Can’t anyone take a joke anymore?

“Still want your Sunday roast, you murderer you?”

A German joke is no laughing matter, quipped a wit once. Yet today no joke is – and some may be sacking or even criminal offences.

William Sitwell, the editor of the Waitrose Food magazine, found himself on the receiving end of this observation, when he was summarily sacked after responding to an e-mail pitch from a vegan hack.

Selene Nelson, food and travel writer of the vegan persuasion, pitched a series of articles on “healthy, eco-friendly meals”, as a result of which the “popularity of the movement is likely to continue to skyrocket”.

Movement, no less. Vegans are present-days suffragists, Luddites or Chartists. They aren’t just isolated oddballs here and there. They’re a political force, albeit still an aspiring one.

Mr Sitwell admirably replied in 10 minutes, which promptness is extremely rare among editors (spoken from personal experience). Moreover, his reply was humorous, which is rarer still:

“Thanks for this. How about a series on killing vegans, one by one? Ways to trap them? How to interrogate them properly? Expose their hypocrisy? Force-feed them meat?”

Personally, I would have suggested making them eat one another, but then I have no job from which I could be fired. Mr Sitwell did – and was.

Now neither Mr Sitwell’s joke nor especially my embellishment of it is particularly funny. That’s why I wouldn’t make it in a public medium, but then neither did Mr Sitwell.

His unfunny joke was made in a private missive, recipient’s eyes only. Since it had dire consequences, the self-righteous snitch must have forwarded the e-mail to Mr Sitwell’s employers and demanded action.

The demanded action was taken because today’s publishers are gun-shy. They know that a publication can suffer severe damage as a result of a PCC complaint or especially legal action.

The mere threat of any such thing is sufficient for them to get rid of the putative offender – whatever the face value of the problem (again spoken from personal experience: my offence was against homosexuals, not vegans, but both groups are equally hypersensitive).

In this case the Press Complaints Commission wouldn’t have been interested because the offending remark wasn’t published. I doubt a lawsuit would have been a real danger either, for the same reason.

What the publishers were afraid of must have been the possibility of a hysterical smear campaign, possibly accompanied by riotous rallies outside their offices. Being totally devoid of a sense of humour is an essential qualification for New Age activists.

Now vegetarians and especially vegans, unless they have medical reasons for their dietary quirk, suffer from a hysterical neurosis typically exacerbated by pernicious ideology.

Not being a professional neurologist or psychiatrist, I don’t know if their condition is treatable. However, I do know that most of them would refuse to submit to treatment, and that’s where the ideology comes in.

In their eyes they’re paragons of virtue, courageous, self-sacrificial fighters for the liberation of animalkind. Since as a rule they’re atheists (I’m strictly talking about Westerners here), they are prone to anthropomorphising livestock.

They may know that a legal difference exists between killing a person and slaughtering a cow, but in their eyes there’s no moral one. Both are animals created by Darwin in a flash of inspiration.

The neurotic hysteria part of it is indeed no laughing matter: we shouldn’t have fun at the expense of physical or mental deformity. But the ideological part is fair game, for the sanctimonious self-righteousness of those people isn’t a medical condition but a conscious choice.

Well, they’ve chosen wrong, and that’s a good reason to have a good laugh at their expense. But when they elevate their hysterical adulation of animals to a secular religion of sorts, an awful, hare-brained surrogate of real faith, they’re no longer just mildly amusing.

Like exponents of any other cult, they treat normal people not as the holders of a different view but as heretics and infidels. Hence no holds are barred, not even murder, as those fire-bombing anti-fur fanatics have demonstrated.

And their response to jokes at their expense isn’t a million miles away from the Muslims’ reaction to what they perceive as an affront to their particular cult. People may forgive those who poke fun at their thoughts, but not those who mock their faith.

Exponents of veggie cults become aggressively dangerous in that they try to shoehorn toxic alien additives into our civilisation, putting it at great peril – especially when they join forces with other New Age loudmouths, your tree-huggers, global-warmists, ideologised LGTB perverts, anti-nuke zealots and the like.

Therefore we, Western holdouts, are duty-bound to fight back with every weapon at our disposal, and savage satire has to come out of the quiver first. I myself lampoon those people every chance I get, and I support everyone who does the same – and admire everyone who suffers for doing so.

Such as William Sitwell, who showed that modern martyrdom doesn’t have to be sanguinary. The bastards can get us in all sorts of ways.

What does the Conservative Party stand for?

The face of today’s conservatism.

The fact that this question can be asked suggests some lack of certainty. No such problem with deciding what it doesn’t stand for: conservatism.

Conservatism is the only political and moral philosophy rooted in the founding Judaeo-Christian tenets of our civilisation. This applies not just, these days not so much, to the religion itself, but even to every seemingly secular principle the religion spawned.

That determines what conservatives wish to conserve: the core principles of Christendom, as refracted through the complex facets of contemporaneous society.

Therefore political conservatives (and conservative parties) must find a way of adapting those principles to the rough-and-tumble of quotidian life, making sure the latter doesn’t deviate too far from the former – and the former don’t compromise the latter.

The defining political feature of any country is the relationship between the state and the individual. The more power the central state possesses, the less conservative it is.

The key organisational principle of Christendom is that of subsidiarity, devolving power to the lowest sensible level. That’s why, before Jesus Christ became a superstar, no central Western government had even approached the power of today’s prime ministers or presidents.

Since everyone was believed to be individually responsible for his own salvation, it was assumed that everyone could also be responsible for taking care of the infinitely easier task of running his own life.

Kings thus held much more sway over the loftiest courtiers than over the lowliest peasants. The people just went on with their lives, which were steered with loose reins by local squires, magistrates and priests – not by the almighty central state.

This reversed the arrangement that had existed in the Hellenic world, where the polis was everything and the individual next to nothing. Personal sovereignty was a concept alien to the Greeks and Romans alike: people had any value only as citizens, not as individuals.

And citizens were happy to be subjugated to the polis, accepting that their own petty concerns were trivial compared to the communal good – as defined by the polis.

