The solicitous Dutch warn us in English

Amsterdam is lovely this time of the year, partly because it’s half empty.

The Dutch, flying yet again, have all gone away on holiday, to be replaced by tourists from all over the world. Some of them are from Britain, and it’s mainly for their benefit that the few Dutch who have remained at home have put up most helpful signs.

Appearing all over the city centre in either the new-fangled electronic or traditional poster format, they warn visitors from misty Albion of the local pitfalls:

“Caution,” scream the signs. “White heroin is sold in the streets as cocaine. Tourists in hospital. Three visitors dead. Beware of street dealers. If you see someone breathing with difficulty or not at all, call the ambulance on 112.”

Since the signs appear in no other language, specifically not in the mother tongue of Holland, one is left in little doubt about the intended target audience.

Actually, for once there’s as much French as English to be heard in the city centre, but the French don’t get the benefit of prior warning in their own language. Evidently they can be relied upon to know that heroin is taken intravenously (mainlined, in colloquial parlance), whereas cocaine is either snorted or, if freebased with ether, smoked.

The English are clearly assumed to be less sophisticated, or else more receptive to the hidden charms of this glorious city.

And there I was, thinking that the English go to Amsterdam exclusively to admire the paintings at the Rijksmuseum and ponder how interestingly Flemish architecture was transposed into a more northern idiom back in the 17th century.

Apparently not. They evidently also visit Amsterdam to buy white powder to snort up their noses and, when fraudulently given heroin instead, to start breathing with difficulty or, in extreme cases, to stop breathing altogether.

It’s also possible that unclad young ladies displaying themselves in dimly lit windows may exert an additional gravitational pull on our seekers of foreign culture. But this is only a guess.

What is a certainty is that drugs are everywhere in Amsterdam, and this creates such a welcome atmosphere of laisser-faire that the English absolutely have to breathe it in. Or snort it in, as the case may be.

Both cocaine and heroine are illegal in Holland, but the key point is that marijuana and hashish in various forms can be legally scored at most coffee shops that incongruously don’t purvey coffee as their principal line of business.

This ought to give some food for thought to our champions of drug legalisation. The example of Holland shows yet again that every perverse legislation eventually always goes a click or two above the legally acceptable behaviour.

Thus legalising euthanasia inevitably leads to the cull of patients who still have much life in them. I have it on good authority that old Dutch people are often scared of going to hospitals because they think the doctors will kill them.

Likewise, legalising abortion in extreme circumstances leads to hundreds of thousands of abortion on demand, actually millions in America every year.

As we have found out the hard way, extending licensing hours will lead to a huge increase in public drunkenness and generally swinish behaviour.

And legalising ‘soft’ drugs is guaranteed to make the ‘hard’ variety both more widely available and more fervently desired.

If in public perception cocaine and heroin are still a couple of stages away from universal social acceptability, legalising marijuana will remove one stage and shorten the distance between sanity and degeneracy.

The argument that legalisation will destroy the criminal infrastructure built upon illegal substances doesn’t quite wash either.

Fair enough, if coke and ‘horse’ are available at your friendly local chemist’s, criminals won’t be involved in the drug trade. So what do you suppose they’ll do instead? Become fund managers or stock analysts?

They’ll find other fields of endeavour in which to apply their talents, such as weapons, poisoned gases or slave trade. What the net social effect of such a career change would be is hard to predict, but even harder it is to believe that it’s guaranteed to be positive.

Sorry, have to finish now. We’re off to the Rijksmuseum, our first visit since it reopened. I’m fairly certain that nothing and no one will get up our noses on the way.




None so deaf as those who won’t hear their own language

It is a matter of long-standing convention that someone making peremptory statements on language should himself use it well.

This, along with other long-standing conventions, no longer applies to the columnists regaling readers of The Times with their prose, and Oliver Kamm is a case in point.

He sets his store early, with the very title of his article Just Because a Phrase Is American Does Not Devalue It. Perhaps not, but any comment on the use of English by someone capable of writing such a sentence certainly is ipso facto devalued.

The phrase to whose defence Mr Kamm springs is ‘I’m good’ in response to ‘How are you?’.

“There’s nothing wrong with the grammar or semantics of I’m good, and to object to the phrase on the ground that it’s an Americanism is odd,” he writes.

What is even odder is for someone who takes it upon himself to comment on such matters not to know that this usage isn’t just American, but illiterate American. A cultured American would say I’m well or I’m fine, just as we would.

Such a hypothetical individual may say I’m good only to establish his populist credentials, which many cultured Americans so annoyingly feel they have to do.

This is their way of perpetuating the myth that their society is classless, whereas it is in fact more rigidly stratified than any other I know, and certainly more so than supposedly class-ridden England.

Using demotic language, sporting baseball caps (ideally worn backwards), wearing ghetto clothes, serving proletarian food at dinner parties are all aspects of cultural slumming in which many Americans indulge unthinkingly.

Thereby they send to the general masses Mowgli-like semiotic signals saying “We be of one blood, ye and I”. It’s the password they use to gain admittance to true Americanism.

The subcutaneous purpose of this elaborate and multifaceted charade is not only to assert but also to negate, to define America apophatically as something she is not, namely European.

“Repudiation of Europe,” the novelist John Dos Passos once wrote perceptively, “is, after all, America’s main excuse for being.” He was absolutely right, and this repudiation takes a variety of forms, most of them imperceptible to outsiders. 

