Prince Charles tells the truth about Putin – hear, hear

Talking to an old Jewish woman who, as a little girl, barely managed to get out of Poland just before the Nazi invasion, HRH said, “And now Putin is doing just about the same as Hitler.”

Assorted commentators gasped and got their knickers in so much of a twist that one fears they’re risking a lasting genital damage. Most of their objections, however, focused on issues of protocol and political expedience or, come to that, correctness.

Leaving such nuances to the experts, I’d like to suggest that HRH’s statement is unassailable on any moral, factual or philosophical grounds. He was perfectly justified in comparing Putin to Hitler and other fascist dictators.

After all, as Descartes argued, “All knowledge comes from a comparison of two or more things”. I don’t know about all knowledge, but there’s no denying that comparison is a useful cognitive tool.

So is Putin’s regime fascist? To answer this question, first let’s agree on terminology.

In colloquial parlance, when used by socialists, the word ‘fascist’ means anyone to the right of Ed Miliband. When used by decent people, ‘fascist’ usually describes a dictatorship that practises mass terror.

This definition doesn’t quite work. Compare for example Abraham Lincoln, a god in the liberal pantheon who’s not commonly regarded as a fascist, to Benito Mussolini, who definitely was one.

Yet Lincoln had 13,535 Northern citizens arrested for political crimes in three years between February 1862 and April 1865. By contrast, Mussolini only managed a meagre 1,642 political convictions in 20 years. Clearly, political terror alone isn’t sufficient to define fascism.

Hence I propose a short list of characteristics shared by all fascist regimes, different as they may be otherwise (for these purposes I don’t distinguish between fascism and Nazism). Let’s see how many of these characteristics Putin can claim.

Populism combined with chauvinism. All fascist regimes rally the masses by redirecting their social or economic resentments and a sense of national humiliation or inferiority into the conduit of jingoism.

It’s the regime’s task to correct an historical wrong and restore the nation to her past grandeur (Hitler’s Germanic conquest of the Roman Empire, Mussolini’s reviving the glory of ancient Rome, Putin’s Russia as the imperial Third Rome).

YES [] NO []

Externalising evil. Since the nation itself is a priori perfect, whatever humiliation or privation people are supposed to have suffered has to be put down to the perfidy of outside enemies.

All fascist regimes cast the non-fascist West in that role, especially those greedy ‘Anglo-Saxon’ vermin inhabiting Wall Street and the City of London.

In addition, each fascist regime has enemies it reserves for private use: Jews for Hitler, Ethiopians for Mussolini, ‘persons of the Caucasian nationality’ or ‘Ukrainian fascists’ for Putin and, for all of them, those immediate neighbours who cling to a modicum of independence.

YES [] NO []

Internalising the good of the nation within the person of the leader, whose approval ratings (or their earlier equivalents) must gravitate towards 100 percent.

YES [] NO []

The leader’s will replacing the rule of law. This means the leader can choose how many or few people he wants to terrorise. How many he does terrorise therefore reflects not the essence of his regime, but its current needs. Hence such numbers are irrelevant (except to the victims).

YES [] NO []

Acquisitive aggression against neighbours. Fascist regimes see expansionism as a great part of their raison d’être. They equate greatness with size, the bigger the better. As a pretext for aggression they highlight their former ownership of an adjacent country or parts thereof, or else the plight of their ethnic brothers in that country.

YES [] NO []

State control of the media and their almost exclusive use for propaganda purposes. Compare Nuremberg rallies and their Italian equivalents with this year’s military parade in Red Square. Such outbursts of public enthusiasm require a population paper-trained to respond on cue. Hence the use of media for that purpose, accompanied by the suppression of any dissenting publications or broadcast channels.

YES [] NO []

Corporatist economy. Unlike socialist or communist states to which they are closely related, fascist regimes typically eschew de jure nationalisation in favour of de facto control. Rather than shooting owners, the regime turns them into managers beholden to the regime and its leader personally.

YES [] NO []

Rapid militarisation. This can be used either for actual aggression or blackmail.

YES [] NO []

Either banning political opposition or keeping it on for window-dressing only. The nation’s parliament is either disbanded or else used merely as a rubber-stamping tool. Any real opposition is nipped in the bud, usually by violence.

YES [] NO []

Making the clergy choose between martyrdom and collaboration. More priests were martyred under Hitler than under either Mussolini or Putin, but under Putin practically the entire hierarchy of the Russian Church, including its patriarch, is made up of career KGB agents. Neither Hitler nor Mussolini succeeded in such an undertaking.

YES [] NO []

Col. Putin ticks all these boxes. Comparing him specifically to Hitler, however, one must out of fairness point out significant differences.

First, Hitler’s regime wasn’t organically fused with gangster groupings – in fact both he and Mussolini suppressed organised crime. Putin, on the other hand, has a long history of not only working with the gangster capitalists but actually being one himself.

In the same vein, Hitler didn’t keep billions in personal offshore accounts, while Putin is one of the world’s richest men.

On the plus side, Putin so far hasn’t murdered millions of people, although, as I suggested above, there exist no moral or legal restraints to prevent him from doing so should the need arise.

In that event there are intimations that the colonel will rely on more sophisticated agents than cyanide gas (various radioactive isotopes spring to mind).

Yet on the balance of evidence, I can only say one thing: well done, Your Royal Highness!











What’s the EU for?

Jeremy Warner asks this good question in today’s Telegraph.

He can’t find a good answer because, as he correctly observes, all EU economies except Germany’s and ours are stagnating, and those of such key EU members as Italy and the Netherlands are actually shrinking.

The assumption is that the EU is pointless because it has reneged on its founding promise of prosperity for all. That, according to Mr Warner, explains the apathy of European voters, who are likely to register a record low turnout on Thursday.

