A Crusade is under way

According to the governments of Turkey, Iran and Pakistan, along with the mullahs and multitudes of pious Muslims in most Islamic lands, Manny Macron has declared a crusade on their religion.

Manny Macron yesterday

And following the fine tradition of the previous eight Crusades, the Muslims aren’t going to take it lying down. Rallying the faithful, Malaysia’s ex-PM said that Muslims have a right “to kill millions of French people” if they insult the Prophet.

He didn’t specify how many millions, but at least his co-religionists have made a good, if by their standards still modest, start. Now, having beheaded several days ago a Paris teacher for daring to defend freedom of speech, they’ve added three parishioners of a Nice church to their score.

Just as he did the other day, Manny Macron vented his crusading spirit thunderously: “The entire nation will stand so that religion can continue to be exercised freely in our country,” he said. And then, sounding positively Churchillian: “We shall never give in!”

Realising how unfashionably radical those statements sounded, he immediately mitigated them by calling for “unity” and asking “not to give in to the spirit of division”. If I understand Manny correctly, France’s commitment to multiculturalism won’t be weakened even if Muslims butcher the recommended millions of Frenchmen.

That’s as far as the Ninth Crusade has gone, as far as it will ever go. Manny (or any other Western leader) will express his indignation at the murders and sympathy for their victims (“Our thoughts and prayers go to…”), call for unity, reiterate his commitment to civil liberties, explain that Muslim terrorists are sick individuals in no way inspired by their cult, and promise to stand firm.

The neo-Crusaders will thus arm themselves with hot air only, while the Muslims will defend everything they hold sacred with knives, guns, bombs and heavy vehicles driven through crowds. Such is the balance of power.

I’m touched by Manny’s outspoken commitment to the free practice of religion in France. It’s good to keep things nice and general, refraining, in the spirit of multiculturalism, from singling out any one religion in particular.

Since France used to be a Catholic country, and since Muslims are already perfectly free to practise their religion without fear of beheading, Manny could have uttered the dread words ‘Catholic’ or at least ‘Christian’. But he didn’t. The God of Multi-Culti is athirst and he can smite any infidel.

You’ll have noticed the baffling fact that France suffers more terrorist attacks than any other European country. That is, the fact is baffling only to those who fail to make the forensic observation that came to me in a revelatory flash: the number of terrorist incidents in a country is directly proportionate to the number of Muslims resident there.

France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, which is why the edge of multiculturalism is there at its most cutting. Apparently, cultural differences manifest themselves not only on hot kebabs, but also in cold steel.

Forget about crusades; they aren’t going to happen. But is there anything at all Western governments in general, and the French one in particular, can do to protect their people against Islamic savagery?

The answer is no, not without a complete cultural and political volte-face that’s about as likely as an air thick with flying pigs. Still, one is allowed to daydream in one’s weak moments.

In that blissful state one could think of any number of measures – all springing from the basic premise that the only good Muslim is a bad, which is to say impious, Muslim. Good, which is to say devout, Muslims are incompatible with Western societies because their religion is.

Regarded in that light, any mosque or Islamic centre where a single jihadist word has ever been uttered, and especially where a single terrorist has received instruction, should be summarily closed. In parallel, and this is an important point, all its members must lose their state benefits.

This point is important because, as the Figaro columnist Eric Zemmour showed the other day, most of the French Muslim terrorists are beneficiaries of state largesse, be it income support, lodgings or whatever. Putting a lid on that trough may also have the effect of limiting any further influx of migrants from Islamic lands.

In any case, such immigration should be severely curtailed, ideally stopped. The underlying assumption that in due course Muslim immigrants possibly, and their children definitely, will adopt their new culture has been proven false, some exceptions notwithstanding.

When the number of cultural aliens exceeds a certain critical mass, the culture itself is diluted into disappearance. And France, whose population is already 10 per cent Muslim, has evidently reached that point.

Any countries registering their approval of terrorism, never mind supporting it in more tangible terms, should have punitive sanctions imposed on them. If they instigate terrorist attacks, this must be treated as a casus belli and punished with military force, of apocalyptic proportions if need be. Such decisive response, however, must be based on more solid evidence than whatever inspired Messrs Bush and Blair to attack Iraq in 2003.

Western societies provide sufficient legal mechanisms to seek redress for grievances and insults. If Muslims find, say, a caricature offensive, they are free to sue their offenders – but, much as we all appreciate cultural diversity, not to cut their heads off.

I suggest that any Muslim wishing to become a permanent resident or citizen of a Western country be tested for his comprehension of, and compliance with, the laws and culture of his adopted land. When these aren’t evident, he must be instantly deported.

I’d even go further and recommend that the same test ought to be applied to those who are already citizens, even if born and bred. When the presence of a certain individual in the country endangers the lives of others, the country shouldn’t be held back by the formality of birth certificates or naturalisation papers.

Also… well, I’d better stop now before my collar is felt by the thought police. I don’t think they’d find my affection for Avicenna, Averroes, Saadi and Omar Khayyam to be a mitigating circumstance.

Russia outlaws Descartes

Not in his entirety, I hasten to add. It’s only Cartesian epistemology or, to be precise, its central postulate that’s deemed delinquent,.

Cartoon at the time of the Pact (it’s Poland on the ground)

All knowledge, wrote the philosopher, is based on comparing two or more things. Now, I have both philosophical and theological problems with that notion (it denies, for example, intuitive or revelatory knowledge, along with the knowledge of God, who is by definition incomparable).

But Putin’s objections are more practical than that. The other day the Duma proposed, and Putin endorsed, a law making it illegal to “equate the objectives, decisions and actions of the Soviet leaders, generals and soldiers with the objectives, decisions and actions of the Nazi leaders, generals and soldiers.”

One can deduce two things from this, one false, the other true. The false inference is that no parallels between the Soviets and the Nazis exist and therefore drawing them can yield no knowledge. The true inference is that the parallels do exist, but the knowledge they yield is unacceptable to Putin and his coterie.

