The New Deal failed, Boris

Boris Johnson clearly has a firmer grasp of ancient than modern history. Otherwise he wouldn’t be so keen to compare his ruinous and economically illiterate plans with FDR’s New Deal:

Any conservative role models, Boris?

“It [Johnson’s proposed programme] sounds positively Rooseveltian. It sounds like a New Deal. All I can say is that if so, then that is how it is meant to sound and to be, because that is what the times demand – a government that is powerful and determined and that puts its arms around people at a time of crisis.”

When a government puts its arms around people, sooner or later it’ll have its hands on their throats. The more a government does for the people, the more it’ll be able to do to them – to this law there are no known exceptions.

Roosevelt’s New Deal, so beloved of Mr Johnson, increased no end state control over the economy – so much in fact that it was barely distinguishable from Hitler’s Four-Year Plan, devised at roughly the same time (and by more or less the same people). It wasn’t for nothing that Herbert Hoover described the New Deal as a “fascist measure”.

When he became President in 1933, Roosevelt knew of course that, just as statism had been largely responsible for converting recession into depression, so had the subsequent interventionist measures made things much worse. But ideology always trumps reason.

Predictably, Roosevelt’s answer was to fight statism with more statism. The situation was ideally suited to the kind of social meddling for which his power-hungry loins ached.

Roosevelt responded to the challenge fiscally by borrowing almost as much as all previous presidents put together. He also responded to it rhetorically, by launching vituperative attacks against big business that, he claimed, was solely responsible for the crisis.

As a result, a wave of strikes, tacitly encouraged by the government, shook the country and the rest of the Western world (apart from Germany and Italy, whose governments tended to discourage industrial action, and not just tacitly).

The battle was raging, but Roosevelt, waving the megalomaniac Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in one hand and the National Relief Administration (NRA) in the other, rode in on his white steed and saved the day. Or at least that’s what many thought.

They were wrong though. After Roosevelt’s ill-advised measures had run out of steam, trouble came back in force. By 1938 unemployment was again nearing 20 per cent, recession returned, and suddenly even the intellectually challenged realised that the depression hadn’t really gone away. It had merely been camouflaged, and confirmation of this came from unexpected quarters.

Henry Morgenthau, Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary and one of the principal architects of the New Deal, admitted before the House Ways and Means Committee that the New Deal had failed:

“We have tried spending money,” he commiserated. “We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. I say after eight years of this administration, we have just as much unemployment as when we started… And an enormous debt to boot!”  

Roosevelt’s response was again characteristic. Rather than admitting that it had been raids on private enterprise and free trade that were at the root of the problem, he exacerbated the problem by stepping up the attacks.

In parallel he abandoned his halfhearted efforts to balance the budget and launched an even bigger spending programme, trying, in the language that has become so familiar to us, to spend his way out of trouble. Having dug himself into a hole, he spurned conventional wisdom and went on digging.

The printing presses went into high gear, government expenditure, as a percentage of GDP, tripled compared to the 1929 level. But it was all in vain – or rather it would have been all in vain, but for one widely publicised event. The Second World War.

It was a global carnage, not socialist programmes, that turned America into an economic powerhouse by the late 1940s. The country’s GDP increased 2.5 times during the war, unemployment became a thing of the past, the dollar took over as the world’s reserve currency, and the US has been propelled by that momentum ever since.

Such are the lessons of the New Deal, but Mr Johnson clearly played truant when they were taught. Or else one wonders whether he anticipates the saving grace of another world war by the time his socialist programmes have succeeded in beggaring the country.

However, given the apocalyptic nature of today’s weaponry, that treatment may be worse than the disease. So perhaps it would be better if Boris stopped playing demagogic politics for a while and took a crash course in economics and modern history.

Then he’d find that an economy can only work, not spend, itself out of trouble. Socialist measures may relieve some pain in the short run, but they are bound to make the underlying disease much worse.

The state can only affect the economy positively by not affecting it negatively. Rather than taking his lessons from Roosevelt, Johnson should take them from Burke: “The moment that Government appears at market, all the principles of market will be subverted.”

P.S. Looking on the bright side of coronavirus, now is the only time in my memory that a masked man can walk into a bank without arousing suspicion.

Propaganda in action

You can see such signs all over Britain – posters, windows, pavements, TV commercials, newspaper ads all combine to make this the widest expression of gratitude I’ve ever seen.

Crowded out for a while by ‘Black Lives Matter’, ‘Thank You NHS’ has regained its top position in the popularity stakes. And after we’ve finished thanking NHS, we must all thank God, our lucky stars and above all our munificent state for the great gift of a socialist health service.

However, once the warmth of the initial response has worn off, one wonders if nursing home residents share our mandated mass thankfulness. After all, more of them died of Covid-19 in Britain than in any other European country – at a rate that’s twice France’s and 13 times greater than Germany’s.

The comparison is valid for the three countries are similar in most other markers of quality of life. The only major difference is that their medical care is only partly, as opposed to our totally, nationalised.

The preponderance of thankful slogans testifies to the success of socialist propaganda in scouring people’s minds clean of any ability to think for themselves.

The British are beginning to resemble more and more Soviet children, housetrained to chant “Thank you, Comrade Stalin, for our happy childhood” at a time when most of the population went hungry and 10 per cent of it were in concentration camps. Mutatis mutandis and all that, but the propaganda mechanisms are the same.