However, both the assumption and the explanation are wrong, even though the prediction of a pathetic turnout is no doubt correct.

Mr Warner is confusing the reality of the EU with its slogans, a common mistake of many political commentators. In the past such errors of judgment had catastrophic results, not least in the West’s response to the two greatest evils in history: Bolshevism and Nazism, especially the former.

Nazi slogans by their nature lacked universal appeal, since most people, much as some of them admired Nazi Germany, found it hard to equate her good with their own. To give Messrs Hitler and Goebbels their due, they didn’t try very hard to pretend otherwise.

The Bolsheviks, on the other hand, spoke the language of universal post-Enlightenment shibboleths: equality, brotherhood, looking after the common man, power to the people, atheism, gradual fading out of the state.

Such promises were so appealing to those outlanders Lenin appropriately called ‘useful idiots’, that they were ready to focus on the slogans while ignoring the diabolic reality: six million starved to death, fifteen million killed, educated classes wiped out, 40,000 clerics murdered, 60,000 churches destroyed, the country thoroughly robbed and enslaved – all in the first six years, on Lenin’s watch, and before Stalin got going for real.

The EU has learned the lesson: you can do whatever you want provided you utter the bien pensant phrases today’s useful idiots yearn to hear. This learning ability came naturally, considering that many EU functionaries come from a hard-left background with, as in the case of Barroso, a bit of Maoist terrorism thrown in.

Hence the mendacious slogans highlighting the economic benefits of a single European state and its putative contribution to European peace, the noble ends to which the EU is supposed to be the means.

None of this has anything to do with reality. The EU was designed in pursuit of not economic but political goals. Its designers, all those Monnets, Schumans, Spaaks and Gasperis, specifically wanted to create a single European state, regardless of its economic benefits or absence thereof.

The original Eurocrats ought to be complimented for acting according to the inner logic of post-Enlightenment politics, otherwise known as universal suffrage.

Its inevitable result is a growing centralisation of power, just as localism was the inherent political practice of Christendom. If medieval kings held more sway over the loftiest courtiers than over the lowliest peasants, governments elected by unqualified and unchecked democracy naturally gravitate towards wider, ideally total, power.

They have to transfer to themselves the power that in the past was held by local, familial bodies, such as the parish, guild, kin, village commune, township – and of course the family itself.

This has an equally devastating effect on the morale of the voters and the morals of the politicians. The former sense each individual vote is meaningless, the latter know it is.

What matters is vast, impersonal blocs of atomised votes, and today’s politicians specialise in putting them together – to the detriment of statesmanship. (An American reader of mine recently mentioned a popular bumper sticker: “If our vote really counted, they wouldn’t let us do it.”)

Hence the calamitously low grade of the human material one finds in today’s politicians, and hence also their desire to remove themselves as far as possible from their constituencies. Short on intellect but long on cunning, these chaps realise that the closer they stay to the people, the sooner they’ll be found out.

However, this unspoken but keenly felt imperative has geographical limitations built in: once political power is more or less concentrated within a small elite in the nation’s capital, there seems to be no farther to go.

It’s to overcome such limitations that supranational organisations, all those UNs and EUs, were created. If within a nation power can only go so far, then it has to be removed from the nation.

Thus we have a proliferation of variously useless international bodies, all reflecting the in-built logic of the post-Enlightenment state: a single world government. Of these the EU is the most pernicious because it’s the most successful.

Its success, however, isn’t measured by economic indicators, Jeremy Warner is right about that. Nor should it be, for the definition of a successful political body has to be based on a comparison between its aims and its results.

The EU is successful in brainwashing Europeans to accept its PR effluvia and ignore its actual performance. The first part is crucial; the second irrelevant.

This is demonstrated by the EU’s stubborn clinging to the euro. Any moderately bright child knows it’s impossible for such diverse economies as, say, those of France, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Ireland to perform well with the yoke of a single currency around their necks.

There are enough people in the EU hierarchy who can match the intellect of a moderately bright child, which means they know all that. They also know that a single currency can only work in a single state. So if you want the euro to work, you must have a single European state. QED.

The euro, indeed the EU, isn’t an economic but political tool. It’s a chain designed to bind European nations into a single state ruled by an unaccountable supranational elite.

That’s why it’s pointless to complain, as Mr Warner does, that the euro undermines the strength of European economies. It’s like complaining that lupine carnivorism undermines the strength of ovine herds.









The song in Russia’s heart

Putin’s government is using the media it controls, which is to say the Russian media, to whip up the kind of jingoistic, militarist psychosis neither I nor my Russian friends ever saw even in Brezhnev’s Russia.

One sees nothing but war films on TV, interspersed with documentaries extolling Stalin’s leadership and managerial skills.

Musical programmes are solely dedicated to the kind of songs that make Horst-Wessel-Lied sound like a lyrical ballad.

Talk shows are wholly given to Russia’s martial glory and vile attacks on Ukrainians, which in any civilised country would get their purveyors arrested for inciting radial hatred: the Ukies are all fascists, thieves, Banderites (followers of the nationalist leader Stepan Bandera murdered by the KGB in Munich in 1959), grave desecraters and so forth.

The country stands up and salutes: this sort of thing caters to her historical sense of inferiority vis-à-vis the West. As any psychologist will tell you, such feelings are readily transferred into xenophobia, aggression and self-glorification.

Hence Putin’s popularity: the KGB colonel can’t provide bread for his countrymen, a third of whom live below the poverty line (and it’s drawn much lower than in the West). But he’s adept at serving the circus of ‘Russia getting up from her knees’ – meaning making the world scared of her again.

This the Russians tend to equate with respect: the world sees them as a threat, rather than a sideshow. What else can a nation possibly wish for? Considering that leading a normal, free, prosperous life isn’t an option for 95 percent of the population? So beat the drum and blow the bugle – we’re on the march!