If Euclid is to be believed, parallel lines can’t converge – which is why they are called parallels and not overlaps. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be drawn. In this context, though Bolshevism and Nazism weren’t identical in every respect, their similarities outweighed their differences.

The Duma member who proposed the law singled out Poland as the principal culprit in drawing those objectionable parallels. Yet one wonders how anyone can deny that the Poles have every right to wax Cartesian in this respect.

After all, on 23 August, 1939, the two evil regimes, Hitler’s and Stalin’s, signed a pact (followed by a lesser-known friendship treaty) dividing Europe in general and Poland in particular between them. To claim her piece, Germany attacked Poland on 1 September; Stalin followed suit on the 17th.

Thus at the beginning of the war Hitler and Stalin were allies. They fired the first shots, and Poland was the first target.

Before the year was out, the Soviets deported more than a million Poles. Most ended up in Siberian concentration camps, others in unmarked graves – and the 22,000 officers murdered at Katyn and elsewhere are far from being a complete list of victims. At least 300,000 Soviet Poles also fell victim to Stalin’s genocidal purges, with about 100,000 dying of bullet or neglect.

Under those circumstances one can understand the Poles’ inability to distinguish between Brown and Red concentration camps, or between Brown and Red hit squads – especially since most Poles who perished in the Nazi camps were actually Jews (who accounted for three million out of the five million Poles killed during the war).

Actually, since the affection for Jews in Poland has always been rather understated, most Poles who lived through the war regard the Soviet occupation as worse than the Nazi one. And when the Soviet troops re-entered Poland in 1944, they began to rape, loot and murder on a scale that exceeded the Nazi crimes, which took some doing.

Moreover, having occupied the country, the Soviets installed a version of their own evil regime that continued to enslave the Poles for the next 50-odd years, while the Nazis only managed to do so for less than five years.

Moving on to a more fundamental level, both communist and Nazi ideologies – which is to say both nationalism and internationalism – are offshoots of the Enlightenment. A major difference between the two is that the Nazis declared war on the whole world except their own people, while the Bolsheviks’ war was waged on the world, including their own people.

While national and international socialism each developed in its own way, both were doctrinally committed to extreme statism, with state worship replacing religion, to which both regimes were violently opposed. That model came courtesy of Marx, and both Hitler and Stalin acknowledged their debt to him, the first obliquely, the second directly.

As part of the alliance established on the state level, the NKVD and the SS forged their own links. In 1940 the NKVD-SS Friendship Society was inaugurated with the approval of both Stalin and Hitler. The two diabolical organisations were comparing notes and exchanging pointers.

Even before the natural affinity between the two was institutionalised, a profitable exchange of ideas and equipment had been under way. The SS learned from their Soviet colleagues how to set up and run a network of concentration camps – and how to use gas for mass murder.

The Soviets were the first regime in history to use poison gases on their own people. That happened during the peasant uprisings in the 1920s, when gas shells were dropped from planes on the forests where the rebels were hiding. At the same time, the Soviets pioneered the use of gas vans, mobile gas chambers of low throughput but high efficacy.

The Nazis saw the potential of that innovation, used it in the early stages of the Holocaust and later developed it into the stationary facilities since then amply documented. In gratitude, the Gestapo shared with their NKVD colleagues the torture equipment essential to the needs of the Soviet growth industry.

In short, the parallels between the Soviets and the Nazis are perfectly valid and clearly visible, mutatis mutandis. But one can understand why Putin’s gang regards them as obnoxious.

Its ideological basis is a return to the imperial glory of Stalin’s Russia, if without the attendant communist slogans. Hence Putin’s propaganda machine is busily fostering the image of Russia as a noble fighter for goodness surrounded by enemies colluding to destroy it.

Russia emerges as a sort of prostitute with a heart of gold whom everyone screws and no one loves. Explained in those terms is everything awful that happens to Russia, such as her appalling poverty (outside Putin’s trusted lieutenants), the former constituent republics claiming their independence, and the West responding with sanctions to Putin’s holy mission of reversing “the worst geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” (i.e. the disintegration of Stalin’s empire).

Putin’s Goebbelses are spinning the same yarns as did Soviet propaganda from Lenin onwards. NATO, using that ghastly Poland as its spearhead, is planning an invasion of Holy Russia, starting with her historically lawful, if illegally detached, property in the west.

This week Putin’s answers to Der Sturmer are screaming about the impending NATO thrust into Belarus to be launched from Poland and Lithuania. The only possible response is of course to preempt that aggression by dispatching Russian troops into the country, whether she wants it or not.

Reviving the ethos of a virtuous Soviet Union heroically fighting off its enemies is part of the propaganda offensive. Obviously, anyone daring to compare Stalin with Hitler jeopardises this signalling of nonexistent virtue. Clapping such a spoilsport into prison becomes the only logical response.

If old René were alive today, he’d have to think twice before indulging in his epistemology. Comparing those two things might or might not yield knowledge. But it could definitely earn him a tenner in one of the extant camps.     

By George, Joe needs help

But not to worry: America’s would-be next president does get help, from his wife Jill.

Not another four years, please

The other day, Joe went off the rails a bit, but Mrs Biden put him back on track. Addressing his supporters on line, Joe got things ever so slightly wrong.

“Four more years of George, er, George, er,” he said, “he – we’re going to find ourselves in a position where, if Trump gets elected, we’re going to be in a different world.”

Whose denizen Joe already appears to be, but Jill dragged him back to reality. “Trump,” she whispered, poking her hubby-wubby in the ribs.

This incident left Washington insiders guessing which George Biden had in mind. The only two possibilities mooted were George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Such narrow-mindedness shows a singular lack of imagination.

For it’s conceivable that Joe was actually thinking of George Washington, whose return to the White House should indeed be avoided at all costs. After all, his congenital urge to kill the Red Coats might jeopardise musicians in the United States Marine Band, whose uniforms are blatantly red.

Just imagine the band going into a rousing rendition of Hail to the Chief, only for George Washington to order his Secret Service detail to take the musicians out one by one. You know what they say about old habits: unlike old men they die hard.

