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Surely not?

“We stand on the brink of insanity,” writes Stephen Glover. “How can we British even consider plunging in?”

An unassailable assessment, that, and a damn good question. I suspect Mr Glover meant for it be rhetorical, but I’ll still try to answer.

In fact, he, apparently unwittingly, answers it himself several times throughout his article. Two of his unwitting answers are interrogatory, one is affirmative, and they instantly add up to the solution of Mr Glover’s conundrum.

“How is it possible,” he asks, “…that millions of decent people intend to cast their vote for a Marxist prime minister…?” And, “How can millions of sensible people be contemplating voting for a misguided Labour leader who… is fomenting class war?”

And further, “I suppose there are traditional Labour voters who don’t bother with the political fine print. And younger voters for whom IRA terrorism, and Labour’s last wrecking of the economy in the Seventies, are not even a distant memory.”

It’s mandatory for a writer working in a one-man-one-vote democracy never to fail to compliment the country’s people for being ‘decent’ and ‘sensible’. This, though he knows perfectly well that millions are neither, and millions more are one thing or the other but not both.

I realise this observation rankles, but then truth often does. The life-or-death decision to hand Britain over to the most evil regime in her history, indeed in post-1945 Western Europe, is in the hands of the people who may be stupid enough not to realise the catastrophic consequences of voting for Corbyn’s Labour, or else wicked enough not to care.

Moreover, many “traditional Labour voters” cast their ballot in a kneejerk way, without bothering their ignorant heads with “the political fine print” – which is to say not having a clue what they are voting for.

Add to that millions of “younger voters” who, as Mr Glover correctly observes, know nothing of what happened before their time, and even not much of what has happened during.

In other words, millions of those who’ll decide your future and mine are either stupid or ignorant or wicked or irresponsible or all four. Now, what would you call a system that allows such people to decide your future and mine?

Most would call it democracy. I call it an abject, dismal failure.

I don’t know if Mr Glover realises this – and I’m sure he wouldn’t own up to it even if he did – but he’s issuing a ringing denunciation of one-man-one-vote democracy.

Anyone who is neither an ideologue nor a mentally embryonic youngster will have misgivings about a system that can elevate to power the likes of Hitler, Perón, Mugabe, Putin, Lukashenko and Macîas Nguema (who gratefully murdered a third of the population of Equatorial Guinea that had voted him in). Or one that can put on the threshold of 10 and 11 Downing St. evil Marxist yahoos like Corbyn and McDonnell.

Mr Glover is dismayed and he rightly comments that the situation is dire even if the tragedy doesn’t occur. The very fact that millions of Britons are going to vote for Marxists is tragic in itself.

Of course, no system of government is perfect. We had bad kings and bad prime ministers in the past, when democracy was variously selective or even barely existent. Yet never in history did Britain ever have a manifestly evil government that hates everything the country stands for and is doctrinally committed to annihilating it all.

No system can function without safeguards protecting it from catastrophic failure. Given the demonstrably cretinous level of our education to which Mr Glover alludes, one such safeguard has to be raising the voting age to perhaps 30, by which time people may have filled in with life’s experience the gaping holes in their education.

I realise that no system can be devised that would completely disfranchise the stupid and the wicked, although limiting the franchise to those with a triple-digit IQ wouldn’t be a bad idea.

But at least it ought to be possible to limit the number of the irresponsible, those who vote without bothering to check their party’s record and those for whom something that happened in their fathers’ generation, never mind earlier, simply doesn’t exist.

“This really is a moment of destiny as we hover on the brink of insanity,” concludes Mr Glover. “Despite everything, I can’t believe we British are mad enough to plunge in.”

Can’t or won’t? Either way, I hope his optimism trumps my pessimism.

Racism is a BAD THING

So are, in no particular order:

-Sexism

-Ageism

-Misogyny

-Fossil fuels

-Global warming denial

-LGBT-phobia including homophobia

-Belief that only two sexes exist

-Belief that a marriage is only between a man and a woman

-Income inequality

-Any other inequality

-Private pensions

-Inherited wealth

-Wealth produced by investments

-Any other wealth

-Conservatism

-Rich bastards

-Calling women love, baby, sugar buns, sweetie, sweetie-pie, flower

-Any uninvited physical contact with women, including jostling on the tube

-Insistence that those who can should pay their way

-Toff accents and toffs in general

-Private medicine

-Private schooling

-Private enterprise

-Private anything

-Clubs that don’t admit women

-Low taxes

-Israel and Jews in general

-‘Austerity’

-Big corporations

-Small businesses

-Colonialism

-Prisons

-Imperialism

-Devouring carcasses of murdered animals

-Reducing immigration

-Elitism

-Defence spending

-Nato

-America, the part between Canada and Mexico

-The entire Western history

-Brexit, perhaps – then again, perhaps not

-Religion (except Islam)

-Monarchy

-House of Lords

-Any war waged by Britain

Naturally, dialectics insists that all BAD THINGS should co-exist with GOOD THINGS. These are, again in no particular order:

-Belief that all sexes and races aren’t just equal but the same

-It’s indeed all rather than both sexes: there are at least 22 of them and counting

-Making the rich poor and the poor, well, still poor

-Greta Thunberg

-Marriage between any two (or more) mammals, provided one of them is human

-Saving our planet

-High taxes, to show the bastards what’s what

-The NHS

-Feminism

-LGBT (add your own letters)

-Socialism (ideally Marxism or, specifically, Trotskyism)

-Banning public schools

-Banning private medicine

-Public ownership of the means of production

-Darwinism

-Hamas, Hezbollah and IRA

-Disarmament, unilateral if must be

-Social housing

-Multiculturalism and racial diversity

-Venezuela

-Short sentences for all crimes other than racism, homophobia and rape

-Wind and solar power

-Working classes, especially if they are out of work

-Strikes, preferably general

-Vegetarianism, ideally veganism

-Union power

-Brexit, perhaps – then again perhaps not

-Early release from any sentences other than for racism, homophobia and rape

-High public spending financed by borrowing

-Unlimited immigration, especially of those wronged in the past by British colonialism and generally superior attitudes

-Third World

-Atheism (except for Muslims)

-Scottish independence, if Nicola votes the right way

-Republicanism

-Any war waged on Britain

If you agree that the BAD THINGS are indeed bad and the GOOD THINGS are indeed good, vote Labour tomorrow. If you don’t, vote Conservative. No sitting on the fence: if you vote for any other party, you might as well vote Labour.