True enough, neither my friends nor I ever witnessed this sort of thing delivered at the same fervour pitch back in the USSR. But our fathers did – in the ‘30s when the whole country was being turned into a huge military-labour camp in preparation for Stalin’s war of conquest.

Then too every film, every newspaper article, every song reeked of cordite, then too the nation was being primed to march, murder and maraud. Hitler’s counterpunch that cost Russia 26 million lives prevented Stalin’s juggernaut from rolling beyond the eastern half of Europe – who’s going to do our fighting for us next time?

Anyway it’s better to show than to tell. So, by way of illustration, here’s a song performed on Russian TV by Zhanna Bichevskaya, commonly described as the Russian Joan Baez (minus the musical ability, as I’m sure you’ll agree).

The Russophones among you can enjoy not only the amateurish music but also the rousing lyrics in the original:

The rest have to make do with my translation, and I’m only rendering the words, not the metre and rhyme. The cultural references that may go past those who didn’t attend a Soviet elementary school are to Mamai, the Tartar military leader of the Blue Horde, Kulikovo Field in which the Russians defeated Mamai in 1380, and the Khazars who fought against the Russians in the ninth and tenth centuries:

1. The banners are moving in the morning mist// The firmament will soon tremble in battle// The field of Russian Glory, the field of Russian Battle,// The field of Russian life vanquishing death…

2. How have we allowed this, brothers?// Russia’s moaning under the yoke of black locusts// This means the Russians again must go to arms// This means the Russians will again have to brandish their swords…

3. The anti-world is fanning new fires,// It’s again conquering the glorious city of Muscovy,// New Europes, new Khazars,// New Mamais are threatening the Motherland…

4. Russia will be strong and free!// Russian strength will make Satan shudder!// And leading the troops will be our legitimate Tsar!// The whole country will be turned into a Kulikovo Field!

5. A powerful pleading voice sounds// The glorious Russian voice will thunder over the world// Holy Russia will come out again under the Saviour’s banner// Kulikovo Field lies ahead for us!

6. We’ll catch up with the enemy following his own footsteps// And rip him to shreds for the glory of God,// Kulikovo Field – Russian victory// Kulikovo Field – Russian land!

7. We’ll return Russian Sebastopol to Russia,// The Crimean Peninsula will again become Russian,// Ours are the majestic Bosphorus, ours is Constantinople// And the world’s relic Jerusalem!

8. And to spite the Masons and other villains// And those seething with hatred to Christians,// We’ll recall Kulikovo Field and the scales will fall off our eyes// And this holy relic will unite us all!

The friend who has sent me this clip limited himself to a brief comment: “Right. It’s clear. Turks and Israelis, brace yourselves. Seems like it’s your turn after the Crimea.”

But I relish my role of self-appointed translator too much to let it go at that, and I do understand Fascist perfectly. So here it comes:

‘Black locusts’ and ‘Satan’ refer to anyone who doesn’t subscribe to the sentiment of this rant. In particular, Europe embodies this evil, which is why it’s metaphorically equated to Mamai and the Khazars.

‘Legitimate tsar’ is a clear reference to Putin. In the actual Kulikovo battle the Russians were led not by a tsar, but by Grand Duke Dmitry Donskoy, the Prince of Vladimir. No Russian tsar existed at the time because Russia hadn’t yet united into a single country.

 ‘The whole country will be turned into a Kulikovo Field’ and ‘Kulikovo Field lies ahead of us’ hold a lovely promise both for Russians and the rest of us, as do the words ‘The glorious Russian voice will thunder over the world’.

I’ll let you guess who the enemy is that will be ‘caught up with’ and ‘ripped to shreds’. There are many likely candidates, including us.

‘We’ll return Russian Sebastopol to Russia, the Crimean Peninsula will again become Russian’ is accurate reportage, while ‘the majestic Bosphorus, Constantinople and the world’s relic Jersualem’ are a statement of geopolitical intent.

As to who ‘the other villains’ are, those mentioned in conjunction with the Masons, you can draw your own conclusions. It’s not difficult.

Allow me to reemphasise that this isn’t an underground tape of a crazy old woman spewing chauvinistic hatred, but a hugely popular Russian idol performing on one of the best-viewed TV shows. Moreover, this sort of thing isn’t just typical but dominant in all Russian media.

Can you read the signs? If not, I’ll be happy to translate. 




Pandemic disease infects Pamela Anderson

Professional titillater Pamela is no boob, she knows which side her bread is buttered.

Pamela’s a ‘celebrity’ (God knows she’s no actress) and wants to remain one, which is why she’s duty-bound to keep abreast of mock-worthy fads.

(My wife has just peeked over my shoulder and told me not to indulge my ‘puerile appetite for idiotic puns’. Sorry, darling, it’s a kind of Tourette’s, nothing I can do about it.)

The list of the mock-worthy causes Pamela supports is long. It includes veganism, animal rights, anti-fur, climate change, seals, anti-Kentucky Fried Chicken, AIDS (which we all know is a conspiracy on the part of the conservative establishment – as, truth be told, are all the other affronts that excite Pamela so). 

It was in her capacity as campaigner for mock-worthy causes that Pamela appeared yesterday on a yacht in the French Riviera, her white dress revealing more of her menopausal charms than most women have altogether. By Pamela’s standards this represented demure attire, certainly as compared to her erstwhile appearances as a Playboy centrefold.

The occasion for which Pamela undressed in her finery was an extravaganza for Cool Earth, a charity whose real object seems to be celebrities striving to assuage their guilty consciences, while at the same time coming across as caring-sharing humanitarians. Good for the old box office, that.

