deficit at three percent. And yet the same organisation that has imposed the obligation is raising its own spending by almost seven percent. The message is do as I say, not as I do, but it won’t be heeded. Public overspending, both national and supranational, will continue because without it every European government will be swept away. For yesterday’s aspirations have become today’s entitlements all over Europe – corrupt governments have succeeded in creating corrupt populations.

Witness all those politicians whose actions belie their supposed ‘rightwing’ or ‘leftwing’ tags. Holland’s Geert Wilders, for example, is supposed to be conservative because he likes neither EU power writ large nor Islamic immigration run riot. Suddenly, as if to prove that this condition isn’t sufficient even if it’s necessary, he threw his toys out of the pram when the Dutch government tried to reduce public spending, or rather to slow down its growth. As a result, the Netherlands is about to get a government just barely to the right of Castro’s – and the same may well happen in Germany.

Further south, all principal players in the French election, divergent as they may be on this or that issue, are roughly in agreement on the state’s role in the economy. Just compare the next president, Hollande, with his supposed opposite, Marine Le Pen.

Now that money markets have treated France so shabbily, Hollande has declared war on them, claiming he’ll keep his borrowing internal. However, there won’t be much to borrow from people’s savings if he acts on his promise to increase public spending from stupid to deranged levels, while taxing wealth producers out of France. He’s also committed to ‘growth’ at the expense of ‘austerity’, meaning inflating the public sector until the real economy blows up.

Meanwhile, Marine le Pen yesterday told her supporters not to vote for Sarkozy in the run-off. Granted, she hasn’t yet told them to vote for Hollande, but there’s no need: they know that le Pen’s economics are a blueprint of Hollande’s. Marine too hates money markets and loves internal borrowing, she too believes in high spending. The difference between red and brown socialism is purely chromatic.

Admittedly, François likes the EU more than Marine does, but it’s useful to remember that most animosity towards eurofederalism in France comes from the left. There are as many opponents to it among Mélenchon’s neo-communists as among Le Pen’s nationalists. Since Hollande will need all their votes on 6 May, he’ll have to accommodate their idiosyncrasies in his rhetoric, if not necessarily his actions. And once he’s elected his economic actions will be even more insane than Sarkozy’s have been.

Introducing real austerity anywhere in Europe will lead to social collapse; not introducing it will lead to economic collapse. Either way the EU is moribund, and we’ll go the same way unless we prepare ourselves in advance.

So far, by way of preparation, George Osborne has committed yet another £10 billion of our money to the IMF, which has assumed the laundering function for the EU. That sum is considerably higher than the cosmetic cuts resulting from the Coalition’s mythical austerity. But real austerity is no more possible in Britain than anywhere else in Europe. We’ll never accept it – until it comes down upon us as red-hot shards from an imploding world.




















None of this first-round stuff: Hollande is in

Yesterday France elected a new president, and his name is François Hollande. The socialist came in first with 28.6 percent of the vote, with Sarkozy trailing at 27.1 percent – the first time an incumbent lost the first round. Marine Le Pen’s party, the French answer to our own dear BNP, scored a worrying 18.1. Add to this those who voted for, not to cut too fine a point, the communist Jean-Luc Mélenchon, and the loony fringe polled about 30 percent.

Yes, I know this was only the first round, and Hollande’s bubbly must stay on ice until the run-off on 6 May. But for anyone who understands what’s what, the second round is a formality: François will walk it.

Sure enough, assorted commentators are suggesting that all Sarko has to do now is attract the rightwing vote. That suggestion is scuppered by a simple question: What rightwing vote?

The mistake people make is in describing Le Pen as a rightwing candidate. She’s nothing of the sort, and neither is our own dear BNP. She is, and I’m in the mood for calling a spade a spade, a national socialist, the yin to the yang of the international socialist Mélenchon. Their economic programmes are well-nigh identical: Mélenchon wants to nationalise everything de jure, and Le Pen merely de facto. They really differ on immigration only: Marine says there’s too much of it, and Jean-Luc says there isn’t enough. C’est tout.

As Hollande’s views on the economy, which is understandably the swing issue in the election, are similar to theirs, most of the hardcore leftwing and soi-disant rightwing vote will go his way. Why, even Chirac said he’d vote for him, which is like Lord Tebbitt publicly endorsing Ed Miliband. How can François lose?

Here I disagree with the great political thinker Joseph de Maistre who said that every nation gets the government it deserves. The French just about deserve Sarko, whom I’ve always regarded as an unfunny joke. But they don’t deserve the likes of Hollande – nobody does.

