Religion of peace strikes again

It’s early hours yet, but so far no Western leader has explained to a shocked world that the on-going orgy of satanic cruelty inspired by Islam is not, in fact, inspired by Islam.

I trust they will, in short order, regale us with their take on geopolitics and comparative religion:

The Koran, which contrary to all evidence such leaders have convinced themselves they have read, preaches nothing but pacific behaviour. If some of its adherents murder children en masse while laughing and screaming ‘Allahu akbar!’, it’s not their religion’s fault.

At fault here are each perpetrator’s personal idiosyncrasies, such as perhaps an insufficiently loving father or an overprotective mother. More likely, it’s the shockingly low level of foreign aid we have been sending to his country of origin.

Alternatively, he may have failed to sublimate his bubbling libido, which affected his id in a way that turns murdering children into an irresistible compulsion. Or words to that effect – I’m not quite up on modern cant.

One way or the other, he is a sovereign agent acting of his own accord with no prodding from Islam anywhere in sight. He is a ‘lone wolf’, in Dave’s apt phrase.

Well, seven of those wolves, red in tooth and claw, formed a pack that came out of the woods in Peshawar to murder 141 in a school, 132 of them children. Before they were nonchalantly shot point-blank, the pupils had been treated to the rousing spectacle of their teacher being burnt alive.

This was supposed to be a response to the Pakistani army’s attempts to prevent the Taliban from taking over their country, an internecine quarrel if I ever saw one. The ardour the army displays in this noble undertaking has been largely spurred on by the money our government extracted from you and me.

Alternatively it was the lone wolves’ way of protesting against the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Malala Yousafzi, campaigner for women’s rights to education in Muslim countries (that such a campaign was necessary teaches a valuable lesson in comparative religion, which is guaranteed to be ignored).

Incidentally, Malala, at age 17 the youngest ever Nobel laureate, was shot by another lone wolf back in 2012, for daring to offend so egregiously against the fundamental teaching of Islam… sorry, I forget. The fundamental teaching of Islam had nothing to do with it.

Many of us have at times been appalled by Nobel Peace Prizes being awarded to odd individuals, such as, to name a couple off the top, Yasser Arafat or Barack Hussein Obama. Yet in spite of much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, somehow we’ve managed to suppress the urge to murder children in protest.

Obviously such restraining mechanisms aren’t at work among the thousands upon thousands of lone wolves running wild in the Islamic world. In fact, there are so many thousands of them that one is tempted to believe that they are also driven by a collective, rather than merely individual, energumen.

Far be it from me to advocate a cull of lone wolves – the RSPCA wouldn’t wear it. But we definitely must – and, given our leaders’ stated convictions, definitely won’t – protect ourselves against those predators.

Somehow I don’t think continuing to pay off Pakistan’s government is going to do the job. The money could be better spent on such measures as … I’d better stop here, before I’m charged with inciting violence.

In any case, the situation is dire, as it always is when there is a war on, especially when we refuse to acknowledge that there is a war on. Under such circumstances shooting from the lip is always ill-advised and usually counterproductive.

It’s also unnecessary: the technicalities of how the threat is to be thwarted are best left to those professionally qualified in such matters, a category into which I don’t include myself.

But before such chaps work out the tactical details they must be given the strategic objective. In this case there can be only one: make sure nothing like this ever happens in our country and, if it still does, the proverbial wild animals are punished so cataclysmically that the Islamic threat goes dormant for a century or two.

How you do it is up to you. No holds barred. There is a war on.



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Sydney could come to London, says Dave

And so it could. Because of the likes of him.

By the likes of him I mean the cabal of self-serving spivs promoting the dictatorial multi-culti ethos of ‘share, care and be aware’.

Once we’ve committed ourselves to obeying the diktats, we surrender the intellectual tools that alone would enable us to realise that yet another act of Islamic terrorism, this time Down Under, wasn’t a ‘lone wolf’ attack in any sense other than the purely superficial one.

The murderer did indeed act by himself, but he didn’t inspire himself. The inspiration came from his hodgepodge cult that has been waging war on the West for the last 1,400 years.

By the same token, an SAS man may be acting alone as he blows up a radar behind enemy lines. But acting alone doesn’t make him a lone wolf.

Quite apart from the specific orders he may have received from his superiors, the SAS soldier acts in accordance with the ethos he accepts as a given. This includes love of his country, loyalty to his comrades, his concept of honour, sense of righteousness and whatnot.

His alone is the hand that activates the detonator at a deadly risk to himself. But this physical hand is being moved by an interlacing complexity of metaphysical factors, without which he wouldn’t have joined the SAS in the first place.

Dismissing each act of Muslim beastliness as the private initiative of a deranged maniac, or a small group thereof, is an intellectual and, which is worse, moral copout.

In 2013 such supposedly individual terrorist acts killed 17,891 and wounded 32,577. These aren’t victims of random street violence. They are war casualties.

Yet this isn’t any old war. It’s the Phoney War revisited and made ten times worse.

Then, in 1939, after declaring war on Germany, Britain and France sat on their hands without firing a shot. But at least they did declare war.

