It’s not ‘elitism’ but the LSE that ‘leads to tyranny’

Trenton Oldfield disrupted the Boat Race in the name of equality. Elitism, according to him, leads to tyranny, of which the Boat Race is a toxic symbol.

Many distinguished commentators have pointed out correctly that an attempt to eliminate elites is tantamount to promoting mediocrity or, to use Tocqueville’s phrase, ‘the tyranny of the majority’. Others have stressed the incongruity of someone who attended first a private school and then an illustrious (and expensive) university striking a blow against elitism.

The first group made the mistake of dignifying with rational analysis something that has no serious content whatsoever: Oldfield acted not from rational thought but from intuitive hatred. The second group misses if not the whole point then some of it. For Oldfield isn’t an incongruous revolutionary; he’s a consistent traditionalist.

That is, he acted in the fine tradition of his Fabian alma mater. That tradition has little to do with intellectual attainment, and it’s only by accident that anything good has ever come out of that institution. Such accidents are statistically unavoidable: bring together a few hundred scholars, make them rack their brains on this or that subject for 100 years or so, and they’re occasionally bound to stumble upon something worthwhile. Throw in, for the sake of public relations and tactical subterfuge, some token real thinkers, such as Michael Oakeshott or Kenneth Minogue, and the odd flash of brilliance will break out of the morass.

But this isn’t the reason the LSE was founded by Sydney and Beatrice Webb, the early admirers and lifetime followers of Lenin. Their passion was the same as Lenin’s: the destruction of traditional Western civilisation. Their strategy also came from Lenin, who always stressed that a frontal assault against traditional institutions must be synchronised with a concerted effort at exploiting, and thereby undermining, them from within. Whenever his less subtle comrades, such as Trotsky, called for an all-out ‘permanent’ revolution, Lenin mocked what he called their ‘infantile disorder of leftism.’ Trotsky never learned his lesson and had to be further educated with an ice axe. The LSE is alive and well: it was a better student.

Fabianism has become such standard fare that its proponents don’t even bother to conceal their intentions any longer. They no doubt feel that the century-old patina of subversion has conferred respectability on their pursuits. Thus, announcing one of their conferences in 2010, the LSE emphasised its ‘shared focus of concern for analytical liberal political philosophers and theorists working within the Frankfurt School tradition of critical social theory.’

Don’t you just love the academic jargon? The purpose of the tongue is to conceal our thoughts; Talleyrand must have been right about that. But, unlike their LSE colleagues, the Frankfurters themselves, such as Marcuse and Adorno, explained their ‘liberal’ strategy in a forthright language even we can understand:

1. The creation of racism offences.

2. Continual change to create confusion

3. The teaching of sex and homosexuality to children

4. The undermining of schools’ and teachers’ authority

5. Huge immigration to destroy identity

6. The promotion of excessive drinking

7. Emptying of churches

8. An unreliable legal system with bias against victims of crime

9. Dependency on the state or state benefits

10. Control and dumbing down of media

11. Encouraging the breakdown of the family

This blueprint for exploding traditional society from within is indeed the ‘shared focus’ of the Frankfurt School, the LSE and most of our other academic institutions, and you can decide for yourself how successful they’ve been. Though not stated as an explicit objective, real academic life has to be destroyed as well: students must be prevented at all costs from learning to think properly. The curricula of our countless humanities departments serve this aim admirably.

One wonders what the pupils of Plato’s Academy or Aristotle’s Lyceum would make of some of the degree courses available at Western universities. For example, you can take a course in ‘The Lesbian Phallus’ at the Occidental College, LA (Critical Theory, Social Justice Dept.). Queen’s, Belfast, offers ‘How to Train in the Jedi Way’. Not to be outdone, Georgetown University counters with ‘Philosophy and Star Trek’. You can pursue ‘Harry Potter Studies’ at Durham or ‘The Life and Times of Robin Hood’ at the type-cast Nottingham University. Alfred University, NYC, can contribute to your intellectual growth by offering ‘Maple Syrup Making’, and Glasgow proudly lists a post-graduate course on ‘The History of Lace Knitting in Shetland’.