People are conditioned by Pavlovian techniques to separate their feeling from thoughts, and thoughts from facts. Otherwise they’d know that, contrary to its claim of being the best healthcare system in the West, the NHS is just about the worst.

This isn’t to say NHS doctors and nurses don’t deserve our gratitude. They do. And those 300 of them who gave their lives fighting coronavirus are heroes.

But then so are soldiers killed in an ill-conceived, ineptly led, badly supplied suicide attack doomed to failure. They should be decorated posthumously and celebrated together with their surviving comrades. But those who deployed them ought to be court-martialled, and the whole military doctrine questioned.

It’s not just the NHS either. People are expected to react by kneejerk reflex to any number of messages emanating from either the state or various pressure groups.

Messages designed to elicit unthinking public enthusiasm are all divorced from reason and therefore subversive. If they weren’t, there would be no need to crank up propaganda machines – a quiet explanation would do, if at all necessary.

Generally speaking, any secular message communicated by a slogan is mendacious and pernicious. Such messages, be that BLM, MeToo, global warming or whatever, wouldn’t survive 10 minutes of serious, factual debate. That’s why they don’t get the benefit of it.

Even when such campaigns don’t start with the government, it unfailingly chimes in eventually, if not straight away. A Tory government may sometimes play hard to get for a short while, but it’ll put out soon enough.

This works in a time-proven way: pressure groups unleash a shrill campaign designed to elicit reflexive response from grex venalium; after sufficient exposure grex venalium responds on cue; pressure groups use every medium to portray this response as valid public opinion; the government acts for fear of losing the next election.

Repeat this sequence many times over many years, and effective government becomes impossible even in theory (this irrespective of its party affiliation). In its place we get a group of self-serving spivs sensitive to every turn of the wokish weathervane.

But look on the bright side. Our children still aren’t ordered to chant “Thank you, Mr Johnson, for our happy childhood”. There’s a way to go yet.

Headless statues and brainless prelates

The forthcoming orgy of vandalism at Canterbury Cathedral is easy to blame on Archbishop Welby, and I do. Yet a great deal of the problem is inherent to the established status of the Church of England as a state religion.

“If I had a hammer…”

In any country where a state religion exists, the sins of the state will be visited upon it. Sooner or later its prelates will become government officials in cassocks, toeing the line drawn by the state.

And the line our anomic and anaemic state has drawn leaves reason, integrity and indeed sanity outside. Hence, if the state meekly surrenders to the diktats of the mob, so will the church.

Having said that, it’s possible even for a prelate of a state church to show more fortitude and intelligence than Justin Welby evinces. I don’t know how qualified he was in his previous job as oil trader, but in his present position he gives every sign of someone who has no clue.

The latest sign was flashed in his remarks on the future of the statues adorning Canterbury Cathedral. And there are quite a few of them – 55 just on the western façade.

Cathedral sculptures all over Europe have of course had their share of vandalism over the centuries. Many of the niches in the façades of great French cathedrals show headless statues as a result of the mob’s preferred method of art criticism.

Calvinists had a go first, then revolutionaries had a field day – and continued to have it throughout the 19th century. This proves yet again that iconoclasm survives long after the icons have been smashed.

English Calvinists, otherwise known as Puritans, also took a particular delight in toppling and decapitating statues. However, I can’t recall offhand many examples of high clergy in the defaced and desecrated churches not only going along with the vandals but actually inviting them over.

In that sense Justin Welby is a pioneer. He actually announced on TV that: “We’re going to be looking very carefully and putting them [the statues] in context and seeing if they all should be there.”

What context would that be, Your Grace? Historical? Ecclesiastic? Doctrinal? Biblical? No, of course not. The Archbishop has specifically identified the BLM movement as the context in which the history of England and her church must be viewed.

Looking at the Canterbury statues, I wonder which ones will be slated for destruction. St Augustine? St Anselm? Thomas Cranmer? St Gregory the Great? The Conqueror? Edward the Confessor? Thomas Becket? Elizabeth I or II? All of them?

Even assuming that some of the great people honoured with Canterbury statues fall short of the exacting moral standards of modernity, judging, say, medieval figures by such standards goes beyond idiotic – it enters the domain of psychiatry.

Some of the statue models never saw a black person in their lives; I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that some didn’t even know that black people existed. Their behaviour can only be judged by absolute moral standards, and perhaps also by the ethics of their time.

These statues commemorate the people who made England. They signposted English history and guided it into the conduits appropriate for their time. Let’s forgive them, shall we, their lack of foresight in not having anticipated the arrival of modern times, with their wars of total annihilation, concentration camps, genocides – and staggeringly sanctimonious self-righteousness.

The good Archbishop tried to explain himself with his usual eloquence: “Some names will have to change. I mean, the church, goodness me, you know, you just go around Canterbury Cathedral, there’s monuments everywhere, or Westminster Abbey, and we’re looking at all that, and some will have to come down.”

He then went on to expand my English vocabulary, a service for which I’m always grateful: “But yes, there can be forgiveness, I hope and pray as we come together, but only if there’s justice.” I get it: justice is the modern for vandalism.

Then of course there are all those offensive portraits of Jesus as a white man. Can’t have those, can we?

