The Russians just don’t get the EU (nor politics in general)

EUflagI was reminded of this when entertaining a famous Russian writer known for his opposition to Putin. My guest is an erudite man, who even understands philosophy. Yet he doesn’t understand politics very well, which is only worth mentioning because such ignorance is typical of Russians, whatever their political hue.

Even straining my memory to breaking point, I can’t recall a single Russian political thinker worth mentioning, now or ever. Such a lacuna has had catastrophic consequences for much of the world, but above all for Russia herself.

At some point, the writer requested my thoughts on the EU. When told I thought it was evil, he lost interest. “So you’re on the Right then?” “I am,” I replied, “in the sense of being in the right.” The writer yawned and shifted the conversation to sex, apparently his preferred subject.

He was correct in some way. The watershed between Leave and Remain in Britain roughly overlaps with that between the political Right and Left.

Russia too has her own watershed on this issue. Putin hates the EU, while his ‘liberal’ opponents, such as my guest, love it almost to a man – both for wrong reasons.

Putin wrongly associates the EU with the Light Brigade charging the guns of Balaklava as an expression of perennial pan-European Russophobia. Yet if Putin and his junta could change their kleptofascist KGB mindset, they’d see that the political ideal they see in their mind’s eye closely resembles the EU.

The same corruption, no accountability, focus on self-service rather than public service, state worship, contempt for public opinion and pluralism, hostility to traditional Western customs and principles, socialist megalomania – one struggles to identify a serious bone of contention. Bukovsky is right when referring to the EU as the EUSSR.

To be sure, the propaganda used by the two wicked entities is different. The EU understandably relies on internationalism, while Putin swears by nationalism. Yet, as the Nazi-Soviet pact demonstrated, underlying visceral kinship can trump diverging slogans.

If I were Putin, I’d seek membership in the EU. That may involve giving the Crimea back, but hey – if Paris was worth a mass to Henri of Navarre, surely pan-European domination should be worth a scrap of land to Vladimir of Russia.

For, if Russia joined the EU, she’d dominate it, as the most virile military power within an empire always does. Hence the empires we talk about are Roman, not Etruscan; Austro-Hungarian, not Czech; or, more apposite, Russian, not Finnish.

Russian ‘liberals’ love the EU for the same wrong reason Putin hates it: they perceive it as being fundamentally different from Putin’s junta. They associate European federalism with European civilisation, failing to realise how thoroughly the EU breaks away from it.

The liberals’ approach to such matters is negative and therefore primitive, based as it is on an unsound syllogism. Thesis: Putin professes to like strong nationhood and religion, while disliking homomarriage and Muslim immigration. Antithesis: The EU dislikes strong nationhood and religion, but not homomarriage or Muslim immigration. Synthesis: because we hate Putin, we love the EU, along with homomarriage and Muslim immigration.

Russian ‘liberals’ think of the West in leftwing clichés one finds in The Guardian, Libération or The New York Times. And they see the West as a monolith, rather than an amalgam of competing philosophies.

Hence they shun Western conservative thought without ever bothering to find out what it actually is – conservatism is associated in their minds with Putin’s kleptofascism.

If they studied such matters seriously, they’d detect in the EU the same features they hate about Soviet or Putin’s Russia. They’d realise that the essence of Western, which is to say Christian, political thought is reducing the size of central government, shifting much of its power to local institutions.

Centralism riding roughshod over localism is a survival of our pagan history, the nightmare of our recent past and present, and the peril of our near future. With some serious thought, the liberals may see that seeking more centralism, especially of the supranational type, is asking for trouble.

They might even perceive that the Marxism they correctly detest is a child of the Enlightenment, the logical development of atheist liberalism, their own philosophy. Hence meaningful opposition to it – or its fascist offshoots – can only come from Western, pre-Enlightenment political tradition.

That Putin steals the language of conservatism for his evil purposes, while detesting the essence of conservatism, doesn’t make the essence any less true. Likewise, if Putin opined that water is wetter than stone, his opponents would be ill-advised to try to drink rocks.

It’s true that throughout Russian history conservatism has stood for tyrannical obscurantism. That’s why Western conservatism probably has no historical base in Russia. But then neither does Western liberalism – every time the Russians tried to plant its saplings, they produced a deadly blight.

Rather than repeating leftist shibboleths long since compromised in their native habitat, the Russian opposition to Putin – if it’s to be meaningful – should come up with a sensible idea of what they want, rather than just what they don’t want, and then hold the idea to a strict intellectual test.

Doing that, however, is hard. Spouting Guardian slogans is much easier.


Brown comes from red

AntisemitismoThe theme of Labour anti-Semitism just won’t lie down. And of course it’ll never die, for anti-Semitism is a natural extension of socialism, not, as some try to argue, its perversion.

Yesterday was replete with developments. For one thing, ‘Red Ken’ Livingston set out to prove the chromatic truth of the title above by conducting a little foray into the past.

Hitler, he explained, was a Zionist and, contextually, Zionists are Nazis. That take on history left Corbyn no choice but to suspend his friend from the party.

The reaction to Ken’s political demise was predictable both on the right and on the left. Characteristically, at both ends the Nazi-like animus of Labour is interpreted as a perversion of the party’s socialist DNA, rather than its essential constituent.