There, I hope I’ve clarified matters. Glad to be of service to our great democracy. But if Corbyn gets in, don’t say I haven’t warned you.

Equality of opportunity, anyone?

All sensible people acknowledge that equality of result is an indigestible pie in the sky. However, most such people insist that equality of opportunity is achievable. In fact, it’s the other way around.

Perfect equality, achieved

Equality of result can indeed be achieved by enforced levelling downwards (the only direction in which it’s ever possible to level). All we have to do is follow most of Marx’s prescriptions, and some of Plato’s.

It’s possible to confiscate all property and pay citizens barely enough to keep them alive – this was more or less achieved in the country where I grew up.

It’s possible to put in place the kind of dumbed-down schools that will make everybody equally ignorant – this has been more or less achieved in the country where I grew old.

It’s possible to provide the kind of equal healthcare for all that has little to do with either caring for most citizens or keeping them healthy – both countries have achieved this.

What’s absolutely impossible is to guarantee equality of opportunity.

A child with two parents will have better opportunities than a child raised by one parent. A boy who grew up surrounded by books will have a greater opportunity to get ahead intellectually than his coeval who grew up surrounded by discarded syringes and crushed beer cans.

A girl who goes to a good public school will have greater opportunities in life than one who attends a local comprehensive (closing public schools down, an idea so dear to many lefties, wouldn’t eliminate this imbalance: middle-class parents will find a way of supplementing their daughter’s education either abroad or at home).

A young businessman who inherits a fortune will have a better opportunity of earning a greater fortune than someone who has to start from scratch (again, confiscatory inheritance laws will fail: as with all unjust regulations, people will either find a way around them or flee).

Yet equality has become such a shibboleth for the post-Christian masses that they are prepared to deny obvious facts in its name.

Take IQ for example. Whoever dares to observe that different social or racial groups have different median IQ scores will be immediately accused of racism, fascism, elitism or any other ism that happens to be the faddish bogeyman at the time.

Yet facts show that a) IQ scores do differ from one group to the next and b) they are the most reliable predictor of practical success in any occupation (except perhaps, on current evidence, public service).

For example, in spite of being discriminated against, the Malayan Chinese are heavily over-represented in professional and managerial positions. All sorts of spurious explanations are offered for this, but never the real one: the median IQ of the Chinese is a huge 16 points higher than that of the ethnic Malays.

No matter. Actual reality is no longer allowed to interfere with the virtual kind. If facts don’t support the egalitarian bias, then so much the worse for the facts. The bogus equality of the modern world has to presuppose parity where none exists: practical ability and better opportunities it confers.

Lies and deception are the only way out of this conundrum: as empirical evidence destroys this presupposition everywhere we look, the evidence must either be falsified or, better still, hushed up. In this the modern world displays more ruthless consistency than Christendom ever did in opposing, say, the heliocentric theory.

An important thing to remember about egalitarianism is that levelling downwards isn’t just the only possible direction but, for the champions of this inane idea, the only desirable one.

To Burke “compulsory equalisations,” could only mean, “equal want, equal wretchedness, equal beggary.” To modern egalitarians they are the shining beacon. But any true equality is anathema to them, and it’s amusing to watch them tie themselves in knots trying to pretend it isn’t, against both empirical evidence and sound common sense.

Progressive income taxation highlights this in economics by setting up a conflict between two pieties. On the one hand, redistributive taxes represent an egalitarian attempt to push high earners down to the level of the low ones. On the other hand, they flagrantly violate of the principle of equality under the law.

True enough, someone who makes twice as much as someone else must pay twice as much tax in absolute terms. But making him pay many times the proportion of his income makes all believers in justice cry havoc and let slip… well, they have no one to let slip. Their cause isn’t supported by anyone, save for a few eccentrics who aren’t received in polite society.

But for egalitarians the choice is clear: they are prepared to sacrifice justice, fairness and even utility (flat tax rates would make the economy healthier) at the altar of modern cults.

As a result of such urges, 50 per cent of all Americans pay no income tax at all; over 50 per cent of all taxes are paid by the wealthiest three per cent; 90 per cent are paid by the wealthiest 10 per cent. In Britain the situation is similar. Thus in any reasonable sense the word ‘equality’ is a clear misnomer when applied to this levelling run riot.

Yet it would be wrong to say that equality, in whatever sense of the word, is a pipe dream. In fact, every country in the world has achieved it in small enclaves where people’s clothes, food, lodgings and indeed rights are not merely equal but identical. The people may or may not work, but their way of life isn’t affected either way. Their medical care and education are free, and things like TV sets and sports facilities are equally available to all.

These perfectly egalitarian places are called gaols, and indeed prison is the epitome of egalitarian aspirations, the ideal towards which they strive.

This may sound facetious, but in fact it’s just an illustration of an immutable truth: the relationship between earthly freedom and equality (of either result or opportunity) can only ever be inverse. The more of one, the less of the other.

Total tyranny is a precondition for total equality – that is, below the level of the tyrant, who stands above the equal masses the same way the unequal prison warder stands above the equal inmates.

Exclusive interview with Boris Johnson

The other day, I had a private chat with my old friend Boris, which, he stipulated, was strictly off the record. So here it is:

Brexit and Carrie: both are getting done

AB: Boris, John McDonnell has described you as “a danger to women, to single mothers, the working class, minorities, LGBT+ people, and to anyone who doesn’t look like him. He thinks he is born to rule and stands against everything that holds our communities together.” Care to comment?

BJ: McDonnell? Ghastly man, that. I say let’s get Brexit done.

AB: The average wait at NHS A&E departments is 12 hours. How will your government tackle this problem?

BJ: Simple, old boy. Let’s get Brexit done.

AB: Britain’s ageing population is putting more and more pressure on social services. This problem isn’t likely to go away without some radical rethink of government policies. Any ideas?

BJ: Cripes, Al, you and your onanistic questions. Ideas? How’s this: get Brexit done.

AB: On a more personal note, many traditional Tory voters are wondering if you’re planning to marry Carrie Symonds. Nuptials soon?