Our spivs not only haven’t done that, but they refuse both to acknowledge that war is under way and to identify the enemy. It’s as if every Nazi soldier storming into Poland had been assumed to be acting of his own accord, with no blame to be attached to his regime.

The usual argument that very few Muslims are terrorists is another copout, another lie designed to avoid the truth. The truth is that all global calamities have always been perpetrated by a small cadre of radicalised and manipulative elite.

Not all German soldiers torching Warsaw were committed Nazis, and neither were all Soviet soldiers raping half of Europe committed communists.

Relatively few Americans saw themselves as anything other than loyal subjects of George III in 1776, not many Frenchmen were fire-eating revolutionaries in 1789, and not all Indians wanted to be independent of Britain in 1947.

In each case the tone was set by the variously wicked few, who then did to the masses what a shepherd does to his flock at the end of the day. Properly manipulated, the masses are indeed like sheep – but they are always led by wolves, running individually or in packs.

Dave, Ed, Nick and even, one suspects, Nigel are never going to talk about the dreadful dilemma facing the West in such terms.

They, along with all our politicians, face their own dilemma.

They’ve first fostered the Golem of modern ethos, then lost control over it. Now they have a stark choice: either they acknowledge that their creature is a monster devouring our civilisation or they pretend he is a cuddly puppy.

The first option will put paid to their political careers; the second will enable them to hang on indefinitely, or rather until the monster has finished his repast.

Hence the talk of lone wolves, and hence also the pathetically inadequate palliatives broached by Dave as preventive measures.

Now what if Sydney does come to London, but in the shape of single fanatic wielding not a pistol but a nuclear device? What if the subsequent casualty list includes not two hostages but 100,000 Londoners?

Five gets you ten this lot will still be talking about Islam being a religion of peace, and how unfortunate it is that not all its exponents are peaceful chaps desperately wishing to share, care and be aware.

It’s they who are the real wolves. The question is, what does it make us?


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What history has taught Col. Putin (and some Tories)

The French poet and thinker Paul Valéry once remarked that “The only thing one can learn from history is a propensity for chauvinism. There are no other lessons.”

I’m not sure about this as a sweeping statement but, as applied to Russia specifically and my friend Vlad especially, the aphorism rings true.

I was reminded of it the other day, when I spoke to a distinguished Conservative association about Putin’s Russia, fascism in general and Russian kleptofascism in particular.

Most of my listeners nodded in all the right places, but I immediately identified two or three who were visibly tensing up.  

Sure enough, come the Q&A time, one of the superannuated gentlemen asked a question he clearly thought was rhetorical: “But you can’t deny that the Crimea is historically Russian?”

Actually, the only thing I couldn’t deny was that Putin’s propaganda was making in-roads on precisely the kind of people who ought to know better. But I didn’t say that.

Instead I said: “History is an unreliable guide to geopolitics. In this case, it depends on how far back you’re willing to go.

“Prince Potemkin annexed the Crimea in 1783, roughly at the same time Britain colonised India. Khrushchev transferred the peninsula to the Ukraine in 1954, just seven years after India declared her independence.

“The two periods are thus almost exactly coextensive. Does this mean we’d be within our right to annex a part of India’s territory or, ideally, the whole thing?

“And this is just one example. Would the Germans be justified in repossessing Alsace by force? Or Austria all of northern Italy? Or Spain and Portugal most of South America?

“Our claims to Aquitaine also have some legitimacy,” I added facetiously. “In general, if we tried to restore countries’ borders to their limits at some arbitrary point in history, we’d get a war of all against all, thereby refuting this line of thought.”

My opponent seemed satisfied with my reply intellectually, but one could tell he really wasn’t emotionally. Then again, some modern British Tories have always had a soft spot for fascism, which they’ve tended to compare favourably to our own perpetually weak and vacillating governments.

Characteristically and laudably, however, very few have ever been led by their innermost feelings to settle in fascist countries, preferring instead to rot away in decadent but still residually civilised shires.

It is to my friend Vlad’s credit that his retrospective glance at history has a greater telescopic reach than a mere couple of centuries.

This he went on to prove a few days ago, justifying Russia’s brutal aggression against the Ukraine in terms not only historical but also theological. It takes a highly nimble mind to get into such a maze and find its way out, but if anyone can do it, Vlad can.

First came a rebuke to some European nations that for the time being went unnamed: “If for some European countries national pride is a long-forgotten concept and sovereignty is too much of a luxury, true sovereignty for Russia is absolutely necessary for survival.”

Fair cop. One can see the attraction of such statements to those who, like me, detest the EU but, unlike me, don’t know much about Russia.

Then came the theological or, if you will, theohistorical bit: “It was in the Crimea, in the ancient city of Chersonesus… that Grand Duke Vladimir was baptised before bringing Christianity to Rus.”

Get it? Christianity is essential to Russian sovereignty, the Crimea has a sacral significance to Russian Christianity, hence the Crimea, as Col. Putin went on to explain, has “sacred importance for Russia, like the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for the followers of Islam and Judaism.”