Mr Kamm is clearly deaf to such transatlantic codes, which is understandable, forgivable and even commendable. What is neither understandable nor forgivable nor commendable is that he is similarly deaf to the nuances of the language spoken in his own country.

Otherwise he would stop to think why an Englishman, specifically the supposedly literate journalist he mentions, would wish to choose the contentious phrase in preference to the customary I’m well.

One can think of only two possibilities: either he draws most of his knowledge of English usage from American films (and those Englishmen who, like him, are weaned on such films) or he wants to ingratiate himself to those for whom ‘cool’ isn’t just a comment on temperature.

In the first case he is a cultural savage; in the second, a tasteless hypocrite. Surely Mr Kamm, who I assume must have received some sort of formal education, has to be aware that there is more to language than just grammar and semantics. There is even more to it than simply communication, for language proclaims a man just as clothes do, and in more varied ways.

For example, the sentence “I believe John Lennon is as good as Beethoven, if in a slightly different way” is lexically and grammatically irreproachable. But it communicates cultural savagery as surely as would the use of disinterested in the meaning of uninterested, masterful instead of masterly or willy-nilly instead of at will.

Not only is the phrase I’m good jarring culturally, but it is also ambiguous semantically. Mr Kamm is aware of this because he has read the book Simply English by Simon Heffer, which he quotes as saying “To many Anglo-Saxon ears this [I’m good] still sounds like a profession of one’s moral condition…”

“I doubt that anyone in practice misunderstands the phrase I’m good in the way that Heffer fears,” comments Mr Kamm.

But Mr Heffer fears nothing of the sort. Similarly I’m convinced he doesn’t think that saying I be good, bro would cause much misunderstanding either. Nor does he fear that a break in communication would necessarily occur if a semiliterate Englishman were to say he is disinterested in classical music.

It’s just that, as a cultured man without a populist chip on his shoulder, Mr Heffer knows that ambiguous phrases ought to be avoided even if one’s interlocutor can be confidently expected to be able to decipher their intended meaning.

He also knows that language conveys so much more than just the bare bones of communication, which knowledge is manifestly denied Mr Kamm – whose own shoulders are weighed down not just by chips but by boles in their entirety.

“If you want a ‘pure’ English, you’ll need to go back at least a millennium, before the Normans invaded,” concludes Mr Kamm with his by now well-established ignorance.

Such a long retrospective journey is unnecessary. It would suffice to go back but a few decades, to the time when The Times was a respectable paper that kept the likes of Mr Kamm a swearing distance away from its pages.



Let’s hear it for reconciliation

You like reconciliation. I like reconciliation. All God’s children like reconciliation.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II definitely likes reconciliation, for she made it the theme of her traditional Christmas speech.

The speech was full of glad tidings, but also some tidings that weren’t all that glad.

The good news was that Her Majesty didn’t announce her abdication, as had been mooted in the press.

God only knows how long our monarchy will last when the next royal generation takes over, as one day it regrettably must.

If upon his accession the heir to the throne acts on his intention to defend faith in general, rather than the Christian faith specifically, the monarchy will lose its underpinnings, as established historically, philosophically, theologically, culturally and every which way.

This is another way of saying it’ll become redundant and effectively moribund. The Queen, who is probably the last devout Christian in her family, must realise this.

Hence those of us who also realise it must wish Her Majesty a lasting good health, which by the looks of her she seems to have, God bless her.

The bad news is that the Queen ought to get herself better speech writers, better film directors and, ideally, a better government.

This brings us to reconciliation which, along with so many other words in the language of Shakespeare, can mean all sorts of different things.

Let’s use Germany, by way of illustration. Throughout much of the first half of the 20th century, the British and the Germans were killing one another in rather apocalyptic numbers.

Just a few months into that orgy of violence, at Christmas, 1914, some spontaneous truces broke out all along the Western front, with a few German and British soldiers even indulging in a football kickabout.

The Queen used this episode as an example of reconciliation, which it really wasn’t. A day’s lull in hostilities in which millions were to die in the next few years was more like the last gasp of Christendom, the last rites at the coffin of our civilisation.

Now after the next war, in which many more millions were killed and the coffin of Christendom was nailed shut, a reconciliation did ensue.

Britain and Germany, the western part only for the time being, became partners and friends in 1945, and so they are likely to remain till the EU do them part.

That’s what I’d call genuine reconciliation. For the purposes of this narrative let’s refer to it as Reconciliation Type 1.

Now France also took on Germany in the Second World War, and the two nations also stopped fighting each other – in 1940, after France capitulated.

Since the French and the Germans were no longer trying to kill one another en masse, I suppose one could say, stretching semantics to breaking point, that the conflict ended in reconciliation. But if so, it’s a different kind of reconciliation, Type 2, which could be more accurately described as one side’s abject surrender to the other.

Her Majesty specifically used Northern Ireland after the Good Friday Agreement and Scotland after the referendum as examples of reconciliation. However, she didn’t specify which type of reconciliation she was talking about.

Fair enough, the word could accommodate those two examples – as long as we acknowledge that the reconciliation that took place in both parts of the United Kingdom was clearly Type 2.

As a result of the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland is effectively governed by professional murderers, whose stock in trade for much of their lives was blowing up public buildings and transport, torture, beatings, assassination and kneecapping.