BJ: Carrie on as we are at the moment, you old bugger. Both Carrie and Brexit are getting done, if I say so myself who shouldn’t.

AB: Is there any rift in the Johnson family? Both your sister and your brother seem to oppose you on Brexit.

BJ: Don’t you worry about that, Al. Let’s get Brexit done, and let Dad teach hoi polloi how to spell Pinocchio.

AB: In a more serious vein, you are promising 50,000 more nurses, 40 new hospitals and 20,000 new policemen. Where’s the money going to come from?

BJ: Need you ask? From Brexit, you nincompoop. Once we’ve got it done.

AB: Quite. But how can you do that without reducing our defence budgets even further?

BJ: That old chestnut again? Really, Al, I’m disappointed in you. Let’s get Brexit done, I say, and defence will take care of itself. Everything will bloody well take care of itself, as Aristotle once said.

AB: Some bleeding hearts out there are attacking you for comparing Muslim women wearing burqas to letter boxes and bank robbers. What’s your response to that?

BJ: Once we’ve got Brexit done, all Her Majesty’s subjects will be able to wear Halloween costumes if they like, no matter how ridiculous that makes them look.

AB: You once wrote a limerick about President Erdogan of Turkey: “There was a young fellow from Ankara// Who was a terrific wankerer// Till he sowed his wild oats// With the help of a goat// But he didn’t even stop to thankera.” Didn’t that upset a key Nato ally?

BJ: Oh for God’s sake, Al, that was a joke. Unlike getting Brexit done, which is dead serious.

AB: You once said, “I have as much chance of becoming Prime Minister as of being decapitated by a frisbee or of finding Elvis.” Your head seems to be in place, so have you found Elvis?

BJ: Never mind what I said then, Al. Here’s what I’m saying now: Get Brexit done.

That was the end of that confidential chat. Afterwards I wished Boris best of luck and congratulated him on his focused, some may say monomaniac, campaign. Get Brexit done, and all the pieces of the Rubik’s cube will click into place.

Let’s just hope that the electorate shares such single-mindedness of purpose. For otherwise… Well, what could happen otherwise doesn’t bear thinking about.  

Julius Streicher came back as Labour activist

The Holocaust never happened, according to some Labour activists. But if they had their way, it would.

That can’t happen in Britain. Or can it?

Labour is being investigated for encouraging, or at least not punishing, hundreds of activists venting their innermost feelings.

“I call for the complete annihilation and extermination of every Jew on the planet”, “The Jew is worse than Black Death, worse than ebola virus”, “Drown them in the Red Sea because gas is too expensive” – the papers are citing spreads upon spreads of such pronouncements.

This evokes the memory of another socialist, Julius Streicher, who published the notorious weekly Der Stürmer. His efforts received the ultimate form of literary criticism at Nuremberg. But, as his Soviet fellow socialists used to say, “Our comrade is dead, but his cause lives on.”

So it does. In today’s Labour Party whose leader – make no mistake about it – may move into 10 Downing Street in four days.

This isn’t the petty snobbery of a pinstriped, clubbable gentleman who sneers “A fine Scottish name, what?” whenever a Jew appears in the news. That chap might blackball Jews at White’s, but I doubt he’d want to murder them all.

No, we are talking about real creepy-crawlies, those inhabiting putrid swamps full of ordure fermented with hate. In England, ladies and gentlemen – not in Nazi Germany and not even in Saudi Arabia.

Two questions come to mind immediately. Why have these creatures crawled out of their swamp here? And why now?

The ecological balance of any society always includes such toxic organisms, and one suspects their proportion only ever varies within the statistical margin of error. Hence it’s unlikely that the Labour Party has suddenly suffered a demographic explosion of anti-Semites.

Anti-Semites have always been with us. But at some times and in some places they are encouraged to go public, whereas at other times and in other places they aren’t. Clearly, Corbyn’s Labour is an example of the former.

To understand why we ought to remind ourselves that murderous Jew-hatred isn’t the sum total of evil, but only its subset, one of its manifestations. For evil is an ontological aspect of the human condition.

You may or may not believe in Satan as the promulgator of evil, and I’m even willing to accept for the sake of argument that those who originally did were wrong. But they were certainly right in realising that evil acts are all expressions of a larger, metaphysical entity, differing from one another in details but not in essence.

That’s why evil acts or sentiments never exist in isolation; they tend to exert a gravitational pull on one another. Nazi genocide of Jews, for example, might have been their most spectacular crime, but it wasn’t the only one.

They also routinely murdered those they regarded as subhuman: Gypsies, homosexuals, mentally retarded. Slavs were Untermenschen to the Nazis, and they conducted fatal medical experiments on Russian POWs. More than two million of them died in Nazi captivity (a crime in which Stalin, who had refused to sign the Geneva Convention, was complicit).

At the time of his death Stalin was planning his own final answer to the Jewish question, but that would have been merely one entry in the endless catalogue of Bolshevik evil.

The two socialist regimes, national and international, had their differences. But they shared two characteristics: they were socialist, and they were evil.

This, I submit, is a case of causative relationship. For evil resides at the very core of socialism, the doctrine of subjugating the impotent individual to the omnipotent state under the smokescreen of illiterate bien pensant bilge.

At that location evil may stay dormant for a while, but the core isn’t static. It’s a maelstrom creating powerful centrifugal forces. In accordance with the laws of physics, these disperse evil away from the centre and towards the periphery.

Hence the closer we move to the outer, extreme fringes of socialism, the more evil we’ll observe. And those outlying regions are exactly where today’s Labour operates.

Its febrile anti-Semitism, the kind the West hasn’t seen since Streicher was in business, is less important as a stand-alone phenomenon than as a tell-tale sign of the evil pervading the entire party.

Every plank of the Labour manifesto, especially if elucidated by the pronouncements and associations of Labour leaders, is a variously camouflaged facet of evil. The underlying desire is to turn Britain into a Marxist dictatorship under the guise of democracy, thereby killing the nation’s spirit and befouling its history.

Virulent anti-Semitism is part and parcel of Marxism, going back to Marx himself. Hating Jews is hence a display of doctrinal piety, unwavering faith in the founding tenets.

This is vital to communicate to the public, not all of whom, let’s face it, are overly concerned about the fate of the Jews. They could do worse than to recall a story that used to make the rounds in another anti-Semitic Marxist paradise, the Soviet Union.