Here at least the Archbishop makes an accurate observation. When you travel the world, he said, “You see a black Jesus, a Chinese Jesus, a Middle Eastern Jesus – which is of course the most accurate – you see a Fijian Jesus.”

Truer words have never been spoken: indeed you do. And when you travel in the West, you see a white Jesus, right? Fair is fair and all that.

Yet by some twist of his already pre-twisted mind, the Archbishop seems to believe that a white Jesus is out of ‘context’. I must admit I don’t quite follow the logic.

Christians around the world are taught to believe that they are made in the image and likeness of God. Thanks to the Incarnation, this image can be depicted pictorially. In the era before jet travel, people would cast a look at their neighbourhood, see those around them and infer that they all reflected the image of God. Hence they painted God as they saw the people they knew: black, Chinese, whatever.

On what basis should European artists have been denied the same privilege? To paraphrase Pascal, Welby has his reasons that reason knows not of.

I think that even our state church could do better than Welby. In fact I know it can, if some Anglican clergymen among my friends are any indication.  

Giordano Bruno, meet Leo Tolstoy

If there is any such thing as a work that should end all debates on a subject, Heaven and Earth by Ian Plimer, emeritus professor of earth sciences at the University of Melbourne, is it.

Plimer’s brilliant book shows the global warming activism for the politicised scam it really is. Densely packed with analysis of multiple disciplines, the book proves the nonexistent scientific basis for just about every faddish claim, certainly one about the vital role of carbon dioxide as a driver of climate change.

However, my admiration for the book is diminished by Prof Plimer’s forays into areas outside his vast expertise. One of them is economics, where the author attaches too much importance to his speciality.

It’s true that there may be an historical correlation between warm interglacial periods and prosperity. However, as Prof Plimer himself states often and correctly, correlation doesn’t mean causality.

It’s not only earth scientists but also economists who must draw on a raft of diverse data to be entirely credible. Overstressing just one factor, in this case climate, at the expense of others, is as unsound in economics as singling out carbon dioxide is unsound in Prof Plimer’s chosen field.

That, however, is a minor gripe. The major one involves Prof. Plimer describing global warming as a secular, atheist religion.

By itself, this comparison is unobjectionable, provided it’s made casually and left at that. Alas, Prof Plimer doesn’t leave it at that. He uses the parallel to bring up that old chestnut about science and religion being incompatible.

When I got to those passages, and there are many of them, I felt sad, even though Prof. Plimer thereby confirmed my lifelong observation that, whenever even extremely intelligent atheists start talking about religion, they can’t avoid sounding silly, ignorant or both.

Entering this field, Prof. Plimer displays all the same failings for which he so convincingly lacerates global warming fanatics: negligent treatment of facts, ignoring information that contradicts one’s pet beliefs, barely concealed emotional afflatus.

Someone who wishes to malign the Church as a mortal enemy of science, has to drag in some putative martyrs. Giordano Bruno has to lead the way, what with the secure niche he has carved for himself in atheist mythology.

Hence Prof Plimer writes: “In 1600, Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for supporting the Copernican theory of a Sun-centred universe.” One wishes he had brought to this topic the same analytical acuteness and breadth of knowledge he so amply displays throughout the book.

For Bruno wasn’t, nor could have been, immolated for that reason. In 1593-1600, the years of his lengthy trial, the Church had no official position on the heliocentric theory, and it was certainly not regarded as a heresy.

Bruno was indeed burned as a heretic, but that had nothing to do with Copernicus. In fact, both his heretical teachings and the arrogant, intolerant manner in which he preached them were eerily similar to those of Leo Tolstoy 300 years later.

Like Tolstoy, Bruno attacked, viciously and rudely, not only the Catholic Church, but every Christian doctrine, without which Christianity simply wouldn’t have existed.

Bruno denied the divinity of Christ, the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity. He rejected both Transubstantiation and the Eucharist. Christ to Bruno wasn’t God but simply a clever magician. He mocked the virginity of Mary, although he stopped short of Tolstoy’s claim that she conceived her son in an adulterous relationship.

Bruno’s theology tended towards Hermeticism, Gnosticism and pantheism, with a good dollop of vaguely Eastern beliefs, such as metempsychosis, transmigration of the soul into a new body of the same or different species. Tolstoy, in common with many Western atheists, also gravitated towards Eastern tenets, although not all the same ones.

Unlike Tolstoy, however, Bruno wasn’t a writer of genius. In his book The Torchbearer he attempted a satire but achieved nothing but obscenity. Hence, also unlike Tolstoy, he didn’t enjoy the protective cocoon of worldwide renown.

Therefore, if Tolstoy could get away with doctrinaire rudeness, obtuse dogmatism and violence towards those who dared disagree with him, Bruno couldn’t. That’s why, when he first left Italy in the 1580s, he failed to gain academic positions at a number of European universities, including Marburg and Oxford.

Having been rejected at the latter, Bruno wrote a vindictive pamphlet in which he claimed that Oxford professors knew more about beer than their academic fields. In this at least he showed prophetic powers, anticipating the developments of much later vintage.

In short, Bruno wasn’t the martyr of science he is often portrayed to be by atheists, including, alas, such otherwise brilliant ones as Prof Plimer. Bruno was an out-and-out heretic, much as Tolstoy was in his time.