In an eerie sort of way today’s democratic politics resembles Hellenic antiquity, minus the philosophical depth and cultural refinement. This mock-classical heritage is reflected in the budget unveiled by the government yesterday.

Even before the 2008 crisis, sensible people knew that an economic disaster loomed at the end of a profligate spend-and-borrow policy. The way most Western states run their economies resembles a pyramid scheme, or cheque kiting if you’d rather.

Cheque kiting means writing a cheque for an amount greater than the account balance and then covering the deficit with a cheque drawn on another account at another bank where the funds are also insufficient.

If the kiter presciently opens multiple accounts in banks all over country, he can pursue the scam quite profitably – until one day the penny drops, as it were. Usually that happens when he gets too greedy to stop in time, an oversight he’ll then have plenty of time to contemplate in prison.

In that spirit, the chancellor has announced the winding down of austerity, which never was wound up in the first place. The Exchequer, he proudly declared, will loosen its purse strings to the tune of an extra £103 billion – this just days after the PM bemoaned the inordinately high cost of serving the national debt.

The government has been reticent about the source of the extra funds, but I can tell you where they’ll come from: printing and borrowing, the governmental version of cheque kiting.

Sooner or later the fraudulent cheques will be called to account, and the scam will come to a shattering end. But as long as this doesn’t happen before the next general election, it’s not this government’s problem, is it?

Their problem is to secure victory when the time comes, and damn all else. But why does this irresponsible, nay suicidal, spending spree improve their electoral chances? Why isn’t everyone screaming bloody murder?

Alas, our comprehensively uneducated public doesn’t realise that there’s a cheque-kiting scam under way. And even if they did, they wouldn’t care.

For they’ve been indoctrinated to think about such matters in the same slipshod way, and this applies to how they handle their own finances too. Maxing out a full pack of credit cards and mortgaging themselves to the hilt are the cornerstones of today’s private fiscal policies – mirroring the public equivalent.

Neither the government nor the voters give a moment’s thought to what will happen if, say, interest rates get to the level of 30 years ago, around 15 per cent? Doesn’t bear thinking about, that.

But this is only the most visible, and I daresay less significant, pitfall of promiscuous spending. For the state doesn’t shower prospective voters with money just to win their support. It does so to increase its own power.

Our state is paternalistic, meaning it performs towards us the same function as a father performs for his children. People welcome this care, forgetting that a father has practically an unlimited power over his brood.

He provides for the child’s food, shelter, education and medical care – but in return he acquires the right to tell junior that it’s time for bed or that there won’t be any pudding if he doesn’t eat his greens.

Extrapolating to politics, the more a state does for people, the more it’ll do to them. In the process, a provider state will draw more and more power to the centre, and away from the periphery.

Whether the state will worship Marx, as ours will under PM Corbyn, or pays lip service to Christianity, as ours does under the vicar’s daughter, is immaterial. It’s a distinction of style, rather than a difference of substance.

Some states achieve this end mainly by violence and diktat; others, such as ours, go easy on violence, heavier on diktat and heavier still on paternalistic hand-outs.

But they all pursue the same self-serving aims. Therefore, even though there might be some genuine conservatives in our Conservative government (which I doubt), the government itself has nothing to do with true conservatism. ‘Conservative’ is a misnomer.

The only good thing I can say about this lot is that, while defying the timeless principles of conservatism, they uphold what I call the ABC of today’s politics: Anyone But Corbyn.

Yes, that lot will be infinitely worse. But I can say one thing for them: at least they don’t call themselves conservative.

Far from the madding Kraut

“Ve’ve got veys to keep you in ze empire.”

Many people, especially those who never wanted to leave the EU in the first place, claim that no one realised at the time of the referendum what Brexit meant.

Things have since proved so complicated, and the economic consequences of Brexit appear so nightmarish, that we need at least one more referendum.

If at first they didn’t succeed, they want to try and try again – until they get a result they can get their heads around, meaning the one they want. Everything else is just too incomprehensible for words.

The only thing those people with learning difficulties do know for sure is that post-Brexit we’ll all starve and freeze in the dark. It’ll be worse than the Black Death, what with fruit and veg becoming so unaffordable that a pandemic of scurvy will empty out the British Isles.

So, for the benefit of those slow learners, I’ll be happy to simplify matters by reducing them to a very clear proposition.

The EU is a political project whose aim is to create a single pan-European state dominated by Germany, with France bringing up the rear. As things stand now, Angie Merkel will be empress in all but name.

That’s why only one question needs answering:

Do we wish Britain to be a sovereign state headed by Her Majesty and governed by Parliament or, alternatively, to become a dominion of the German empire?

That’s all. Everything else is either immaterial or derivative.

Think of it as boarding a 16:43 for Birmingham. As you contemplate the journey, the only relevant question to ask is whether the train will get you there in time for, say, a 19:30 concert at the Symphony Hall.

Once that question has been answered in the affirmative, then and only then may you also wonder about the chances of bumping into someone you know at Euston Station or meeting the love of your life on the train (provided your wife isn’t any the wiser).

But first things first, right?

The very last thing we should do is mire the problem in the swamp of extraneous considerations, such as Brexit’s economic consequences. The issue is all about politics. So let’s sort out the politics first and worry about everything else later.

All right so far? Splendid. Now we’ve taken care of the central issue, let’s talk about peripheral ones – such as indeed the economy.

Actually, this isn’t a bad time to talk about it because our Europhile chancellor is about to uncork a ruinously promiscuous budget – and, which is even worse and certainly more perfidious – link it to Brexit.

Mr Hammond intends to spend even more billions we haven’t got and put an end to austerity – but only if Parliament agrees to the kind of Brexit that isn’t really Brexit.

I’ve said it a thousand times if I’ve said it once that those chaps ought to look up ‘austerity’ in the dictionary. They’ll find it means spending less than one earns – not overspending at a stratospheric rather than cosmic rate, which is what austerity seems to mean to our governing spivs.

Their type of austerity has brought bailiffs to many a door, and the IMF to many a country. This is one example of what I call ‘glossocracy’: controlling the people by controlling their language.