An Armenian was asked why he was opposed to anti-Semitism. “Because,” he replied, “I fear that once they’ve finished off the Jews they’ll come for us next.”

There are still four days left for you to do something about sending that lot back to the swamp whence they came. How you feel about Jews is immaterial. Just remember: you might be next.

It’s not called piste for nothing

A report the other day leads one to the conclusion that après ski should henceforth be replaced with avant ski and pendant ski.

Here I am, writing when some people are already having fun

Apparently, some 100,000 British skiers get injured every year by taking to the slopes well-oiled and then making sure that blissful state is lovingly maintained throughout that sporting activity.

Tests show, says the report, that consuming a mere seven units of alcohol reduces one’s slalom skills by 45 per cent. Percentages aren’t always reliable: an Olympic champion performing at 55 per cent of his ability would still ski rings around me operating at 100 per cent of mine.

Still, the report is interesting. After all, much can be inferred about a nation’s character from its drinking habits.

Growing up in Russia, I downed my first 7-ounce tumbler of vodka at 14, but then I always was a late bloomer. A cabbie once boasted to me with unmistakable paternal pride about his 7-year-old son who could do the same thing and stay stone-sober.

I saw faraway villages where all children, especially boys, reeked of moonshine. And even scions of good Moscow families, such as mine, seldom bypassed a bibulous phase on the way to maturity.

Drinking heavily was a rite of passage, complete with its own paraphernalia and rituals. Since in my day drinking establishments were few, much drinking was done ‘from the neck’ on park benches or in stinking doorways (public loos were also in short supply).

For many people that phase never ended, and during my numerous hospital stays I often shared a ward with canary-yellow alcoholics dying of uremia or greenish ones dying of cirrhosis.

No comparative data were available, but to a naked eye Russia had more, certainly more visible, alcoholics than any other country I know. And, having ventured to the outskirts of Moscow on my last visit some 10 years ago, I didn’t notice much change in that respect.

Some cite physiological explanations. Apparently, Russian livers are blessed or, depending on your point of view, cursed with high amounts of ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase), the enzyme that breaks down alcohol.

Perhaps. But Russian life, with its endemic dark hopelessness, must be a more significant factor. Many Russians don’t drink to have a good time. They drink to kill themselves, and surely alcohol contributes to the country’s male life expectancy being about 10 years lower than anywhere in the West.

The British are a hard-drinking nation too, though they tend to prefer beer or wine to spirits. I used to drink quite a lot, having been known to drive home a quart of whisky in the bag, but when I moved to London 31 years ago, I was amazed at my colleagues’ ability to consume gallons of lager.

One chap, 11 stone dripping wet, told me 14-15 pints was regarded as the norm in a pub session. That’s eight litres to a continental, four six-packs to an American and a bucket to a Russian. Impressive, in any measurement units.

Whatever their nationality, real sots are easy to understand. They drink because they have to, not because they want to. More interesting are people who don’t normally drink much, but still do so in certain situations.

Italians and Frenchmen drink to have a good time, and because they – especially the former – are naturally exuberant, it doesn’t take much. Alas, capacity for joyous exuberance doesn’t come naturally to many young Britons.

Those I used to know drank to remove inhibitions, forcing themselves to have fun because the social occasion demanded it. Hence young people (aged 25-35, not teenagers) go out fully intent on getting drunk – something, say, Americans seldom do.

For them, as it was for me, getting drunk is an accident occurring when one unwittingly oversteps a certain limit. Even Russians, out to dull their Weltschmerz, treat vomiting on passers-by as an unfortunate consequence of drinking, not its main purpose.

Being a nosy parker, I once conducted my own comparative study in a Verona restaurant around Christmas time. Occupying a large table next to ours was a group of 12 youngish Italians, clearly an office party.

They ordered a sumptuous meal and four bottles of wine. Over the next hour I was watching them like a hawk, fearful of missing the moment when the next four arrived, then another four and so forth.

They never did. Four bottles were all they drank, although one couldn’t tell that from the din they produced. Now, my expectations were based on experience.

Christmas parties at my advertising agency weren’t quite so abstemious. They usually started with cocktails and pints of beer. Then, during dinner, the average consumption was two bottles of wine per head – followed by whisky or brandy.

Afterwards the management called some taxis to take drunk youngsters (mainly middle-class women) home. Many of them couldn’t remember their address; some vomited in the car, and we had to pay the cleaning costs afterwards.

Inhibitions were successfully removed, along with civility. Why? Most of those girls never drank heavily and seldom at all. Why did they, and millions of others, feel compelled to change their consumption so drastically?

Every day one reads the accounts of nice, middle-class girls sharing a bottle of wine at home, before going out on a Saturday night. Then, goes a typical account I recall, “I had 12 double vodkas, some wine and a few flaming Sambucas…”

The inhibitions some of those youngsters, particularly women, wish to remove are often sexual. By drinking heavily, they hope to absolve themselves of any residual guilt from hopping into bed with a stranger.

Speaking strictly from hearsay, as I hope you and Penelope realise, Russian or American women rarely have their sexual behaviour affected by alcohol or its absence. They say either yes or no, and that vote hardly ever changes if one plies them with drink (unless it’s champagne at a five-star hotel, but then it’s money that clinches the deal, not the wine).

Much of this in Britain comes from what’s kindly called peer pressure or, unkindly, the herd instinct. Britons drink because it’s expected, meaning they are in the company of those who do the expecting.

Since few people ever go on skiing holidays by themselves, their herd instinct kicks in. The situation demands, and their companions expect, that THOU SHALT DRINK in the morning before skiing and throughout the day.

They oblige – and end up in the infirmary, hospital or, occasionally, morgue. Oh well, few of us ever leave this world alive anyway.

We should learn from Russia

Ever since the monk Philotheus proclaimed in the 16th century that Moscow was the Third Rome, Russia has set out to teach a lesson to the world.

The face of inherent political virtue, as seen by Russian liberals

That she has done, and quite successfully, except that it’s a lesson in how not to do things, especially in politics. Different analysts ascribe that unfortunate state of affairs to all sorts of factors, cultural, geographic, demographic, geopolitical and so forth.

Most of them have a point, but I think they tend to miss the point. That’s based on the first words in St John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word”.

