Dr Strangelove, RIP

It’s widely, if perhaps erroneously, believed that the Kubrick character was based on Henry Kissinger, who died yesterday aged 100.

The film was made in 1964, before Kissinger held any official post in the US  government, but he was already known as foreign policy consultant to the high and mighty. He was also known for his elastic conscience enabling him to reshape his ideas and allegiances to fit the moment.

Kissinger called himself a master of  “constructive ambiguity”, and it’s in that spirit that I find myself reacting to his death. On the one hand, he was far and away the most brilliant State Secretary in my lifetime. On the other hand, well… let’s talk about the good hand first.

The obituaries describe Kissinger as a diplomat, which constitutes a demotion. A diplomat merely communicates his government’s foreign policy to foreign countries; he doesn’t formulate it. Kissinger did.

Throughout Nixon’s presidency and some of Ford’s, he sidelined the State Department, first to set the foreign policy and then to carry it out singlehandedly. In that Kissinger displayed a certain distrust of traditions, even some constitutional ones, but one could argue that his distrust wasn’t altogether misplaced.

That was a back-breaking load for one man to carry, but Kissinger’s back was up there with the strongest. One can imagine him at the 1815 Vienna Congress, rubbing shoulders or locking horns with the likes of Metternich, Talleyrand and Castlereagh. He was a figure of a similar calibre, and I can’t think offhand of too many post-Vienna statesmen fitting the same description.

Yet if a brilliant mind isn’t matched by a superlative character, it can keep firing blanks — those with a blinding flash and deafening noise, but blanks nonetheless. No one illustrates this simple observation as vividly as Henry Kissinger.

Granted, anyone involved in diplomatic wheeling and dealing will sometimes wheel into moral cul-de-sacs. It would be naïve to expect any statesman to avoid immorality completely. But immorality isn’t the same as amorality, and this is another point Kissinger illustrates.

He took pride in his mastery of realpolitik, sacrificing moral principles and intellectual convictions for the sake of achieving immediate practical results. In fact, he was so good at it that one could legitimately wonder if he genuinely had any moral principles or held any intellectual convictions.

While it would be silly to deny that realpolitik is an important tool of statecraft, it’s hard to ignore that it often leads to a divorce from reality for the sake of instant political gratification. It can’t be otherwise.

Global interlacing of well-nigh incompatible national interests creates such a jumble of variables that it may well be beyond any man or even any group to untangle. Hence it’s usually impossible to calculate the consequences of a foreign policy on a purely realpolitik basis.

What looks like solid reality today may well prove to be ephemeral tomorrow and its exact opposite the day after. Suddenly the amoral pragmatism of yesteryear stops looking pragmatic while still remaining amoral.

Conversely, what at first looks like foolhardy obtuseness based on nebulous principles (all principles are nebulous to the realpolitik set) may well produce the best practical results.

If you look at Kissinger’s greatest putative triumphs, détente with the Soviet Union, SALT 1, reconciliation with China, ending the Vietnam War, peace between Egypt and Israel, only the last one can in hindsight be judged as a qualified success.

Détente was negotiated at a time when the US had an overwhelming strategic superiority over the Soviet Union. A principled stance, later adopted by Ronald Reagan, could have made “the evil empire” come apart at the seams at least a decade earlier.

Instead, Kissinger’s policy of appeasement led to a massive transfer of capital and technologies to the Soviet Union, which enabled her almost to achieve military parity with NATO in the 1970s.

SALT 1 also contributed to that development. It was strictly an act of PR grandstanding because everyone, including Kissinger, knew the Soviets would cheat. The ‘real’ in realpolitik was effectively replaced with ‘virtual’. The US public had its fears of nuclear bombs allayed, while the Soviets surreptitiously kept stockpiling those bombs sky high under the cover of SALT.

China provided another reason for Kissinger to give himself a contortionist pat on the back. He secretly travelled there in 1971 to set up what was billed as a historic meeting between Nixon and Mao, followed by a thaw in the frosty relations between the two countries.

Kissinger’s idea was to use China as a counterbalance to Soviet power in the Cold War. To that end, the US created a communist monster now challenging her power all over the globe – this without forestalling the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which cost the US billions to reverse. Aggressive Muslim gangs, trained and armed by Americans, sprang up as a result, a problem still with us today.

In 1973 Kissinger negotiated the Paris Accords, which again everyone knew was delivering South Vietnam to the communists. People who always insist on ending wars ought to remember that surrender is a guaranteed way of doing so – even if it’s passed off as a diplomatic coup.

The Nobel Committee hastily awarded its Peace Prize to Kissinger and his Vietnamese counterpart Le Duc Tho. The latter had the decency to turn it down; he knew that what he had signed was America’s capitulation, not a peace treaty. No such compunctions for Kissinger, even though he knew it too. A year and a half later, South Vietnam was turned into a giant concentration camp.

Kissinger set out to emulate his idols, the stars of the Vienna Congress, who created a blueprint for lasting peace in Europe. But their compact lasted a century; his, only a fraction of that period, if that. However, I doubt the long-term failure of Kissinger’s short-term achievements made a dent in his vain self-regard. He knew he was a genius, and he didn’t care who else knew it.

Unsurprisingly, when a more principled Reagan administration took over, there was no place in it for Kissinger. And even a less confrontational George H.W. Bush left his talents unused. So did Bush’s intellectually challenged son, although he could have used any help he could get – especially since he and Kissinger agreed in their assessment of the new villain, Putin.

