Ever feel your sex life needs jazzing up?

SnakeReading newspapers these days makes me think that life has passed me by. Just one issue of a popular daily proves that, while I busy myself with two of the three Rs (no ‘rithmetic), other people are having all the fun.

For example, Dr Cyprian Okoro has opened my eyes to certain amorous possibilities that I didn’t know even existed. The good doctor is on trial at the Old Bailey for filling his phone with objectionable images of unconventional sexuality.

One shows a woman with a dog, proving that it’s not just a man that a dog is the best friend of. The report didn’t specify the type of dog, but the lady’s best friend must have been bigger than a Yorkie.

Speaking of big, another image showed a woman corrupting the morals of a horse, which must have been a traumatic experience for both. The story that Catherine the Great died in flagrante delicto with a stallion is probably apocryphal, but the danger is very real.

Though I’ve never engaged in such activities, nor indeed watched them, I knew they existed. Where the good doctor took me into new territory is with another image he enjoyed, that of a man having sex with a snake.

As a medic, Dr Okoro must be aware of anatomical possibilities that would never occur to those bereft of his training. Hence, hard though I strain my imagination, I can’t picture the mechanics involved. Was the man the active or passive participant? The public has a right to know.

Watching such entertainment betokens a man of underdeveloped moral and aesthetic sense. That shortcoming, however, isn’t yet criminalised, for otherwise every pop star would be doing porridge. Though uploading such material is undeniably criminal, downloading it is more ambiguous.

Provided the doctor enjoyed himself in private, the tiny libertarian portion of my worldview rebels. Can a viewer of such material be seen as an accomplice? The law evidently feels so, but as Mr Bumble said, “the law is a ass”, or can be.

Still, it’s reassuring to know that HMG looks after the moral health of snakes, reasserting thereby the unity of all living things. Those poor creatures need to be protected from libidinous men of adventurous tastes – unless of course the reptile gives consent by some semiotic expedient.

Is prosecuting Dr Okoro just? I’ll sit on the fence here, because the conservative portion of my worldview is bigger than the libertarian one, and there’s a conflict. No such equivocation about the next news item that caught my eye.

A woman who sleeps naked with her 16-year-old son asked the Internet if such nocturnal arrangements were wrong. She didn’t ask what a degenerate was, so presumably she already knows.

Dr Freud would dine on this story, though a New York woman once dismissed his pet theory by saying “Oedipus, schmedipus, as long he loves his Mum…” They do say that incest is best, although here again I have no personal experience in the matter.

It’s unclear whether the woman in question was wondering about the advisability of incest or if sleeping naked with a teenager full of bubbling testosterone was indeed incestuous. The answer to the second question is obviously yes (in that situation congress can occur even if it’s not intended, as an accidental result of tossing and turning at night), but the first one is more involved.

The state condones, nay promotes, unorthodox sex. My moral antennae aren’t finely enough tuned to detect a valid difference between incest and two men getting married with official blessing. In fact, the egalitarian in me resents such discrimination among perversions.

The same objection could be raised to the first story. If Dr Okoro would be within his right to marry another man, why can’t he watch his fiancé getting his amorous warm-up with other species? Oulaw speciesism and human supremacism, I say.

The third story is tragic, even though I haven’t read it in its entirety. All I saw was a rather long headline with uncertain antecedents: “Naked British woman in her 20s dies while walking home following a night out in Ibiza after being hit by a female driver who was high on cocaine.”

For once I can claim partial personal experience. I have to admit with retrospective repentance that in the past I too used to have wild nights out, though never in Ibiza (pronounced Ibiffa, for the benefit of my foreign readers). However, I can’t recall ever walking through the streets in the buff thereafter.

Must have been quite a party, though marred by such a heart-rending finale. However, one must feel proud about British culture being carried around the world. I saw another proof of this welcome development this morning, when walking through my French village.

There’s a new shop there called Stylish Tattoo and Piercing. That the sign is in English fills my heart with nationalistic pride, even though deep down I doubt tattoos and piercing can ever be stylish.

Aren’t you happy to be alive in such exciting times? And let’s banish any history-based fear that such exciting civilisations don’t stay alive for long.

Dmitri Shostakovich’s truths versus Richard Taruskin’s falsehoods

ShostakovichRichard Taruskin’s review of The Noise of Time, Julian Barnes’s novel about Shostakovich, is awful – but not from my selfish viewpoint.

I have a weakness for writing that provokes thought, even by negative association. One such thought is about the pitfalls awaiting experts in one field venturing into other pastures.

Taruskin is an excellent musicologist, and his books contain interesting insights. One such is his analysis of Beethoven symphonies as performed by great conductors, from Furtwängler to Mravinsky. Taruskin debunks today’s obsession with maintaining the same tempo from beginning to end, which should make the book required reading for modern performers.

Yet this expertise doesn’t automatically qualify Taruskin to enlarge on novels about Shostakovich, which he goes on to prove.

Taruskin describes Barnes’s book as “a beautifully written botch”, and that’s a possible view, though I quite liked the novel. But then he gets terribly lost delving into such issues as historical versus artistic truth, Shostakovich’s interplay with Stalin’s regime and Tolstoy’s treatment of history in War and Peace.

Holding Tolstoy up as an exemplar of historical veracity, Taruskin objects to Barnes’s portrayal of Shostakovich as a martyr. He approvingly quotes Tolstoy’s view that reliance on facts would “force me to be governed by historical documents rather than the truth.”

Indeed a historical novel is different from a historical treatise. Historians start with historiography and often end there. Great historians, however, turn history into philosophy, finding kernels of eternal truths in the yellowing documents.