As a result of the post-referendum reconciliation in Scotland, the de facto communist and Union hater Alex Salmond will probably become our next Deputy PM – and will definitely become a major influence in government, regardless of which party comes out on top next May.

Now which type of reconciliation would you say this is? I’d say that in this instance the semantic flexibility of the English language has done Her Majesty a disservice.

Her film crew didn’t do her any favours either. When the Queen waxed inordinately effusive about the inconsequential football episode 100 years ago, the newsreel sequences of it were intercut with the footage of blade runners competing in the Para-Commonwealth Games.

If that was a subtle hint of what happened to millions after the last football was kicked at Christmas, 1914, then one has to applaud the symbolism. But somehow I doubt that Her Majesty was suggesting that amputations were the only alternative to reconciliation.

So what was she suggesting? That we should reconcile ourselves to the tasteless side show of cripples putting themselves on display to pander to the public’s perverse tastes? But no one has declared war on the poor wretches as far as I know, so no reconciliation is in order.

This is by the by. The main point is that the two types of reconciliation should never be lumped together.

There can be no reconciliation between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and falsehood. In each case there can only be either the victory of the former over the latter or vice versa, and this point deserved to be made in a speech devoted to reconciliation.

Moreover, if the Queen were allowed to write her own speeches, to express her true feelings, to say what she really thinks, I suspect that point would indeed have been made.

As it was, she allowed – had to allow, according to the modern perversion of our constitution – Dave and his jolly friends to act as her ventriloquists.

It’s they who are the real dummies here, the living argument in favour of a monarch who rules and not just reigns. But this argument will never be won, or indeed made.

Instead we’ll helplessly watch Britain creeping into republicanism, without even a semblance of resistance. That will add a new twist to the notion of reconciliation, add yet another meaning to this already voluminous word.  










Just 365 shopping days left until next Christmas

Today is a special day in our post-Christian calendar.

Christmas sales are at a peak, and millions of people come together to worship and rejoice at the altar of the God of Acquisitiveness.

Shops are his churches, department stores are his cathedrals, Christmas sales are his sacraments and all the grex venalium besieging Oxford Street are his parishioners.

But for the steadily declining numbers there still are different churches, different cathedrals and different sacraments, and those retrograde, stubborn, backward-looking groups aren’t doing well even in Britain – never mind in Islamic lands.

Against that background Dave’s professed commitment to ‘Christian values’ sounds particularly nauseating. Actually, even Jimmy Saville would have less of an emetic effect if he came back from the dead to declare his unwavering devotion to Christian morality.

I don’t know whether Dave’s brand of Christianity includes faith in God among the values he holds dear. If it does, his behaviour is schizophrenically inconsistent.

With energy and dedication worthy of a better use he pushed through the anti-Christian homomarriage law. With uninterested apathy he has done nothing to reduce the number of abortions – in fact he has never once mentioned that this method of birth control just may be at odds with his supposed religion. Nor has he ever stated any unequivocal opposition to euthanasia, in whatever form it may take.

This sham Christian has done nothing to reverse the Middle Eastern policy of his idol Blair. As a direct result of the criminal and, which is worse, idiotic invasion of Iraq, the number of Christians there has declined from 1.5 million to less than 500,000 in the last 10 years.

It’s not just Iraq. Christians are being persecuted, robbed and murdered all over the Muslim world, churches are being razed, hundreds of thousands flee for their lives if they are lucky. The unlucky ones face stay to face the stark choice: convert to Islam or die.

In response, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali regularly risks death in his heroic efforts to save Middle Eastern Christians – and what does Dave do, the bogus communicant in the same confession that Bishop Michael serves so honourably?

Why, only a last-minute parliamentary vote prevented him from committing British troops to the cause of ISIS, the worst murderers, robbers and rapists of Christians anywhere in the world today.

All this proceeds to the accompaniment of mendacious bleating coming from Cameron’s and Blair’s fans in our papers, even the supposedly conservative ones. Thus today’s editorial in The Times claims that “it is not because of Islam that religious liberties are under threat”.

No, of course not, perish the thought. I blame Zen Buddhism myself.

That transparently lying claim is followed by a foray into religious history: “The three great monotheistic faiths in the region … have an inextricable history of cousinship, and trace their origins through Abraham.”

Considering that for 1,400 years the followers of one of those Abrahamic religions, Islam, have been murdering, off and mostly on, the followers of the others two, Judaism and Christianity, the cousinship must be very remote indeed.

Back in 1096 the kind of people we’d call Western leaders today embarked on a crusade to liberate the Holy Lands captured by the Muslims, and to save the people we’d call Middle Eastern Christians today from murderous abuse.

Almost a millennium later, our Western leaders are ready to embark on any foolhardy adventure in the name of democracy, that Enlightenment construct concocted by atheists, but they won’t lift a finger to save Christians grievously endangered by that adventure.

In this so-called democracy, we the demos are helpless to affect our government’s policy in any way, channelling it into a conduit consistent with the founding tenets of our civilisation.

But as we are getting ready to celebrate the incarnation of Our Lord, we can still pray for those who desperately need our prayers, those who crave God’s help even more than the rest of us do. We hope our prayers will help; we know our leaders won’t.

Merry, joyous Christmas to those of you who in their bone marrow feel the divine significance of this day. And happy, profitable shopping to those who don’t.