After Bush met Putin, he said:  “I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. I was able to get a sense of his soul.” Congratulations to Dubya: he got a sense of something that didn’t exist.

Being an academic, rather than an oilman, Kissinger put a more intellectual spin on exactly the same assessment. He saw Putin as a character out of a Dostoyevsky novel, sharing all the same “contradictions and doubts about his people.” One suspects that, if Kissinger were in charge of the US foreign policy now, Kiev would already be a regional centre in the Russian Federation – while he would be collecting another Nobel Peace Prize.

A brilliant man, no doubt. But his character flaws prevented Henry Kissinger from becoming a great one. Still, I’ll miss him, the way one misses one’s youth with all its illusions.  

Mr Chomsky, meet Mr Wallace

Noam Chomsky can’t boast the precision of a broken clock that, as we know, is right twice a day. Outside his day job, linguistics, he gets things right much less frequently.

But infrequently doesn’t mean never. And here I must yet again remind my conservative friends (and especially myself!) that ideas shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand just because they come from someone whose politics we dislike. Once an idea is enunciated, it breaks the umbilical connecting it to the enunciator and starts walking – or falling – on its own.

Thus, Chomsky wrote in 1968 that: “… the processes by which the human mind achieved its present stage of complexity and its particular form of innate organisation are a total mystery… It is perfectly safe to attribute this development to ‘natural selection’, so long as we realise that there is no substance to this assertion, that it amounts to nothing more than a belief that there is some naturalistic explanation for these phenomena.”

Here is an atheist scholar capable of thinking not only as an atheist but also as a scholar. This is a rare ability nowadays, when ideologies have replaced both ideas and ideals.

Chomsky brings to mind Alfred Russel Wallace, Darwin’s contemporary and fellow evolutionist. In 1858, when Darwin was researching his “big species book”, Wallace beat him to the punch by publishing an article on natural selection produced by competition among and within species.

Darwin, who was obsessed with priority, immediately set his magnum opus aside, wrote a sketchy outline of the book and published it next year as On the Origin of Species. Later, in his preface to The Descent of Man, he wrote that his work on evolution was motivated by an urgent need to prove that God doesn’t exist. At work there was the mind of an ideologue, not a scientist.

Wallace, on the other hand, kept his atheism and his science in separate compartments. Thus, though he couched his disagreements with Darwin in polite terms, he presaged Chomsky by denying outright that natural selection could account for the complexity of the human brain.

“The human brain,” he wrote, was “a totally new factor in the history of life”. Hence he refused to “regard modern primitives as almost filling the gap between man and ape”. No missing links then, thank you very much.

Wallace saw that the evolutionary theory was too small to contain giants like Newton, Bach or Dante. Genius for music, mathematics, philosophy or art belonged in a different domain, “the unseen universe of Spirit”.

That Spirit, which he refused to call God, had, according to Wallace, taken matters in its own hands at least three times in history: “the creation of life from inorganic matter, the introduction of consciousness in the higher animals, and the generation of the higher mental faculties in man.”

Wallace also believed that natural selection was teleological, proceeding not chaotically but towards achieving a certain objective. It’s that “unseen universe of Spirit” again, for setting objectives isn’t what inanimate nature does for a living.

That’s the problem with ideological evolutionists. While denying that Christianity is true, which is legitimate, they also deny it’s true to life, which is disingenuous.

It’s astounding that, for all the amazing scientific progress in the subsequent two centuries, our understanding of the mind hasn’t advanced since the time of Darwin and Wallace. Yet anyone untouched by rabid ideology has to realise that, even though the brain is a physical entity, the mind isn’t.

It indeed functions in “the unseen universe of Spirit”, which removes it as an object of study from the domain of natural science and shifts it into the realm of metaphysics. It’s only in that realm that the mind can be explained soundly, if not necessarily to everyone’s satisfaction. That’s what Jacques Maritain meant when insisting that philosophy was superior to natural science, and theology was superior to philosophy.

Both metaphysical sciences are devoted to the study of first principles and primary causes, and man’s mind has to act as Exhibit 1 in any such investigation. Even those who deny it’s made in the image of God’s mind struggle to suggest what else it could possibly be made in the image of.

Still, the natural science of the brain shouldn’t be dismissed lightly. It has made some startling discoveries, the greatest of which is that the brain is indeed the centre of mental activity. This trivial fact, these days known even to children, escaped even the man with a valid claim to history’s greatest intellect, Aristotle.

Today we know that mental activity produces electrical pulses clearly visible on oscillograph displays. We also know, within limits, which sections of the brain are responsible for various mental processes. What scientists don’t know is what the mind is. That’s where philosophy comes in, lending a helping hand and emphasising the inanity of intellectual pygmies who insist that science and religion are incompatible.

Before modernity emerged fetidly victorious, important scientists of the past, from Copernicus to Maxwell, from Newton to Mandel, were believers who saw the symbiotic potential of fusing physics with metaphysics. Even half of today’s scientists agree that science and religion can complement each other. It is only for those ignorant of philosophy and incapable of ascending to its intellectual heights that they become incompatible.

The key word in Chomsky’s passage is “belief”. What we see here is opposition not between faith and science but between two faiths. One is based on God’s revelation given by methods both natural (through the possibility of perceiving much of his creation experimentally) and supernatural (through the Scripture and church tradition). The other is based on nothing but man’s own fanciful speculation. As such, it’s not so much faith as superstition.