A novelist turns history into art, which is seldom possible to do without taking liberties with documents. But the example Taruskin uses to criticise Barnes doesn’t work.

For Tolstoy’s version of 1812 is animated by ideology, not a search for truth. He extols the demiurgic powers residing in every Russian breast, which supposedly makes the Russian commander Kutuzov a military giant to Napoleon’s pygmy.

Yet the historical Kutuzov fought a do-nothing campaign that could easily have ended in disaster. He lost the only major battle of the war and as a result surrendered Moscow. However, Tolstoy argues that Borodino was a Russian victory because Napoleon ended up losing the war. That’s like claiming that the French defeated the Nazis in 1940 because de Gaulle triumphantly entered Paris in 1944.

Tolstoy’s jingoism found a receptive audience with every subsequent Russian government, making the 1812 war the only historical subject taught in school on the basis of a fictional account, rather than historical truth.

While allowing Tolstoy a tonne of licence, Taruskin denies Barnes even an ounce of it. Without suggesting that Barnes even approaches Tolstoy’s artistic genius, one still has to demur – especially since Barnes doesn’t deviate from history as much as Taruskin thinks.

To be sure, Barnes bends the odd fact, though never to Tolstoy’s customary breaking point. But his portrayal of Shostakovich’s mental tortures at Stalin’s hands rings true both historically and psychologically. By contrast, Taruskin’s view of Shostakovich as an unprincipled conformist who “behaved not like a saint but like a politician” is inane.

Taruskin understands what great composers do, but evidently not why they do it. He misses the main point: for such men music is their life and, for most, their God. That life must be lived, and that God worshipped, above everything else.

How they go about it is often at odds with bourgeois notions. But genius has to survive in a world hostile to genius, which has never been easy.

Bach wrote fawning letters to assorted margraves, Haydn was a liveried servant to a nobleman, Mozart played lickspittle to patrons, Beethoven – for all his reputation for rebelliousness – ditto. Yet none of them lived in the hell surrounding Shostakovich.

Those gentlemen had to make a living. Shostakovich had to stay alive, and Taruskin obviously doesn’t realise what incessant fear for his life can do to a man of Shostakovich’s sensitivity.

Each Pravda article attacking his work wasn’t musical criticism. It was a sentence of death, suspended at the last moment.

The first such sentence came in the 1936 article Muddle Instead of Music, assailing Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk. The composer was accused of “left deviationism in opera” and threatened that “it might end very badly”. Such harangues were at the time usually followed by a midnight knock on the door.

The second death sentence came in 1948, when Stalin’s bloodhound Zhdanov attacked Shostakovich’s ‘formalism’. People were then shot for less, and only a miracle saved the composer yet again.

Taruskin can’t imagine the torments of a man pursuing his destiny while squinting at the sword of Damocles above his head. The sword didn’t come down, but Shostakovich was a martyr nonetheless.

Of course he had to compromise, of course he did a few dubious things. Shostakovich had to work, and therefore he had to stay alive. Yet by contemporaneous standards he did nothing particularly immoral. For example, unlike many of his lesser colleagues, Shostakovich didn’t write denunciations.

Shostakovich’s music reflects his torments. His every note is a condemnation of the Soviet regime: not because of any literal subtexts but because work of that magnitude denies evil by its very existence.

Shostakovich ends many of his great pieces by almost cutting them off in mid-phrase, uncertain which way life would go, fearful it could only get worse. For all his seeming conformism, he was more profoundly anti-Soviet than most dissidents – and, though he didn’t get killed, he suffered horrible tortures as a result.

As a fellow artist, Barnes elucidates Shostakovich’s essence more perceptively than do Taruskin’s turgid musings. Stick to musical analysis, would be my advice.

Hope for Russia going up in smoke


If the devil is in the detail, here’s one such, to be found at any Russian tobacconist: Belomorkanal cigarettes.

The cigarettes are so devilishly strong that one can feel cancerous cells multiplying with every puff. But it’s not what’s in the packet that makes Belomorkanal diabolical. It’s what’s on the packet.

First produced in 1932, the design commemorates the construction of the White Sea Canal. While Belomorkanal reflects the Soviet mania for abbreviations (Belomor = Beloye Morye, the White Sea), the project itself reflects the Soviet mania for democide.

The canal was built by slave labour under the supervision of the OGPU, as Putin’s KGB then was. In the process at least 100,000 starving prisoners keeled over their wheelbarrows and died.

Not only lives were lost at Belomorkanal but also the conscience of Russia’s pride, her literature. For every writer of note was taken to the site and subsequently wrote a panegyric, “glorifying slave labour for the first time in the history of Russian literature”, in Solzhenitsyn’s phrase. Some, like Pilniak and Mandelstam, did so in the vain attempt to save their own lives. Most, however, followed Gorky’s suit by displaying genuine enthusiasm.

To be fair, the Russian tradition of using human bones for foundations didn’t start with Stalin.

The eminent historian Vasiliy Klyuchevsky (d. 1911) wrote that more people died building Petersburg than had ever been killed in any war. Modern historians cite a death toll closer to 300,000, which is still impressive by the demographic standards of the time. Nor was it a one-off tragedy: at least another 60,000 perished erecting Petersburg’s hideous St Isaac’s Cathedral in the mid-nineteenth century.

