Holy f***!

The premises of the 14th-century Sretensky Monastery in central Moscow have been found to house a hard-working brothel. To the best of my knowledge, the holy fathers provided only their blessing and administrative support, leaving the workaday activities to several young ladies.

This sort of thing is hard to explain even in a Russian context. Perhaps the monks confuse missionary work with the position of the same name, I really don’t know. Those things are sometimes hard to keep apart. Or else they think it their duty to cater to the physical, not just spiritual, cravings of their flock.

The monastic answers to vestal virgins charge £35 an hour, which suggests that the brothers have faith in a low-cost, high turnaround operation. Then again, as men of God they can’t be seen favouring the rich. 

It’s good to see that the concept of monasticism continues to evolve in Russia, mostly in the direction of getting in touch with lay life, as it were. But then, as the Russian saying goes, ‘like priest, like parish’.

The vicar of Sretensky Monastery, Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), is Vladimir Putin’s confessor, while Patriarch Kiril is the monastery’s superior. His Holiness, code name ‘Mikhailov’, is a career KGB operative, but then of course the secret police isn’t the mammon that can’t be served in parallel with God.

Nor is he unique in this respect: the entire hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate can boast a similar CV. The recently published reports of ‘Mikhailov’s’ (and other hierarchs’) KGB handlers to their superiors are a good read, detailing as they do the zeal with which His Holiness, then merely a metropolitan, carried out his tough assignments. The prose is deadpan, everything stripped to the bare bone of facts.

While I haven’t seen any documents that Tikhon too is a KGB man, this isn’t beyond the realm of the possible. After all, only a trusted comrade can be allowed to hear Col. Putin’s confessions.

You must remember that Russian Orthodox priests are obligated to divulge to the state secrets vouchsafed them at confession. Solzhenitsyn rightly fumes about this in his Gulag, but he forgets to mention that this fine tradition goes back to Peter the Great (d. 1725).

Now imagine a confession that proceeds along these lines: ‘Father, forgive me for I have sinned. I ordered that Col. Litvinenko be poisoned with polonium in London. Then I’ve also used proxies to amass a pilfered $50-billion fortune. And let’s not forget all those uppity journalists I had knocked off…’ This wouldn’t do, would it? Unless, of course, the confessor is bound by an oath that supersedes the one he took at his ordination.

You may argue that Putin is the state, so no danger there. However, the pack of Russian leaders has often been reshuffled in the past, and there is no guarantee that it won’t be again in the future. So better safe than sorry – Col. Putin didn’t get where he is by ignoring this folk wisdom.

Jesus famously drove money-changers and mendicants out of the Temple. I wonder how He would react to one of Moscow’s oldest monasteries housing a knocking shop. There wouldn’t be one stone left upon another, this is an ecclesiastical certainty.

The Russian Orthodox Church claimed that the monks had no knowledge of the den of iniquity, and I’ll leave you to decide how likely that is. I am however curious whether Putin combined his forays to the confessional booth with a quick stopover at the adjacent facility. That would be in keeping with the image of unbridled virility that the national leader likes to project. Also, at this austere time, why waste a trip to another part of town?

How sincere Christians can still accept the authority of the Russian Church is hard to understand. But then we all know Churchill’s pronouncement on the enigmatic nature of Russia.


P.S. Just two days after I wrote about HMG winding nuclear power stations down and favouring instead the useless wind farms, came two important announcements. First, no more onshore turbines will be built. Second, a Japanese firm has been contracted to construct a nuclear power station. Far be it from me to claim that my diatribe had anything to do with this. However…










Tony Blair is welcome to use me as a reference on his job application

Our Tone delivered yet another rousing oration, though I don’t know for a fact that his listeners were indeed roused. Nor do I know if they had paid for the privilege, though it’s a safe assumption that they had. Tony seldom does things for free these days. For all I know he may be trying to charge Cherie for services rendered.

On this occasion Tony correctly, if somewhat unoriginally, identified the situation in the EU as a crisis. Yet it’s one pregnant with opportunity, and Tony is it.

‘Out of this European crisis can come the opportunity finally to achieve a model of European integration that is sustainable,’ explained Tone. ‘A Europe-wide election for the presidency… is the most direct way to involve the public.’

In case you’re Tone-deaf, allow me to translate: Europe’s problems will be solved if, and only if, Tony is elected European president. The speech was perceived by most observers as a job application, and if so we should all offer our unequivocal support.

Just think how much Tony achieved in Britain, where he had to worry about opposition both within and without his own party. In merely 10 years he succeeded in turning a moderately successful country into a destitute, debt-ridden, disarmed suburb of Brussels forced to support Eastern European huddled masses yearning to be on benefits.

Just imagine what he’ll achieve in the EU where even our anaemic checks and balances don’t exist. Why, he’ll run that abomination not just into the ground (that has already been accomplished by others) but six feet under. Where, as I’m sure you’ll agree, it belongs.

In a way one could argue that Tone’s entire tenure as PM was one contiguous application for this post. For example, to earn merit points with the EU, he did his level best to drag Britain into the euro, and only the sight of Gordon rolling on the floor and frothing at the mouth stopped that undertaking in its tracks. Had Tone got his way, Brits would now be fleeing to Romania, not the other way around.

The EU is a quintessentially modern Leviathan and it deserves to have a quintessentially modern politician at its helm. For Tony represents the dominant type of modern life, especially modern public life: the important nonentity.

Bereft of character and intellect, he’s richly endowed with animal cunning and unquenchable thirst for power at any cost – and that’s all he really communicates in his speeches. Who in his right mind would pay to hear him speak defies imagination. Why spend good money? We can get a collection of lies and platitudes from the net, with the added benefit of being spared the sight of Tony’s plastic smile.

