Turkey isn’t everyone’s idea of Europe


A few months ago I commented on Dave’s foolhardy commitment to admitting Turkey into the EU, even though the county is only five per cent European geographically, and less so otherwise.

Yesterday Cameron repeated this madcap idea, and in response I can only repeat what I said then. Neither Dave not I ever change.

Since Turkey boasts 75 million inhabitants, it’s a fair bet that Dave and his jolly friends are ready to welcome as many Turks as will care to come. I can’t even venture a guess at the possible number – I can’t count as high as that.

Because it’s an article of Dave’s faith that immigrants make invaluable cultural contributions to the panoply of British life, it follows logically that the more Turks come here, the better off we’ll be culturally.

While it’s impossible, or at least ill-advised, to refute this assertion, or to doubt its evidential base, one may still wish to cast the briefest of glances at the behavioural patterns of the 500,000 Turks who are already here.

Most of them keep a low profile, but those who don’t make life interesting in the areas they grace with their presence. They certainly exemplify the benefits of multi-culti diversity, that central prong in the trident of Dave’s faith, staying in the EU and homomarriage being the other two.

The case in point is the feud between two rival import organisations, known in the more refined circles as the Tottenham Boys and the Hackney Bombers. Leaving aside for a second the enriching contributions the two groups make to British culture, let’s just say that the commodity these gentlemen import isn’t listed in the Financial Times.

To be specific, it’s heroin, which makes the two groups not so much import organisations as gangs. To be fair, Turkish or other migrants don’t hold exclusive rights to organised crime in London. The East End had its Krays, South London had its Richardsons, and I’m sure there are some worthy successors operating today.

Those chaps couldn’t be confused with choirboys either, and things like torture and murder were their stock in trade. They didn’t need any lessons in violence from Turks or anyone else but, since it’s cultural inputs we’re talking about, they went about their business in a, well, British way. It was a pragmatic fight for territory, both figuratively and literally speaking.

If their business interests clashed, bloodletting ensued. If a member of the Krays’ gang showed his face in the Richardsons’ patch, it was all his life was worth. Nor could a Richardson venturing into the Krays’ domain count on serious life expectancy. The lines were clearly drawn, and it was all quite rational, within certain limits.

The Turks, on the other hand, go about their affairs the Turkish way or rather the Muslim way, with blood feuds neither dying nor fading away. They are a gift that keeps on giving, and rational considerations need not apply.

Hence a little punch-up outside a Finsbury Park snooker club back in 2009 has escalated over the next six years into a string of 30 violent incidents, including several murders.

One of the parties to the snooker fisticuffs was a member of the Tottenham Boys, otherwise known as Tottenham Turks, while the other proudly belonged to the Hackney Bombers. Whichever gentleman came off the poor second in the exchange of slaps vowed revenge, which solemn oath automatically involved all his heroin-importing colleagues.

Their friend’s honour was offended and blood alone could rinse the affront away. Sure enough, blood was spilled, which put the boot on the other foot. The avengers became the target of vengeance, and so forth, with the pendulum swinging ad infinitum.

The last or, more precisely, latest incident occurred when two of the Tottenham Boys were being taken to Wood Green Crown Court to be sentenced for attempted hits on various Hackney Bombers (one wonders how they got their name).

The police van was attacked, and in the ensuing shootout the Turkish population of London was reduced by one gunslinger. His death diminishes us all, to paraphrase John Donne, for the cultural contribution of the Turkish community becomes less.

Anticipating the de rigueur objection that only a small proportion of the London Turks indulge in murder and heroin pushing, that’s doubtless true. Yet what interests me now isn’t so much percentages as absolute numbers.

Without leaving the realm of mathematical probability, one could venture a guess that, when the Turkish population of Britain grows, say, four-fold, so will the number of people flouting British laws and indeed the British ways of going through life.

Actually, the growth in crime rate will probably outpace the numerical increase, for at present most Turkish people in Britain come not from Turkey but from Cyprus, which is considerably more civilised than, for example, Anatolia.

Hence, if Dave and his EU friends get their wish and Turkey joins this wicked contrivance, we have a veritable carnage to look forward to. That, however, will be offset by the massive enrichment of our cultural life.

Specifically, one could mention… well, all sorts of things. None springs to mind offhand, but I’ll catch you later.


Mr Bean goes to Russia

Nr BeanApparently the comedian Rowan Atkinson based his Mr Bean character on his hapless, humourless and – truth be told – not very bright brother Rodney.

Having had the dubious pleasure of meeting Rodney quite a few years ago, I can personally attest to his ideal suitability to act as Mr Bean’s prototype. Why, this professional EU baiter even gives this good cause a bad name.

But at least when ranting about the wiles of Brussels, Rodney gives the impression of being in command of his facts and vaguely knowing what he’s talking about. When venturing outside his sole area of expertise, however, he makes his tragic failings patently obvious.

The case in point is his article Just Back From Russia – Prosperous, Capitalist, Nationist, Democratic, Christian, reflecting on Rodney’s vast experience of spending a few days in Krasnodar, a city in southern Russia.

Every adjective in the title is a lie, which will be instantly obvious to anyone with even cursory knowledge of Russia. The word ‘nationist’ isn’t a lie; it simply doesn’t exist in English. Is it the same as ‘nationalist’? Clearly, Rodney invented this word, just as he invented his facts.