However, never before in Russian or any other history had slave labour been practised on Stalin’s massive scale and with such murderous results. Millions died in the same pits that are now used by Putin’s KGB junta to pad their offshore accounts. Millions more perished logging in the taiga’s Arctic temperatures or building whole new cities, such as Magnitogorsk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

One would think that any half-decent government would repent such crimes and unreservedly disclaim any continuity with the regime that perpetrated them. Yet the reverse is true: Putin is holding up Stalin’s slave empire as a shining peak from which the country has then lamentably descended.

And Belomorkanal still adorns tobacconists’ shelves with nary a demur from anyone. How do you suppose today’s Germans would react to the sight of Auschwitz cigarettes in shop windows?

Stalin is portrayed in Putin’s history books as a leader and administrator of genius, who was occasionally harsh but always fair. Statues of him are popping up here and there, and there are even Stalin icons worshipped by parishioners to illustrate the great Christian revival touted at home and abroad for PR purposes.

The latest touch in the on-going re-Stalinisation is the appointment of Olga Vasilyeva as Minister for Education and Science. This repugnant woman is a walking Stalin icon herself, for her philosophy represents the newly popular hybrid of Stalinism and Russian Orthodoxy.

According to her, Stalin’s purges were both “necessary at the time” and “exaggerated” in history books. Hence Vasilyeva is scathing in her attacks on those who show residual revulsion at the unprecedented and unequalled carnage:

“What these people mostly want is to delete the Soviet period, to blacken the past, to expunge from collective conscience any loyalty to traditions, any pride for the country’s greatness… This is what they’ve thought up – that there were two totalitarian regimes and, while one had its Nuremberg Trial, the other one didn’t… Our foundation is… respect for our history, traditions and spiritual values. Remember 1934, when Stalin said that we now have a motherland, now we have a history.”

For the sake of the reclaimed history, I’d have been tempted to mention that the moustachioed ghoul uttered those words at the Seventeenth Congress of the Communist Party, called the Congress of the Victors.

However, that pageant should have been more appropriately called the Congress of the Walking Dead: of the 1,996 party members present, 1,108 were arrested three years later, and about two thirds of those executed. Of the 139 members elected to the Central Committee, 98 would be shot in the purges.

Such facts are never emphasised and seldom mentioned, certainly not by the creature now in charge of educating Russia’s young. Vasilyeva stresses continuity and conservatism, which would be a good thing if there were anything in Stalin’s Russia worth continuing and conserving.

I’m sure that education, Vasilyeva-style, will take continuity even further back, to 1836, when Count Benckendorff, chief of Nicholas I’s secret police and Putin’s typological precursor, explained in what spirit Russian children ought to be raised: “Russia’s past was amazing, her present is more than splendid and, as to her future, it soars above anything even the most daring imagination can fathom.”

This was written as criticism of Russia’s first philosopher Pyotr Chaadayev, whose book Philosophical Letters was scathing of Russia’s role in history. To start another fine tradition since then amply developed, Chaadayev was declared insane and confined to home arrest.

Yes, Russia’s past was indeed amazing, especially its part so lovingly commemorated on Belomorkanal packets. The conservative in me rejoices.

Equality Audit, what a brilliant idea

TheresaMayI’m a great admirer of statism, that is the state’s increasing control over our lives. Just imagine the harm we’d do ourselves if left to our own devices. We wouldn’t know what to do, say, think, drink or eat – we’d be like anonymous foundlings dropped at orphanage doors, Rousseau-style.

The state is our father, especially since so many of us are these days raised without the biological version thereof. And a father needs to be big and strong to protect us from life’s perils. Since every penny we pay the paternalistic state increases its size and power, our tax money is always well spent, even when it’s spent badly.

Sticks-in-the-mud will scream that conducting this massive audit will put extra pressure on public services, which aren’t exactly awash with funds. No, it won’t. The government will simply ask – nay tell – us to cough up more tax money, and we should all be happy to do so.

Hence I cheer Theresa May’s decision to create a new layer of bureaucracy required to conduct this audit, covering all aspects of the state: schools, universities, GP surgeries, hospitals, police, courts, job centres and benefits offices.

Yes, it’ll cost us. But I for one am tired of tossing and turning all night pursued by the nightmares of all those mistreated ethnic and poor people. So I’m prepared to pay for sound sleep and peace of mind.

However, while supporting this initiative wholeheartedly, I’m not so sure about the thinking behind it. Let me stress once again that I welcome any exercise of state power, however spurious the rationale for it is.

However, one has to admit that we still aren’t rid of reactionary fossils who feel differently. Such spoilsports may embarrass Mrs May by asking awkward questions and making her look bad.

For example, when Mrs May was still Home Secretary, she commendably highlighted the disproportionate number of blacks being stopped and searched by police. Stop and search equals SS – get it?

Indeed, though black people make up only 2.7 per cent of the UK population, they account for 14.6 per cent of all SS victims. You know and I know and Mrs May knows that this can only be caused by racial prejudice on the part of the police.

However, the aforementioned fossils may aver that this disparity is disproportionate the other way. They’ll cite statistics showing that, while blacks make up 14.6 per cent of SS victims, they commit, in London, 54 per cent of street crimes, 59 per cent of robberies and 67 per cent of gun crimes.

Since Met cops are too shorthanded to stop and search every iffy-looking individual, they have to go by probabilities. And – much to the indignation of progressive persons like me – these point at their laxity in only including such a small percentage of blacks in the group so egregiously abused by SS.

HMG also cites statistics showing that black pupils are three times more likely than whites to be permanently excluded from school. This outrage has to be testimony to rampant racism on the part of those blue-rinsed head mistresses.

However, the fossils may again argue that this situation may have a different explanation: the somewhat understated commitment to learning in black families. For example, 54 per cent of black boys can’t read or write properly at age 14 (to be fair, the statistic for poor white boys is even worse).