The LSE adds to this list its indispensable course on ‘Contemporary Urbanism’, and it’s in this discipline that Oldfield took his master’s degree. He was taught the value of urban diversity, and the methods of promoting it. Of course by now we know the trick that has served the LSE and Frankfurters so well over the years: in reality their buzz words mean precisely the opposite of the dictionary definitions.

‘War’ is one such word. Thus ‘war on poverty’ promotes poverty, ‘war on drugs’ leads to more drug use, ‘war on terrorism’ will result in the blowing up of public transport and so forth. Another similar word is ‘process’ – it reverses the meaning of its modifier, with, for example, a ‘peace process’ or a ‘negotiations process’ inevitably leading to armed conflict, and a ‘liberation process’ guaranteeing enslavement.

‘Diversity’ falls into the same category. Anyone who uses this word in the LSE sense really worships not diversity but uniformity – he would love nothing more than rolling all individuals into a heaving, impersonal mass of dehumanised humanity, where everyone is equal and no one is free – that is, everyone other than the diversity monger himself who can stand on his voluminous academic qualifications to look down upon the equal unwashed.

This is the kind of academic discipline in which one can these days get an advanced degree from one of our venerable universities. I do think that, rather than being punished, Oldfield should be awarded a doctorate honoris causa. He does the LSE proud.

It’s Good Friday. So let’s talk conservatism.

This Friday is the time for Western Christians to mourn Jesus’s heart-rending death, and Sunday will be the time to rejoice in his miraculous resurrection. I don’t know how to squeeze either event into a short article – they are both too grand and too subtle for that.

So instead I’d like to talk about a distant echo of those days. For, the first time those ancient Hebrews cried ‘Christ is risen!’, they issued the birth cry of Western civilisation. And, as an echo of the echo, they brought to life what 1800 years later would be called ‘conservatism’. 

If we define conservatism as it was defined when the term first gained currency after the tragic events of 1789, then a conservative is someone whose thinking and, more important, intuitive assumptions are fed by pre-Enlightenment tributaries.

Conservatism is not merely a political conviction, much less an ideology. It is a spiritual and temperamental predisposition, an intuitive path towards understanding how the world works. At its purest, Western conservatism gravitates towards spiritual more than political desiderata. The latter are derivative from Western culture, which in turn derives from Christianity. That’s why, regardless of his religious affiliation or lack thereof, a Western conservative views the world through the prism of Judaeo-Christianity.

Its culture arose out of the urge to reflect an individual quest for salvation, and it became the greatest culture ever when Western man touched up his faith with a few brushstrokes of Hellenic thought and creativity. Thus the thirteenth century provides the positive pole of Western civilisation as much as the eighteenth supplies the negative. Quite apart from any other considerations, it’s because of this polarity that a Western conservative will find Aquinas more helpful than Rousseau, Piero della Francesca a better painter than Caravaggio, Bede a stronger influence than Dickens, Bach closer to his heart than Wagner, and Burke’s or de Maistre’s concept of constitution more compelling than Paine’s or Mill’s.

Pre-Enlightenment, which is to say Judaeo-Christian, thinking is also essential to any secure grasp of Western politics. For at the heart of Christianity lies an individual entreaty, a man whispering to God in the seclusion of his own heart, not screaming at crowds in a public square. Christianity privatised man and imbued him with a loyalty that superseded any collective allegiance. It thus turned man into an autonomous and intrinsically valuable entity.

Before God, taught St Paul, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.’ This equality before God precludes any egalitarianism imposed by a secular authority, and it’s a gross swindle to interpret the latter as the former. In this world we are all different in every worldly respect – there is no cramming humans into a secular, collectivist melting pot. There is only the individual made in the image and likeness of God and therefore endowed with what today we call ‘human rights.’

The term was unknown to the Fathers and Doctors of the Church (they used better ones), but, had they heard it mentioned, they would have nodded their understanding. Yet Plato and Aristotle would have laughed in your face. Men to them had rights only as citizens – not as merely men.

