Britain is now a rogue state

Such is the latest gem coming to you courtesy of Manny Macron, who wishes to see Britain classed in the same bracket as Russia, China and Iran.

“Show me your ideology; I’ll show you mine”

This is a useful reminder that, though ideology is a cognate of idea, in reality the former precludes the latter. In fact, an ideology can make anyone look dumb.

That’s why debating against ideologies is pointless: none of them can withstand 10 seconds of rational argument. The whole point of an ideology is to override reason and common sense, replacing them with a kneejerk response to stimuli.

Nor do strident ideologues have to be stupid to spout inanities. It’s just that their intelligence doesn’t come into it. They don’t hold their utterances to any IQ tests; ideological purity is all that matters. In that sense, the ideology of European federalism is no different from Marxism and Nazism.

No matter how intelligent a Marxist could be otherwise, the moment he flies close to his ideology, his intellectual wings melt and he crashes to the ground. Leszek Kołakowski, for example, was no idiot – and yet he came across as one whenever he tried to squeeze his philosophy into the Marxist straightjacket.

Similarly, Carl Schmitt had a first-rate mind, but he put it on hold every time he tried to justify Nazism. ‘Abandon brains all ye who enter here’ is a sign implicitly displayed at the entrance to all ideologies.

While the ideology of European federalism is less toxic, at least so far, it’s an ideology nonetheless. That’s why, having tried to argue the toss with dozens of otherwise intelligent men (I usually don’t argue with women because such arguments are silly and rude by definition), I have yet to hear a single idea that makes even remote sense. All I hear is ideological platitudes.

It’s only against this backdrop that Manny Macron’s diatribes against Britain can be understood. In fact, as far as he is concerned, Britain may be even worse than Russia, China and Iran. Yes, they present a clear danger to the West, but at least, they never left the EU because they never belonged to it.

Britain did, which makes her worse than dangerous. She is an apostate and heretic, and ideologies always treat such schismatics more harshly than outright foes. Lenin, for example, reserved his most hysterical harangues for the non-Bolshevik socialists, such as Kautsky, not for implacable enemies of Bolshevism, such as Churchill.

So Manny whistles, so Ursula von der Leyen jumps. For her a plunge into stupidity is even shorter than for Manny, which is why she plans to exclude British scientists from collaboration with the EU in state-of-the-art technology, such as supercomputers.

If Manny, or even Ursula, engaged their brains even for a second, they’d know how idiotic this plan is. Science and technology thrive on international collaboration, and they risk withering without it. This applies to the excluded and the excluders alike: both sides will suffer.

Naturally, whenever a project has military applications, it must remain classified to potential enemies, those who can use it for aggressive purposes. Yet neither Manny nor Ursula can possibly think that Britain threatens the security of the EU.

Actually, they don’t think that. But they do believe that Britain threatens the ideology of the EU, and there they have a point.

That’s why, in order to spite Britain, the likes of Manny are happy to cut off not only their nose, but even more reproductively vital portions of their anatomy. They are prepared to make their countries less competitive as long as Britain loses out too, pour encourager les autres, as Voltaire put it.

EU fanatics could do worse than study history. Then they’d know that ideological contrivances eventually collapse, and the more strident they are, they closer their demise. Yet, as another Frenchman, Paul Valery, wrote, “History teaches precisely nothing”. That’s certainly true with ideologues.

There’s hope for our universities yet

Some time ago I had a friend who lived in Essex. He told me about his village’s celebrity, a 14-year-old girl who regularly took men behind the pub and gave them handjobs for 20 Bensons.

“Are you Oxford or Cambridge, love?”

I was shocked: surely her parents ought to have alerted their little girl to the health hazards of smoking. However, for all I know that young lady must have been preparing herself for a glittering academic career.

According to an article I’ve just read, studies show that somewhere between 95,000 and 500,000 British students use prostitution to fund their studies. Moreover, their universities and student unions actively encourage this activity.

At Cambridge University one can find leaflets saying that “not all sex work is abusive” (unlike, say, complimenting a girl on her body).

Bristol’s student union pledges to “lobby the University to take an explicit non-exclusionary stance towards students who work in the sex industry”.

University of London’s student union explains that “sex work is work… the exchange of money for labour, like any other job”.

Edinburgh University promises to “take a zero-tolerance attitude towards whorephobia”, thereby expanding my lexicon of objectionable phobias.

University of Oxford, while streamlining its music studies to exclude Mozart and Beethoven,  supports a “campaign for the full decriminalisation of sex work”.

And Leicester University has produced a helpful ‘Sex Work Toolkit’ for students and staff, academic salaries being what they are.

I’m proud of our universities. Displaying commendable realism, they acknowledge that the role of the university has changed over the centuries.

Such institutions used to produce scholars trained in theology, philosophy, logic, music, mathematics and rhetoric. But these days they have less and less time for such abstract disciplines – nor indeed for most others recognised in the past as legitimate academic subjects.

Instead, they see their role as arming students with the skills, knowledge and character traits essential to succeeding in the rough-and-tumble of our increasingly complex world. And prostitution can serve this end better than any other extracurricular activity.

In addition to acquiring advanced amorous techniques of a purely mechanical nature, our budding academics can also develop a certain elasticity of morals and behaviour that will stand them in good stead in future life.