That Bruno was burned at the stake, while Tolstoy got away with mere excommunication, had to do with the difference in their reputations, achievements (towering in Tolstoy’s case, negligible in Bruno’s) and above all their times.

In Bruno’s time the Church was reeling from the blows delivered first by Renaissance humanism and then by the Reformation. It had to stamp out heresy within its ranks if it was to survive, and so it tried.

In that the Church displayed much less murderous cruelty than is claimed by its enemies. The Spanish Inquisition, for example, was responsible for only about 3,000 executions during the 400 years it was in business – a trivial number by the standards of the enlightened 20th century, even its average month.

Tolstoy, by contrast, lived at a time when secularism had vanquished and, according to Nietzsche, God had died – meaning that educated, or rather semi-educated, people no longer believed in him. Also, Tolstoy’s deserved popularity as a great writer and an undeserved one as a great thinker explain why the Russian (or for that matter any other) Church was in no position to impose a serious punishment for heresy.

I just hope that scientists who, like Prof Plimer, fight against global warming activism will go unpunished and indeed praised for their courage and integrity. I only wish he concentrated his formidable intellect in the areas of his expertise.  

The losing Battle of Brixton

Located in the south of London, Brixton is an area that’s rather… now what’s the acceptable word for it? I don’t wish to get in trouble for using an unacceptable one, PC propriety being one of my chief concerns.

Police cars as dance floors and karate mats

Exotic? Diverse? Multicultural? Anyway, you get the gist. However, in spite of being all those things, Brixton isn’t usually as violent as the similar areas of New York I remember.

Once, for example, I found myself driving through Bedford-Stuyvesant as a result of misreading the road map. One look at the burnt-out shells of buildings with no window frames, doors replaced with holes cut in steel sheets, the people crawling out of the holes, and I prayed my car wouldn’t break down.

Brixton isn’t like that. It used to be a middle-class neighbourhood, which past has left much architectural legacy. And these days its diversity and multiculturalism are hardly ever expressed through riots and general mayhem.

Yet hardly ever is a far cry from never, which semantic point was made emphatically the other day. The fun started when two groups, the Montagues and the Capulets of Brixton, hundreds of them, fell out.

Before long, knives saw the light of day, blood flowed, and only the arrival of the cavalry could have saved the day. The cavalry, otherwise known as the Metropolitan Police, duly arrived, lights flashing, sirens blaring, tyres screeching.

The subsequent events vindicated the truth of the Russian proverb loosely translated as “Two square off, you f*** off” [Двое в драку, третий в сраку, for the Russophones among you]. For the warring parties abandoned their hostilities and joined forces in a coordinated counterattack against the blue-clad intruders.

The police were pelted with projectiles ranging from bottles and stones to bits and pieces of furniture, punched and clubbed. Both the Montagues and the Capulets jumped on police car bonnets, kicking the windscreens in.

The police suffered 22 wounded, walking or otherwise, and fled, with the multicultural crowd in hot pursuit, screaming “Run them out!” and other things I shan’t cite out of decorum.

The Battle of Brixton was lost. And, like the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, this defeat has far-reaching implications. In that debacle, the real casualties went beyond the two Roman legions shredded by the ancestors of today’s Germans. In Brixton too, it was a civilisation that suffered yet another blow.

For the battle wasn’t lost in Brixton. It was lost earlier this year, when the police refused to arrest the ring leaders of the Extinction Rebellion horde. Or when they failed to save the statue of Churchill being defaced. Or, in the most emetic spectacle of all, when police officers ‘took the knee’ in front of the marauding BLM mob.

Or even earlier, when the aptonymic Cressida Dicks was appointed the Met Commissioner. Being a woman and a lesbian, she possesses two vital qualifications for the post, but hardly any other. Or when Sadiq Khan was elected mayor, bringing to the job his commitment to enforce only the laws of multi-culti political correctness.

Or even earlier than that, when the police were turned into an extension of social services rather than the staunch guardian of law and order. Or… well, I could backtrack to a more distant past, but there is really no need.

Let’s just say that protecting Her Majesty’s subjects from external and home-grown evildoers is the most – perhaps the only – indisputably legitimate function of the state. A state remiss in that area loses any claim to loyalty.

Anarchy, mob rule, war of all against all are a direct and inevitable result of this failure. In that sense the Battle of Brixton is the present-day Battle of Britain – and this time we are losing.

The PM delivered his usual violin-like performance: nice sounds, empty inside. “These were appalling scenes,” he said. “Violence against the police [as opposed to violence against civilians?] will not be tolerated. We have been clear that anyone who assaults the police or any members of the emergency services should face the full force of the law.”

That’s the whole problem, Mr Johnson: the full force of the law is puny, practically nonexistent. No politician, no police chief can instantly issue the order to fire tear gas at a riotous crowd, never mind firearms.

The sight of our self-righteously unarmed police officers running away from a feral mob serves a reminder of the hole into which we’ve sunk. How can the cops protect the public if they can’t even protect themselves? Law and ordure indeed.

If you can’t take the jokes, get out of politics

People in the public eye routinely find themselves on the receiving end of love, hate, admiration, contempt – and jokes, some good-natured, some less so, some downright vicious.

Let’s get a DNA test and put Barron’s mind at rest

That comes with the territory and overly sensitive people should protect their thin skin by steering clear of the territory. The best way of ducking the slings and arrows is to shun public life, keep a low profile and especially stay out of politics.

