The sexy devils of education

In Borken, Germany, 11-year-olds were ordered in class to draw the cross-sections of male and female genitalia.

Apparently, however, children in that sleepy town hadn’t yet acquired the sophistication we expect from our progeny. This they proved when two impressionable tots fainted, while the others hyperventilated. All in all, 10 children were taken to hospital.

In France the parents of a little girl were fined a hefty amount. Their crime? They failed to bring their daughter up properly. The little one rushed out of the classroom when shown an “educational” (pornographic) film about coitus. Such squeamishness was treated as culpable absenteeism.

In Switzerland parents demonstrated against their four-year-olds receiving graphic tuition in the facts of life. As part of that valuable education, the precocious tots were taught “how it is, when one doesn’t know exactly whether one is male or female. They can then consciously choose their sexuality, just as they do with religion.”

So how does the lesson go? “Last week, class, we learned about the birds and the bees. Today, we’re going to learn about the birds and the birds.” Sounds all right to me.

However, I’m aghast at the suggestion that children can choose their sexuality. There I was, thinking that one is born one way or the other, with no conscious choice involved. Therefore, say, Peter Tatchell can’t be blamed for being what he is, a fanatical propagandist of homosexuality.

Now it turns out it’s all a matter of choice. From this one may conclude at a weaker moment that a person can be blamed for choosing wrong. Since in our enlightened time this is patently impossible, the only other conclusion is that there’s no such thing as right or wrong. There, that works.

By order of the Swiss Education Ministry, the Swiss cherubs were also given soft-toy penises and vaginas to play with, presumably sticking one into the other. This has to be much more educational than tops or bouncy castles. One can only regret that the ungrateful parents saw fit to form a coalition, whose goal is the “protection against sexualisation in kindergartens and primary schools”.

Isn’t that what kindergartens are for? Children are going to learn sooner or later anyway, and sooner is better than later. Really, there’s no understanding some people.

In Greymouth, New Zealand, 11-year-olds were taught about various amorous possibilities, including anal and oral sex. Some retrograde parents threw a wobbly and, for the time being, that part of education was put on hold. Clearly, there’s still some more pedagogic work to be done.

Queensland primary schools teach Aussie youngsters that abortion can be “a relief”, a bit like aspirin, and hormones make “you feel sexy”. They certainly do, and trust all those previous generations to insist mistakenly that there ought to be some moral considerations involved as well.

In Spain, the Extremadura regional government produced a sex-education video designed for the “development of healthy habits, self-esteem and safety.” As one of the safe, healthy habits, the video covers “sexual self-exploration and erotic self-knowledge.” Or, in other words, masturbation.

Not to be outdone, our own Department of Education has produced the Living and Growing DVD aimed at five-year-olds. Speaking to the target audience in the language they understand, the video uses the format of a pornographic… sorry, I mean educational, cartoon showing a couple going at it hammer and tongs, with the man ejaculating at the end, presumably not prematurely.

That’s truly disgusting. I mean, shouldn’t those 5-year-olds be taught how to contain ejaculation within condoms? Of course they should.

Unfortunately, condoms aren’t yet made in that size, but this oversight can be corrected easily enough. After all, teaching aids are essential to education. When such undersized products become available, our educators will be able to produce another kindergarten video, working title “Little johnnies for little Johnnies”.

Had enough? I certainly have. Far be it from me to use such an uncool, unfashionable word as ‘satanic’, but my lexicon isn’t broad enough to find any others.

Perhaps it would be better to leave the domain of philology for that of history to remind the united educators of the world that the Roman Empire was brought down by the kind of decadence that, comparatively, was indeed child’s play.












AC Grayling ends the Christianity debate once and for all

First Dave said Britain is a Christian country because the other lot are atheists, and he needs to be different to win the next election.

Then 50 ‘intellectuals’ wrote an open letter saying Britain isn’t a Christian country at all because they don’t run into many Christians in Mayfair (or especially Peckham, where AC Grayling lives).

Then Nick said that church and state need to separate, on the off chance that an Anglican prelate might find something wrong with Nick and his jolly friends.

Then Rowan Williams said Britain is in fact a post-Christian country, meaning (I’m guessing) that she used to be Christian but isn’t any longer or, another possibility, that no country where a mentally challenged Druid became the head prelate can possibly take Christianity seriously.

Such a mishmash of views was difficult to bring to an unequivocal conclusion, but trust a philosopher to tackle this ungrateful task. 

Prof. AC Grayling has written some 30 books on philosophy and, though I’m man enough to admit I haven’t read a single one of them, he must have some education and possibly even intelligence. Not necessarily much, but some.

Alas, he proves my lifelong observation that, whenever even educated and intelligent people try to argue the atheist cause, they unfailingly descend to the intellectual level of Lenin’s League of the Militant Godless.

Those chaps would bust Christian shrines to show yesterday’s believers that the bodies of saints rot just like anyone else’s. Not to confuse the issue, those bodies that remained incorrupt were simply destroyed. 

They’d put QED smirks on their faces and say, “If God exists, how come we have [insert a disaster of your choice]?”.

They’d point out that Christians had the Crusades, the Inquisition and religious wars, during which many people were killed – not as many in all those centuries as the Bolshevik atheists massacred in their first couple of years, but that superfluous detail was left out.

They’d remind us of the Church’s attempts to suppress science, which presumably explains why no civilisation other than Christian ever produced much science worthy of the name.

Verily I say unto you, when God wishes to punish someone, he takes his mind away. There may be a more scientific explanation for the fact that otherwise intelligent adults turn into kindergarten underachievers whenever this subject comes up, but I can’t think of one.

In his Times article AC Grayling repeats all those ‘arguments’, shrouding them in pseudo-intellectual cant. But he must have sensed that somehow the debate was missing a clincher.

Old AC is just the man to deliver it. Britain, he explains, isn’t a Christian country, this goes without saying. Nor is she a post-Christian one, for the simple reason that she never was Christian in the first place. Neither is, or was, any other country. Because – are you ready for this? – Christianity doesn’t exist.