In some areas the benefits are immediate and direct, in others they may be deferred but no less sizeable for it. In the former category, prostitution provides essential skills for stellar success in politics, public relations, modelling, hospitality, acting and sales.

That much is obvious. But even in seemingly unrelated fields, such as law, journalism, finance or medicine, a young lady who has turned hundreds of tricks by graduation time has a head start on competition, as it were.

The same way she used men as a source of revenue, she can now use them as stepping stones on her upward career path. Moreover, she can later sue some of the stepping stones for harassment and sexual objectivising, thus complementing her already sizeable income with a tidy lump sum.

In our increasingly transactional society, every woman, regardless of occupation, can benefit from developing an acute business sense, independence of mind and ability to fend for herself. Hence I was pleased to find out that most student prostitutes dispense with pimps and work strictly for themselves.

The entrepreneur is the driver of a free market economy, and what’s a pimpless prostitute if not a self-employed businesswoman?

She has to vet her clientele, work out a flexible pricing policy to cover the whole range of services, look after health and safety provisions, ensure collection, develop a strategy minimising tax exposure – in short, the prostitute is the crystallised quintessence of modern society, the ideal toward which it strives.

I do think though that our universities must take the next bold step by turning student prostitutes into a profit centre for the whole institution. Universities already have dormitories that can be profitably converted into brothels, thereby centralising that activity and realising economies of scale.

In due course, universities may embark on expansion by moving mattresses into the now-unused classrooms, thus optimising the use of floorspace. Opportunities are rife, and I’m sure our universities will meet the challenge head on, as it were.

Meanwhile, the article I’ve read mentions a bright 18-year-old girl named Anna who studies “diligently in the musty libraries and ancient halls of one of Britain’s most venerated universities.” By night, however, she hones her business skills by turning tricks for as little as £10 a throw.

Yet again I was shocked. Anna must work on her pricing strategies, both to maximise her own earning potential and also to prevent depressing the market. Currently, she’s selling herself short.

I wonder if Anna is that girl from Essex my friend mentioned, now grown up and savvy. Old habits die hard, and £10 is close to today’s price of 20 Bensons.

Cancel Beethoven (and Newton, while we’re at it)

Please don’t call for the men in white coats yet, bear with me for a couple of paragraphs.

And cancel this hotbed of racism too

Now what if I suggested that our best university scrap musical notation because “it causes students of colour great distress” and “has not shaken off its connection to its colonial past” and “complicity in white supremacy”?

What if I then developed this idea to its inevitable logical conclusion by insisting that the presence of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart et al. on the university curricula delivers a “slap in the face” to minority students? And therefore all such offensive personages, along with their music, should be cancelled?

Now put that phone down. Or, if you insist on summoning those proverbial men, don’t mention me as a potential patient. Mention instead professors and administrators of Oxford University who are planning to do all those things in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s their pronouncements that I quoted.

Those learned ladies and gentlemen are planning to remove the whole classical repertoire from the curriculum. This abomination, they explain, is “white European music” that causes “students of colour great distress”. 

Now you probably expect me to huff and puff about this woke equivalent of Nazi book burning, spouting words like ‘savagery’, ‘vandalism’, ‘barbarism’ and so forth. Well, hate to disappoint, but I’m not going to.

Instead I simply invite you to ponder the state of a civilisation where that sort of thing happens at a university currently ranked as the world’s best. That’s right, the best not merely in Britain, but in the whole world.

I’d also like to rebuke the University of Oxford for a certain lapse in logic and consistency. Why just Mozart and Beethoven (and Guido d’Arezzo, who first committed the offence of inventing modern musical notation)?

Why not also Newton and Leibniz, who concocted their theories at a time when slavery and colonialism were rife, and dead black people were stuffed and displayed in zoological museums? (I’m only mentioning those two because the list of scientists working before the second half of the 20th century is too long to include here.)

Why not Plato and Aristotle, who not only philosophised at a time of slavery, but actually extolled it?

Why not the whole European, and specifically English, literature created at a time when black people didn’t teach, nor indeed study, at Oxford?

Why not Classical, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Neo-Classical, Georgian, Regency and Victorian architecture? Do you have any idea how deeply it can traumatise ‘students of colour’ (other than white, that is)?

And oh yes, what about all art of the same periods? I mean, how many black people were painted by Leonardo and Vermeer? How do you suppose students of colour feel having to study paintings of white bitches playing the virginals?

But do let’s simplify matters by stopping this itemisation. Cancel the lot of them, I say. Oxford should reduce its entire curriculum to one programme only: Black Studies.

This could be subdivided into courses in African art, bongo drum compositions, rap, black literature and a very short credit module in black science. Black magic is worth considering too, even though it’s not overtly racial.

Have you pondered all those timely proposals? Fine. Now ponder something else: if this is what’s going on at the world’s top university, what are the lesser institutions teaching? Apart from condom studies, that is.

Cannibalism? Voodoo? History of slavery? No, surely not those – such courses would only perpetuate negative racial stereotyping, thereby reinforcing all sorts of unconscious biases. Anyway, your guess is as good as mine, or actually much better because I’m out of ideas.