However, having plunged into elective politics headlong, one should learn how to respond to cutting or even vindictive humour. There are many acceptable ways of doing so.

The simplest one is to ignore the jokes altogether. Then of course it’s possible to laugh along, thereby showing an attractive capacity for self-deprecation. Or else one could joke back, although caution must be exercised: joking, especially off the cuff, may backfire easily.

One thing a politician absolutely mustn’t do is get angry. Such a reaction betokens one of the least attractive human qualities: humourless narcissism. And that, I’m afraid, is exactly the quality revealed by America’s First Lady on this occasion.

Now, when a wife boasts an adventurous sexual past, especially if her much older husband is no longer in the first or even second flush of youth, jokes about the paternity of the couple’s children practically make themselves. These are mostly tasteless, which makes them even harder to contain.

A few years ago, a British comedian was talking about the Christmas dinner at Buckingham Palace. “It was a small affair,” quipped the stand-up chap. “Just the immediate family – and Harry.” Since rumours of one of Diana’s lovers being Harry’s father abound, the joke hit a sensitive place.

Now the British tend to be much more protective about the Royal Family than the Americans are about presidents. And yet the joke caused no outcry, and certainly no comment from Buck House. Cabbages and kings: royals reign, people gossip, comedians jest – life is like that.

Melania Trump should take her cue from the Royal Family, and generally speaking she does. She keeps an unusually low profile for a First Lady and hardly ever speaks in public. Whether her uncertain command of English has something to do with that reticence is anybody’s guess.

Yet she broke her silence on Sunday, Father’s Day, after the comedian John Henson tweeted: “I hope Barron gets to spend today with whoever his dad is.”

The joke is moderately funny at best, and Mrs Trump should have just let it slide. Instead she responded like a lioness protecting her cub: “As with every other administration, a minor child should be off-limits and allowed to grow up with no judgment or hate from strangers and the media.” 

Melania should really lighten up. The Trumps are doubtless exposed to more than their fair share of judgement and hate, but a joke, funny or not, just doesn’t fall into either category.

One gets the impression that, rather than learning from our Royal Family, Melania has been taking lessons in morbid sensitivity from her egotistic husband. Who, judging by the photograph above, has stepped up his preparations for an impending gurning contest.

I’m no physiognomist, but I do sometimes wonder what kind of personality leaves such unusual imprints on a human face.

As some statues come down, others are going up

One pundit with a vested interest in proving the virtue of Putin’s regime, hailed its clean break with Russia’s Soviet past.

As proof of that welcome development, the hack who’ll go nameless (well, Peter Hitchens, if you insist) claimed that Lenin statues no longer adorn Russia’s landscape.

Actually, by latest count, 1,600 of such statues still tower over the country. And of course, in a lovingly maintained sinister ritual, Lenin’s mummy is still on display in that Babylonian ziggurat in Red Square.

But hey, what does one expect? Russians will be Russians, right? We in the West aren’t going to tolerate statues commemorating monsters – nor anyone else we don’t like for however spurious a reason.

In the US statues of the two opposing commanders in the Civil War, Ulysses Grant and Robert E Lee, are about to come down. These are to be followed by most signatories to the Declaration of Independence, including its author, Thomas Jefferson. And even poor old Teddy Roosevelt no longer rates commemoration.

In Britain, the same monsoon is about to sweep away Winston Churchill, Cecil Rhodes, General Hague, Field-Marshal Montgomery and countless others.

However, as the photograph above proves, just as some objectionable personages step down from their plinths, some secular saints are climbing up. Lest you might think that the newly erected statue of Lenin appears in Russia or some other post-communist space, rest assured that’s not the case.

The Marxist-Leninist Party of Germany (MLPD) has been allowed to erect the statue in front of its headquarters in Gelsenkirchen, a city that’s in the heart of what used to be the Federal Republic, not the former GDR.

When city authorities tried to block the project, they were overruled by the courts. Pluralism and diversity were thus affirmed, paving, in my view, the way for some neo-Nazi party to decorate its headquarters with a statue of Hitler. Fair is fair, nicht wahr?

MLPD führer, Gabi Fechtner, is understandably jubilant. Lenin, she said, was “an ahead-of-his-time thinker of world-historical importance, an early fighter for freedom and democracy.”

I’ll buy the “ahead-of-his time thinker of world-historical importance”. Indeed, Lenin created a regime the likes of which had never existed before, but one that gave rise to numerous imitations. Not only Stalin’s USSR, but also China, Vietnam, Cambodia, North Korea, not to mention assorted African and Latin American countries, along with the entire Eastern Europe, can all testify to the great man’s forward thinking.

However, “an early fighter for freedom and democracy” gives me a spot of bother. Anyone who wishes to check Lenin’s record, which gives him a fair shot at being considered the most evil man in history, can do so on Google.