Instead of relying on the impressions gathered during a flying visit to a country about which he knows nothing, Rodney should have looked at Russia’s international ratings in every category that matters – that way he could have avoided what the Russians call ‘lying like an eyewitness’.

In human rights, rule of law, democracy, quality of life – well, everything – Russia consistently places close to the bottom, sharing that neighbourhood with assorted Third World hellholes.

For example, Rodney has the gall to praise Russia’s health service, comparing it favourably to our NHS. That the NHS is awful doesn’t make Russia’s health service, a veritable murder factory, any better.

Russia’s mortality rate stands at 15 from the bottom, next to Lesotho’s. The country’s male life expectancy is under 60, and every Russian who has two pennies to rub together gets treated abroad. I myself have arranged London medical appointments for my Russian friends, who saw this as a lifesaver.

And prosperous? According to the information issued by the ruling KGB junta itself, 15.9 per cent of the population are living below the poverty line, higher than in such economic powerhouses as Albania, Sri Lanka and Tunisia. And the poverty line in Russia is drawn at a monthly income of less than £100.

Democratic? Doesn’t Rodney know that the Duma is a rubber-stamping irrelevance, a Potemkin village put up by the kleptofascist junta to make itself presentable to the outside world? Can’t he see that Russia is ruled by arbitrary diktat? No, apparently not.

Capitalist? Russia’s two principal economic activities are plundering the country’s natural resources and laundering the resulting gains through Western banks.

It’s the only sizeable country in the world where government and organised crime are fused into one, and where proximity to the ‘leader’ is a sine qua non of prosperity. When he has some free time from writing drivel, Rodney ought to look up the list of Putin’s cronies who’ve become billionaires on his watch, all those Rutenbergs, Timchenkos et al.

Another captivating read would be the list of businessmen, lawyers, journalists and political opponents murdered by Putin’s junta. Has Rodney ever heard of Magnitsky? Politkovskaia? Nemtsov? Starovoitova? Litvinenko?

Christian? “Vladimir Putin was brought up in the Orthodox Christian faith,” writes Rodney, “and the churches are packed with people of all ages at all times of the day.”

Actually, regular church attendance in Russia is under one per cent, lower than in England, though it’s possible that the couple of churches to which Rodney was taken by his Krasnodar minders happened to be full at the time.

And Putin was brought up in one faith only, the KGB his deity. He began to be associated with that sinister organisation while still at school, and it takes cosmic ignorance not to know that even a hint of faith precluded any KGB career.

In fact, Putin’s first job involved harassing dissidents, including religious dissidents, defined at the time as people who practised their faith openly. When piety became fashionable, Putin and his jolly men began to cross themselves publicly, except that it took them a while to learn that the Orthodox do so right to left, not left to right, as Mafiosi do in American films.

Rodney’s ignorance (or else mendacity) is staggering. For example he extols Russia’s income tax rate of 13 per cent, ignoring the 30 per cent Social Security rate on top of that. And the 20 per cent corporate tax is typically augmented by protection charges imposed by organised crime.

All this wouldn’t be worth writing about if Rodney’s gibberish weren’t so characteristic of the less intelligent (or more ideological) fringe on the right of the political spectrum.

Justifiably driven to distraction by our own spivocratic, dishonest, self-serving, ineffectual government, they begin to look for greener pastures elsewhere – including the most putrid political swamps of the world.

This is practised even by the likes of Hitchens and Booker, Rodney’s intellectual superiors (not that this description unduly narrows the field). Those people ought to be ashamed of themselves: they should know better. The Rodneys of this world should just shut up.

Putin’s premature withdrawal

SyriaPutin’s announcement of withdrawing ‘the main part’ of Russian forces from Syria has caused a reaction out of proportion to the significance of the event.

Once again Putin has caught Western intelligence unawares, which immediately produced a choir of self-laceration in our media, harmonised with barely concealed admiration for the KGB thug.

That Western intelligence services have always been inept when gathering and processing information about Russia is true. Not a single important post-1917 development (indeed the 1917 Bolshevik coup itself) has been predicted. Not a single one has been properly understood. For example, the all-important Nazi-Soviet pact was discarded as even a remote possibility until the day after it happened.

Closer to our own time, Western intelligence services failed to predict Soviet acquisition of nuclear weapons, Khrushchev’s faux de-Stalinisation, Soviet interventions in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan, the launch of the first satellite, the installation of missiles on Cuba, the whole ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ offensive, the ‘collapse’ of the Soviet Union.

And since the KGB junta fronted by Col. Putin took over Russia and began acting with the perfidy characteristic of history’s most murderous organisation, our intelligence services have consistently been caught with their trousers down.

Putin’s attack on Georgia came out of the blue, as did his anschluss of the Crimea, aggression against the Ukraine and, more relevant to yesterday’s announcement, his move into Syria. His supposed move out of Syria unsurprisingly wasn’t predicted either.

Yet everything about the withdrawal smacks of KGB disinformation. For example, ‘the main part’ of the Russian force in Syria means nothing unless we know how many Russian soldiers there are in the country and how many of them are leaving.

Since we don’t possess this information, the withdrawal may well be as bogus as the supposed withdrawal of some Soviet forces out of Afghanistan six months after the incursion began. It later turned out that going home were only AA and missile units, which had been found unnecessary. The remaining forces were strong enough to kill about a million Afghans before retreating.