Then of course boys aged 10 to 16 commit 40 per cent of all street crime, and the proportion of blacks in this subset is even higher than in the population at large. If you think of the time and effort going into selling drugs and mugging toffee noses, you’ll understand why 60,000 pupils, most of them from black or poor-white families, skip classes every day.

It’s not just the cops’ and head mistress’s racism that’ll be investigated. Access to good schools, acceptance to universities, graduation rates and progression to graduate jobs, the availability of services such as free childcare will all come under scrutiny.

And, you’ll be relieved to know that, according to Downing Street, it’s not all about blacks: “The audit will show disadvantages suffered by white working-class people as well as ethnic minorities… For example, it will give more details about why white working-class boys are much less likely than others to go to university.”

Could it be because, when they call for an interview, they sound like blacks, thereby triggering the innate racism of potential interviewers? Worth pondering, that.

And, are you ready for this? “The employment rate for ethnic minorities is ten percentage points lower than the national average.” Of course racial bigotry is the only possible explanation for what Mrs May so rightly calls a “burning injustice”.

Methinks HMG should take its cue from the US, where blacks widely receive preferential treatment called ‘affirmative action’. That system has worked wonders there, and it can do the same to us… sorry, I mean for us.

“The audit will reveal some difficult truths,” says Mrs May. No, it’ll only reveal easy ones, those that progressive people like me will welcome with open arms.

Another Bill of Rights is wrong

BillofRightsOur politicians can no longer get anything right. But at least they’re going to get something a third right, if Justice Secretary Liz ‘Elizabeth’ Truss is to be believed.

The good third is that Miss Truss has confirmed HMG’s intention to scrap the Human Rights Act imposed by the EU and gratefully received by Tony ‘Anthony’ Blair.

The two bad thirds are, first, that Britain will remain under the aegis of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) and, second, that the Act will be replaced by a British Bill of Rights.

The rights of Englishmen is a notion predating the ECHR by some 800 years, and in the intervening period the concept has grown in both scope and depth. There have been glitches here and there, but on the whole Britain has done rather well in that respect, and manifestly better than any other country in Europe.

Our constitution is arguably the best and certainly the longest-lasting the world has ever seen. And as Lucius Cary said almost 400 years ago, “If it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.”

I’m not convinced that Liz ‘Elizabeth’ adequately understands the constitutional issues involved, and how they differ from continental practices. After all, she’s a young woman with no legal background who has expressed republican sympathies in the past, when she was President of Oxford University LibDems (a perfect CV for a Tory minister).

To be fair, even many mature men with none of those drawbacks also have problems getting their heads around our constitution. These are exacerbated by Britain’s membership in the EU and concomitant exposure to continental legal principles, which are diametrically opposite to ours.

For example, the French will tell you that they have the rule of law, but that’s not exactly true. What they have is the rule of lawyers.

Unlike English Common Law, based on precedents accumulated over centuries, the French practise positive law, one imposed by government. The two legal systems are vectored in the opposite directions: from bottom to top in Britain, from top to bottom in France.

However, under the organic governments of Christendom French kings ruled by divine right and didn’t need much legislative activism. The need only arose with the advent of perverse politics inspired by the Masonic slogan of liberté, egalité, fraternité.

Lacking an organic claim to legitimacy, the revolutionary government – and all its kaleidoscopically changing successors – flooded the population with a deluge of laws.

All in all, since 1789 France has had 17 different constitutions (to be fair, the latest one goes back 58 years). As to the number of different laws spawned by those constitutions, one would need a mainframe computer to count them. Most of these laws come from the fecund minds of avocats who bang their clever heads together to devise legislation supposed to hasten the arrival of paradise on earth, but somehow always failing to do so.

Positive law has one negative social effect: it divides people into ‘us’, those who are supposed to obey the laws, and ‘them’, the powers represented by the clever lawyers sitting on the Conseil d’Etat and similar bodies.

By contrast, English Common Law has over centuries built a solid capital of justice, accepted as such by all. We’re living off the interest on that capital, rapidly frittering it away. But at least there’s some left, and we must both give thanks and remain vigilant.

Thus we have no need for the ECHR or any other European guarantors of the rights of Englishmen. The European Court of Human Rights is no more synonymous with human rights than the European Union is with Europe. Moreover, some members of that august body (Russia springs to mind) don’t seem to be overly constrained by its legal notions.

The ECHR is good at issuing variously inane laws, but its means of enforcement are somewhat lacking. If a law can’t possibly be enforced, it’s not a law but an ideological statement. As such, it will be heeded only by those who share the same ideology, which most Englishmen don’t.

Much the same logic can be applied to criticism of a British Bill of Rights. Though such a constitutional document wouldn’t be issued by continentals, it would be inspired by the spirit of positive law, which has a distinctly continental flavour.

Anyway, we already have one Bill of Rights, passed in 1689 as a result of the Dutch occupation known as the Glorious Revolution. Having another one would be tantamount to a tacit admission that there was something wrong with the first Bill. Indeed there was, plenty, and England has never been the same thereafter.

But at least it could be argued then that the Glorious Revolution represented such a tectonic constitutional shift that its legal aspects had to be summed up in a written document. Nothing like that is happening now – in fact Britain has made the first step towards reclaiming her ancient constitution, freeing it from the yoke of European legalism.

Therefore a new Bill of Rights will be redundant, which means it’ll do more harm than good. Lucius Cary, 2nd Viscount Falkland, must be spinning in his grave.