I, on the other hand, prefer to let the great democrat speak for himself, through his official correspondence, books and articles. Here’s a brief thesaurus:

“It is precisely now and only now, when in the starving regions people are eating human flesh and hundreds if not thousands of corpses are littering the roads that we can (and therefore must) carry out the confiscation of church valuables with the most savage and merciless energy…”

“Superb plan!… Pretending to be ‘greens’ (we’ll pin it on them later), we’ll penetrate 10-20 miles deep and hang kulaks, priests and landlords. Bonus: 100,000 roubles for each one hanged…”

“War to the death of the rich and their hangers-on, the bourgeois intelligentsia… they must be punished for the slightest transgression… In one place we’ll put them in gaol, in another make them clean shithouses, in a third blacklist them after prison… in a fourth, shoot them on the spot… The more diverse, the better, the richer our common experience…”

“…In case of invasion, be prepared to burn all of Baku to the ground and announce this publicly…”

“Conduct merciless mass terror against the kulaks, priests and White Guard; if in doubt, lock them up in concentration camps outside city limits.”

“Comrades… this is our last and decisive battle against the kulaks. We must set an example: hang (definitely hang, for everyone to see) at least 100 known kulaks, fat cats and bloodsuckers; publish their names; take all their grain away; nominate hostages…; make sure that even 100 miles away everyone will see, tremble, know that bloodsucking kulaks are being strangled.”

“Suggest you appoint your own leaders and shoot both the hostages and doubters, without asking anyone’s permission and avoiding idiotic dithering.”

“I don’t think we should spare the city and put this off any longer, for merciless annihilation is vital…”

“As far as foreigners are concerned, no need to rush their expulsion. A concentration camp is better…”

“Every foreign citizen resident in Russia, aged 17 to 55, belonging to the bourgeoisie of the countries hostile to us, must be put into concentration camps…”

“Far from all peasants realise that free trade in grain is a crime against the state. ‘I grew the grain, it’s mine, I have a right to sell it,’ that’s how the peasant thinks, in the old way. But we’re saying this is a crime against the state.”

“I suggest all theatres be put into a coffin.”

“I’m reaching an indisputable conclusion that it’s precisely now that we must give a decisive and merciless battle to the Black Hundreds clergy, suppressing their resistance with such cruelty that they won’t forget it for several decades… The more reactionary clergy and reactionary bourgeoisie we shoot while at it, the better.”

“…Punish Latvia and Estonia militarily (for example follow the Whites in a mile deep and hang 100-1,000 officials and fat cats).”

“Rather than stopping terror (promising this would be deception or self-deception), the courts must justify and legalise it unequivocally, clearly…”

Looks like the German courts have “unequivocally, clearly” legalised Genosse Lenin’s statue as a focus of public worship. Genosse Hitler, your turn next.

That racist BBC

The tragic death of George Floyd, the recidivist criminal killed while resisting arrest in Minneapolis, is widely believed to have been caused by racism lurking in every white breast.

Proof that institutional racism exists

Although Minneapolis is in the US and the first B in BBC points at its British provenance, our state broadcaster felt called upon to respond – by announcing blatantly racist policies of its own and thereby confirming the allegations.

Over the next three years the BBC, declared Director General Tony Hall, will be investing £100 million of our money to produce “diverse and inclusive content”.

That content will be produced by diverse and inclusive people: 20 per cent of off-screen talent must be black and other racial minorities, or else homosexual, crippled or coming from a “disadvantaged socio-economic background”.

I detect a possible loophole here, which we, licence fee payers, must be alert enough to close. A producer or a casting director who’s black, Muslim, one-legged, Lesbian and a former council estate dweller, must only tick one box, not five.

Anyway, this policy won’t just apply to off-screen talent. The output of BBC TV will be subjected to three “diversity tests”, and it must pass at least two of them to be adjudged fit for our delicately sensitive audiences.

The tests are: ‘diverse’ stories and portrayals, ‘diverse’ production teams and talent, production companies led by ‘diverse’ people. Allow me to translate: the BBC is introducing an ironclad racial (and other ‘disadvantaged’) quota that must be filled regardless of any other qualifications.

Presumably, if the requisite number of qualified people can’t be found within the mandated groups, then unqualified ones will have to do. And if this diversity adversely affects the quality of the output, then it’s just too bad.

I must be missing something, but I thought that having a race-based hiring policy violates every possible law dealing with equal treatment for all. This sort of thing strikes me as unmitigated racism, and I hope you’ll join me in a violent protest against such iniquity (bring your own Molotov cocktail).

Trying to find out whether producing discriminatory “diverse and inclusive content” is part of the BBC’s remit, I turned to the text of its Charter. This is what it says:

“The Mission of the BBC is to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.”

I especially like the ‘impartial’ bit, and not only in view of the current developments. Over 90 per cent of BBC staff vote Labour at every election, which is predictable, considering that the corporation runs its appointment ads only in The Guardian, that celebrated bastion of impartiality.

The ruse works, judging by the unwavering left-wing bias of BBC programming. However, the Charter says nothing about “diverse and inclusive content”, and not even a word about compromising high quality for low politics.

Yet again the BBC unwittingly makes a case for the withdrawal of the licence fee. Let it fend for itself in an open market, to see how its “diverse and inclusive content” fares against the output of commercial channels. Best of luck to it.

P.S. On an unrelated subject, I’m amazed to see so many KIA cars on the road. One would think people would balk at buying a vehicle called Killed In Action.

We’ll meet again… and again and again

Singer Vera Lynn, ‘the Forces’ Sweetheart’, died at the venerable age of 103, and there’s hardly an English heart that doesn’t feel sorrow.