This reminded me of the way the political mainstream (with exceptions as notable as they are rare) treats Muslim terrorism. The Left can’t, and the Right won’t, admit that murderous violence is the very essence of Islam, not its aberration.

The parallel is confirmed even by Richard Littlejohn’s otherwise excellent article:

He ascribes Nazi-like sentiments to the ‘lunatic fringe’ of the Labour Party, its ‘Far Left’, regretting that their “malignant anti-Semitism has gone mainstream”. I argued yesterday that such unenviable feelings are part and parcel of socialism, whether red, pink or brown.

I shan’t repeat myself and quote Marx again. Suffice it to say now that socialism has scored the greatest and most protracted publicity success in history. The general assumption, shrilly propagated by the lefties and grudgingly accepted even by most conservatives, is that socialism may be right or wrong, but at base it’s a reflection of the good, honourable side of human nature.

That’s like regarding Islam as a fundamentally great religion lamentably besmirched by extremists – and never mind the 300 (!) verses in the Koran explicitly calling for murderous violence. In the case of socialism, commentators also disregard (or, more typically, are ignorant of) its scriptural sources. More important, they don’t delve deep enough into human nature.

Even as Judaeo-Christianity preaches the equality of all before the deity, socialism pursues the equality of all before the state. However, since people are far from equal in any other than the heavenly or perhaps legal sense, they achieve very different results in life.

Hence the only way to equalise them is by coercion. This can take the shape of mass murder and oppression, as in openly totalitarian states, or more subtle expedients, as in the states that oxymoronically call themselves social-democratic but should be branded more appropriately as Totalitarian Lite.

In either case, sustained coercion can never succeed unless it’s broadly supported by the populace. Many of the tens of millions murdered by the international socialists were sent to their death by millions of denunciations from concerned citizens. And the national socialists would never have been able to perpetrate genocide on that scale in the absence of grassroots enthusiasm or at least acquiescence.

The two evil regimes successfully tapped into the subterranean Zeitgeist. They punched a hole in the surface, a tectonic shift occurred, and the rotten part of human nature, now properly agitated and encouraged, splashed out in a murderous eruption.

The same holds true for any type of socialism: it encourages what’s wicked in us all. When socialists, shamelessly stealing the rightful property of Christianity, talk about helping the less fortunate, what they really crave is to rob the more fortunate. They’re driven by envy and hatred, not charitable impulses.

Now, in those countries where Jews weren’t kept down by state diktat, they tended to do well. That encouraged envy and hatred on the part of the ambient population that, by and large, saw itself as comparatively underprivileged. Few blamed themselves for their failings – it’s always easier to blame others, and Jews came in handy.

Hence Marx had an easy task. All he had to do was equate bourgeoisie, his bugbear, with Jewry. The capitalist was a Jew, and the Jew was a capitalist. Getting rid of one meant getting rid of the other – that was simplicity itself, and primitive minds, those possessed by most people, thrive on such simplicity.

Even as the capitalist and the Jew are fused together in socialist mythology, so is anti-Semitism an inalienable part of the socialist ideology. This may or may not be manifest, sometimes it may not be expressed at all. But it’s always there, waiting for an opening to come out.

This isn’t to say that anti-Semitism is the exclusive property of socialists. It’s not. Even Christian conservatives sometimes suffer from this malignant disorder – just think of Chesterton, Belloc, Waugh, Eliot, Céline, Pound, Sobran, Kingsley Amis, Ford, Dostoyevsky et al.

But here one could argue plausibly that, when believers in God who is love, and who twice chose to reveal himself to the Jews, hold such views, they are indeed untrue to their beliefs. Anti-Semitic socialists, however, are faithful to theirs.

I’m sure Richard Littlejohn realises this. That he can’t say it even in our most conservative paper tells you all you wish to know about our times.




The Labour of hate

DeportationYet again the British Labour Party is riven by anti-Semitic scandals, which stands to reason. After all, the high priest of both international and national socialism is Marx (Hitler’s Table Talks: “We owe everything to Marx.”).

One thing owed is virulent hatred of the Jews, ever present in Marx in spite (a Freudian would say ‘because’) of his being Jewish himself. He bequeathed to his followers a whole thesaurus of such quotations as “…the Polish Jews… this dirtiest of all races” or “Thus we find every tyrant backed by a Jew”.

Today’s Labour Party dutifully reflects its founding philosophy, yet any party also adjusts its personality to that of its leader. Hence Labour anti-Semitic scandals, while relatively rare in the past, are now coming thick and fast.

Their leader Jeremy Corbyn has never met a Muslim terrorist he couldn’t love or a Jew he couldn’t hate. The first emotion is often communicated by both word and deed, the second by deed only, but it’s none the less obvious for it.

The party may not worship the ground Jeremy walks on, but it clearly keeps its ear to it. Hearing the subterraneous rumble of hate, it responds with alacrity.

One such response was enunciated by Naz Shah, an Islamic MP from the thoroughly Islamised city of Bradford. This parliamentarian vouchsafed to the electronic ether the proposal that Israel should be relocated to the US.