But what will happen if Britain takes French leave from the EU’s good offices? Something so awful that it doesn’t bear thinking about.

Britain – brace yourself and make sure you’re sitting, or better still, lying down – will have to lower taxes, reduce red tape and free up trade to attract foreign investment. In other words, our economy will emulate Singapore’s by becoming friendly to international commerce.

Again let me boil this down to a very simple proposition even slow learners can understand.

If we comply with the wishes of the British people (more of whom voted for Brexit than have ever voted for anything else), the government will go against its instincts and make our economy sound – just like Singapore’s. In other words, prosperity is a sort of punishment imposed on the people if they misbehave.

On the other hand, ruining the economy with unsustainable spending and borrowing, accompanied by devastating taxation and strangulating red tape, is the prize we win for abandoning, or at least compromising, our sovereignty.

The threat of prosperity has thrown Corbyn and other subversives into a hysterical fit. Becoming like Singapore, they wail frothing at the mouth, will destroy our manufacturing and make us all poor.

Now Britain’s GDP per capita was just under 40,000 USD in 2017, whereas Singapore’s was just over 55,000. Become like Singapore? Any sane person will scream “Yes, please!”

But not our governing spivs and especially not their disloyal opposition. Surely even problem pupils must see that the economic ‘punishment’ they see in their mind’s eye will bring not only more service business to Britain, but also a great deal of manufacturing?

In any case, British manufacturing has been in the doldrums for several decades now.

Nevertheless the country has managed to keep the wolf from the door, doing much better now than it did when the unions suffocated Britain with billowing black smoke and Jeremy Corbyn screamed “Down with capitalism!!!” at street corners rather than in Parliament.

Now I have no conduit through which I can reach idiots, subversives or subversive idiots. But if you do, please convey these simple messages to them for me. Who knows, perhaps a few of them will understand.

And as to the Fourth Reich, aka the EU, well, you know what I think.

Hitler and other socialists

“Who are you calling socialist?”

Remind socialists that Hitler was one of them, and there will be no end to the ensuing wailing and gnashing of teeth.

A Tory MEP found that out the hard way when he responded to a socialist’s attack on ‘right-wing nationalism’ (not liking the EU very much) with a counterattack of his own:

“We have to remember that Nazis were national socialists. It’s a strain of socialism.”

This simple statement of fact had the effect of painting a target on the poor chap’s chest. A cacophony of jeering shook the building, with words like ‘rubbish’ and ‘idiot’ hitting particularly shrill notes.

Thus the debate was engaged on the intellectual terms left-wingers favour to the exclusion of all others. Howling, name-calling, verbal and sometimes physical violence – such are the rhetorical tools in their box.

Good knock-about stuff, that – provided one doesn’t see arriving at truth as the desired destination. If that’s indeed where one wishes to arrive, then less febrile and more contemplative techniques will work better.

In this case, the truth is simple: the Tory was right. Nazism and fascism at one end and communism at the other bookmark the span of socialism. They are all different manifestations of the same thing.

I define this same thing as inordinate empowerment of the state at the expense of the individual, with everything else acting as either window dressing or a diversionary tactic.

Yet fairness compels me to admit that this isn’t how the founders of socialism defined it. They focused on economics, which they saw as the be-all and end-all of life.

Engaging the adversary on his own ground, I suggest you put side by side two economic programmes, Roosevelt’s New Deal and Hitler’s New Order. I dare you to find any substantial differences between the two – this although the New Deal is socialist (meaning virtuous in today’s cant) and the New Order is fascist (the opposite of that).

Herbert Hoover certainly saw them as similar, which is why he described the New Deal as a ‘fascist measure’. And he wasn’t the only one.

When the New Deal was first introduced, the conservatives cringed, the Nazis gloated, the socialists cheered – and none of them failed to see the parallels. No wonder.

The two programmes are strikingly similar, and this is only partly because they were both designed at roughly the same time and by mostly the same people (Gerard Swopes of General Electric, Paul Warburg of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and Walter Teagle, of Standard Oil of New Jersey, were the principal authors of FDR’s New Deal and also acted as economic consultant to the authors of Hitler’s New Order).

Even a cursory examination will show that Hitler’s beliefs ran towards socialist ideals: big government, nationalised or at least subjugated economy, wage and price controls, strict tariffs, cradle-to-grave welfare, vegetarianism and the kind of genocidal peccadilloes that until (or after) him were practised on that scale only by socialists.

The direct link between Hitler and Marx isn’t widely publicised, but it was self-acknowledged. In his memoir Hitler Speaks Hermann Rauschning quotes the führer as saying that “the whole of National Socialism” was based on Marx. “I have learned a great deal from Marx,” conceded Hitler, “as I do not hesitate to admit.”

Such debts are never acknowledged, while the differences between ‘democratic’ socialism and fascism are overemphasised. It’s true that the socialists of France or Sweden hold civil liberties in somewhat higher esteem than Hitler did.

But while all fascists were hideous and oppressive, not all of them were murderous. Some, such as Mussolini, compare favourably in that respect with figures who are widely canonised as secular saints.

Abraham Lincoln, for example, closed down 300 pro-Southern newspapers (and had their presses smashed), suppressed the writ of habeas corpus and had 13,535 Northern citizens arrested for political crimes from February 1862 to April 1865.

Comparing his record with that of Mussolini, who only managed 1,624 political convictions in 20 years and yet is universally and justly reviled, one begins to see modern hagiography in a different light.

Mussolini, incidentally, had been one of the most effective socialist journalists in Europe before the fascist light shone in his eyes. He clearly found the transition to be seamless and painless, especially since he professed admiration for Lenin and his jolly band of cutthroats.

Lefties would do well to respond to political issues in an Aristotelian rather than Pavlovian fashion. When they hear the word ‘fascism’, their knees jerk and they don’t even attempt to engage their minds.

The word ‘socialist’ makes their knees jerk in a different direction, with the mind remaining equally unemployed. That negates the advantage of being human, vindicating Darwin.

Except that, judging by the level of modern intellectual discourse, the ape isn’t our past but our future. And a rapidly approaching future at that.

Mumbai or Beijing duck, sir?