Voting advice from the arch-Tory

“Don’t vote for David Cameron,” says the title of Tim Montgomerie’s article in The Times.

Thanks, Tim, I wasn’t going to anyway. But that piece of advice is odd, coming as it does from a man who’d vote for a Labrador, provided it sported a blue rosette on its collar.

So whom should I vote for? Nigel Farage? Nick Clegg? Ed ‘God forbid’ Miliband?

Turns out that’s not what Tim meant. What he meant was that we should vote not for Dave but for the Tory party, whoever happens to lead it. It’s not about personalities. It’s about “the core brand”.

“Mr Cameron may choose to quit himself in 2017,” explains Tim, which is an unfortunate turn of phrase. Quitting oneself is hard to imagine, unless we are talking about the transmigration of souls. Quitting of one’s own accord would be a concept less Buddhist and easier to understand.

But let’s not quibble about incidentals. However phrased, Tim’s insight goes right to the core of Britain’s statehood.

So we are a parliamentary, rather than presidential, democracy? Crikey. Who could have thought. Thanks, Tim, for making this clear, and in the language of marketing that speaks right to our hearts.

“I am not encouraging you to vote for any other party,” continues Tim, but then – to quote the recently deceased Mandy Rice-Davies – he would say that, wouldn’t he?

What Tim is encouraging us to do is to “forget presidential-style politics and vote for a party’s underlying beliefs.”

It would be hard to argue against this if Tim were to explain exactly what the Tories’ underlying beliefs are, and especially how they relate to the declared and probable policies of the current Tory party.

The core brand values, to use Tim’s jargon, of the party can be summed up by the triad ‘God, king and country’, whose three elements are in descending order of importance.

As, according to St Paul, all power is from God, God confers power on the king, who then rules in God’s name.

His power is, however, balanced by the country as represented by the elected Commons, while the unelected and hereditary House of Lords makes sure that the balance of power doesn’t swing too much towards either end.

God, as represented by the Church, sits in judgement of the whole process, making sure it doesn’t contradict his commandments.

Does this sound like a fair representation of the ‘underlying beliefs’ evidently held by the current Tory party, whoever leads it now or will do so in the future? If it does, you haven’t been following politics lately.

The past being the best, if not ideal, predictor of the future, it’s reasonably easy to surmise how the Tory elite will interpret its ‘underlying beliefs’ if by some miracle it forms our next government.

The only such belief it has evinced so far is whole-hearted commitment to personal power at all cost. It’s an assumption borne out by recent history that no real principle comes into it at all.

God naturally falls by the wayside, observing, no doubt in despair, how routinely the Tories violate his commandments, especially the one about bearing false witness.

Not to cut too fine a point, the Tories are lying through their teeth about everything of paramount importance, and it takes an utterly unrealistic optimism to expect them to change after next May.

Take the economy for example. The government is indulging in window dressing that would do any interior decorator proud, and only the credulous among us accept their triumphant shrieks.

The economy isn’t doing well – it’s being made to look as if it’s doing well. This misleading appearance is created by exactly the same expedients as those practised by the disastrous Labour government.

We are in the middle of a housing bubble being inflated to bursting, while the public debt continues to climb up towards the two trillion mark. This combination produced the disaster of 2008, and the next one will be much worse: the economy has climbed to a greater height to fall from.

We are still not paying our way, and the nauseating talk about sham ‘austerity’ isn’t going to improve the situation. Yes, the tempo of irresponsible spending and borrowing will have to slow down somewhat, whichever party wins the next election. But the fact of it will remain no matter what.

The underlying, which is to say founding, belief of the Tory party used to encompass responsible finance, not the current frenetic effort to buy our votes with our own money. It was the moral duty of the rich, as Christians and Englishmen, to look after the poor by way of private charity, and one struggles to think of a more seminal ‘underlying belief’.

This has been replaced by the state extorting half of our income to bolster its own standing with the voting blocs such policies created in the first place. The Tories are doing this on a huge scale, only marginally lower than Labour’s madness.

Is Tim suggesting this is going to change, and a return to the ‘underlying beliefs’ is on the cards? Not even he, a lifelong Tory activist, dares say it.

What about defence of the realm, which surely is essential to every ‘underlying belief’ of Toryism?

The present government is rapidly disarming in the face of the most volatile international situation we’ve faced in decades. Will Britannia rearm and again rule the waves under the next Tory government?

Perish the thought. Start spending money on defence, and there won’t be enough left to buy the votes of our own underclass, especially as it’s being rapidly augmented by the underclass we gratefully receive courtesy of the EU.

And speaking of which, do the Tories still number the sovereignty of the realm among their ‘underlying beliefs’? If so, they shouldn’t just make vague promises about some nebulous referendum.

No real Tory would want a referendum, which could go either way. He would be desperate to leave the EU effective immediately, thereby restoring the nation’s sovereignty to where it belongs: king and country.

Is this an ‘underlying belief’ to which the Tories are committed? I’d be prepared to take Tim’s word for it, except that even he won’t say something so manifestly untrue.

The sanctity of the family as the core unit of society surely has to be among the ‘underlying beliefs’ that define Toryism. This has been dealt a deadly blow by the subversive homomarriage law fanatically pushed through by the Tory-led coalition.