If you accept, as you should, that every culture is built on a metaphysical foundation, then you’ll agree that the Western political tradition reflects Judaeo-Christian social teaching based on individualism leavened with mercy. Political collectivism, which rose its fevered head in the eighteenth century and stood up to its full height in the twentieth, is often portrayed as progress. In fact, it’s profoundly regressive, taking today’s people back to Athens where the polis was everything and an individual next to nothing. Alas, the attendant Athenian devotion to outer beauty is these days nowhere in evidence.

In that sense, what we these days call conservatism is an organic extension of the Christian concept of man and his relation to others and to God. On the other hand, the statist collectivism of modernity is profoundly alien to the spirit and history of Western, which is to say Christian, civilisation.

What’s more, its proponents realise this, wittingly or unwittingly. That’s why they’ve perpetrated what I call the Larcenous Shift of Modernity, wherein Christian cultural property was broken off its religious underpinnings, dragged into the house of the new owner and adapted to his use. Thus Western expansiveness was transformed into modern expansionism. Western introspection became modern obsession with human psychology, understood in a materialistic way. Western striving to develop forms adequate to expressing the substance of culture turned into modern preoccupation with form as such. And Western nurturing of reason as a cognitive tool, one of many, reappeared as modern belief in reason as a be-all and end-all.

A burgeoning state subsuming a shrinking individual is the political manifestation of the same larceny. The modern political state has tried to fill with its puny, rickety body the vacuum formed by our sublime but these days marginalised religion. Modern statists keep banging on about the universal equality of all before the state, as Christianity insists on equality of all in Christ. But in practical terms, just as eternal God towers above all those who are equal before him, so do the statists expect to elevate themselves to an unreachably high perch from which they can look down on the equal human ants crawling on the ground.

Not all, perhaps not even most, political conservatives are believers, much less active worshippers. Nor can they be expected to be: just like, say, a talent for music, faith is a gift, which is something presented by an outside donor. Such gifts are never spread evenly, and many receive none at all. But regardless of all that, every true conservative has something to celebrate this week, if only by way of acknowledging the eternal debt incurred by us all some 1,979 years ago. Happy Easter to all!

Some thoughts prompted by another Frenchman in trouble at a New York hotel

If I were a French politician, I’d steer clear of Manhattan hotels; they’re bad news. First DSK is accused of raping a maid, and now Richard Descoings, France’s most influential political scientist, finds himself in trouble of a more permanent kind: he was found dead in his hotel room on Wednesday morning. The circumstances were suspicious; the autopsy, inconclusive.

I don’t know enough about Descoings – other than that he was the Director of the Institute of Political Studies and the Chief Administrator of the National Foundation of Political Science. Collectively known as Sciences Po, the two organisations are the smithy of France’s political thought. It’s this subject that I find intriguing.

Allow me to declare an interest: France is my home for several months every year, and I admire many things about her: her wine and cheese; her profusion of the world’s greatest Gothic cathedrals and Romanesque churches; the moving, dignified decrepitude of her villages; her roads, paid or otherwise, that are so much better designed and maintained than ours; her public transport, infinitely more convenient and reliable than ours; her country folk, our friends who welcomed us so cordially when we first got our house 12 years ago; her capital, the most beautiful in the world; her landscapes, with more diversity per square mile than anywhere else; her people who work 20 percent fewer man-hours per year than we do and are subject to more restrictive labour laws, and yet produce a similar GDP; her bookshops, with hardly any junk anywhere in sight; her untattooed youngsters who greet older strangers with ‘Bonjour, monsieur’, rather than ‘Whatcha lookin’ at, mate?’.

The list is long, and I could easily make it longer. But, however long it gets, French politics won’t make it. For, truth be told, what I feel about French politics is rather the opposite of admiration.

A telling detail: in his tribute to Descoings, President Sarkozy praised his ‘exceptional career in the service of the state’. There’s something grating to my ear in that statement, though factually it’s unobjectionable.