Fancy some roast Beijinese tonight?

Actually, my subject today isn’t gastronomy but language. Or, to be precise, the linguistic imperialism to which the English language submits much too meekly for my taste.

People are oblivious to the threat of linguistic extinction or at least degeneration, but the threat does exist – as it has always existed for every lingua franca.

That’s why I watch out for signs of erosion caused by both domestic ignorance and foreign interference. This isn’t to say that English should stand still.

Language develops, and a good job too. Organisms that stop developing start dying, and language is no different in that respect. However, not all changes are to be welcomed.

We should accept with but token resistance only organic developments, those occurring within the language as used by educated native speakers.

Changes brought about by uneducated speakers must be fought tooth and nail because by and large they’re reductive, shrinking rather than expanding the language.

Thus, when Kevin says ‘masterful’ when he means ‘masterly’, or when Sharon says ‘appraise’ instead of ‘apprise’, or when Lee uses ‘momentarily’ in the sense of ‘in a moment’ rather than ‘for a moment’, they ought to be corrected and told in no uncertain terms never to mangle English again.

A stern letter to the Department of Education wouldn’t go amiss either. If you don’t teach pupils their own language, the letter should say, what on earth do you teach them?

How to use condoms and how the British Empire was evil? Don’t worry about it, pupils can pick that kind of learning out of the ambient air, it’s all over the place. Tell them to pick up NHS leaflets and a copy of The Guardian, they’ll get all the information they need to get through life as fully paid-up morons.

Then use the time thus saved on teaching them their own language. Perhaps a foreign tongue or two would be useful as well, but now I know I’m asking too much.

Foreign influences should ring alarm bells too, selectively. We mustn’t forget that a massive influx of foreign borrowings has given English by far the greatest vocabulary in the world, and only a madman would find anything wrong with that.

However, I’m not talking about the foreign implants that have happened organically over centuries as a result of historical twists and turns or cultural exchange. (That sentence, for example, has seven words of foreign origin, and English would be poorer without them.)

Rather I have in mind changes that occur because they’re mandated for political reasons by foreign countries that shouldn’t have any jurisdiction over English.

Thus, to reinforce my richly merited reputation for abrasiveness, I refuse to refer to Peking as Beijing, although I can grudgingly accept Mumbai for Bombay.

The difference is clear-cut. Bombay is an Indian city and, if the Indians choose to rename it Mumbai, even old reactionaries like me have to grin and bear it. We may not like it, but we have no choice in the matter.

The Chinese, however, haven’t changed the name of their capital. They’ve just twisted our arm to say it in English to reflect more accurately its pronunciation in Chinese.

The only sensible reply to that demand should have been simple and to the point:

“Chaps, stick to your own language and never mind ours. Each language has its own traditional versions of foreign geographical names, and they often differ from what they are in their native habitat.

“Thus we say Paris, not Paree; Moscow, not Moskva; Rome, not Roma; Florence, not Firenze; Prague, not Praha. And we’ll bloody well say Peking because that’s how we’ve always said it. That’s it. See you at the noodle factory.”

English is actually the only language of those I know that has suffered this ignominious fate. The French and the Russians call the Chinese capital what they’ve always called it. None of this Beijing nonsense for them.

So what are we, Chop Suey? Of course the difference is that neither French nor Russian is an international language, and English is.

Thus it’s supposed to be vulnerable to international diktats – even though the French get away with referring to Wales as le pays de Galles. I know Galles sounds like Gaul, which makes it irresistible to the French – I’m just talking about the glaring inequity of it all.

I also obdurately pronounce the first syllable in Kenya as ‘kee’, not ‘keh’ – and some New Age nincompoops actually have the gall (that dread word again) to correct me.

This newfangled pronunciation came into being in 1963, when Kenya shed the shackles of the British Empire that, as all British schoolchildren today know, was unspeakably evil.

As part of that wicked rule, the British pronounced the name of a country in accordance with its etymology: it had been named after Mount Kenya, proudly featuring ‘kee’ as its first syllable.

But when Kenya became independent, its first president decided to change his name from Kamau to Kenyatta, to emphasise the blessed unity of his country and his person.

However, he pronounced his new name as Kehnyatta – and the country for which he had renamed himself then had to change the pronunciation of its name accordingly.

They are of course welcome to pronounce the name in Swahili as they see fit. They can call their country Koinya or Kinya or Kannia for all I care.

But, for as long as it’s spelled Kenya in English, I’ll pronounce it the way it was always pronounced when the British still tried to civilise the place. It’s not only countries but also languages that have traditions, and we ignore them at our peril.

There, I think I’ve committed enough hate crimes for one article. I just hope I’ll get away with a suspended sentence to be served in the community.

Trump is right

The other day we had to call in a plumber, and he duly materialised in the shape of a young man sporting a whole gallery of body art.

Since I find this genre not only morally defunct but also physically nauseating, I could hardly look at him. That made communication difficult, but we managed.

Within a few minutes the basin pipe was unclogged, and water happily began to flow down the drain unimpeded. The plumber collected his cheque and left.

Now that young man provides a useful analogy with President Trump.

This thought occurred to me in the context of the fuss kicked up by Trump’s declared intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty with Russia banning all land-based missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,000 miles.

I find Mr Trump revolting as a person. Someone with his background has no business being as much of a vulgar, barbaric, narcissistic savage. It’s bad enough if he really is all those things. But, if this is merely an image he deliberately cultivates, that’s even worse.

However, Trump isn’t someone I contemplate inviting over for dinner (not that he’d accept such an invitation, I hasten to add). He presides over Britain’s most valuable ally by far, one that for the past 73 years has effectively protected the West from history’s most evil regime.

And, extending him the same leeway I afforded that walking exhibit of body art, I have to admit that most of the things Trump does in his official capacity work as well as my basin does now.

Specifically, every international treaty he has pulled out of richly deserved such a treatment. Each one of them, the Paris accords, the Iran nuclear deal and now the INF Treaty, put America – and therefore her allies – at a severe disadvantage.