He isn’t even clever enough not to let the cat out of the bag, something other federasts do so well. Witness the statement I cited above: ‘Out of this European crisis can come the opportunity finally to achieve a model of European integration that is sustainable.’

In other words, this worthy goal would not have been achieved without the benefit of a debilitating crisis – what’s poison for the people of Europe is meat for the federasts. Unwittingly, Tony has divulged the long-term strategy behind the EU. Even more unwittingly, he put his finger on the key geopolitical feature of modernity.

The strategy was hinted at by Jean Monnet, the St Paul of the federastic religion. In his memoir he called it the ‘strategy of fait accompli’, a sequence of steps creating such tremendous economic problems in each nation that they could only be solved by a supranational Leviathan. The idea was ingenious but hardly new: Lenin had called it ‘the worse, the better’: let the people starve and practise cannibalism as long as the cause triumphs. Europeans don’t quite starve yet, but this is a difference of degree only.

On a broader scale, all modern crises, peaceful or military, have led to a vastly increased centralisation of state power. This holds true for the French Revolution, the American Civil War, both World Wars, the Great Depression and so forth. In each instance the state emerged more powerful and the individual less so. The present crisis in the EU is no different. People like our Tone, unprincipled nonentities desperately needing power for self-assertion, smell a weakness and move in to grab the reins.

Far be it from me to suggest that some kind of conspiracy is afoot. Nor do I think that Tone has studied political science in sufficient depth to work out such far-reaching plans. There is no need. He doesn’t have to use his brain; his nose is all it takes. I told you he has animal cunning, didn’t I?





Europe and Japan will soon be hit by the biggest nuclear explosion ever

Throughout the ‘Cold War’, the Soviets led a concerted propaganda effort against nuclear power stations in the West. Among other methods, they used the KGB’s good offices to provide surreptitious financing for various anti-nuke groups, such as our own dear CND. Now the Cold War is officially over, though they forgot to tell that to Col. Putin, but that particular offensive has proceeded to a victorious end.

The Soviets, it has to be said, didn’t mind their own nuclear power, even though most of it conformed to the Chernobyl standards of safety and quality control. When that particular one blew up into their faces, the sainted Gorby’s first time-honoured reaction was to declare that any rumours of the accident originated with the CIA and other enemies of progress in the world.

It’s only when westward winds carried the radiation towards the capitalist Sweden, whose Geiger counters went haywire, that Gorby had to own up. Had the winds blown in the other direction, the catastrophe would have been hushed up, just as a much worse one was in the fifties. Then underground nuclear facilities and storage sumps in Siberia blew up, killing 100,000 instantly, and God only knows how many by delayed action.

In those parts of the world where human lives are still held in some esteem, nuclear energy facilities have never had a fatal incident. Nonetheless accidents at Three Mile Island and Fukushima are routinely described as ‘disasters’ even in our Tory press, leaving one wondering what word they’d reserve for incidents in which people actually get killed.

During the same period, tens of thousands of miners died of black lung and in pit accidents, and hundreds were killed by offshore platforms capsizing. This proved beyond any sane doubt that nuclear energy is by far the safest source of energy available, not just the most effective. As I hope you understand, I’m talking here about the kind of sources that can provide most of our energy needs, not the tree-hugging cloud-cuckoo-land varieties.

Even the most fervent champions of wind farms claim that eventually they’ll supply only 17 percent of our energy, and anyone who has studied the issue seriously will tell you that this estimate should be pasted in the dictionary next to the entry on wishful thinking. But even supposing they are right, where will the remaining 83 percent come from?

Our nuclear industry is moribund, with old stations being decommissioned and no new ones planned. Frau Merkel has declared that all German nuclear power stations will be shut down by 2020. France, which gets 80 percent of its energy from nuclear stations, will soon follow suit, Japan has already done so – what else do you expect after the catastrophe of biblical proportions in which no one died?

That leaves coal as the only viable home-produced alternative, which is good news for lung physicians who are thereby guaranteed more black-lung business than they could handle. Incidentally, even radiation levels around a coal mine are much higher than right next to a nuclear power station, but hey, never mind the facts, feel the passion.

Getting back to Soviet antinuclear propaganda in the West, why did they display such touching concern for our health? Why, for example, did the East German communists churn out nuclear stations like hotcakes, while paying their West German stooges to wage massive propaganda against nuclear energy? Why did Soviet cartoonists draw mushroom clouds over nuclear stations, displaying ignorance of secondary-school physics only matched by their expertise in Goebbels-style agitation?

Strategy is the answer. In those days Arab oil producers were in the Soviets’ pockets, which gave the communists a huge strategic advantage. The greater the West’s dependency on Arab hydrocarbons, the better it was for the Soviets, who could instigate oil crises at will. Unlike our own CND idiots (Tony Blair, ring your office) the Soviets knew that nuclear energy was the only reasonable alternative to hydrocarbons, which did wonders to focus the minds of KGB propagandists.

The situation has changed in details, but not in principle. Now it’s not only the Arabs but also the Russians who have their hands on the tap. Germany, for example, gets 36 percent of her gas from Gazprom (in which Col. Putin is reputedly a major shareholder), and central Europe even more (98 percent for Slovakia, 100 percent for the Baltic states). That gives the Russian KGB government a powerful blackmail weapon and perhaps a greater strategic edge than they’ve ever had.

Characteristically the Americans cottoned on faster than the Europeans, but then they haven’t been distracted by such vital issues as how much money the Germans must give to the Greeks to make them refrain from staging Nazi parades for Angela’s viewing pleasure. The Americans have developed hydraulic fracturing techniques that enable them to produce shale gas cheaply and on a large scale.