“Christianity is not Christianity but borrowed Greek philosophy,” is how Grayling puts it, and one has to admire his forthrightness, so rare among philosophers.

The dastardly Christians didn’t just rip off Greek philosophy. They stole from the Greco-Romans everything they ever knew about “government, military strategy, ethics, political theory, management of an empire, social conditions, education, law and much besides.”

No wonder. “Christianity,” after all, “provides little instruction – beyond a few bland generalisations about being nice – for dealing with life’s complexities.”

The stupidity and ignorance of this statement is truly baffling. I wonder, for example, if Grayling has read Plato’s dialogues, especially Republic and Laws, in which the chap who presumably taught the Christians political theory sketched the blueprint of the totalitarian state.

This was fleshed out not by Christians but by the Soviets and the Nazis who, to be fair, have never been accused of being pious believers.

And “ethics”? “Social conditions”? One “bland generalisation about being nice” that Christianity demonstrably didn’t get from Hellenic antiquity is that every person is an autonomous human being, to be cherished not because of any towering achievement or superior character but simply because he’s indeed human.

People short of achievement or incapable of it, like those frail boys routinely drowned by the Spartans or those unwanted baby girls left to die in the woods by the Romans, began to be seen as God’s creatures to be loved before all others.

Hence the institutions for the care of the old and infirm, widows and orphans, lepers and cripples that rapidly spread already during Constantine’s reign. In fact, the pagan emperor Julian the Apostate reluctantly praised the ‘Galileans’ for looking after the weak and needy, “not only theirs, but ours as well,” so much better than the pagans did.

Moreover, rather than being regarded as merely chattels of their fathers and then their husbands, women began to play an important, often decisive, role in society. In that aspect it’s not the Christians but Muslims who are true followers of classical antiquity.

As to providing “instruction for dealing with life’s complexities”, Prof Grayling must be confusing the New Testament with Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Surely even our philosopher can’t be so stupid as to believe that’s what Christianity is for?

Actually, the Old Testament, an integral part of the Christian canon, provides ample, though admittedly not exhaustive, instruction of this sort, a fact that must have escaped Grayling’s attention. No wonder: he’s got the atheist bit between his teeth.

Had he stayed within the confines of his own discipline, he would have been on safer, if overtrodden, grounds. For Christian thinkers, especially in the early days, indeed amalgamated their faith with the methodology of Greek philosophy.

After all, they needed to plant Christian saplings in the soil ploughed by Hellenic thought and, as testimony to their success, they managed to create not only the greatest civilisation the world has ever seen, but also the subtlest philosophy.

To conclude on this basis that “Christianity isn’t Christianity” isn’t just factually wrong but intellectually feeble. But then Pascal said it all before: “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, not of philosophers and scholars.”

He had Descartes in mind, who was merely misguided, not strident and ignorant. Unlike some other philosophers one could mention.






Clegg gives disestablishment a bad name

According to our self-admittedly atheist Deputy PM, “In the long run it would be better for the Church and better for people of faith, and better for Anglicans, if the Church and the State were to stand on their own two separate feet.”

Here one has to admit mournfully that, while disagreeing with people one respects is always hard, agreeing, even partially, with those one despises is harder still.

This is one of such thorny situations for, as a matter of abstract principle, I agree that Church and state should not have any institutional power over each other. They are, after all, responsible for different realms.

This assertion has the weight of scriptural authority behind it: “My kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18: 36) or “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22: 21)

General historical observation also suggests that whenever a state lorded it over the Church or, come to that, vice versa, this compromised both by pulling them out of their natural realms and into uncharted territory.

When after the disintegration of the Roman Empire the Church had to assume secular authority by default, it was filling a dangerous vacuum of power. In a way the Church had to usurp secular authority as Europe was falling into the kind of free-for-all chaos that could threaten not only civic order but indeed the survival of the Church itself.

The Church thereby descended to a level where it found itself on the receiving end of the slings and arrows hitherto reserved for lay authority. Its core business suffered as a result, and that’s when the seeds of the Reformation were planted.

Conversely, when the Church becomes an addendum to the state, the latter invariably rides roughshod over the former. Anyone wishing to contest this observation would have to find some doctrinal justification for homomarriage, which the Church of England has more or less countenanced.

Such a search would be in vain: in this instance, as in many others, the state imposed secular values on the Church – and not just any old secular values but those egregiously contravening Christian doctrine.

Russia, as she so often does, provides the most grotesque example of the state subjugating the Church. Ever since Peter I grabbed the reins of ecclesiastic authority, the Russian Church has been a state puppet, to the point of most of its current hierarchs being life-long agents of the secret police.

Even in pre-Bolshevik times the state tended to embrace the Church too tightly, mauling it in the process. This was illustrated by the comic clerical error as a result of which Nicholas I put the Metropolitan Philaret in command of a hussar regiment.

So all in all I agree that separating Church and state is an arguable abstract idea. But if we eschew generalities and put the concept within the specifically English context, both historical and present, the situation changes – especially if we consider the current source of this idea.

As a confirmed socialist, Nick, after all, is heir to the revolutionary tradition of the Enlightenment. For those within this tradition, separation of Church and state is among their most cherished dogmas.

Since atheism (sometimes camouflaged as deism) has always been integral to this tradition, one is tempted to think that revolutionaries like Robespierre, Jefferson or Lenin didn’t have the best interests of Christianity close to heart.

What they craved was power over their residually Christian flock, a desideratum that necessitated undermining the Church’s moral authority over the state. For, while its claim to secular authority was dubious, the Church was entitled to sit in moral judgment over the state.

When Christ spoke of his kingdom being not of this world, he left his listeners in no doubt that his kingdom was higher than this world. Therefore, when the West was still called Christendom, the Church’s remit was to keep the state on a moral straight and narrow, mitigating its excesses.

Since all modern states came out of the Enlightenment, they found this situation intolerable. Hence the idea of separation of Church and state, acting not so much as a means of protecting the Church from state tyranny as a stratagem for marginalising the Church as a moral and social dynamic.