Unable to believe that God could create something out of nothing, atheists have to believe that nothing could create everything. That represents a suspension of disbelief much greater than anything a believer has to enact.

Even scientists trying to use science to vindicate their atheism start from accepting the existence of rational natural laws. If they wish to be logical, then, while rejecting the existence of a rational law-giver, they are forced to ascribe rational behaviour to nature itself.

That’s the most primitive pantheism, discarded by all serious thinkers long before Christ. Strip such inanities bare of scientific cant, and they descend to the intellectual level of a prehistoric shaman.

A theocentric thinker will be able to explain next to everything that matters, while his anthropocentric counterpart will explain next to nothing. Above all, the theist will be able to get closer to an understanding of what makes us human.

Unlike other parts of nature, we don’t merely function according to the law of causality. Man’s future can’t be predetermined because man himself isn’t predetermined.

An animal, vegetable or mineral has no choice in its destiny. It can’t break out of the predetermined rut of its chemical or biochemical makeup. Man can do so because he possesses both the will and the ability to make free choices. In a world ruled by causality he seems to be an envoy from another world, one governed by freedom.

Two atheists born a century apart, Wallace and Chomsky, agree with all that, although neither would use the same language and especially not the G word. They also prove inadvertently that intelligent atheists must at times compromise their atheism or risk compromising their intelligence.  

Proud to be British

A good ad for prosecco

As a staunch believer in progress, I’m happy to see that British sports fans are moving up in the world.

They used to brawl only at football matches in places like Millwall and Luton, pre-arranging punch-ups on their mobiles. That took an element of surprise out of the proceedings, emphasising yet again the organisational talents of our working classes.

Actually, referring to those hostilities as ‘punch-ups’ is doing them a disservice. For the warring parties didn’t just use their fists: razor blades, beer bottles, knuckledusters, sawn-off baseball bats would typically see the light of day too.

(British sports shops sell about 500,000 baseball bats a year, although no one plays baseball. People in this country play cricket, but our sports lovers have cottoned on to the relative ballistic advantages of round baseball bats over flat cricket ones. That does credit to their understanding of applied aerodynamics.)

Without meaning to demean football lovers in any way, their chosen sport has traditionally been seen as the joy of the working classes. Formula 1 racing, on the other hand, is a gentlemen’s sport. Hence brawling at a Grand Prix race proves upward mobility, a step up the social ladder.

It’s with a sense of frankly jingoistic pride that I’m pleased to report that British sports fans have demonstrated their dynamic potential by making that step, nay leap. Yesterday they kicked off a mass brawl at an Abu Dhabi Grand Prix party.

The exclusive party was held at the VIP terrace overlooking the track, which suggests that the attending Britons weren’t exactly paupers. A trip to Abu Dhabi including a Formula 1 race, a stay at the emirate’s prohibitively expensive hotels, and a place on the VIP terrace, has to run well into four figures.

And if money isn’t a class indicator, what is? Our well-healed countrymen proved their social ascendancy by getting drunk not on prole lager but on solidly middleclass prosecco. That refreshment offers the additional benefit of coming in a sturdy bottle that’s much less breakable than the flimsy containers of proletarian beverages.

All those factors came together when our upmarket Britons tore into one another, battering their fellow revellers with prosecco bottles used as either clubs or projectiles. They clambered over furniture to bust one another’s skulls, threw chairs and parasols, and in general enjoyed themselves in the manner for which British sports fans are so justly famous.

The musical accompaniment fit the occasion. It was provided by Kanye West’s song All of the Lights, in which the great artist refuted accusations of racial bias by singing: “How I’m anti-Semitic? I just fucked a Jewish bitch.”

Mr West was present at the race, but no claims of his taking part in the pugilistic festivities have so far been made. He was rubbing shoulders with other celebrities, such as Naomi Campbell, but it’s unclear whether they rated admission to the VIP terrace.

Lest you may think that Britons have all gone hoity-toity, football fans are still doing their best to uphold our country’s reputation. Yesterday they were involved in a regular battle in Paris, which, you must agree, is a classier place than either Millwall or Luton.

Newcastle United are to play PSG tonight, which is the return leg of their group match in the European Championship. Newcastle won the first leg both on the pitch and off. Those sturdy Geordies showed the outnumbered Frenchmen what was what, in the process teaching them the meaning of such essential English questions as “Whatcha lookin’ at?”, “You f’kin wha’, mate?” and “Want some?”

The answers were delivered last night by PSG ultras who attacked the pubs in which Newcastle fans were refreshing themselves with pints of Newkie Brown. The French must have learned how to do that from us, and it’s good to see that our cultural influence is spreading well beyond our shores. Flares and bottles were thrown, glass was smashed, and our French disciples tried to storm the ramparts defended by the British.

The Newcastle United Supporters Club posted: “Stay safe in Paris tonight. Stick together and look after each other.” That brought to mind the celebrated battle of Thermopylae, in which King Leonidas must have sent a similar message to his 300 Spartans, if without the benefit of electronic communications.

The PSG ultras had no problem finding the visiting Geordies because they had all been directed to the specially designated pubs. That’s where the fans flocked, vindicating Gilbert and Sullivan’s verse: “In spite of all temptations to belong to other nations, he remains an Englishman!”

There is no dearth of indigenous drinking establishments in Paris where one can relax with a kir or a glass of pink Sancerre. In fact, in the distant past that’s where visiting Britons went, forgoing their customary food and drink for what they saw as part of the travelling experience.