I’d like to draw your attention to a perverse palindrome. You know, a word or phrase that reads the same in either direction, like Madam, I’m Adam. The perverse one I’ve mentioned is FLN. Read it the other way, and you get NLF. This isn’t a proper palindrome, but then I did say it was perverse. For both acronyms mean National Liberation Front, except one set of initials comes from the French for it, and the other from the English. The former has to do with Algiers; the latter with Vietnam.

These initials have been shown to act like a magnet for those who are sometimes called courageous iconoclasts and whom I, given my mood today, would describe as subversive morons. These are the people who detest the cultural, political and social tradition of our civilisation in general and their country in particular. If pressed, they’ll say they love their country, but hate ‘the establishment’, ignoring the fact that they themselves have become the establishment. Iconoclasm lives long after the icons have been smashed.

They can drape that animus into all sorts of banners, and during the Vietnam war the American variety marched through the streets, chanting, ‘Ho, Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, NLF are gonna win!’ Considering that Ho was one of the worst mass murderers in history, this might sound odd. But it isn’t: to paraphrase slightly, violence attracts, and absolute violence attracts absolutely.

But the Americans were beaten to the perverse palindrome by the French who had been voicing their support for the FLN, the terrorist Algerian organisation ostensibly committed to independence, but in fact, like all such groups, really attracted to mass murder: the true purpose of mass murder is to murder masses.

As France was withdrawing her troups, the FLN murdered, after stomach-churning tortures, tens of thousands of veterans whom their sage government had kindly left behind. On 7 October, 1961, jubilant ‘iconoclasts’, egged on by the FLN, marched through Paris cheering the murderers. The ‘manif’ escalated to violence, the police fired live rounds, and a few people got killed.

Now the Left have always wanted to turn this day into a bank holiday, but even the previous socialist president Mitterrand (1981-1995) thought this was a rotten idea. Not so the incoming one, François Hollande. One of his first acts as party leader was to take part in a ‘manif’ commemorating the event. I wouldn’t put it past him to turn it into a bank holiday, especially after a week ago he expressed his tear-choked condolences on the death of the FLN leader Ahmed Ben Bella, and I didn’t even know he was ill.

This tells me everything I need to know, but, since the campaign is all about economics, it’s worth saying a word or two about Hollande’s ideas, and one or two really is the number of words they merit.

He undertakes to balance France’s budget by 2017 – so far so good, as the man said, falling past the 20th-floor window. This aim is as noble as it is hard to achieve, considering that France’s debt-to-GDP ratio is close to 200 percent, when everything is taken into account. And why is France’s debt so high that just servicing it would make it almost impossible to balance the budget? You don’t have to be an economist to know the answer: the French government spends more than it takes in.

And François’s remedy? Why, to spend even more of course. Specifically, he wants to hire 60,000 more teachers and dieu only knows how many more public-sector workers. And if this logical step doesn’t get him to a balanced budget, he also wants to lower the retirement age for many employees from 62 to 60.

Now even a socialist must realise that such steps have a low budget-balancing potential. Where’s the money going to come from, Mr Hollande? Why, from the rich of course. Squeeze them until they squeak and cough up their ill-gotten gains – you know, the gains they ill-got while creating jobs for millions of tax-paying Frenchmen (not too many millions, it has to be said, for only about 40 percent of them pay any income tax at all).

It’s tempting to say that this is simply illiterate: increasing tax rates is known to reduce tax revenues, as happened with our own 50 percent rate, which Vince says has ‘symbolic value’. It had better have symbolic value, for it certainly has no other.

Many of our commentators don’t think the French election matters much to us, but I beg to differ. Britain has nothing to gain from the collapse of Europe’s economic and social order – and much to lose. And it’s hard not to notice that the ‘iconoclasts’ are on the march. Merkel is wobbly in Germany, the Dutch ruling coalition has collapsed, with the party that until a couple of decades ago had been financed by the Soviets likely to form the next one – and now France voting for a man exuding from every pore hatred for Western tradition and disdain for common sense. (And let’s not forget our own awful coalition, pouring socialist petrol into the economic fire.) All this under the aegis of the EU, which is essentially the Third Reich minus the violence (yet).

Action produces reaction, and the relative success of the French extremists shows where the reaction is likely to come from. Mainstream parties no longer represent the mainstream – so where is the disfranchised majority going to go? A little push, like the most probable collapse of the euro, and there well may be blood in the streets. I for one would hate to see that happen.