Since Russian ground forces are only a few thousand strong, they perform mostly police and training functions. The bulk of Putin’s operations are bombing raids, and those can proceed unabated from Russian bases in Dagestan or, if cruise missiles are used, Russia herself.

Putin declared victory. The Russian troops, he announced, had achieved all their objectives. Again, we don’t know what the objectives were, and various guesses have already been proved wrong.

Even accurate observations haven’t led to credible conclusions. For example, it was hard even for Western intelligence not to notice that the Russians pounded mostly not ISIS positions but the so-called ‘moderate’ Arab areas (I met a moderate Muslim once. His name was Asif.).

And unlike Allied forces, the Russians aren’t using primarily precision weapons. Their stock in trade is indiscriminate bombings of schools, hospitals and private dwellings. Hence their claim of having killed 2,000 militants is outright mendacious. What did they do, check the IDs of the patients killed in hospital wards?

So was propping up Assad the strategic objective now fulfilled? Clearly not. Assad’s troops, with the Russians playing the role of his air force, have only made modest gains. For example they’ve failed to capture Aleppo, which advance was already touted as a major future success.

Over the last year Syrian troops have made practically no territorial gains at the expense of ISIS in Syria. ISIS lost territory mainly in the parts of Iraq inhabited by the Kurds, and encouraging Kurdish separatism clearly is one of Putin’s objectives.

There are many others, yet none of them has anything to do with his supposed commitment to Assad much mooted in our press. Syria will become Russia’s client state now no matter who’s nominally in charge there, Assad or anyone else. Reconstruction contracts will all go to Russian firms, what with Syria already owing Russia some $100 billion.

At the same time, Russia has secured massive contracts in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, mostly armaments but also the odd nuclear plant. Playing both ends against the middle with the sleight of hand well drilled at the KGB academy, the Russians are also arming Iran, sworn enemy of Sunnite powers.

The same stratagem is used towards Israel, whose actions against Hezbollah are coordinated with the Russians, while the latter are training and arming the very same terrorists.

It’s also conceivable that the Russians are twisting the Saudis’ arm to curb their oil output, thereby ratcheting up the prices whose low levels are destroying what’s left of Russia’s economy.

So why the withdrawal? For one thing, Russia’s apparent aim of creating a separatist Kurdish area has already brought her in conflict with Turkey and potentially NATO, whose member Turkey is. For all his bellicose language Putin isn’t ready to take NATO on in a standing battle, and he’d rather not risk one.

Then again, the withdrawal was timed with the opening of Geneva peace talks, in which Putin wants to play a major role, while retaining maximum flexibility in continuing his bombing campaign if necessary.

Above all, the KGB colonel wants to re-establish himself as a major player on the world arena, rather than the street bully he really is. This objective has to be at odds with the West’s, for readmitting a manifestly evil regime to a seat at the civilised table will befoul the table irredeemably.

This is what’s worth talking about, not the cynical and probably bogus PR exercise that the withdrawal of some Russian troops really is.




Labour kindly reminds us that fascism is socialism

KarlMarxWe’re often so hung up about the specks of difference among various ‘isms’ that we ignore the motes of similarity.

Fascism, Nazism and bolshevism, for example, are all logical developments of socialism, which should become instantly clear to anyone capable of stripping socialism of its bien pensant sloganeering.

Socialism isn’t about sharing and caring. It’s about the state controlling every aspect of life, robbing the individual of his liberty, supplanting his God-given free will with the will of the state.

As such, socialism isn’t Christianity without Christ, which was a popular fallacy back in the ’60s. It’s the Antichrist, someone able to put on benign expressions and utter kindly phrases while pursuing evil ends.

All socialist states, whether ‘democratic’, ‘fascist’, ‘international’ or ‘national’ have more traits that unite them than those setting them apart.

My favourite exercise, for example, is comparing Stalin’s Five-Year Plan, Hitler’s Four-Year Plan and Roosevelt’s New Deal. All three documents are so identical that they might have been written by the same men (the last two actually were to a great extent, but that’s a different story).

Some socialists are more carnivorous than others, but none of them deserve a reputation for goodness, something fostered by most Western papers and accepted by their less intelligent readers.

On the contrary, we should never be surprised when even so-called ‘democratic’ socialists display evil traits normally associated with their ‘national’ cousins. Such as anti-Semitism, which is supposed to be the prerogative of conservatives.

True, some tweedy, clubbable gentlemen would rather not see Jews at their oak-walled Pall Mall hangouts. But over the last century or so the worst anti-Semitic atrocities have been committed by socialists, of various red and brown hues.

This ought to be kept in mind by anyone who raises an eyebrow at the news that the Labour party welcomes activists whose attitude to Jews isn’t a million miles away from Julius Streicher’s.

Such as Vicky Kirby, who was suspended in 2014 for speaking her mind a tad too loudly and unequivocally. Here are a few examples of her tweets:

“I will never forget and I will make sure my kids teach their children how evil Israel is.”

“Anyone thought of asking [ISIS] why they aren’t attacking the real oppressors, Israel?”

“Who is the Zionist God? I’m starting to think it’s Hitler.”

But of course. Hitler is worshipped in every synagogue all over the world, but especially in Israel. We have Miss Kirby to thank for bringing this to our attention.

Lest one might think that Miss Kirby is merely anti-Zionist rather than anti-Semitic, she added another tweet: “What do you know about Jews? They’ve got big noses and support Spurs.”