Then again, Joe might have been making a valid point, whose subtlety went beyond his listeners. Think about it in terms of parties, not personalities. The two Bushes are Republicans, as is Trump. Hence Joe was simply pointing out the dangers resident in one party practically monopolising the White House.

‘George’ thus becomes a collective noun designating a political genus – a bit like SAS soldiers referring to all officers as ‘Ruperts’ even if their actual names are different. People really ought to try to understand what this great man means before jumping on his case.

I for one look forward to Biden’s presidency, for it’s time honesty returned to the White House. To wit: just two days before Joe left his viewers guessing which George shouldn’t be president for another four years, he made an admission startling in its candour.

Starring in a campaign video, Joe boasted: “We have put together, I think, the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organisation in the history of American politics.”

I can’t say I approve of voter fraud, but I have to admire Joe’s honesty. No other politician would ever make such a frank admission, and surely the tradition of truthfulness in American presidency has been attenuating since the tenure of, well, George Washington.

Alas, Joe’s detractors hold his supposed blunders against him. They point out that he sometimes doesn’t even know where he is. The other day, for example, he was campaigning in the beautiful town of Keene.

Since I once drove through it, I know it’s beautiful and so does Joe. “I love this place,” he said. “Look, what’s not to like about Vermont in terms of the beauty of it?”

There’s nothing not to like about Vermont in terms of the beauty of it (I have to use the same turn of phrase, I love it so much) – this aesthetic assessment is unassailable, even though Keene is actually in New Hampshire.

Perhaps Joe was trying to make a point about parochial rivalries, so typical of adjacent states. By praising the beauty of Vermont, he wanted to remind his New Hampshire audience that they are all New Englanders and, more broadly, Americans. Getting jingoistic about their own patch might therefore be construed as unpatriotic.

But even assuming for the sake of argument that Joe confused the two states, you must admit that’s an easy mistake to make. They are indeed similar in many respects, including the breath-taking beauty of their foliage season. I mean, he didn’t confuse, as he might have done, New Hampshire with New Mexico or for that matter New South Wales, did he?

Then last year, as his campaign was gathering momentum, Joe said he was in Ohio when he was in Iowa. So fine, those two states aren’t adjacent, but they aren’t a million miles apart. Let him whose knowledge of geography is impeccable cast the first stone.

Not only is Joe honest, but he’s also humble. Earlier this year he introduced himself to potential voters thus: “My name’s Joe Biden. I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States Senate.”

Of course, everyone, emphatically including Joe, knew exactly which office he was seeking. But Joe’s innate modesty accounted for that slip of the tongue: something within him craved a less conspicuous, more familiar post – what a welcome contrast to that egomaniac Trump.

Sometimes Joe gets his arithmetic wrong, or so it seems. For example, he claimed that since 2007 150 million Americans had been killed by guns and, this year, another 200 million by Covid.

Having thus depopulated the United States, Joe was accused of getting his numbers wrong. In fact, he was sounding a grave warning, which his audience either misunderstood or misheard. Joe meant that, if we aren’t careful, guns could kill 150 million Americans, and Covid everyone left.

Hyperbole is a time-honoured rhetorical device, and Joe wielded it adroitly. Accusing him of senility on this basis is as silly as accusing him of incest simply because back in March he confused his wife and his sister when speaking at a rally in California.

“By the way, this is my little sister Valerie!” Biden said, taking his wife by the hand. “And I’m Jill’s husband,” he added, pointing at his sister. 

I’m not going to speculate about the intimatemost details of life in the Biden household, and neither should anyone else. Yet even assuming that Joe’s brotherly love goes a bit too far, remember that Nietzsche had a similar relationship with his sister, which didn’t prevent him from writing Also sprach Zarathustra.

I’m hereby asking everybody to refrain from pointing out Joe’s little slips, if that’s what they are. Otherwise we may indeed end up with another four years of George and Martha in the White House.

The Pope should really stick to his day job

His Holiness generously likes to share with the world his ideas on subjects not immediately related to his institutional domain.

Another slam dunk missed

There’s nothing wrong with that in itself. In fact, one could argue that everything in life either lies within the pontiff’s domain or at least touches on it tangentially. However, finding an accommodation between Caesar’s things and God’s is an intellectually demanding task, and I’m not sure Pope Francis is quite up to it.

The task is so demanding because no evangelist graced us with a gospel of Christ the Economist, Christ the Lawyer, Christ the Educator or Christ the Marriage Counsellor. All the evangelists vouchsafed us are the Gospels of Christ our Lord.

That, however, doesn’t mean that the divine message concerns matters of the spirit only. For it’s Christ’s person, not just his teaching, that’s the essence of Christianity.

By uniting within himself the human and the divine, Jesus sanctified not only the metaphysical spirit but also the physical body. (Denying this fact produced the deadliest heresies in the history of Christianity.)

Reconciling the two in daily life is hard, but it’s not impossible. Though I seem to be the only one to use the term ‘applied theology’, many great thinkers have practised that discipline under different rubrics. They all knew there’s life not only after death but also before it, and that life must be lived within the material framework, but without compromising eternity.

One of the areas of quotidian life to which theology can be applied is economics, and this is the task Pope Francis often puts on his already overladen shoulders. What he has written this time does contain a kernel of truth, but it’s buried under such a huge pile of rubbish that discerning it becomes well nigh impossible.

“The fragility of world systems in the face of the pandemic has demonstrated that not everything can be resolved by market freedom,” wrote Francis, and that’s the kernel of truth I mentioned.

It’s not even necessary to drag the pandemic in – the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of what I call economic totalitarianism has been evident for a long time. Neither market freedom nor market unfreedom is the answer to our prayers.

The Marxist belief in the primacy of economics has begotten most of the objectionable modern movements, both of the left and of the right. It’s distressing to see that such libertarian thinkers as the odious Ayn Rand and the nice Milton Friedman accept Marx’s premises and only attach a different sign to them.

They all believe that economic virtue can cure man of his sins – they just define virtue differently. Nationalise the economy, says Marx, and everything else will fall into place. Free up the economy, say the libertarians, and everything else will take care of itself.