Quite apart from going a long way towards easing the country’s economic crisis (by, for example, making the raw materials for their chemical industry cost a third of Europe’s prices), this has largely eased America’s strategic conundrum – and complicated ours. The US is now producing 81 percent of its energy, making it less dependent on the Middle East. As America’s idealism is largely driven by fiscal concerns, this will reduce both her strategic stake and her interest in the region.

That will leave the EU in the driving seat – of a car with flat tyres and no engine. Only someone teetering on the edge of a crack overdose can believe that the EU will be in any position to control the situation in the Middle East. And only someone over that edge can really think that, left to itself, the situation won’t explode into the world’s face.

Meanwhile prepare yourself for the immediate consequences of HMG’s touchy-feely PC affection for wind farms, which are as useless as they are ugly. We’ll all freeze in the dark soon, but at least this will leave us enough time for tree hugging.





The Iceman cometh – evolutionists wish he hadn’t

The other  night I caught out of the corner of my eye a couple of minutes of a ‘serious’ TV programme on archaeology. That was enough to prove yet again that ‘serious TV programme’ is an oxymoron, a bit like ‘a young person’.

Two young women were looking at a man’s skull displayed side by side with several others, supposedly belonging to man’s ancestors. What excited their girlish imagination was that the man’s skull was noticeably bigger, which they redundantly demonstrated by filling all the cavities with grit and then putting the grit into transparent glass jars.

This they held as yet another proof of evolution, not that any proof was needed of something the girls held as self-evident. In the admittedly brief excerpt I saw before switching to footie, they didn’t mention the Iceman, but then even Darwinists laden with degrees and honours seldom do.

The Iceman was discovered in a melting glacier high in the Tyrolean Alps on 19 September, 1991. This chap (Homo tyrolensis) is the oldest man found intact. (Some Egyptian mummies are older, but their brain and vital organs were removed.)

Actually, ‘pre-Iceman’ is a more accurate description of him as he lived before the Ice Age. Radiocarbon dating put his age at about 5,300 years old, but many scientists believe such a number is outside the reach of this method. So in fact he could have been much older than that.

Though the Iceman was only about 5’3”, his skull had a volume of 1500-1560 cm3, much bigger than the head of today’s man. This presents a problem for the evolutionists, even those more accomplished than those TV girls. They have to explain an evolutionary process that would account first for a huge increase in head size compared to apes – and then a gradual reduction to today’s average size of 1200 cm3. Yet again what we observe is not so much progressive development as degradation.

The Iceman had the same skull shape, facial features and DNA composition as the present inhabitants of these regions. But in some respects he was more advanced: even though he was 25-30 years old at the time of his death, his body had not yet reached physical and sexual maturity. This tallies not with Darwin but with the biblical accounts of people’s longevity, much higher than ours.

In fact, radiographic studies conducted by research orthodontists concluded that the Neanderthal reached maturity at age 28-32, with the concomitant increase in his average lifespan. In fact, studies of the characteristic features of Neanderthals’ teeth and jaws showed that they lived to about 200-300 – which casts doubt on the notion of progress implicit in Darwinian evolution.

It wasn’t just the Iceman’s physique that was astounding, it was also his artefacts. The Iceman had in his possession tools that we normally associate with the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, Copper Age – or even the Middle Age. And yet he used them all at the same time, presaging, say, our contemporary Australian aborigines who are equally adept at using boomerangs and I-phones. This suggests that dating on the basis of artefacts isn’t quite all it’s cut out to be.

The Iceman was armed with flint weapons and a long yew bow resembling both in size and material the English longbow so fondly remembered by the French. Yew doesn’t grow in those parts, so it must have been a foreign import. He also carried an axe of almost pure copper. This was similar in shape to the axes found in Northern Italy and dated 2,700 BC.

His arrows revealed the Iceman’s knowledge of basic ballistics. Carved from viburnum and dogwood branches, they had flint points and feathers. The feathers had been affixed with a resin-like glue at an angle that would cause spin in flight and help maintain a true course. They were carried in a quiver, together with an untreated sinew that could be made into a bowstring, a ball of fibrous cord, the thorn of a deer’s antler probably used to skin an animal, and four antler tips tied together with grass.

The Iceman was also armed with a tiny flint dagger with a wooden handle, a grass net possibly serving as a carrying bag and a pencil-sized stone-and-linden tool that was probably used to sharpen arrowheads and blades. He toted much of his gear in a rucksack with a U-shaped wooden frame.

Amazingly, the Iceman was adept not only at ballistics but also at pharmacology. More than five millennia before Alexander Fleming he carried a medial kit containing two Piptoporus betilinus mushrooms known to have antibiotic properties.

His clothes belie the image of a primitive savage the Darwinists have conditioned us to expect. The Iceman wore a well-cut fur robe cleverly stitched together in a mosaic-like pattern – a far cry from crude skins. He obviously cared about his appearance: his hair was cut and he had highly ornamental tattoos, a grooming idea that scientists believed to be at least 2,500 years closer to our time.

The overall conclusion is that the Iceman wasn’t much different from us, and where he was different he was superior. Progress works in mysterious ways, wouldn’t you say? Charles Darwin, call your office.

Batumi will soon become Britain’s favourite holiday destination

It’s a reasonably safe bet that our comprehensively educated masses have never heard of Batumi. It’s even a safer bet that they soon will.

And I’m sure that even many of those boasting public-school credentials have never heard of chacha. It’s time they did.

For Batumi and chacha have come together to produce a tourist attraction that will revolutionise foreign travel. Especially of the variety preferred by British comprehensively educated masses and even some of those boasting public-school credentials.

But before you move Batumi and chacha to the forefront of your vocabulary, you must learn what they are. Aren’t you glad I’m here to plug such gaping gaps in your education?