Spare a thought for poor children with learning difficulties

LesAmoureux“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes,” said that good European Otto von Bismarck. “The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

Yes, but what about those unable to learn from the mistakes of others, nor indeed from their own? There must be special schools for them, and EU leaders doubtless meet all the entry criteria.

Here’s the problem, class: the EU is moribund. Britain apart, the only major EU economy showing any growth is Germany’s. The rest teeter between stagnation and collapse, with the latter exceedingly looking likely in Italy and elsewhere.

This is directly attributable to the EU’s perverse founding impulse to bend economics to fit politics, and such attempts always end in disaster. A child has to be downright retarded not to realise that imposing the same economic policy on countries ranging from Sweden to Greece, and the same currency on most of them, is foolhardy.

Playing truant means missing essential lessons. For example, the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz predicts that the EU is hurtling towards “a cataclysmic event”, and children would be well-advised to pay attention.

But let’s concentrate on politics, especially since the EU was conceived as a political conspiracy. According to Jean Monnet, conspirator in chief, the economic jargon would only be used to deceive:

“Europe’s nations should be guided towards the superstate without their people understanding what is happening. This can be accomplished by successive steps, each disguised as having an economic purpose but which will irreversibly lead to federation.”

Altiero Spinelli, another major conspirator, reiterated that the goal was the “definitive abolition of the division of Europe into national, sovereign states”. Remember, class, those grown-ups meant what they said.

It doesn’t take a top GCSE score to see that the EU’s political structure is creaking at the joints, with the Brexit referendum bringing it closer to disintegration. Those dominoes are tottering and about to tumble.

Europeans are demanding similar referendums, with Holland leading the way, for once in something worthier than a cull of crumblies, legalising drugs and putting ugly whores into beautiful windows.

Italy will soon hold a constitutional referendum, and many observers believe it’ll be an exit plebiscite by another name. The natives are also restless in Eastern Europe, with the Czechs, Hungarians, Poles and Slovaks demanding a less centralised EU.

All these countries correctly blame the EU not only for their economic plight but also for the demographic destruction of Europe initiated and promoted by Angie and her paramours. They’re enraged by the sight of millions of cultural aliens overrunning their countries and turning them into giant Kasbahs.

They realise that once the size of barbarian mobs has gone beyond a critical mass, Europe will explode. The slower learners are helped along by the visual aids of uncontrolled Muslim terrorism threatening to turn cities like Paris into a Beirut circa 1980.

In short, the lessons are there, and the Brexit referendum ought to have focused the minds of those pupils who suffer from particularly bad concentration problems. Yet, as their reaction to Brexit shows, EU leaders are both unwilling and unable to learn.

Take economics for example. The giant protectionist bloc that the EU is stifles competition and limits opportunities for trade and foreign investment. This is the economic ABC, as are the measures known to alleviate such problems.

How do you attract foreign companies into your country, class? Right, by making such a move more affordable. And how do you do that? Correct. By lowering the cost of doing business, specifically the corporate tax.

However, having heard that Britain is planning to do just that, Stefan Löfven, the Swedish PM, threatened to punish Britain during subsequent Brexit negations, when and if they take place: “Aggressiveness from Britain in those types of issues… doesn’t improve the relationship.”

Keep the noise down, Stefan, and try to learn. This is what competition is all about, child, and perhaps you should ponder that. While at it, consider the consequences of Sweden’s ‘liberal’ attitude to Muslim immigration that has  turned the country into Europe’s greatest hotbed of sex crime.

And then Merkel, Hollande and Renzi went on a school outing to the same island on which Spinelli conceived the original conspiracy. They grudgingly accepted that not all of their problems are caused by the dastardly Anglo-Saxons.

Some of them are admittedly caused by the EU’s bossy efforts to eliminate independent nations that really wish to remain both independent and nations. So what was the upshot of the crisis meeting? What’s the answer?

Why, more integration of course, now that the British opposition has been removed. That’s it. The rest is a collection of meaningless platitudes, of the kind that have earned many a school essay an F.

Thus François: the EU needs “a new impulse on three fronts – the economy, defence and security.” Thus Matteo: “Europe… is also about peace, prosperity and freedom.” And Angie stressed the need to ensure “growth to ensure people have jobs and hope in the future”.

Any more worthless truisms, class? What about real solutions to real problems – the economic, demographic and security disasters? Really, some pupils will never learn.




With friends like him, who needs enemas

Nicolas_Sarkozy_(2008)French politicians scare the proverbial matter out of me. For, although most Western countries are governed by nonentities, we’d rather not be governed by madmen. However, if Nicolas Sarkozy’s views on diversity are any indication, his likely comeback at the next election may indeed create such a fraught situation.

By way of background, the current outburst of Muslim terrorism hasn’t exactly endeared multiculturalism to the French. Over 60 per cent of them, as opposed to 49 per cent in Britain, feel there are too many immigrants.

Such subterranean tremors produce shockwaves of support for Marine Le Pen’s National Front. Marine won’t become queen but she could well become king-maker, by siphoning votes away from Sarkozy’s UMP and Hollande’s Socialists.

Hence Sarkozy’s urgent desire to come up with a cogent and, above all, popular plan for dealing with multiculturalism which everyone realises hasn’t been a success.

Alas, his rhetoric evinces some clinical symptoms of madness. The most worrying of them is losing all touch with reality, which Sarkozy manifests when favourably comparing the French treatment of immigrants with les Anglo Saxons:

“We are not Anglo-Saxons who allow communities to live side by side while ignoring one another…” Newcomers must assimilate “not just with nationality but also with values, culture and way of life.”