Sciences Po is a government institution, and it counts among its alumni countless politicians of the highest rank, such as Mitterrand and Chirac, though one could argue that neither has done his alma mater proud. And, as head of Sciences Po and a long-time member of the Conseil d’Etat, Descoings did have an advisory role to play in formulating government policy, not least in the on-going reform of public education. It’s just that to my ear – and I’m talking about a purely aural reaction here – there’s something discordant about the tribute.

Any rationalisation is in fact the post-rationalisation of something already felt intuitively. Post-rationalising my first reaction, I have to come to the conclusion that to me a political – or any other – scientist should serve the truth, not the state. He may be called upon to serve his government from time to time, but that has to be secondary to his main pursuit.

Perhaps this belief comes from a sensibility that the French call Anglo-Saxon (a free tip: whenever a continental uses the term, it’s always pejorative). Indeed, someone like John Maynard Keynes may have done much work for HMG, but he himself would have hated to be remembered as a servant to it. His claim to fame was his economic theory, which to him, if not to everyone else, was the truth.

What’s jarring to my ear has no such effect on the French. And therein lies the principal difference between our political sensibility and theirs. The French are intuitively statist, and we are not. Not yet anyway.

It’s not as if the statist strain were underrepresented in British politics, far from it – it’s just that the British don’t easily accept it as the main strain. Statism may be forced down British throats, and this is exactly what’s happening. But it does have to be forced. The French, on the other hand, lap it up with gusto, and they always have, both before and after their hideous revolution.

This general point is amply supported by empirical observations. For example, some Frenchmen may reject the idea of a supranational state governing their lives, but few would do so out of an intuitive opposition to big government, as Englishmen might. And I can’t quite imagine, hopefully, a British politician leading in the national polls, as François Hollande is in France at the moment, on the platform of wealthy people being hit with a marginal tax rate of greater than 100 percent.

He is actually proposing an income tax rate of 75 percent on revenues in excess of £800,000, but when you add to that the 15.5 percent of the French equivalent of National Insurance and their version of the mansion tax, the overall rate goes over 100 percent. Thus, say, successful entrepreneurs would have their income above £700-odd thousand confiscated, making one wonder if Hollande is Vince Cable in disguise. The salient difference is that Vince will never become top dog, fingers crossed, but François well may.

His opponent Sarkozy has won just plaudits for the speed with which he threw out two Muslim hatemongers. Well may we envy such decisiveness, but the point that shouldn’t escape us is that Sarko acted in such a fashion because he had the power to do so. As we applaud the good things that can come out of such empowerment, we shouldn’t forget the bad things that can come out of it as well. Mussolini made the trains run on time, but he also had gallons of castor oil poured down the throats of his opponents.

The word ‘statism’ sticks in the craw of the British, especially those of a conservative disposition, the way the word étatisme doesn’t in France. That’s why, much as we may be close culturally, politically we’re still miles apart. Or kilometres, if you’d rather. Richard Descoings, RIP.

Let’s remind ourselves yet again what the police are for

Policemen are there to catch a criminal after he commits a crime or, better still, to prevent a crime before it’s committed. What they do matters considerably more than how they do it, though, as the case of George Asare highlights, how they do it may sometimes take on an inordinate significance.

The papers describe Asare as a 25-year-old university graduate, though they don’t specify what he read at university. Presumably it wasn’t knife-wielding, though, considering the kind of courses now available at our institutions of higher learning, I wouldn’t be unduly surprised if it were. One way or the other, he has somehow acquired the requisite expertise in this discipline.

This Mr Asare demonstrated on 19 February, when he first tried to break into someone’s car and then kept the summoned PCs at bay with ‘a large bladed weapon’, one of several knives he allegedly had on him. Our police being unarmed, something about which the British are ill-advisedly sanctimonious, the constables had to retreat and call for armed support. Luckily, this time the support arrived before anyone was slashed or stabbed to death.

Armed officers then shot Asare four times with live rounds. They also hit him with a 50,000-volt Taser gun. If, as they claim, they had used the Taser before firing real bullets, then perhaps the efficacy of this weapon needs to be reviewed. If, however, as some witnesses and Asare’s parents claim, the Taser was fired when the knifeman lay wounded on the ground, then it may have been a bit of an overkill – or at least that’s what some papers are claiming.