Batumi is a port on the Black Sea. It’s the capital of Adjara, which is an autonomous republic of Georgia. The term ‘autonomous republic’ is a Soviet throwback, and typically a geographic area thus designated is neither autonomous nor a republic. Its relation to the metropolis is akin to that between Surrey and the United Kingdom, and no one has ever suggested that Surrey be called an autonomous republic. So let’s more accurately call Adjara a province of Georgia and leave it at that.

Chacha presents another terminological difficulty, especially for Russians. Unlike most Brits, most Russians know what chacha is, or think they know it. In fact, if asked, they’ll say it’s grape vodka (no one will say it’s a dance).

But then the Russians tend to use vodka as their frame of reference for all alcoholic beverages, and often for non-alcoholic ones as well. Hence the Russian proverb ‘tea isn’t vodka, you can’t drink a lot of it.’

Ask a Russian what whisky is and he’ll tell you it’s barley vodka. Slivovitz would be plum vodka, and beer an underachieving vodka that has failed to reach its full potential.

The Russians may be forgiven for thinking chacha is a vodka for it’s usually, though not always, water-like in appearance, and ‘vodka’ derives from the Russian for water. Chacha offers a wider range of strength than vodka, reaching as high as a most satisfying 70 percent.

This occasionally plays nasty tricks on Russian visitors who guzzle chacha like vodka without realising they’re in effect drinking twice as much. This often leads to unpleasant consequences which for decorum’s sake I’ll refrain from describing in every Technicolor detail.

Let’s correct the misapprehension: chacha isn’t vodka. It’s a brandy similar to its Italian cousin grappa or its French relation marc. Like them, it’s made of – are you ready for some technical details? Well, you’ve asked for it.

Chacha is made of must, which is freshly pressed grape juice soon to become wine. To be precise, chacha is made of pomace, which is the solid contents of must: grape skins, seeds, and stems. A simple distillation process produces chacha, a spirit that tends to be less refined than most grappas but tastier than most vodkas.

So now you know what both Batumi and chacha are. What you don’t yet know is how the two combine to offer you an exciting, nay intoxicating, holiday experience. Is that what they say in brochures, a holiday experience? As distinct from a holiday? Nothing like the use of an industry term to give one an aura of verisimilitude.

By way of empirical observation, no holiday experience will ever be complete for many British tourists without them remaining in a state of perpetual drunkenness. This is usually accompanied by the kind of conduct not seen in Europe on such a scale since the dying days of the Weimar republic.

In broad terms this behavioural mode could be described as puke on pavement, to single out one salient characteristic. Furniture-destroying fun in bars and restaurants is another essential feature, one that has made many Prague bars display ‘No British Stag Parties’ in their windows.

Prague, with its beer at 50p a pint now tantalisingly out of reach, has thus created a void in British culture tours, and it’s this void that Batumi is about to fill. Its mayor Jemal Ananidze has just presided over the opening ceremony for Chacha Tower, an 80-foot-high fountain jetting not water but chacha into Adjara’s sultry air redolent of the aroma of cypress trees.

The Russian TV announcer commenting on the big event confirmed the stereotype to which I referred earlier by describing chacha as a ‘grape vodka’. He then presciently predicted that, at a meagre construction cost of $490,000, the chacha fountain will more than pay for itself by attracting brisk tourist trade.

The unsophisticated Batumi city council, which financed the project, probably pictures foreign tourism the way it comes across in James Bond films: elegant men and fragrant women touring the Côte d’Azur in Ferraris and sipping Krug on a seafront terrace. However, given the nature of the beverage serving as the main attraction, one fears that the reality may prove rather different.

If they advertise the project properly, their town will soon be overrun by British stag parties zigzagging through the streets to the tuneless accompaniment of the great classic ‘Ere We Go, ‘Ere We Go, ‘Ere We Go!’ Batumi denizens will soon learn that “wha’ you lookin’ at, mate?” is a rhetorical question best left unanswered, what with ‘mate’ not quite being a term of endearment. They’ll also have to realise that ‘You what, sunshine?’ isn’t a request for meteorological information, and that the colloquial word for pudenda can profitably if metonymically describe a man.

In short, Batumi’s mayor ought to have been careful what he wished for. He might soon get it, with his city turning into an Ibiffa, as it’s properly pronounced.



Our totalitarian democracy

In most people’s minds, totalitarianism and democracy are antonyms. Yet the two can happily coexist not only on the same planet but also in the same country. To understand this, we should focus on the essence of totalitarianism, not its incidental manifestations, such as violence.

For elected leaders are also capable of violent oppression. Just look at the democratically elected Hitler, Perón, Mugabe, Putin, Lukashenko, Ahmadinejad and Macîas Nguema (who gratefully murdered a third of the population of Equatorial Guinea that had voted him in).

Conversely, if we define the term rigorously, even a non-violent democracy can be totalitarian. The term should properly apply to any political system that a) concentrates all power within a small elite, b) removes all checks and balances on this power, c) leaves people no viable choice, d) relies on populist brainwashing to change people’s views and personalities, f) reliably elevates to government those unfit to govern.

Each one of these telltale signs is amply observable in today’s Britain and most other so-called democratic states. They all show the dangers resident in a democracy whose power is unchecked by other estates.

The benefits of unchecked democracy are held to be self-evident, which is just as well for they would be impossible to prove either theoretically or empirically. Yet in traditional Western thought even God was regarded as a hypothesis awaiting philosophical and evidential proof. As democracy is not divine, one feels so much more justified in holding it to scrutiny.

First it is important to strip unlimited democracy of its non-partisan mask. Unlike the limited democracies of Hellenic antiquity and Western polity, universal suffrage is a radical idea that came to the fore after man was pronounced to be good to begin with and, what is more, infinitely perfectible.

It followed ineluctably that all good and further improvable people were equally qualified to choose their leaders and govern themselves. Once Americans elevated universal suffrage to secular sainthood, and spread this fideistic notion high and wide, opposition to it became impossible in the West.