Far be it from me to suggest that Britain has handled Muslim immigration well. But claiming that the French have done it better, or that they’re any further advanced in pursuing assimilation, is sheer schizophrenia.

Over 40,000 cars are burnt in France every year, about 30,000 of them in the Muslim banlieues around Paris, with the rioters screaming “Nique la France!” (F*** France). The exact figures aren’t available because the French press, scornful of the British tendency to wash private linen in public, tacitly agrees not to wash even public linen.

This propensity for immolating private transport only gets an airing during electoral campaigns, especially when a member of the Le Pen family is a factor. The fear is that flogging that dead horse (or rather those dead cars) might foster racism, Islamophobia and other fashionable vices worse than which none exists.

The banlieues, where auto-da-fés (no pun intended) take place, are belts of public housing built around French cities specifically to accommodate some eight million North Africans currently resident in France. Having thus assuaged their post-colonial guilt, the French then pumped welfare billions into the banlieues, with the implicit reciprocal agreement that the denizens stay inside and don’t inundate city centres.

No serious attempt to encourage them to assimilate was ever made, partly because the French believe that any native speaker of French is already French, thereby blessed with an innate superiority over anyone of less fortunate nativity. The North Africans speak French, n’est-ce pas? Well, that’s it then. It’s just best that these particular French speakers stew in their own ghetto juice.

A social catastrophe flowed out of this attitude like wine out of a bottle. Up to 50 percent of the banlieues’ residents are unemployed, and for young people the figure is closer to 75 percent. One doesn’t have to be an expert sociologist to realise that such areas will in short order become criminalised.

So it has transpired. The banlieues have turned into urban jungles, bearing little resemblance to ethnic areas in Britain, although the gap is closing. The British still go to such areas to have a quick curry at a place that lets you bring your own beer. The French don’t go to the banlieues at all and avoid driving through them whenever possible.

Even the police steer clear, fearful of the automatic weapons in the hands of the locals. If les flics ever dare cross the line, it’s in armoured cars. That’s not to say we don’t have problems with Islamic alienation – only that the French problems are worse.

If Sarkozy really thinks that France’s situation, for all its acknowledged drawbacks, is any better than in Britain, he has a serious medical problem. The start of any successful treatment would be to acknowledge reality as it is, rather than as he wants it to be.

The second step would be to realise that all Western countries, emphatically including France, have failed to handle the problem of Muslim immigration because they proceed from the false Enlightenment premise of equality. The wrong assumption is that Muslims are fundamentally like us, and the only reason they aren’t really like us is that they’ve been denied opportunities to assimilate.

Indeed, if there were only a few thousand Muslims here or there, they’d have no option but to assimilate, if only as subterfuge. But in a country that admits millions of them they’re much more likely to stick together and try to impose their ways on the hosts.

Hence Western countries cursed with a large Muslim presence can solve the concomitant problems only by curtailing Islamic immigration, reducing the numbers already there by mass deportations of those who evince hostility to the host country, and punishing violent harangues and acts with exemplary firmness.

Neither Sarkozy nor any other Western leader will do that. This makes their variably crazy pronouncements on the subject especially nauseating and sphincter-loosening.

Mr Bean + Col. Putin = love

Nr BeanRowan Atkinson based his Mr Bean character on his brother Rodney. And, having met Rodney, I can testify that, though devoid of Rowan’s talent, he’s fully his match in creating make-believe.

He exercises this ability in supposedly serious articles, whose stock in trade should be truth, not fantasy. Specifically, he writes hysterical pro-Putin pieces wholly based on KGB/FSB propaganda.

Mr Bean’s ignorant rants are only worth debunking because some cleverer people than him also act as Putin’s useful idiots, a concept first popularised by Lenin. Alas, unlike the syphilitic dictator, Putin recruits that group mainly on the right.

In Mr Bean’s virtual world the West is in the grips of unaccountable and unprovoked Russophobia. For example, he writes “…a Syrian or Iraqi hospital bombed mistakenly by Russia is called a war crime but when US aircraft bomb a hospital for hours it is called a mistake!”

Yet both claims are true. Just look at the ordnance used by both parties.

The Americans mostly deploy guided projectiles designed for precision strikes. Obviously, bombing paramilitary forces using civilians as live shields will cause collateral damage. But only a liar will claim that mass murder is the Americans’ aim.

By contrast, the Russians widely use high-altitude bombing with free-falling fragmentation blockbusters first developed in 1956. Each explodes into 11,500 fragments, creating a killing zone of 14.5 square miles. This explains why the Russians have already killed more civilians than ISIS has managed.

Segueing from ignorance to madness. Mr Bean then accuses the Ukraine of belligerence towards Russia. Yes, and Poland was belligerent towards Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939.

Russia committed criminal acts by invading the Crimea and two Ukrainian provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk. What better proofs of Ukrainian belligerence would one want? Yet Mr Bean obligingly provides them:

“Banning communist deputies.” One could argue that a party committed to destroying parliaments must be denied parliamentary representation. Moreover, communists murdered millions of Ukrainians, at least five million in Holdomor, the artificial famine organised in 1932-33 specially for that purpose.

Can you explain why banning heirs to those crimes constitutes belligerence against Russia? Mr Bean can.

“Overturning a democratically elected Government”. ‘Government’ shouldn’t be capitalised in English, but Mr Bean’s prose does read like a translation from German. Nor does he understand the situation in the Ukraine.

The country gained independence from Holodomor murderers 25 years ago. Yet Putin refuses to regard the former Soviet republics as anything other than parts of the ‘Russian space’ to be reclaimed.