Signed during the halcyon days of Gorbachev’s (phoney) perestroika, the INF Treaty was specifically designed to protect not so much America as the countries lying within the ranges specified. Us in other words, and I use this pronoun broadly, to include the countries who, like us, belong to Western civilisation.

So protected we’d be, if Russia kept her end of the bargain. But the Russians cheated, as anyone who knows anything at all about that place post-1917 knew they would.

After all, with the exception of the Nazi-Soviet pact, they’ve cheated on every treaty they’ve ever signed, emphatically including those on arms limitations. SALT I, SALT II and so forth – as far as the Russians were concerned, they were ruses designed to gain strategic superiority over the West.

The same goes, in spades, for the INF treaty. While the Americans removed their cruise missiles from Europe, the Russians developed and deployed several new generations of such weapons.

The latest one, the Novator 9M729, is particularly deadly. (‘Novator’ means innovator in Russian – not to be confused with its cognate ‘Novichok’, which means novice.)

This land-based cruise missile can be fired from a mobile launcher, and it’s equipped with a supersonic booster. Therefore it’s extremely hard, practically impossible, to intercept.

The only way to counter the Novator is to threaten counterstrikes with similar weapons. However, the US hasn’t deployed them in Europe in compliance with the INF treaty.

Any contract becomes null and void if one party cheats on its terms and refuses to comply. Hence one would hope that anyone who doesn’t wish to see Europe dominated by Putin’s kleptofascist junta would hail Trump’s decision as highly welcome and long overdue – hoping that, having slipped the shackles of this sham compact, America still has time to redress the balance of power.

Alas, such hopes would be forlorn. For the ‘liberal’ establishment can’t do with Trump what I did with the tattooed plumber – separate his person from his job.

Their hatred of the US president is not only hysterical but also irrational. For shorthand purposes I describe such an animus as stupid.

Like me, they dislike Trump as a person. Unlike me, however, they also hate every policy he has put into effect, even though most of them have either worked admirably or – like his withdrawal from this and other larcenous treaties – are admirable.

Allowing emotions and personal idiosyncrasies to cloud one’s judgement of strategic issues is – for shorthand purposes – idiotic. In due course and under some circumstances it may also prove suicidal.

Chaps, it’s the cardsharp who’s in the wrong, not the player who caught him with an ace up his sleeve. It’s not Trump who’s the warmonger. It’s Putin. It’s Europe that’s staring down the barrel of those Novators. It’s Trump who  wants to have a free hand to defend us.

When there’s no danger on the horizon, by all means let’s have some nice clean fun at Trump’s expense – he deserves it. But when yet again we have to rely on America for our freedom, do let’s give him his due. He deserves that too.

Down with glottophobia

Tony (never Anthony) tried, with variable success, to drop his haitches and use the glo’al stop.

If you don’t know what ‘glottophobia’ means, don’t feel embarrassed. The term is still new.

Makes one wonder how we’ve lived without it for so long. After all, we know how all those phobias and isms enrich our vocabulary, actually our whole lives.

Didn’t you feel culturally impoverished before we were blessed with the arrival of words like ‘transphobia’? One can’t resist sin – nor refrain from crime – unless one knows it for what it is.

Hence, for example, Brexiteers are helped no end on the road to virtue when our transgression is diagnosed as ‘Europhobia’.

Spending half my time in France, I didn’t realise I was suffering from an inordinate fear of Europe. I feel much better now that my phobia has been properly diagnosed.

‘Glottophobia’ isn’t, as you might infer from the word’s etymology, fear of language as such. It’s the crime of mocking language spoken with regional accents.

Anyone finding himself on the receiving end of this outrage is instantly traumatised for life, which places glottophobia side by side with homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and other capital crimes.

That’s why a French MP has proposed that the mockery of accents be outlawed. Why is it that the French are always ahead of us?

This overdue measure was prompted by Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the French Corbyn, who mocked a journalist who asked a probing question at a press conference.

Mélenchon lampooned the hack’s Toulouse accent and then asked if anyone had a question in “understandable French”.

That blew to smithereens another of my cherished stereotypes. I thought only elitist conservatives were capable of such snobbery, not tireless fighters for universal égalité and the liberation of the working classes from the capitalist yoke.

Still, the subject of regional dialects is interesting, both as such and in its social and cultural implications.

I grew up in Russia, a country that has no dialectal variety to speak of. Oh, I’m sure a Russian Prof. Higginsky will talk your ear off about phonetic differences between, say, Moscow and Petersburg, 400 miles apart.

But, since I was professionally trained in English, not Russian, I can hear no differences between the two in sound production, although there may be some variations of inflection.

All Russians speak essentially the same way. I grew up a few hundred yards from the Kremlin, but I sound almost identical to someone from Vladivostok, 4,000 miles away as the crow flies (and 6,000 as the car drives).

From there I went to the US, which offers more dialectal diversity. Some accents are quite pronounced, such as those of New York, Boston, the Deep South and the Southwest (with variations within each).

Thus a New Yorker and a Texan will know where each comes from. But I dare anyone other than a professional phonetician tell apart the accents of various Midwestern and Western states. I certainly can’t, and I’ve studied such things academically.

Even though a New Yorker and a Texan will acknowledge their differences, they’ll have no problem understanding each other. And a Russian or a Frenchman wouldn’t even believe it possible for native speakers of the same language to have such problems.

Note also that, though the journalist who offended Mélenchon with his impertinence spoke in a regional accent, the former had no problem understanding – and mocking – the latter.

This brings me to the unique phonetic phenomenon: Britain, a country much smaller than France and positively minute compared to the US and especially Russia. Yet linguists identify 50 major British dialects (five of them in London alone) and God knows how many minor ones.

These aren’t the namby-pamby differences between Moscow and Vladivostok or New York and Boston. Britons living but a few miles apart may not understand one another.

When my wife was growing up in Exeter, she couldn’t understand the farmer living five miles down the road. The denizens of two adjacent counties, Yorkshire and Lancashire, may have similar problems – and neither will effortlessly understand a Newcastle Geordie who lives practically next door.