But in reality the promise of democracy becomes larcenous when democracy is unchecked by the power of other estates. By atomising the vote into millions of particles, democracy renders each individual vote meaningless. What has any weight at all is an aggregate of votes, a faceless bloc. Consequently, political success in democracies depends not on any talent for statesmanship, but on the ability to put such blocs together.

This has little to do with statesmanship. Coming to the fore instead are a knack for demagoguery, photogenic appearance, absence of principles, ability to lie convincingly, selfishness and an unquenchable thirst for power at any cost.

Tocqueville warned against this with his usual prescience: ‘I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.’ He formed this ideas of American democracy at the time of Jefferson, Adams and Madison, to name but a few. One wonders what Tocqueville would say today, observing our politicians in action. He would certainly feel that what has been realised is not his prophesies but his nightmares.

The ostensibly democratic, but in fact neo-totalitarian, state acquires more power over the individual than any monarch who ruled by divine right ever had. French subjects, for example, were shielded from Louis XIV by many layers of local government, and the Sun King wielded more power over his loftiest courtiers than over the lowliest peasants. It would not have occurred to him to tax his subjects at 75 percent, something that comes naturally to France’s democratic leaders.

Modern democracy, on the other hand, transfers power from the periphery to the centre, where the small elite reigns supreme. This ever-increasing centralisation reflects a deep trend, that of reversing two thousand years of Christendom and reverting to paganism.

People have been hollowed out, their metaphysical certitudes removed, and the resulting vacuum filled with idols, such as unchecked democracy. Fallen by the wayside is trust in the traditional localism of Christendom. Unceasing and uncontested brainwashing has replaced it with knee-jerk adulation of central government, to which people are taught to ascribe redemptive powers. In this sense all modern states are totalitarian, for they seek control over areas hitherto seen as being off-limits.

Socialism and communism, modernity’s other redemptive creeds, are unchecked democracy’s first cousins. Socialism is democracy with logic; communism is socialism with nerve. All such systems originally spring from a characteristic liberal ignorance of, and contempt for, human nature – a condition disguised by incessant encomiums on the goodness of man.

Behind this smokescreen it is easy to tell lies about democracy, such as that it makes the world more secure. In fact, in the last 100 years, when unchecked democracy achieved the PR status of the only possible alternative to tyranny, hundreds of millions have died violent deaths.

Universal suffrage implies universal military service, a fact that is at least as responsible as technological advances for the amount of blood spilled in modern wars. If medieval kings had to beg their vassals to spare a few men for the army, today’s democracies can conscript the entire population if they so wish, and prosecute anyone who refuses to join up.

Nor does unchecked democracy provide stability. Quite the opposite, one can argue that the democratic body politic carries the gene of instability, even as it is forever plagued by the demons of ad infinitum centralisation. Here too, this most factional of political systems suffers from the heredity of its liberal mother and radical father.

That is why democracy infinitely gravitates towards social democracy (a euphemism for socialism which in itself is a euphemism for the dictatorship of the big state), leaving little room for conservatism, which is a popular but imprecise word for traditional Western politics.

Looking at the three major European democracies of today, Britain, France and Germany, it would be hard to argue that democracy is a factor of political stability. In a mere century, Britain has gone from being a constitutional monarchy to being a crypto-republican province of the EU; France, from being an international power to being first a part of Germany and then her junior partner; and Germany – well, we all know about her.

Britain should not find herself in this company for she was the first country to activate an effective system of checks and balances – something that was often preached but never practised on the continent. The intellectual line of descent here leads from Plato and Aristotle to Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Burke and Tocqueville. They all knew that only checks and balances could prevent a democracy from turning into what Tocqueville called ‘tyranny of the majority’.

Burke said something similar earlier: ‘The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny.’ Another aphorist, Lord Acton, admittedly armed with the benefit of Burke’s and Tocqueville’s earlier insights, put his finger on the problem: the main conflict during the French Revolution, he wrote, was ‘a great struggle between democracy and liberty,’ thus implying that the two terms so often uttered in the same breath just might be mutually exclusive.

If they came back, they would see their worst fears coming to fruition in today’s West. And though the word ‘totalitarian’ was a later coinage, they would probably find it useful to describe our democracy run riot. 



Osborne’s good news is bad news

Air is being punched triumphantly all over Conservative Central Office. The Chancellor has delivered his gospel, which, as you remember, means good news.

The gospel according to George promises salvation in this world. It signposts a path to said salvation and takes the first giant strides in the right direction. That is the consensus, or at least the consensus as it is portrayed by Tory press releases. Doomsayers have been proved wrong, scream party spokesmen. The future is bright, the future is blue.

Like most propaganda, this economic gospel cannot stand up even to cursory analysis, never mind scrutiny. Not to cut too fine a point, it is a lie. That is not to say they fiddle the released figures, though the way they handle their own expenses, not to mention rail tickets, suggests that such sleight of hand is not beyond many of them. It is not the figures they fiddle, it is the inference.

For what the figures really show is that the government has learned next to nothing about the crisis and is doing even less. But judge for yourself.

According to the Office for National Statistics, borrowing fell to £12.8 billion in September, from £13.5 billion in the same month last year. That was enough for George to wipe his brow, heave a sigh of relief and deliver a contortionist slap on his own back. His borrowing forecast for this year is holding up well.

Let us forget for the moment that any borrowing at all means we are still living beyond our means, which is what got us in trouble in the first place. Let us just remind ourselves that the forecast was £122 billion. Assuming George realises that a year has twelve months, his September borrowing multiplied by twelve must come up to £122 billion, or as near as damn. Yet the display on my trusted calculator shows 153.6 billion, which is the real product of this multiplication. In other words, George is about 25 percent over target.