Will the next Tory government repeal? Will it, Tim? While at it, will it try to do anything about the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed every year? Or will it simply continue to lie about ‘underlying beliefs’?

“Vote Ukip,” continues Tim with his usual subtlety of political insight, “if you don’t like any politician and prefer the 1950s to now.”

You mean the time when men married women and both sexes lived under laws passed by our own parliament and endorsed by royal assent?

Now that’s sound advice, at last. I think I shall, Tim.

Sticks and stones may break your bones, but words can really hurt you

A friend of mine wrote to me yesterday: “A sentence in this morning’s newspaper tells us all we need to know on this subject: ‘The RAF’s first transgendered fighter pilot is to have her own sperm frozen.’ (italics mine)”

Actually, this sentence is so multi-faceted that it works on many different levels, telling us all we need to know about more than one subject.

The obvious one is the future battle-worthiness of our armed forces in general and the RAF in particular.

As someone who has never been called upon to go into battle I’m fascinated by the men who are. What motivates them to go over the top into machinegun fire? Fight to the last bullet? Fly into one dogfight after another, knowing that the odds in favour of survival are dwindling away with each take-off?

Take Douglas Bader, for example. That RAF fighter pilot was a great ace during the Second World War. The Group Captain is credited with 20 solo victories, four shared ones, six probables, one shared probable and 11 enemy aircraft damaged.

He was a hero by anyone’s standards, but few other men have ever had such standards. For Bader was a double amputee, having lost both his legs in 1931. He was discharged then, but insisted on returning to the frontline squadrons when the war started.

Now there was a man who didn’t need an excuse to sit out that war. No one in his right mind would have accused him of cowardice had he stayed on the ground.

Yet he didn’t. Why?

Love of his country must have been the most obvious motive, but I’m sure there were others as well. Pride had to be one of them – not in the sense of hubris, which is one of the cardinal sins, but in the sense of esprit de corps, which is one of the martial virtues.

By all accounts, soldiers, and especially those in the elite branches of service such as the RAF, go into battle not just for God, king and country, but also for the proud fraternity of their comrades.

Some of them may not be believers, monarchists or even patriots, but esprit de corps alone is enough motivation. Even if unsure that heroic death will earn them immortality, they have no doubt it will earn them the admiration of their comrades, their unit, the RAF at large – and of the whole nation.

Now how do you suppose they would feel if they knew that the RAF has become the laughingstock of the nation, rather than its pride? How do you think Douglas Bader would have felt?

Yet the sentence that caught my friend’s eye goes a long way towards making the RAF a butt of silly jokes, not least my own. Soldiers can handle danger; what they can’t handle is mockery.

How willing will our future heroes be to join the RAF knowing they might fly to a likely death in the company of a freaky side show freezing ‘her own sperm’? And should some of the esprit de corps evaporate, what effect will it have on the defence of the realm?

Never in the field of human conflict was so much damage done to so many by so few words, to paraphrase ever so slightly.

As a lifelong student of language, I am in general fascinated by the capacity of words to destroy with a laudable economy of means. Float something like liberté, egalité, fraternité up in the air and a whole civilisation can go up in smoke.

As to a few words telling us all we need to know, they can do so even if we don’t understand the words.

For example, you probably don’t have a clue what on earth these nine words mean: “Ofiteri de politie in civil opereaza in aceasts zona”.

Yet, when they appear on a Metropolitan Police sign put up in Covent Garden during the Christmas shopping rush, they indeed tell us, as a minimum, all we need to know about one complex problem, that of immigration.

These words are the Romanian for ‘plainclothes policemen operating in this area’. Since the message isn’t repeated in any other language, it has to be aimed at one group only: monolingual Romanian pickpockets.

The Met clearly knows that picking pockets in London is a profession almost exclusively reserved for arrivals from Romania, our fellow member of the European Union.

Equally obvious is the fact that the same message wouldn’t have a similarly deterrent effect if it were inscribed in English, which is after all the official language of this member of the European Union.

For the Romanian Artful Dodgers have no English. What they do have is the unrestricted right to come to Britain in unlimited numbers – all to the accompaniment of even our supposedly conservative broadsheets bleating about immigrants enriching our nation.

Well, they certainly don’t enrich those members of our nation whose pockets they pick. Nor do they enrich bank ATMs and their customers: almost 100 per cent of all crime against cash machines is committed by Romanian monoglots.

Far be it from me to commit the linguistic fallacy of claiming that the sentence ‘most pickpockets and ATM criminals are Romanians’ means the same as ‘most Romanians are pickpockets and ATM criminals.’

I’m sure they aren’t, although this certainty is based on a general sense of statistical probability rather than any hard data.

But still, those nine words in Covent Garden open up all sorts of paths into all sorts of areas: our immigration policy, EU membership, modernity, a civilisation in crisis.

Mercifully, I don’t even have to tread those paths. Those few words I’ve mentioned indeed tell you all you need to know.

One question does need an answer though: how likely are those Romanian pickpockets to be transgender women freezing their own sperm?

If obesity is a disability, we aren’t human

By ruling that obesity is like any old disability, the European Court of Justice didn’t just abuse justice. It reduced man to the level of an animal, vegetable or mineral.

Discounting the minuscule number of those cursed with rare thyroid conditions, how do people become obese?