Clearly some uniformity is vital to allow for smooth communication. That’s provided by the standardised accent variously known as Queen’s English, Received Pronunciation or, in the past, BBC English.

Educated people, even those who retain traces of their phonetic origin, all tend to speak that way and, truth be told, occasionally look down on those who can’t or won’t.

Yet the attitude to regional accents changes. For example, when Samuel Johnson entered Oxford University, he spoke with a pronounced Lichfield lilt, which he kept all his life.

Had he gone to the same university 200 years later, he would have found himself the butt of cruel jokes. Yet in 1728 he was neither patronised nor despised.

Regional accents weren’t yet viewed as a sign of inadequacy. Yet two centuries later the creator of Prof. Higgins observed that: “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.”

What had changed? The nature of British society, is the short answer.

The Industrial Revolution was no less destructive than any other kind, even though Joseph Schumpeter would have doubtless described the destruction it wreaked as largely creative.

As a result, England was no longer a country of aristocrats and peasants, with the middle classes sandwiched in between.

It became a society shaped by the middle class, with the aristocracy marginalised and the peasantry all but eliminated. Middle class sensibilities came to the fore, and a quest for uniformity was prime among them.

The middle classes, especially in Protestant countries, tend to hold a smug belief in their own superiority. Since they’re the acme of creation, it follows ineluctably that everyone should be – and sound – just like them.

Since in Victorian times they fawned on the upper classes, they could forgive some toff idiosyncrasies. But anyone they deemed beneath them was treated with contempt, usually but not always tacit.

It was then that speakers of regional dialects began to be seen as social and cultural inferiors. Eventually that feeling became justifiable, if not excusable.

For good schools insisted on certain standards of not only grammar and vocabulary, but also pronunciation. Thus it was possible to tell an Eton man from a Rugby one, either from the alumni of grammar schools, and all of them from those who never received much education at all.

A good accent, therefore, betokened a good education and a certain social standing, while a regional dialect bespoke ignorance. Glorious exceptions existed, but even they had to overcome their phonetic handicap to acquire recognition.

Then things came full circle. The British educational system was destroyed for ideological reasons, and gradually the teaching of good English faded away.

Proletarian accents became not only acceptable, but desirable and, for a politician, essential. Thus Tony Blair, who went to all the good schools, studiously dropped his aitches and used the glottal stop when addressing wide audiences, although sometimes he forgot, making his speech sound hermaphroditic.

Suddenly people in public life have begun to take elocution lessons to take their accent down, rather than the other way, as they used to. It’s essential to come across as prolier than thou.

Note the progression. First, in Dr Johnson’s time, nobody cared about the accent. Then, when the middle classes became dominant and smug about themselves, local accents became contemptible: the bourgeois dreaded the possibility of slipping a rung or two on the social ladder.

In our time, when everything is dominated by ideology, phonetic slumming has become a sign of ideological PC virtue. And ideological heresies start out being derided and end up being punishable by law.

So think twice before trying to mock the Cockney accent as a party trick. You may be committing the crime of glottophobia.

Virgins await Russians in heaven

“I spy with my little eye a swarm of American ICBMs converging on Lubianka…”

Whenever I talk about gun control, I make the same point: guns aren’t dangerous as such. They only become dangerous in the hands of either madmen or criminals or especially mad criminals.

Extrapolating ever so slightly, the same applies to nuclear weapons. In the hands of sane countries, such as Britain or France, they’re a factor of security. They’re only a factor of danger in the hands of criminal countries, especially those whose criminality is tinged with insanity.

That’s why any sane person ought to be wary of the noises coming out of Russia, all revolving around the radioactive ash into which the Botox Boy could turn the US at the drop of a hat, or rather of a few high-yield bombs.

Threats of wiping out the West with nuclear weapons aren’t new. As a child growing up in Moscow, I remember Khrushchev bragging that the Soviets possessed the kind of bombs that could each annihilate the US with a single blast.

However, everybody knew that was just braggadocio, possibly spouted under the influence of the national beverage. (Khrushchev’s favourite breakfast was an eight-ounce glass of vodka chased with a bowl of rich borsht and some rye bread.)

When Khrushchev began to sound not just boisterous but insane, his colleagues got worried. They didn’t want that red button pushed by a deranged fanatic having a fit.

It was time to act, and they didn’t even bother to kill Khrushchev in the fine Russian tradition. They simply packed him off to a modest dacha and left him to write his mendacious memoirs.

In other words, while unquestionably evil, the Soviet Union retained at least some sanity. Watching the latest news, nay symptoms, coming out of Russia, I’m not so sure.

Just look at Putin’s speech at the meeting of the Valdai Club, the closest equivalent his junta has to our Tory 1922 Committee.

The stage was set by the usual boasts about Russia’s ability to annihilate the whole world should the need arise. Nothing new there, nor in the Botox Boy’s lies about Russia’s strategic doctrine.

“Our concept,” he said, as his nose was lengthening, “is that of a counter-strike.” Nuclear weapons will be used “only when we’re certain that someone, a potential aggressor, is striking against Russia.”

Actually, even in Soviet times the Russians didn’t take the MAD doctrine seriously. They considered a nuclear war winnable, especially if started by their first strike. And Putin’s generals definitely include first use of nuclear weapons into their calculations.

So far I haven’t read anything about their specific plans to unleash a nuclear Armageddon, but there’s plenty of evidence about their reliance on tactical nuclear weapons for ‘de-escalation’.

This means that, if they start a conventional war in Europe, for example by attacking the Baltics, and it turns against them, they envision a nuclear strike on NATO bases or possibly some European population centres.

That would give NATO two options: either to pull back or to respond in kind, thereby risking a full-blown nuclear exchange – and Putin is certain they don’t have the stomach for the second option.

I’m not unduly bothered about the Botox Boy lying – what on earth else would one expect from a career KGB man cum gangster? But then Vlad began to overlay his lies with a note of apocalyptic insanity.

“Any aggressor should know that retribution is unavoidable, one way or another he’ll be destroyed. As victims of aggression, we’ll be martyrs who’ll go to heaven, while they’ll simply croak. Because they won’t even have time to repent.”