On this occasion they were acting not as humanitarians but rather as arboretarians, for this time they chose the rain forest to communicate their being in touch with the innermost cravings of mankind. Saving those tracts infested with wild animals, deadly insects and snakes, they claim, will solve most of our problems, both physical (such as global warming) and moral (such as not giving two flying, well, hoots about global warming).

Pamela’s speech took everyone’s breath away, and for once people looked at her face. For the fading beauty laid bare some harrowing experiences of her childhood.

“I was molested from age six by a female babysitter,” sobbed Pamela. One would have expected that a link to the plight of the rain forest would then be found, such as, “And now ranchers and loggers are doing the same to the Amazon.”

But nothing like that ensued. You see, Pamela evidently suffers from the disease that has reached pandemic proportions in the West: mental (in her case also physical) exhibitionism, metastasising into emotional incontinence.

Hence she continued in the same vein. At age 12 “I went to a friend’s boyfriend’s house and his older brother decided to teach me backgammon which led into a back massage, which led into rape.” Going from a back massage to rape is easy enough, but how did they make the transition from backgammon to a back massage, is what I want to know. 

A tragic experience no doubt, but what makes Pamela think this would interest anyone other than Pamela and some of her more onanistic admirers? Perhaps it was for the sake of the latter that she enlarged further on her difficult childhood:

A few years later a school boyfriend, she complained, “decided it would be funny to gang-rape me with six friends.”

The lad certainly had a strange sense of humour and probably Pamela suffered a  lasting trauma, but really she ought to be suffering in silence, especially 30 years on. Such revelations would be impossibly embarrassing to any normal person but hey, it’s a ‘celebrity’ we’re talking about.

Evidently Pamela’s desire to let it all hang out can’t be limited to low-cut dresses. Modern savages have no concept of dignity and emotional restraint, and this goes not just for Pamela but also for her audience.

Rather than reaching for sick-bags, they clapped their hands to raw meat. “No one was expecting a speech like that,” commented one of the attending savages. “Pamela was so brave.”

Right. As brave as – braver than! – our boys dying in Afghanistan for their leaders’ criminal idiocy. Our unarmed policemen confronting knife-toting thugs. Our missionaries who give their lives for their faith.

There goes another word, devalued right into the putrid gutter. But why stop there, why not describe this exercise in revolting exhibitionism as heroic? Why not put Pamela up for the Victoria Cross? As a Canadian, she’s Her Majesty’s subject after all, and we’re all looking for new heroes.

What Pamela’s boyfriend and his six friends did to Pamela she and her jolly friends are now doing to taste, modesty and decency. They should remember that a heart worn on one’s sleeve will be soon covered in grime.













Things Farage can’t say, especially if they’re true

Nigel Farage is in trouble yet again, and one would think he ought to have learned by now.

Mind you, Nigel would get in trouble with the media of any political hue even if he said that the sky is usually blue, except at night when it’s black, or on a cloudy day when it’s grey.

The Guardian would scream that such colourist statements are a sign of incipient fascism. The Independent would add that at sundown the sky is sometimes red, reflecting its readers’ politics, but obviously not Nigel’s. The Telegraph would chide the poor man for keeping his head up in the clouds. And The Times would suggest that there’s something of the night about Nigel, for his heart is black.

Lurking behind the text would be the subtext that, as it often does, would convey the real meaning: Farage doesn’t always behave the way our political elites expect a politician to behave. Hence he threatens the elites’ secure hold on power, which is bound to unite them against him.

They have no principles they wouldn’t drop in a second for a couple of percentage points in the polls. What they describe as their political philosophies are simply the various paths they’ve chosen to get to power.

When an outsider like Nigel Farage looks threatening to the elites, they’ll forget their minute differences for the sake of this towering similarity – hence the vituperative and often mendacious attacks on UKIP in every paper.

The most threatening thing about Nigel is that sometimes (by no means always) he dares to speak the truth, thus proving he’s unfit for public office. For the only scathing comment we ever hear about a politician’s statement is “you can’t say that”. Not “it’s not true” but “you can’t say that” – regardless of the truth.

True or false simply doesn’t come into it. There’s no such thing as truth. There’s only obeying the totalitarian diktat of political correctness, which is these day a sine qua non of political success.

This time Nigel found himself in the soup for suggesting in a radio interview that he’d rather live next to a German than to a Romanian.

That undoubtedly is good news for Mrs Farage, considering she’s German. But it’s rotten news for Mr Farage: he committed the terrible faux pas of saying something that most people know but would be afraid to say.

Personally, I prefer to judge people individually and not collectively. Thus I’d rather live next door to a Romanian doctor than to a German lout. By the same token, I’d rather live next to a quiet Eskimo than to an Englishman whose stereo blares what most Englishmen regard as music.

But yes, if you held a gun to my head and forced me to generalise, I’d have to admit that the closer my neighbours are to me culturally and socially, the better I feel. So do all the same hacks who’ve got their claws into Nigel.

Most people don’t mind diversity, but not necessarily on their own doorstep. Hence I occasionally indulge my taste for ethnic excitement by going to Brick Lane for a curry. But I wouldn’t want to live there – and not because I have anything against people from the sub-continent, which I don’t.

It’s just that when I’m at home I don’t seek excitement and diversity. I’d rather trade them for a nice, secure feeling that my neighbours are more or less like me, which is to say more or less predictable and unthreatening. It may be something as simple as having a neighbour whose nod denotes assent and not, as in the case of Bulgarians, denial.

More typically, however, things aren’t quite so simple. Using the example that got Nigel in trouble, the Germans are in general culturally closer to the British than the Romanians are.

I use the word ‘culture’ in a broad sense, to include things like intuitive attitudes to legality, business practices, hygiene, politics, social interactions and what not. ‘In general’ is an important disclaimer, for obviously some Romanians are more civilised than some Germans.