Meanwhile, let’s start a campaign for cancelling Oxford University (founded in 1096) and all other institutionally racist institutions dating back to the times falling short of our exacting moral standards. And not just the educational establishments either.

The Mother of All Parliaments, anyone?

Why does Biden hate Britain?

Much as I’d want everyone to share my tastes, it’s statistically probable that some sour pusses out there actually hate the country I love. The interesting question is why.

Does he cry “Begorrah!”?

For example, an American tourist may walk through Chelsea on match day, only to be jostled and manhandled by a throng of blue-clad louts pouring beer on one another and using the kind of language that would make Trump blush.

The next day the American may go to a restaurant where he’ll be served by a waiter who gets the order wrong because he doesn’t understand English and doesn’t even know what French fries are.

Having thus done London in two days, the visitor may return to his native shores fuming at a country where people don’t even speak their own language and, if they do, slur four-letter words because they are habitually drunk. People talk funny, few places are air-conditioned, there are no ice machines in hotels, Coke is served warm.

All of this is both understandable and innocent. But Biden’s Anglophobia has different reasons, and it may have far-reaching consequences.

As he explains, “When my great grandfather got on a coffin ship in the Irish Sea, expectation was, was he going to live long enough on that ship to get to the United States of America? But they left because of what the Brits had been doing.”

People living in Britain are called British or Britons, not Brits. By the same token, people living in America are usually called Americans, rather than Yanks.

But that’s an honest mistake. By contrast, disliking Britain for the plight of a man born in the mid-nineteenth century is silly and, for a US president, sinister. It’s also, alas, very American.

Many Americans, even those whose families have lived in the US for generations, are obsessed with tagging a modifier to their nationality: Irish American, German American, Mexican American and so forth.

It’s as if the American nationality were umbilically linked to the – by now recessive – genes of some other nativity. Resentments and feuds that plagued their ancestors centuries ago refuse to die.

When I lived in America, I was puzzled by that phenomenon and now, 33 years later, I still am.

In most cases, I don’t have a clue about the ethnic roots of my English or French friends. They identify themselves as either English or French, even if the surnames of two of my best friends sound, respectively, Irish and Corsican.

There’s no denying that the English treated the Irish abominably in the past. My late father-in-law told a story about being in Ireland and having a drink at a pub with a bunch of locals. They told him that “British soldiers killed our children, tortured and raped our women…”

My father-in-law was shocked: no Englishmen he knew showed marked propensities for such behaviour. “British soldiers did that?” he asked. “My God, when?” “Under bloody Cromwell,” came the reply.

To be fair, the English mistreated the Irish even closer to our own time – but long before Joe Biden was born. Though my testimony carries no weight, I can testify that no Britons harbour murderous intentions towards the Irish. Unfunny Irish jokes are about as far as they go.

Yet it’s understandable that my relation’s drinking companions resented the British: their fathers might have fought them on the barricades, and they themselves might have wished to see Ireland united. But they were Irish, not anything else.

Irish Americans, on the other hand, are something else – Americans. What’s this obsession with distant ethnic roots? Wasn’t the country supposed to be a melting pot in which huddled masses are boiled together to produce a new, common nationality?

Mild curiosity about one’s family history is natural. But, say, for an American whose remote ancestor was Italian to dislike another American because his ancestors were Austrian is simply silly.

Perhaps the whole notion of a melting pot is flawed. A mere couple of centuries may not be enough to form a uniform cultural, and therefore ethnic, identity. Yearning to be free and pursue happiness is enough to bring people from all over the world to America. But such human aspirations probably fall short of creating any form of cultural homogeneity.

Hence so many Americans cling to the cultures of their forefathers, refusing to renounce ancestral attachments – and, more to the point, resentments. When all is said and done, for diversity to form a nation it has to turn into uniformity at some point.

That’s not to say that people should forget the painful past of their families – especially if the past is recent. Thus I understand (though don’t approve of) American blacks who profess to hate whites. After all, black Americans my age remember the humiliating experience of riding in the back of the bus and being refused service in some restaurants.

Also, I understand (though don’t approve of) Jews who hate Germans. Some Holocaust survivors, and most of their children, are still living, and not enough time has passed to attenuate the shockwaves.

I don’t approve of such sentiments because original sin is the only collective guilt I believe in, and even that can be redeemed. People are individuals, each blessed with free will and hence the power to make free choices. If they themselves are blameless, they shouldn’t be held accountable for the misdeeds of a group to which they belong.

One of my favourite modern American thinkers, Thomas Sowell (who himself, and not his great-grandfather, suffered for his race), put a related sentiment in a nutshell: “Have we reached the ultimate stage of absurdity where some people are held responsible for things that happened before they were born, while other people are not held responsible for what they themselves are doing today?”

Intelligent Americans of Irish descent, such as William Buckley (and some of my readers), don’t hate the English, quite the opposite. Yet even Biden’s fans probably wouldn’t cite his intelligence as the reason for their affection. Typologically, he’s closer to the imbeciles who turned Boston into a lucrative hunting ground for IRA fund raisers.

One would expect the president of a great nation to set aside ancestral feuds and get on with the business of representing all Americans. Wearing a green tie on St Pat’s Day and drinking the odd pint of Guinness with a shamrock drawn on the foam is one thing. Making policy decisions on the basis of idiotic superstitions is another.