He is thus adding staggering amounts to our £1.07 trillion debt, but doing it slightly more slowly than he could have done. This throws some new light on his much-vaunted austerity that has drawn so much hysterical derision in our left-thinking media. George’s audacious plans to cut a further £10 billion out of what is euphemistically called ‘the social protection’ budget are being depicted as yet another proof of Tory heartlessness. Meanwhile the Tories insist the plans bear testimony to their decisiveness and economic sagacity.

To a less biased observer £10 billion seems trivial when compared to the £207-billion size of the social budget. Such cosmetic nips will do, in broad terms, nothing to solve our problems. In fact they will exacerbate them by giving Labour a good chance of winning the next election and predictably making matters even worse.

Another source of George’s pride, a miniscule drop in unemployment, is not even worth talking about. All HMG has to do to make such statistics look palatable is redefine unemployment. In this instance, somebody who does the odd temporary job is regarded as being employed for all statistical purposes, which is a half-lie. The only meaningful statistic would be the percentage of net tax payers, those who put more into the Treasury than they take out.

These data are not available for Great Britain at large, but they are available for Scotland. Out of her population of about five million, 2,590,000 pay taxes. But only 160,000 of those are net taxpayers, which suddenly makes the prospect of Scottish independence much less daunting for England. Alas, economists believe that proportionally the situation in England is not much better. I for one would be interested to see such information, but George is staunchly reticent on the subject.

The economy is in the doldrums, and it is a tragic mistake to think that George’s PR palliatives are going to pull it out. This government has already added £100 billion to the suicidal national debt accumulated by Labour. As proportion of GDP, our national debt stands at 67.9 percent, which will rise to 99.6 percent by 2015. For anyone wishing to paint by numbers a picture of disaster, these would be the numbers. When we pay more to service the national debt than for defence, any pretence at being a major country must be abandoned.

No path to salvation has been charted in the gospel of George the Borrower. The essential first step on such a path would be to throw out every fundamental assumption and start from scratch. One such assumption is that the public purse should pay for private indolence. It is obscene that young able-bodied people should sponge on the Exchequer even though they are perfectly capable of supporting themselves.

There is a difference between incapacity and freeloading. Those suffering from the former must be helped; those practising the latter must be cut off. You would be amazed how quickly they would develop a responsible attitude to life.

Granted, neither our schools nor usually their own abilities have equipped them for cerebral jobs. But there are many others, those that now mostly go to immigrants from Eastern Europe.

Every chap putting up the scaffolding in my area is either Polish or Russian. Arriving here without speaking a word of English, they yet begin to support themselves after a few days. Some of them will stay on building sites for life, but many will not. For instance I know one Polish girl who first cleaned people’s houses for a year or two while studying to be a nurse. She is now doing well, and every time I bump into her at my local Sainsbury’s she looks like any other middleclass woman.

Launching our own freeloaders on such a career path would enable George to cut the ‘social protection’ budget by half, not by a measly half of one percent. And it would have incalculable social and demographic benefits as well. But of course neither our spivocrats nor their flock want this.

For the former, reducing government expenditure would mean relinquishing much of their own power, which is contrary to their genetic makeup and every aspiration. And the latter have been so corrupted by 60-odd years of socialist propaganda that they would never vote for a party trying to do the right things, in the only way they can be done. The voting masses would much rather elect a gang of Marxist class warriors with learning difficulties who would do their level best to turn Britain into a contiguous shanty town.

Those who do not desire such an outcome can weep and wail and gnash their teeth, but that is roughly all they can do. They have no party looking after their interests, nor even a forum through which they can voice their concerns in any meaningful way. All they have is George, a false prophet pretending to be the fifth evangelist.








Angela fancies herself as a latter-day Charlemagne or perhaps even…

It is about 68 years since Germany last had control over the budgets of most European countries. Then there was much well-documented resistance to such bossiness, some inside but mostly outside the European mainland. These days both the control and resistance take on different forms, though the latter is beginning to resemble its antecedent in some places, such as Greece.

Merkel has suggested that Germany, operating through an unelected EU front, assume control over European national budgets, telling the countries how much they may tax and spend. When some countries expressed a few timid reservations, the portly Chancellor was ‘astonished’. And she probably felt something stronger than astonishment at François Hollande acting as one of the resistants. I do not know the German for ‘ungrateful two-timing bastard’, but the words must have crossed Angela’s lips. Now she knows how Ségolène felt.

In a show of even-handedness for which I am justly famous, I have to say that I can understand both Angela and her critics. The second is easier.

After all, handing control over the national budget to an unelected foreign body spells the end of both democracy and sovereignty, and some people still feel residual affection for such things. Even though they cannot fail to see the obvious differences between now and 68 years ago, they cannot quite overlook the similarities either. Any way they look at it, they do not wish to have their countries completely ruled by foreigners, especially – and they would never dare enunciate such shameful innermost feelings – the Germans.

The jolly carnival featuring unusual costumes that greeted Angela’s recent holiday in Greece testifies to this: some people have long memories, and national pride is not yet extinct. The Greek answer to a fancy-dress party was then followed by fireworks, in the shape of some 70,000 demonstrators tossing petrol bombs at Athens policemen, what with Angela already safely out of range. But make no mistake about it: blaming outlanders is always easier than blaming yourself. Striving to become the sacred cow of Europe, Germany may soon end up as its scapegoat.

On the other hand, one can understand Angela’s frustration. She finds herself in the position of a banker who is asked for a huge and possibly unrecoverable business loan, with the supplicant refusing even to divulge what his business is and how he plans to spend the money. Angela knows that come what may she will be paying for the music, so it is only natural that she wants to call the tune. What is worse is that she may feel that she has found herself at an impasse with no easy way out – indeed no way out at all.