Larceny being a telltale sign of any post-Enlightenment state, the US Constitution coyly eschews the phrase ‘separation of church and state’. Instead the First Amendment states only that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

But in his comments both before and after the ratification Thomas Jefferson was unequivocal: this amendment, he gloated, built “a wall of separation between Church and State”. Since Jefferson, along with most other Founders, was a visceral hater of Trinitarian Christianity, he felt that this construction project had been completed none too soon.

Jefferson was an Enlightenment revolutionary, but the American version of this tradition was milder than the French and the Russian ones, if ultimately as detrimental to the survival of Christendom. Clegg, on the under hand, comes from a much more radical heritage, and his advocacy of disestablishment must be viewed in that context.

He doesn’t really mean that disestablishment would be “better for the Anglicans”. Given today’s situation, it’ll only be better for the likes of him, those who have devoted their whole careers to constitutional vandalism.

England’s ancient constitution is based on a monarch whose right to reign is under the auspices of Parliament amalgamated with, indeed derived from, the English Common Law.

The monarch’s person links the generations past, present and future along essentially the same timeline as the Church. Both are inseparable parts of the constitution of which Parliament is the repository, guardian and enforcer.

Removing the Church from the constitutional settlement would mean neutering both the monarchy and Parliament, which would leave England’s constitution lying in ruins.

This is exactly the end Clegg craves. Our constitution, whatever is left of it, is the last obstacle in the way of Britain becoming a province of the European Union – with Nick possibly shaking the dust of Little England off his feet to claim a post in the government of Greater Europe.

For anyone aware of this context, Nick’s advocacy of disestablishment precludes any serious discussion. One’s knee jerks and the words ‘not on your Nellie!’ spurt out as if by themselves.

A pity, that. For the issue does merit serious discussion.  




“The threat of this radical Islam is… growing,” said Blair, for once truthfully

Yet, with the modesty for which he’s so justly famous, Tony forgot to say why. Allow me to refresh his memory.

Tony ‘Yo’ Blair chose to play poodle to the Americans when they embarked on their ill-advised, probably criminal, aggression against Iraq. The combined forces of the two countries in a somewhat one-sided ‘special relationship’ overran Saddam’s army, took over Iraq and then rolled into Afghanistan.

As a direct and immediate result, ghastly secular regimes were throughout the Middle East ousted by ghastly jihadist ones. Violence among various factions and sects, always bubbling just underneath the surface, splashed out. Hundreds of thousands died, with more predictably to follow.

The violence had been kept more or less in check until then because those countries were run by military juntas, effectively the only, or at least the most potent, force for secularisation in the Islamic world.

Atatürk in Turkey, Musharraf in Pakistan, Mubarak in Egypt, Shah Reza Pahlavi in Iran, Assad in Syria, Gaddafi in Libya all ran military-based dictatorships in different countries and at different times.

Such governments would never be accepted in England or even in Scotland, but occasionally it wouldn’t hurt to remind ourselves that some countries may be ever so slightly different.

At their worst, or rather these days at their normal, free elections in Western countries throw up self-serving nonentities like Obama, Hollande, Blair or Cameron (and wait till Ed takes over). Enforcing the same democratic principles in the Middle East has always brought to power fanatical international terrorists prepared to blow up the world for their quaint faith.

It takes a particular set of qualities for a man, first, not to know that this has always been the case and, second, not to infer that this historical pattern will never change.

Clinical idiocy would be ideal, but ideals are seldom realised in this life. Thus we were treated to the second-best characteristic, proudly displayed by Tony and his American friends: power-hungry hubris overriding whatever modest intelligence there was to begin with.

Assad’s ghastly but secular regime is still holding on by the skin of its teeth, as it tries to keep at bay the kind of chaps who dine on human organs. It thus stands to reason that last year Tony took enough time off from making millions to agitate for Britain to oust Assad.

In other words, he wanted us to do to Syria what he and his friend Dubya had done to Iraq, Afghanistan and, by ricochet, much of the rest of the Middle East.

Now, in a cynical, not to say schizophrenic, about-face, he’s saying that, when all is said and done, Assad is the lesser evil. Radical Islam is the real menace, and it must be stopped at whatever cost.

All true, but Tony’s conversion is too sudden not to make one suspicious about his motives, or else concerned about his mental health. After all, a few months ago he was clamouring for bombing Assad out of existence. So what exactly has changed in the interim?

Oh well, if you insist, what has changed is that only the comatose in the West have failed to wake up to another major threat: Putin’s Russia.

In fact, this threat is much greater for the simple reason that Russia is the only country capable of turning the West “into radioactive dust”, in the colourful phrase of Putin’s mouthpiece on Russia’s state-controlled television.

In the good tradition of Soviet post-war diplomacy, this capability is being used like the flick-knife the local thug keeps in his pocket. He hasn’t stabbed you yet, but you know he can.

The West doesn’t wish to be stabbed with the knife of ICBMs, which reluctance explains its measured response to Putin’s aggression against the Ukraine. (For those of you who aren’t fluent in newspeak, ‘measured’ means cowardly.)

So how does Blair link Russia to Syria, and specifically to his newly discovered urge to stop the march of ‘radical Islam’?

“We should be building alliances to achieve this,” he says, “including the recognition that on this issue, whatever our other differences, we should be prepared to reach out and co-operate with the east, and in particular, Russia…”

Yet again I have to offer my unsolicited translation services, for the parenthetical phrase “whatever our differences” needs deciphering.

We differ with Putin on a number of issues. He wants to rebuild the Soviet Union to all its past power and inglory, which we don’t want to happen. He thinks he’s justified in using violence to that end, and we don’t. He’s prepared to risk a major war in Europe, and we aren’t. He’s clearly ready to attack not only the Ukraine but also the Baltic republics that belong both to the EU and NATO, which isn’t something we welcome. He’s using Russia’s energy resources to blackmail both his immediate and more distant neighbours, which we find objectionable.