In any case, when Biden goes to church to pray for the souls of the millions of babies he pays to be aborted, he should thank his maternal great-grandpa who set sail for America. After all, the family has done rather well there, way in excess of this generation’s talents.

Prince Harry, America’s valuable asset

Prince Harry’s new job in the US has raised both eyebrows and questions. Many felt that, as his Nan’s subject who doesn’t possess a green card, Harry wasn’t entitled to get employment in America.

Out with the old, in with Harry

That just goes to show how little people know about the US immigration law. For it contains a special provision for people whose work can benefit the country.

Called the O-1 visa, it’s designed for “an individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics…”.

Harry satisfies this requirement with room to spare for he is indeed blessed with extraordinary ability. Nor does his talent lie dormant: Harry has converted it into a unique achievement by breathing new life into a whole product category.

He has revolutionised the home-furnishings industry by training himself to act as a voice-activated doorstop. This has instantly relegated traditional doorstops to the status of antiquities.

For centuries, people were plagued by gusts of wind banging open doors shut with an explosive sound reverberating throughout the house. Such shocks used to cause untold misery: male impotence, female miscarriages, children developing lifetime stuttering, hot beverages spilled into elderly people’s laps.

Keeping doors fixed in an open position was therefore always seen as a matter of dire necessity. However, until now only primitive contraptions have been used for that purpose.

Desperate house owners would jam the thin end of a wooden or metal wedge into the slot between the door’s lower edge and the floor. Though this technique served its purpose, it was always seen as a stop-gap measure to be discarded when a revolutionary advance arrived.

After all, using the traditional doorstops was difficult for elderly people whose ability to bend low was compromised by age. Moreover, once wedged in an open position, the door couldn’t vary the width of the aperture.

That created problems because the same opening angle to the jamb was too narrow for some tasks and too wide for others. For example, if an elderly person had to be carried or wheeled into his bedroom, that angle was insufficient. And when an elderly person needed to fix the door barely ajar to peep into his daughter-in-law’s bathroom, it was excessive.

That’s where Harry displayed his extraordinary ability by positioning himself as a ‘smart, voice-activated doorstop’. As ever modest, the prince credits his wife Meghan with her invaluable input.

“Meg would shout ‘a bit wider’ or ‘a bit narrower’, lovingly adding ‘you moron’,” said Harry on the Wintry Opera TV show. “After a while I learned how to keep the door just so. Also, my military training taught me to stand still for hours on end without moving a muscle.

“I recall me Nan saying ‘Harry, one feels you are perfectly trained for a door-stopping career, what? But one would rather you practised it elsewhere.’ And I’m like, ‘Ta, Nan. It’s off to Cauliflower I go.”

His employer, the life-coaching firm BetterUp, issued a press release, saying in part that “Harry’s title of chief impact officer reflects our high hopes for the impact he will make. Harry will be sharing his experience with clients by coaching them how to perform the arduous but vital job of voice-activated doorstop. Harry is a prince among men.”

Commenting on his appointment, Harry wrote, displaying his customary philosophical depth: “Self-optimisation is not about fixing something that’s broken. It’s about becoming the best version of ourselves with whatever life throws at us, such as a heavy door slamming into our face.”

My heartiest congratulations, Harry. Swapping the title of Your Royal Highness for that of chief impact officer was a move of startling courage and creativity. It reminds us all of the untapped reservoir of extraordinary ability hidden in the breast of every seemingly unremarkable individual.

US citizenship beckons – your new country needs you, even if your old one may not.

Capitalism has little to do with it, Mr Johnson

Triumphant about Britain’s success with vaccination, Boris Johnson ascribed it to “greed and capitalism.” He later withdrew the G-word, but the damage was done.

Liberal, which is to say illiberal, papers are running scurrilous pieces about the PM glorifying a deadly sin and equating it with capitalism. In fact, he did neither.

Johnson was merely cocking a snook at the people he facetiously calls “our European friends”, whose corporatism has supposedly failed where Britain’s capitalism has supposedly succeeded. Left in the subtext was an “I told you so” aimed at persistent Remainers. You see, Johnson was implying, had we listened to you, many more Britons would have died.

However, this is a wrong case study to cite as a vindication of capitalism, even though nationalisation is marginally less rife in Britain than on the continent. It’s not immediately obvious why, say, the American pharma company Pfizer and the Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca are any more capitalist than, say, the French Sanofi. They aren’t – for the simple reason that none of them is capitalist in the real sense of the word.

Capitalism these days exists mostly at the level of a corner sandwich shop or, if you’d rather, a dot-com start-up. But today’s giant multinationals are neither run nor controlled by capitalists, if we define the breed as the owners of capital. Modern captains of industry don’t necessarily own the capital of which they dispose, and nor do they live or die by their success or failure.

They take risks mostly with other people’s money, gaining fortunes by achieving success, while personally risking little in case of failure. When they fail, they take the king’s ransom of redundancy and either move on to the next bonanza or retire to some tropical paradise of philistine comfort.

The qualities essential for a rise through modern corporations are different from those needed in a capitalist environment. They are, however, close to those required for careers in government bureaucracies.