Like Orwell’s animals, both sides reduce everything to a single issue. They just can’t agree on the number of legs.

Yes, the Pope could have said, Jesus did teach that his kingdom is not of this world. But he made it abundantly clear that his kingdom is higher than this world. Therefore, a Christian must measure all his earthly activities, including economic ones, against the Kingdom of God.

But that doesn’t mean that any successful economic activity somehow contradicts God’s commandments by definition. Yet this is precisely what the Pope says, while revealing most lamentable economic illiteracy.

“In today’s world, many forms of injustice persist,” he writes, “fed by… a profit-based economic model that does not hesitate to exploit, discard and even kill human beings.”

It’s true that free markets don’t eliminate sin and consequently all the woes that so upset the pontiff. But do they actually ‘feed’ injustices? One detects a spot of post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy here, and an implicitly loose definition of justice. An income disparity, for example, as often as not reflects not injustice but justice, people getting what they deserve.

The Pope seems to imply that economic models not based on the profit motive promote universal harmony and security. There His Holiness ventures onto the swampy ground of empirical evidence, and it swallows him up.

For no profit-grabbing economic system has ever produced as much human misery as do models ostensibly rejecting profit as the driver of an economy. Hundreds of millions died horrific deaths in the twentieth century alone in the name of profit-free economic justice.

In this world we aren’t blessed with perfect systems, but there’s a difference between imperfection and evil. That, I’m afraid, is the choice we face when it comes to economies: imperfect freedom reflecting human nature, or perfect slavery stamping human nature, along with human lives, into the blood-soaked dirt.

The Pope went on to attack “the magic theories of ‘spillover’ or ‘trickle’”, using magic in the meaning of false. That again is ignoring overwhelming empirical evidence.

For wealth accumulated by the smart operators of free markets does trickle down all the way to the bottom. That’s why most of today’s poor in the West would have been regarded as sinfully prosperous at any other time in history. 

His Holiness then went on to endorse the discredited and defunct theory of zero-sum economics: “if one person lacks what is necessary to live with dignity, it is because another person is detaining it.”

At the heart of this neo-Marxist theory is the picture of an economy as a pie whose size never changes. Therefore if one greedy individual helps himself to a large slice, some poor person will only get crumbs off the table.

This fallacy, like many others, is based on a false premise. Accept it, and everything else seems to make sense. But this premise simply doesn’t tally with plainly visible facts.

For free economies (and which Western economy is truly free these days?) are always dynamic. They may go up or down, but, viewed over a long time, they grow.

Thus, when I first graced the West with my presence, in 1973, the FTSE 100 stood at 478. Today, even after having lost 150 points to the pandemic, it’s 5841. This means that the top UK companies are now worth 12 times more than in 1973 – that’s a much bigger pie to slice up.

The Pope is held to be infallible when pronouncing on faith and dogma ex cathedra. Alas, when enlarging on other subjects from a less lofty pulpit, he is very fallible indeed. That would seem to be a good reason to desist, but who am I to offer advice to the Holy Father?  

Thank heaven for little girls

I’ve just come across the most startling statistic I’ve seen for a long time – and I’m not easily startled by statistics.

30 per cent?!?

According to a private poll conducted by David Shor, a top US analyst, about 30 per cent of American women under 25 identify as LGBT. For the previous generation, women over 60, this proportion is under five per cent.

Reviving the old nature vs. nurture argument, let’s assume that human nature is more or less immutable. Hence, if we went by biological factors alone, the proportion of women who have no time for men should hold more or less stable from one generation to the next. Since that’s not the case, it leaves one explanation only: culture has undergone a cataclysmic change.

This pertains even if we take Mr Shor’s data with a whole shaker of salt. In fact, I’m sure the real proportion is quite a bit lower than he cites. For it’s not only possible but extremely likely that many of Mr Shor’s respondents lied to him. This is a common phenomenon in all polls: people tend to say things they think the pollster wants to hear or, even more often, things they feel will make them look good.

However, in this case their veracity doesn’t matter. It’s immaterial whether 30 per cent of young women actually are lesbians or merely claim to be because they are trying to come across as interesting, progressive and ‘cool’. The cultural catastrophe is just as calamitous either way.

That a steep rise in homosexuality is an omnipresent symptom of decadent societies is true to the point of being a truism. Nor would anyone be surprised if told that, historically, decadent societies tend to be moribund.

Yet the problem that concerns me here isn’t general but specific. After all, even homosexual activists never put the incidence of male homosexuality at higher than 10 per cent, and all the reliable research I’ve seen yields much lower figures. So why are young women different?

One can think of any number of valid reasons. But the overarching factor is an ever-accelerating shift from a Christian civilisation to a post-Christian one, complete with new moral presuppositions.

In Christendom, all such presuppositions derived from the church either predominantly or at least largely. And the church countenanced sex only between men and women, only in marriage and only for reproductive purposes.

That was a moral law, and, like all laws, it was frequently and widely broken. However, the existence of, say, murderers doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have laws against murder. Laws are important because they signpost the boundaries of the permissible, enabling society to guard itself against trespassers.

As Western civilisation travelled towards new havens, sex began to shift from frequently immoral to universally amoral. Long before 1963, when, according to Philip Larkin, sexual intercourse began, Hemingway enunciated this amorality frankly: “About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”

That adage could be paraphrased to say that morality, specifically in sex, has become strictly eudemonic, separated from demonic by just two letters. In other words, the moral law can no longer be broken simply because it no longer exists.

Sex gradually lost its erstwhile link to procreation, family, love and eventually any human emotion other than lust. Whenever that link still persists, it’s strictly a matter of individual, and increasingly eccentric, choice.

Shedding the tethers of moral restraints, sex has joined drugs and rock ‘n roll as a prong in the trident piercing the entire cultural history of the West. And even when sex doesn’t function in that lofty capacity, it merely satisfies the biological need to climax.

As ever, language provides a reliable clue. Notice how the mechanical word ‘partner’, which a few decades ago appeared only in annual reports and sex manuals, is replacing emotionally and socially charged words, such as ‘lover’, ‘husband’ and ‘wife’. (Only yesterday I was asked in a doctor’s surgery whether I lived with my partner. “No,” I replied, “I live with my wife.” The nice nurse didn’t understand what I was on about.)