But then upward mobility kicked in, and Britons began to travel in numbers encouraging them to think of foreign lands as conquered countries. And conquerors don’t adapt to the mores of the vanquished – it’s the other way around.

Hence English and Irish pubs spread all over Paris, where our upwardly mobile tourists pour gallons of British beer down their gullets and act in the manner evoking the image of a dingy boozer in a bad part of, well, Millwall or Luton. (I’m not sure those places have good parts.)

While the fashion for football hooliganism might have started in Britain, things don’t stay parochial for long in our globalised world. Now such displays of primitive tribalism are also common in France, Holland, Germany, Spain, Italy and throughout Europe.

Other abominations, such as tattoos and facial metal, are spreading as fast, along with jungle music like rap. Last summer we were having lunch in the beautiful Burgundian town of Clamecy, when a group of youngsters ensconced themselves outside with a ghetto blaster (otherwise known as a ‘third world briefcase’) blaring rap – in French. Let me tell you, that’s a far cry from Edith Piaf and Charles Aznavour.

Over the past couple of centuries, the centre of cultural gravity has steadily shifted from the aristocracy to the middle classes to the proletariat and now to the lumpen underclass. I don’t know if cannibalism is the next stage but, if it is, count on me to keep you informed.

Disraeli got it wrong

Speaking to a clerical audience in 1864, shortly after the publication of Darwin’s Origin, Benjamin Disraeli said: “What is the question now placed before society with a glib assurance the most astounding? The question is this – Is man an ape or an angel? My lord, I am on the side of the angels.”

The phrase has become proverbial, and even people who disagree with Disraeli’s rejection of Darwinism use it. I suspect they wouldn’t do so if they were aware of the original context, but Disraeli’s listeners, while also appreciating the spiffy phrase, had no problem with the context.

So they cheered, and I’m happy to join in, if belatedly and not without reservations. One such is that Disraeli got the antithesis wrong. The opposite of an angel is a demon, not an ape.

But true enough, man isn’t an ape. So Disraeli was half-right, which sets him apart favourably from today’s politicians who tend to be totally wrong on just about everything.

Though Disraeli was a Christian most of his life (he was baptised at 12), his main interest was politics, not theology. And even in those civilised times, politicians knew that a memorable adage was more effective than sound thought.

Disraeli’s quip is a case in point. It has made its way into the Thesaurus on the strength of its form, not substance.

In substance, I am always puzzled when people on either side of the religious divide insist that evolution is somehow incompatible with Genesis. It isn’t. In fact, it’s much more incompatible with disciplines other than theology, such as microbiology, palaeontology, cosmology, the physics of elementary particles, genetics, biochemistry and geology.

Darwinism only begins to contradict the Old Testament, along with the commonest of senses, when its fanatical and intellectually challenged champions repeat with Richard Dawkins that evolution “explains everything”.

Well, one thing it doesn’t explain is how things that evolve came to be before they started to evolve. After all, the word ‘evolution’ implies a gradual development of something that already exists.

Hence, before an ape began its inexorable evolution into a J.S. Bach, someone must have taken the trouble of creating it. Neither Darwin nor any of his followers come even close to explaining how that came about, for the simple reason that they can’t. Elementary logic won’t allow it.

That would be like insisting that J.S. Bach came into being as a result of his evolution from an embryo. The implication has to be that the embryo was created by parthenogenesis, without any meaningful contribution from Mr and Mrs Johann Ambrosius Bach.

Now, since God is omnipotent by definition, he could have created man ab nihilo and instantly, the way Genesis has it. Or he could have created an ape first, breathed a particle of his own essence into it and let it become man slowly, over thousands or millions of years.

At this point both atheists and Protestant sectarians join forces to insist on the literal reading of the Bible. Such misguided pedantry leads them to deny this second possibility I mentioned.

Genesis says nothing about millions or even thousands of years, they aver. It says God created man on the sixth day, thank you very much. So whether you believe (sectarians) or disbelieve (atheists), there goes that theory of theistic evolution.

Of the two groups, I prefer the atheists. They have a ready excuse for their crepuscular thinking on such subjects, as I have a ready excuse for my ignorance of, say, horticulture. The subject just doesn’t interest me.

Protestant sectarians, on the other hand, insist on being orthodox Christians, which insistence they belie by their most unfortunate scriptural literalism.

As Christians, they ought to know that, since God (again by definition) is outside time, our vocabulary of temporal durations doesn’t apply to him. Whoever wrote the Old Testament, or rather wrote it down, understood that. He was (they were?) communicating the story in the language of poetic imagery, metaphor and parable.

Yet he was indeed communicating it, and every communicator knows that he must use the language his audience will understand. Jesus Christ, for example, not only spoke to his audience in their own Aramaic, but he also copiously used references to the Hebrew scripture they all lived by. Even his words on the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, were a quotation from Psalm 22.

By the same token, the Genesis writer spoke of six days because he was confident that his audience would both relate to such terms and not take them literally. The genre of realistic novel didn’t yet exist, and the ancient Hebrews were broght up on metaphorical expression.

Overall, whether or not man started out as an ape, he was manifestly not an ape in 1864, although those who insisted he was ought to have been complimented on their capacity for uncompromising self-assessment. And anyone this side of Richard Dawkins will know that the difference between man and ape was that of kind, not of degree. (I’ll dismiss out of hand any attempt to refute this statement by producing photographs of Tommy Robinson at his most agitated.)

