“No, Your Majesty, it’s a revolution”

Since the West is now in the grip of what Lenin called a “revolutionary situation”, one is reminded of the aphorism in the title.

The BLM of the Enlightenment

After the storming of the Bastille, Louis XVI asked La Rochefoucauld if there was a revolt under way. To which the courtier replied: “Non sire, ce n’est pas une révolte, c’est une révolution.

I don’t know if the duke was fully aware of how profound his statement was. For, if we grasp the difference between a revolt and a revolution, we’ll understand the nature of all revolutions, features they all have in common.

A revolt may break out haphazardly, prompted by any grievance that’s bad enough. It may be a famine, a pandemic, an increase in taxation, an introduction of a law perceived as unjust or anything else that annoys people enough for them to rebel.

Once the pressure has built up, all it takes is a gifted rabble-rouser, a Wat Tyler type, issuing a battle cry, along the lines of “We’ve had enough of [fill in the blank]!” A revolt will ensue.

The authorities may either satisfy the rebels’ demands or suppress the revolt violently. One way or the other, that usually spells the end of the matter.

A revolution, however, won’t go away so easily. In fact, if experience is anything to go by, it won’t go away at all. And even if it ostensibly ends, it’ll always leave permanently festering wounds behind.

Unlike a revolt, a revolution results from a deep and widespread cultural shift, with most people feeling that a support for the ancien régime has somehow become impossible or at least embarrassing. That feeling is always reflected in the language – revolutions too start with the Word.

Since all Western cultures, different as they might be at the periphery, have the same core, revolutions, as distinct from revolts, are hardly ever contained within one country. Revolts are always national; revolutions, international.

Thus the American Revolution of 1776 was followed by the French one in 1789, 1848 happened across Europe, the 1917 Russian revolution triggered similar events in Hungary, Finland and Germany (including – and this never gets the attention it deserves – the Nazi putsch).

Just like a revolt, a revolution puts forth slogans seemingly reflecting its key objective. Yet for a revolt, trying to achieve this objective is the genuine cause. For a revolution, it’s merely a pretext.

If a revolt is prompted by the introduction of, say, an unpopular poll tax, the rebels demand its repeal. They’d be unlikely to change their opinion along the way and decide that, on second thoughts, the tax doesn’t matter.

Revolutions, however, are perfectly capable of changing their slogans more frequently than revolutionaries change their underwear. If Slogan A doesn’t elicit the desired effect, they’ll try Slogan B – and so forth, all the way down the alphabet.

For that reason, the slogans of revolts are usually more rational than those of revolutions. The people have a particular grievance, understandable and easy to articulate. Revolutions, on the other hand, seek to deepen, broaden and consolidate the comprehensive cultural shift that happened already.

Since that desideratum is hard to express in a catchy phrase, it usually stays in the background, hiding behind any number of interchangeable slogans that seldom have any rational content.

Thus, though the American, French and Russian revolutionaries decried tyranny, they were trying to depose the least tyrannical monarchs imaginable, George III, Louis XVI and Nicholas II respectively.

The specific slogans of those revolutions don’t stand up to scrutiny. Thus taxes, which seemed to be the bugbear of the American revolutionaries, were at the time actually higher in the metropolis than in the colonies. Even the cost of tea, which produced that jolly Boston party, was much higher in England.

“No taxation without representation” wasn’t particularly clever either. The underlying assumption, that representation is the only legitimate basis for taxation, is simply false – and in any case, many English taxpayers weren’t represented either. Incidentally, once the colonists won their independence, their taxes went up so steeply that they realised they didn’t like them even with representation.

The slogans of any revolution of note can be taken apart in the same manner, but neither the revolutionaries nor their audiences really mind. They know it’s not about slogans.

It’s about destruction, for the real purpose of a revolution is always negative. Revolutionaries know exactly what they hate, but they tend to be hazy on what they love. Revolutions are always against, not for.

The cultural shift that adumbrated today’s mess started with a systematic chipping away at the foundation of Western civilisation, Christianity. This process goes by the misnomer of the Enlightenment, but in fact there was nothing enlightening about it.

It knocked out the foundation in the poorly expressed and never really felt hope that somehow the walls would remain standing and the roof wouldn’t come down. Predictably, the building collapsed, and another one has to be constructed on the newly vacant lot.

So it was, but the structure was rickety to begin with, and grew more so with time. It’s interesting, however, to observe how even extremely intelligent materialists of today sound a great deal less intelligent when trying to repel attacks on the Enlightenment.

Their arguments, characteristically, all have to do with material progress. There was much human misery before the Enlightenment, infant mortality and epidemics were rife, sick people suffered tremendous pain, so did dental patients, there were famines – well, you know how that goes.