This process can only be fully understood in the context of the overall frontal assault on the religious, moral, social and political heritage of Christendom, which, come to think of that, is a workable definition of modernity.

And those in the vanguard of any attack receive most medals. Hence both male and female homosexuals are now screaming that they are proud to practise what only recently was regarded as nothing to be proud of. Yet, though both sexes are coming out of the closet, only the women have more or less ditched that piece of furniture altogether.

Witness the fact that so far not a single male tennis pro (and just one footballer) has come out as a homosexual, while many of their female colleagues have. Male homosexuality must still carry some residual stigma, possibly because of the more invasive nature of the acts involved.

Women, on the other hand, feel they have nothing to hide: they can just as easily achieve an orgasm with another woman, perhaps even more easily. Since it’s all that sex is about, who needs men?

This dovetails neatly with feminism, whose underlying claim is that men and women aren’t just equal but the same, and therefore interchangeable. Men are redundant as providers – either the women themselves or the state can assume that function. Men are redundant as fathers – again, the state can step in and do the job. Men are no longer needed for sex – either other women or sex toys can take care of that.

In fact, men are the historical enemies of women whom they used to subjugate, enslave, exploit and rape. Being ‘into’ men is therefore ‘uncool’, while being ‘into’ traditional family is tantamount to selling out.

Peer pressure crushes women to a point that many find it easier to identify as lesbians than as would-be wives and mothers – even if they happen to be straight. Homosexuality has become aspirational among young women, and young men can’t be far behind.

That’s what Mr Shor’s statistics tell us, whether or not his respondents were perfectly honest. I just hope I’ll be dead by the time homosexuality becomes mandatory. 

Less Catholic than the Pope

Just to think that a mere seven years ago we had a real Catholic Pope, one who devoted his whole life to upholding Christian doctrine.

Our Catholic Pope

This is what Benedict XVI said about the issue that’s so close to his successor’s woke heart: “A century ago, anyone would have thought it absurd to talk about homosexual marriage.”

He then added that homomarriage, abortion and reproductive technologies were of the Antichrist. “Modern society is in the middle of formulating an anti-Christian creed,” said His Holiness, “and if one opposes it, one is being punished by society with excommunication.”

No one has to be a Catholic or, more generally, a Christian. However, no Catholic or, more generally, no Christian would have a leg to stand on if he tried to object. For the view expressed by the Pope has scriptural antecedents in both Testaments.

In the two millennia that passed since St Paul wrote on this issue in his epistles to Romans, Corinthians and Timothy, the Church accepted his view as sacred truth. Then, seven years ago, when Pope Benedict was forced off his throne, things began to change.

Pope Francis clearly dreads excommunication from secular society with its increasingly subversive and anti-Christian diktats. Going against Christian doctrine, the teaching of the Church and its entire history, on the other hand, is no problem at all.

Hence, halfway through a documentary film about him, Pope Francis endorsed homosexual civil unions: “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”

The pontiff’s concern for the minutiae of secular law is touching. It’s comforting to know that the Pope is ready to veer outside his remit and engage in legal debates. Or rather it would be comforting if such forays didn’t come at the expense of his core business.

It’s interesting to follow his logic though. If all God’s children have the right to form a family, why not marry homosexuals in church? What’s food for the goose of the registrar ought to be food for the gander of the priest. Denying that is like saying that burglars have a right to rob my neighbour, but not me.

The rationale given by his Holiness is sheer demagoguery. Of course, homosexuals are children of God. That’s why they must be loved and treated with dignity, like all God’s creatures made in His image and likeness.

Not that I am drawing any direct parallels, but the same goes for thieves, murderers and even Jeremy Corbyn. We as Christians are duty-bound to love them, treat them kindly and pray for their salvation. But that doesn’t mean we should endorse their actions, or desist from stopping them by every available means.

The Church expresses this concept tersely: love the sinner, hate the sin. On the other hand, Pope Francis is saying that not only must the sinner be loved, but also that his sin must be actively endorsed. In Christianity, this is called heresy. In logic, this is called a category error.

This Pope is unlikely to renounce the former, but he’ll probably correct the latter before long – by declaring that homosexuality is no longer a sin and homomarriage should be given a sacramental status in the Church. On balance, I’d rather he stayed illogical.

Our ads are racist and sexist

Wearing my two hats, one of a champion of progress, the other of an ex-adman, I am appalled. For the current trend in British advertising violates my most cherished principles.

One of them is that any public communication featuring images of people must faithfully reflect the demographic makeup of the whole population. The same principle must also apply to any professional group, be that the board of a bank or the government of the country.

You’ll agree that any violation of this postulate betokens racism, favouring one racial group over others. This, as we know, is the eighth deadly sin, much worse than the other seven.

Admittedly, it took me a while to accept this principle that now seems self-evident. Progress took its time to work its way into my viscera, but now it dominates every humour in my body and soul (this last word shouldn’t be taken literally: every progressive person of any of the 74 known sexes knows that the soul is but a figment of reactionary imagination).

That’s why it’s with great anguish that I have to report being greatly offended by current TV and print advertisements. For they flagrantly violate the sacred principle of proportional demographic representation I hold so dear.

Take black Britons, for example (I hope you realise that I’m using the questionable term ‘black’ for brevity only – ‘British persons of Afro-Caribbean descent’ is morally correct but rhetorically long). They make up 3.4 per cent of the British population.

Thus, 3.4 per cent of any group shown on public media, specifically in advertising, must be black. I not only accept this principle but salute it with both hands.

However, while I don’t have any statistics at my disposal, anyone watching TV will confirm that the actual proportion is higher by an order of magnitude. At least one of every three people shown in commercials seems to be black.

Now, any adman will tell you that a photograph of potential customers should reflect the target audience for the brand. Some brands are specifically aimed at black audiences, and in my time I did quite a few such ads.

Moreover, when I worked in New York, whole agencies existed that specialised in black markets exclusively. I did some freelance work for them because I had a knack for talking to black audiences – why, I don’t have a clue.