Actually, even on its own terms his version of Vladimir’s baptism is only one of several hypotheses, but that’s by the by.

Let me mention parenthetically that, although Vladimir was eventually canonised in the Orthodox church, at that time his behaviour was not of a kind typically associated with saintliness.

For example, the libidinous prince, left unsatisfied by his hundreds of wives and concubines, would routinely rape the wives and daughters of his vanquished rivals. But, in all fairness, sometimes he would do the decent thing and add the victim to his regiment of wives.

That is what he did, for example, to the Polotsk princess Rogneda whom he had first raped publicly, with the girl’s parents and a few hundred of Vladimir’s troops in attendance. The warriors cheered him on; the parents probably didn’t, but their reaction wasn’t recorded.

Fair enough, many saints had a dissipated youth. St Augustine, for example, sowed enough wild oats to keep the entire population of Hippo in porridge. But, compared to Vladimir’s epic exertions, he comes across as a eunuch.

Still, it’s good to see that, inspired by Vlad I, Vlad II has apparently found God, if rather late in life. In his exuberant youth he started his KGB career in the Second Chief Directorate, responsible for the persecution of dissidents – including religious ones.

Far be it from me, however, to deny the possibility of an epiphany on the road to Lubianka. Vlad is known to be an occasional rider, so who’s to say he never fell off his horse and had a Damascene experience?

In due course he’ll learn that Russian Christians, unlike their Western counterparts, cross themselves from right to left, but such things do take time. His Western admirers wouldn’t notice the faux pas anyway.

But I do wish he broadened his already panoramic historical outlook. That way he could justify even stronger claims.

You see, St Vladimir wasn’t the first member of his family to get baptised, His grandmother Grand Duchess Olga did it first, on her visit to Constantinople, as it then was.

Now Constantinople was at that time the capital of Byzantium, the eastern Roman Empire. It was in that Byzantine confession that Olga, and subsequently her grandson, were baptised.

So forget about miserable little Chersonesus. The true Jerusalem of Russia’s Christianity is actually Istanbul, née Constantinople. If that doesn’t give Vlad II every moral and legal right to annex Turkey with her selfishly guarded straits, I don’t know what does.

Now, St Vladimir’s descendant Ivan III (d. 1505) actually married (without raping her first) the daughter of the last Byzantine emperor.

He then declared Russia as the natural messianic successor to Byzantium, ‘third Rome’ in the words of the monk Philoteus (‘and there will not be a fourth’).

Since we’ve already sorted out the legitimacy of Putin’s claim to ‘second Rome’, which is to say Istanbul and Turkey at large, what about the first Rome, now going by the name of Italy?

Surely, if Russia sits in the line of godly descent just after Turkey, while the latter was preceded by Italy, both Putin and his Western fans should demand that he occupy all of Italy, or at least her part.

May I suggest Emilia-Romagna, for starters? Brilliant food, Sangiovese is a decent wine, Bologna is gorgeous, and the first Rome is but a short tank drive away.

I hope my credulous conservative friends will second the motion. I know my friend Vlad will – Italian banks would still be a more reliable depository for his $40-billion fortune than Russia.

Oops, sorry, I forgot. He isn’t into vulgar materialism any longer. It’s all about things sacral for Vlad now. Beatification is in order, methinks.


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One headline dispels our illusions about Britain

“Cable demands end to all-white boardrooms” appears above a short article relegated to Page 20 of The Sunday Times.

Evidently the editors didn’t attach much importance to the story. That is a most unfortunate oversight, and one I’d like to correct.

“Diversity must now be tackled in its broadest sense,” decreed Comrade Vince, adding that boardrooms reflecting ‘modern Britain’ would give the country a competitive advantage.

Hence the dispelled illusions, such as:

Illusion 1: This is still a free country.

Used in the political, rather than metaphysical, sense, freedom means, among other things, that the state doesn’t dictate to private companies how they should run their business.

Corporatism therefore is the antithesis of freedom, which isn’t merely a theoretical postulate.

The state dictating to businesses whom to hire, whom to fire, whom to promote, what and how much to produce, how much to pay their employees and to charge for their products is a feature of socialism overlapping with fascism.

Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and Hollande’s France should have given this practice a bad name, but not as far as my friend Vince is concerned.

Note the modality of his remarks, defined by the use of such words as ‘demand’ and ‘must’. The state adopting this tone of voice in its dialogue with businesses either has already overstepped the line where socialism ends and fascism begins, or is desperate to do so.

Illusion 2: This is still an intelligent nation.

Vince and his Parteigenossen talk to us as if we were stupid. Yet these days politicians don’t utter a word without checking the focus groups first. Hence Vince’s research must have told him that we are indeed stupid.

Otherwise we’d know that the purpose of a board of directors is to run a profitable business, not to reflect the demographic make-up of the nation and pander to every idiotic perversion modernity serves up.

To that end it should elevate to management only those fit to manage, regardless of any other characteristics. If a one-legged black Muslim lesbian is a talented manager, she should climb up to the highest rung of the corporate ladder. If not, she shouldn’t.