Underneath it all, we resent his kleptofascist state, but this isn’t among our most urgent concerns. The other ‘differences’ are, and presumably they’re the hatchet Blair wants us to bury.

Why? Because according to Tony we need an alliance with Putin to stop the threat of ‘radical Islam’ in Syria. Yet only a few months ago Tony screamed for us to duplicate in Syria what his government had done in Iraq, which created (or at least magnified) the threat in the first place.

Putin, on the other hand, is happy with Assad because under the Ba’ath government Syria has become Russia’s client state and a potential springboard for the extension of Putin’s power through much of the Middle East.

By now my head is spinning, and I’m no longer sure whether what Tony sees as differences are actually similarities and vice versa.

Is he suggesting that overlooking our differences with Putin should include delivering much of Eastern Europe to his tender care? Again I’m not sure. 

One thing I am sure about is that Blair’s cynicism and dishonesty go beyond what one expects even from today’s politicians. Lace those qualities with intellectual mediocrity, and my urge to reach for that bucket becomes irresistible.

Religious fundamentalism doesn’t exist, Mr Grieve

Our Attorney General thought he was supporting Dave’s assertion that Britain is still a Christian country, even though neither Dave nor most people take its formative faith very seriously.

Instead he dug the hole even deeper.

People, said Dominic Grieve, are “turned off” from religion by the “disturbing” and “very damaging” rise of fundamentalism, defined as “deep intolerance” of other people’s views.

“I do think that there has been a rise of an assertiveness of religious groups across the spectrum,” he explained, which spectrum to him includes both Islam and Christianity.

Actually it’s somewhat wider than that. It also comprises Judaism, Taoism, Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, animism, atheism and what not.

All those are to a varying degree intolerant to other people’s views for the simple reason that faith presupposes belief in the truth. The truth, not one among many.

Thus an exponent of one religion has to believe by definition that he’s right and exponents of other religions are wrong. If he possesses a modicum of intelligence, he’d know that others feel the same way about his own faith.

And, if he does satisfy that minimum cerebral requirement, he wouldn’t be unduly bothered by such diversity of belief. To each his own, live and let live, that sort of thing. Such is the way of the world. Others are entitled to their ridiculous opinions.

Thus a believer wouldn’t be upset by other people’s intolerance of his faith unless, of course, such intolerance is manifested through certain unpleasant actions. These can vary from oral insults to physical harassment, from assault to murder, from shrill propaganda to a forceful imposition of alien values.

People who resort to such affronts are usually called ‘religious fundamentalists’, although nowadays the term tends to broaden its meaning to include those who accept not only the moral precepts of their religion but also the dogma whence the morality comes.

Since Mr Grieve lumps all ‘fundamentalists’ together, one has to presume that he must have been jostled in the street by militant Buddhists, attacked by bolshie Christians, harassed by uppity Confucians, forcibly converted by crazed Taoists and assaulted by fanatical Jews for buying pork sausages.

He must have been forced to diet during Lent by fundamentalist Christians, dragged away from a bus on a Friday night by fundamentalist Jews, made to marry in a certain way by fundamentalist Buddhists.

No? None of those calamities has befallen him? Well, then he surely must possess numerous case studies of fundamentalist Anglicans maiming their daughters for dating Catholics, fundamentalist Jews picketing restaurants for not serving kosher food, fundamentalist Chinese insisting that Confucian law must take precedence over the English Common Law in assorted Chinatowns.

No, not even that? So what on earth is he talking about? What kind of religious fundamentalism is such a sharp burr under Mr Grieve’s blanket?

He must realise that failure to provide a satisfactory answer to this simple question may make some feel that, in common with most politicians, he just runs off at the mouth, making politically expedient noises with no substance to them.

Actually Mr Grieve’s problem is neither rare nor hard to understand. Many people these days have been brainwashed by our atheist modernity into talking about religion in general.

Yet there’s no such thing. Every religion is sui generis. Different religions differ from one another as much as any of them differs from atheism.

If there is no such thing as religion in general, then there’s no such thing as religious fundamentalism in general. Then, since Mr Grieve will probably agree that pious adherents of the creeds I’ve mentioned aren’t in the business of shoving their faith down other people’s throats, what kind of sui generis fundamentalism does he have in mind?

There’s only one answer to this question, because there’s only one religion in Britain that’s being practised not just devoutly but aggressively. Islam.

One can understand why Mr Grieve doesn’t want to put it this way. He’s the Attorney General and wants to keep that post at least, if not to move up. Such an aspiration is incompatible with even hinting that one religion is worse than another. The enforcers of political correctness won’t allow it.

So a government official can’t attack Islamic fundamentalism specifically. He can only talk about religious fundamentalism in general, even though everyone with ears to hear will know exactly what he means.

However, even had he come out and actually said it, the statement still wouldn’t make sense. Granted, in some parts of Britain espousing Christian beliefs may expose one to intimidation and even assault. But since most of us don’t live in predominantly Muslim areas, it’s unclear how Islamic fanaticism can turn anyone but a morbidly timid soul off Christianity.

And we’ve already seen that any other fundamentalism tends to be unobtrusive, if not exactly nonexistent. Thus if Britain is indeed a Christian country, as Messrs Grieve and Cameron correctly assure us she is, then how come church attendance is going down, while fewer and fewer self-professed Christians practise the faith they claim to possess?

To find who (and what) is to blame we’d have to go back a few centuries and then slowly move towards Britain circa 2014. At some point along this meandering path we’d find our culprits. But whatever they are, they won’t be ‘religious fundamentalists’.

They are much more likely to be those who, like Messrs Grieve and Cameron, think society can feast on the fruits of Christianity while diligently severing the roots of the tree that has borne the fruits.

They too are fundamentalists, but not of any religious sort. Their cult is our vulgar, anomic, soulless modernity, and they serve it with unwavering piety. 







So Cardinal Nichols won’t be voting UKIP then

His Eminence, ever the politician, didn’t name UKIP specifically.