The assumption is that the four rounds that hit Asare rendered him helpless. That isn’t always the case. Some assailants may be adrenalised enough to present a danger even after they are shot with fatal consequences. That’s why people who know about guns differentiate between killing power and stopping power. A .22 calibre bullet, for example, may eventually kill a man, but it may not stop him from wreaking untold damage before he dies.

I don’t know from what range the police marksmen shot Asare, or what weapons they used. The range was probably quite close, for he didn’t have any firearms with which to keep the police at a great distance. If that’s so, then the four rounds that hit Asare’s abdomen, leg, groin and hand, were clearly low-velocity and small-calibre, and they weren’t fired with intent to kill. Had it been otherwise, Asare would now be dead, rather than undergoing treatment in the psychiatric ward of the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Bromley. It’s also conceivable that he hadn’t been rendered safe, and the police felt that some Taser treatment was called for to protect them from the ‘large bladed weapon.’

I find it hard to believe that trained police officers were so psychotically enraged as to Taser a helpless man as he was writhing in a puddle of his own blood. Had they done so, it’s they and not just Asare who ought to be undergoing psychiatric treatment. They aren’t and he is, so perhaps we should keep things in perspective.

The perspective of Asare’s parents is rather narrow, if hardly unfamiliar. His mother, Elizabeth Benin, said, ‘Why wasn’t there a stand-off? I want to know why the police did not try to talk to George.’

I can try to answer this question by suggesting that Miss Benin herself try to talk nicely to a knife-waving madman. I once tried to do so, many years ago, and I still have a scar to prove it. (On the plus side, the scar acts as a weather service that’s rather more reliable in predicting precipitation than any meteorologist I know.) Moreover, I’m sure that, before blasting off, the police must have told her son to drop his weapons. That’s about the extent of the chitchat one expects under such circumstances – PCs don’t like being stabbed any more than the rest of us.

‘George is… a good person but he was not well, I don’t understand why they had to shoot him. I just thank God that he was not killed.’ So do I. And neither do I question that, in his lucid moments, Asare is a good person. The trouble was that the police were summoned when he wasn’t in one of his lucid moments, as proved by the ‘large bladed weapon’ he was wielding in a threatening manner. The weapon, incidentally, wasn’t something he grabbed unthinkingly: the action took place in the street, and some aforethought had to be involved.

The armed officers will undergo an internal police investigation to determine whether or not they followed proper procedure. I strongly suspect they did – and just as strongly that the left-of-centre newspapers and likeminded pressure groups will claim they didn’t. After all, according to them, our police officers are all sadistic, racist and homophobic thugs looking for innocent victims to brutalise.

All I can suggest is that, when next time those chaps are facing a crazed knifeman, they call a social worker. That’ll enable them to learn the literal, rather than figurative, meaning of a bleeding heart. Those of us who are less affected by liberal afflatus will call armed officers – and pray that they arrive in time.

Dave expects ‘some strong words’ on homosexual marriage. Here are a few.

By inclination, training and philosophy, Dave is a PR flak. So it’s only natural that he should apply the techniques of marketing communications to his current job – the poor lad doesn’t really know any better.

When planning a campaign, a PR executive thinks in terms of a balance between depth and breadth. The former is maintaining the brand’s appeal to its core supporters; the latter, expanding the market beyond that group. Striking the right balance is a fine art: the more you please the core group, the more you risk alienating the broad market – and vice versa.

Lately Dave must have been sensing – and his innermost feelings are usually shaped by the findings of focus-group research – that his core support has been slipping. Not only do real conservatives reject most of his policies, but they are beginning to be disgusted by him personally. Policies can of course be changed, that’s what politics is all about, but the revulsion penetrating the viscera of his party may be there to last until the next election. Clearly, something has to be done to reverse this alarming trend.

Hence Dave’s attempt to strike a conciliatory tone in his meeting with church leaders. Dave knows that real conservatives, even if they are atheists, respect Christianity because they see it as one of the few adhesives strong enough to keep the nation together. Such conservatives are alarmed by what they correctly identify as a frontal assault on Christianity launched and maintained with the government’s tacit, or not so tacit, support. Something is clearly rotten in a land where a doctor wishing a colleague a peaceful Christmas may be censured for committing an act of aggression, or where wearing a tiny cross to work may be grounds for dismissal.