Moreover, to say that Vince’s mandated rainbow boards running all our major companies would give us a ‘competitive advantage’ is to assume we aren’t just stupid but retarded as well.

The more restrictive the labour practices the less competitive the economy – to this simple rule there are no known exceptions. When the state rules by economic diktat, free enterprise is guaranteed to become neither, and the economy will inevitably find itself in the doldrums.  

If you want empirical proof, just compare France’s economy, with its insanely suffocating red tape, with those of les Anglo-Saxons. Having done that, ponder why London has become the world’s fifth largest French city, and why the French who have moved here represent the most economically virile stratum of the country’s population.

If we follow France’s business practices, we won’t be like France, with her still reasonably well-educated labour force. We’ll be like Greece – and Vince either doesn’t realise this or is certain we don’t. In either case, this isn’t something he cares about.

Illusion 3: One day we won’t be governed by wicked, power-hungry mediocrities.

Vince and his ilk are clearly confident of their electoral immunity. ‘Ilk’ is a collective noun, and what I mean by it is our governing elite, regardless of their party affiliation.

The elite has become smugly homogeneous, and you can bet your house that no one in the other parties will take Vince to task over this unmitigated longing for fascism. To do so would mean going against the ethos they themselves have so assiduously cultivated.

The stratagem has worked: vast blocs of voters have been brought up to think that corporatism means economic liberty, burgeoning state control over every aspect of our lives is freedom, and all those Daves, Eds, Nicks and Vinces really do know how to govern a great country.

Hence they can be sure that their hold on power won’t be challenged. How they distribute portfolios among themselves matters to them much less than the fact that they’ll have the power to distribute them.

It’s pointless to wonder how far they are prepared to go to keep this status quo. As far as it takes, is the short answer.

Extending the vote to 16-year-olds? Fine. This lot would have babies vote before they can walk, if that’ll keep them in power.

Admitting Turkey to the EU, thereby giving 77 million Muslims an automatic right to settle in Britain? Perfect, especially if private companies can be forced to staff their boards with the new arrivals.

And if you still have illusions about any of this, trust Vince to explain what’s what. Wittingly or unwittingly.


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Some Catholics forget that theirs is a rational confession

“Be alert and sober of mind,” taught St Peter, but then the first Pope had no way of knowing that one day Australia would be inhabited by humans with a superhuman capacity for consuming Foster’s lager.

Taken to excess, that beverage has been known to produce a deleterious effect on individuals and also evidently on institutions.

This stands to reason: it’s hard to stay alert and retain a sober mind when the rest of you is throwing up on a friend’s car by way of a good night out.

The Australian Catholic church has set out to prove this, admittedly hypothetical, proposition by issuing what’s described as a ‘landmark report’ on priestly celibacy as a contributing factor of child abuse.

While stopping short of suggesting that the clergy must be allowed to marry, the report recommends that priests should undergo ‘psycho-sexual development training’ thereby learning to keep their grubby hands off tots.

Now what about bestiality? Shouldn’t there be another training course teaching naughty priests what Wellies are really for? One could also think of any number of other perversions that sensible tuition could discourage.

Then again, for old times’ sake, one could remind the Aussies that the Church ought to have within itself a sufficient body of moral teaching it could bring to bear on this problem – thereby obviating the need for New Age counselling.

I’d start from the Decalogue (Exodus 20) and proceed to the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) to establish the general moral framework. From there it would be a good idea to iron out the pertinent details by moving on to Leviticus (18:21-22 and 20:13), Romans (1:26-27) and 1 Corinthians (6-9:10).

Or else one could take the issue out of the scriptural context altogether, by explaining to the deviants in purely secular terms that this isn’t the right way to suffer little children to come unto you.

As to paedophilia resulting from celibacy, this is cloud-cuckoo land. Any young person, or anyone who remembers what it was like to be young, will understand how a priest may break the vow of celibacy by having a heterosexual fling.

For example, I never took such a vow, but in my testosterone-fuelled youth there were occasional periods (mercifully seldom very long) when I had to endure involuntary celibacy. This, and I know I’ll burn in hell for it, sometimes had the effect of lowering my normally rather fastidious standards of acceptability in a potential paramour.

But it would never have occurred to me to use children for that purpose. There was nothing heroic about it: I didn’t have to make a conscious effort to fight the temptation – the possibility simply never crossed my mind.

I hate to sound so hopelessly square and frightfully normal, but I’m sure that everyone I know – and billions of those I don’t know – will tell you not just a similar story but exactly the same one.

The problem with offending priests is not that they are celibates but that they are perverts. As such they ought to be locked up, with the key thrown away into the River Tiber foaming with their secretions.

Just as no court would accept as an extenuating circumstance that a paedophiliac act was caused by the defendant’s inability to score with grown women, so should the Church refrain from blaming deviance on celibacy. All else is madness.

And speaking of madness, the other day Pope Francis espied a little boy crying his eyes out in St Peter’s Square. His Holiness enquired about the cause of his grief and found out his beloved dog had just died.