My heart is English only vicariously, but I too felt sad on hearing the news. For I was moved each time I heard her recorded voice singing “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…” I hated myself afterwards, for being a mawkish sentimentalist, but there was little to be done about that.

Every nation has songs conveying similar sentiments, war songs outlasting the war. For example, I’m sure Germans still get soppy listening to recordings of Marlene Dietrich’s Lili Marleen – although I suspect the French may have mixed feelings about Maurice Chevalier’s Paris reste Paris.

Now my memory is weird. I have none at all for numerals: the only phone number I remember is my home’s in London. When I need my number in France or that of my mobile, I have to look them up.

However, my memory for words is well above average. I’m not going to boast about my English vocabulary, that being a tool of my trade. But I do remember, trivially and uselessly, the complete lyrics of hundreds of songs in two languages, and God only knows how many poems.

Dozens of the songs I know are Russian ballads, written during or at least about the war. Some of them are as poignant as We’ll Meet Again, some even more so. But the point I wish to make is that there are indeed dozens of them.

Thus it was to my shame that I realised that Dame Vera’s signature tune is the only wartime English song I knew. I made an effort to jog my memory and still drew a blank – apart from a British ditty about the testicular deficiency of Nazi leadership and the American typological equivalent Right in der Führer’s Face.

Considering that I’ve spent most of my adult life in an Anglophone environment, these were slim pickings indeed. And there I was, thinking I had absorbed every particle of my adopted culture.

Desperate to bridge that gap in my assimilation effort I asked my wife to mention a few wartime songs. No need to sing or recite the lyrics. Just tell me what they were.

Now Penelope isn’t just English, but what my erstwhile colleagues called ‘very English’, as if Englishness were a quantifiable concept. So she instantly came up with We’ll Meet Again and… well, We’ll Meet Again. That was it.

Of course Penelope is a concert pianist, whose musical experience leaves little room for downmarket genres. She’d have no problem recalling scores of Bach cantatas or Schubert lieder, but popular songs just aren’t part of her life.

Fair enough. Recognising that my research sample was too small, I rang a few English friends and asked the same question about songs from the Second World War. Much to my dismay I also got the same reply: “We’ll Meet Again.” “And what else?” “Er… We’ll Meet Again.”

I didn’t conduct a similar survey among my Russian friends, because I didn’t have to: I already knew what the result would be. Few of them would know by heart as many lyrics as I do, but none of them would fail to recall the titles of dozens of war songs, and perhaps a line or two in each.

This is a detail, but of the kind where the devil is. Because, applying Aristotle’s cognitive methodology, we can go from the particular to the general and ask the next question: How come the British know so few war songs (or just one) and the Russians know so many?

A single-word answer will suffice: exposure. Someone growing up in Russia, and not just immediately after the war but even now, wouldn’t be able to avoid, no matter how hard he tried, hearing whole medleys of war songs every day. However, a Briton would hardly ever hear them, and that’s without making a special effort of avoidance.

Next question: how come? Here I’d suggest that anyone who ponders this question properly will understand more about Russia than he will by perusing learned tomes.

Especially if he also compares the celebrations of Victory Day in Britain and Russia. In Britain, these are short and mournful. They are a cause for sorrowful remembrance and perhaps a prayer, not for bellicose drum-rattling, bugle-whining celebrations.

Which is exactly what they are in Russia. Tanks and ICBMs trundle over the cobbles of Red Square, troops goosestep, current leaders wave from the ziggurat housing Lenin’s mummy. Thousands of tipsy idiots crowd the streets, yelling “We can do it again!!!”

What can you do again, idiots? – I’m tempted to ask. Form an alliance with the most evil regime you can find? Carve up Europe with it? Flood it with supplies it needs to pounce on the West? Finally fall out with it? Fight the war so ineptly and with so much contempt for soldiers’ lives that the road from Moscow to Berlin is still paved with the bones of tens of millions? Loot and rape your way through Eastern Europe and then Germany? Install blood-stained regimes in Eastern Europe and reinforce your own?

Individuals think, but masses don’t. A wad of humanity is no longer quite human; it acts by reflexes nurtured and conditioned over a lifetime. And idolising the war is one reflex that’s hammered into the Russians before all others.

The victory bought at the expense of 27 million lives (including at least half a million of their own soldiers executed by the Soviets themselves) isn’t just a part of history – it’s the only self-legitimising factor of the regime, its stock reply to otherwise uncomfortable questions.

How come a third of the population starve? We won the war. Why is everything worth buying made abroad? We won the war. Why is Russia always at the bottom of every list dealing with civil rights and quality of life? We won the war. Why do Russians have to die in the Ukraine and Syria? We won the war.

This isn’t a simple Q&A exercise. A population has to be house-trained to lap up that ubiquitous answer, it has to be systematically brainwashed to scream “we can do it again” instead of “down with [the current father of the nation]”.

And war songs are a crucial part of that satanic programme of universal dumbing-down and brutalisation. That’s why all Russians grow up hearing them endlessly at home and everywhere they go – not just on Victory Day but every day.

Many of those songs are very good individually; some even better than We’ll Meet Again. But unlike Vera Lynn’s classic, they aren’t pure in heart, not collectively at any rate. For everything that serves a sinister end is itself sinister.

Dame Vera Lynn, RIP. 

One good thing about Covid and BLM

At least Covid and BLM did us the favour of keeping Greta Thunberg and her particular obsession more or less out of the news.