But his remarks on immigration were clearly inspired by the party’s poster campaign saying “British workers are hit hard by unlimited cheap labour.”

“The reality,” countered His Eminence, “is that the vast majority of migrants to this country add to our well-being.”

Some of us would like to see his sources, and also some more precision of phrasing. How vast is this majority? More important, does His Eminence see in his mind’s eye some cut-off number beyond which migrants may reduce our well-being?

One of the UKIP posters says the EU boasts 26 million unemployed, which claim Cardinal Nichols doesn’t dispute. Juxtaposing this number with the fact that Britain’s economy is growing faster than any other in Europe, it’s not an unfair supposition that some of those 26 million will end up here.

Assuming that some of them have families in tow, let’s calculate conservatively that, should they all come to Britain, the country’s population would double overnight.

That clearly would be unsustainable – even assuming that no immigrants from outside the EU would follow suit. So what about half that number? A quarter? Ten percent?

I dare say we’d be overrun even at my lowest hypothetical level. If His Eminence has information to the contrary, then by all means he should share it with us. If not, then – how can I say this without offending anyone’s innermost feelings – some people may think he’s indulging in empty bien pensant phrase-making.

His Eminence doesn’t strengthen his case by making further claims, to the effect that “We have grown to appreciate the richness that immigration brings… to the life of hospitals and many public sector areas…”

Going back to my conservative estimate, does the Archbishop think that the NHS has so much spare capacity that it could effortlessly accommodate, say, another five million patients? If so, one would like to see some concrete proposals on how our infection-infested hospitals killing people en masse through neglect and incompetence would pick up their performance when their workload increases.

They already produce 1,200 preventable deaths every month – how would an extra five million patients reduce that number? I don’t know. Neither, I’m afraid, does His Eminence.

His is therefore a general statement of political allegiance, which is redundant. We already know that the Archbishop’s sympathies are broadly on the left, and no further confirmation was necessary.

One can only hope that his unfortunate bias won’t interfere with his ministry, which is more important than politics. After the ecclesiastical damage done to the Church of England by a succession of wishy-washy ‘liberal’ prelates, it would be a shame to see the Catholic Church going the same way.

As to the UKIP campaign, it’s decent advertising and good politics. After the decades of the two major parties converging not just in their policies but also in their philosophy, such as it is, it’s good to see a party that sets out to emphasise its divergence from the others.

Evidently the party’s strategists don’t feel UKIP can engage the main parties in a frontal assault along the entire line of policies. Instead they’re engaging in a guerrilla warfare, trying to derail a few ideological trains on the flanks.

Staying faithful to its heritage, UKIP naturally chooses to concentrate on the horrendous damage caused by Britain’s membership in the EU.

By far the greatest and deadliest damage isn’t economic but constitutional, and this doesn’t depend on the number of new arrivals. An inordinately brisk immigration will undeniably cause some economic attrition, with more cultural and social damage to follow.

But Britain could conceivably survive such casualties and remain Britain. What the country can’t survive is the destruction of her ancient constitution that reflects the nation’s political genius.

The constitution isn’t written, or rather it’s not written in a single document. That is its strength: rather than being a flimsy ideological contrivance, the British constitution has evolved over many centuries by gradually accumulating bits of wisdom and prudence.

These are reflected in a number of common-sensical statutes, laws and practices that have withstood the test of time – a millennium of it. The nation’s sovereignty has developed alongside with, or probably out of, the English Common Law, and it’s vested in the strong alloy of Parliament fused with the crown and the judiciary.

This edifice of constitutional sovereignty isn’t so much undermined as blown to smithereens by Britain’s having to comply with a huge number of laws originating outside Parliament. By signing his name to the Maastricht Treaty, John Major thrust a dagger through a millennium of British political history. The life’s blood of the nation flowed into the ground.

UKIP leaders know all this better than I do. Yet, unlike me, they’re practical politicians who need to reduce their message to the kind of sound bytes our comprehensively educated masses can understand.

I’m sure UKIP must have tested the constitutional message and found it wanting. For the message is too involved to be reduced to sound bytes.

It has taken me almost 300 words to outline the skeleton of the argument, without adding much flesh to it. Perhaps a better writer could cut a few words out – but not many more than a few.

Such loquacity may be sound political philosophy but it’s rotten politics. Democratic politicians, and this is a huge drawback of universal-franchise democracy, have to talk in slogans if they want to be elected.

The flanking manoeuvre undertaken by UKIP is based on a simple, not to say simplistic, message aimed at people who have to work for a living. There are only so many jobs to go round, the campaign says, and one of them is yours. Unless we regain control of our borders (that is, leave the EU) it may go to an immigrant willing to work for less. 

Not being a mechanic of political rough-and-tumble, I can’t judge if this is the right tactic. But being a voter, I’m happy to see that not all parties are saying the same things, give or take a couple of percent. A feeling obviously not shared by Cardinal Nichols.

Horace must have had Anglo-American lefties in mind

“They change their sky, not their soul, who rush across the sea” (Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt).

If Horace were alive today, he’d probably change animum for nous to confirm the point I always make: lefties, on either side of the Atlantic, aren’t merely misguided but actually stupid.

Witness the letter to The Telegraph, in which 50 leading ‘liberals’, including AC Grayling and Peter Tatchell, take exception to Dave’s description of Britain as a Christian country.

“We are a plural society with citizens with a range of perspectives and a largely non-religious society,” says the letter. “To constantly claim otherwise fosters alienation and division in our society.”

The intellectual level of this statement fully matches its stylistic elegance, and some of the signatories actually write for a living. But never mind the English, feel the idiocy.

The authors seem to feel that their first assertion, that not all Brits are Christians (I presume that’s what it means), is at odds with Britain being described as a Christian country. It isn’t.

If it were, then no large collective entity could ever be described as anything at all. For example, even though many inhabitants of the British Isles aren’t actually British, we still call the country by its normal name.