St John was making a cosmological statement, but it can be profitably extrapolated to just about everything, and certainly to the art of creating and running a just and successful state.

That too starts with the Word, which in this case is a body of philosophical ideas. But they don’t create themselves – like the world itself, ideas require creators. And in a state evolving over centuries, their historical number has to be large.

Now, the Russians are talented people. Yet no nation is equally talented in every area: peaks dialectically presuppose the existence of valleys. For the Russians, it’s philosophy in general and, especially, political thought.

Although they’ve had some interesting metaphysical thinkers, few of them are known internationally. As to political thinkers, not a single one comes to mind.

Since Russia left her cultural development for late, she had to borrow Western patterns. However, those were but the starting points for Russian writers, artists, composers, inventors and scientists. Eventually they managed to find their own paths leading to greatness.

Nothing like that ever happened in modern political thought: it started and ended with aping the West. The Russians stuck Western saplings into their own soil, but the saplings didn’t take. That’s why I often comment regretfully on the paucity of the Russian opposition to Putin.

No intelligent person, especially no intelligent Russian, will fail to see the monstrosity of Putin’s kleptofascist regime – just like no such person ever failed to see the Soviets for what they were.

Where the problems start is in identifying an indigenous philosophical position – the Word in the beginning of everything – from which Russia can move away from Putin and towards a semblance of political virtue.

I read opposition publications every day and invariably bemoan their generally low, at times abysmal, level of thought. That’s especially vexing since some of the writers are genuinely talented.

One such is Igor Yakovenko, a kind of doyen of Russian liberal journalism. Writing in his characteristic acerbic style, Yakovenko is one of the most brilliant critics of Putin and his crimes.

However, when he ventures outside that area, a kind soul ought to tell him to do some serious thinking assisted by serious reading in political science. Using the ideology personified by The Guardian, La Liberation and other ‘liberal’ papers just doesn’t cut it.

Thus Yakovenko laments the existence of  “the word levak (leftie) reflecting a negative attitude to a possessor of left-wing views… The word pravak (rightie) doesn’t exist. If a right-leaning politician is disliked, he’s criticised not for his views but for their consequences. Such as cynicism, neglect of moral and legal norms, a proclivity to solve complex problems by force. A levak is disliked simply for being on the left.”

Yakovenko seems to think that the West is like that too. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Levaks hate conservatives for what they are, while the latter abhor the former for what they do: mass murder, concentration camps, artificial famines, universal destitution, inordinate growth of state power, downgrading civil liberties.

Yakovenko takes issue with an article critical of the removal of Franco’s remains from their resting place in the Valley of the Fallen: “The article’s essence is fully reflected in its sub-title: ‘In memory of an outstanding man who saved Spain from international leftie scum’. [The author] criticises the Spanish people for no longer being capable of distinguishing imperfect good from absolute evil’.”

Now, I probably wouldn’t use the word ‘scum’, and neither would I describe Franco as someone only narrowly missing perfect goodness, but, in 1936, he did save Spain from the absolute evil of Stalinism.

Yet Yakovenko sharpens his irony: “To [the author] the concept of ‘international leftie scum’, along with those who were sent by Stalin to fight on the republican side, includes George Orwell…, Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos…”

This sounds like the maligned author committed the ultimate apostasy. Yet Orwell, who fought with the anarchist POUM, was indeed a leftie. He thought that dispossessing the rich was a key to universal happiness and, in his Homage to Catalonia, criticised Stalin’s secret police, which had unleashed a reign of terror in Spain, for being insufficiently hard.

Hemingway is now known to have been a Soviet agent of influence, while Dos Passos, who started out supporting the republicans, was so disgusted by their murder of his friend José Robles that he refused to take part in Hemingway’s Stalinist propaganda film. Later he became a staunch conservative.

Yakovenko seems to believe that literary talent, of which he too has some, issues a free pass to its possessor. In that case, he shouldn’t find fault with the fascist views of Ezra Pound, Kurt Hamsun or Louis-Ferdinand Céline. Yet one suspects he does, which is most illogical.

Characteristically, Yakovenko mentions Guernica, but not the thousands of priests, nuns and members of the upper classes murdered by the Loyalists. In his eyes, the International Brigades have a halo of romantic goodness about them, whereas they were in fact the vanguard troops of the Comintern, which is to say Stalin.

Aware that the terms ‘right’ and ‘left’ aren’t without a potential for confusion, Yakovenko manfully embarks on the effort of straightening it out.

“In the modern world, to be Left means defending the rights of ‘the insulted and humiliated’ [echo of Dostoyevsky there] and demanding changes to the existing order. Described as leftists are progressives, communists, Maoists, greens, social-democrats, socialists, autonomists, secularists, social-liberals, anti-globalists, defenders of the rights of LGBT and feminists.”

A fairly broad church then, but then so is the right, which presupposes “support for traditional values, demonstrated to various degrees by conservatives, national-democrats, reactionaries, globalists, right liberals, nationalists, monarchists, theocrats, fascists, Nazis, Francoists.”

Hence conservatives like, say, Burke or Enoch Powell only differ from Nazis by the degree of their support for traditional values. And they all display, if to various extents, “cynicism, neglect of moral and legal norms, the proclivity to solve complex problems by force.”

Yakovenko’s political taxonomies of both the Right and the Left are the ignorant drivel of a man traumatised to distraction by what he correctly identifies as his country’s evil regime.

Lumping together conservatives and Nazis is particularly galling. Support for traditional values? Seriously?

The traditional values of our civilisation are Christian, and national socialists hated them as much as their international cousins did. Just like the latter, they were economic socialists. If the Bolsheviks nationalised the economy de jure, the Nazis did so de facto, but they did nationalise it.

Yakovenko would struggle to show the inroads made into fascism by the conservative virtues of prescription, prudence and prejudice, so identified by Burke. Nor would he be able to give an example of a conservative thinker, or for that matter government, displaying “a proclivity to solve complex problems by force”.

Yakovenko regrets the fanaticism of Western lefties, which reduces what he sees as their inherently good ideas to caricatures. His analysis isn’t always wrong, but it’s always facile, at times to the point of being infantile.

A serious thinker would delve deeper, trying to identify the underlying causes of such fanaticism. He’d then uncover the existences of a vast group of monomaniac discontents whose monomania isn’t the cause they happen to tout at the moment, but hatred of every aspect of Western civilisation.