Any medical professional will tell you that the widespread abuse of bathroom scales is a result of people consuming more calories than they burn off. In other words, stuffing one’s face without exercising the rest of one’s body.

When input exceeds output, we gain weight and become fat. When we do so for a long time, we gain more weight and become obese.

The bad news is that those who have a genetic predisposition to obesity should eat less and exercise more than those miserable bastards who never seem to pile on pounds no matter what they do.

The good news is that both the input and the output are a matter of choice, right or wrong. We can choose to walk five miles a day. We can choose not to have that extra chocolate truffle.

Those are the right choices if we don’t want to become obese. Or we can choose wrong, and to hell with obesity.

This seems straightforward enough on the surface of it, but deep down it goes to the very core of humanity. For the ability to choose comes from the gift of free will we received from God.

Man is the only thing on earth whose behaviour over a lifetime isn’t predetermined by its chemical or biological composition.

A tree can’t choose to move to a sunnier clime; a man can. A lion can’t choose not to kill weaker animals, a man can. A stone can’t choose to be thrown or not; a man can choose to throw a stone, or not to.

This points at the unique status of man, which is acknowledged by any exponent of any Abrahamic religion, and certainly the one on which our European civilisation is founded.

Christianity came to Europe two thousand years ago, but has since left. Gone with it is true reason and true understanding of man, the only animal made in the image and likeness of God and therefore an animal only in the narrow biological sense, if that.

Also gone is the ability to think straight: on its way out Christianity swiped off the table the basis for all intellectual activity in the West. It was replaced by post-Darwinian fantasies, spread by those who can analyse to death everything about man, except the only important thing.

Man’s behaviour is now seen the same way as that of a courgette, a dog or a stone – something determined by his chemical, biochemical or microbiological makeup. 

This has too many practical and legal manifestations to mention here, but relevant to my theme is one: the medicalisation of addiction in general and food addiction in particular.

Hence a degenerate who gets his jollies by sticking a needle in his arm is thought to do so not because he has made a wrong choice but because he is ill. The imperative to get high on heroin is beyond his control. It’s a sort of disease, like cancer.

It’s not that the subversives who insist on this nonsense don’t realise it’s nonsense. They do. But truth doesn’t matter here.

What matters is stamping our spiritual, religious and cultural heritage into the dirt. Denying, implicitly, explicitly or through judicial action, that man is a free agent endowed with the ability to choose will serve that ignominious goal nicely.

I don’t usually like to cite myself as an example of virtue (partly not to give my friends a pretext to remind me that all too often I have been an example of sin), but I was addicted to drugs for a short period.

The addiction was indeed not a matter of choice. It was iatrogenic: I was in much pain, and doctors put me on an intravenous dimorphine drip for a month. After that I was put on another opiate, Oxycontin, a drug with much street cred.

When in due course I tried to go cold turkey, I developed withdrawal symptoms, which I recognised for what they were. I went back on my drug, then gradually reduced the dose over a couple of weeks. Having suffered some discomfort, at the end I was clean as a whistle.

I made the right choice. The wrong one would have been not to reduce the dose but to increase it, subsequently tricking the doctors into prescribing more. Barring that, I could always score some Oxycontin or ‘horse’ in King’s Cross or Brixton.

Those who make the wrong choice, and there are an increasing number of them, should be pitied, helped and guided to the right choice. What they shouldn’t be is treated as if they suffered from a disease.

The same goes for obesity. A man shot by a mugger and paralysed from the waist down is disabled: he had no choice in the matter. A couch potato who gobbles up revolting pre-processed junk isn’t disabled; he chose to be obese.

By denying this God’s own truth, the European Court of Justice has reaffirmed its credentials as a wicked, subversive setup – just like its sibling the European Union.

By issuing this obscene diktat the judges pretend they really believe that man has no free will. By submitting to it, we pretend we share this view of man.

We – or, to be more precise, our powers that be – also pretend we have no choice but to submit to it. This is a fallacy: we do have one.

Our choice, the right one, would be to get out of the jurisdiction of this legal travesty and to shake its dust off our feet.


My new book, Democracy as a Neocon Trick, is a default Christmas gift. It’s available from Amazon and the more discerning bookshops. Or else you can order it direct from, in the USA,


Kim is irresistible

Nicely rounded feminine curves. Jet black hair. Smooth off-white skin. Enigmatic smile. Height that doesn’t tower over men. Naughty sexual past.

Americans in particular find Kim Jong-un hard to resist… What? No, of course I wasn’t talking about Kim Kardashian, that walking fertility symbol whose jutting attractions these days rank among the highest human achievements.

The North Korean Kim is much more interesting. Granted, he doesn’t have the other Kim’s ability to make men feel weak-kneed with a flash of a buttock. He can, however, bring America to her knees simply by playing computer games.

He started with the US-run Sony Pictures. Kim’s ire was raised by the company’s planned Christmas release of The Interview, a comedy in which the North Korean dictator gets killed.

Almost immediately the company’s computers were hit by a hacking attack accompanied by a nostalgia-inducing warning to potential cinema-goers: “Remember the 11th of September, 2001. We recommend you keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”

By way of a firm, resolute response Sony instantly cancelled the release of the $60-million film until future notice, which can safely be assumed to be never.

Of course abject surrender to terrorists is nothing new, but certain things about this act do have some novelty appeal.