However, the other day I caught a commercial for Peter Jones, the department store in Sloane Square that separates Chelsea from Belgravia. Living as we do just down the road, Penelope often shops there, and I sometimes tag along to make sure she doesn’t take too many liberties with the charge card.

I’m not sure that in the 30-odd years I’ve ever seen a black family shopping there, appalling as this fact is. But now I have – in a TV commercial for the store. Why such demographic chicanery?

No advertising agency would aim a campaign for Peter Jones at a black target group. Very few black live in the vicinity, and one doesn’t run into too many black Sloanies.

Hence ads featuring them miss the target audience, which no agency worth its salt ever used to do. Much as it pains me to say this about my former colleagues, they seem to be sacrificing professional integrity for… what exactly? Political correctness? Propaganda? Virtue signalling?

It’s not just this particular campaign. A new arrival in England who knows nothing about the country and wishes to fill that vacuum by watching TV commercials will get a wrong idea about his new country’s demographics.

Blacks and Asians together make up about 10 per cent of the population. Hence, if we stuck to the principle of proportional racial representation, one out of 10 actors and models appearing in ads should come from those groups. The actual percentage is much higher, although it would take serious research to establish the exact numbers.

The same goes for homosexuals. The most reliable study I’ve seen showed that only about 1.4 per cent of Britons favour their own sex. Yet advertising certainly features a much higher percentage. It’s as if the ads were meant to be aspirational, showing life not as it is, but as it’s supposed to be.

The champion of progress in me rejoices; the former adman weeps. Since advertising budgets are tightening up to suffocation, precise targeting becomes even more vital than ever. One has to admit with much chagrin that many of our advertisers pursue – or are forced to pursue – other than merely commercial objectives.

Just to think that in the past advertising was just a way of flogging brands. Now it has to multi-task, to use a fashionable phrase. Long live progress, I say. And if it necessarily includes racism, then so be it — provided it’s the right kind of racism.

God let Boris down

A fortnight ago Boris Johnson must have appealed to God’s mercy.

Let’s put them up in Westminster. There’s always plenty of wind there

“Lord,” said Johnson genuflecting, “I’m going to pledge in the Commons that wind farms will power every British home within a decade.

“But can thou please help me out, in the name of political correctness and therefore my political career? I beseech thee, oh Lord, to keep the wind nice and strong in perpetuity for, as thou knowest, with no wind those bloo… sorry, those glorious turbines won’t keep turning. And, cripes, Lord, if they don’t turn, thy chosen country, Britain, will freeze in the dark.

“More important, Lord, I, thy intermittently faithful servant, shall be reviled in all eternity. So please, please do this little thing for me, Lord, and I’ll let thy bishops mouth any old rubbish without ever contradicting them.”

To be fair to our devout PM, he kept his end of the bargain: Number 10 didn’t reject the bishops’ petition containing helpful advice on foreign policy, and nor did it tell them to mind their own business, which is far from being in order.

But the deity was blatantly in default. In fact, during that conversation He had told Johnson not to keep his hopes up high.

“I’ll do what I can, my son,” said God. “But behold, my stock in trade is keeping the winds down, not up. Remember my Scripture? ‘And he arose, and he rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind eased, and there was a great calm’.”

Yet Johnson didn’t heed that fair warning. The next day he stood up and shouted at his fellow MPs (even though some of them aren’t fellows, I hasten to add): “You heard me right. Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands.”

I didn’t realise that household appliances are capable of feeling guilt, as Mr Johnson’s locution implied, but there we have it. Alas, all those contraptions immediately headed for trouble, for God Almighty was as good as his word.

A few days after the PM made his momentous promise, “the breezes that blow around these islands” were rebuked by God, and there was great calm – that is, everywhere but at National Grid’s good offices.

The utility company, responsible for keeping the country warm and light, screamed bloody murder in its customary bureaucratese: “Unusually low wind output coinciding with a number of generator outages means the cushion of spare capacity we operate the system with has been reduced. We’re exploring measures & actions to make sure there is enough generation available to increase our buffer of capacity.”

Allow me to translate. Because there was no wind to speak of, National Grid had to dip into the emergency reserves supplied by traditional sources, those that don’t depend as immediately on God’s benevolence.

However, what happens a few years down the road if God plays the same trick again and Britain has no traditional energy sources to fall back on? Let’s not forget that by that time the grid will also have to accommodate several more million electric cars, all thirsty for their fair share of clean, guiltless juice. 

That possibility doesn’t bear thinking about and, to give Mr Johnson his due, he doesn’t think about it. Instead he thinks that by the time that cataclysmic blackout arrives, he’ll have finished his political career on his own terms. He’ll be raking in millions by tossing off memoirs and articles, speaking at boozy fundraisers, sitting on countless boards and taking bungs for introducing foreign gangsters to his successors.

And if a Dark Age arrives in Britain, he’ll happily up sticks and retreat to a country that’s not quite so advanced in its march towards progress. France could be good, what with Mr Johnson already fluent in her language. As to the rest of us, it’s sauve qui peut.

My quarrel isn’t really with the PM. He’s the usual garden variety spiv washed into Downing Street by the wave of universal, and increasingly illiterate, suffrage. What does sadden me no end is a society totalitarian in its thought, if not quite yet in its methods.

Being a literate sort, Mr Johnson has doubtless read a few serious books (such as Heaven and Earth by Ian Plimer) that debunk, reams of data in hand, the hysteria about anthropogenic global warming for the scam it is.

Hence he knows that man’s actions play an infinitesimal role, if any, in climate changes, compared to the impact of solar activity and a myriad other factors studied by, inter alia, astronomy, geology, solar physics, astrophysics, palaeontology, tectonics, oceanography, geochemistry and volcanology.

He must be aware that for 80 per cent of its history the Earth has been warmer than it is now, and that ecological catastrophes have only ever been caused by periods of cooling rather than warming. Of course he is. But for our peerless leaders, it’s the denial of knowledge that is power.