The idea is interesting, if somewhat lacking in novelty appeal. Before the Nazis arrived at a more radical way of solving the socialists’ eternal problem, they too had considered the idea of relocating all Jews to a faraway place, Madagascar as Eichmann proposed. And Stalin fortuitously died weeks before his own version of relocation was to come into effect.

Such relocation is also known by another name, but Miss Shah was right not to use it: ‘deportation’ leaves a particularly nasty taste in one’s mouth. But ‘relocation’ is effective enough, especially since the Jewish population of Israel is around the same six million that sentenced Eichmann to hang. I suspect the association occurred to the parliamentarian, bringing a sweet smile to her lips.

Corbyn at first refused to suspend this pride of the Mother of Parliaments, but then was forced to do so, while delivering a vindicating statement: “Naz has issued a fulsome apology. She does not hold these views and accepts she was completely wrong to have made these posts.”

Of course she doesn’t hold such views. It’s all just empty talk, an equivalent of those beery rants in Munich, circa 1923.

As to her apology being ‘fulsome’, for once Jeremy uttered a word of truth, if only unwittingly. The leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition doesn’t realise that ‘fulsome’ actually means ‘insincerely effusive’, but then one wouldn’t expect a professional Marxist to be up on the nuances of his supposedly native language.

After all, didn’t Marx teach that “the proletariat has no motherland”? Of course he did, and no motherland means no mother tongue – only an ungrammatical patois for conveying hateful sound bytes.

Former London mayor Ken Livingston, known as ‘Red Ken’, isn’t as bound by political restrictions as his best friend Jeremy. That’s why he explained that the idea of deporting six million Jews as a way of solving all the little problems of the world isn’t at all anti-Semitic.

Actually nothing is. Not even uploading the Nazi film Der Ewige Jude (The Eternal Jew) commissioned by another socialist connoisseur of interracial relations, Dr Goebbels.

This creative use of YouTube can be credited to another Bradford politician, Councillor Istiaq Ahmed. The upload helpfully came with the original Nazi write-up:

The Eternal Jew is the first film that not only gives a full picture of Jewry, but provides a broad factual treatment of… this parasitic race… It also shows why healthy peoples in every age have responded to the Jews with disgust and loathing, often enough to express their feelings through deeds.” Such as ‘relocation’.

Won’t it be fun when our, or rather the EU’s, immigration policy has turned all of Britain into one contiguous Bradford? Perhaps British Jews will then have to take up Naz Shah on her kind offer.

Our Father which art in Brussels…

Prayer…hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done in Britain as it is in Berlin, give us this day our Remain vote in the referendum…

Does this sound blasphemous? It is, and I’m sorry about this. But I have an excuse: I’m just a layman, so what do I know? Out of sheer ignorance I may occasionally overstep the boundaries of piety, which a church at large would never do.

Or so one would think, which just goes to show the perils of idealising today’s institutions. In this case, idealism would be refuted by the official referendum prayer released by the Church of England.

Our state church wants all communicants to pray for our constitutional monarchy to dissolve itself in a giant socialist enterprise. So if you think my opening was bad, read this:

“Give discernment to… those who vote, that our nation may prosper and that with all the peoples of Europe we may work for peace and the common good; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Implicitly, any Christian who votes Leave will be an apostate to Jesus Christ our Lord. Excommunication beckons, what with punitive pyres somewhat out of fashion.

I just hope that this latest demonstration of how corrupt the C of E has become will disgust even those Anglicans who plan to vote Remain. And then perhaps they’ll be so disgusted that they’ll change their minds. Perhaps they’ll suspect that there must be something wrong about a cause championed in such a revolting way.

This taking a hands-on part in political squabbles emphasises yet again the perils of a church embracing the state too tightly. When Jesus Christ, for whose sake we’re supposed to renounce our sovereignty for ever, said his kingdom was not of this world, he punched a hole in the very possibility of a state church.

Yet this possibility became a reality in two countries I know well, England and Russia. And in both places the state church has been steadily shifting allegiance from church to state.

Being a state church covers a multitude of sins. But one sin it should flee from like demons from the cross is that of becoming merely a servant to the secular state, with all its transient fads and desiderata. However, that, I’m afraid, is the case in today’s Russia (in which I have no personal interest), and it’s becoming the case in today’s England (in which I have a vital interest).

That is a general point of principle, which is nonetheless worth making. A church cravenly toeing the political line drawn by the government loses much of its claim to legitimacy, compromising its ordained ministry.

However, if for a church to plunge headlong into political rough-and-tumble is dubiously Christian, doing so on this particular side is manifestly anti-Christian.

For the European Union is as much of a political expression of socialism as the Soviet Union was. Vladimir Bukovsky, who has found himself on the receiving end of both tyrannies, calls this wicked contrivance ‘the EUSSR’, and I wish I had thought of it first.

The idea of a giant, bossy, supranational, unaccountable state riding roughshod over local customs, traditions and interests, with neither countries nor individuals having much of a say in their destinies, is Marx on wheels. This is socialism in a nutshell, and – tossing aside with contempt the mendacious mock-Christian sloganeering favoured by socialists – that’s all socialism is about.

Socialism is the child and rightful heir to the Enlightenment, the catastrophe that left the West Western only in the strictly geographical sense. And hatred of Judaeo-Christianity was the main, possibly only, animus of the Enlightenment. Its explicit goal was to debunk God and turn man himself into a logically impossible blend of creature and creator.