The Botox Boy didn’t specify how many virgins each Russian martyr will rate in heaven, but his visionary powers are most impressive. Prophet Jeremiah, eat your heart out. And there was more to come:

“In general, we fear nothing – a country with such a territory, such a defence system, such a population ready to stand up for its independence, its sovereignty. Not every place, not every country can boast such a population ready to lay down their lives for the motherland – and we can.”

I’m not a professional psychiatrist, but even the rankest amateur can diagnose paranoid delusions here. Vlad sees in his mind’s eye a potential aggressor that’ll go nameless (well, if you insist, the US), waiting for the best moment to let go of ICBMs.

One would think it’s the US, not Russia, that’s pouncing on its neighbours like a rabid dog foaming at the mouth. But wait a minute, the Botox Boy is now ready to merge paranoid delirium with more lies:

“We’re not reaching out anywhere, we have a huge territory, we want nothing from anybody.” For sure. But what about the annexation of Crimea, asks a particularly malevolent Russophobe.

But Vlad won’t be caught out: “Crimea is ours. Why ours? Not because we came and snatched something. People went to a referendum in Crimea and voted.”

This sounds as if the referendum preceded the Russian invasion, whereas in fact it was the other way around. When the mock referendum was set up, the turnout was low, with the native Tartar population refusing to take part in that travesty. Those people who voted did so under the watchful eyes of Soviet soldiers cocking their AKs.

So Putin was lying, but it wasn’t just a bog standard lie. A wayward husband who tells his irate wife he had a late business meeting is merely a liar. But one who says he was kidnapped by aliens with feelers on their green heads is also a madman.

I don’t know if Russian martyrs will get to cavort with all those virgins in heaven, but I do fear that, under the Botox Boy’s leadership, they may well turn the world into hell.

Conservative, moi?

One has to sympathise with Jacob Rees-Mogg, who’s not so much painted as fenced into a corner.

It has come to this. No politician can enunciate a cohesive conservative philosophy and get away with it. In every meaningful sense, a conservative politician is now an oxymoron.

Polite Society, priding itself on its tolerance, will just about tolerate the odd droplet of a conservative idea – provided its taste is diluted in a glassful of conformist, progressivist rubbish. But serving such ideas neat is a one-way ticket to political oblivion.

This brings me to Jacob Rees-Mogg, whom I like as much as I’m capable of liking any politician. The other day I watched a dozen of his YouTube videos and found him English, intelligent, articulate, English, witty, well-spoken, lucid, English, well-dressed and viscerally conservative.

Yet the global cooling of the political climate towards conservatism is such that even Mr Rees-Mogg can’t openly challenge the prevailing liberal consensus – even though he has the ability and, I’m sure, a longing to do so.

In addition to being a visceral conservative, Mr Rees-Mogg is a devout Catholic, which puts him in the way of the double whammy of liberal opprobrium.

The only way he can protect himself is to claim that his Catholicism in no way affects his political judgement. That is lamentable.

If he really does keep his religion and his politics in two non-communicating vessels, is he really a devout Catholic? If he doesn’t but pretends he does, is he really an honest man?

One video illustrates these points perfectly. Mr Rees-Mogg was interviewed by a female TV journalist, which is a synonym for a leftist. Paying lip service to the ethics of her profession, the interviewer tried to sound impartial, but that didn’t quite work.

Her unspoken yet clearly discernible aim was to trap Mr Rees-Mogg into saying something that would make him sound like a marginal oddity, an upper-class reactionary completely out of touch with reality.

She knew that was her aim and so did Mr Rees-Mogg. Hence he was as careful to sidestep the traps as she was industrious in laying them.

The interviewer had an important task to perform. Mr Rees-Mogg isn’t just a modest backbencher, which he continued to insist he was. He’s the leader of the parliamentary Brexit group and, some say and he denies, the future leader of the Tory party.

Making him come across as a stick-in-the-mud crank was therefore an important assignment, and the interviewer got to work. Would Mr Rees-Mogg oppose gay marriage and abortion if he ever rose to leadership?

The trap was there and it was gaping. An affirmative reply would put a self-satisfied smile on the interviewer’s face: job done.

And a negative reply would make Mr Rees-Mogg come across as a sleazy opportunist ready to betray his principles for immediate political gain – a typical modern politician in other words.

Mr Rees-Mogg was well aware of the implications. Hence he displayed footwork of balletic agility trying to dance around the trap.

Parliament has spoken on these issues, vox populi has spoken through Parliament, and vox dei has spoken through vox populi, he said, or words to that effect. So there’s nothing more to discuss. Case open and shut.

Yes, persisted the interviewer, who wouldn’t let her wriggling fish off the hook quite so easily. But do you personally oppose those noble causes?

I don’t remember the exact words of Mr Rees-Mogg’s fleet-footed reply, but the gist was that he had no remit to oppose homomarriage or abortion as a politician. However, as a practising Catholic, he had to oppose them, if only in the privacy of his own home.

That reduced his faith to the level of a quaint personal hobby, like bird-watching or collecting socks. His message was the same as that put forth 60 years ago by JFK: I’m a politician who happens to be a Catholic, not a Catholic politician.

Mr Rees-Mogg then began to defend freedom of speech, regretting that it didn’t seem to be extended to Catholics as widely as it was to Muslim preachers of hate.

That was a good and necessary argument, but an irrelevant one – and, what’s worse, an evasive one.

I’m sure if Mr Rees-Mogg and I discussed this subject over dinner, he’d readily agree that it isn’t necessary to evoke Catholicism or any other confession to make a strong argument against homomarriage and abortion.

I’m not saying that such an argument could be confidently won, but it certainly could be plausibly made, and in several ways. An appeal to millennia of tradition would work against homomarriage: marriage in the West has always been a union between a man and a woman.

Something that’s been around for millennia is ipso facto worth keeping, but that’s not the only possible argument. One could also go into the social and biological significance of marriage, the critical importance of that institution to society present and especially future.

Marriage is demonstrably one concept where enlargement begets diminution – and eventually debauchment. Each time a homomarriage is officiated by the state, a chunk is chipped out of the very institution. Repeat this over time, and this building block of society will crumble away completely.