But the fact that man isn’t an ape doesn’t mean he is an angel. If he were, he’d be as likely to be a fallen angel as a rosy-cheeked cherub.

According to doctrine, both man and angels are created in the image of God, yet both are capable of sin. Angels sin less frequently than humans, which makes them superior beings. However, if man’s sins can be forgiven, angels’ sins cannot. That means that the tables will be turned on the Day of Judgement: the men whose sins have been forgiven will become superior to angels and able to judge them.

Disraeli was using the phrase not theologically but colloquially, but I’m not sure it works even at that level. The angels in his aphorism are perfect celestial beings, presumably free of sin. Juxtaposing them with apes, as he did, seems to suggest that, whereas angels are perfect human beings, apes are imperfect ones. Hence he was inadvertently vindicating something he had set out to debunk, Darwinism.

Don’t get me wrong: I like a snappy phrase as much as the next man and, after 30 years of writing ads, perhaps more than the next man. Yet outside advertising an aphorism can only act as an ornament of thought, not as its substitute.

Very few aphorisms can survive the kind of decortication to which I subjected Disraeli’s maxim. Realising this makes me dislike slogans of any kind, including those that are seemingly unobjectionable. That antipathy naturally leads to a distrust of modern politics that depends on slogans too much for my taste.

Disraeli was a master phrasemaker, and he could have made a bloody good copywriter. But then he was also a master politician, some will even say statesman. Today’s lot aren’t even good political mechanics, never mind statesmen. They all, however, hire speechwriters, some my former advertising colleagues experienced in producing soundbites that are as punchy as they are meaningless.

Now, do you think slogans like MAGA can withstand scrutiny? If so, I’ll be happy to prove you wrong some other time. Soon, if you insist.

The joy of Islamophobia

Whenever I hear the word ‘Islamophobia’ used, I remember this literary dialogue:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

No wonder my late mother-in-law insisted Alice contained all the philosophy anyone would ever need. In this case, Lewis Carroll sensed our civilisation was declining and he identified lexical laxity as a telling symptom of that downward slide.

Which is to be master is these days beyond doubt: precisely the groups facilitating the demise of the West. They wield the hammer, and it’s language that’s on the anvil, ready to be beaten into any shape, no matter how awful. The word ‘phobia’ is a case in point.

The dictionary defines it as “an uncontrollable, irrational, and lasting fear of” something or other. Hence, when Boris Johnson in his usual offhand manner describes Geert Wilders as an “Islamophobe”, one would be within one’s right to assume that Mr Wilders is scared of Islam and its practitioners irrationally and uncontrollably.

But that’s not what Mr Johnson means, is it? Flippantly louche he may be, but he is neither a fool nor an ignoramus. If he uses a word in any other than its true meaning, that’s simply to remind us “which is to be master”.

If Mr Wilders is scared of Muslims, his fear is about as rational as anything can be. Muslims make no secret of their intention to murder him, rendering it impossible for Mr Wilders to step out without burly armed bodyguards in attendance. And since he does appear in public as often as any politician must, Mr Wilders seems capable of controlling that fear very well indeed.

Johnson knows this as well as anybody. Hence he uses the word ‘Islamophobia’ in its Humpty Dumpty meaning of refusing to accept the woke fads mandated by our would-be masters. Thus ‘transphobia’ means opposition to any aspect of force-feeding society with the sub-culture of mental disorder. It doesn’t mean that any such opponent screams and runs away whenever he espies a bearded woman walking towards him.

And ‘Islamophobia’, as used by Johnson and his ilk, means a rebellion, however tacit or mild, against the sub-culture of ‘multicultural inclusivity’ our masters use as the sledgehammer to smash our real culture.

We are still allowed to find fault with Islamic terrorism, coyly termed ‘Islamist’ by our masters. The implication is that there is nothing fundamentally wrong with Islam, even if suicide bombers scream “Allahu akbar!” when pulling the cord. They are only guilty of scriptural literalism, taking the hundreds of Koranic verses calling for violence at face value.

That great Islamic scholar George W. Bush put that in a nutshell immediately after 9/11: “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

That Muslims started assaulting Christendom even before Mohammed’s death in 632 AD and have never stopped has nothing to do with Islam. It may suggest doctrinally hostile intent in English, but not in Humpty Dumpty. There it means peace.

This sustained history of violence has ebbed and flowed, flaring up today, abating tomorrow, only to splash out again the day after. The weapons have varied, from cold steel to missiles to – and this gets us back to Geert Wilders – what a jihad ideologue once described as “the womb of every Muslim woman”.

The much-maligned ‘displacement theory’ is based on calculations spinning out of that part of the female anatomy. A sustained growth in the Muslim population of Western countries will eventually turn them Islamic if unmatched, ideally outpaced, by a concomitant growth in the indigenous population. Whether such growth in the Muslim population comes from immigration or a high birth rate is immaterial.

While I find plenty wrong with the monomaniac exponents of this theory, I see nothing wrong with the theory itself. In fact, it brings back to memory the mathematical problem that tortured me as a schoolboy. It was about a swimming pool with two pipes, with water flowing in through one and out through the other. Depending on the flow rates, the old water could be completely replaced, and don’t ask me for any details.

In his novel Submission, Michel Houellebecq outlined a dystopic fantasy of a Muslim France. But the problem with modernity is two-fold: it both preempts satire and enables dystopic fantasies to come true. If mathematics still works, the danger does exist.