Not to worry, said the Pope. “Paradise is open to all God’s creatures.”

Since no cathedra was present ex which His Holiness spoke, the presumption of infallibility doesn’t apply, and one may be permitted some ever so slight scepticism.

It was my impression, and I hope the academic theologians among you will correct me if I am wrong, that admittance through the pearly gates isn’t quite so catholic, as it were.

The price of a ticket includes certain attributes that traditionally have been regarded as the exclusive prerogative of human, rather than canine, beings.

One such attribute is the immortal soul, which dog’s don’t have and humans – even the Aussies – do. Another is God-given free will enabling people to make a choice between good and evil, virtue and sin, right and wrong. Yet another is baptism for the remission of sins.

As a corollary to that, people are capable of confessing and repenting their sins, thereby earning forgiveness and absolution – or not. Personally, I’ve never heard Fido bark out “Father, forgive me for I have sinned. Since my last confession I have relieved myself on the floor of the drawing room four times, chased three cats around the block and bit the postman on his gluteus maximus.”

I wonder how much prior thought had gone into the Pope’s pronouncement. Perhaps His Holiness was having an off day, or else he was too deeply shaken by the Australian ‘landmark report’.


Jesus saves, Rooney scores on the rebound

Brent Cross Shopping Centre is quite lively in the run-up to Christmas.

Actually, this is a bit of an understatement. It is lively all right, but in the sense in which the anteroom to hell must be lively.

A vortex of humanity, an eddy best described by the Latin grex venalium, swirls widely from one shop to the next, sucking in countless trinkets and disgorging them into the multi-tiered car park.

This is Christmas! Yuletide! Time for the throng to be at its most venal.

Tis the season to be competitive, to show that upstart Darren that he isn’t the only one prepared to borrow enough to finance a whirlwind looting expedition to Brent Cross.

Tis the season to beat that bitch Sharon in the festive poker game: I’ll see your tasteless scarf, Sharon, and raise you a set of place mats with pictures of rosy-cheeked angels on them.

Why angels? Well, it’s Christmas, innit?

That’s what it’s all about, innit? Shopping for angels, place mats and electronic devices.

Some intrepid researchers, fully aware that shopping is the underlying theological basis of Christmas, nevertheless conducted a quick survey designed to find out how much young shoppers knew about the bloke who used to be seen as the reason to be jolly.

To that end, researchers showed 1,000 children an iconic picture of Jesus, identified him as such, and asked the young shoppers who Jesus Christ was.

To duplicate the educational technique with which the youngsters were familiar, this was a multiple-choice question. The choices were:


a)     A footballer for Chelsea FC

b)    Son of God

c)     TV presenter

d)    X Factor contestant

e)     An astronaut


It’s clear that the researchers weren’t fully au courant with educational techniques. If our ‘educators’ were as ignorant, we’d never see a steady increase in A-level scores.

The trick isn’t just to give the little ones a multiple choice, but to make the answer bleeding obvious. To that end they must be given no more than three options, with two of them patently ridiculous.

For example: ‘Who invented  the telephone? a) Alexander Graham Bell, b) dumbbell, c) bluebell. Correct answer (practically) guaranteed, the doors of Oxbridge flung wide open.

Those who composed this survey followed a different route, guaranteeing failure. First, what’s with the five options? How did they expect those shopping tots not to be confused?

And, I’ll have you notice, all five choices were perfectly plausible, which was bound to deepen the confusion even further. No wonder the answers were evenly spread, reflecting the statistical likelihood of random choice.

Hence exactly 20 per cent of the survey’s subjects identifying Jesus as a Chelsea ball-kicker – this in spite of the fact that his garment in the picture was brown and not blue. Judging by the report, they weren’t probed deeper, to establish which position JC plays.

If this isn’t testimony to the catastrophic… Sorry, finish it later, have to run now.

It’s only 13 shopping days left to Christmas, and I hear there’s a tasty sale going on in Piccadilly – next to that church.


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It’s wrong to say torture is wrong

This side of the scripture, few moral strictures work without qualification, and even some biblical commandments may require it.

‘Thou shalt not kill’, for example, may be construed as a demand for pacifism. It took St Augustine, later helped along by Aquinas, to put the doctrine of just war in the Christian context.

‘Thou shalt not steal’, yes of course. But what if stealing a piece of bread is the only way to save a child from starving to death?

‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’, fine. But what if doing so will save an innocent life from unjust prosecution?

Killing, stealing and lying under oath are all wrong, except that under certain circumstances they may prevent a greater wrong. God told us what’s right and what’s wrong, but then he also endowed us with free will and reason – and refused to absolve us from the need to exercise those faculties.

If even commandments issued by God leave room for nuance and interpretation, one can’t expect human rules to be chiselled in stone in a way that preempts divergence or even discussion.

Yet, judging by the sanctimonious response in our press to the congressional report on the CIA torturing of suspected terrorists, our secular morality is supposed to be more absolute (yes, I realise this is a logical solecism) than anything God commanded.