But collectively the Germans are a couple of generations removed from their outburst of satanic beastliness, whereas the Romanians aren’t. Three generations of them, including the present one, have lived under either fascism or communism, and for the purposes of this argument the difference between the two is irrelevant.

For both fascism and communism have a deep, usually lifelong, corrupting effect on even those who dare resist, and it takes more than one generation to mitigate it. I’m speaking from personal experience here, for I grew up under a regime I deeply resented and at times actively fought.

Yet it has taken me decades in the West to go native in my intuitive attitudes – and my wife claims the job still isn’t quite done. Now imagine someone who neither fought against the corrupting effects of communism as recklessly as I did nor grew up speaking English and reading English books.

This describes most people, as I hope you’ll believe without my having to produce statistical evidence. So yes, if asked to generalise, not only Nigel Farage but also you, me, anyone would rather live next to a German than to a Romanian.

His statement is thus completely unobjectionable, at least in its denotation. But it’s connotation that reigns supreme nowadays, and Nigel has committed an unpardonable sin.

He said what most people feel but have been trained to be ashamed of. A slight tug on their psychological wire activates a Pavlovian response – you can’t say that! Especially because it’s true.






















Blockbusting news: the rich have more money

Have you recovered from the initial shock? Well then, you must be eternally grateful to the Office for National Statistics for breaking the news.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the ONS has vindicated Ernest Hemingway who reported this dialogue. Scott Fitzgerald: The rich are different from you and me. Hemingway: Yes, they have more money.

This exchange never actually took place but, even so, it’s hard to argue against its main thought. After all, its veracity was presaged by that well-known proto-conservative: “For ye have the poor with you always…”.

Implicitly ye also have the rich always – or at least that’s the conclusion to which ye are led by the subsequently developed dialectical method.

The ONS confirms: just 10 percent of the Brits own – are you ready for this? – almost half the country’s wealth! Now if that isn’t an outrage, I don’t know what is. And that’s not all (make sure you have a cardiac arrest unit standing by):

Only a meagre 10 percent of us are millionaires, with barely more than that owning a second home. That’s disgraceful. Just spare a thought for all those who own less than £1,000,000 in assets and have to make do with a single residence. Think of their plight. Think of the inequality!

Rachael Orr, Head of Oxfam’s Poverty Programme certainly does: “This is another shocking chapter in a tale of two Britains… We need politicians… to make the narrowing gap between the richest and the poorest a top priority.”

Miss/Ms Orr probably meant ‘narrowing the gap…’ for, the way she put it, one may get the subversive idea that the gap is actually narrowing already. But let’s not pick any nits. It’s the thought that counts, and I second it with hear-hear enthusiasm.

Moreover I can go even further than my new friend Rachael by making a concrete proposal. Let’s start by cutting, or ideally eliminating, the salaries of Oxfam executives, most of whom, including my new friend, are comfortably within the top five percentile of the income scale, and some in the top one.

While we’re at it, let’s perform a similar surgical procedure on the salaries in all other top charities… Forget I said it. Didn’t the same proto-conservative I quoted earlier teach that charity begins at home?

Our charity bosses are therefore theologically justified in using donations and huge state subsidies to pay themselves at the top of the scale. Mind you, Oxfam’s charity both begins at home and practically ends there, but at least they’re halfway to the summit of virtue. Who of us can make the same claim?

The report follows in the footsteps of another exercise in the economics of envy, the book Capital in the 21st Century that’s likely to earn its author, the leftwing French economist Thomas Piketty, the Nobel Prize.

Isn’t it dommage, complains Piketty, that capitalist Western democracies tolerate, and can’t reverse, the inequality of wealth? The implication is that other forms of government have sussed out how to make everyone equally rich, even though the evidence for this finding is somewhat limited.

But evidence-schmevidence, as New York economists would say – it’s like the simian origin of man. Yes, there’s a missing link, but that’s only because we haven’t discovered it yet. A few more grants to Richard Dawkins’s fans, and we will. After all, we know it must exist for, if it doesn’t, there goes a beautiful theory and we can’t have that.

So give us time and we’ll find a way of creating a paradise of equality on earth. So what if no previous generation has managed to do so? We’re much cleverer. Time is all we need.

Implicit in all such animadversions is the presumption that equalising wealth across the board is a goal that’s both achievable and desirable. It isn’t, on both counts.

Count 1: Those who hold this view are typically atheists who worship at the altar of reason, understood in a most primitive, empirical sense.

Operating within their own pathetic system of values, one should point out that empirical evidence is absolutely unequivocal: a state making economic egalitarianism its ‘top priority’ never enriches the poor. It murders many and impoverishes all, with the exception of the loyal servants of the state, especially those who do the murdering.

Count 2: A government economic policy is only ever desirable when it brings out the best in people by discouraging cardinal sins and encouraging cardinal virtues.

These notions have Judaeo-Christian antecedents, but then so does our whole civilisation. So let’s humour those who justly feel they have 2,000 years of history on their side, shall we?

The cardinal sins are lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. I maintain that economic egalitarianism aggressively caters to at least six of the seven, with gluttony being the possible exception and envy taking the pride of place.

Prudence, justice, temperance and courage are the cardinal virtues, and our economic Robin Hoods shoot arrows through each of them, especially justice.

Descending from the dizzying theological heights to the ground level of common sense and decency, one would suggest that the figures riling the egalitarians so ought to be juxtaposed with those of tax contributions to the Exchequer.

These are telling: even though the top 10 percent only own 50 percent of the nation’s wealth, they contribute 91 percent of income-tax revenue, and the top one percentile fill 30 percent of the country’s piggy bank. Are we going to be worked up about this glaring inequality as well?

By any historical standards most of our ‘poor’ are rich beyond the imagination of most earlier generations. And only a wicked man would resent his neighbour’s wealth, especially provided he himself isn’t deprived of what Dr Johnson called ‘the necessaries’.