“The Soviet Union is dead but not buried,” concludes Yakovenko, at last finding himself in his comfort zone.

“Its decomposing corpse is poisoning the atmosphere, filling it with the miasma and phantoms of the past, one of which is the original sin of left-wing views…. We must bury the Soviet Union and then, after some 20 years, the word levak will stop being a swear word in the Russian language.”

I started out by saying we should learn from Russia. For Britain has had the requisite number of great political thinkers, along with the tradition of justice and liberty that has never existed in Russia.

Yet how many Britons ascribe unquestioned goodness to left-wing ideas? How many put conservatives and fascists under the same rubric? How many are as confused as Mr Yakovenko and his colleagues about their political taxonomies? How many fail to identify the philosophical core of our civilisation?

I haven’t counted. But if their number were to exceed a certain critical mass, we may end up like Russia: confused, impoverished, tyrannised. 

I fear for the Tories

That’s to say I fear for Britain, for a Labour victory on 12 December will spell an instant and unmitigated disaster for our country.

Boris, I lived under Marxism as a youngster. Please don’t make me do that again. Please?

Yet the campaign strategy followed by Boris Johnson and his advisors seems to make such a development more, rather than less, likely.

I may be wrong of course, and nothing would make me happier should the upcoming election prove so. If the Tory government is returned with a large majority, I’ll ecstatically eat my words and even ask for seconds.

Admittedly, I only proceed on general principle, whereas the Johnson campaign doubtless bases its strategy on numerous focus groups and private polling. Still, someone who trusts such research implicitly may not be familiar with its long history of failure.

My problem with the campaign is that the Tories have effectively turned it into a second Brexit referendum. Johnson answers practically every question with “Let’s get Brexit done”, repeating that mantra ad nauseam to the already jaded electorate.

That effectively allows the Labour agenda to dictate the terms of debate.

First, the majority for Leave was solid, but hardly spectacular. A couple of percentage points here or there, and next time the result may well swing the other way. That’s why Corbyn wisely (and I never thought these two words could appear side by side) chooses to sit on the fence, refusing to be tarred with either the Remainer or Leaver brush, ready to swing either way.

On everything else, the Labour campaign is clearly and unwaveringly targeting the young, dumb, gullible, ethnic and anyone else for whom the sentiment in the first paragraph above isn’t self-evident.

The Tories, on the other hand, meekly accept the truth behind Labour principles, only ever engaging the opposition quantitatively, not qualitatively.

End ‘austerity’? Definitely – but not as thoroughly as Labour wants. Deficit expenditure? Of course – but less than Labour proposes. Reaffirming the godliness of the NHS? Goes without saying – but a bit easier on the tithes. Using prisons mainly for rehabilitation? Absolutely –  but not quite to the extent Labour proposes. Early release? For sure – but perhaps less early and wide than Labour wants. Reduce armed forces? Yes – but not quite down to nothing.

Such shilly-shallying won’t make the slightest dent in the socialist cravings of those who have them, which I dare say is most voters and practically all the young ones. Wiser heads, those who would vote Tory no matter what, wouldn’t be impressed either.

After years of socialist propaganda, people must be given a persuasive reason to vote Tory. They don’t need one to vote Labour or some such.

I’m afraid Johnson et al. are preaching to the choir of core believers who shudder at the thought of a Corbyn government. I’m not convinced there are enough of them to carry the day.

Boris Johnson may have the brains, but evidently not the character to tell the people that the difference between the Tories and Labour is that of principle, not just of detail – and then to announce in a loud and confident voice exactly what those principles are.

Leaving to Labour the promises of free broadband, along with canonised ‘free’ education and healthcare (something that can’t exist by definition), the Tories should use that adjective differently: free conscience, free speech, free assembly, free markets, free enterprise, free trade – all those freedoms guaranteed by the constitution of the realm. All those things that put Great into Britain.

They should then make clear that even attempting to enact Labour’s policies will be tantamount to eliminating all those freedoms, some of them instantly, some within months. For no Marxist programme has ever been realised anywhere without producing political oppression and widespread destitution.

And yes, by all means let’s get Brexit done. But the need to do so hasn’t come about parthenogenetically. It’s strictly derivative, begotten by our constitution and what used to be called the rights of Englishmen.

Having said all that, the line of demarcation between the two parties does exist, mainly because of the sheer monstrosity of Corbyn’s Labour. My point is that this message doesn’t seem to be coming across plainly and forcefully enough.

Is Johnson going to repeat May’s error and expect to win the election by default? I hope not, for such weak-kneed complacency may well set up the stage for a tragedy.

P.S. Speaking of tragedies, the father of the young man murdered by a Muslim terrorist on early release expressed the hope that his son’s death wouldn’t lead to “draconian sentences” being imposed.

Grief works in all sorts of ways, and in this case it might have numbed the poor man’s brain. More likely though is that he’s a Social Justice Warrior, meaning a share-care-be-aware Leftie.

These chaps have nothing against draconian sentences in general. It’s just that they see the group meriting such punishment in their own bizarre ways.

We used to believe that long prison sentences should be reserved for traitors, terrorists, murderers, thieves, burglars and other transgressors against person and property.

This lot would rather punish sex crimes (understood broadly, to include pinching an unconsenting bottom on public transport), racism (such as telling ethnic jokes), homophobia (stating that marriage can only occur between a man and a woman) and tax evasion (also to include tax avoidance). Tempora mutantur… and all that, but these people should check their moral compass, for it’s going haywire.

And of course Jeremy Corbyn, displaying the sensitivity for which Marxists are so justly famous, said that early release is fine for terrorists, provided they are rehabilitated and, contextually, Muslim. Just like Usman Khan, in other words.

Jeremy, repeat after me. The only thing that can rehabilitate those evil men is a bullet. They can then forget their feral hatred and stroll serenely through luxuriant, fragrant gardens, enjoying one of those 72 virgins behind the bushes.

P.P.S. Today’s news illustrates my yesterday’s article. Turns out the long document, which Corbyn waved in the air to show that the Tories are planning to flog the NHS, is a Russian fake. No, seriously? Who could have thought. This also shows whom Putin considers his choice.