Some of us also know that six million Jews were murdered by people with Miss Kirby’s mindset, but she did point out the most salient facts. (‘Spurs’, for the outlanders among you, are Tottenham Hotspur, a football team affectionately called ‘Yids’ in some circles. Tottenham is a poor area in North London, where many Jews live, hence the nickname.)

The amazing (or rather predictable) fact about Miss Kirby isn’t that she was suspended in 2014, but that she has just been readmitted — and appointed vice chairman of her party association.

This is to be expected in a party whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, numbers Hamas murderers among his friends and never bothers to conceal his sympathy for their cause.

Nor are such sentiments reserved for the less educated Labour members. For example, the Oxford University Labour Club is currently being investigated for anti-Semitism.

Actually, the only surprising thing about these revelations is that so many people are surprised. They’ve fallen victim to socialist propaganda.

For socialism is an ideology of envy and therefore of hatred. And Marx, the patron saint of this evil creed, showed in his own warped personality how naturally hatred of the rich segues into hatred of the Jews.

Jews, even the manifestly poor ones living in Tottenham, are all filthy rich, aren’t they? Hence a socialist gets two hate objects for the price of one. And one doesn’t have to be Jewish to be unable to resist such a good deal.



Obama should mind his own business

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom talk during the G8 Summit at the Lough Erne Resort in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, June 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)  This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.

Barack Hussein looked at Europe and saw it was good.

Crowds of rather feral-looking individuals, many of them his namesakes, are overrunning every high-rent country on the continent. Though they all flee from something or other, they sagely choose rich places to flee to, not the Albanias or Kosovos of this world.

That shows the same enterprising spirit as that displayed by the first American settlers, and also subsequent arrivals from places like Nigeria. Of course the first settlers had to live in a wasteland but, given the option, they wouldn’t have.

Yet, lo and behold, some Europeans, especially those who, if qualified, would vote for Trump in the US elections, want to put an end to the arrangement enabling many Baracks, Husseins and Barack Husseins to practise Sharia law in a society they dislike, the way Obama himself would have practised US law had he not chosen to become a community organiser in Illinois.

Hot damn, thought Barack Hussein, those folks don’t know what’s good for them. But trust the good old US of A to give them the lowdown. It’s the American mission in the world, and hence Barack Hussein’s personal mission, to teach wayward nations the facts of life — for their own good, natch.

If a continent-wide federation worked for the US of A, then, hot damn, there ain’t no reason it can’t work for Europe. Mind you, Barack Hussein is no square from Delaware, or for that matter Nigeria. He knows that the folks in, say, Greece and Holland are more different than the folks in Illinois and Michigan.

But then American folks from Nigeria aren’t the same as them Minnesota Swedes or Pennsylvania Dutch either. Yet look at them, one happy family. Playing together, staying together and being kind enough to teach the rest of the world how to live. For its own good, natch.

Them uppity Brits are especially in need of a good lesson on the benefits of a US of E (Geddit? US of E, like the US of A.). When it comes to oppressing folks in Nigeria, them Brits don’t mind being international. It’s only when it comes to belonging to the good ole US of E that they go all little England.

But Barack Hussein will sort’em out. To that end he’ll touch base with the Brits next month to tell’em what’s what. He called it having ‘a big, public reach-out’, like in that commercial for the phone company, ‘Reach out, reach out and touch someone…’ Barack Hussein is a real American, not some Nigerian, so he likes quoting ads. That’s what real Americans do.

Of course in some quarters such ‘reaching out’ may be called interfering with the internal politics of another country, but hot damn — as far as Barack Hussein is concerned, there ain’t no internal affairs anywhere that ain’t America’s business — and there haven’t been since 1832, when another president, James Monroe, told the world how it was.

Barack Hussein, he don’t want those Nigeria-oppressing Brits to quit the US of E and leave behind the same ‘s**t show’ they left behind in Lybia or, for that matter, Nigeria. No sirree, Bob. (At this point, Barack Hussein made a note for his speechwriters to update his slang. They make him sound like some Nigerian who learned his ‘merican from old novels.)

You’d think them Brits would be grateful to Barack Hussein for giving them a hand in sorting out their affairs. But those perfidious folks are up in arms, like they were back in the 1770s (Note to speechwriters: look up the exact goddam dates).

Some 15,000 of them have already signed a petition saying they can decide on such matters themselves, thanks very much, Barack Hussein. They’ve launched a campaign on the UK Parliament website called ‘Prevent Obama From Speaking In Westminster Regarding the In/Out Referendum.’

Who do those folks think they are? And they can’t even find snappy names for their campaigns, like ‘reach out and touch someone’ or ‘It’s Miller time’. (Note to speechwriters: find a snappy name for Barack Hussein’s visit, like ‘Obama way is OK’. Note to the Joint Chiefs: can we do an Iraq to them Brits, but without having to hang Cameron? Dave, he’s a regular stand-up guy, sees things Barack Hussein’s way.)

No, Barack Hussein will put federal fire in the Brits’ belly, like JFK did in Germany with his ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’, and a good job he wasn’t speaking in Frankfurt or Hamburg. Barack Hussein can do that sort of thing too.

‘I am British of Nigerian descent!’ Note to speechwriters: find a snappier phrase. This one may upset some folks back stateside.