Hence a Christian church praying for the socialist abomination called the EU is akin to the Rabbinical Council praying for Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS.

Lest you might think that I have it in for the C of E, the Catholic Church, led by its leftist pontiff, toes the same line, and one would think that, unlike our state church, it would be immune to secular and political pressures.

Yet its position was enunciated by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States within the Holy See: “I think we would see it [Brexit] as being something that is not going to make a stronger Europe.”

Perhaps His Grace has visions of Roman Catholicism becoming the official church of the single European state to come, in which case he ought to reconsider. Such a move may upset some member states from both northern and eastern Europe.

Western Christianity must be in better shape than I thought if its prelates can trouble their mitred heads with promoting a socialist pan-European future. They must feel their own realm is in such good order that there’s nothing more to be done about it.

This political stand brings Western Churches dangerously close to heresy and apostasy. They should watch their step.

NHS: the sacred cow has run out of milk

AmbulanceFive hours ago 45,000 junior doctors went on strike in protest over the new NHS contract on offer.

The contract doesn’t look half-bad: a 13.5 per cent hike in salary and a cut in the maximum weekly hours from 91 to 72. However, to comply with the campaign promise of a seven-day NHS, the government proposes to pay the hours worked between 7 am and 7pm on Saturday at a normal rate, rather than the premium doctors currently receive.

The heirs to Hippocrates and Florence Nightingale like the first part, but hate the second. That’s why they’re on strike, with ambulance paramedics to follow in short order.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt reminded TV audiences of the campaign pledge. The NHS must be available seven days a week, he said, making one wonder what had happened to anguished patients on weekends before that promise was made.

Then Jeremy added a touch of melodrama. People will die, he confidently predicted, and their deaths will be on the greedy strikers’ hands. The NHS is skint. Jeremy is already throwing an extra £3.2 billion into that bottomless pit, and what do those greenhorns suggest he should use for even more money? He stopped just short of charging the strikers with multiple attempted murders.

Actually, if the experience of Belgium is anything to go by, things aren’t as bad as all that. Back in the 1960s, all Belgian doctors went on strike for several months. Counterintuitively, the mortality rate during those months showed a statistically significant decrease, prompting the oddball Austrian philosopher Ivan Illich to opine that all diseases are iatrogenic, meaning caused by doctors.

So people probably won’t die just yet, but the NHS surely ought to. Every day, strike or no strike, vindicates my belief that any giant socialist project, even if supposedly dedicated to public service, will end up dedicated to personal self-service.

The strikers are a case in point; the oath they took isn’t so much Hippocratic as hypocritical. They want their overtime pay and, if they don’t get it, those patients may bleed on the A&E floor for all the medics care.

Want to find some extra funds, Jeremy? I have an idea: fire 90 per cent of the administrators, those directors of diversity, optimisers of facilitation and facilitators of optimisation, all on six-figure salaries.

Not so long ago, a hospital was run by the head doctor and the matron, with a backroom accountant doing the sums. Now administrative staffs come close to outnumbering frontline medics, with hospital beds routinely cut to accommodate yet another director of diversity.

This stands to reason: any giant socialist project must spawn a vast freeloading bureaucracy taking care of the business at hand. That, contrary to the traditional belief, isn’t medical care any longer. The purpose of the NHS is the same as that of any other giant socialist project: increasing the state’s power.

Frontline medical staffs are not only extraneous to that purpose but can be downright threatening to it, and even those NHS employees who aren’t intelligent enough to realise this rationally feel it viscerally.

Hence the selfishness of the striking doctors. And hence also the generally pathetic state of our medical care, placing Britain firmly into the third world rubric.

It’s not just secondary care either – GP practices are nothing short of useless now. A mere dozen years or so ago I could get an appointment the next day or even, with some grovelling, the same day, and I always saw the same doctor.

These days it takes a fortnight if I’m lucky, and then I have no choice of which of the five GPs (and God knows how many locums) I’ll see. Any doctor will tell you that continuity of care is a significant factor: it helps if a doctor knows the patient inside out. Continuity is out of the window now, closely followed by care.

Ex-Chancellor Nigel Lawson quipped once that the NHS is the closest most Brits come to a religion. If so, and I do think he was right, they’re worshipping a false God.

An otherwise intelligent doctor (his intelligence slightly dimmed by a few glasses of Burgundy) once screamed at me that the NHS is the envy of Europe. If so, those envious Europeans must use up every ounce of willpower not to follow our example: ours is the only comprehensively socialised health service on the continent.

Every other country has a mixed system of public and private care. This is much more effective than the NHS – and much cheaper than our private medicine. But yes, I know that deep down they’re all turning green with envy.

As I keep saying, the NHS isn’t a disaster because it’s badly or corruptly managed. It’s a disaster because it’s based on a bad, corrupt idea, one that has been shown up for what it is everywhere it has been tried in earnest.

Underneath it all, this issue, as well as just about all others, isn’t technical but moral – and therefore also technical. The powerlust of our governing elite is as robust as ever, which is why the udders of this sacred cow have run dry.