With some European countries racing towards 100 percent unemployment and all of them being crushed under the weight of murderous debts, Europe is well and truly bust. Not all of its predicament is directly attributable to the EU, but much of it self-evidently is. Such circumstances invariably foster strong emotions, few of them positive.

In countries with no separatist fault lines, such as Greece, resentment is most likely to be directed at the Germans, who are correctly seen as the engine of the EU. Where such fault lines exist, in places like Spain and Belgium or to a lesser degree Italy and Britain, an eruption may first occur internally, along ethnic lines. But that out of the way, Germany will be next.

National independence is the slogan under which the battle is joined in multi-ethnic federations, but it has nothing to do with reality. For the Catalonias and Scotlands of this world do not seek independence – they crave dependence upon the European Union, where they would play a much less significant role.

Why the Scots would want to leave a union cemented over 300 hundred years of the United Kingdom only to join one that is not only unproven but indeed moribund is a mystery, but not much of one. The cynic in me thinks the politicians there may be animated by the possibility of getting cushy jobs in Brussels. That, however, does not explain why the same urge thrives at the grassroots.

The explanation is likely to reside in the nature of ethnic resentment, whose fervour tends to dissipate the further away the object is from the subject. Scotland is closer to England, and Catalonia to Spain, than either is to Germany. Therefore it is easier for the Scots and Catalans to hate their neighbours, especially since neither of them was ever occupied by Germany.

This phenomenon is universal. For example, unlike Scotland, Georgia and Armenia were brutally oppressed by the Russians for at least 70 of the last 100 years. Yet Georgians and Armenians hate one another and only mildly despise their oppressors.

Pressure is building in the EU cooker, and God only knows when and how devastatingly it will blow up. An ideal position to be when that happens is as far away as possible, and instead of making vague hints at a referendum or renegotiating this or that, HMG should bang the door as it leaves.

Meanwhile Angela, still reeling from François’s duplicity, has had to settle for some sort of banking union within the eurozone, rather than the total control of every national economy she sought. That will probably come later, when this much-touted measure has failed as have all the others.

One way or the other, the Germans, the French and their puppets seem to be dead-set on salvaging this unsalvageable abomination at all costs. All we can do is pray that the cost will only be paid in money, not, as is increasingly likely, in blood.











Let’s get literal about fighting for a political office

Reading press accounts of the presidential debates, one can’t help noticing the profusion of pugilistic terminology:

‘Gloves are off…’ ‘Romney claims the first round…’ ‘Obama wins on points…’ ‘Romney draws first blood…’ ‘Obama came out swinging…’ ‘Romney lands the heavier punches…’ ‘Second round goes to Obama…’ ‘Neither man landed a knock-out punch…’ ‘Down but not out…’ ‘He beat his man to a punch…’

One reason for this verbal tendency must be the hacks’ general affection for clichés. Even those few of them who are capable of idiosyncratic self-expression seldom have enough time to look for the right word in the hectic conditions of political reportage. Clichés obviate the need to think for those who either can’t or have no time to do so, which is par for the course.

But why boxing clichés specifically? After all, the English language offers more chestnuts than you can find on a Paris pavement stall in autumn. Many of those, say those borrowed from card games, could do the job just as effectively. Yet we seldom see phrases like ‘Obama plays his trump card’, ‘Romney pulls out his ace in the hole’, ‘Foreign policy is Obama’s long suit,’ ‘Romney cashes in his chips,’ ‘Obama calls a spade a spade…’ Well, perhaps not this one. But there are many others to choose from.

These are admittedly less dynamic than the fighting ones, but then neither are they as graphic in evoking black eyes, smashed eyebrows, broken noses or ruptured spleens. Yet all one hears is boxing analogies in every blow-by-blow account of two heavy hitters refusing to pull their punches until one of them takes it on the chin and either goes down for the count or is saved by the bell.

I don’t mean to indulge in homespun psychoanalysis, but there has to be a deeper meaning there somewhere. Could it be an innate yet unwitting nostalgia for the dawn of history, when conflicts between two tribes would begin, and often end, with a mano-a-mano combat between the two chieftains? And could this subconscious yearning be reinforced by a very rational realisation that verbal sparring between two candidates is a grossly inadequate way of deciding which one would make the better president?

This is just speculation on my part, but perhaps staging real punch-ups is what both the pundits and the public are really craving. They just may realise that we’d learn more about a man’s suitability for leadership from his ability to throw and take a good left hook than from his knack at out-shouting people. True enough, a boxing bout says more about a man’s character than his intellect, but I for one would be reluctant to insist that, when it comes to leadership, the latter is more important than the former.

And wouldn’t women, to name one obvious group, be more likely to vote for a man with strong muscles than for one with strong vocal chords? Wouldn’t men more readily identify with a candidate who rolls with the punches on the ropes, rather than on a debating platform? I think we’re on to something here and, if this would mean redesigning the electoral process in most Western countries, then so much the better. You don’t really think that the present system unfailingly elevates to government those fit to govern, do you?

Thus, step by step, we’ve achieved a symbiosis of reason and intuition so beloved of scholastic philosophers. All that remains is converting it into a practical proposal, which in this instance is self-evident.

Western democracies should replace televised debates with Marquess of Queensberry bouts between the two aspiring candidates. This would offer marginally better chances of selecting the right man for the job than drawing names at random from a phone directory – and infinitely better ones than those afforded by the existing system.

Of course there are technical details to be ironed out, as there always are with any radical departure from the beaten track. But the task isn’t insurmountable.

First, the leading parties should have a statutory obligation to select candidates no further than one weight class apart, say welterweight to middleweight. You might object that even under such eminently fair conditions, the parties would be tempted to nominate only young men, and you’d be right. But all Western democracies are in any case moving that way – just look at some of our MPs, those barely old enough to vote for themselves.