Gentlemen of Verona are different from gentlemen of Newcastle

Verona Verona 2Every time I travel, all sorts of dishevelled thoughts overlap with scattered questions in my head.First a question, and I do hope someone can provide an answer. I’m in Verona now, a large city in the north of Italy. Comparing it to Newcastle, a similarly large city in the north of England, one can’t help noticing that Verona is much more beautiful.

In fact, it’s much more beautiful than any British city (I’ve never been to Glasgow, but something tells me a visit there wouldn’t change this assessment). Why?

Verona is an old city, but then Newcastle too goes back to Roman times.

Strategically, Newcastle was in the Middle Ages even more important to Northumbria than Verona was to Veneto.

Economically, both cities have had ups and downs but, averaged over a millennium, their fortunes have been roughly the same. And at present Italy is supposed to be an economic basket case, while England is presumably thriving.

So why does Verona have impeccable architecture filling every perfectly proportioned street and square, and Newcastle, well, doesn’t? And why is Verona full of buildings going back 700-1,000 years, and Newcastle isn’t? Where did they all go? Was nothing built there for 18 centuries?

Both cities have fought their fair share of battles over the last millennium, so war damage wouldn’t be a satisfactory answer.

Neither can I accept easily the argument that the Italians are more aesthetically gifted than the English, or that they knew how to build structures that would last centuries at a time when the English didn’t. I’m not saying this isn’t the case; only that I can’t accept this argument easily.

But forget the Middle Ages. Why is even the relatively new residential architecture in Verona so much more pleasant than in Newcastle? In fact, one seldom sees an ugly house in Verona, while in Newcastle… well, one does.

Could it be that the Italians in charge of such matters love their city more than the Tynesiders love theirs? Could it be that they take more pride in the way their city looks?

And another thing. In the five days I’ve been roaming the streets of Verona, I haven’t seen a single tattoo parlour, nor a single tattooed individual.

Here any question why would be rhetorical. This side of Easter Island, the number of tattoos in a place is inversely proportional to its civilisation. This is a tell-tale sign that’s both necessary and sufficient.

But, comparing Verona and Newcastle, one instantly detects other signs as well, such as the way people are dressed. Fine, that there are infinitely more elegant people in Verona could be put down to the Italians’ obsession with bella figura, keeping up appearances.

But also, while I’ve seen many well-dressed people filling numerous bars and restaurants to the brim, not a single drunk has reeled into my line of vision. Hand to heart, would that be the case over five days in Newcastle? Including a whole weekend?

Neither has any Veronese inquired what I was looking at or referred to me as ‘sunshine’ (Cosa stai guardando, luce del sole just isn’t heard much in Italian streets) — nor metonymically described me by the crude word typically reserved for a certain part of the female anatomy. This in spite of my absentminded tendency to bump into people accidentally. Do you know why?

But enough questions; it’s observation time now. Apart from the cathedral, the two most prominent churches in Verona are the Romanesque St Zeno basilica and the Gothic St Anastasia, both highly ornate.

Less than two centuries separate the two buildings: St Zeno was completed in the 13th century, St Anastasia in the 15th, at the height of the Renaissance. Presumably in the intervening 150 years the Veronese didn’t lose their aesthetic sense — why, they still haven’t lost it, by the looks of it.

Moreover, I have a particular distaste for ornate interiors, which is why I hate Baroque buildings, especially those in Italy. For example, I couldn’t spend more than five minutes in Rome’s basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, whose interior is disfigured by horrendous Baroque excesses.

And yet, while St Anastasia reinforced this idiosyncrasy of mine, St Zeno punched a hole in it. For while St Anastasia’s interior is to my taste an ugly eyesore, the equally ornate St Zeno is one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen.

An observation like this leads to a generalisation: with a few exceptions here and there, the earlier the architecture, the better it is. Here I wouldn’t mind suggesting an explanation, though I know many will disagree.

Pre-Renaissance architecture was produced to the glory of God; Renaissance architecture began to celebrate the glory of man. The earlier builders and stonemasons glorified Him; the later ones glorified mostly themselves.

That alone was sufficient to produce an aesthetic gap: where the artist starts largely determines where he finishes. True enough, the Renaissance did produce many fine paintings, though again — with notable exceptions — the earlier, the better. But architecture preceded painting as the quintessential expression of out civilisation. Hence it suffered attrition much earlier.

Well, there we are. Observations, questions and precious few answers. Blame this on Amarone, the devilishly strong local wine. Someone ought to tell these people that 15 per cent is ridiculous for a table wine.



Honesty is the best fallacy

DiceNever in the history of sociology has so much been made of so little by so many.

I’m abroad at the moment, but I can hear triumphant noises thundering from our press as if they came from around the corner. Apparently University of Nottingham researchers staged a rather crude experiment proving that the Brits are the most honest people in His Creation.

About 2,500 students from different countries were locked up in a room with some dice and told to roll them. The higher the score, the greater the cash reward they would receive. Unbeknown to the guinea pigs, they were secretly videoed for the researchers to see if they were lying about their roll.

British students, just ahead of those from Sweden, Germany and Italy, were found to be the most honest, while those from Tanzania, China, Morocco and Vietnam the most cheating.

So far so good. Alas, the conclusions drawn from this exercise weren’t so much far-reaching as far-fetched.