But Dave thinks that ‘there is something of a fightback going on’, and presumably his plans to introduce homosexual marriage are part of this laudable counteraction. A sensitive man, Dave realises that clergymen, or indeed any sane people, are unlikely to see this obscene insult to society’s fundamental institution as a measure promoting the cause of Christian rectitude or indeed social cohesion. A backlash is inevitable, but he hopes he and the sane people ‘won’t fall out too much over gay marriage’. If this is the best he can do to protest his inner goodness, then methinks the lad doth protest too little.

‘The values of the Bible, the values of Christianity are the values we need,’ he said, presumably provided these values don’t prevent Christianity from being ‘relevant to the agenda of the whole country’, as he put it back in December. And relevance has to mean knee-jerk hostility to everything Christianity stands for.

Dave’s understanding of what it is that Christianity stands for is even shallower than his understanding of England’s ancient constitution. In a separate Easter statement, he invoked the New Testament that according to him described Jesus ‘as a man of incomparable compassion, generosity, grace, humility and love.’ He is confusing the New Testament with Ernest Renan who in his The Life of Jesus extolled Jesus’s human qualities while mocking Christ’s divine essence.

Dave, or anyone else, doesn’t have to believe in Jesus’s divinity. Nor does he have to understand the fine points of the Incarnation, the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ, though some rudimentary awareness wouldn’t go amiss in the first minister of the Crown, whose realm is constituted in explicitly Christian terms. But one wishes he refrained from making vulgar and transparently political gestures that are more likely to appal than to appeal.

Such an adverse reaction will not be softened by Dave’s limp arguments in favour of homosexual marriage. His flagship policy, he claims, will “change what happens in a register office, not what happens in a church.” I hope we’re not being governed by a prime minister who sincerely believes any such nonsense.

Surely Dave must realise that the secularised church he sees in his mind’s eye, the one that worships Jesus’s fine human traits, can’t be immune to secular pressures. Isn’t that what ‘relevance’ is all about? The moment the first registrar officiates a homosexual marriage, and the first vicar refuses to do so, the vicar will be sued for discrimination faster than you can say ‘European Court of Human Rights’. After that, whoever is the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time will be bound to issue a statement to the effect that, lamentable though such developments are, the laws of the land have to take precedence.

In this the Church of England will probably follow, with appropriate changes, the fine example of the Mormons, whose leader Willford Woodruff in 1890 reluctantly banned polygamy, declaring that his ‘advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the land.’ Dave will be made aware of this history of compromise because by the time he pushes his policy through he may well be in regular contact with a Mormon president of the United States (God forbid).

Words won’t heal the rift that’s deepening between this government and those intuitive and historical Tory supporters who are beginning to consider their options, scarce as they are. Only deeds can do that, and Dave is giving no indications that his actions will ever follow any other than the ‘relevant’ course.

Half-saviour, half-shrink — the EU is all things to all men

The other day we found ourselves at a cramped Venetian restaurant, chatting to a fortyish woman from Milan, whom fate and waiters plonked at a table inches away from ours. Witty, vivacious and multilingual, she had that insouciant elegance that well-heeled Italian and French women seem to acquire with their mothers’ milk. And she made sense on every subject we touched upon – until the EU came up.

‘We need it,’ explained Francesca, ‘because our own government is too corrupt.’ I knew better than to demur. For arguing against the EU isn’t like taking issue with a rational proposition. It’s more in the nature of trying to convince a believer that God doesn’t exist. In a godless Europe, the EU has become a Christ surrogate, and it’s supposed to save us from our own sins.

The Germans don’t want to be German, but the French do. The former hope the EU will save them from their perennial urge to attack France and other neighbours. The latter count on the EU to save them from their diminished status in the world. The Eastern Europeans want the EU to save them from the legacy of their communist past, poverty being the aspect that upsets them most. The British expect the EU to save them from their own government. And, as Francesca explained, the Italians pray to the EU to save them from corruption.