Manny does Russia

Sound like the title of a porno film, doesn’t it?

Does this look like I’m smiling, you sale Boche?

Open on a naked Manny removing Europe’s clothes, slowly and sensuously. He then lays her and himself down on the bed. Cut to Vlad taking off his PVC top to reveal a muscular torso…

Actually pornographic is as good a way as any to describe Manny’s affection for Russia into which he seems to be channelling his inner woman.

This is a recent development, for in the past Manny used to make anti-Putin noises. But then women, inner or otherwise, are known to be fickle.

His affections have a zero-sum element built in: the more he feels for Russia, the less he has left for Nato. Nato, according to him, is “brain dead”, and Europe no longer needs America’s protection. It can take care of its own defence by itself; no outside help needed, thank you very much.

This stance is extraordinarily foolish since Russia outguns Europe by at least a factor of 10 in most categories (more in tanks), including nuclear warheads.

Moreover, since the Russian government isn’t accountable to such extraneous irritants as parliaments and voters, it can increase its military spending exponentially. Europe, on the other hand, especially its high-rent part, would rather spend money on social programmes, foreign aid, bribery of electorates and functionaries’ pensions.

This made Manny’s braggadocio sound like empty bluster, and, clever chap that he is, he realised that. His nimble mind whirred into action and got around the problem with the agility that puts to shame both Solomon with that baby and Alexander with that knot.

Russia, he declared, is our friend. That’s why we don’t have an enemy to protect ourselves against.

“Nato is an organisation of collective defence,” explained Manny with his usual perspicacity. “Against what, against who is it defending itself? Who is our common enemy? This question deserves clarification.”

That was Manny’s response to Jens Stoltenberg, Nato’s Secretary-General, and Angela Merkel, who had rebuked him for his puerile anti-Nato diatribes. Reports don’t mention if they told Manny to ask his foster mother Brigitte to come and see them after class.

If Stoltenberg and Merkel were bemused, Eastern Europeans were aghast. They still remember the delights of Russian occupation and dread acting as the destination for Russian tanks.

Manny ought to remember he’s talking about the only European nation that has grabbed foreign territory since 1945. He’s right though: Russia won’t attack the West – because she already has. All around the globe, Putin’s charges confront the West and Western interests.

Not only has Russia launched a bandit raid on the Ukraine, justifying it by trying to prevent further rapprochement between that country and the West, but she also explicitly threatens the Baltics, whose Nato membership is their sole protection.

It’s far from certain that, should those much-suffering countries be attacked, Nato would activate its Article 5 and spring to their defence. But at least that’s a possibility, and this has so far kept Putin on a leash.

Should the Nato umbrella be rolled up, would the mythical European army defend the Baltics and other former parts of the Soviet empire, whose collapse Col. Putin sees as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century”? Or will those Left Bank intellectuals shrug and sneer “Mourir pour Riga?”, which is what they were saying about Danzig in 1939?

Manny ought to remind himself of what happened next, of Hitler dancing in Paris and especially of Edouard Daladier, the appeasing French PM who signed the Munich Treaty only to end up in Buchenwald.

The hysteria of bellicose propaganda in Russia has reached a pitch I never heard back in the 1960s, with the West identified as the enemy and the possible target for a nuclear strike.

It’s not just talk, and neither is it just military action. Yes, Russian boots are treading the stolen soil of the Ukraine and also parts of Syria and Africa. But that’s only one aspect of what their Chief of General Staff called ‘hybrid warfare’.

Russia is conducting a massive programme of electronic terrorism and propaganda aimed at sowing discord among Western allies. She’s also busily trying to undermine Western politics by skewing elections her way, as she has already done in the US, Britain and elsewhere.

To that end, she’s also financing every extremist party in Europe, without discriminating between left and right. As long as the party is a catalyst of social unrest, it’s Russia’s client.

One example of that is Marine Le Pen’s NF, or whatever it’s called these days, which is bankrolled by Putin – but Manny magnanimously doesn’t hold that against the KGB colonel even if he does finance Manny’s political opponents.

It’s not that I think kleptofascist Russia is planning an attack on Paris, London or Rome. That would overstress the second part of that composite adjective at the expense of the more important first, ‘klepto-‘.

If they did to Western Europe what they’ve done to the Ukraine, where would those gangsters in and around the Kremlin keep their palaces and yachts? Where would they go for medical treatment and their wives for shopping? Where would their children go to school?

No, they want Europe to remain as their playground. Similarly, a chess player doesn’t plan to checkmate his opponent. He knows that, once that outcome becomes inevitable, the other chap will resign.

With Nato and its key American component removed from Europe, the Russians will promptly grab the wayward parts of their erstwhile empire and dictate their terms to the EU. They won’t conquer Europe – they’ll dominate it, and I don’t know which is worse.

Manny’s anti-Nato diatribes have two constituents: playing quisling to Putin and hating the US in that haughty way that’s the calling card of the European Left. Both are immoral and strategically idiotic.

Now logically, if Europe doesn’t need Nato because it has no enemies, it doesn’t need its own army either. So what’s all that one hears about the urgent need for one?

“Is our enemy Russia or China as I sometimes hear?” Manny asked Stoltenberg. “… I don’t think so. Our common enemy, it seems, is the terrorism which is striking all our countries.”

If so, all we need is an efficient police force, which would take a lot less than the two per cent of GDP that Nato requires. Happiness all around.

But just out of curiosity, who does he think sponsors today’s international terrorism? Who supplies their weapons and teaches them how to use them? Who does their intelligence and logistics? Who comes up with funds whenever the Saudis get mean?

Manny’s foster mother Brigitte ought to explain to him that the great upsurge in world terrorism coincided with the KGB taking the reins of power 20 years ago through their Kremlin stooge Putin. And that many of the IS chieftains were educated at Russian universities, just as Khmer Rouge murderers were trained at the Sorbonne.

If Brigitte obliges, Manny should listen to his elders. Then he may realise that terrorism and Putin’s Russia are inseparable. It’s all part of the same story, waging war on the West without ostensibly attacking it.

Is Manny perhaps laying the groundwork for a Gazprom job, following in the footsteps of the former German chancellor Schroeder? If so, best of luck to him. The sooner that happens, the less likely is Europe to get screwed.

There, I hope I’ve provided the clarification Manny demanded.