First, rather than relying on the usual AKs and Semtex, with the odd Stanley knife thrown in, the terrorists chose your seemingly peaceful Macs and PCs as their weapons.

Second, and to me more important, unlike most Muslim terrorists, who can be claimed to be extra-national, the provenance of this lot can be unerringly pinpointed to a specific country.

Actually, developing the parallel the hackers themselves suggested, 15 out of the 19 perpetrators of 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, a proportion that under uncountable historical precedents could have been treated as an act of war. But, considering the Saudis’ natural resource, the Americans had to pretend the terrorists had come from nowhere in particular.

Now the papers are abuzz with speculations about the attack on Sony being the first shots fired in a cyber war. Hardly the first, actually, considering that the Russians paralysed Estonia’s computers in 2007, and the Chinese like to put their finger on the mouse too every now and then.

But first, second or tenth, this indeed is an act of cyber war committed by North Korea against the United States.

Considering various aspects of cyber war, most commentators accentuate the modifier rather than the noun, which seems foolhardy. War is war, and we can take it for granted that aggressors can draw on a full arsenal of weapons, from ICBMs to tanks to cannon to, as in this case, computers.

Come to think of it, the weapons are immaterial. What matters is how the country under attack responds to the aggression.

Traditionally there are only a few possible responses.

The moderate response would be to tell the guilty party that this once it’ll be let off with a warning. But the warning is absolutely unequivocal: one more transgression, and the attacked country will respond with every means at her disposal.

The aggressive response would be to launch a counterattack immediately, keeping it commensurate with the provocation. You attack our border guards, we attack yours; you fire on our planes, we fire on yours – that sort of thing.

The extreme, and usually correct, response is to launch a massive strike that would be both punitive and preemptive: punishing the aggressor for what he has done and actively discouraging him from ever doing it again.

And then there is the cowardly response: to let it slide, limiting yourself to a few stern words. You know, the kind of response the United States has adopted.

By itself, allowing Kim to get away with this rather extreme form of film criticism isn’t the end of the world. However, showing weakness may turn out to be just that, the end of the world, and not just figuratively speaking. Next time he may try to jam the Pentagon’s computers.

Take it from someone who spent the first 25 years of his life living under communist dictators: the only language they understand is that of force. When it’s spoken with credible conviction, they, like a street bully who gets punched in the nose, tend to back off.

Showing any sign of weakness or hesitation will only encourage them, and if you don’t believe me talk to Messrs Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Putin – and Kim.

This, to me, seems the proper way of contemplating the emerging situation. Instead, the middle-aged gentlemen writing for our broadsheets impersonate the barely post-pubescent boffins writing for PC Magazine.

Chaps, leave the technicalities of cyber or any other war to those professionally trained in such matters. One likes to believe that the West has enough technical expertise to thwart cyber attacks or, barring that, avenge them in a rather cataclysmic way.

Let’s not speculate what’s going to happen when every computer screen in the country goes black. Instead let’s make sure this doesn’t happen, and words, no matter how stern, aren’t going to do it.

The Russians, Chinese or Koreans may be real high-tech mavens, and I happen to know from personal experience that the Russians really are very good at that sort of thing.

But all those potentially dangerous nations have always played catch-up with the West in high tech. They are perfectly capable of imitating, developing and improving, but so far they’ve always lagged a couple of steps behind, and I see no reason for this pecking order to change.

The very nature of their regimes discourages genuine high-tech innovation. The West is still capable of it, and so is likely to come up with electronic armour able to ward off electronic shells.

Yet the most important part of a tank isn’t armour but cannon, and replacing such old-fashioned weapons with cyber waves isn’t going to alter this general principle.

The upshot is that America, or for that matter Nato, must not surrender to Kim’s charms. We’re under attack, we know who the attacker is, so let’s hit him immediately and hit him hard.

But Obama, otherwise known as the Leader of the Free World, has no time for such actions. He is too busy surrendering to the communist dictators a few miles south of Miami to worry about those at the other end of the world.


My new book, Democracy as a Neocon Trick, is available from Amazon and the more discerning bookshops. However, my publisher would rather you ordered it from, in the USA,








How Jeffrey Sachs saved the world but failed to save Russia

If there is one thing that most economists, especially those of the Keynesian variety, have in common, it’s refreshing arrogance. This, in spite of their having failed to predict every economic disaster of modernity.

Moreover, when they tried the Keynesian response to the 1929 stock market crash, they instantly turned it into the Great Depression – without, however, suffering a dent in their self-confidence.

Yet Jeffrey Sachs, with his cosmic conceit, proudly stands out even against that general backdrop. In his modest self-assessment, Jeffrey can wave a magic Keynesian wand to turn a moribund economy into a land flowing with milk and honey.

One can only wonder how, say, Singapore, starting from scratch, managed to become a major success story without the benefit of either Keynesian economics or Jeffrey’s advice. Presumably, had she sought it, she would now own the world.

Sachs’s stock in trade is applying the principles of national welfarism internationally. Along with Keynes, whom he worships with nothing short of religious piety, he believes that, when a country is in dire straits, it can steer itself out of trouble by spending money it doesn’t have.

Still, the funds have to come from somewhere, and the list of possible sources isn’t endless. Essentially it comes down to printing money, borrowing it or getting infusions from richer countries.

Jeffrey Sach’s speciality is this last solution. He believes that wealthy nations, especially the USA, should act towards poor ones the way the social acts towards idlers on the dole.