Not every citizen of Bolshevik Russia was a communist and not everyone living in Nazi Germany was a Nazi – but we still insist on the usual nomenclatures for those places. Staying within the subject of religion, not every citizen of Indonesia is a Muslim, and yet we routinely describe it as the world’s largest Islamic state.

If these chaps had half a brain among them, they would have considered how closely England’s ancient constitution is intertwined with Christianity. For example, they would have looked up Her Majesty’s 1953 coronation ceremony, which included this exchange:

Archbishop: “Will you to the utmost of your power maintain the Laws of God and the true profession of the Gospel? Will you to the utmost of your power maintain in the United Kingdom the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law? Will you maintain and preserve inviolably the settlement of the Church of England, and the doctrine, worship, discipline, and government thereof, as by law established in England? And will you preserve unto the Bishops and Clergy of England, and to the Churches there committed to their charge, all such rights and privileges, as by law do or shall appertain to them or any of them?”

Queen: “All this I promise to do.”

Then they would have reminded themselves that the Queen is the statutory head of the Church of England, and ‘Defender of the Faith’ is part of her full title, to realise that Britain is indeed a Christian country constitutionally and historically.

And not just that. England is also part of Western culture, which is Christian for all intents and purposes. The English language, perhaps more than any other, was shaped by sacred texts, from the Prayer Book to the Kings James Bible. English music, like all Western music, was born in the church.

So yes, Britain is a Christian country any way you look at it, and the presence of numerous non-Christians here can’t change this situation even if they are in the majority.

What these intellectually challenged chaps really mean is that they lament this fact because they viscerally hate Christianity, along with our constitution generally and monarchy specifically. That is of course their privilege.

But the more they try to argue their case rationally, the more irrational they sound. Which is another word for stupid.

How anyone can take such gibberish seriously escapes me. But then the Brits have been brainwashed to think that trendy leftiness, ideally accompanied by rabid atheism, is a sign of intelligence. Conservatives are generally lampooned as being tweedy, senile colonels retired to the shires, where their lives are wholly circumscribed by hunting, shooting and port.

In the States, the image of a conservative is different. There the iconic picture is a gun-toting redneck, preferably from the South, who hates blacks, loves beer, never reads books without pictures in them, and y’ll have a nahs day now.

American lefties are, by contrast, portrayed in the similarly slanted media, and therefore popular mythology, as cultured, educated, brilliant, urban, urbane, multilingual and impeccably East Coast.

When George W. Bush was president, he effortlessly slotted into the former cliché, and the papers were densely filled with his malapropisms and solecisms. True enough, old Dubya was never the sharpest chisel in the box, but then we can’t expect intellectual attainment in a modern politician. That sort of thing would disqualify them from holding public office and actually prevent them from seeking one.

Obama is cut from the same cloth, even if its colour is different. Yet his idiocy is as studiously covered up as Dubya’s was shouted off the rooftops.

In all honesty, however, Obama could give his predecessor a good run for his money in the stupidity stakes. According to his public statements, there are 57 states in the USA, not 50, Canada has a president, Austrians speak Austrian, Afghans speak Afghan and the Malvinas is a different name for the Maldives.

This walking argument against reverse discrimination is routinely described as a law professor, whereas he was merely a locum instructor paid by the hour, and he’s lauded for having been president of the Harvard Law Review, even though he never published a single article of note there.

My American colleague (and countryman) Vladimir Kozlovsky suggests that Obama was elected to the post for the same reason he was elected president: because he’s black (actually half-black, but his mother doesn’t count) and handsome.

This is a highly objectionable and cynical view, made even more so by the obvious fact that it’s true. But then, as our own lot show so convincingly, propensity for stupidity is derived from neither race nor nationality.

Political convictions, however, demonstrably have something to do with it.








What is a Christian?

The day before Easter is a good time to ask this question, wouldn’t you say?

It’s also a good time to lament that this question needs to be asked at all. One would think that the answer is self-evident.

And so it was for the better part of 2,000 years. You could have asked anyone, say, 200 years ago, and you would have received an unequivocal answer:

A Christian is someone who believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Had you insisted on details, the same respondent could have simply said, “Read the text of the Nicene Creed. It’s all in there.”

These days following this advice is considerably easier than 200 years ago. Just tap ‘nicene creed’ (never mind the capitals) into your Google, push a button and out it comes: “I believe in one God…”

Alas, in common with such words as ‘liberalism’ (and other cognates of ‘liberty’), ‘conservatism’ and ‘marriage’, the word ‘Christian’ has become desemanticised. Or rather it now means so many different things as to mean nothing at all.

For example, the way my friend Dave uses it, the word means roughly the same thing as a conscientious social worker who may choose a church rather than the local ‘social’ as his base of operations. Or he may choose neither – just caring and sharing is enough.

(Actually, never mind Dave. He really doesn’t care about Christianity, however defined. His sole concern is staying in power, such as it is.

The word ‘Christian’ comes in handy when it offers a chance to outflank his proudly atheist opponents. If the word ‘animist’ could do the job better, Dave would be claiming that dancing around a totem pole is his favourite pastime.

And if he felt that cannibalism would serve his purpose better… well, you catch my drift.) 

Many people use the word ‘Christian’ simply to mean a good person. That makes one wonder what exactly is wrong with the words ‘good person’. Why do they need help from another term, that’s always more likely to confuse the issue?

And so forth – the lexical hole is getting deeper and deeper, yet people never stop digging.

This unfortunate tendency isn’t all that recent either. For example, in 1901 the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church excommunicated Leo Tolstoy.

This represented an act of ultimate mercy: in, say, Elizabethan England, Tolstoy’s frenzied anti-Christian invective would have put him on a pyre faster than you could say ‘blasphemy’.

In the Russian Church, incidentally, excommunication didn’t mean expulsion or anathematising. It merely meant that the parishioner could no longer take communion – which for Tolstoy shouldn’t have been particularly onerous since he didn’t believe in all that nonsense anyway.