The real problem we face isn’t economic but spiritual poverty, which our egalitarians don’t understand. But they do exemplify it.

















Dodgy Venetians blind to Putin’s Russia

People’s nicknames are usually true to life in however tangential a way (mine is mercifully only based on my surname). But the true meaning of a nickname may vary depending on who’s talking.

For example, a member of the Petersburg KGB gang, otherwise known as Russia’s government, recently wrote a gushing article about the gang’s chieftain.

Among other sentimental recollections he divulged that back in the old days Putin was “affectionately, lovingly nicknamed ‘Stasi’.” Now you may remember that the Stasi was East Germany’s secret police that was second only to the KGB in murderous efficiency.

Without doubting for a second Col. Putin’s entitlement to that nickname, one may still marvel at the degree of sycophancy required to describe it as affectionate. One doubts that, for example, any EU functionary would be happy to be called ‘Gestapo’, even if he felt he merited such a moniker.

Now Ca’Foscari University of Venice has awarded an honorary doctorate to Vladimir Medinsky, Putin’s Culture Minister and, by all accounts, former colleague in the KGB’s First Chief Directorate (Foreign Intelligence).

Some feel the award may have had something to do with the university’s brand-new Centre for the Study of Russian Art, financed by Putin’s government, but you and I can’t possibly countenance such cynicism.

Dr Medinsky is widely known in Russia as ‘Putin’s Goebbels’, which is terribly unfair – to Dr Goebbels, that is. At least Hitler’s propagandist got his PhD from Heidelberg University fair and square in 1921, long before he acquired any political weight.

By contrast, Dr Medinsky, who fancies himself as an historian, was awarded his first doctorate in 2011, when he was already Putin’s top mouthpiece. Thus the academic council had to overlook the inane and largely plagiarised contents of Medinsky’s dissertation Problems with Objectivity in Covering Russian History in the Second Half of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries.

Mr Medinsky, as he then was, proceeded from the scholarly proposition that history is nothing but retrospective politics. Since his political job involved shilling for Putin, he treated history exclusively in that light.

To that end Medinsky based his treatise wholly on foreign sources, which he divided into two sharply demarcated categories: those that said nice things about Russia and those that didn’t. The first were all true, the second all false – hence the eponymous ‘problems with objectivity’.

Of course some of his sources presented a balanced view, pointing out both positives and negatives. This created a bit of a conundrum, which Medinsky handled with characteristic élan: “The same source may contain both true and false information on various subjects.”

Unfortunately, the same mental agility didn’t come through some of his other narrative. To wit, “Mounted warriors making up the Russian army were unable to run, they had to ride”.

Or else these two sentences, of which the first is factually wrong and the second is a rank non sequitur: “The Russian army had no common soldiers, it only included noblemen. Also the tsar did not wage lengthy wars in wintertime.”

Among other startling discoveries, one has to be thankful to Dr Medinsky for bringing objectivity to the historical reputation of Ivan IV, known (affectionately?) as The Terrible. Putin’s Goebbels argued that historians have given Ivan a bum rap.

He claimed that Ivan, who only ever laughed when watching people being fried or flayed alive, and whose murderous war on his own country is amply documented by every contemporaneous chronicle and eyewitness account, was in fact a humanitarian. With Ivan as the reference point of moral rectitude, Putin, who so far hasn’t killed or tortured many people, positively seems like Archangel Gabriel. QED.

To be fair, one can’t accuse Dr Medinsky of inconsistency: his other pronouncements faithfully maintain the same level of scholarly integrity.

For example he describes as a malicious lie any suggestion that Russia has a strong history of anti-Semitism – this in spite of such rather unpleasant historical facts as the Pale of Settlement, numerous ghettos, pogroms, Stalin’s attempt at a ‘final solution’ only thwarted by his death, percentage quotas in Russian and Soviet universities.

In case you don’t know, the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact that pushed the button for the Second World War was “a very timely solution thanks to which we overtook everyone else by half a length on a curve.”

Following the secret protocol of the pact, Soviet troops occupied and thoroughly purged the three Baltic states, the eastern half of Poland and big chunks of Finland and Romania – none of which ever happened according to Dr Medinsky.

Following Stalin’s groundbreaking declaration that “there are no Soviet POWs, there are only Soviet traitors,” the Soviets shot or imprisoned thousands of returning POWs  – but not according to our doctor honoris causa.

The Russian historical mission, as he defines it, is “to reconstruct a single, united space if only on the basis of an economic union and maximum political integration of Russia, the Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.|”

This mission is currently being fulfilled, which is excellent news not only for the Ukraine, but also for the world at large. After all, according to Dr Medinsky (and, not in so many words, our own Peter Hitchens), Russia is the last bulwark of true culture and Christian values.

And oh yes, it’s malicious Western slander that Tchaikovsky was a homosexual. Tchaikovsky was good, Putin says homosexuality is bad, ergo Tchaikovsky was straight as an arrow.

It’s to the credit of Ca’Foscari’s faculty that 100 of its members wrote an open letter, protesting the decision of their Senato Accademico. Italy still being a marginally free country, the University cancelled the award ceremony, ascribing the cancellation to “the Minister’s busy schedule.”

Russia’s leading academics, writers and artists have issued a similar letter of protest. However, Russia being Putin’s fiefdom, the letter was ignored and the ceremony is to go ahead in Moscow today.

Since my invitation was lost in the post and I wasn’t even informed of the exact time of the festivities, I fear that my congratulations to Putin’s Goebbels may be belated – but none the less warm for it. 



Lies, damn lies and immigration statistics

The influx of Romanians and Bulgarians has been ‘reasonable’, according to Dave.

Leaving aside the question of whether or not an oxymoron like ‘reasonable influx’ can exist in the English language, one still wonders about the information on which this conclusion is based.