Given the progress in information technology, and the concomitant regress in public intelligence, new orthodoxies take months, rather than centuries, to hatch. But they are none the less intractable for it: obey them or else.

No deviation, heresy or apostasy is allowed; no flexibility is built in. New, fake, orthodoxies are chiselled in stone for ever, or at least until next month, when new ones arrive. No public official can possibly come across as a global warming denier and still hope to keep his job.

And keeping their jobs, or getting better ones, has become the sole purpose of governance in Britain. So we’re going to revert to the days before the Industrial Revolution, when energy was only produced by wind, water or muscle.

That’s the thing about modernity: it’s a snake devouring its own tail. First it fraudulently holds up technological progress as its principal redeeming feature; second, it destroys that progress when it comes in conflict with some zig or zag of its ideological pieties.

So let’s wait for a new Don Quixote, who’ll attack those wind farms on his trusted Rocinante, if with better result. That’s our only hope.   

The most repulsive article of the year

Admittedly, this winner emerges out of a one-man poll, and one man’s experience is limited. So let’s just say that Jonathan Meades’s Telegraph review of the book The International Brigades is the most repulsive article I’ve read in a long time, and certainly this year.

The background to the Spanish Civil War

The first paragraph tells you everything you need to know: “In reality, [the Spanish Civil War] was a despicable Catholic crusade against socialists, communists, anarchists, secularists, modernists, liberals and unaffiliated adventurers…”

Take the derogatory adjective out, and the description is accurate. That’s exactly what that war was, and thank God for that. To any normal person, such a crusade would merit adjectives like ‘noble’, ‘gallant’ or ‘honourable’.

Yet to Mr Meades it only rates ‘despicable’ and ‘Catholic’, two modifiers he clearly regards as equally pejorative if not quite fully synonymous. By inference, he finds it appalling that anyone, especially Catholics, would wish to stop the human types he enumerates so lovingly.

I’m always amazed how that war still excites imaginations, especially those inflamed by leftie passions. It’s as if the left, having lost the war on the battlefield, is now trying to win it by retrospective propaganda offensives.

Even after the horrors perpetrated all over the world by those so beloved of Mr Meades became common knowledge, his ilk still can’t control their posthumous hatred of Franco. That’s understandable: he was the first man to stop communism by force in a full-blown war.

However, that’s par for the leftie course. Practically everyone writing about the Spanish Civil War toes the same line, although not everyone defines Franco’s motives with Mr Meades’s commendable accuracy.

That war provides the quickest test of political affiliation. If you want to know where someone stands politically, ask him if he thinks the right side won the Spanish Civil War. Anyone who answers yes is a conservative, anyone who answers no is, well, not.

That Mr Meades’s answer is a shrill no doesn’t by itself qualify him for the distinction in the title above. Yet how he goes about making his point does, for seldom does one encounter such a combination of ignorance, stridency and mendacity.

For those of you who have more important things in life than reading about the Spanish Civil War, the International Brigades were the volunteer shock troops of Comintern (the Communist International), which is to say of Stalin.

The Soviets created it in 1919 for the explicit purpose of fomenting a world revolution. Comintern used espionage, subversion and propaganda to turn the whole world into the blood-soaked, starving, disease-ridden hell the Soviet Union was already.

Those who serve hell are commonly known as devils, and that’s exactly what International Brigade recruits were. True, some of them were merely misguided, meaning they served satanic objectives out of stupidity rather than evil.

That, I suppose, matters to the salvation of their souls, but not for any practical purposes. Those who serve evil are themselves evil – unkind but true.

To Mr Meades, those recruits are something else entirely: “Many merely shared a commitment to democracy and the labour movement… [They were] modest people in pursuit of justice.”

That is, democracy and justice as exemplified by Stalin’s Russia, where millions had already been butchered and the rest enslaved. As to the labour movement, any manifestation of it in the Soviet Union was welcomed with machinegun bursts, kangaroo trials, mass executions and concentration camps.

I keep writing about the Soviet Union because not one of the 3,000 words in Mr Meades’s article mentions the Soviet involvement in that war. He does mention in passing a “bloody war-within-the-war [between the Stalinists and the Trotskyists] in Barcelona”, which sounds like an internecine conflict among Spaniards.

In fact, by that time the Soviets, using the International Brigades as their vanguard, had taken full control of the Republican side. The massacre of the Trotskyists and the anarchists (I’m not shedding any tears for them, by the way) was a purge conducted by the NKVD in parallel with similar actions in the Soviet Union proper.

One of the men murdered in those purges was José Robles, a friend to both Hemingway and Dos Passos, who were at the time producing a propaganda film about the war. Appalled by the murder, Dos Passos quit the project and eventually became a conservative. Hemingway finished that cinematic NKVD op on his own, editing Robles out.

Mr Meades spares no words in fuming about the help Franco received from Hitler and Mussolini, tacitly assisted by “Stanley Baldwin and Anthony Eden, who like most men of their social class dreaded communism more than fascism…”. And yes: “Without [Germany and Italy], Franco would have been defeated and democracy sustained.”

Had Franco been defeated, Spain would have become in 1936 another Romania, circa 1948. That seems to be Mr Meades’s idea of a democracy sustained. However, Franco would have routed the Republicans singlehandedly had they not received massive assistance from Stalin.

Soviet generals advised, and often led, the Republican armies. Soviet pilots flew combat missions in their Soviet Seagull and I-16 fighter planes. Soviet tank crews were employing pincer thrusts in their Soviet BT tanks. Soviet officers ran Republican intelligence and counterintelligence (stealing Spain’s gold reserves in the process).

Since Mr Meades can’t possibly be ignorant of these facts, his failure to mention them even obliquely testifies to the kind of dishonesty that ought to surprise even those familiar with the standards of left-wing journalism. That it’s practised in a supposedly conservative paper should, however, come as a slight surprise.

Mr Meades creates the impression that the Republicans were basically disarmed: “The efforts of the French air minister Pierre Cot, who sold the Republicans aircraft on the sly, were in vain.” Meaning what? That the Republicans had no warplanes to fly?

None of this is to say that Franco was a little angel. But neither was he the fascist he’s portrayed to be by the likes of Mr Meades.

Franco did align himself with foreign fascists in Germany and Italy, and domestic ones in the Falange. But then even Winston Churchill, not commonly regarded as a fascist, said he’d form an alliance with the devil himself if it helped defeat Hitler. No doubt Franco felt the same way about stopping communism in its tracks.

Civil wars are always fought with utmost brutality, and Franco committed his fair share. However, any decent person, especially one armed with the hindsight of the horrors perpetrated by the communists in every country they conquered, would feel that Franco’s cause was just.

Mr Meades doesn’t qualify as a decent person, which he proves by saying: “It’s telling that the senile cretin Ronald Reagan announced that the Brigade’s Lincoln Battalion fought ‘on the wrong side’.”

Living as he does in a glass house, Mr Meades shouldn’t throw ‘senile cretin’ stones too often. But then of course no vile invective is off-limits when someone dares to suggest that stopping the midnight terror of communism isn’t so bad.

Like all lefties, Mr Meades feels he has to end on a didactic note: “[Dictators] are successful in accruing power for power’s sake. They are the ones whom the most unscrupulous and morally bereft emulate, they are the ones whom we must watch like hawks…”

Anyone with a modicum of education will know that Franco didn’t pursue “power for power’s sake”. In fact, he was most reluctant to lead the anti-communist rebellion, and only did so because he wanted to save his country from Mr Meades’s typological precursors. They too must be watched like hawks.

Those offensive sexual preferences

Before you report me to the police, allow me to exculpate myself. I am hereby declaring, hand on the Merriam-Webster dictionary, that no sexual preferences, except perhaps male heterosexuality, can ever be deemed offensive or in any way objectionable.

Amy Coney Barrett would be my choice any day

They are all, except perhaps male heterosexuality, free of any moral component and therefore immune to any other than laudatory judgement. Any attempt to exercise any other than laudatory judgement is immoral, socially unacceptable and possibly illegal.

I’m glad we’ve clarified this point so I can get on with it, starting with the explanation of what the title above means. What’s offensive isn’t any sexual preference, but the term itself.

As a lifelong student of English, I’m happy it’s developing heightened sensitivity to all-important nuances. ‘Sexual preference’ itself was a welcome embellishment on the Biblical ‘abomination’ and the later, somewhat judgemental, ‘perversion’. Now the term ‘sexual preference’ itself has become an abomination and perversion.

This is so obvious that one wonders why it took the world so long to realise it. At least realise it the world finally did. The epiphany came during the vetting hearing of Amy Coney Barrett, nominee for the US Supreme Court.

Mrs Barrett is a devout Catholic, which makes her highly suspect to fearless fighters for LGBTQ+ rights (I hope I got the acronym right — all those letters are terribly confusing, though I do love the open-ended plus).

The suspicion is that, if ascending to the Court, she’ll start sticking iron rods into the wheel-spokes of progress, especially the part that involves abortion and the sort of practices that the Bible describes as abominations.

That’s why during her hearing Mrs Barrett was asked point-blank if she’d ever try to reverse the 2015 ruling that allowed homosexuals to marry in all 50 states, as is their constitutional right.

(At the time, I re-read the text of the US Constitution and all its 27 amendments for confirmation. Alas, my eyesight no longer being what it used to be, I couldn’t find any mention of that constitutional right, although I’m sure it must be there somewhere.)

The trap was laid, and Mrs Barrett promptly fell into it. “I do want to be clear,” she said, evading a direct answer to the question, “that I have never discriminated on the basis of sexual preference and would not discriminate on the basis of sexual preference.” Gotcha!

Senator Mazie Hirono jumped up and declared that Mrs Barrett is a factor of clear and present danger to LGBTQ+ rights. As a Catholic, a conservative and a Trump nominee, she’s already under a cloud of suspicion. And now her use of ‘sexual preference’ has turned a suspicion into a certainty.

Only rabid “anti-LGBTQ activists”, said Sen. Hirono, use that offensive term. It implies that homosexuality is a matter of personal choice, rather than an immutable part of a person’s identity.

People no more choose to be homosexual than they choose to be blue-eyed or, say, Latino, tweeted Ritchie Torres, a Democratic congressional candidate in New York: “As a gay man, I do not have a ‘sexual preference’ any more than I have a racial preference or an ethnic preference.”

That shows that Mr Torres is so far behind the times that I, acting on behalf of progress, demand an apology. For these days race is very much a matter of personal choice. A white person can identify as black, and anyone who has an issue with that is instantly branded as a fascist or some such.

But if we reluctantly stay at Mr Torres’s stage of progress and agree that race isn’t a preference but a fact, then there’s a slight error in his observation. You see, a person born to a race can’t, or at least until recently couldn’t, opt not to be a member of that race.

However, a person born homosexual can exercise the option of not practising it for social, moral or – God forbid – religious reasons. After all, both heterosexual and homosexual people used to renounce the practice of their sexuality and choose a monastic life instead, so such abstinence is possible.

Anyway, forget I’ve said that. It’s just that I momentarily relapsed into my former self, the way I was before I became a champion of progress. And my new self rejoices at the speed with which Merriam-Webster reacted to that momentous lexical discovery.

Within hours of that hearing, the dictionary updated its entry of ‘sexual preference’ by identifying it as offensive. Before progress gathered speed, it used to take a new usage decades to make its way into reputable dictionaries. Now, largely thanks to the technological advances of which modernity is so justly proud, it takes hours.

The proper, inoffensive, term is now ‘orientation’, not ‘preference’. Myself, I’d prefer ‘sexual identity’, which would be more consonant with progressive usage.

A person could then have both a gender identity and a sexual identity, with the former also being a changeable preference and the latter defying any choice… sorry, I’m getting dreadfully tangled up in the labyrinthine workings of progress. But you know what I mean.

Sen. Hirono gleefully remarked that, though Mrs Barrett had refused to give a direct answer to that tricky question, her silence, coupled with her use of the newly offensive term, “spoke volumes”. Quite. As in the volumes of the Merriam-Webster dictionary.