Yet he felt called upon to write his notorious Letter to the Synod, protesting that he was a true Christian and, implicitly, the truest of all. Tolstoy didn’t offer his definition of a Christian, but it can be easily inferred:   

“That I have rejected the church that calls itself Russian Orthodox,’ he writes, ‘is perfectly true… I’ve come to the conclusion that in theory the teaching of the church is a perfidious and harmful lie, while in practice it is a collection of the crudest superstitions and sorcery, hiding completely the entire meaning of Christian teaching… It is perfectly true that I reject the incomprehensible Trinity and the myth, these days meaningless, of the fall of the first man, the blasphemous story of a god born of a virgin to redeem the human race… You say that I reject all the rituals. That is perfectly true… This [the Eucharist] is horrible!”

If this is protest, methinks the writer doth protest too little. Every word in this ‘protest’ screams visceral hatred for the church and everything it stands for. Just look at the adjectives: ‘perfidious’, ‘harmful’, ‘crudest’, ‘meaningless’, ‘incomprehensible’, ‘blasphemous’, ‘horrible’.

The rhetoric of Bolshevik cathedral-dynamiters had nothing on Tolstoy’s harangues. But the Bolsheviks had the advantage of never describing themselves as true Christians.

In other words, it’s possible to claim being a Christian not only when one sees the Church as merely an extension of social services, but even when one is maliciously hostile to it.

It’s getting too complicated for words. Do let’s keep it simple. Forgetting Tolstoy’s stupid hysterics, we must still realise that a ‘Christian’ means something different from a ‘good person’.

Not every good person is a Christian; not every Christian is a good person. The terms are too different to be interchangeable.

Thus terminological precision, if nothing else, demands that, in search of an answer to the question in the title, we go back to the Nicene Creed. Specifically, on this eve of the greatest day in the Christian calendar, to these words:

And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures,

And ascended into heaven,

And sitteth on the right hand of the Father.

And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead:

Whose kingdom shall have no end.

Happy Easter!




So who’s the fascist now?

Jews leaving a Donetsk synagogue after Passover celebrations were given the good news.

No, I don’t mean the Gospel, which would have been appropriate, if perhaps tactless, at a time between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. In fact, the glad tidings came from a source not just non-Christian but decidedly anti-Christian.

The news was delivered in the shape of leaflets bearing the letterhead of INDEPENDENT DONETSK REPUBLIC, HEADQUARTERS.

Said republic declared its independence on 7 April, and its founding document was issued by Putin’s storm troopers… pardon me, I along with our media should be calling them ‘pro-Russian activists’, who occupied a government building in Donetsk – and continue to hold it in spite of yesterday’s triumph of Western diplomacy at Geneva.

Some of them did venture outside at Passover to keep the 15,000 Donetsk Jews on their toes, and the leaflet they used for that purpose deserves to be quoted in its entirety:

“Esteemed citizens of Jewish nationality:

“Since the leaders of the Ukraine’s Jewish community have supported the Bandera [Ukrainian nationalist leader murdered by the KGB in 1959.] Junta in Kiev, and have been hostile to the Orthodox Donetsk Republic and its citizens, the Headquarters of the Donetsk People’s Republic has decreed the following:

“All citizens of Jewish nationality over 16 years of age residing within the territory of the sovereign Donetsk Republic shall before 3 May, 2014, present themselves for registration to the acting Commissar for Nationalities at the Donetsk Regional Government offices, Room 514. The registration fee is 50 USD.

“You shall have on you the amount of 50 USD for registration fees, your internal passport for marking the confession of faith, documents listing family members, and also legal papers establishing title to all your real estate and means of transportation.

“Those guilty of attempting to avoid the registration shall have their citizenship revoked, followed by their enforced deportation from the Donetsk Republic and the confiscation of their property. ‘              

“SIGNED: Your People’s Governor Denis Pushilin”

An excellent document, that. The only thing missing there is the requirement that Donetsk Jews should henceforth sport a yellow star on their clothing.

That’s a pity, because such negligence goes against historical tradition of long standing. After all, the mandatory wearing of the yellow badge by all Jews was first introduced by a caliph of Baghdad as far back as the ninth century.

That pioneering effort has, however, been overshadowed by the more recent decree issued by SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heidrich in 1941. Actually the later document deserves this primacy, largely due to its widely publicised consequences.

Also, the Donetsk republicans have reversed the time-honoured sequence of events. First, before issuing the demand for registration with subsequent sartorial embellishments, they should have passed the Donetsk Laws, establishing a firm parallel with the 1935 Nuremburg antecedent.

Because, if personal observation is anything to go by, Jews in Russia and adjacent areas tend to poison the Aryan-Slavic gene pool by entering into conjugal relations with chaste simon-pure Russian girls.

(Those you see plying the world’s oldest trade in London hotels may not be chaste in any physical sense – but by being simon-pure Russian they’re pristine metaphysically, and shame on you for being blind to such nuances.)

And – are you ready for this? – in most instances those Natashas and Tanias accept such attentions not only willingly but also enthusiastically. That just goes to show they can’t be trusted to resist the miasma emanating from those wily oversexed Hebrews. It’ll take the Donetsk Laws to protect their chastity and the native bloodstream.

Other than that, one ought to congratulate the government of the new republic and also its patron, SS-Obersturmbannführer… pardon me, KGB-Lieutenant-Colonel, Putin for abandoning subterfuge.

Honesty is a virtue, and we must be thankful to the Donetsk chaps for proudly wearing their true essence on their sleeves (before the Jews are made to wear theirs). If they are to be rebuked for anything, it’s the haste with which they then declared the leaflet to be fake.

Call me a cynic, but I can’t help thinking that the speedy denial was largely prompted by the thunderous gasp of international disgust that followed the event.

You see, Western taste buds have been weaned off that sort of thing, at least for the time being. Col. Putin, who in his professional capacity was trained to keep his finger on the Western pulse, knows this. So he must have rung his storm…, pardon me, pro-Russian activists, and told them not to jump the gun.