Today’s multinationals bear more resemblance to government departments than to entrepreneurial concerns. Thus, even as modern governments grow more corporatist, so, tautologically, do actual corporations. Witness the ease with which executives switch from the corporate to the government arena and back again.

Pharmaceutical companies, more than most others, work under the yoke of government regulations. The state tells them what they can and can’t produce, how they must test their products and often how much they are allowed to charge for them. This, in addition to the noose of imposed quotas and red tape suffocating all industries in general.

(No libertarian criticism of, for example, mandatory quality control of drugs is implied. I’m merely describing how things are, without suggesting that pharmaceutical companies should be free to market potassium cyanide as potassium chloride if that suits them.)

Specifically in the vaccination project, the state and corporations combined their efforts. The state placed the orders, specifying the requisite efficacy and production volumes. It even financed much of the research.

I also detect the state’s hand in AstraZeneca’s decision to sell their vaccine at cost — after all, the company is supposed to owe its highest loyalty to the shareholders, and those chaps like profits and dividends. AstraZeneca must have received some incentives to take a more altruistic approach. It could have been, for example, a promise of future state contracts, fast-tracked regulatory approval or some such.

If our vaccination success is a poor case study for capitalism, it’s an excellent one for Brexit. For even without this empirical proof, any rational analyst (that is, one not blinded by ideology) would know that a single independent government has to be more flexible and fleetfooted than an unwieldy Leviathan of 27 states.

So it has proved. Accountable only to its own people (and even there not so much), HMG moved fast to place the orders for the vaccine, prepay the agreed amounts and chip in with research and testing expenses.

Thus the ensuing success is an exemplar of effective collaboration between the state and industry, not of the otherwise demonstrable superiority of capitalism over any other economic method. But this success also tells a cautionary tale.

Such cooperation is desirable, really indispensable, at crisis time. Whether the crisis is a war, pandemic or natural disaster, libertarian concerns must fade into the background. National necessity comes to the fore, and it’s best served by an effort spearheaded by the national government. Desperate times, dangerous measures and all that.

However, history shows that, even when the times cease to be desperate, the government is reluctant to give up its power to apply dangerous measures. In this case, a distinct possibility exists that, once the Covid situation has been resolved, HMG will try to apply the same model to the entire economy and the entire country, to the detriment of both.

History also shows that nowadays forewarned doesn’t necessarily mean forearmed. Modern people are like dead fish – they can only go with the flow. Creeping state control doesn’t bother them very much; they aren’t trained to be alert to its dangers. When they develop such alertness, it’s usually too late.

P.S. Contrary to the Remainers’ doomsday predictions, capital is flowing from the continent to Britain, not in the opposite direction. This, according to financial analysts, explains the rising exchange rate of the pound against the euro — long may it continue.

You never forget how to swipe a bike

One fine morning Alain Fontanel, the former deputy mayor of Strasbourg, found his electric bicycle stolen. Nothing remarkable about that, such things happen.

Will Vittorio de Sica rise from the dead?

Soon thereafter he saw his bike advertised for sale on the Leboncoin website, France’s eBay. Shunning the buy-back option, attractive though it was, Mr Fontanel went to the police.

Sting-minded cops contacted the seller, who agreed to meet them just outside the Russian consulate. The proposed transaction predictably turned into a routine arrest, but then things got interesting.

The culprit turned out to be Russian, the consul’s driver, who clearly didn’t wish to pursue his side line too far from his day job. The thief’s lowly position didn’t entitle him to diplomatic immunity, which is why he was held in custody for 24 hours and thoroughly interrogated.

It turned out that swiping Mr Fontanel’s possession wasn’t a momentary lapse. The chap had stolen about 300 bikes all told, realising a neat €100,000 supplement to his consulate salary.

So far so ordinary, you may think. But here’s the interesting bit: Mr Fontanel’s bike came with a fake receipt of purchase bearing a Russian consulate stamp. Now employees who have access to such stamps occupy a higher rank in the diplomatic hierarchy, and they do boast immunity.

Anyway, when the cops wanted to interrogate the thief again, they were told he had left France “for health reasons”. Not Covid-related, I hope.

However, the consulate denied their man’s guilt. They also disavowed the rumour that a sequel to Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 film Bicycle Thieves was in the works. Sorry, I made this one up, couldn’t resist.

That nice little earner fits into a long dishonourable tradition of Russian diplomatic missions engaging in ‘activities incompatible’. Usually this term is used on orders to expel spies, and Russia isn’t the only country to combine diplomacy with intelligence-gathering.

Yet Russian embassies have been known to perform less common functions as well. For example, during the 1918-1919 communist revolt in Germany, Soviet diplomats led by Ambassador Ioffe were doling out rifles, grenades and machineguns right in the embassy’s courtyard.

More recent and relevant was the 2018 drug bust at the Russian embassy in Buenos Aires, when Argentine police seized 858 pounds of cocaine worth about €80 million. Among other things, that showed that England holds no exclusive rights to Powder Plots.

That Russian diplomats routinely engage in contraband is reasonably well known. However, there’s something endearing about the Bicycle Plot.

If multi-million drug deals betoken vast conspiracies involving organised crime, nicking bikes and flogging them on the net has a nice down-home feel to it. It’s private initiative at the grassroots, a manifestation of the enterprising spirit so characteristic of the much-vaunted Russian spirituality.