Capitalising on such cravings, the federastic bureaucrats in all countries have realised that their best chance lies in elevating the EU to the perch that religion used to occupy for almost 2,000 years but has since vacated. The trick has worked for Darwinism, taught in our schools not as the half-baked theory that it is, but as Gospel truth. It has worked for global warming and its turbine offshoots – never has so much been spent by so few on so little scientific evidence. It has worked for the NHS, easily the worst possible way of financing medicine.

None of these abominations would survive 10 minutes of intelligent, well-informed debate. That’s why they have been raised to a height where debate can’t reach them. In that rarefied atmosphere people subsist on irrational beliefs and vague longings, not on reason. Unlike real believers in real God, they breathe in secular faith and exhale toxic gibberish. Before long, those who think the way I do will be described not as ‘sceptics’ but as ‘infidels’ or ‘heretics’. And those who advocate leaving the EU won’t be known as realists or patriots any longer. They’ll be apostates.

The EU is like a religion then, but this simile can only go so far. After all, the adherents don’t expect their deity to expiate their sins by dying on the cross. On the contrary, against all available evidence they claim it’ll live eternally, just like God but without the intervening nuisance of death and resurrection.

Emulating all the most pernicious secular creeds of modernity, the EU steals the rightful property of religion, perverts it and uses it for its own nefarious purposes. It’s like the Enlighteners who preached what sounded like Christian brotherhood, but was in fact martial law and mass murder. Or like the Bolsheviks who plundered church valuables and used the proceeds to make themselves strong enough to enslave their own populace and eventually, they hoped, the rest of the world.

So perhaps it would be more accurate to say that all those Europeans who seek salvation from themselves come to the EU not as a sinner begging forgiveness from God, but as a friendless, neurotic yuppie going to his psychoanalyst – or even as a drug addict seeking psychiatric help because he supposedly can’t help shooting up heroin. In that sense, the EU has been turned into a giant methadone clinic, and it acts accordingly by treating like with like, the way a psychiatrist gives an addict small doses of opiates to prevent him from killing himself with large ones.

The Germans get a dose of EU to settle for buying up their neighbours, rather than brutalising them. The French are injected with the hope of playing second fiddle to Germany rather than beating the drums in the back row. The Italians are shot up with a new kind of corruption to help them overcome their addiction to the old kind. The Eastern Europeans are weaned off one type of tyranny and onto another, which they hope will be milder.

That leaves us. Which addictions do we expect the EU to cure for us? The one to just laws and accountable governments? But our own self-treatment has been doing the job reasonably well. The one to ‘social justice’, otherwise known as rampant statism? If so, that treatment doesn’t seem to be efficacious. The one to political independence? Yes, that must be it – the therapy is working so well that it proves the diagnosis. So it’s only fair that we should continue to pay our EU contributions: after all, patients do pay their shrinks’ fees in the hope of buying themselves some peace of mind.

‘I am made all things to all men,’ said St Paul (I Corinthians 9: 22). Replace ‘I am’ with ‘the EU is’, and you’ll grasp the true meaning of political vulgarity; you’ll perceive the depth of the hole we’ve dug for ourselves. And what’s worse, we keep on digging.

Let’s hear it for good, old-fashioned corruption

Years ago, when no one had yet heard of Maastricht, a professor of political science took exception to my professed admiration of Italy. ‘How can you like it so much, Alex?’ he asked. ‘It has the most corrupt government in Europe.’ ‘That’s partly why,’ I said, prompting my friend to suggest that I sometimes let my propensity for paradoxes get the better of me.

In fact, I was merely trying to draw his attention to an important distinction between what I call peripheral and fundamental corruption. The former is what my friend meant: a politician helping himself to a few bob here and there, or perhaps trading his political favours for the fiscal or carnal kind. The latter is corrupting, and thereby undermining, the very nature of government or, even broader and deadlier, the essence of Western civilisation.