Suppose for the sake of argument that you are in charge of London’s anti-terrorist squad. You’ve received verified reports that a nuclear device has been planted somewhere in W1, and you have under lock and key a man who knows where the bomb is and when it’s set to go off.

You ask him politely to divulge this information, which he refuses to do, instructing you instead that there is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet.

You repeat your request, eliciting nothing but a reference to your porcine lineage on the maternal side.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking away, and so are the lives of possibly hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting Londoners living within the killing radius from the epicentre.

How firmly would you stand on the principle of no torture under any circumstances? I dare say you, I or any sane person would be concerned only about the efficacy of torture, not its moral implications.

Torture is always cruel, inhuman and wicked. Yet sometimes it may be necessary to combat an evil occupying a higher place in the pecking order.

Hence my problem with the headlines and lead paragraphs screaming that torture is wrong under any circumstances.

One doesn’t confidently expect nuanced thought from hacks, and in any case that’s not what sells newspapers. Still, it wouldn’t have hurt their AGM too much to say instead something like “torture is almost always wrong” or “torture is disgusting, but at times we have to make disgusting choices.”

Moving on from the general to the particular, specifically the report under discussion, we should approach it with a grain of salt, ideally accompanied by a shot of tequila and possibly a wedge of lime.

Only parts of it have been released, and they do account for gruesome reading indeed. Personally, since I insist that each case must be considered on merit and in its fullness, I don’t see how such consideration is possible in the absence of complete data.

Neither am I going to debate the fine legal points, mainly because I don’t feel qualified to do so. As a matter of general principle, though, I don’t see as valid the complaint that terrorists have been held without due process.

They aren’t chaps who’ve knocked off a convenience shop, or even killed the owner while at it. They are enemy civilians involved in guerrilla action against us, something banned under the Geneva Convention.

I can’t for the life of me see why it’s moral to mow down such people with machinegun fire, but immoral to lock them up beyond the limits stipulated in habeas corpus.

Having said all that, I’m going to make an absolute statement of my own. Torture may or may not be wrong, but legalising it always is.

Before resorting to torture an officer should weigh the moral ramifications of his actions, which in our secular times he’d be unlikely to do if there weren’t any legal ramifications.

A carte blanche issued to torture will inevitably be seized upon by assorted sadists, who would torment suspects for the sheer pleasure of it, rather than to prevent a greater evil – and God knows, intelligence forces and armies have a fair share of those.

Torture is like euthanasia: if it’s made legal, sooner or later it’ll become rife, and then it’ll become compulsory.

It ought to be communicated tacitly that the officer’s superiors may turn a blind eye, but only if they agree that the operational necessity outweighs the moral imperative.

Meanwhile, one hopes that our newspapers will practise moderation which used to be such an endearing trait of the English character.

Wait until all the facts are in, chaps, before passing judgement. And don’t think for a second that the facts will make judgement redundant.


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Libertarianism, the opposite of liberty

The canvas of our political landscape has a gaping hole: true conservatism has been cut out.

Yet it isn’t just nature but also politics that abhors a vacuum. The empty place on the right of the picture had to be patched up, and then something else had to be painted on the patch.

That something could never be the same as the original but, not to scare traditional viewers away, it had to display some commonality with the fragment excised and destroyed.

Hence we have any number of political movements that retain some superficial resemblance to conservatism while being in fact its exact opposites.

One of those has even pilfered the name, only attaching the prefix ‘neo’ to it. ‘Neo’ means new and, in modern jargon, new means better – as Darwin taught us, when things develop they invariably improve.

Hence the implication is that neoconservatism is like the old thing, only better. In fact, neoconservatism is a blend of American jingoism (not exclusively on the part of Americans), Trotskyist temperament and inveterate belligerence with rampant statism, welfarism and atheism – all underpinned by totemistic worship of democracy.

That doesn’t sound like conservatism to me, but to the modern lot words mean whatever they want them to mean.

If, following their founder Irving Kristol, neoconservatives declare that there is such a thing as a ‘conservative welfare state’, or that killing millions in pursuit of the Chimera of democracy is a perfectly conservative policy, then that’s it.

Unlike the neocons, the libertarians actually do have something in common with conservatism, namely aversion to the big state.

For those incapable of thinking synthetically, that’s enough. A simple syllogism is hastily slapped together: conservatives are against statism; libertarians are against statism; ergo, libertarians are conservatives, with an extra dimension.

That’s like saying that Muslims think the West has become decadent; true conservatives think the West has become decadent; ergo, true conservatives are Muslims.

In the same vein, libertarians and conservatives aren’t the only ones who have ever deplored the power of a big state over a small individual.

For example, Russian anarchists felt the same way, which is why they frequently joined forces with the Bolsheviks in the Civil War. That was like militant vegans supporting cannibals in their battle against beef eaters.

For libertarians don’t just oppose the rampant statism of modernity. They equally abhor the restraining power of traditional institutions, such, for example, as the Church with its moral absolutism.

Just like neocons who, going into battle against every conservative tenet, scribble conservatism on their banners, libertarians in effect overlap with their cognates, so-called ‘liberals’.