Stealing everything not bolted down has always been a popular pastime there, and why should diplomatic missions be any different? As Horace wrote, “Caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt.” (They change their sky, not their soul, who rush across the sea.) Or perhaps a Russian saying is more appropriate: like priest, like parish.

Post-perestroika Russia has elevated thievery to statecraft, where all public officials from the president down busily pilfer the country’s resources and monetise them through global money laundering.

Their loot, meandering through various offshore havens, is estimated at over two trillion dollars, and ordinary Russians don’t really mind, provided they can nick their fair share. A penny stolen is a penny earned, while we are bowdlerising proverbs.

Or, if you’d rather, he who does not steal, neither shall he eat. This version, more robust in the original, does exist in Russia, and it’s oft-repeated (Кто не пиздит, тот не ест, for the benefit of those studying Russian.)

Your feelings can land you in pokey

Following the murder of Sarah Everard, or rather the hysterical reaction to it, misogyny will be classified as a hate crime.

This news came as such a shock that I began to doubt my command of etymology. Let’s see: misein means ‘to hate’ in Greek, and gyne means ‘woman’. Put them together and you get hatred of women – a nasty feeling for sure, but still only a feeling nevertheless.

But perhaps, when the word was transplanted into English, it changed its meaning? Into the dictionary I go, to find this definition: hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women. Again, only a feeling.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but feelings aren’t traditionally criminalised in the English Common Law. For example, I may feel like eviscerating Tony Blair, but I’m not going to be prosecuted until I’ve tried to get into his house with a large knife (I know where you live, Tony) or at least stated a murderous intent publicly.

So why should misogyny be a crime? Turns out my knee jerked too soon. Misogyny, a Home Office minister explained, will only be considered a crime if it motivates other, violent crimes, “including stalking and sexual offences”.

Wiping my brow in relief, I realised that the new law isn’t so much idiotic as redundant. That, however, is a serious matter too.

Redundant laws encumber the justice system and, worse still, give too much leeway to arbitrary and unjust prosecution. In other words, if a law is redundant, it’s harmful.

In this case, we already have laws galore penalising violence against any of the 72 currently recognised sexes and any additional ones doubtless to be identified soon. Sexual violence, such as rape, is also covered, as is pure violence against women that’s not sullied by sexual assault.

One can see that, if a man known to hate all women commits a violent crime against one of them, his misogyny – or any other perverse motivation – may be held against him as an aggravating circumstance and, say, diminish his chances of an early parole.

But that’s basic common sense, and no legislation to that effect seems necessary. If a man tried for maiming a woman is shown to be a misogynist, surely even in the absence of this new law any prosecutor worth his salt can make this point to the jury – to secure both a guilty verdict and a more severe punishment.

Any way you look at it, this new law doesn’t seem to serve the cause of justice in any meaningful way. Yet that doesn’t mean it serves no other purpose either, and here we cross the line separating redundant and useless from sinister and evil.

Since all the usual crimes against women are already punishable by existing legislation, logically the proponents of the new law wish to penalise some new crimes, those that hitherto haven’t been regarded as such.

The key to this conclusion is hidden in the words “stalking and sexual crimes”, as they appear in the lexicon of the Home Office. Clearly the legal definitions of such transgressions are being expanded beyond any sensible limits.

For example, if your understanding of stalking is the same as mine, the word evokes an evil-doer stealthily following a woman (or lying in wait) to do her harm. He could be planning rape, kidnapping, robbery, revenge beating – you name it.

However, if our legislators shared this understanding, then again there would be no new law necessary. The old ones can do the job nicely, thank you very much.

Hence they mean something completely different, and what it is can only be inferred from the deafening feminist shrieks whose volume has been steadily increasing for decades. Following that highly publicised murder, they have reached an eardrum-busting decibel level.

Stalking can now mean, for example, trying to pick up a woman in the street, a crime I committed almost every day when a young Muscovite. In my defence I can only point out that I was motivated by love of sex, not hatred of women. Also such attempts (in my case, mostly futile) were common practice in Russia, and no one, including the women, saw them as criminal, although some – too many! – saw them as unwelcome.

A sexual crime may now include patting a woman’s rump without first obtaining a written, notarised permission – a boorish thing to do for sure, yet bad manners have never been criminalised before. But never mind unwanted physical contact.

Making a suggestive remark or a risqué joke to a woman may now also be interpreted as criminal misogyny. Even complimenting a woman on her body, particularly its secondary sex characteristics, can be classified as sexual assault.

If all redundant laws are unnecessary and therefore harmful, all ideological laws are subversive and therefore evil. There’s no doubt that this new law is designed to pander to the feminist assault on the social fabric of society. It is craven submission to a malicious ideology.

In addition to empowering zealots and ideologues, the new law undermines the foundations of the English Common Law and therefore the very concept of Britishness.

After all, even our able prosecutors can’t peek into a man’s mind to see whether or not his shout of “get your tits out for the lads” is motivated by hatred of women. To make this new law operable prosecutors must have the mandate to interpret his yobbish behaviour in any way they see fit.

This gives law enforcement the kind of powers that are incompatible with the traditional right of Englishmen. It also increases the power of the state over the individual, another development irreconcilable with the country’s constitution, developed gradually and lovingly over millennia.