Nor is it just long term. A large minority of cultural aliens, not to say hostiles, can damage the host culture even if the minority is well-behaved and doesn’t threaten to become a majority. I don’t know enough about the demographic trends to make mathematical predictions, but anyone who thinks Muslim minorities are well-behaved needs to have his eyes, ears and indeed head examined.

That makes large-scale Islamic immigration a serious problem. Fearing Islam is thus both the prerogative and duty of anyone who wishes to hang on to whatever little is left of our civilisation. There’s nothing irrational about it.

In 2022, net migration to the UK reached a record-breaking figure of 745,000. Three-quarters of a million. In one year. And most of that migration was Islamic. The inflow pipe in that swimming pool is working overtime.

Yet I don’t blame Islam for this, even though I can’t see how anyone can take that patchwork quilt of a religion seriously. It is what it is, but the problem is that the West isn’t what it used to be. It is losing its nerve and self-confidence at the same rate and for the same reasons as Rome did during the period described by Gibbon.

Whatever the relative physical strength of Christendom and Islam during different periods of history, the former’s metaphysical strength was always going to allow it to triumph in the long run. It’s that metaphysical strength that the West has lost, just as Rome once lost it.

Like Rome, we’ve become so tolerant that we welcome and even enforce bogus equality among all creeds. Our own is long since lost, and we propose to counter religious fanaticism with beatific smiles and meaningless bien pensant phrases. By burying our own creed beneath the multi-culti pile, we are putting our civilisation six feet under.

The word ‘Islamophobia’, with its implicit glorification of multi-culti diversity and opprobrium of anyone finding anything wrong with it, is at least a good illustration and possibly even proof. Our own unique identity has become so diluted that it has lost its taste, flavour and strength.

A barbarian onslaught doesn’t cause this enfeeblement; it merely emphasises it. And any attempt to resist is doomed to failure unless the West recovers its erstwhile inner strength.

That doesn’t mean Islamic penetration shouldn’t be resisted – thank God for opiates relieving the agony of incurable cancer. But the disease remains just as deadly even if the patient has his senses befuddled.   

Some victories feel like defeats

I must ask Geert for the address of his barber

Geert Wilders’s victory in the Dutch elections has caused effusive jubilation among Right-thinking people, with hats being tossed up in the air all over Europe. Since I have no hat handy, the only thing I can toss is some cold water on the enthusiasm.

I remember the words of a young man whose mother-in-law died and he had to shell out for her funeral. “Everything has its downside,” he said.

It’s in this spoil-sport frame of mind that I observe the pan-European ascendancy of parties normally described as far-Right. Most of them score electoral points by campaigning against Muslim immigration, which resonates with people who like to look at women’s faces.

I am one of those troglodytes myself, and I’d rather creatures of indeterminate sex didn’t scare the living daylights out of me with their Halloween costumes. So whenever an anti-immigration party wins parliamentary seats anywhere in Europe, I cheer – at first.

That’s a kneejerk reaction but, once my knee has recovered its original position, my reason kicks in. I then realise that the silver lining comes with a dark cloud almost overshadowing it.

For example, Marine Le Pen’s party is currently leading the polls in my other country, France. Like all other such politicians in Europe, Mlle Le Pen doesn’t think we should have too many Muslims around. Their number should certainly not be increased, she says, and ideally reduced – all the way down to zero for preference.

That earns her the far-Right soubriquet and the undying love of likeminded Frenchmen. However, if we cast a wider glance at her policies, specifically economic ones, we realise they aren’t substantially different from those of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who can out-Trotsky Trotsky any day. Thus Mlle Le Pen combines nationalism with socialism, a blend that used to get bad press in Europe, can’t imagine why.

Not all nationalist parties in Europe are also socialist. But they are definitely all nationalist, which I see as a failing as bad as socialism, and potentially even more dangerous. The other day I wrote a piece explaining why, so I shan’t repeat myself not to bore you with my animadversions.

Suffice it to say now that such parties, whether genuinely Right-wing or national-socialist, have two things in common. One is that they correctly identify Islamic immigration as a factor of deadly danger to Europe. The other is that they fail to identify the other danger, one possibly even more deadly and definitely more immediate.

There is another evil force banging on Europe’s door and, rather than nailing the door shut, those nationalist parties cordially invite it in. Before I spell out what it is, let’s get back to Geert Wilders.

He is a man whose courage is worthy of every respect. Wilders recognised mass Islamic immigration as a menace before any other prominent Dutch politician did, and he has been campaigning against it for decades.

That uncompromising stance put his life in jeopardy, for Muslims see cutting off an opponent’s head as a valid tactic of political debate. To keep his coiffed head on his shoulders, and I don’t mean this figuratively, Mr Wilders has had to live his life under round-the-clock police protection.

I am glad it has worked so far, though I myself would hate to depend on police for my survival. But perhaps Dutch cops are more reliable than our social workers in blue uniform.

Unlike Le Pen, Wilders is no socialist – he takes his nationalism neat, without statist mixers. Also unlike Le Pen’s party, which is trying but not always succeeding to rub itself clean of the stigma of anti-Semitism, Wilders has been a good friend and staunch supporter of Israel. That may or may not be a function of his feelings about Islam, but that position certainly earned him his electoral success.