Let’s see. In the first quarter of 2014 the number of Romanians and Bulgarians working in Britain has gone down from 144,000 to 140,000. Yet at the start of last year that number stood at a mere 112,000.

Ignorant as I am of the finer aspects of maths, I’d suggest that the longer the investigated period the more reliable the result. Thus it would seem sensible to disregard the shorter-term stats and remark mournfully that the number of employed Romanians and Bulgarians has gone up by 31.36 percent.

I don’t know the top limit of a ‘reasonable influx’ Dave sees in his mind’s calculator, so let’s just say that the increase has been quite high, though not yet catastrophic.

If that seems reasonable to Dave, he’s entitled to his opinion. Equally Nigel Farage is justified in describing this statistic as a ‘huge rise’. It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose.

From where I’m sitting my perspective suggests that the statistic is well-nigh meaningless either way. It would only begin to mean something if it were a subset of a wider finding, that of the total number of immigrants from those two countries, employed or otherwise.

Out of idle curiosity one would also be interested to know if the contribution of these people to Britain’s crime rate has risen, both in proportional and absolute terms. The number of those seeking the jobseeker’s allowance and other benefits is also significant, as is the number of those who do odd jobs for cash in hand (there has to be a large overlap between these two groups).

Actually, my curiosity isn’t exactly idle. You see, I spend a few months every year in France, which my UKIP (and conceivably even French) friends probably regard as a scouting mission behind enemy lines.

Well, over the last few years France in general, and over the last few months our sleepy corner of Burgundy in particular, has been inundated by a far from ‘reasonable influx’ of Romanian and Bulgarian gypsies.

These chaps move in, set up their nomadic camps and begin to terrorise the immediate area. Before you contact the thought police, I’m not suggesting that this has anything to do with the racial, ethnic or even cultural peculiarities of these groups. I’m simply making a factual observation.

My next-door neighbour is a chef de brigade at the local gendarmerie, a job that until recently he admits had been a sinecure. Then Bulgarian and especially Romanian gypsies began to move in, and suddenly the police are desperately short-handed.

Many houses in our area are used as second homes, mainly by Parisians and, well, me. That means they remain empty for prolonged periods, making them easy prey for burglars.

I hope you won’t accuse me of indulging in the rhetorical fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc if I remark that, in spite of that, burglaries had been practically nonexistent until the ‘influx’. Now they’re rife.

And if you do decide to accuse me, I’ll blame it on the horse’s mouth from which I got this information: my good neighbour. According to him, those gypsies break in, help themselves to everything floggable and then trash everything else. By way of a farewell gesture they densely cover the slashed carpets with faeces, in volumes suggesting they don’t suffer from malnutrition.

The traditional gypsy pastimes of picking pockets and rustling horses aren’t practised as widely around us – the former, because exponents of this fine trade prefer to operate in Paris and other crowded cities; the latter, because internal combustion has reduced the use of equine transport.

Call me an alarmist, racist or, if such is your preference, Little Englander, but I’d rather not see the same outrages that happen around my second home starting to happen around my first.

Coming at the problem from this shamefully selfish angle, the number of Romanians and Bulgarians in work seems of real relevance. It’s the number of those out of work that’s cause for concern.

Will Dave be kind enough to elucidate the issue? You see, statistics don’t have to be used for party-political propaganda only. Sometimes they may tell you something important.






EU says your car can run but it can’t hide

The word ‘totalitarian’ crops up in my pieces more and more often.

It may be a simple reactionary paranoia. Or, and I prefer this possibility, having grown up in a totalitarian state I know what it looks and smells like.

One telltale sign is a curtailed freedom of movement: for their own good, citizens are told where they can travel or live and where they can’t.

It’s obvious that for a state to put its foot down this way it must be able to monitor the citizens’ whereabouts at all times. The knowledge of where they are is the first step towards acquiring the power of telling them where they shall be.

In the USSR it was the internal passport that acted as the monitoring tool. Stamped into it was the ubiquitous propiska, residence permit issued for a specific location.

A change of address required a new permit, which could be granted or more usually denied. And if a citizen stayed anywhere for longer than a month, he had to report to a local police station and receive a temporary stamp.

The internal passport also had to be produced when buying rail or air tickets, so the state knew at every moment where its slaves were even if they only travelled for a few days. Travelling by personal transport hardly ever came into it because cars were owned by statistically insignificant numbers of Soviets. 

The system wasn’t exactly foolproof but it functioned better than just about anything else in the Soviet Union, including things like food supplies or medical care. The only institution that could rival the internal passport for sheer efficiency was the GULAG, but then the former often acted as the anteroom for the latter – and the KGB controlled both.

It’s in this context that the new EU diktat must be viewed. From October 2015 every new car we buy will be equipped with a tracking microchip, a ‘black box’ that will tell the police or whomever else wants to know where you’ll be at any moment.

Car travel is rather more widespread in the EU than it was in the Soviet Union, so in effect the measure will close the loop that existed even in the most cannibalistic state in history. A comforting thought, that.

In some rather unsavoury states of the past the family of an executed man had to pay the cost of the bullet that had killed their loved one. In a gruesome parallel we’ll have to pay for the privilege of our own enslavement: the black box will add about £100 to the car price.

If anything, the USSR was more honest than today’s EU. The Soviets didn’t offer any explanations and hence didn’t have to lie. The EU feels it’s safer to explain, which is why it does have to lie.

This is for your own good, the explanation goes. Suppose you have a crash or breakdown in a desert? At night? With no mobile-phone coverage? No food or water? What if you’re bleeding? Having a heart attack? Freezing to death? Wouldn’t you want the police to know where you are?

Even though I can’t think offhand of too many deserts in Europe, the rationale rings true. Except that it isn’t true.