To that end, the Russians put in place puppet regimes wherever they can. One such was Yanukovych’s government. Referring to it as ‘democratically elected’ is either mendacious or stupid. In places with no democratic tradition, but with a long experience of institutionalised lies and corruption, it’s impossible to take elections seriously.

But let’s assume for the sake of argument that ousting Yanukovych wasn’t nice. What business is it of Russia? The Ukraine is an independent country that can run its affairs as it sees fit.

“Banning the Russian language”. Judging by Mr Bean’s command of his own tongue, I’m not surprised he can’t tell Russian from Ukrainian. Yet Russian remains the dominant everyday language east of the Dnieper, including Kiev. However, all official business is indeed transacted in the country’s official language. Awful, isn’t it?

“Bombing civilians in East Ukraine”. Meaning the bandit units, armed and augmented by Putin’s army, that occupied the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces. Interestingly, most Russophone refugees from these areas flee west, not east. They want to remain in the Ukraine, not become chattels of Putin’s junta.

Mr Bean then demonstrates his command of Google by stating that the Crimea was “Russian for over 220 years”, which supposedly justifies Putin’s invasion. Now India was British for almost the same 220 years – should we annex a part of it on that basis?

He then reconfirms his unshakeable trust in the ballot box by informing us that “the retrieval of the Crimea is backed by an unambiguous vote of the Crimeans themselves”.

What made the vote definitely ambiguous was the presence of Putin’s armed invaders at every polling station. Also the large Tartar community, decimated by Putin’s precursors, boycotted the election altogether: they know what to expect from a KGB-run Russia.

Those Western Russophobes shout about the danger of further Russian aggression against the Ukraine. Specifically, “NATO’s former Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Sir Richard Shirreff, takes his madness into the realm of pseudo fiction.”

‘Pseudo’ fiction means it’s not fiction, but Rodney writes his own English. And, in addition to understanding matters martial better than Gen. Shirreff does, he also has his own facts.

Russia has deployed 40,000 armoured troops on the Ukrainian border, including the elite First Guards Tank Army, comprising, among other units, two of the country’s best divisions: the Taman and the Kantemir.

Hardly an hour goes by that one of Putin’s mouthpieces doesn’t brag about being able to take Kiev in a few hours and Warsaw in a few days. All Gen. Shirreff wrote was that NATO should take such a possibility seriously and prepare for it.

Mr Bean must be privy to Putin’s innermost thoughts. He knows that Putin has no hostile intentions, which is more than he can say for NATO and its dastardly aggression against “the post Soviet” space.

Rodney is as dismissive of facts as he is of hyphens. Otherwise he would have offered examples of NATO’s annexation of ‘post Soviet’ countries or portions thereof. But useful idiots are useless when it comes to truth.




Women just aren’t what they used to be

SemenyaAs a lifelong champion of progress, I welcome any new expansion of old and tired concepts. Unfortunately, some fossilised dyed-in-the-wool reactionaries still cling to their outdated notions.

Just ask them to define the sex (gender?) of a person who has a man’s testosterone count, testes, deep voice and general appearance, while lacking such old-fashioned attributes of womanhood as ovaries and a womb. They’ll reveal their rotten core by saying that such a person is a man, dread word.

Then they look at the South African Olympic gold medallist Caster Semenya, who answers the description above, and hiss (reactionaries always hiss, they don’t just say) it’s unfair that she should compete against persons who do possess a womb, ovaries and a third of Caster’s testosterone count.

And that’s not all! Wait a minute, I need some time to compose myself, I’m so enraged… Because Miss Semenya is black, these troglodyte yahoos are guilty not only of sexism (genderism?) but also of racism. Should a white man crash a women’s competition, they wouldn’t bat an eyelid. But just because Caster is black… well, you get my point even if I myself don’t.

It’s time those cavemen learned that sex or, as champions of progress now call it, gender is neither absolute nor objective. It’s relative and subjective, meaning that every person is whatever sex he/she/it says he/she/it is.

Not only that, but no one can contest such a self-definition without being branded a sexist (genderist?), racist, homophobe, agist, misogynist, misandrist, fascist, xenophobe, Brexiteer and all other things progressive people like me condemn.

Such people deplore the blatant violations of her human rights that Miss Semenya has had to suffer throughout her distinguished running career. To name one, after her well-deserved triumph at the 2009 world championships Caster was brutally subjected to a sex (gender?) test, which found the abnormalities…

There, see what I mean? That’s what brainwashing over many centuries does. Even a lifelong champion of progress like me has let slip this revolting word. There’s no such thing as abnormalities because there’s no such thing as norms. Repeat after me: There’s no such thing…

After Caster’s human rights were so egregiously stamped into the dirt, she degradingly was made to take tablets to get her testosterone down to the level normally encountered among women, which she claims to be and therefore is.

To the delight of all lifelong champions of progress, in 2015 the IAAF reversed its shameful policy on what in the medical parlance is called hyperandrogenism (a woman being too much like a man, putting it in the language even we can understand). The new ruling states that there’s insufficient evidence that testosterone increases athletic performance.

Actually, androgens include not only testosterone but also anabolic steroids, which – as any lifelong champion of progress must now accept – don’t increase athletic performance either. All those athletes who pop them like Smarties do so simply because they like the taste.

Androgens also increase the body’s muscle mass and reduce its capacity to produce fat, making men look different from women much to the delight of sexist homophobic fossils who, for old times’ sake, still enjoy some of the more jutting fat deposits of a woman’s body.