So what have we Learned Together?

Learning Together was the umbrella for the Cambridge University conference on prisoner rehabilitation. The attendees, some of them convicts out on an early release programme, gathered at the Fishmongers’ Hall to, well, learn more.

Khan with his accomp… sorry, I mean friends

Visual aids are an important instructional tool, without which education runs the risk of descending into lifeless scholasticism. Such aids were helpfully provided by attendee Usman Khan.

Khan had been recently released halfway into a 16-year sentence for terrorist offences because a) he had been judged to be a reformed character [“Khan has bigged up,” in the opinion of Judge Lord Justice Leveson] and b) our prisons are terribly overcrowded.

He was wearing an electronic ankle tag and wasn’t allowed to enter London, but in this case his probation officers made an exception. Khan’s experience was deemed too valuable for him to miss Learning Together.

Hence he attended several workshops before taking a short break. From that Khan emerged slashing and stabbing with two large knives. Two people were killed and several others wounded before Khan himself was shot dead.

One of the victims was Jack Merritt, 25, the idealistic Cambridge criminologist who had organised the conference. Jack believed Khan was living proof of how a life can be changed for the better. He chose a wrong case study.

In the wake of the tragedy, every paper in His Creation has proposed various measures. Yet they all have one thing in common: in line with much vaunted British pragmatism they deal with the symptoms of the problem without touching upon the underlying philosophy.

Philosophy is for the French and other continentals. The British are about practicalities, not abstract theories – and proud of it. Alas, without grasping the underlying abstractions, the practicalities will be allowed to fester.

However, do let’s proceed inductively by first considering the only three possible methods of tackling the problem of prison overcrowding. One, not to send criminals to prison. Two, not to keep them there for long if they regrettably have to be given custodial sentences. Three, to build more prisons.

Of the three, only the third requires investment in both physical plant and personnel. The first two cost nothing and, critically, vindicate the key premises of modernity. Hence some combination of them is a perfect solution for everybody – except Jack Merritt and other victims of evil recidivists.

Since repeat offenders account for 57 per cent of violent crime in Britain, at this point I have to leave the comfort zone of practicalities and consider the underlying assumptions.

The dominant political system in Britain (and the West in general) is based on the premises variously called liberal, liberal democratic, socialist or social democratic. I call them demonstrably wrong in their understanding of man and the state.

Presumption of human goodness. This came to the fore with the debunking of the founding religion of the West, according to which all men bear the mark of Original Sin.

The formative assumption of our civilisation was that Original Sin requires redemption, both collective, provided by Christ, and individual, provided by personal efforts of imitatio Christi.

That, along with other anachronistic ideas, was dumped into what Corbyn’s role model Trotsky called the rubbish bin of history. Courtesy of Rousseau and his followers, man was assumed to be perfect until society spoiled him.

The expedient of perfecting the primordial noble sauvage thus boiled down to the opening of the paths leading to virtue. Therefore, if some people behaved imperfectly, that meant not enough paths had been open for their innate goodness to come through.

Comparing the two assumptions, one has to be an obtuse fanatic not to see that the entire history of mankind vindicates the first one and debunks the second.

People are sinful and some are evil, manifestly and, in this world, irredeemably. Once we’ve established that, we can segue into the second underlying assumption.

The role of the state. The state has many roles, but only one of them goes back to the very reason that states were instituted among men. And that’s not to keep people equal, educated, healthy and solvent.

All these are derivative and consensual, meaning debatable. There’s only one iron-clad function the state has to perform to justify its existence: keeping people safe from external and internal enemies.

That means having an adequate defence capability and a justice system capable of protecting good people from bad ones. Corollary to that is the understanding that, when budgets are planned, the first decision to be made is the amount necessary for the state to do what it’s fundamentally for. All other needs, real or perceived, must be financed out of the funds left over.

The role of prison. I’ve twice appeared on the BBC, arguing that prison is an essential element of justice whose sole purpose is to protect Her Majesty’s subjects from evildoers. Part of that process may be rehabilitation, but it’s the least significant part. (I was allowed a total of 20 seconds before being outshouted by frenzied lefties.)

Prison is a punitive, not educational or religious, institution. It’s there to punish committed crimes, deter subsequent ones and communicate to the public that justice is done.

Once we’ve defined the problem this way – but only once we’ve done so – the practical solutions will offer themselves.

Our policemen should function as crime fighters, not social workers. They should be given every chance to do their job, which includes having sufficient strength in numbers.

Policemen should be allowed to exercise their judgement in stopping and searching suspects from groups that are statistically more crime-infested than others. Given the choice of spread-eagling on a car bonnet a tweedy middle-aged gentleman or someone who looks like Khan, a policeman mustn’t be accused of racism if he’s good at maths.

Our courts must be instructed to pass stiff sentences, especially for violent and terrorist offences. When a human life is taken or credibly threatened, no parole or early release should be on offer – including with life sentences.

That would drastically increase the prison population, and we must have enough prisons to allow for that – whatever it takes in effort and expenditure. And there’s also another way to reduce overcrowding.

In extreme cases, the death penalty is the only just punishment. Perhaps the standard of proof there should be upgraded to beyond any, as opposed to reasonable, doubt. However, abolishing capital punishment altogether doesn’t uphold the value of human life. It trivialises it.

Offsetting murder or especially terrorism with merely a few years in prison is cruel and unusual punishment imposed on society. For, unless they are attenuated, the tectonic waves murder sends through society may eventually destroy it.

Getting back to the question in the title, what have we Learned Together? If history is anything to go by, precisely nothing.

We’ll continue to treat criminals as poor lost souls, more sinned against than sinning. They’ll still receive derisory, almost apologetic sentences from which they’ll be released early, provided they, like Khan, make a convincing show of ‘bigging-up’.

We’ll neglect to prosecute most crimes against property, and will treat crimes against the person with avuncular tut-tuts. And yes, whenever more people are murdered by Muslim fanatics, we’ll continue to insist that Islam has nothing to do with it.

Moreover, we’ll prosecute those who disagree for racism. Such is justice in modernity, and it’ll change only when modernity does. Which means never.

P.S. The other day a reader posted my photograph on Facebook, and it received more ‘likes’ than any of my articles. That makes me think I’ve missed my true calling: I should have been a male model, not a writer.