Ours is the real dark age, says the Bard

Shakespeare“I say there is no darkness but ignorance,” wrote Shakespeare and, if that’s true, ours is the darkest age ever.

How pathetic that the term ‘Dark Age’ is now used to describe the Middle Ages. “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

That was the time when men of the Carolingian empire began to aim those sublime cathedrals at the sky, when Hildegard von Bingen was composing those piercingly beautiful sounds, when Gregorian chant was filling the most glorious edifices ever built, when iconography not just presaged Renaissance painting but practically created it – the time of Anselm, Abelard, Duns Scotus, Bernard of Clairvaux, when some of history’s greatest minds uncovered some of the mystery of God.

There was less information to go around then, but infinitely more knowledge. And ours is an age that reminds us every day of the gaping chasm that exists between the two. It’s as if they nowadays exist in an inverse relationship: the more of the former, the less of the latter. Our is the real dark age.

To paraphrase ever so slightly, some are born ignorant, some achieve ignorance, and some have ignorance thrust upon them. That’s what modernity does, thrusting ignorance on the masses, having first primed them by egalitarian non-education.

To be fair, the illiterate have always been with us. And, if we define illiteracy strictly as the inability to read and write, there must have been more of them in Shakespeare’s time than now. But never before have the cultural barbarians been so proud of their barbarism. Never before have they been so smug.

Such unfashionable thoughts crossed my mind this morning, when I watched my customary 10 minutes of Sky News at breakfast. Two guests, a man and a woman, were commenting on yesterday’s news, and during my 10 minutes they talked about Shakespeare, specifically about the TV special dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death.

As I found out to my bilious amazement, that programme, featuring Dame Judi Dench and some other great actors, was handily beaten in the ratings by a concurrent rerun of a Dad’s Army episode from 40 years ago.

Now, over my 30 years of living in London, I’ve probably watched my lapidary 10 minutes of that series. Admittedly, that’s not sufficient to form a qualified judgement but, for what it’s worth, I quite liked what I saw. I found the show reasonably inoffensive, if not captivating enough to make me want to watch another 10 minutes.

That’s about as much as I can say about Dad’s Army in good conscience. There’s quite a bit more I can say about the commentators’ reaction to the good news about the ratings war.

Rather than raving and ranting about the advent of a new Dark Age, they were quite good-natured about it. Most people, they said, find Shakespeare quite boring, which rather makes him irrelevant to modernity weaned on Dad’s Army, Neighbours and Eastenders.

Horses for courses and all that: Shakespeare was fine for the time of Elizabeth I, but not for the time of Elizabeth II, enlightened as it is by Google and Microsoft. We live in a democracy, don’t we? Majority rules, and in this case majority prefers Tey-Vey to Shakespeare. That’s what modernity is all about. People vote for politicians once every few years at the booths, and they vote for products every day at the till.

Shakespeare is our greatest contribution to world culture, acknowledged the commentators jovially, but let’s face it – he’s a minority taste now. That’s why he has lost, Dad’s Army has won, and that’s all there is to it.

The most obvious thought didn’t occur to either commentator or, even if it had, they knew better than to express it: Shakespeare is our greatest contribution to world culture specifically because he is, and always has been, a minority taste.

The greatest achievements of the human spirit have never been accessible to the majority, but this isn’t something that’s any longer possible to say with impunity. One can just about utter something along those lines when talking about nuclear physics or microbiology (both actually much easier to appreciate than a Shakespeare sonnet or a Bach fugue).

But say it about art and, depending on your interlocutor’s upbringing and temperament, you’ll be branded an elitist, a reactionary or even a fascist. You like Macbeth, I like Dad’s Army, they like hard porn – who’s to say one taste is better than others? They’re just different.

Like all great art, Shakespeare’s work can be enjoyed on many different levels. But it can be appreciated only on the highest one, where refined aesthetic, cultural and spiritual sensibilities reside.

That is the lot of the few, and always has been. However, a defining characteristic of our Dark Age, inaugurated by that great misnomer, the Enlightenment, is that it’s the crude, illiterate and uncultured who set the tone – to a point where their cultural betters are widely mocked as ‘irrelevant’.

Oh well, one can say so much on this subject. But getting worked up isn’t good for my health – and anyway, as we all know, “brevity is the soul of wit”.

Barack does London, Shakespeare and all

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.

No US tourist can do London without paying respect to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and my friend Barack Hussein is no exception.

Anyway, he told me he deserved a bit of relaxation and a bit of culture: the former was sorely needed, while the latter was a chance to show the world that Barack Hussein had interests and aspirations beyond politics. After all, soon he won’t be in politics for much longer.

The culture tour didn’t disappoint. The company put on a show featuring bits and pieces of Hamlet, with the slings and arrows soliloquy taking centre stage. To make Barack Hussein feel at home, it was delivered by a black actor, and Barack was nodding approvingly.

After all, Shakespeare is a universal genius, isn’t he? So who says that Danish prince always has to be played by a honky? After all, black people had to suffer from transracialism for centuries, with whitey crackers putting shoe polish on their faces to play Othello. Now it’s the whites’ turn to moan about the incongruity of it all.

Speaking of slings and arrows, Barack Hussein had flung quite a few of his own before venturing across the river, all aimed at those Limeys who just won’t do as they’re told about Europe. Get out indeed. Don’t they know that most Americans, including, truth be told, Michelle, have always seen Europe as a single country anyway?

They go to Florence and ask for directions to the Colosseum, Rialto Bridge or even the Parthenon, as testified by the Scotsman who owns an English-language bookshop next to the Duomo. The Colosseum is in Rome, he’d explain patiently to yet another lost lamb wandering into his shop, Rialto Bridge is in Venice, and the Parthenon is, well, in Greece. This often perplexes the visitors even more, eliciting desperate follow-up questions, along the lines of “And where are we?”

In those guys’ minds Europe is already a single entity, and Barack Hussein has no intention of disillusioning them. Make no mistake about it, being a Harvard man, he knows that, say, Bulgaria and Sweden are as different from each other as either of them is different from Guatemala.

But Barack Hussein, he don’t give two flying bucks about that. His advisers done told him it’s in America’s interests for Britain to remain in the EU, and that’s that. What’s good for America is good enough for the world, and it’s certainly good enough for the Limey racists who used to oppress Kenya, specifically its Nyangoma-Kogelo part.

One idea Barack Hussein’s advisers floated by him had a huge commercial potential for the good old US of A. With Britain mainlined into the EU, they said, we could put a fence around Europe, call it Disney EU and charge admission. One ride could be called ‘Europe’s Mickey Mouse politicians’, 20 euros to get on, but hold on to your wallet all the time you’re riding.

Barack Hussein’s buddy Dave, he knows what’s what. That’s why he asked Barack Hussein for help. Lay it on thick, blood, you’re my main man, Dave said, or words to that effect. Actually what he did say was, let’s take up arms against a sea of UKIP troubles and by opposing end them.

He sure talks funny, thought Barack Hussein at the time, but then what do you know? He went to the Globe and heard that actor brother recite those very words on stage. So Dave hadn’t just asked for help. He was being a hoity-toity Limey, showing off his education, just like those racists who oppressed Kenya, specifically its Nyangoma-Kogelo part.

Perchance to dream? Well, dream on, Dave, my main man, thought Barack Hussein. The insolence of office, my ass. Dream about being a player on the global stage, like Barack Hussein. You ain’t nothing but a flunky, bro, to both the EU and the US of A. You want me to lay it on thick, to save yo political ass? You’re my man.

Unless Britain be in the EU, declared Barack Hussein, it can whistle Dixie for the next trade deal with the US of A. Well, maybe not Dixie, maybe whistling north of the Mason-Dixon line would be better. But that’s the general idea.

So Europe cracks the whip, Britain makes the trip. And if the referendum goes the wrong way, he, Barack Hussein, will personally see to it that it’ll be like post-WWII – Britain on the breadline with all the US chits called in, and this time it’ll be cash on the nail. If the Limeys have any cash left by then, that is.

And them Limeys mustn’t think that things will change when Hilary gets in. No, Siree Bob. Hilary, she be a cracker but she has the same advisers as Barack Hussein. So she’ll know what to do. She’ll tell the Limeys to stay mainlined into Brussels or else.

To be or not to be, my ass, thought Barack Hussein. To be, that’s the answer to that. You be part of the EU, you walk the line, you be fine. Or else you’ll see them slings and arrows like you done never seen’em before.





Prince of this world has left us

PrinceMadonna, devastated by Prince’s death, summed it up beautifully and irrefutably: “He changed the world!! A true visionary.”

That was a relatively subdued response to the global tragedy, but then Madonna is known for her self-restraint. Others were more effusive, with the word ‘genius’ bandied about more than any other.

TV news talked about Prince for days, with his immortal music providing the background noise. Genius! The world of music will never be the same! The world will never be the same!

The panegyrics filled me with admiration – mainly for the announcers, whose taste in music was clearly much better than mine. To me, all those pop geniuses sound exactly the same, but the announcers evidently have such refined tastes that they can tell who is a genius and who isn’t.

One could get the impression the eulogists only stopped short of describing Prince as God by a massive exertion of will. However, oblique references were made to his martyrdom, which is how a pop star’s death by overdose, AIDS or suicide is subliminally perceived.

It’s as if dying a natural death would mean letting the side down. Let those establishment sell-outs succumb to cancer or heart attack. For a true pop giant, that’s too banal for words.

A great military leader has to die in battle to be truly consistent. A great Sumo wrestler must die of obesity, ideally in his 30s. A divine musical genius has to OD, kill himself or die of AIDS to fulfil his destiny.

Prince satisfied that requirement, along with many others. There has never been a musician like him, there’s never been a genius like him, the story went. Piers Morgan described the OD victim as ‘truly great’, partly because he could play 27 instruments.

That makes Prince at least five times the musician Mozart was, who never even heard of the bongos, much less played them with unmatched virtuosity. And Prince has Chopin thrashed 27 to one – poor old Frédéric never even touched any instrument but the piano.

Yet there’s more to Prince than just musicianship of stratospheric attainment. Being hopelessly retrograde, I insist that, if songs are to mean anything, the lyrics are as important as the music. Those whose pop sensibilities are of a higher order than mine insist this isn’t the case with electronically enhanced music – no one can make out the words anyway.

I beg to differ. If words are only part of the incoherent noise, then why have them at all? I mean Prince wasn’t Felix Mendelssohn, he didn’t do songs without words. He must have felt that his genius was conveyed verbally as well as musically, and he was right.

I’ve looked at the lyrics of some of the songs, and they confirm the prevailing assessment of the dead genius: each word communicated his near-divine message to the world with nothing short of unparalleled philosophical depth, fully matching his musical mastery. But judge for yourself:

“2night why don’t we skip all the foreplay, mama,// And just get down here on the floor?”

Love is absolute, the artist seems to be saying. As such, it abhors incremental steps and preliminaries. Its expression must be immediate and, critically, independent of bourgeois comforts, such as a bed. And to Prince philosophical absolutes aren’t merely profound. They are “pretty”, meaning imbued with an ineffable aesthetic sense:

“We can f*** until the dawn// Makin’ love ‘til cherry’s gone// Erotic City, can’t you see?// F*** so pretty, you and me.”

I won’t presume to give true credit to the poetic refinement of Prince’s lyrics. Suffice it to say that, as a true philosophical poet, he’s never predictable in his rhymes or absence thereof:

“Pussy got bank in her pockets// Before she got dick in her drawers// If brother didn’t have good and plenty of his own// In love pussy never did fall.”

This allows us another fascinated peek into Prince’s complex Weltanhschauung: by thus glorifying a feline, he makes a neo-Franciscan point about animals being our siblings in that we all share the same Father – and indeed many commentators singled out Prince’s deep religiosity as his most salient characteristic.

I’ve mentioned before that Prince’s rhyming patterns are unpredictable and they are often hidden and implied. It’s as if the religious philosopher in Prince suggests that we can only ever be vouchsafed so much of God’s design. Note also the unorthodox spelling, reinforcing the enigmatic effect:

“Gett off, 23 positions in a one night stand// Gett off, I’ll only call you after if you say I can// Gett off, let a woman be a woman and a man be a man//Gett off, if you want to, baby here I am, here I am.”

I’ve never, and neither have you I’m willing to bet, ever realised that it takes trying 23 positions in a one-night stand to express the true nature of woman and man, that divine ontological dialectic going back to the Garden of Eden. But then neither of us is a genius of cosmic proportions. Oh what an irreplaceable loss the world has suffered!

Prince, RIP.

Thank you, EU, for Sophocles and Bach

EUartUnsound arguments can make even very intelligent people sound daft, and there are no sound arguments in favour of the EU, at least I have yet to hear one.

The best one can hope for is dubious but not grossly offensive generalities. For example, an otherwise intelligent Frenchman told me the other day that at this perilous time “we must stand together”.

This raises all sorts of questions, such as: “Stand together with whom and against whom?”, “What does standing together mean in practical, rather than idealistic, terms?”, “Since when does ‘standing together’ have to mean forming a single state?” or “Has the EU demonstrated any ability to cope with our perilous time?”

None of these can be answered with any rhetorical rigour, and neither can any other probing questions about the EU. Still, one must recognise the difference between a certain deficit of logic, as displayed by my friend, and clinical idiocy.

Alas, many arguments proffered by EU champions are clearly inspired by precisely that medical condition. What’s worse, those who suffer from this handicap don’t mind sharing their cretinous views with the public, in the confident belief that the public will gobble up any intellectual droppings it’s served.

Enter Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of the Barbican Centre. “The contribution Europe has made to the arts in London and the UK is very significant,” wrote Sir Nicholas in The Evening Standard. (For Europe read the EU, which to the likes of Sir Nicholas, are fully synonymous.)

The expedient by which said contribution has been made is, according to him, “free movement of labour”.

By way of illustration, Sir Nicholas came up with an anecdote from his own recent success at the Barbican. That was a new production of Antigone by Sophocles (Greek!), starring Juliette Binoche (French!), directed by Ivo van Hove (Belgian!) and in association with the theatre company Toneelgroep (Dutch!).

Anyone refusing to abandon logic as an intellectual tool will then have to make certain ineluctable inferences. Such as to assume that, until the Nazi and Vichy bureaucrats hatched the plans for a wicked European federation that Britain has since joined, artistic labour never moved freely enough to reach London.

Yet that’s not the case. French actresses especially were a big hit in London even in Victorian times, when the Brits were still pig-headed enough to think they just might survive without belonging to the same state as Romania and Greece.

Mademoiselle Rachel, for example, was a huge success in London as early as in 1841, and in the 1880s Sarah Bernhardt captivated London audiences with her explosive rendition of Cleopatra. At the end Cleopatra demolished her palace and rolled over the debris in a paroxysm of rage. “How different,” an elderly English woman was overheard commenting, “how very different from the home life of our own dear Queen.”

And not so long ago I got the chance to glance at London concert programmes from the late 1940s, when the EU was already a twinkle in Jean Monnet’s eye but not yet a fully gestated reality.

And what do you know, in just one season the German Furtwängler was conducting all nine Beethoven (another German) symphonies, Cortot (French) was playing Chopin (Polish), Szigeti (Hungarian) was playing Bloch (Swiss), and dozens of other foreigners were playing works from all over the world – with no free movement of labour anywhere in sight.

So what point was Sir Nicholas making, other than indirectly complaining of an early onset of dementia? The point was that he loves the EU, but can’t come up with any other than spurious arguments in its favour.

Neither can anybody else, not even, by the looks of it, that giant intellect Gordon Brown, who managed to destroy Britain’s economy at a lightning speed seldom equalled by any other Chancellor. But he did rival Kenyon for most refreshing idiocy.

Brexit, explained Gordon, won’t restore Britain’s sovereignty. Sovereignty proceeding from Westminster is a 19th century utopia, he added. This ignores the millions of Britons who died for our sovereignty in two 20th century world wars. Little did they know that they were a century too late.

And now it’s definitely too late for political independence, according to Gordon the Moron. The world is too globalised for that. Just look at America, the world’s biggest superpower.

You think it’s independent? Not one bit, according to Gordon. America too has dissolved her sovereignty in such supranational organisations as Nato and the WTO.

It takes an advanced state of mental retardation not to know the difference between entering into a military alliance or a trade association and forming a single state. It takes dishonesty on a scale one doesn’t expect even from politicians to know the difference but still spout such rubbish.

Do you think that I’m being too harsh? These people aren’t idiots? Well, in that case they have to think we are. And we can prove them right by not tossing their inanities into their faces on 23 June.


Two things foreigners (and many Brits) don’t understand about Britain

ElizabethIIHer Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is 90 today, meaning that best wishes are in order. Yet what’s also called for is contemplation tinged with regrets.

Outsiders, especially those who, like the French and Americans, live in republics, simply don’t get the Queen. Nor do they get our constitution, which they foolishly say is nonexistent because it’s unwritten.

That’s like saying that, because a mother hasn’t expressed love for her children in a sonnet, she doesn’t love them. Her love is written not on paper but in the heart, and so – as Joseph de Maistre argued so convincingly – is any constitution worth having.

If a constitution does live there, a written document is redundant. If it doesn’t, a written document is useless and even slightly vulgar, like a marriage contract stipulating the frequency of sex.

Our constitution is the highest political achievement in history. That is so specifically because it wasn’t codified in a single founding document, because it represents two millennia of careful sifting of precedents and customs that withstood centuries of scrutiny.

These seeped into the nation’s bloodstream, each writing a word, a sentence or a paragraph in the people’s hearts, that eternal and most reliable depository for constitutional wisdom. Nonexistent? This cardiac document puts to shame any written one, be that the US Constitution or the French Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen.

Lord Asquith once put it with limpid lucidity: “… the great bulk of… our constitutional practices do not derive their validity and sanction from any Bill which has received the formal assent of the King, Lords and Commons. They rest on usage, custom, convention, often of slow growth in their early stages… but which in the course of time received universal observance and respect.”

The two things outsiders and, alas, some Brits don’t get are so intertwined as to be one and the same. The monarch personifies the constitution and the constitution embodies the monarch. One is impossible without the other.

Americans and Frenchmen often say that the Queen is a mere symbol, lacking any real power. First, that’s not exactly true. Second, those same people who pour scorn on Her Majesty worship their own symbols with nothing short of idolatry.

What can incense an American more than seeing the Old Glory abused? Yet a flag is nothing but a symbol, it has no other value.

The Queen is so much more than that. She sits atop a time-proven structure of power delicately balanced among the monarch, elected representatives of the people, and the unelected peers, there to make sure the balance doesn’t tip too far one way or the other.

What we’re witnessing now is a gross distortion of the traditional balance. The House of Lords has lost its historical role, with the peers now as susceptible as the MPs to political pressures, the Commons exercising almost dictatorial powers only made less so by pernicious EU diktats, and the Queen having next to no physical power. This isn’t to say she has no power at all.

As head of the state church, Her Majesty unifies the country within a vital institution, this irrespective of other confessions or religions practised on the British Isles. As head of the Commonwealth, she’s the Head of State in 51 countries with a combined population of 2.1 billion souls. In both capacities, she is the essential adhesive, for without her the Church of England would be disestablished and the Commonwealth wouldn’t exist at all.

But the Queen’s significance goes beyond such material aspects. For every state needs to have a legitimising raison d’être, without which its sovereignty would be subject to speculation and doubt.

St Paul taught that “all powers that be are ordained of God”, and one finds it hard to believe that such God-given powers are vested in parliaments and prime ministers. Yes, it’s possible to establish a line of historical descent linking today’s Parliament with the Witenagemot or our PM Dave with William Cecil.

But predating Cecil and even the Witenagemot is royal power whose origins are impossible to pinpoint to a specific date or event. Referring to de Maistre again, royal power goes back so far that we might as well assume it’s derived from God.

In other words, the Queen may not have much material power, but she is the current link in the historical chain tying our sovereignty together – she is the only constituent of power that unites the physical with the metaphysical. As such, she’s the essence of Britain’s political soul.

Even for that reason alone, divesting the Queen of her vital role by transferring her sovereignty over the realm to the wicked foreign contrivance going by the name of the European Union is an act of treason.

The British have the chance to undo it on 23 June, but one fears they won’t take it. Too many of them have become as alien as Americans or the French to our political tradition. Too many don’t get our constitution and the Queen.

But meanwhile, Happy Birthday, Your Majesty! Long may you reign over us.