It would be if the tracking technology were offered as an option, like electric seats or bum warmers. In fact the black box already exists and it is indeed available as an extra on BMWs and Volvos.

Thus any lily-livered driver who’s ready to sacrifice his very tangible liberty for the sake of protecting himself from an extremely hypothetical danger can do so. Those whose priorities are different don’t have to.

However, by making the technology mandatory the EU shows its true colours, most of them red. It doesn’t want to help stranded drivers. It wants to put its tyrannical foot down. The black box is a cultural equivalent of the Soviet internal passport.

Our reaction to this outrage? Oh, we’re opposed of course. Transport Minister Robert Goodwill conveys our feelings in a characteristically wishy-washy manner: “The basis for our opposition is that costs to the UK outweigh the benefits.”

Fair enough. So no black box then? Er, don’t be too hasty. “Unfortunately, there is very little support for the UK position and no possibility of blocking this legislation.”

Of course, how silly of me. Our own government is working towards enslaving us individually, while the EU strives to enslave us collectively. Our Parliament is no longer sovereign even in such small matters, which means we’re no longer a sovereign nation but a gau of some sort of foreign Reich, never mind its number.

If you think it’s unsound to reach such a sweeping conclusion on the basis of this one detail, allow me to remind you of the devil and exactly where he lives. 










Your bank account isn’t really yours, says Osborne

The Chancellor has announced plans to slit your freedom with Occam’s razor.

Before philosophers among you accuse me of ignorance, I’m using the term in its colloquial sense, meaning that a simple solution is usually best.

Dave and George clearly favour simplicity when it comes to reducing our suicidal budget deficits. Having pondered the issue, our sage rulers must have built a straightforward syllogism in their expensively trained minds.

Thesis: the state is spending much more than it’s extracting from people in taxes. Antithesis: people try not to pay the tax they’re supposed to owe. Synthesis: Ergo, HMRC must be empowered to raid people’s bank accounts to claim its pound of flesh – or make it a few thousand pounds.

The only alternative – I repeat, the only one – to this measure, explained Dave and George, is to raise taxes. And you won’t like that, will you?

No we won’t, that much is true. What is a self-evident lie is that squeezing more tax out of the public is the only solution to the budget shortfall.

We too are capable of simple thought and, unlike Dave’s and George’s, ours is unassailable. Because we too face the prospect, or indeed reality, of budget deficits in our family finances.

When the problem arises, it’s clear-cut: we spend more than we earn. Now any housewife will tell you that there are two possible solutions to this problem, not one. The first is to bring in more money. The second is to spend less. Another possibility, borrowing to finance everyday expenses, doesn’t solve the problem. It both defers and exacerbates it.

Now Adam Smith, who knew a thing or two about economics, explained that the macrocosm of a state is subject to the same principles as the microcosm of a household: “What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.”

Of course Smith lived at a time when England still retained some residual sanity. That no longer being the case, Dave and George can’t even consider a substantial cut in state outgoings.

What, a year before the elections? Where are the cuts going to come from? Defence has already been slashed to a point where we have practically no army left. So where else? By far the biggest areas are the NHS and welfare. You aren’t seriously suggesting we cut there?

Just imagine the Milibandits squealing like stuck pigs that the Tories don’t care for the common man, or rather person. The NHS is a sacred cow that can be milked but not slaughtered. And the steadily growing welfare budget, especially if we pretend it isn’t growing, is a sign that we care (about our electoral chances, that is).

For similarly high-minded reasons, a hike in tax rates has to be off limits. That would alienate what’s left of the Tories’ core support and drive the middle classes into the Milibandits’ embrace at a wrong time.

Thus the only viable possibility is to make every taxpayer pay the amount the state demands – no avoidance, no evasion, no discussion. Now that’s where simplicity comes in.

How do you make the bloody-minded blighters pay? You could go about it the long way, historically preferred in societies listing liberty among their desiderata. Send the non-payer a few progressively sterner demands and, if he still persists, start legal proceedings. You know, due process and all that.

Or, in the flotsam washed ashore by Dave’s brainstorm, HMRC can simply break into people’s bank accounts and help itself to whatever it feels it’s owed. Simple, isn’t?

It is. Almost as simple as a single Leader making his own decisions without wasting time on things like accountability. Or sending wrongdoers to prison without wasting time and money on court proceedings. Or telling people where they must live, thereby protecting them from their own costly errors.

Such simplicity also goes by another name: despotism. The word has a few synonyms, all equally applicable: tyranny, authoritarianism, totalitarianism. Shades of meaning differ, but the underlying principle is the same: the state’s power over the individual is absolute.

Gone are the times when it was considered improper for HMG to know how much a subject had in the bank. Gone is the sacred constitutional principle of privacy to which each individual is entitled. Gone is the equally seminal principle of secure property.

What our spivs’ idea amounts to is seizure of private property without due process. This effectively puts a big, fat cross on 1,000 years of English constitutional tradition – and you know what’s the scariest thing? Practically no one minds.

To be sure, there were a few protests in the press here and there. But most of those focused on practicalities, such as the time-honoured custom of clerical errors leading to overcharging. Both the pundits and their readers were penny-wise and freedom-foolish.

But then Dave and George already knew we would be. These chaps don’t empty their bladders without checking the polls first. And the polls must have told them that Brits who don’t want the welfare state shrunk outnumber those who want their civil liberties preserved.

It goes without saying that any modern government, devoid as they all are of any moral or philosophical sense, strives to expand its power ad infinitum. The only check is ever provided by a society willing to keep tyranny at bay.

And that is the truly worrying part: evidently the number of those who cherish freedom has dropped below the critical mass needed to protect it. If true, and I pray to God it isn’t, we live in a corrupt society.

This means a corrupt, despotic government is the one we deserve. If so, things will only get worse.