Honesty, said the researchers with that Eureka smugness that’s their stock in trade, isn’t a universal trait. It depends on the corruption level in the country’s government. The more corrupt the politicians, the more dishonest the populace, and vice versa.

Actually, the presence of Italians among the most honest people should have alerted the academics to the foul-smelling rat somewhere. After all, in Italy the dividing line between government and organised crime is more smudged than anywhere else in Europe, this side of Russia.

But this is a minor matter. Much more worrying is the researchers’ obvious ignorance of what constitutes corruption in politics. They, along with even such respectable pundits as Tom Utley, seem to think that politicians who don’t take backhanders aren’t ipso facto corrupt.

By those standards, Edmund Burke, one of our history’s greatest parliamentarians and political thinkers, was crooked as a corkscrew — he accepted large donations for raising questions in Parliament. So large, in fact, that he could afford a sizeable estate in Buckinghamshire solely from the proceeds.

And Benjamin Disraeli was even worse: his aristocratic patrons actually gave him an estate down the road from Burke’s so that he could be gentlemanly enough to found the Conservative Party.

At the same time, a respectable pundit like Tom Utley is cloyingly proud that, with the possible exception of Tony Blair, our politicians are exemplars of incorruptibility. If only it were so.

If only Messrs Cameron, Osborne, Hague and their ilk practised fiscal corruption and no other. If only they could take a few quid here and there while discharging their duties with statesmanlike integrity, we’d be so much better off.

Even on the most elementary of levels, can you name off-hand a politician who, when in office, does all he promises when campaigning? Surely going back on a promise constitutes lying, which is rather the opposite of honesty?

I won’t bore you with the list of campaign promises and pledges all our PMs, including the present one, broke. The list would be way too long for this space.

But even that isn’t as bad as their corruption goes. For every day of their miserable lives they corrupt the very constitutional integrity of the realm in their charge.

They routinely corrupt Britain’s sovereignty, an effort of which Cameron’s cynically mendacious IN campaign is a glaring example.

They corrupt Britain’s financial integrity, saddling future generations with a ruinous debt that can never be repaid and that already costs us more than our defence budget to service.

They corrupt Britain’s security by refusing to spend enough on defence, laying the country bare to attack.

They corrupt British families by creating a welfare system that makes the father redundant, by encouraging cohabitation instead of marriage and by promoting homosexual marriage that destroys the very notion of matrimony.

They corrupt Britain’s education by failing to teach children to read and write, while stuffing their heads full of subversive, egalitarian, multi-culti rubbish.

They corrupt Britain’s ancient institutions by destroying the Lords and reducing Parliament to the dictatorship of the Commons, stuffed to the gunwales with unprincipled spivocrats.

They, with their Midas touch in reverse, corrupt everything they can — and our pundits, including such respectable ones as Tom Utley, scream hosannas because our spivs don’t take bribes, thereby allegedly setting a shining example of incorruptibility for us all.

I wonder how many of those British students who didn’t lie about their dice rolls think it’s perfectly fine for the state to marginalise the church, to operate its finances as a pyramid scheme, to turn Her Majesty the Queen into merely an EU citizen, to teach pupils how to use condoms instead of how to add up, to have an army barely fit to perform police duties, to legalise homosexual marriage, to abort hundreds of thousands of foetuses every year, to admit millions of cultural aliens, to… well, this can go on indefinitely.

My bet is that most of them do, because these are the sort of things they learn from our ‘incorruptible’ politicians and our respectable pundits. If this is honesty, I’ll take corruption any day. And twice on Sundays.











We now celebrate communist holidays

Moscow8MarchFirst we had Mothering Sunday, a religious holiday Western Christians celebrate on the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Then, under the influence of the US, Mothering Sunday was largely replaced by Mother’s Day, a secular holiday without any religious overtones whatsoever. That’s understandable: our delicate sensibilities can no longer accommodate any Christian festivals other than Christmas Shopping.

Now that secular but basically unobjectionable holiday has been supplemented by International Women’s Day (IWD), celebrated by all progressive mankind on 8 March. Our delicate sensibilities aren’t offended at all.

Actually, though the portion of mankind that celebrates 8 March calls itself progressive, it isn’t really entitled to this modifier – unless one accepts the propensity for murdering millions just for the hell of it as an essential aspect of progress.

For, not to cut too fine a point, 8 March is a communist event, declared a national holiday by the Bolsheviks in 1917, immediately after they seized power and started killing people with the gusto and on a scale never before seen in history. A few wires were expertly pulled after the war, and IWD also got enshrined in Soviet satellites.

The event actually originated in America, where the Socialist Party arbitrarily chose that date to express solidarity with the 1909 strike of female textile workers. Yet the holiday didn’t catch on in the States, doubtless because the Socialist Party never did.

Outside the Soviet bloc, 8 March went uncelebrated, unrecognised and, until recently, unknown. I remember back in 1974, when I worked at NASA, visiting Soviet astronauts made a big show of wishing female American employees a happy 8 March, eliciting only consternation and the stock Texan response of “Say what?”

The event was big in the Soviet Union, with millions of men giving millions of women bunches of mimosa, boxes of chocolates – and, more important, refraining from giving them a black eye, a practice rather more widespread in Russia than in the West.

But not on 8 March. That was the day when men scoured their conscience clean by being effusively lovey-dovey – so that they could resume abusing women the very next day, on 9 March. For Russia was then, and still remains, out of reach for the fashionable ideas about women’s equality or indeed humanity. As the Russian proverb goes, “A chicken is no bird, a wench is no person.”