You see, this outline of a possible argument makes no reference to Catholic doctrine. The same is possible with abortion.

Accepting the sanctity of human life might have been a Christian imperative originally, but it can admirably stand on its own two secular legs.

In a civilised, which is to say Western, country, a human life can’t be taken arbitrarily and without due process. Hence the argument isn’t about the Catholic catechism.

It boils down to deciding whether a foetus is part of the mother’s body, like her appendix, or a sovereign human being, like her child.

If it’s the former, she can abort it: not many people raise moral objections to appendectomy. If it’s the latter, she’s committing infanticide, and many people still object to that.

Granted, a foetus isn’t yet fully a person. But here one might invoke Aristotle’s teaching about potentiality and actuality.

A foetus is a person not actually, but potentially. Conception doesn’t produce a person, but it does produce a human life that will eventually become a person.

And human life must be assumed to start at conception because no other point can be pinpointed with reliable accuracy. Hence abortion at any point of gestation is tantamount to the gratuitous taking of human life.

Had I been the interviewee, I would have made such points without making a single reference to Christianity for fear of losing my audience, securely indoctrinated in the tenets of progressivist atheism.

But I’m not a politician, and Mr Rees-Mogg is. That’s why he couldn’t respond in that fashion and hope to remain a politician for long.

This isn’t so much criticism of this immensely able politician as a comment on today’s politics in general. Or, even broader, on our time where the only sound political philosophy, that of conservatism, has no place.

Hate crime (love the state)

This is the scene of gruesome hate crimes committed every rush hour

When I read the Home Office report this morning, I almost fainted with horror. The number of hate crimes has more than doubled in the past five years… wait a second, let me swallow the tears…

And in the past year alone hate crime has grown by 17 per cent to 94,098 cases! Something snapped in our life, and the British have begun to hate one another with unprecedented fervour.

Images of murdered or mutilated persons of non-English ethnicity flashed – nay blazed – through my mind.

They were then kaleidoscopically replaced by other equally appalling pictures: synagogues and mosques burning, Muslims and Orthodox Jews tortured and forced to eat bacon, women pushed on underground tracks, homosexuals tarred and feathered…

Sorry, I can’t write about this without shaking all over. What times we live in! But why, I asked myself, why is so much hatred splashing out so fast and so recently?

In search of an explanation I read on, and the Home Office obliged. The culprits are terrorism and Brexit: “[We record] spikes in hate crime following certain events such as the EU referendum and the terrorist attacks in 2017”.

That stands to reason. Islamic terrorism, and I hope describing it as such isn’t yet punishable by law, can probably be classified as hate crime, though it’s not as criminal as the public reaction to it.

Why, just the other day I heard a mature gentleman use the term Muzzie-Wuzzie when discussing suicide bombings, which is a hate crime if I’ve ever seen one.

And we all know that people who voted to leave the EU did so only because they hate and fear Johnny Foreigner, whatever his ethnic guise. Now they got their way, they take it as a licence to attack anyone who looks and talks funny.

If you seek an analogy, this is a marginally less murderous replay of the 1282 Sicilian Vespers, when the locals got tired of their French colonisers. So they celebrated Easter by killing 3,000 of them, identifying the victims by their foreign accents.

Let’s not discount the religious motive either. It’s common knowledge that, since the British are intensely devout Anglicans, their zealous piety naturally breeds intolerance of other religions. So off they go and kick an alien for Jesus and Archbishop Welby.

One doesn’t see offhand how terrorism and Brexit affect violence against women and homosexuals, but I’m sure a link exists. However, it’s hard to reconcile these types of hate crime with those committed against Muslims.

If I wanted to offer violence to women and homosexuals, I wouldn’t want at the same time to scare off Muslims, for whom this sort of thing is a nice day out. If I saw women and homosexuals as enemies, I’d see Muslims as friends.

You may detect a touch of sarcasm here, and I congratulate you on your perspicacity. For I don’t really think that either Brexit or terrorism explains the steep climb in the incidence of hate crime – not exhaustively at any rate.

But the HO report does contain an exhaustive explanation, even though its authors may not recognise it as such. The increase, says the report, was largely driven by improvements in the way police record hate crime.

Allow me to translate. The Home Office and the police have expanded the meaning of hate crime to include into that rubric things that weren’t there before.

Thus, say, touching a woman without permission is now classified as a hate crime, though, if one wanted to be pedantic about it, it’s closer to a love crime.

Calling an elderly gentleman an ‘old bastard’ is now a hate crime, even though such rudeness doesn’t necessarily betoken hatred – and even if it did, hatred by itself isn’t a crime. For example, I don’t think I’m breaking any particular law by disliking Tony Blair or Dave Cameron.

Hitting a woman is usually a crime, but it may be caused by an explosive temper, not hatred of women collectively. And telling unfunny jokes about Jews and blacks, or even referring to them by their pejorative names, may be tasteless without being either hateful or criminal.

Why is our government doing this, even though this new offensive breeds contempt for the law in general? After all, few of us have never done something that falls under the new definition of hate crime.

(Yes, I know you’re an exception: you’ve never tried to kiss a woman against her will, never uttered an ethnic or racial slur, never demeaned the whole womankind by questioning some woman’s intelligence, never said anything nasty about homosexuals, old people, redheads or fatsos, never commented on the physical attributes of a female colleague.)

Widening the meaning of crime in this fashion effectively criminalises the entire male population (you apart) and much of the female. And in a society where crime can mean anything, it soon ends up meaning nothing. If every citizen is criminalised, the state itself is the criminal.

So why are they doing that? For the same reason I suggested yesterday, when talking about the state imposing taxes that have a ruinous financial, social and moral effect.

With modern states, it’s not the text but the subtext that matters. And the subtext is always the same whenever we gasp with incredulity at any government action: the state’s congenital imperative to bend the people to its will.

Exactly a year ago, and doesn’t time fly, I wrote a piece about this hate crime madness, and I really have nothing to add to it:

The disease has since progressed, which all progress junkies should welcome. Since I’m not one, I grieve.