A trip to a South London council estate will show how this stratagem works at the micro level of families. Not to cut too fine a point, it destroys them, robbing them of any initiative and turning them into lifelong addicts stuck at the end of the welfare needle.

A somewhat longer trip to Bolivia, which Jeffrey, in a tastelessly self-serving article on the BBC website, cites as his epic coup, will show how destructive such economic alchemy can be at a macro level.

Since, according to Descartes, all knowledge is comparative, the Bolivian trip would be particularly educational if followed by a quick detour to Chile, a country very similar to Bolivia historically, ethnically and demographically.

At roughly the same time Gen. Pinochet sought economic guidance from the commonsensical Chicago School, the Bolivian government turned for advice to the fully paid-up Keynesian Sachs.

Sure enough, he recommended that the country should crawl to the USA, arm outstretched, palm turned upwards. In his munificence and omnipotence Jeffrey then facilitated a huge infusion of unearned capital into Bolivia.

The trick worked, in the same sense in which a second or third mortgage on your house would work – until you’ve spent all the money and now have to repay it, which you can’t do because you have no job.

By contrast Chile opted for the free market solution, with equally spectacular results. What wasn’t equal was the comparative duration of success.

In spite of its present socialist government working tirelessly to undo Pinochet’s reforms, Chile is still reasonably prosperous – and infinitely more so than Bolivia, which is reeling from the delayed action of Jeffrey’s expertise.

But he mentions Bolivia only in passing. The real point of Sach’s article is to blame the West for refusing to bail out Russia the same way it bailed out Poland after 1989.

After all, “Mikhail Gorbachev… was prepared to see Europe reunited in peace in democracy… Once again, drawing from Keynes,… I championed… international assistance… Yet I watched in puzzlement and growing horror that the needed aid was not on the way.”

By his own admission, it took Sachs the next 20 years to get his head around this inequity. Finally it dawned upon him that “the West had helped Poland financially and diplomatically because Poland would become the Eastern ramparts of an expanding Nato.”

I could have spared him two decades’ worth of soul searching by pointing out a few fundamental differences between Poland and Russia, those that would have justified the West’s bloody-mindedness towards the latter, had it indeed been displayed.

But first let’s get our facts right, for the West wasn’t as heartless as all that. Between 1989 and 1998 Western countries provided $66 billion in aid to Russia, on top of food aid loans, trade credits and debt rollovers.

Obviously Jeffrey doesn’t see such paltry amounts as worth mentioning. They simply don’t qualify as international aid, as far as he is concerned. He doesn’t cite the sum that would have satisfied his keen economic sense, but probably none of us would be able to count so high.

Jeffrey seems to realise that the West regarded Poland as a safer bet for long-term partnership than Russia, which is good. Twenty years of feverish thought bore fruit.

What isn’t good is that he regards this judgement as being grossly unfair to “the great man” Gorbachev and the only marginally less great Yeltsyn and Putin.

Suddenly, rather than merely doubting Jeffrey’s professional qualifications, one begins to wonder about his IQ.

Yes, both Poland and Russia emerged out of decades of communist rule, the most satanic regime in history. There was a minor difference though: Russian communism was self-inflicted; Poland’s communism was inflicted by Russia.

They weren’t equal partners in a love affair; they were rapist and victim. That’s why, though many individual Poles had done a Faust, Poland as a nation had nothing to repent before being admitted into the fold.

Also, throughout communist rule the country remained generally loyal to the Western confession of Christianity, which was a useful foundation to build on. And, at no point in her history was Poland either hostile or dangerous to the West.

Russia, on the other hand, has been both hostile and dangerous throughout much of her history and certainly since 1917. In 1989 Russian ICBMs were still targeted at Western cities, and the country had more tanks than the rest of the world combined.

At least twice during the post-war years Russia took the world to the brink of a nuclear holocaust. In every military conflict worth mentioning she found herself on the other side from the US and her allies. At least four times since the war she committed direct aggression against European nations, while fomenting anti-Western militancy all over the globe.

After the ‘collapse’ of the Soviet Union the West couldn’t help noticing that the post-collapse state was run by the same unrepentant operators of the previous satanic regime, be it party officials like the ‘great man’ Gorbachev and the only marginally less great Yeltsyn (both, incidentally, with lifelong KGB connections) or KGB officers, such as Putin.

This time, however, there was an extra dimension: both groups were now organically fused with organised crime – to a point where the different elements of the alloy became indistinguishable.

Under such circumstances, advancing to Russia even the $66 billion that escaped Jeffrey’s attention represented criminal folly on the part of the West.

Every one of those dollars vindicated Peter Bauer’s maxim that foreign aid is the transfer of capital from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries. Hence the ‘great man’ Gorbachev’s wealth is now in the billions; while Putin’s pilfered fortune is bigger than that by an order of magnitude.

Economists like Jeffrey do enough harm even when they stick to their own discipline, about which they are supposed to know next to everything. Let them meddle in things about which they know next to nothing, and watch them destroy the world.


Mea culpa

Isn’t it annoying when it happens? In my today’s blog I made a factual error, by claiming that Malala Yousafzi was shot dead by Taliban. In fact, she survived the shooting — no thanks to the Taliban. I’ll try to check my sources more carefully.

Anyway, I’ve now corrected the error: