Is a proud Muslim the same as a terrorist sympathiser?

SadiqKhanRegular readers of this space are aware of the deep respect, nay affection, I feel for my friend Dave.

Yes, at weak moments I’ve been known to call him a spiv, a nonentity and a self-serving opportunist. But Dave always takes such criticism in the loving spirit in which it’s offered.

For example, this morning he mournfully nodded agreement when I told him he shouldn’t drink and speak, in public that is. “Dave,” I said, “You know I love you. But even I get confused about some of the things you say. I mean, having a drink or two to loosen up before speaking is fine. But getting sloshed isn’t – people just don’t know what the hell you’re trying to say.”

What caused this rebuke was Dave’s joint appearance with the new London mayor Sadiq Khan in support of Britain becoming a province in the EU, or a gau in the Fourth Reich, if you listen to Dave’s nemesis Boris.

Before taking the microphone, Dave was so agitated he had to steady his nerves by getting several large whiskies down his neck and falling off the wagon in a spectacular fashion. Then he got up, put his arm around Sadiq and called him… no, not the things he was calling him just a couple of weeks ago.

Then Dave for all intents and purposes described Sadiq as a supporter of Islamic State and a crypto-terrorist. Since at that time he was, for once, sober, Dave didn’t quite use those words, but he might as well have done.

Dave did say during PM’s questions that he “was concerned about Labour’s candidate as mayor of London who has appeared again and again and again” on stage hand in hand with radical imam Suliman Gani.

Actually he missed a trick there, for he should have repeated ‘again’ nine times, once for each such Sadiq-Suliman joint effort. Dave then co-opted Jeremy Corbyn for support, saying that even “the leader of the Labour party is saying it is disgraceful”.

So far so good, even though Dave’s stone-sober animadversions were met with shouts of “Racist!!!” coming from his fellow parliamentarians across the aisle. But then yesterday he spoke after having a few (or more than a few, truth be told), and ended up confusing everyone, me included.

Sadiq, said Dave, “is a proud Muslim, a proud Brit and a proud Londoner” and a great politician – this in spite of being “the son of a bus driver” and not, like Dave himself, “the son of a stockbroker”. To be fair, Dave didn’t actually say ‘in spite of’, but that’s how it came out.

That sort of class oneupmanship didn’t go over big with most people, but I actually didn’t mind it all that much. Perhaps that’s because, as Dave’s drinking mate, I was used to that sort of thing. When in his cups, Dave routinely talks about “those bloody jumped-up proles” who want to “run the show” in spite of being “common as muck”. But I did put my logical hat on and tried to reconcile Dave’s two assessments of Sadiq a fortnight apart.

For one thing, Dave clearly doesn’t think there’s any contradiction in being both a proud Muslim and a terrorist sympathiser. In fact, he probably feels that the latter is a natural adjunct to the former, even though Dave would have to get really whacked out of his mind (“pissed as a fart”, as he refers to extreme inebriation) to put it in so many words.

Nor does he any longer seem to think there’s anything wrong about cheering for Islamic State. He implied as much by sharing a platform with Sadiq who in his turn had shared it with crazed imams. This, even though just a fortnight ago Dave described Sadiq’s actions as being practically tantamount to being a terrorist himself, if by one remove.

Or even if there is a teensy-weensy bit wrong about being a terrorist sympathiser, it’s only a small failing, unnoticeable against the backdrop of the urgent imperative to turn Britain into a gau of the Fourth Reich, as my friend Boris puts it.

This is one possible interpretation of Dave’s about-face but, alas, not the only one. In fact, if I didn’t know my friend for a man of high principle and unimpeachable integrity, I’d think he is, well, all the things I sometimes call him at weak moments, those I mentioned in the first paragraph.

As it is, I’ll only repeat my words of avuncular advice: Dave, we’re none of us members of the Temperance League. We all like a drink, but for God’s sake, man, drinking and public speaking don’t mix. So next time stay sober and decide in advance whether a proud Muslim is the same as a terrorist sympathiser – or not quite.

A great argument for Brexit: neocons hate it

EUflagOne knows a rotten idea by the consistent inanity of arguments for it. The EU passes this test: every argument in its favour is either mendacious or inane.

The speaker’s credentials don’t matter: federasty is a cauldron in which academics, ignoramuses and academic ignoramuses are all boiled together to produce a uniformly foul mess. True to form, neoconservatives throw themselves in as one of the less savoury ingredients.

Neoconservatives are making steady inroads on American politics, in foreign policy at least. And their British Parteigenossen tropistically reach towards the light shining out of certain outlets in the body of US neoconservatism.

This brings us to Niall Ferguson. Now ensconced at Harvard, he has discovered that neoconservatism pays, and never mind intellectual credibility. Ferguson never does, which is why he commits gross rhetorical fallacies in every piece he writes. His article Fog in Channel: Brexiteers Isolated from Britain’s Duty to Save Europe is a case in point.

True to his internationalist neocon allegiance, Ferguson has to uphold every article of EU faith. Intellectual probity matters to him no more than it did to Lenin, Trotsky and his other fellow internationalists.

Hence he relies on rhetorical fallacies, such as argumentum ad populum: the belief that a proposition is true because many people support it. Thus Ferguson has taken the roll call of “leading historians” and found out that more of them support Remain. Specifically, “70 historians gathered at 11 Downing Street to affirm their support for EU membership.”

There’s a remote possibility that historians who think differently weren’t invited to the home of Dave’s fellow Euro-tout – but Ferguson forges right ahead, undeterred by elementary demands of intellectual honesty.

“US administrations since the heyday of Henry Kissinger have consistently favoured UK membership in the EU” is another version of argumentum ad populum, this time with a sycophantic twist. This may be true. So what?

Under the influence of neocon gurus, US foreign policy has indeed been growing more internationalist. The ultimate ideal seems to be a single global government, within which the US will call the shots. (For details, see my book Democracy as a Neocon Trick.)

Recent US administrations may indeed have believed that such a development would be in American interests, but Ferguson’s argument is meaningless – unless of course he thinks, as he probably does, that our interests are always identical with American ones.

Ferguson also has the gall to drag in the great late thinker R.G. Collingwood who, he says, “would dismiss the arguments for Brexit”. Either Ferguson hasn’t read Collingwood properly or he didn’t understand what he read. In fact, Collingwood regarded self-government as an ironclad requirement for society.

Then comes the clincher: “the president of the United States… advised against Brexit”. This version of argumentum ad populum relies on the universal agreement that Barack Hussein is blessed with near-papal infallibility. Since little in his record affirms the belief that Obama is always right, this is yet another infantile rhetorical fallacy.

Then the question of European security comes up and, as we know, only Brussels stands between us and world catastrophe. However, “the Brexiteers insist that the EU is at best irrelevant: Nato is the key institution.”

This Brexiteer insists on just that, and I anxiously await persuasive arguments proving I’m wrong. Alas, none is forthcoming: to Ferguson this insistence is so self-evidently wrong that it doesn’t merit discussion.

This isn’t the only thing that goes without saying: “No one can seriously deny that the process of European integration has brought an end to centuries of Franco-German conflict and has settled the German question for good.”

Have you noticed how those who preach Trotskyist ideas also use Trotskyist style? “No one can seriously deny…” and that’s that. QED. If you dare deny, you aren’t serious.

An intellectually honest person is congenitally on guard against such phrases as ‘self-evident’, ‘it is obvious that…’, ‘it goes without saying that…’, ‘needless to say…’. He knows that they are either a sign of intellectual laziness or, worse, an attempt to dupe the gullible with falsehoods.

What “settled the German question for good” is the military castration imposed on Germany by the victorious allies in 1945 and since then enforced by Nato. France, whose belonging to the victorious alliance wasn’t entirely unequivocal, is consequently stronger than Germany militarily, if weaker in every other respect.

Anticipating this situation, Nazi and Vichy bureaucrats concocted at the end of the war plans for what now is called the EU. And true enough, another Franco-Prussian war doesn’t seem to be on the cards.

But Ferguson here repeats another fallacy one hears in France a lot, where they credit the EU with the post-1945 peace in Europe. What they mean by this is peace between France and Germany – but surely a British historian can have a broader perspective? Surely he has heard of a dozen bloody conflicts in other European countries? Surely he must realise there’s more to Europe than just France and Germany?

Not when he’s a neocon, he mustn’t. Neocons are true to their Trotskyist DNA: they’ll say anything to promote their political objectives. Ferguson is no exception, which is most lamentable in a scholar.


Quartet for strings and defibrillator


The Kopelman Quartet playing Haydn and Shostakovich at Wigmore Hall this morning was cause for both joy and melancholy.

The joy came from the performance itself, evoking fond memories of great quartets of yesteryear, such as the Alban Berg and the Borodin (in which Mikhail Kopelman was first violin for 20 years).

It’s not my intention to attempt a review here – suffice it to say that the art of musical performance is dying under the blows raining on it from musical nonentities peddled like any other ‘celebrities’ by concert organisers and record executives who know little about music, and care even less. But it’s not quite dead yet, and stubborn holdouts like the Kopelman Quartet remind us of its past grandeur.

This was by far the best chamber recital I’ve heard in at least a decade, and for once it deserved a standing ovation. But it didn’t get one, and not because the audience didn’t appreciate the playing. They did, and they clapped their palms raw.

No, the reason for no standing ovation was more medical than aesthetic. I don’t know how to put this without coming across as crassly insensitive, but most people in the audience would have had difficulty getting up on their feet.

I’m 68 years old, and I don’t often feel young these days. But I did this morning, realising I was at least 10 years under the median age of my fellow listeners. Most of them, those whose locomotion was unassisted by Zimmer frames, could hardly reach their seats, and those contraptions averaged more than one per row of seats.

Actuarial statistics being what they are, I feared at least one coronary event was likely, somewhere between Shostakovich’s slow-movement recitative and the waltz in the finale. The hope loomed large in my mind that a defibrillator-equipped cardiac arrest unit was standing by somewhere backstage.

Mercifully my macabre fears weren’t realised. Having clapped themselves out, the young at heart courageously drove their Zimmer frames down the aisle, in the general direction of the free glasses of sherry on offer. A defibrillator, even if available, wasn’t called into action. I was happy for my fellow listeners, but also sad.

Now I’ve mentioned actuarial statistics, chances are that, by the time I reach the median age of today’s audience, most of them will no longer be with us. Who, I wonder, will flock to Wigmore Hall then? Where will the audiences come from?

In the past, a recital of this calibre would have been attended by swarms of young people, many of them conservatory students. This morning I didn’t espy a single youngster with (or even without) a violinist’s callus on the left side of his neck.

This could have been a free master class for them, and yet they chose to skip it. Perhaps they realise that learning to play their instruments with depth and sensitivity isn’t what’s going to make or break their careers. In fact, judging by the level of today’s young musicians, such qualities would disqualify them from success.

Music is indeed a dying art (you understand I’m not talking here about vile, electronically enhanced pop excretions), and it’s running out not only of real musicians but also of real audiences. By the looks of it, before long it’ll run out of audiences, full stop.

Granted, the hall demographics change noticeably when a giftless celebrity like Lang Lang is playing at the South Bank or the Barbican. One does see many younger people then, which makes one even sadder.

That those youngsters are prepared to pay king’s ransom to hear yet another nonentity raping music, while neglecting to attend performances by true artists like the Kopelman Quartet, shows that the situation is even worse than I think.

These pimply youths join forces with greedy musical businessmen to kill music by vulgarisation – to encourage an aesthetic fusion between music and pop. The same type of people play both, because the same type of people like to listen to both – and don’t really know the difference between them.

In our affection for free enterprise we’ve lost the erstwhile understanding that the highest manifestations of the human spirit can’t be flogged like tubes of toothpaste. Very little great music has ever been written (or performed) to appeal to a wide public voting with their cash at the box office.

Businesses must function according to market laws, but real culture can’t. If it starts doing so, it stops being high culture – and then it descends to the lowest possible level on its way to extinction.

Great music has always been produced for few by fewer. Alas, aristocratic patronage has gone the way of aristocratic society – and I’ll leave you with this melancholy thought.

Let’s hear it for nuclear weapons

B-2_spirit_bombingNuclear weapons are designed to kill people. Guns are made to achieve the same purpose. So are cannon. So are bayonets. So are tanks. So are grenades. So are poison gases.

Between 1939 and 1945, 60 million people were killed in the most sanguinary conflict the world has known so far.

Of those, only about 200,000 were killed by nuclear weapons.

On either side of that conflict, Russian and Chinese communists murdered 120 million, all with antediluvian weapons. Before they got going, another 17-20 million had been killed in the First World War – yet Rutherford hadn’t yet got around to splitting the atom.

Since those 200,000 were killed with atom bombs, millions more have been murdered by evil men – yet not one person died courtesy of Rutherford’s achievement.

Moreover, the killing rate has slowed down appreciably – this in spite of the Soviet Union’s aggressive designs. The Soviets embarked on an unprecedented military build-up culminating in the 1970s, when they had 50,000 tanks poised to pounce.

Western European armies were terribly outgunned in personnel strength and every weapon category. One would have thought that the Soviet juggernaut could easily have rolled all the way to the Atlantic – but it didn’t.

What prevented the Soviets from acting in character was NATO’s nuclear umbrella. The Soviets realised that any attempt at conquest would be thwarted by a cataclysmic response. So they thought better of it.

Military experts calculate that storming Japan’s islands one by one in 1945 would have cost between 1 and 1.5 million American lives, and many more Japanese ones. Yet the killing of those 200,000 in Hiroshima and Nagasaki obviated the need for any such action.

How many millions would have died had the Soviets not been kept in check by nuclear weapons? I don’t know. But many – you can count on that.

So yes, nuclear weapons can kill millions of people with lightning speed and brutal efficacy. But, as my simple calculations show, they can also save millions of lives. Whether they kill or save depends on who uses them, and for what purpose.

To paraphrase the NRA slogan, nuclear weapons don’t kill people. People kill people. Weapons are inanimate and therefore amoral. Like a handgun or a knife, nuclear weapons can serve a wicked purpose when in bad hands and a noble purpose when in good ones.

This is but a preface to a few words about the revolting speech delivered by President Obama at Hiroshima.

Barrack Hussein shares the subversive view held by the Left everywhere. He thinks that somehow nuclear weapons are immoral in se, regardless of who uses them and why.

The Left hold this view for precisely the same reason I hold the opposite one: I’m happy that the NATO nuclear umbrella protected (and continues to protect) Europe from Soviet aggression and, possibly, the world from another all-out war, and they are not.

If queried about this, Obama and other lefties will make bien pensant pacifist noises, most of them doubtless sincere in their revulsion at mass carnage. But the warm spot reserved in their hearts for the communist cause never quite goes cold. Most probably don’t think along those lines in so many words, but in their viscera they still see the USSR as a factor of progress.

The West, on the other hand, represents everything they detest – and true enough, much about it is detestable. The West is misguided, often wrong, frequently immoral, bent on its own destruction, overly materialistic, not sufficiently spiritual – well, you know the mantra as well as I do.

Yes, the West is all those things, but there’s one thing it isn’t: satanic. Yet this modifier fits assorted enemies of the West like a glove. Realising that in this world we’re not blessed with absolute good, we must strive to achieve the next best thing: prevent absolute evil.

I’m sorry to think in such primitive binary terms, but sometimes one has to, when choosing which side to support. Whatever the Left say about this, they lean towards the wrong side, and the wrong side has always exploited this leaning.

At the time when the Soviets were cranking out nuclear weapons like proverbial hotcakes, they masterminded and financed a global anti-nuke campaign aimed against the West. With the evil cunning of predatory beasts, they realised that the Western Left would play along – and they were right.

The Soviet Union is no more, though it has come back in a different, possibly more dangerous, guise. But it succeeded in corrupting much of the West into believing that nuclear weapons are inherently evil – even when used by good men to defend themselves. The USSR’s successors are continuing this effort, but only halfheartedly.

They know the Left side of the West can do the job all by itself, and Barack Hussein didn’t disappoint. “We must have the courage,” he said, “to escape the logic of fear and pursue the world without [nuclear weapons]”.

The courage, in other words, to submit meekly when Putin’s 15,000 tanks sweep across the Plains and overrun the 1,500 tanks NATO has at its disposal. This is ‘the logic of fear’ I’m not prepared to escape. And I’m terrified that the West’s great power is led by such a creature.





Official: Cameron secretly yearns for a nuclear world war

B-2_spirit_bombingNot only that – Dave also wishes he could destroy Britain’s economy, impoverish us all, reduce our pension funds by £32,000 (another precise figure from the Treasury), drive every foreign business out, undermine the City, reduce the value of our houses, destroy the NHS and the Premier League, degrade the pound to the level of the yen, prevent us from travelling on the continent, downgrade our ability to combat terrorism and espionage.

All such calamities will, according to Dave’s documented statements, will either definitely follow Brexit or are extremely likely to do so. Yet, in spite of such looming catastrophes, he dearly wishes Britain could leave the EU, and only his heightened sense of responsibility prevents him from acting on his innermost convictions.

Such is the only possible inference from the statements made by people who are privy to Dave’s private thoughts. Thus, for example, Steve Hilton, Dave’s close friend and the mastermind behind his rise to power:

“If he was a member of the public, or a backbench MP or a junior minister or even a Cabinet minister, I am certain that he would be for Leave. That’s his whole instinct. That’s who he is.”

Boris Johnson, a fellow Etonian who knows Dave well, concurs: “That sounds to me like an accurate and fair reflection.”

Hold on a second, let me see if I’ve got it right. Dave is the kind of man whose best instincts are to plunge Britain and the rest of the world into a nuclear holocaust, something that, according to his public statements, would follow Brexit with the certainty of night following day.

Now I’ve been known to use uncomplimentary terms to describe Dave. I’ve mocked his intellect, derided his moral sense (or rather the absence thereof), called him a spiv, nincompoop, self-server and many other things stopping just short of obscenity. But it has never occurred even to me to suggest that Dave harbours Dr Strangelove ambitions to reduce the world to radioactive dust.

And even barring such a cataclysm, which Dave thinks is only likely, rather than guaranteed, he’s supposed to cherish the thought of reducing his native country to pathetic penury, leaving her downtrodden populace at the mercy of terrorists, spies and Albanian immigrants.

In other words, Messrs Hilton and Johnson believe that at heart Dave is the kind of monster compared to whom Kim Jong-un is a closet humanitarian trying to get in touch with his feminine side. Such is the only logical interpretation of their statements.

However, relentless logic must fall silent whenever politicians speak. Since all three parties involved in erecting this intellectual structure are indeed politicians, their statements must be seen from a different angle, one that precludes any presumption of veracity.

Viewed from that angle, the picture becomes crystal clear. Dave is neither a Eurosceptic nor a Eurocrat. His inner convictions incline towards neither end because he has no inner convictions. Or rather he has one: an unswerving commitment to holding on to power for as long as possible, paving the way to money, fame and influence thereafter. He doesn’t call himself ‘heir to Blair’ for nothing.

Messrs Hilton and Johnson either don’t realise this, in which case they are fools. Or else they do realise it, but say what they say anyway for personal political gain, in which case they are knaves. One way or the other, all three parties act according to type.

Dave will confidently predict the plagues of Egypt befalling Britain as a result of Brexit because he feels this is what it takes at the moment to achieve the self-serving goals of his life. And Messrs Hilton and Johnson will mouth any obvious drivel because their goals call for it.

The picture is indeed clear, and it’s gruesome. The public is getting the distinct impression that both campaigns are being led by equally dishonest nonentities, with both lacking men of integrity and intellect at the helm. ‘The plague on both your houses’ will be a natural reaction and, given that, the reluctance to change the status quo will prevail.

Hence the prominence of the likes of Messrs Hilton and Johnson in the Leave campaign almost guarantees its defeat. You don’t really think that most British voters are capable of thinking for themselves, do you?

Such melancholy conclusions seem to follow ineluctably from the juxtaposition of Cameron’s macabre scare mongering and Messrs Hilton’s and Johnson’s insane comments on Dave’s secret cravings. If other conclusions are possible, I’d like to know what they are.





Who says the British are conservative?

WestminsterThe other day I was talking to a chap who feels about the EU the way a tree feels about dogs, and for pretty much the same reasons.

He said regretfully that our side would probably lose the referendum – because the British people are too conservative to want to change things.

Now, while we agree in our assessment of the EU, we diverge in our understanding of conservatism. I’d say that a conservative would be more likely to support a proven statehood that has been around for centuries than one that has existed, in historical terms, for five minutes. Someone who opts for the latter is rather the opposite of a conservative – unless he misunderstands the term.

Any reasonable understanding of conservatism has to start with the question of what it is that we’re trying to conserve. And there’s the rub, as a famous English conservative once put it.

For different nations define political conservatism differently because their traditions vary. Thus the Russians would use the term to describe Stalinism, the French don’t really use it all, whereas the Americans use it to denote economic libertarianism, which has something to do with conservatism but not much.

One can understand their terminological difficulties. Speaking specifically about political conservatism, there’s little in the Russian political tradition that’s worth conserving. And what would a French conservative wish to conserve? The pernicious Enlightenment tautology of liberté, égalité, fraternité? And would an American political conservative wish to conserve the pernicious Enlightenment falsehood of all men being created equal?

It’s no wonder the term ‘conservatism’ is nonexistent in France and misused in America. Let’s just say that the term seems to lack a universal, one size fits all, definition.

However, at the risk of being thought presumptuous for trying to succeed where others have failed, I’d like to offer what to me sounds like the only unassailable definition of a Western conservative: he who wishes to preserve the political, cultural, religious and social heritage of Western civilisation, otherwise known as Christendom.

Given this understanding of conservatism, the British political variety presents few challenges of definition – it practically defines itself. If the overall quest is to conserve the heritage of Christendom, including its political manifestations, then traditional (as distinct from today’s) Toryism is coextensive with my definition.

The triad of ‘God, king and country’ may be as primitive as all slogans tend to be, but it’s more precise than most, encapsulating neatly the essence of British conservatism, both its transcendent inspiration and political expression.

I’d suggest that constitutional monarchy (first achieved and then debauched in England) underpinned by qualified franchise is the only method of government that truly reflects the political essence of Christendom. This theoretical postulate has received ample empirical proof in the history of the UK and, before it, England.

A monarch ruling by divine right or some similar claim to legitimacy represents the transcendent aspect of such a system, a factor of constancy linking generations past, present and future on a timeline demarcated by Creation at one end and the Second Coming at the other.

At the same time, an elected parliament is a temporal institution translating the people’s interests into political action and preventing the monarch from becoming a despot. To achieve a workable balance, Parliament’s power must be real but limited, the monarch’s power limited but real, and they should both feel accountable to the institution that is itself accountable to God only.

It’s true enough that this system, as close to ideal as is achievable in this world, has been well-nigh destroyed in its traditional native habitat. But every British conservative must lament this situation and do what he can to reverse it.

I’d be so bold as to insist that no Englishman who claims to be a conservative in any other sense can possibly be anything like what he claims. Specifically, no true conservative can possibly support the wicked fly-by-night contrivance that goes by the name of European Union.

The EU simply doesn’t fit: it hasn’t been historically proven, it has no legitimising divine authority, it takes neither people’s wishes nor – more important – their interests into account, it has no safeguards against despotism, it has no balance of power. In other words, it’s everything a conservative should abhor.

Yes, it’s likely that the British will vote the wrong way on 23 June. But they’ll do so not because they’re conservative but because they’ve been corrupted by almost a century’s worth of socialist – which is to say anti-conservative – propaganda. This effort is now at its peak, and it’s likely to succeed because the British no longer have the mind or the education to understand even the most basic of political realities.

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter,” said Churchill, and this adage is a hundred times more accurate today than it was when he said it. Hence, if the British vote Remain, it’ll be not because they’re conservative but because they’ve been – and are being – corrupted and dumbed down.

I’m glad we’ve sorted this out: nothing destroys serious debate as much as failure to agree on the fundamental terms.

Why do only morons take to the French streets?

RiotsParisFrench morons are at the moment blockading oil refineries, disrupting fuel supplies and bringing the country to a standstill.

The riot police are trying to disperse the mobs with tear gas and water cannon, but so far without much success. As pumps run dry, police are trying to protect petrol attendants from the wrath of stranded motorists.

One such man was hit on the head with a baseball bat, an implement that sells in hundreds of thousands in both France and England, even though no one plays baseball in either country.

Every poll shows that the majority of the French support the rioters and not the government. Alas, it’s the wrong kind of people disapproving of the government for all the wrong reasons.

So what’s the fun? – as Dickens’s Mr Jingle once asked. Well, you see, noticing that France’s economy is going to the dogs under his socially inspired tutelage, my friend François asked some of his trusted advisers what could be done about it.

They wisely didn’t mention the EU, which in France is off limits for criticism for anyone other than the kind of people who, given half the chance, would expel all the Jews. Such reticence is lamentable.

French manufacturers used to be able to compete with the Germans, but on price only. If a Peugeot costs the same as a BMW, no one will buy the French car. If, however, a Peugeot costs half as much, people may go for it.

Hence French manufacturers traditionally tried to keep unit costs under the German levels. That being a national concern, the government obliged by devaluing the franc at regular intervals.

When the EU introduced the euro, the deutschmark in disguise, that option became no longer available, and any regular visitor to France can see the results for himself. If, say, 15 years ago most cars on French roads were French-made, today one sees a predominance of German marques. The same goes for all sorts of manufactured goods.

A Frexit seems like a logical way to go but no Frenchman this side of the National Front will let such a blasphemous thought cross his mind. Hence François’s advisers focused on another fatal flaw of the economy: the growth-stifling labour laws.

One such law makes it hard to lay anyone off, turning every job practically into a lifetime guarantee. Alas, when employers can’t fire, they won’t hire: the risk is too great.

Hence France’s horrendous unemployment rate, twice as high as ours. But their actual unemployment is even higher because of another asinine labour law: the 35-hour week. Even when employees are willing to work longer hours for extra pay, the law says they can’t.

That’s why my local hairdresser can’t handle the demand around Christmas time because her only other haircutter isn’t allowed to work longer hours, much as both she and her boss want her to.

Also, the unions in France have the kind of power British unions used to have before Maggie Thatcher sorted them out. Another example from my personal experience: a two-man business a French friend of mine started some 20 years ago.

Since then he has built the company into a market leader, with 200 fulltime employees. Yet he’s no longer the boss (incidentally, few French words match patron for offensive power).

He’s obliged to have union shop stewards on his board, two 23-year-olds who know nothing about the business except the workers’ right. The pimply youngsters have the power to countermand my friend’s measures, and there’s nothing he can do to override their veto.

Such are the labour laws that the government tried to change, however timidly. What followed was a public outcry, forcing François to water the reforms down to a point where practically nothing solid remained. But it was too late.

The morons smelled blood and pounced. Union thugs, anarchists, even François’s own socialists went into action. Students and pupils rioted violently, air traffic controllers, railway workers, tube drivers and post-office workers held one-day strikes. And now the morons of the world have united to paralyse the country by blockading the oil refineries – to the masochistic cheers of most Frenchmen.

The situation is pregnant with didactic value. First, contrary to what my EU-loving French friends say, France’s political and legal traditions aren’t just different from Britain’s but are incompatible with them.

We’re law-abiding because our tradition of just and stable laws goes back to the millennium before last. The French have no such tradition, and what they do have is of recent provenance. Hence they generally hold the law in contempt, a feeling successive French governments reinforce by their contemptible policies.

This also explains their proclivity for settling political issues with riots. Alas, it’s only the morons who come out: one doesn’t see too many manifs with slogans like Down with the EU. Nique la France (f*** France) is much more popular.

Bad politics can destroy even great countries, and historically few have been as great as France. But it was one of their cherished past tyrants who pointed out the short distance separating the sublime from the ridiculous.


We’re all Marxist economists now

MarxThe EU debate has been reduced to number crunching, and the numbers dangled by the Remain spivs are so precise one just knows they’re lying through their teeth.

We don’t mind though. We’ve become anaesthetised to lies, accepting them as par for the course. But of course no politician is going to tell the truth – we wouldn’t expect him to. It’s all a game, isn’t it? That’s how it’s played.

Thus few people protest when that Osborne creature puts on a deceptively intelligent face and issues manifestly false forecasts on the consequences of Brexit.

House prices will fall by exactly 18 per cent – not 17 or 19, as some ignoramuses may aver. The economy will shrink by 3.6 per cent over two years, not one iota more or less. Annual wages will fall by £800, and here George missed his usual trick of avoiding round numbers. It must have taken a huge effort not to say ‘£846,87’ or some such. He was back on form with unemployment, which supposedly will rise by 2.4 per cent, and joblessness, which will grow by 820,000. And of course economic growth will be reduced by 6.2 per cent, costing each capita £4,300 in GDP. (Why not £4,299,97, George? Get your act together, lad.)

Now any half-competent economist could show in a split second that all these figures are bovine dung, pulled out of the appropriate orifice. But of course the voting public isn’t made up of half-competent economists.

However, one hopes against hope that it’s made up of sensible individuals who know that economic forecasts are always wide of the mark. And, when they’re put forth by spivs for a specific political purpose, they aren’t even in the general vicinity of the mark. In today’s world, self-service trumps politics, and politics trumps economics.

All those forecasting lies can be countered by the only demonstrable and historically verifiable truth of economic prognoses: nobody knows for sure. Hence nothing betrays a liar more than all of those decimal points bandied about with the smug self-confidence of a cardsharp.

Obviously there will be economic consequences to Brexit, but they’ll probably be trivial one way or the other even in the short term – especially if, as seems likely, we’ll do a Norway and remain in the single market. In the long term, they’ll probably be beneficial for Britain, if only because they’ll increase our flexibility in responding to challenges as they arise.

Yet the Remain campaign has already scored a major victory by having reduced this vital, history-making argument to piddling penny-counting. For, contrary to my overly optimistic hope, our electorate isn’t made up of sensible individuals.

It’s made up of people turned into intellectual lemmings by our ‘comprehensive education’, an oxymoron that spews morons. They’re easy to trick and even easier to scare, something of which our governing wide boys are taking full advantage.

It’s a failing of the Leave campaign that it has allowed its opponents to argue the toss on such terms. In broader strokes, it’s a failing on the part of true conservatives to have accepted the Marxist premise of the primacy of economics.

In this, there’s no substantive difference between statist and free-market economists: they both define life purely by its economic aspect, far from being the only or indeed the most important one. Mr Galbraith, meet Mr Friedman, you two have a lot in common.

Since in our secular world there can be no transcendent purpose to life, the process of life illogically becomes its own purpose, with happiness the principal desideratum. And, with spiritual and even aesthetic concerns falling by the wayside, most people define happiness in terms of pound and pence. That becomes their criterion of happiness or misery, success or failure, and we’d all rather be happy and successful, wouldn’t we?

Hence the vital issue of Britain’s independence is being decided by shamefully petty haggling that people can’t get their heads around, rather than by the simple proposition even our comprehensively dumbed-down multitudes could understand:

Do you want Britain to remain a sovereign nation in charge of her own destiny and governed by her own Queen and Parliament or to become a province of a neo-totalitarian contrivance ruled by an unaccountable and utterly corrupt bureaucracy with Nazi and socialist antecedents?

And decent person will choose the former, at which point we’ll be ready to discuss specifics, economic and other. Otherwise it’s like a terminal cancer patient contemplating what to do about his in-grown toenail.

You might say that my wording of the question is hardly neutral, that it loads the pack as much as the Treasury’s economic doom-saying. Fine, I admit this is indeed so.

However, the difference is that every word in my phrase is provable beyond any doubt by factual data. And every word in their scare-mongering is a manifest lie.

Of course their lies are propped up by international support coming from the likes of the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. And the weight of her statements is in no way diminished by the fact that she’s about to go to prison for embezzlement.

How one wishes that Messrs Cameron and Osborne join her there. Alas, this will have to remain a cherished fantasy.






Gorbi et orbi

GorbiGorbachev has declared to the world his support for the rape of the Crimea, surprising his less informed fans and detractors alike.

The orbis does tend to have odd ideas about Russian chieftains, including Gorbi, and none so strange as those held by the Russians themselves.

The Putinistas hate him, or rather pretend they do. They portray Gorbi as the perpetrator of “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the twentieth century”, as Putin refers to the break-up of the Soviet Union, and never mind the two world wars.

Considering that the Soviet Union murdered 60 million of its own citizens in about as many years, while enslaving the rest and threatening the world with nuclear extinction, ‘catastrophe’ isn’t an ideal descriptor of its demise, but Putin’s KGB junta has its own moral compass.

At the same time, Russian ‘liberals’, those who take their cue from The Guardian and The New York Times, worship Gorbi for exactly the same reason that the ruling junta pretends to hate him: his role in the ‘collapse of communism’.

Both the liberal fools and the KGB knaves are wrong: Gorbi was and remains flesh of the USSR flesh. As one of the rulers of that hell, he’s an accomplice in all its crimes and the active agent in some.

Nor did the Soviet Union collapse: following the First Law of Thermodynamics, its evil energy was merely transformed from one type into another. Gorbi was a facilitator of that transition, and it takes utter ignorance to suggest that this role redeems the mortal sins he had committed back in the USSR.

The sins were as grave as they were multiple. Before another KGB chief, Andropov, catapulted him into the Politburo, Gorbi had lorded it over the Stavropol province, one of the most corrupt in the country, which is saying a lot.

That North Caucasus province acted as a conduit between the Party/Mafia gangs that ran Transcaucasia, and the Party/Mafia gangs that ran Moscow. Billions of purloined roubles and millions of dollars flowed through Stavropol, some of them straight into Gorbi’s pockets. His chosen method of doing business earned him the nickname Mishka-konvert (‘Mickey Envelope’), suggesting he was regarded as corrupt even by Stavropol standards.

Semi-literate though Gorbi was, he had the animal cunning to hitch his wagon to Andropov’s star while the KGB chief was still clawing his way to the top. Gorbi was useful to Andropov: he’d play host to Moscow dignitaries visiting his fiefdom’s resorts. Having loosened their tongues with vodka, Gorbi would then dutifully inform Andropov of any interesting findings, thus smoothing his succession to power.

Andropov expressed his gratitude by having a Politburo member knocked off in a staged accident and moving Gorbi, still largely unknown in the country, into the vacancy thus formed in the Kremlin’s inner sanctum.

Having eventually found himself at the helm, Gorbi acted in the manner of all his illustrious predecessors: lying and murdering. One example of the former was his flat denial that anything untoward had happened in Chernobyl in 1986. Had the westward winds not made Geiger counters go haywire in Scandinavia and Scotland, the disaster would have been hushed up like so many others.

When the Soviet Union began to creak, Gorbi reacted according to type. He encouraged an internecine massacre in Karabakh, 1988; created a carnage in Tbilisi, 1989; had Spetsnaz storm Baku, 1990; twice introduced troops into Moscow, 1990 and 1991; blockaded Lithuania, 1990; landed airborne troops in the middle of a peaceful demonstration in Vilnus, with entrenchment tools busting the demonstrators’ heads.

His KGB curators then put a gentle word into Gorbi’s ear, telling him to see the situation as an opportunity, not a threat. Scratch our back, Mishka, and we’ll scratch yours. Our goals are the same as yours, but the Soviet Union has outlived its usefulness as a way of achieving them. Leave it to us, and worry nought: we’ll look after you.

Gorbi then took part in the staging of the 1991 sham coup d’état, in which power was transferred from him to Yeltsyn de jure, and from the Party to the KGB/Mafia elite de facto. Gorbi got his General Secretary’s ransom in the shape of the Gorbachev Foundation, originally capitalised at $8 billion. Considering that his official monthly salary had never exceeded $600, he must have saved quite a bit by taking bag lunches.

Since then Gorbi has been basking in the reputation of the world’s senior statesman, feted by all and sundry. Much to the amusement of cultured Russians, he’s even described as an intellectual in the West, where people don’t realise he speaks with a Russian equivalent of Eliza Doolittle’s accent and syntax, pre-Higgins.

Now his KGB minders decided it was time to take Gorbi off the mothballs and have him express his admiration for Putin’s feral policies. He duly obliged, but I’d be careful if I were Gorbi.

As the true Russian god, the KGB giveth and the KGB taketh away. This god is wrathful – one wrong step and he’ll smite you. The safest way for Gorbi to live out his life in peace would have been to keep his mouth shut. But then that option might not have been on the table.







Norbert Hofer and the global existential revolt

NorbertHoferTaxonomic confusion in politics reflects something more sinister: a civilisation out of joint. People, including professional analysts, take refuge in semantic caves, with political reality but a shadow on the wall. Consequently they miss the forest of catastrophe for the trees of logorrhoea.

One hears gasps all over Europe about the impending election of Norbert Hofer of the Austrian Freedom Party to his country’s presidency. He’s a neo-Nazi, scream some – didn’t he say there’s no place for Muslims in Austria? And doesn’t he pack a Glock pistol at all times?

Herr Hofer objects. Who are you calling neo-Nazis, you miserable liberals? My party, he says, is “to the left of the US Democrats”. Even if true, this isn’t a refutation of the neo-Nazi charge.

Hitler’s Nazis were also to the left of the mainstream of today’s Democratic party, with their economic and social programmes only overlapping with its extreme left. Nonetheless they were indeed Nazis, though not yet neo-Nazis.

Nor is Hofer, with his socialist economic ideas, right-wing, extreme or otherwise. I mean, Castro and Saddam Hussein both carried pistols, yet no one called them right-wing on the strength of that fact. No one referred to the Polish king Jan Sobieski as right-wing either, though mainly because the term didn’t exist at the time.

Yet Sobieski too had doubts about Muslim presence in Austria. These he expressed most tangibly by thrashing the Turks in the 1683 Battle of Vienna and no doubt hoping that this victory would settle the issue once and for all. That didn’t happen, by the looks of it.

For all I know, Hofer may indeed be a neo-Nazi. That’s insignificant one way or the other. What matters is that his movement is a constituent of a global, cross-party revolt against the post-Enlightenment political consensus.

The Enlighteners, a misnomer if I’ve ever heard one, succeeded in winning the glossocratic war against actual reality, setting the terms of debate and imposing reality of the virtual kind.

That virtual reality almost drowned in the oceans of blood spilled by its most logical champions in the twentieth century. But somehow the phantom managed to shimmer ashore and hide behind the wall of pandemic indifference to politics, mixed with horror and revulsion.

The wall is now crumbling, and actual reality is beginning to punch holes in it all over the world. It’s a battering ram that’s getting heavier and heavier – the only thing that’s missing is the good hands to wield it.

For the Enlightenment current has led the Western world into a political and existential morass inhabited by encephalically challenged invertebrates, spineless nonentities. The trouble is that the West’s political mainstream flows out of the vile presuppositions of the Enlightenment, which makes it ill-equipped to reverse the flow.

What one calls those mainstream parties, and certainly what they call themselves, doesn’t matter. They all are a problem. None of them is the solution.

Yet, like any old nature, the nature of politics abhors a vacuum. If all mainstream parties are an empty space, someone is going to fill it, and that someone would have to eschew the meaningless political waffle. Once the perception that this lingo is indeed meaningless has grown beyond a certain point, people will want to hear real words addressing their real concerns.

This sounds good in theory, but in practice it only means that post-Enlightenment demagogues will be ousted by populist ones. One survival of the Enlightenment, the sacralisation of universal suffrage, precludes the possibility of good and clean hands propelling the aforementioned battering ram forward.

EU or no EU, mainstream political elites inevitably become self-contained and self-serving concerns out of touch with the very demos in whose name they govern. In that sense they are all denationalised, and various internationalist contrivances in the EU vein are but a logical extension of this process.

Such elites can only maintain their hold on power by trying to suppress, dilute or ideally destroy their demos. The Islamisation of Europe is a manifestation of this underlying urge, but it’s not the only one. Adding the cards of Eastern Europe to the Western pack and then reshuffling it to produce all sorts of random combinations is a closely related stratagem in the war against actual reality – and the demos that stubbornly clings to it.

But the demos is beginning to fight back. Alas, its leaders can only come from the margins of politics, or even from the uniform darkness beyond the margins. Thus you get your Matteo Salvininis, Geert Wilderses, Frauke Petrys, Marine Le Pens, Donald Trumps and Norbert Hofers – effective demagogues who may differ in their politics but who all exploit the vacuum left by the virtualisation of mainstream politics.

There’s nothing short of an existential revolt under way, but those of us who hate the offshoots of the Enlightenment must be careful what we wish for. We may evade the rock of totalitarian liberal democracy only to crash into the hard place of fascism.

Unfashionable as it may be to draw historical parallels, the two great existential revolts of the twentieth century, one against the ‘right’ and the other against the ‘left’, produced Bolshevism and Nazism.

God only knows what our century will bring. Meanwhile, congratulations to Herr Hofer are in order – or not, as the case may be.