That distinction was lost upon my friend who, truth be told, isn’t known for nuanced thinking. More important, it’s lost upon those who form public opinion and, consequently, upon the public whose opinion they form. Yet the distinction is critical.

Those of us who believe in original sin usually have modest, or shall we say realistic, expectations of human nature. Clearly, a few politicians, out of the thousands who find themselves in positions of power, will use such positions for personal gain, be that self-enrichment or a brisker sex life or both. To think otherwise would be too idealistic to be clever, even though one shouldn’t of course condone such behaviour. True enough, politicians who speak Romance languages tend to be peripherally corrupt in greater numbers than those whose languages have a more Germanic lilt. But that’s only a difference of degree.

And those of us who look at the world from the historical perspective like to compare two politicians of yesteryear, Maximilian Robespierre and his British contemporary Edmund Burke. Robespierre’s personal probity was of such sterling standards that, when still a local politician in his native Arras, he acquired the soubriquet ‘Incorruptible’. He then went on to become one of the most hideous mass murderers in history but, on the plus side, he still wouldn’t take bribes. Moreover, he and his accomplices delivered a great civilisation a blow from which it still hasn’t recovered, and nor is it showing any signs of recovery. Using my terminology, Robespierre was corrupt not peripherally but fundamentally.

By contrast, Burke’s finances probably wouldn’t stand up to the exacting scrutiny we like to apply today. If these days we throw up our arms in horror when an MP takes money from a private donor to raise a question in the Commons, for Burke and his contemporaries that sort of horse-trading was par for the course. And yet Burke went down in history as one of its greatest political thinkers and one of Britain’s most remarkable politicians.

Writing before the Great Terror was unleashed by the ‘Incorruptible’ and his gang, Burke exposed the revolution for the giant crime against humanity that it was, and accurately predicted the massacres. The great Whig went on to formulate the blueprint of political thought by which conservatives still live. And in his own political career, Burke battled courageously against every outrage that undermined the realm, every perpetrator of misdeeds he correctly saw as striking a blow against English polity. The upshot is that we may argue whether or not Burke was corrupt peripherally. But his fundamental integrity is beyond doubt, and that’s what really matters.

That brings me, as you knew it would, to today’s politicians in Britain and elsewhere. In assessing them we often can’t see the wood of fundamental corruption for the trees of the peripheral kind. For example, we are up in arms when we find out that a narrow-minded wide boy charged assorted wheeler-dealers £250,000 for the privilege of having lunch with Dave. (I would conceivably agree to be paid that amount to break bread with Dave, though I wouldn’t respect myself in the morning. How anyone would actually pay for it is beyond my comprehension.) We remark, correctly, that the practice is questionable, if not downright sleazy. We then extrapolate to suggest that Dave and his friends themselves are questionable, if not downright sleazy. They probably are. But I wish that were all they are.

Today’s spivocrats may or may not be peripherally corrupt. They may or may not take backhanders. They may or may not skim off the public treasury. Even in the worst possible scenario, that would be like a murderer getting a parking ticket while dismembering his victim. What matters is that the whole political class (if not yet every politician within it) is these days corrupt fundamentally – not just in Britain but throughout the Western world.

Everything they do, be that domestically or, increasingly these days, internationally, is aimed at growing and perpetuating their own power. In practical terms, that means destroying every obstacle in the way of that objective. And the greatest obstacle of all is Western political tradition and, more generally, our whole civilisation.

That’s why our own spivocrats join forces with their EU colleagues to obliterate the very notion of a nation state accountable to its people. That’s why they undermine England’s ancient constitution in every possible way, using attritional, yet irreversible, pinpricks here and there, such as degrading the upper house or submitting British subjects to dubious foreign laws. That’s why they create, as their electoral base, a huge class of quango or welfare freeloaders dependent on the spivocrats for their livelihood. And that’s why they seek to dismantle the Judaeo-Christian foundations of our civilisation, correctly surmising that, once the foundations are taken apart, the walls won’t stand.

Oh, if only they concentrated on taking bribes or pilfering the public treasury or chasing interns. Just think how much less damage they’d do then. Let me tell you, corruption just isn’t what it used to be.