Yet all those things have improved thanks to the progress in science and technology. Ascribing it solely or even mainly to the Enlightenment is merely committing a gross logical fallacy known as post hoc, ergo propter hoc.

There’s no rational reason to claim that scientific progress wouldn’t have happened if most people had continued to go to church every Sunday. Somehow the pre-Enlightenment Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Leibnitz, Pascal and Descartes didn’t find faith and science incompatible.

However, the current “revolutionary situation” is directly ascribable to the spiritual and cultural vacuum created by the Enlightenment and made progressively worse by our progressive modernity.

Nietzsche’s statement that “God is dead” was a precise diagnosis. What that coroner to divinity meant was that at the time, in the 1880s, educated people had grown to regard religious faith as rather infra dig.

However, wrote Chesterton a few decades later, “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.” Moreover, he could have added, they have a desperate need to believe in anything.

The liberal democratic state that, after many trials and tribulations, emerged out of the ruins of Christendom, rests on a strong material base, but a weak spiritual and cultural one. And, because the latter is weak, the former gradually crumbles away too.

The present “revolutionary situation” bears every harbinger of an impending outburst. The requisite cultural shift has either occurred already or is in its late stages. The disease has set in, and the symptoms are there for all to see.

Law and order is disintegrating in the USA, the first, and indeed reference, country of modernity. Yet Western European countries shouldn’t gloat – they are but half a step behind.

That the conflict between blacks and whites is nowhere near as febrile in, say, Britain than in America is a moot point. As with all revolutions, the objective is to destroy the existing order. The slogans under which that’s accomplished are immaterial.

Historically, the racial conflict in America presents the best banner under which destruction can proceed apace. Slavery, especially the attendant dehumanisation of the blacks, left a wound that no amount of affirmative action will ever close.

Black Britons don’t have quite the same experience, and it’s only for copycat solidarity that they join BLM riots. But that doesn’t mean that our malcontents will be short of slogans when push comes to shove.

They, the malcontents of leftish persuasions, have already won their cultural revolution in the battle for the language. They can dictate, on pain of unemployment and increasingly prosecution, how language is used and what words constitute unbreakable taboos.

Even worse: they now have the power to dictate not only what people can’t say, but also what they must say. Like all revolutionaries, they are in a position to demand not just passive acquiescence, but enthusiastic endorsement.

What stratagem they’ll use to seal their victory is an interesting question to ponder, but ultimately it doesn’t matter. It may be BLM, Muslim emancipation, global warming, homosexual and transsexual rights – wait and see.

Once the cultural revolution has emerged victorious, any number of causes can act as pretexts for physical destruction. The pressure is high, the cauldron is bubbling, and the lid can be blown off at any moment.

We’ve seen it all before, in different guises. It’s just that so many of us fail to recognise the essence behind the guise. Then again, there’s nothing new about that either.

Angie and Don and Vlad

Merkel and Trump want just one thing from their friend Putin: that he shouldn’t make them feel embarrassed about that friendship. Yet Vlad doesn’t seem to care about their feelings.

Navalny’s poisoners have powerful friends

He’ll do what he wants: murder opposition leaders, cull or maim recalcitrant journalists, poison his detractors with military-grade toxins at home and abroad, invade neighbours, suppress basic freedoms and so on. That puts Angie and Don in an awkward position, but that’s their problem, as far as Vlad is concerned.

This time around, German doctors are fighting to save the life of Alexei Navalny, opposition leader poisoned with novichok, the military-grade toxin of Salisbury fame.

This one event tells you everything you need to know about Russia’s kleptofascist regime (and its Western champions), provided that people are willing to listen. Could it be that Angie and Don will now unplug their ears?

First, the tendency to murder political opponents ought to place any regime out of bounds for civilised discourse. I shan’t bore you by citing yet again a long list of Putin’s victims: you’re welcome to surf my earlier articles on this subject.

But it isn’t just the murders – it’s also how they are covered up. When Navalny was first treated at Omsk, local doctors insisted there were no signs of poisoning. Navalny was simply suffering from hypoglycaemia.

Even rank amateurs knew that was a lie. Low blood sugar may make a person feel faint and listless. But it certainly doesn’t make the sufferer writhe in excruciating pain and scream at the top of his voice before passing out, as Navalny did.

That doctors were prepared to lie so blatantly shows that Putin’s FSB/KGB exercises complete control over them – and, by inference, over everyone else in the country.

Before Navalny was finally flown to Germany, those doctors kept him at Omsk long enough for, they hoped, every trace of the poison to wash out of his system. The Putin junta issued its first denial then: unless those German quacks identify the exact toxin, no talk of poisoning is justified.

Now that the toxin has indeed been identified, “beyond a shadow of doubt”, new excuses pop up, each more risible than the next. The most spectacular one came from Alexei Lugovoi, the murderer of Alexander Litvinenko and pioneer in the use of nuclear weapons on British territory.

It was German doctors, he explained, who poisoned Navalny with novichok, to throw a spanner in the works of Russo-German relations. It’s not that Lugovoi expects anyone to believe this drivel. What he is saying in effect is that yes, you know I’m lying, and I know you know. But I don’t care because there’s nothing you can do about it except shut up.

The less outlandish claim, one parroted by many in the West, is that there’s no proof that Putin personally ordered the hit.

What would constitute such proof in their opinion? A written order signed by Putin? That probably doesn’t exist: such orders are usually conveyed orally. And even if it did exist, the chances of it ever seeing the light of day are somewhat less than zero.

However, the absence of evidence isn’t the evidence of absence. Chaps, read my lips: there’s no way in hell that anyone other than Putin could have ordered a hit on such an internationally known figure.

It couldn’t have been a rogue criminal or your friendly local FSB man: such people would have no access to novichok and certainly no knowledge of how to handle it without poisoning themselves and everyone else around.

It absolutely had to be someone close to Putin, and nobody like that could have possibly issued such an order without his boss’s explicit instructions. Anyone who knows anything at all about Russian affairs will confirm this.

However, the same logic is at play here again. We know and Putin knows we know. But his implied response, just like Lugovoi’s, comes from the same gangster rule-book: So what are you going to do about it? Nothing? So shut up and play the game.

So far Angie and Don have been doing just that. Why, is a different matter, and one open to conjecture. We don’t know for sure: as the Russians say, someone else’s soul is always in the dark. Yet it’s possible to throw some light on it.

At the same time Putin served as head of the KGB Dresden station, Merkel was a full-time organiser of the Leipzig Young Communist League (Kommunistischer Jugendverband Deutschlands). In all communist countries, including Russia, the YCL was under party control only nominally.

It was in fact the KGB breeding ground (four KGB chiefs started their careers there), which means that at that time Angie and Vlad were more or less colleagues. They were also neighbours, what with Leipzig being only 70 miles down the road from Dresden.

I don’t know if they met at the time, but I’d be surprised if they hadn’t. In any case, Angie and Vlad show every sign of warm intimacy. They speak each other’s language and always use the familiar forms of second person singular (du in German, ty in Russian).

Under their stewardship, the two countries enjoy close economic ties, only slightly damaged by the EU sanctions imposed after the rape of the Ukraine. Specifically, Germany imports 92 per cent of her natural gas, and about a third of it comes from Russia. (Exact figures are unavailable because Germany stopped publishing them in 2016, citing privacy issues. Quite.)

Whatever the proportion, it’s bound to increase when the second pipeline, Nord Stream II is operational. The pipeline is almost complete, except for the last 75 miles running through Danish waters.

There’s a hold-up there due to the international indignation about various manifestations of Russia’s criminality. But Angie is fighting manfully to overcome all such resistance. Nord Stream II will go ahead, she said last week.

This week she has had to take issue with the novichok escapade, being careful, however, not to blame her friend Vlad personally. She hasn’t gone so far out on a limb as to demand a written order signed by Putin and to exonerate him in its absence. But she has come precious close.

Now Trump would rather sell Germany America’s shale gas. But otherwise he has been steadfast in refusing to condemn his friend Vlad for any kind of beastliness. Congress has forced Trump to impose some mild sanctions, but he has gone out of his way to delay their implementation. And he has so far refrained from uttering a single critical word about his friend Vlad, which testifies to Trump’s capacity for loyalty.

I shan’t speculate on the nature of that friendship, but it’s easy to see its manifestations. By the same token, I don’t know the exact nature of nuclear fission. But, on the evidence of Hiroshima, I’m satisfied it exists. So does the friendship between Don and Vlad, certainly on Don’s side (I don’t think a career KGB thug is capable of such sentiments).

Sometimes that one-sided friendship looks more like sycophancy, but that’s a matter of nuance. In essence, whatever his motives, Trump fights against any attempt to hold Putin personally accountable for his regime’s criminality.

So far neither Angie nor Don has betrayed their friend Vlad, even though numerous officials in their own parties have issued ringing denunciations of the Navalny poisoning. High officials in the British and Italian governments, the EU and Nato have done the same.

Yet, though Vlad doesn’t seem to be in any need of friends, he thinks he can still count on his friends in need. He may be in for a letdown.

After all, Angie needs to stay on good terms with the EU, which, along with a malleable France, includes countries like Poland and the Baltics that have fond memories of Russia and her KGB. And Trump will be asked pointed questions about his friend Vlad in the run-up to the November elections.

They may well throw their friend Vlad to the wolves if that’s the only way to save their political careers. We are friends, Vlad, I can hear them say, but this is just how life is.

I for one look forward to watching Angie’s and Don’s acrobatic contortions with some schadenfreude. Few things please me more than seeing politicians tie themselves in knots.  

Football is life

“Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I assure you, it’s much more serious than that,” said the great football coach Bill Shankly.

I wonder what Harry thinks about the life expectancy of his Soviet colleagues

True enough, many Britons base their whole identity, philosophy, morality and consciousness on the football club they support.

And then there are intelligent people, who abhor any display of such brainless tribalism. Mention football in their presence, and they’ll wince like someone who has accidentally touched a slug.

Those snobs don’t know what they’re missing. For, looked at properly, football can offer invaluable sociological and cultural insights.

Yesterday, for example, I chanced on a video of a 1967 friendly between the Soviet Union and France (to my shame, I remember watching the match live). The video was posted in 2011, 44 years after the event, and the commentator waxed slightly nostalgic about the good old days.

It was in that spirit that he mentioned in passing that only three of the 11 Soviet players were still alive. I did some quick mental arithmetic, which isn’t my core strength, and calculated that eight out of the 11 didn’t make it to their late sixties, early seventies.

But, added the commentator in an attempt to look on the bright side, all 11 French players were still alive and well. You see now how useful it can be to follow football?

For this little datum is the end of a strand sticking out of a ball of wool. Pull on it, and you’ll unravel the lot.

This statistic tells you more about life in the Soviet Union and the delights of socialism than you could learn from many a scholarly tome. Since I have no intention of writing one, on this subject at any rate, I’ll put a full stop here and pass on to the next football story.

This one involves the English footballer Harry Maguire who recently received a suspended 21-month sentence in a Greek court for a brawl outside a Mykonos restaurant.

Harry and his eight friends emerged from that establishment after a five-hour drinking session, in the course of which the generous footballer had spent £67,000. The management must have seen them coming for Harry was, among other things, charged £18,000 for a bottle of 2002 Dom Perignon.

Since that same bottle retails at an average of £185 in London, Greek restaurateurs have a peculiar idea of what constitutes a reasonable mark-up. That by itself would be a subject worth studying, especially in a course on comparative cultures or perhaps European federalism.

But it gets deeper than that. For interesting questions may well be raised about a society in which Harry earns £195,000 a week, whereas the average UK salary is £29,000 a year.

Yes, I understand – and welcome – the concept of supply-demand and the supremacy of the market with its invisible hand. But, since the market is driven by people’s tastes and preferences, I wonder about a society that values the service provided by the likes of Harry so much higher than those provided by teachers, doctors, engineers or priests.    

This isn’t to cast aspersion on Harry personally, since he’s obviously a man of broad erudition and impressive cultural attainment. True enough, while he manfully engaged five Greek cops in fisticuffs, Harry was issuing the usual battle cries of a British football player or indeed fan.

Expressing himself with a freedom of expression hard-won over many centuries of British history, Harry was frank in his negative assessment of the Greeks, policemen in general and Greek policemen in particular. His language was par for the course, as will be confirmed by anyone who has ever been within swearing distance of a football stadium.

But one of Harry’s remarks caught my eye. Having gone through a lengthy list of the individuals, institutions and countries he’d like to copulate with, Harry then screamed: “F*** the Greek civilisation, I don’t give a s***”.

Sexual intimacy implies some degree of familiarity, and I’m sure Harry studied that offensive civilisation in detail. No doubt he is aware of the contribution Greece made to Christendom. Pre-Socratic philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, Homer and Aristophanes, Pericles and Solon, Iktinos and Praxiteles must have all been weighed in the balance and found wanting.

Harry must sense, as I sometimes do, that the Renaissance, for all the masterpieces it produced, must on balance have had a detrimental effect on Christian civilisation. He must feel that, rather than merely injecting a resuscitating dose of Hellenic antiquity into the bloodstream of the West, the Renaissance delivered an overdose.

Caught in the heat of a modern-day Thermopylae, and almost as outnumbered as those 300 Spartans, Harry couldn’t have gone into such issues in any depth at the moment, restricting himself to epigrammatic shorthand. But the very fact that he has obviously pondered them testifies to the vertiginously high level of British education.

I bet none of those Soviet footballers had a view on the comparative merits of Hellenic and Christian civilisations. Actually, perhaps it was shame about their ignorance that contributed to their premature demise. But that’s something for the medical scientists to consider.