Much as one may be derisory about feminism, it’s hard to justify the antediluvian abuse, often physical, that’s par for the course in Russia, especially outside central Moscow or Petersburg. Proponents of the plus ça change philosophy of history would be well-advised to read Dostoyevsky on this subject.

In A Writer’s Diary Dostoyevsky describes in terrifying detail the characteristic savagery of a peasant taking a belt or a stick to his trussed-up wife, lashing at her, ignoring her pleas for mercy until, pounded into a bloody pulp, she stops pleading or moving. However, according to the writer, this in no way contradicted the brute’s inner spirituality, so superior to Western materialistic legalism. Ideology does work in mysterious ways.

The Russian village still has the same roads (typically none) as at the time this was written, and it still has the same way of treating womenfolk – but not on 8 March. On that day the Soviets were housetrained to express their solidarity with the oppressed women of the world, or rather specifically of the capitalist world.

As a conservative, I have my cockles warmed by the traditionalist way in which the Russians lovingly maintain Soviet traditions, including the odd bit of murder by the state, albeit so far on a smaller scale. Why we have adopted them, at a time when communism has supposedly collapsed, is rather harder to explain.

But why stop here? Many Brits, especially those of the Labour persuasion, already celebrate May Day, with red flags flying to symbolise the workers’ blood spilled by the ghastly capitalists. Why not spread the festivities more widely? I mean, May Day is celebrated in Russia, so what better reason do we need?

The Russians also celebrate 7 November, on which day in 1917 the Bolsheviks introduced social justice expressed in mass murder and universal slavery. I say we’ve been ignoring this glorious event far too long. And neither do we celebrate Red Army Day on 28 February – another shameful omission.

But at least we seem to be warming up to 8 March, an important communist event. At least we’re moving in the right direction.

A reader of mine suggested that those who celebrate IWD should perform the ballistically and metaphysically improbable act of inserting the holiday into a certain receptacle originally designed for exit only. While I don’t express myself quite so robustly in this space, I second the motion.

Cherie (Mrs Tony) Blair predictably expressed her support for IWD, ending her letter to The Times with “Count me in”. Well, count me out.







Pope blesses Arab invasion

Arab horsemenFirst, the good news. Speaking to French Christians, Pope Francis has described the influx of migrants into Europe as an ‘Arab invasion’.

That’s exactly what it is, and one can only applaud his disdain for PC equivocation. Just to think that there I was, tactfully trying to avoid such forthright terms.

Then comes the bad news, and the palms about to come together with a thunderous clap stop in mid-air. For His Holiness happens to think the invasion is a good thing.

But don’t let my feeble paraphrasing take anything away from the actual words. Here they are: “Today we can talk about an Arab invasion. It is a social fact.” Thereby Europe “will go forward and find itself enhanced by the exchange among cultures” which will “bring about a certain unity to the world.”

One doesn’t immediately see the mechanisms by which such desirable effects can be achieved, unless the Pope means that we’ll all be united in a mass grave.

I wonder how the families of those murdered in Paris last year responded to the papal address. Did they agree to take the rough with the smooth? Did they feel that the benefits of multiculturalism outweighed the grief of their loss? Had His Holiness given their feelings the slightest thought before orating?

His Holiness seems to think that what’s currently under way is some kind of a cultural exchange programme, a reading of the situation that doesn’t naturally tally with the concept of invasion. We teach them how to use modern indoor facilities, they teach us… what exactly? How to embark on a short-lived career of a suicide bomber?

But then Pope Francis is like the heart, which, according to Pascal, “has its own reasons that reason knows not of” (Le pape a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point, to paraphrase ever so slightly). For it’s much easier to see how the arrival of millions of cultural aliens or rather hostiles, with several thousand trained terrorists among them, will have an effect diametrically opposite to the idyll the Pope sees in his mind’s eye.

Just about every European country already has vast and growing enclaves where Sharia law takes precedence over the law of the land, where Christians and especially Jews fear to tread and where the denizens venture outside only to ‘enhance’ the country’s crime rate. For example, Malmö, Sweden’s third largest city, and one blessed with a heavy Muslim presence, has more murders than the rest of Scandinavia combined.

Such an ‘enhancing’ effect is being achieved with only about 50 million Muslims present in Europe. What if that number were in short order doubled, as seems eminently possible? Or tripled, if Turkey were admitted to the EU?

The only effect one can foresee is that Christianity will be relegated not so much to the background as to the skip. Or does His Holiness seek to emulate Prince Charles and present himself as defender of all faiths, rather than merely the one he’s institutionally obligated to defend?

Both the royal multiculturalist and his clerical doppelgänger clearly misunderstand their brief. The pontiff also displays a rather shaky knowledge of history.

For his church gratefully venerates such early opponents of multiculturalism as Charles Martel who in 732 stopped an Arab invasion at Tours (or Poitiers, if you’d rather), Don John of Austria who in 1571 did so at Lepanto, Jan Sobiesky who did it in 1683 at the gates of Vienna – not to mention Pope Urban II who in 1096 blessed the first of several crusades aimed at checking Arab aggression.

None of those gentlemen overemphasised the culturally enhancing aspects of Arab invasions. This at a time when the Arabs actually did have some culture, though not one as lofty as proponents of multi-culti rectitude like to claim.