Just a few weeks before the elections, Wilders’s party trailed at least three others in the polls. He was on course to win but a handful of parliamentary seats and have no say in the policies of whatever coalition would form the government. But then Hamas struck on 7 October, and huge crowds of the very people Wilders would like to keep out of Holland took over Dutch streets, rioting and screaming murderous slogans of hatred.

That scared the Dutch, and they shifted their support to the only party that had been warning about the Islamic plague for decades, not just in the run-up to the elections. Wilders went on to win 37 seats, way ahead of any other party.

Whether or not he’ll be able to cobble together a ruling coalition remains to be seen (the Dutch, along with most continentals, practise the perverse PR system). But he will certainly have a great deal of influence, which sends shivers down the EU’s spine.

For Wilders correctly blames European laws for flinging open the sluice gates to admit all those millions of Muslims packing sharp knives. Hence he is laudably campaigning for Nexit, although I’m not sure how much public support that idea enjoys.

Yet, for me, all those good things are negated by his unwavering affection for Putin, an emotion of almost as long a standing as his anti-immigration commitment. This is the other thing all of Europe’s nationalist parties have in common. They all live in Putin’s pocket.

In 2016, Wilders described Putin as a “true patriot” and his ally in the war on Muslim terrorism. Since then Putin has proved his patriotism by destroying Russia’s economy – and the lives of hundreds of thousands of young Russians – for the joy of murdering, looting and raping hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.

In 2016, Putin had already launched his attack on the Ukraine, albeit on a smaller scale. And as to his heroic stance against Muslim terrorism, Putin has effectively turned Moscow into the bailiwick of the Chechen (which is to say Muslim) mafia, who pay him back by whacking opposition leaders, such as Boris Nemtsov, and anyone else Putin fingers anywhere in the world.

The next year, Wilders started a pro-Putin campaign to combat the “hysterical Russophobia” of the Dutch government. That was his response to the popular revulsion to Russia’s downing of the Dutch airliner, Flight MH17, and killing everyone onboard.

In 2018 Wilders travelled to Moscow where he met with Russian government officials and Duma members. I imagine the purpose was to coordinate the two sides’ public relations. On coming back, he tweeted: “Stop the Russophobia. It’s time for Realpolitik. Partnership instead of enmity.”

Four years later, Wilders’s ideal partner launched a full-scale aggressive war in the middle of Europe. Moreover, neither Putin nor his henchmen make any secret of their long-term expansionist plans: the Ukraine isn’t the destination; she is but a stop along the way.

Since the next stops have to include NATO members, the West will be faced with a stark choice: either neuter NATO and accept the dominant European presence of an evil fascist power or go to war, an all-out kind. Understandably, civilised countries have joined forces to resist the Russian aggression by assisting the Ukraine, if only in a half-hearted way.

Yet even that level of assistance is too much for Wilders. On 24 February, 2022, the day Putin’s hordes rolled across the border, Wilders tweeted: “Do not let Dutch households pay the price for a war that is not ours.” I wonder if his typological ancestors in the Dutch government were saying the same thing on 1 September, 1939, when Hitler attacked Poland.

Later, when the whole world was gasping with horror at Russia’s crimes, Wilders had to pay lip service to condemning his friend Putin. Yet he is still adamantly opposing military aid to the Ukraine – this at a time when Holland is about to send her F-16 fighters to the Ukrainians.

Forgive me if my celebrations are tainted with sadness. Yes, continuing Muslim immigration may in a decade or two cause irreversible damage to our civilisation. Hence any victory of an anti-immigration party should be cause for joy.

But the threat of Russian fascism is immediate and even more deadly. No Muslim power (unless fronting for Russia or China) can trigger a nuclear war. Putin can and, if we don’t stop him, will.

So actually I’ve lied to you: I’m not celebrating Wilders’s victory at all. In fact, I hope he doesn’t get to lead the Dutch government – and I wish I could hope for something else.

From one stupid man to others

Boy, are we stupid, you and I. How stupid? Well, I’ll tell you: if our IQ dropped another five points, we’d be cabbages. Really, there ought to be special schools for people like us. Perhaps there are, but we are too stupid to know about them.

How do I know we are all morons? Simple. Because I voted to leave the EU in the 2016 referendum, and so did many of you. And even those of you who didn’t, mostly but not exclusively for being ineligible, probably sympathised with that cause or at least didn’t dislike it too vehemently.

That settles it. For a recent study on 3,183 couples shows that intelligence and the likelihood of voting Leave are inversely proportionate. The cleverer the people are, the more likely they were to vote Remain. And if the spouses voted differently, it was always the cleverer one who voted the right way, which is Remain.

Since it has long been a prevalent conviction among the really clever people, the academics, that conservative – or, God forbid, religious – beliefs are a symptom of imbecility, this study proves them right. Turns out that among Britons in the top 10 percent of cognitive performance, 73 per cent voted Remain, as opposed to a mere 40 per cent among those in the lowest 10 per cent.

The study tested such cognitive functions as reasoning, numeracy and working memory. There must have been many other variables, but I can neither remember what they were nor count them nor figure out what on earth they might mean. I did tell you I voted Leave.

The researchers magnanimously acknowledged that clever people should never confuse correlation with causality. Yes, it was mostly idiots who voted Leave, but it’s wrong to deduce that they did so because they were idiots. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc and all that. However, there was that unspoken ‘however’ left hanging in the air…

Now, being irredeemably stupid, I strongly suspect that the same findings would be yielded should we be granted a referendum on homomarriage or mass immigration or trans virtues or welfare or high taxation or global warming or any other issue occupying the minds of really clever people, especially those working at universities and in the media. The bright people like Keir Starmer and Greta Thunberg would enthusiastically vote for. The retards like you and me would stupidly vote against, proving the clever people’s point.