Second, both the mandatory eight-count and the three-knockdown rule must be suspended. The fight should go on until one of the candidates is either knocked out or throws in the towel. We don’t want any namby-pamby let-offs: we need to find out what the contestants are really made of.

Third, stamina being as important for a leader as brawn, the fights must have no round breaks. The fights should go the distance until one of the candidates is out for the count.

In this world we aren’t blessed with perfection. Hence I don’t claim that the proposed system ought to be held up to such a lofty standard – only that it would be better than the existing travesty of an electoral process. I think it should get a unanimous decision.

The French have finally learned to play fair

The British and the French have spent 1,000-odd years competing against each other. Some of the competition was peaceful, some wasn’t. The latter variety has tended to favour us, and names like Agincourt, Poitiers, Crécy, Iberian peninsula and Waterloo send every British heart a-flutter.

Had periodic wars between us continued, we’d be entirely justified to look down our noses on the French. Alas, we haven’t fought a serious war against them for almost two centuries, if you discount the few years when the French sided up with the Germans to fight Britain. No, I’m not talking about the EU, don’t be silly. I’m referring to the Second World War, when the Germans and the French buried their historical hatchet and started a love affair that’s still ongoing. Germany is the man in the relationship and the France is the partner who’s getting… Well, let’s not go there.

Economic competition used to favour us as well, off and mostly on. But some 50 years ago, driven by our congenital sense of fair play, we decided to give the French a fighting chance. To that end we sportingly redesigned our educational system to make sure that most of our children enter the adult world unable to read, write and add up.

One would think that the vaunted French chivalry would have kicked in and they would even the odds by following suit. Did they do that? Did they merde. Instead of levelling the playing field they grabbed the unfair advantage of obstinately insisting that their enfants emerged out of school equipped with basic literacy.

As a result of those sharp practices, the French now work 25 percent fewer man-hours than we do, while their per capita GDP is roughly the same. That makes their productivity higher than ours by… Sorry, I’ve never learned to add up. Let’s just say much higher and leave it at that.

Personally, I abandoned a long time ago any hope that the French would ever grasp our concept of fair play. But in comes François Hollande, unquestionably the fairest French president since Mitterand’s first two years in office.

First he put into effect an eminently just and rational tax policy guaranteed to drive the most productive Frenchmen to our shores. That’s like Zinédine Zidane pulling on an England shirt when the French were wiping the football pitch with us. This would have improved our chances, wouldn’t it?

So François made a step in the right direction. However, his sportsmanship being of the highest calibre, he has now taken another giant stride towards bringing France down to our level.

His education minister has announced plans to eliminate homework from French schools because some parents are better equipped than others to give their progeny a hand. Bravo, Mr Peillon!

Let’s say the homework is writing an essay on Descartes. Surely a professor of philosophy can help his child struggle through Cartesian rationalism better than, say, a Saint-Denis dweller who hasn’t read a book in his life and thinks Descartes is what you play blackjack with. How unfair is that? This sort of thing smacks of elitism, which, as we know, is worse than, well, just about anything this side of homophobia.

‘We cannot subcontract education to parents,’ says Jean-Jacques Hazan, Chairman of the French Federation of Parents. Spoken in the laudable spirit of fairness, and I can barely contain the urge to stand up and applaud.

Of course a sceptic might say the idea lacks novelty appeal. Both the theoreticians and practitioners of tyrannical states have been in favour of it for well over two millennia. Plato, for example, saw all children as nothing but the building blocks of the polis. To improve their ability to function in that capacity he suggested that they be taken away from their parents and raised as wards of the state.

But why go so far back? The Soviets with their young pioneers’ camps and the Nazis with their Hitlerjugend didn’t want to subcontract education to parents either. They wanted the little ones to learn what the state wanted them to learn, not the intellectual or, God forbid, religious rubbish they could get from their parents. Of course both the Soviets and the Nazis were socialists, and so is Mr Hollande but, not being a sceptic, I’m not going to draw spurious parallels.

So félicitations, Mr Hollande, for acting yet again in the spirit of fair play. But don’t rest on your laurels – the job is only half-done.

Educated parents won’t be able to help their tots with homework, fair enough. But they could still give their children good books to read, play real music for them to listen to or even defy laïcité and take children to a church – as opposed to a mosque, which would be progressive and commendable.

Such outrages must clearly be prevented, for otherwise fairness will be dealt a blow both domestically and internationally, with educated families fostering elitism and France gaining an unfair advantage vis-à-vis les rosbifs. That won’t do, will it?

To preempt such injustice, I humbly propose a few measures. Having learned about fair play from the experts, the British, I feel qualified to do so.

First, I’d nationalise all private libraries or, barring that, remove from them all books with any cultural or religious content, including the Bible. Then I’d confiscate all classical recordings and burn them, together with the books, in Place de la Concorde, where the guillotine used to be.

Second, all educated parents must be made to drink at least 15 units of alcohol a day and have at least one hit of Class A drugs. This would make them equal to parents who went to the school of hard knockers followed by Screw U, not to L’Ecole d’Administration or L’Ecole Normale Superieur. Their children must also be encouraged to consume both alcohol, albeit in smaller volumes, and drugs, marijuana rather than crack.

Third, all children must be taught to report on their parents should the latter transgress. This will redirect their loyalty away from home and where it belongs: to the state.

If acted upon, these modest proposals will create a society according to the blueprint Messrs Hollande and Peillon see in their mind’s eye. ‘We want a society of justice, so we want to have schools that offer everyone the same chance of success,’ says the latter. Next to none, is what he means, and what could be fairer than that?

At last the Brits will be able to compete against the French on even terms. So I hope you’ll join me in offering a big merci to the French government. It’s on the right track, the fair one, the just one, the progressive one.