Just like anarchists, whose aversion to any arbitrary power made them allies to the very incarnation of arbitrary power, libertarians find themselves rubbing intellectual shoulders with those whose sole purpose in life is to make the state omnipotent.

One example, if I may. Perhaps the most divisive political issue of the last 12 months has been the Marriage Act, which legalised homosexual marriage.

I don’t know a single conservative, or for that matter anyone even broadly on the right of the political spectrum, who supported it – and nor have I met any ‘liberal’ who was against.

So which side of the watershed would libertarians support, considering that they see themselves not just as an alternative to conservatism, but its replacement?

To clarify this matter, here’s a paragraph from an article in a libertarian on-line publication: 

Libertarians are supposed to be pro-gay marriage. That is that. We have to be satisfied with the geometric argument that as consenting adults ought to be free to do as they will with other consenting adults, and as gay men are consenting adults, and as ‘getting married’ involves no aggression on any third party, gay men ought to be free to get married and this involves getting married in an Anglican church.

I don’t quite understand what ‘geometric argument’ means outside, well, geometry, but that’s the least of the author’s problems.

Marriage may no longer be universally regarded as a sacrament, but in our secular world it still involves a legal contract officiated and validated by the state. As such, it requires endorsement by the state, which it may grant or withhold.

Hence two homosexuals are perfectly free to call themselves husband and wife or, for that matter, brother and sister, but, unless the state nods its approval, they won’t legitimately be husband and wife any more than they’ll be brother and sister.

Suddenly we’re no longer talking about such abstract notions as ‘liberty’ but about such concrete concepts as the law.

In other words, had the state not passed the subversive Marriage Act, two homosexuals could no more be husband and wife than they could be Siamese twins.

So far I haven’t left the confines of elementary logic, something that libertarians evidently regard as too constricting. Now, however, I’ll enter the domain of elementary morality, which they clearly see as even more suffocating.

What does ‘aggression on any third party’ mean? Both ‘aggression’ and ‘third party’ need to be tightly defined for the whole paragraph to have any meaning.

Does aggression strictly mean incurring physical injury to another person? Contextually, this is what the libertarian author seems to mean, which is most unfortunate.

Let’s say, when walking through St James Park on a nice, sunny afternoon, a tweedy subject of Her Majesty sees a couple of homosexual newlyweds consummating their union on a bench.

No breach of consent is involved, and none of the flailing limbs makes contact with the middle-aged gentleman. He suffers no physical damage, but wouldn’t it be fair to say that his sense of propriety has suffered an act of egregious aggression?

Do libertarians accept the idea of moral damage? More apposite would be to ask if they accept the idea of morality.

One man’s liberty is another man’s licence, one man’s right is another man’s wrong and so forth. For morality to have any meaning at all, it has to be absolute, which is to say the same for all and codifed by an authority accepted as such by all.

Extrapolating from our tweedy chap to society at large (and, contrary to Margaret Thatcher’s careless quip, such a thing does exist), this collective entity can’t survive as such if its morality is atomised among all its members.

If they all reserve the right to decide what is moral, the society won’t just become immoral. It’ll become amoral, which is to say first evil and then nonexistent.

Yet for a libertarian with half a brain (few of them can possibly have the whole thing) to make any sense of his half-baked politics, he has to believe that indeed there’s no such thing as society – and if it did exist, it would be by definition oppressive.

This is nonsensical, but not as much as suggesting that two homosexuals ‘ought to be free to get married… in an Anglican church’.

Since homosexuality is explicitly proscribed in both the scripture and Christian tradition, no church can possibly marry two homosexuals without forfeiting any claim to being Christian.

Should it insist on clinging on to that nomenclature, it can only officiate a homosexual marriage if made to do so by the state, national or supranational. Hence the freedom that’s so dear to libertarian hearts can only be enforced by a despotic exercise of state power – something the libertarians claim to oppose.

What a desperate situation we find ourselves in. The two political movements vying with each other for the honour of replacing conservatism on the right end of politics aren’t right at all.

They are very, very wrong – and as bereft of intellectual content as of moral fibre.


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  or, in the USA,


It’s not just two opinions that two Popes express on Islam

Comparing the current Pope with his predecessor, it’s hard not to notice that they hold rather different views on most things.

That’s no wonder, for, the trivial gap in their ages notwithstanding, they come from two different worlds.

In answer to the popular rhetorical question, both Popes are Catholic, which would suggest a certain common ground not just in religion qua religion, but also in its relationship with the modern world.

A century ago this would have been true. Yet after 11 October, 1962, when the Second Vatican Council (commonly known as Vatican II) opened, this assumption can no longer be made with confidence.

Vatican II, which many orthodox Catholics regard as heretical, represented an historical watershed between tradition and modernity. Ostensibly seeking an accommodation with the modern world, it in effect spelled surrender to it – or so conservative Catholics believe.

That created a rift between the orthodox and liberal interpreters of Christian doctrine, and this hasn’t healed in the intervening 52 years. Nor will it ever heal, for the two groups represent what Benedict XVI would doubtless describe as a fundamentally different Weltanschauung.