She’s back!

‘More or less’ are the operative words here, for Greta is a veritable polymath. Though the world gave global warming a short break, she filled her time by appearing on the CNN panel of experts discussing coronavirus. I’m eagerly awaiting her contribution to piano technique, molecular biology and treatment for cancer.

Now the two current blights seem to be past their peak, Greta is back with a vengeance, and so is her pet issue. But, having acquired expertise in adjacent areas, she has graduated from analysis to synthesis. Greta cast a panoramic glance around her and realised that global warming, coronavirus and BLM are all aspects of the same problem.

The problem is the West with its pernicious politics and money-grubbing capitalism. That dastardly entity is trying to fry people alive with carbon dioxide, poison them with Covid-19 and exterminate ethnic minorities.

But no longer. According to Greta the world has “passed a social tipping point, we can no longer look away from what our society has been ignoring for so long whether it is equality, justice or sustainability”.

However, global warming is taking centre stage again as the longest prong of the trident about to skewer mankind. Here Greta treats different countries’ undertakings to reduce carbon emissions with the derision they deserve.

Even if they keep their word, which is never a given with capitalists, we’ll still suffer “catastrophic global temperature rises of 3-4 degrees” and the ensuing extinction of life.

As with cancer treatment, which must be next on Greta’s agenda, it’s no use treating the symptoms of the disease while ignoring its cause. And the cause is capitalism.

Hence the only way to avert the extinction of life on Earth is to get rid of capitalism and its political offshoots. “The climate and ecological crisis cannot be solved within today’s political and economic systems”, explained Greta. “That isn’t an opinion. That’s a fact.”

Of course it is, dear, now calm yourself, have a glass of milk and go to bed. Seriously now, what does it say about a cause when its most prominent champion is a hormonally retarded, hysterical child with a whole raft of mental problems?

But let’s not be too beastly to Greta. She merely jumped on the bandwagon that had started rolling before she was born. Greta didn’t invent the global warming hoax; she just lent her shrill, incoherent voice to it.

For the ‘catastrophes’ of global temperature risings of a few degrees have happened countless times in the past – and somehow both the Earth and its inhabitants have managed to hang on. Moreover, the periods of global warming always miraculously coincided with an increase in biodiversity and general well-being.

Nor is there a shred of proof that those cyclical temperature rises were driven by atmospheric CO2. In fact, The CO2 in the atmosphere is only 0.001 per cent of the total CO2 in life, and human activity contributes only 3.8 per cent to that minuscule proportion.

It wouldn’t take a mind much greater than Greta’s to figure out that, if global warming is caused by anthropogenic carbon emissions, then no such phenomenon would have existed before capitalists colluded to profit from industrial activity.

Conversely, if it can be shown that there were extended warm periods in the idyllic times of carbon-free economies (or no economies at all), then the whole global warming will be shown for the ideological fraud it is.

In fact, if we look at the past six million years, it was warmer than now for three million of them. The rest of the time saw a steady increase in the frequency of climatic cycles, with glacial and interglacial periods (such as the one we’re living in now) alternating at varying intervals, lasting from millions of years to mere decades. Compared to those cycles, modern warming is trivial.

If we look at the past thousands, rather than millions, of years, there were warmings galore. For example, in the Roman Warming (250 BC to 450 AD) temperature was at least 2C to 6C higher than now. During that ‘catastrophe’, in the 1st century BC, citrus trees and grapes were grown in England as far north as Hadrian’s Wall.

Medieval Warming (900-1,300 AD) registered similar temperatures – and similar flourishing of agriculture. That created an abundance of food and a massive influx of excess capital and labour. Both, incidentally, went into the construction of the great cathedrals that adorn Europe to this day.

Cycles of glacial and interglacial periods have been with us forever, and scientists still don’t know exactly every contributing factor. About 98 per cent of climate changes are produced by variations in solar activity. Also vital are volcanicity, cloud cover, changes in Earth’s orbit, radiation levels, the position of other planets, such as Jupiter, and so forth, ad infinitum.

Serious study of climate changes must engage many different sciences, including inter alia astronomy, geology, solar physics, astrophysics, palaeontology, tectonics, oceanography, geochemistry, volcanology – and history.

Since our Renaissance girl Greta doubtless possesses expertise in all these disciplines, she can explain why temperature hasn’t increased in the past two decades despite the growing amount of anthropogenic CO2.

If CO2 produced by capitalism is killing ‘our planet’, then why did the global temperature increase from 1919 to 1940, decrease from 1940 to 1976,  increase from 1976 to 1998 and decrease from 1998 to the present? And why do the same people who in the early 1970s were screaming about an imminent Ice Age now carry on about global warming?

They base their alarmism on computer models ranging from speculative to slapdash to downright fraudulent. For example, the notorious ‘hockey stick’ graph was concocted by plotting data that excluded Roman and Medieval Warmings and choosing only a short arbitrary period. As to such factors as solar activity, they were ignored altogether.

Greta gets one thing right, albeit inadvertently: the issue has nothing to do with science and everything to do with politics. The kind of politics that can indeed bring about global extinction possibly and global enslavement definitely.

The poor child can’t be held responsible for her words and actions, but in a normal world the grown-ups who inflamed her little mind would be brought to account. But who told you we live in a normal world?