So what has changed since then, other than Arabs now favouring explosive belts over sabres and Christianity losing much of its cultural and social dynamism? What makes the Pope believe that an Arab invasion would be more beneficial today than it was way back then?

Modern Islamic ideologues see the current demographic shift in Europe in different, and more realistic, terms. “Our victory,” the president of Algeria once said, “will come from the womb of every Muslim woman.”

And the guiding lights of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt clarified what is meant by victory. Thus Mohamed Akram: the Muslims’ task “is a kind of grand Jihad eliminating and destroying the Western civilisation from within… so that God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” And thus Kamal El-Helbawi: “Our ideal is a global Islamic state”.

Such tirades can’t be dismissed as extremist rants: they are wholly consistent with Islamic scriptural sources, including the Koran (9:33, among many other verses). So what kind of response would be consistent with our own history, along with our cultural and social tradition?

As the founder, president and so far only member of the Charles Martel Society for Diversity, I’d suggest that Martel comes much closer to it than Pope Francis. Why oh why did Benedict XVI have to leave? I for one am sorry he couldn’t stay.



Sharapova obligingly proves my point

Maria_SharapovaOn 11 February I wrote a piece titled Communism Does Funny Things to Tennis, pointing out that 10 out of the 16 top players accused of match fixing came from either Russia or Eastern Europe.

The reason for this is fairly obvious: communism corrupts – surely and enduringly. A country may call itself something else now or it may actually (and counterintuitively) become something else. But her whole system has been poisoned by the toxin of the most cannibalistic politics in history, and – even if all the good intentions are there and all the right moves are made – it’ll take generations to produce effective antibodies.

This explains why Russia is home to 70 per cent of the murders committed in Europe. Going down the scale of criminality and corruption, it also explains why most doping scandals in sport involve Russians or Eastern Europeans.

So, when Maria Sharapova called a press conference yesterday to announce that she had failed a drug test, only those who ignore the geopolitical factor in corruption were surprised.

To be sure, the desire to get ahead in life isn’t limited to former denizens of the Warsaw Pact countries, and neither is the propensity to cut the odd corner in pursuit of the good life. But the maniacal, almost universal amorality of such a pursuit is surely more endemic in Russia than in, say, Finland.

Solzhenitsyn writes about the concentration-camp mentality pervading every pore of Russian society: you die today, I’ll die tomorrow. When survival is in peril, people toughen up in direct proportion to their moral standards loosening up.

Extreme circumstances do produce more heroes than one would expect from the conditions of comfort and security. But they produce infinitely more amoral scrappers, ready to use tooth and claw to fight their way to the top.

Maria Sharapova left Russia when she was 15, technically after the ‘collapse’ of communism. But ‘technically’ is the operative word. The moral decrepitude of the Soviet Union seeped into Sharapova’s genetic makeup, turning her into a fanatical pursuer of success, defined – as it almost invariably is in that supposed paragon of selfless spirituality – in crassly material terms.

Since then she has parlayed her tennis talent, commercial acumen and good looks (personally, I’m turned off by her harsh, thin-lipped, cruel face, but my taste is neither here nor there) into a £130-million fortune, of which only £25 million has come from tournament prizes. The rest came from endorsements and flogging her personal brand of sweets.

You might think that the urge to get ahead would abate when one is already so far ahead of the game, but avarice isn’t like hunger for food: it’s never satisfied. Hence, since Sharapova’s success off court is partly contingent on her performance on it, and since modern tennis places a particularly high premium on endurance, she was taking meldonium, a stamina-enhancing drug.

When she was caught red-handed, Sharapova used the trick recommended by Putin and common to all Russian street brawlers: strike first. She called a press conference and offered a few pathetic excuses.

She didn’t know meldonium was declared illegal in January. She had been taking it for 10 years as a prophylactic therapy for angina and diabetes.

Such conditions must be pandemic among professional athletes, for 182 of them (mostly from Russia and Eastern Europe) have been caught taking meldonium since it was banned. Those poor souls must have been unaware of the drug’s endurance-boosting properties.

As to her supposedly being unaware of the ban, two points are worth mentioning. First, ever since Roman law was thought of, one of the guiding legal principles has been ignorantia juris non excusat (ignorance of the law is no excuse).

Second, Sharapova isn’t just a basher of yellow balls. She’s the leader of a vast team of coaches, trainers, masseurs, doctors, racket stringers, marketing consultants, investment consultants – and lawyers.

It’s inconceivable that no one in that team would have caught the news of the ban. And even should that have happened, surely the grapevine of the tennis circuit was abuzz with the latest development in anti-doping laws.

However, the same mentality that tells amoral thugs like Putin or Sharapova to land the first blow also teaches them that no such thing as truth exists. They’ll say anything they find expedient at the moment, even if it’s the most transparent of lies.

Sharapova will probably get a ban, a year at least, possibly longer. Some commentators mention a lifelong ban, which is just as well for her health. Playing professional tennis must be hard on the poor thing suffering from cardiac problems.

No one dares suggest a multi-million fine, depriving Sharapova of some of her ill-gotten gains. More important, no one dares ascribe her malfeasance to her origin and early upbringing.

This is a shame because such benevolence will prevent the public from learning a valuable lesson that goes well beyond tennis, pharmacology or unscrupulous athletes. It’s the lesson in the terrible moral blight afflicting half of Europe.