At the time, Joseph Ratzinger, as he then was, held rather liberal views. Nonetheless he leavened his guarded endorsement of Vatican II with some biting criticism. One could detect that his heart wasn’t in it, which he subsequently proved by evolving staunchly conservative views.

If Benedict XVI is typologically and philosophically pre-Vatican II, Pope Francis is the flesh of its flesh and the blood of its blood. His views rest on a firmly held belief that Christianity should embrace the modern world in all its diversity.

This is a perilous position, for there’s a kiss of death implicit in that embrace, and it’s not modernity that’s likely to find itself on the losing end.

We see this on the example of the Anglican Church, which has got into such a tight clinch with modern secularism that it has had most life squeezed out of it. The Catholics can easily go the same way if they aren’t careful.

The two Popes’ views on Islam thus reflect not just two different opinions, and not merely two different philosophies, but two different worlds. Benedict XVI fights, or used to fight, rearguard action against the more perverse aspects of modernity, while Pope Francis is in the vanguard of the opposing force.

In 2006 Benedict XVI made a speech in which he suggested that Islam innately espoused violence. The world, modern world, was aghast.

Such statements can no longer be evaluated on merit. It doesn’t matter whether they are true or false. What matters is that they go against the ethos with which Vatican II tried to reconcile Christianity.

That made the Pope’s judgement objectionable regardless of any intrinsic merit. As an indication of how the clash between the two worlds was going, Benedict XVI was made to issue a public apology.

Bowling for the world in which he lives, Pope Francis expressed a different view eight years later: “You just can’t say that, just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them [but no more].”

That’s God’s own truth, though I for one would be tempted to point out the slight differences.

Such as, for example, that Christian fundamentalists communicate their beliefs by preaching the Gospel to all and sundry, while Muslim fundamentalists express theirs by murdering those who disagree, eating human flesh, castrating women and flying airliners into tall buildings.

“All religions have those little groups,” continued the Pope, somewhat counterintuitively. “They [Muslims] say: ‘No, we are not this, the Koran is a book of peace, it is a prophetic book of peace’.”

His Holiness has an institutional remit to decree what is and what isn’t true Catholicism. As far as I know, this doesn’t extend to making similar comments on other religions. Nor should it, on this evidence.

There are 107 verses in the Koran explicitly calling for killing Jews, Christians and other infidels, along with Islamic apostates (I’ve quoted some of them in the past).

Yet, it could be argued that religious doctrine is made up not only of scriptural texts but also of their theological interpretation over the centuries.

Waving aside for the time being the empiricists’ arguments that, if Islam is indeed a religion of peace, its adherents don’t always act in that spirit, do let’s have a look at how various schools of Islamic thought, from the Middle Ages to our time, see the problem.

Shafi’i school issued a manual of Islamic law that was certified in 1991 by the academic mullahs as a definitive guide to Sunni orthodoxy. The manual speaks of making war “upon Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians… until they become Muslim or pay the non-Muslim poll tax.”

Hanafi school expands on this thought: “If the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor pay the tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance and to make war upon them…; the Prophet, moreover, commands us to do so.”

Maliki school had its views on the subject explained by the prominent historian and philosopher Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406): “In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and [the duty to] convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force [so as] to gain power over other nations.”

Hanbali school found its mouthpiece in the jurist Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328): “Since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is God’s entirely and God’s word is uppermost, therefore, according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.”

At this point we should indeed wheel in the empirical evidence showing that all these pronouncements aren’t just empty theorising: the Muslims manifestly practise what their clerics and theologians preach.

The modern ethos wouldn’t allow Pope Francis to seek an explanation for widespread Muslim terrorism in Islam – as a pontiff but still a modern man, he has to believe that, though Catholic Christianity is true, other religions are true too, in their own way.

What the modern ethos actively encourages him to do is seek the root of all evil, and specifically the Muslim variety, in economic causes, so eloquently described by Marx.

Ending poverty, declared His Holiness, is crucial because it gives rise to “the recruitment of terrorists.”

Alas, with all due respect to the man occupying St Peter’s throne, this view doesn’t easily stand up to the available facts.

These show that jihadists represent a demographic cross-section. They are as likely to come from extremely wealthy backgrounds (Osama bin Laden) as from solidly middle-class (British recruits) or impoverished ones.

Thank goodness His Holiness spoke not ex cathedra but aboard his plane, where papal infallibility didn’t apply. Otherwise conservative Catholics would be in a real pickle.


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  or, in the USA,


Let’s hear it for party loyalty

Tim Montgomerie of The Times would support the Tories even if they advocated slaughtering every first-born boy. Hence his feelings for Ukip have the kind of warmth one typically reserves for haemorrhoids.

In a way I envy his strong party affiliation, what with my own much less clearly defined. However, one does wish Tim’s loyalty didn’t interfere with his ability to add up.

As it is, he’s outraged: “46 per cent of the Ukip tax plan would go to the top fifth of earners.” I share his indignation: considering that this group pays 93 per cent of all tax, that proportion should be twice as high.