“Let me sort out this mess first, lads,” he must have said, “and then you can have your fun. But be discreet, for God’s sake, be clever. First arrange some preamble, of the sort practised in your region since time immemorial. Perhaps an exsanguinated Russian boy or a raped Russian girl… well, you don’t need me to tell you how to do those things.”

All fine and well, but I’m confused. Ever since the word Maidan seeped into most languages, hysterical Russian propaganda has kept banging on about all those fascists who ousted Putin’s stooge Yanukovych.

They’re all, scream Russian ‘independent’ papers, followers of Bandera and, by inference, Hitler. And don’t be misled, fellow Russians, by the large presence of Jews in the Maidan. These members of the Judaeo-Banderite conspiracy have been tricked by those secretly anti-Semitic rabbis who call themselves ‘the leaders of the Jewish community’. Those Judaeo-Banderites even claim that Ukrainian anti-Semitism is no worse than Russian.

It all makes perfect sense so far, wouldn’t you say? But then those impetuous Donetsk chaps have to throw a spanner into the works of Putin’s juggernaut. Suddenly it’s they who are the anti-Semites, they who invite overused parallels with the Nazis.

This reconfirms yet again the importance of proper planning and coordination. It also shows the importance of timing: Maundy Thursday wasn’t the best moment for the supposedly Orthodox republic to establish its Nazi credentials.

Unless, of course, they mean Orthodox Nazi, not Orthodox Christian.










The NHS claims another victim

Who says there’s nothing we can teach Americans? Here’s a valuable lesson our trans-Atlantic pupils would ignore at their peril:

Push Obamacare to its logical extreme, nationalise medical care, then start counting casualties, those killed by negligence and incompetence. They’ll multiply quickly.

Today’s exhibit, class, is Malcolm Green, millionaire Pembrokeshire businessman recently awarded an MBE for his charity work.

Mr Green underwent an abdominal operation and was recovering well. Suddenly his blood pressure headed south at an alarming speed, which often is a sign of internal bleeding.

An urgent operation was needed, yet the hospital staff took 12 hours to take Mr Green to an emergency ward. There he had to wait for a further five hours before the surgeon got to him.

By then it was too late: Mr Green had bled to death. This is a tragedy of course. But it’s more than just that.

It’s yet another object lesson, one of thousands the NHS obligingly provides every year. Free medical care is dear at the price.

In common with all socialist Leviathans it starts with a lie. For nothing in life is free, and medical care least of all.

‘Free’, to a semantic rigorist, used to mean something one didn’t have to pay for. To a modern Englishman it means something different.

If pressed, he’d admit that of course somebody has to pay for all those CAT scans and ECGs. Such things are expensive; and the more inefficiently provided, the dearer they get.

If patients don’t pay for them directly, the payment comes from the government, which can only make money the old-fashioned way: either from taxes or from borrowing, which ultimately is a hidden tax as well.

‘Free’ thus means that the transfer of money from patient to hospital is mediated by the state acting as a general contractor with megalomania.

But governments are less efficient than private enterprise. So we must assume that operations are more expensive when one pays for them through the government, whether one needs them or not, than they would be if one paid for them direct, and only when one needed them.

Yet when today’s Brits pay for state medicine, they don’t just pay for operations and scans. An ever-growing proportion of our money pays for the ever-growing state bureaucracy required to administer ‘free’ medical care, something for which we would pay less if medical care weren’t ‘free’.

Since steady growth of nationalised medicine is tantamount to the state extorting increasingly larger sums from the people, ‘free’ medical care places an ever-growing proportion of the nation’s finances and labour force under state control, thus increasing the power of the state over the individual.

Another ever-present feature of any socialist Leviathan is that it eventually shifts away from its declared raison d’être and towards its true inner imperative: making the people dependent on the state and therefore subservient to it.

In the old days, a hospital was managed by two people: head doctor and head nurse (called ‘matron’ in England, class – and you’re not paying attention, Barack), in other words by those directly involved in treating patients.

However, since we’ve already established that this is no longer the primary function of medical care, its management can no longer be entrusted to medical professionals.

Control has to pass over to those whose life’s work is devoted to advancing state power, which is to say bureaucrats. The shift may be slow initially, but it’s always accelerating and inexorable. Just like a snowball getting bigger as it rolls downhill, so do the administrative staffs of medical establishments grow at a faster and faster rate.

They bear titles like Director of Diversity, Director of Community Relations, Facilitator of Optimisation and Optimiser of Facilitation. Typically, none of them has any frontline medical experience, which is fine. The NHS isn’t mainly about medicine.

Incidentally, the same trend is observable in many other walks of life as well. That’s not surprising for, if it’s the state that sets the tone, sooner or later even ostensibly private concerns will start singing the same tune.

Hence the propagation of management courses, which evoke the fond memory of the Soviet nomenklatura. There it was The Marxism-Leninism Institute, here it’s assorted MBA programmes. In both instances the graduates are judged to be qualified to manage anything, from a symphony orchestra to a hospital.

There is, however, a subtle difference between a symphony orchestra and a hospital. The former may offend your aesthetic sensibilities; the latter can kill.

The drastic shift in managerial emphasis isn’t just unfortunate but inevitable. Sooner or later all institutions, whatever their declared purpose, revert to type. In the case of the NHS, patients are increasingly seen as annoying irritants getting in the way of the Leviathan’s real business.

Hardly a day goes by without a horrible tragedy like the one that befell Mr Green making the papers. This on top of hundreds (thousands?) that pass unnoticed and unpublicised.

Then again, even the explicit promise of the NHS isn’t excellence. It’s equality, equal medical care for all, the bloke who lives under the bridge and the wealthy Mr Green.

Just as people used to be regarded as equal before God, now they’re supposed to be equal before the state, which thereby assumes divine powers. Unlike God, however, the modern state isn’t loving and merciful. It’s self-serving and spivocratic.

Effectively it’s waging an undeclared war against all traditional certitudes, and any war claims casualties. Malcolm Green is the latest one of many, and many more to come.