As a firm believer in dialectical balance, I hereby propose that the new misogyny law be offset with laws penalising misandry. My wife, who protests when I watch too much footie, is ipso facto a prime culprit.

Hello, I’m God, let’s stop climate change

As someone who believes in the Second Coming, I don’t dismiss out of hand those who claim divine powers. Yes, usually they are cranks but still, what if? It’s possible, isn’t it, that Christ too will at first appear crazy when he comes again?

Verily I say unto you…

It’s in that spirit that I approached an article in The Times entitled 20 Things You Can Do Right Now to Stop Climate Change. And what do you know, its author, Lucy Siegle, not only claims divine powers over heaven and earth, but she also outdoes God by putting a specific timeframe on her miracles.

This particular miracle can be worked not at some time in the future, nor even at the end of the millennium, but right now. And like Christ conferring healing powers on his disciples, Lucy empowers us all to act as her conduits. Not only can she herself save Our Planet, but she can also teach us how to do so in 20 simple steps.

In addition to boasting a more precise chronology than God, Lucy can also do something God couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do: stop climate dead in its tracks. And there he was, thinking this was one area beyond the earthlings’ meagre capacities. For when God created this planet, he decreed that climate would be in a constant flux, blowing hot or cold at regular intervals.

Periods of global warming have always alternated with the odd Ice Age. The former last longer because, when all is said and done, earthlings survive much better in warm weather. Neither they nor their crops freeze to death, food is plentiful, life is prosperous.

Possibly because the deity is a loving God, the Earth’s temperature has been warmer than it is now for 85 per cent of its lifetime. Still, he started a cold period some two million years ago, just to keep the earthlings on their toes. But even there glacial periods alternate with interglacial ones, such as the one we have at the moment.

By far the greatest factor of climate change is the highly variable solar activity. That swings within a wide range both inside the Sun and in proportion to the Earth’s position relative to it. The Earth’s orbit changes every few thousand years, as does its axis, with each change affecting climate one way or the other.

When solar heat reaches the Earth, it’s mostly accumulated in the oceans, not in the atmosphere. Hence both ocean currents and the drift of continents also cause climate change.

There are many other scientifically proven factors, such as supernova explosions, bacterial activity, volcanic eruptions. Don’t know about you, but I’m buoyed by Lucy’s promise of teaching me how to acquire dominion over the Sun, the Earth, oceans, continents, bacteria, exploding stars and volcanoes.

Or rather that’s what I hoped her promise would be. Alas, like most of my hopes, that one turned out to be forlorn. My soul screamed an unspoken question: “Please, Lord Lucy, tell me where to begin!” The answer didn’t just take the wind out of my sails but snapped every mast in half: “Swap your loo roll for starters.”

You, see, Lucy is one of the dominant group of fanatical malcontents who feel the need to camouflage their hatred of our civilisation, along with its every technological, scientific and economic advance, with nauseatingly cloying pretensions of environmental virtue.

No such advance would have been possible without man’s mining of natural resources, mainly hydrocarbons, to produce energy. The use of coal, oil and gas results in CO2 emissions, which the fanatics have singled out as the main, if not the sole, reason for climate change.

Since only three per cent of all CO2 emissions are anthropogenic, the fanatics have to claim that global warming is triggered by these three per cent, rather than by the remaining 97 that come from natural causes. Moreover, CO2 is a trace gas, accounting for only one in 85,000 molecules of the atmosphere.

So the premise from which Lucy and her ilk proceed is that a tiny trace of an infinitesimally minuscule trace is producing a crisis threatening life on Earth. Not only is there not a scintilla of evidence for this, but the very effect of CO2 on climate is very much in doubt.

For example, anthropogenic CO2 emissions have increased 10 per cent in the past 25 years, largely due to China’s push for global domination. Yet during the same period the increase in world temperature has been statistically indistinguishable from zero.

What’s not in doubt is that carbon is the greatest building block of organic matter, while CO2 is an animating force of agriculture and therefore human life. Singling carbon out as the culprit in the mythical man-made climate crisis can only serve political ends and no other.

It’s to such ends that the left-wing malcontents who hate ‘capitalism’ while enjoying its products are trying to destroy modern economies, negate the great technological progress of the past centuries and lower our standard of living to pre-industrial levels. Such will be the consequences of “zero carbon emissions” inscribed on the altar to which the fanatics genuflect – such is the price they want us all to pay for their delusions.

Hence Lucy’s frankly idiotic 20 things we must do, such as sourcing loo rolls made of recycled paper. She particularly recommends a brand elegantly called Who Gives a Crap, warning that, alas, it only comes in 48-roll packs. I wouldn’t buy such a product for reasons of aesthetics and decency – as I wouldn’t buy, say, condoms called Who Gives a Toss.

But decency goes the way of sanity, intelligence and literacy when a pernicious ideology rears its head. For make no mistake about it: Greta’s fanatical flock is shepherded by ideologically inspired hatred.

That’s why they use the language of political propaganda, not sensible debate. Those who refuse to accept the half-baked musings of these hard-boiled zealots are called ‘deniers’, in a not-so-subtle parallel with Holocaust deniers.