However, we must deny on pain of richly merited ostracism or even, in the near future, criminal prosecution that men’s higher muscle mass, lower fat content and greater aggressiveness (another androgen function) make them stronger, faster and more competitive. It’s a pure coincidence that men outperform women in every sport (they also outperform women in chess, but let’s not go there).

In defending her case, Miss Semenya invoked the deified memory of Nelson Mandela. History’s greatest man once told her something of superhuman profundity: “sport is meant to make people feel united”.

I couldn’t agree more, even though my modest intellect can’t plumb such demiurgic depths. In any case, like many scriptural sayings, this one can work on many different levels.

Perhaps people should feel so united that they abandon sex (gender?) divisions in sports altogether and let men, women and any intermediate specimens compete against one another. After all, if men and women can use one another’s lavatories, why should they run separate races? No, not a good idea?

Fine. Then I’d like to quote another godlike champion of progress, Vladimir Lenin: “Before we unite we must firmly and decisively separate”. Applying this wisdom to the task at hand, perhaps the world’s governing sports bodies should introduce a third sex (gender?) category: Other. That would obviate the need for any testing and shut up reactionaries for good.

For the time being, all lifelong champions of progress should unite in offering Miss Semenya heartfelt congratulations on her 800m triumph. In conclusion I’d like to ask a question that’ll no doubt betray my naivety, nay ignorance, in matters hyperandrogenic:

Can Miss Semenya actually marry herself?







Our columnists can do EU flip-flops with the best of them

Flip-flopOne is often concerned about the mental health of some of our hacks. With Christopher Booker, concern becomes a certainty.

Here’s the symptomatic title of his today’s article: Leaving the EU Can Cost Us Even More Than Staying In.

There would no grounds for contacting a psychiatrist had this piece come from a Guardian ideologue. Yet Mr Booker has for years been one of the most vociferous campaigners for leaving the EU.

Has he changed his mind? Or has he, as an honest man, revised his position in line with new facts? Have his convictions been overridden by the calculator?

He certainly does a lot of sums in his piece, which infuriates me whenever the EU is discussed. Mr Booker ought to know that the EU isn’t so much an economic as a political and ideological project.

Hence number crunching can be no more helpful in assessing Brexit than it would be in pondering good and evil, vice and virtue or justice vs. tyranny. An issue of vital political, constitutional and moral import ought to be neither decided nor even argued on such petty concerns.

But let’s suppose for the sake of argument that we’ve allowed arithmetic to take the upper hand. What do the relevant numbers tell us?

Even accomplished economists, of whom Mr Booker manifestly isn’t one, can’t possibly calculate the long-term economic effects of Brexit. Certain suppositions can be made on first economic principles, but these are well-nigh impossible to express in precise numerals.

Any attempt to do so should make any intelligent person smell a rat. And even trying to figure out the apparently obvious short-term sums is a futile task.

Mr Booker makes this patently obvious by trying to reshuffle numbers with the dexterity of a three-card Monte player. First, he singles out one economic variable only: the amount of money we pay into the EU coffers every year.

His argument is that we won’t get to keep much or any of it when we finally leave. Uninteresting if true, I’d suggest – and even if true, which it isn’t, such calculations certainly don’t justify the article’s title.

Serious economists consider not one variable but all of them, such as trade opportunities gained and lost, the cost of having to comply with regulations vs. not doing so, the benefits vs. disadvantages of setting an independent economic policy, the effect on taxation, reduced pressure on social services including medicine and education – well, I may name many such variables, but I’m not sufficiently informed to pull them all together into a cogent equation. My point is that neither is Mr Booker.

Unlike me, he doesn’t seem to be aware of his limitations. He forges ahead, putting together an argument that is holey to the point of being dishonest and primitive to the point of being inane.

First he whips out his trusted calculator and subtracts £4.9 billion (our rebate) from our annual £17.8 contribution to the EU. The difference of £12.9 billion is Mr Booker’s point of departure.

“Of this… we shall continue to spend the further £4.5 billion that goes on subsidies to farming…,” he proceeds. This statement is meaningless unless he suggests that we’ll still continue to subsidise mostly French farming, which we do under the terms of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.

Since that won’t be the case, most of the £4.9 billion will subsidise our own agriculture. We may argue about the advisability of such practices, and valid points could be scored on either side, but that would be a different argument.

Next. “Equally guaranteed is the £1.5 billion which goes to private bodies such as universities for research.” Same argument: whose universities? New argument: when we finally leave, we won’t have to be bound by any agreements into which we entered as an EU member.

Then, “It would not be wise to discontinue spending most of the £2 billion we give to 27 EU agencies, such as that which regulates medicines, because it would be more costly for us to duplicate their work ourselves.”

But we’re already duplicating this work, by regulating medicines through homespun agencies, such as NICE, MHRA and a whole alphabet soup of others. Has Mr Booker factored in the extra cost of also complying with the regulations imposed by the European Medicines Agency? Thought not.

“And if we are sensible enough to remain in the European Economic Area, giving us continued full access to the EU’s single market, we would be bound to continue contributing the £2 billion a year…”

This is a time-dishonoured logical fallacy called petitio principii (begging the question) – using what is the conclusion of the argument as a premise. We don’t necessarily need ‘full access to the EU’s single market’, and we certainly don’t need it at any price. If Mr Booker wishes to argue the opposite proposition, then by all means he should do so. Instead he presents as a fact what needs proving, which is neither grown-up nor clever.

Doing flip-flops can be fun, but care must be taken not to land on one’s head causing adverse cerebral effects. Mr Booker has neglected this simple truth.