Yet if what we are discussing is climate science, or any other science, there can be no deniers or asserters. There can be only facts that either prove or disprove a hypothesis. And there are no facts proving the hypothesis of global warming. There are hundreds disproving them.

The zealots conscript to their cause scientists wielding computer models with the dexterity of a chap playing three-card monte at a street corner. Somehow we are expected to believe that the same models that can’t accurately predict next week’s weather can tell us exactly what the climate will be like centuries from now.

Yet there are enough scientists who swear by their computer-generated ‘hockey sticks’ for the zealots to claim that a scientific consensus exists. They don’t give a puck for the truth.

And the truth is that whole regiments of scientists mock their claims. Thus a couple of years ago 30,000 American scientists, experts in all the relevant disciplines, wrote an open letter describing the orgy of scaremongering about climate as so much bilge (not in those exact words). However, the letter was ignored in the mainstream papers – they needed all their space to run the zealots’ hysterical rodomontades.

This is the behaviour of totalitarian ideologues, not of honest people trying to arrive at truth. It’s also the behaviour of cowards scared of confronting a newly hatched orthodoxy.

The less substance there is to a theory, the louder the shrieks of its exponents. Such as St Lucy Siegle of the Bog Roll.

Paris in the grip of a deadly blight

No, not Covid, although God knows that’s deadly enough.

Horace on today’s Paris: “Where, where are you rushing in your wickedness?”

The blight in question is the three-month celebration of the Paris Commune, lauded by Marx, Engels and Lenin as a nascent “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The source of the contagion is Anne Hidalgo, the Socialist mayor.

Actually, all the mainstream parties in France are socialist. The one that actually bears that name would be considered communist in many other places, with ample justification.

And Miss Hidalgo is on the left of even that party, which explains her affection for the 1871 attempt to turn Paris into an abattoir first and a charnel house second. It also explains why all my Parisian friends, admittedly a pre-selected group, loathe her.

Facilitated by the country’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, the Commune prefigured every subsequent communist takeover, successful or otherwise. The revolutions in Russia (both of 1905 and 1917), Hungary, Germany and China all traced their genealogy to the Paris bloodbath in the spring of 1871.

Hidalgo and her Communist allies correctly detect a link between the Commune and the gilets jaunes riots, not to say the whole modern ethos. Laurence Patrice, her Communist deputy mayor, said the city was celebrating “the values that were embraced in 1871 and which hold good today.” The blighter has a point.

The Commune is an essential chapter in the communist canon. When I was a little tot in Moscow, I hadn’t yet heard of the American Revolution but I knew quite a bit about the Commune. Adolphe Tiers, the great historian turned statesman, who suppressed the revolt, was my mother’s bête noire, and she always referred to him by his nickname, Bloody Dog. (“Somebody had to be,” commented Thiers after order was restored.)

Like all revolutions, the Commune issued a full complement of bien pensant slogans, along the socialist, feminist and anarchist lines. But that was mere PR. In reality, they took over Paris and embarked on an orgy of murder, looting, arson and general mayhem.

Presaging the common practice of today’s terrorists, the Communards took hundreds of hostages, many of them clergy. Presaging the common practice of today’s governments, Tiers said: “We don’t negotiate with murderers”.

The Communards immediately murdered dozens of priests, including the Archbishop of Paris, and, for good measure, quite a few policemen. They then methodically proceeded to torch public buildings, starting with the Tuileries Palace and the Hôtel de Ville (unlike the Palace, it has since been restored, but don’t try to book a room there). The Richelieu Library of the Louvre was reduced to cinders.

Also destroyed was the Palais de Justice, while firemen managed to put out the flames engulfing the Sainte-Chapelle, the Church of Saint-Eustache, the Louvre and Notre-Dame. Revolutionary conscience is indeed fiery.

The government’s cause was indirectly helped by the Prussians, who released captured French soldiers from the POW camps in the nick of time. Tiers assembled a force of some 250,000 in Versailles and marched on Paris.

Members of the National Guard who were in cahoots with the Communards instantly dispersed, leaving the firebugs to fend for themselves. In short order they discovered that fighting a regular army was harder than shooting unarmed priests.

About 6,000-7,000 Communards were either killed in the clashes or later executed by order of the military tribunals. That’s what earned Tiers the sobriquet so favoured by my late mother, God bless her.

Some Parisians see these shameful festivities as Hidalgo’s attempt to curry favour with the Left in the hope of becoming the Socialist candidate in the upcoming presidential election and, Marx willing, the next president. Such politicking doubtless plays a role, but the real significance runs deeper.

The very fact that the capital of a core Western nation can be made to celebrate that Walpurgisnacht means that its inspiring ideas are socially and intellectually acceptable in the sense in which, say, Nazi ideas aren’t.

For example, I doubt that, should Berlin acquire an AfD mayor by 2023, he’d be able to decorate the city with swastikas to mark the centenary of the Beer Hall Putsch. The underlying spirit is beyond the pale, as it were.

By contrast, the spirit that animated the Commune is a spectre that’s indeed haunting Europe, in the enduring words of Marx and Engels. That’s why Paris is flying red flags, whose colour reflects the oceans of blood spilled around the world by Anne Hidalgo’s ideological brethren.

And that’s why a subversive, incompetent creature like her can harbour presidential ambitions in a country I love so much. God spare us.