Even a brief look at any study of people’s education, their reasons for voting one way or the other, their travelling patterns, preferred entertainment, religiosity and so on is bound to plunge any sensible person into despair. But this study – provided it was conducted in good faith – shows there is no hope.

For precisely the kind of people who ought to know better manifestly don’t. The conclusion one has to reach is that, the cleverer people are, the stupider their ideas. Or if you will, those cognitively superior are civilisationally inferior.

I am being ever so slightly facetious here. One shouldn’t really equate cognitive functions with intelligence. High cognitive ability makes it easier to develop intelligence, but it certainly offers no guarantee that it will be developed. Similarly, a good ear for music may be an essential quality for a musician but it’s a million miles away from being a sufficient quality.

Yet common sense is so called not because it’s widespread, but because it can belong to common people. The kind of people who go to work every morning trying to keep the wolf from the door, put food on their family’s table and a roof over their family’s head. Such people have no time to hone their cognitive abilities by contemplating whether or not a woman can have a penis or the state is justified to extort half of what they earn.

They tend to be patriotic, but in the undemonstrative British way. They don’t put their hands on their hearts whenever they see the Union Jack flying or hear God Save the King playing. They don’t usually scream “Put Great back into Britain” and they certainly don’t spend endless hours trying to understand England’s unique place in European history.

Why, they may even be unfamiliar with Cecil Rhodes’s maxim that being born British is winning first prize in the lottery of life. They just know that, much as they like to go to Benidorm or Ibiza for holidays, those places are too different. That doesn’t necessarily mean inferior – just different.

Those common folk may not ponder the seminal difference between the common law of England and the Roman law of much of the Continent, or one between proportionate representation and first-past-the-post, or one between royals riding thoroughbreds and those riding bicycles.

If they did ponder such things, they might not necessarily conclude that the English ways are better. But they’d definitely sense that the English ways are different – so much so that being incorporated into the continental polity would destroy the English ways. And that’s something they’d hate to see happening.

In that they are unlike those cognitively superior to them. Those jumped-up cognoscenti wouldn’t mind destroying the English ways. Come to think of it, they wouldn’t mind destroying the continental ways too, while they are at it. And they sense that the European Union, which the stupid people voted to leave, was an instrument of such destruction. That’s why they voted to remain.

Not only that, but those who had parlayed their cognitive talents into political prominence threw the entire weight of state propaganda behind the Remain vote. Everyone was sure the cognitively challenged masses would be easily swayed – that’s why they were given the vote in the first place.

In the unlikely event those imbeciles who wanted England to remain England were to opt for leaving, their vote would be for ever negotiable. Had the vote gone the other way, it would have been eternally chiselled in indestructible stone.

I’m not questioning the setup of this study, its results or the integrity of those conducting it. I do question the reasons for conducting it. Every study of this kind is undertaken to confirm or disprove the existing hypothesis. Yet anyone who has ever had any experience of opinion research (and I had plenty during my 30 years in advertising), knows how often the existing hypothesis skews the results.

That holds true even for scientific experiments, with philosophers of science aware that different researchers often produce different results with exactly the same test equipment and under exactly the same test conditions. This without any conscious attempts to introduce bias.

In this case, the cognitively blessed sociologists set out to prove that only the cognitively impaired would ever vote for something as imbecilic as Brexit. I’m not saying they cheated to get the result they wanted. I am saying, however, that they didn’t have to cheat. Their own prejudices came into play unbeknown to them.

Actually, when the referendum was announced, I was sure Remain would win the day. Knowing the fanatical attachment of the Cameron government to the EU bureaucracy, I couldn’t imagine they’d go to the polls thinking the outcome was uncertain.

Now I’m ashamed of having underestimated the British people. And even more ashamed of having overestimated our cognitively advanced officials. Never again.

Tantric sex and hands-on economics

Javier Milei, Argentina’s president-elect, has won his landslide at a tough time for the world and a cataclysmic time for his country.

I’m not sure he can save the former, but he is showing every sign of being able to save the latter. Hence it was inevitable that the ‘liberal’ media would have little time for what they describe as a “right-wing extremist”.

They sneer at both Milei’s libertine private life and his libertarian economics, although so far no one has found a direct link between the two. The unmarried president-elect does seem to favour a rather exuberant lifestyle, professing his predilection for threesomes and expertise in tantric sex.

I don’t know enough about Argentine politics to judge how such an apparent lack of inhibitions affects electoral success. Judging by Milei’s having run away with 56 per cent of the vote, a certain amount of naughty frisson doesn’t hurt there.

Since so far Milei has had no time to act on his electoral promises, it’s on the basis of his pronouncements that he is tarred with the ‘extremist’ brush. Let’s rinse that brush in turpentine and see what Milei actually proposes to do. In the process, one hopes we’ll get a clearer understanding of what right-wing extremism means to our opinion formers.

Milei’s first concern is Argentina’s economy, such as it is. The country is paying a heavy price for decades of left-wing Peronist policies, and it’s bending under the weight. Both inflation and interest rates are running into triple digits, and the national debt into more digits than I have in my hands and feet.

About half the population are impoverished, and the benefits they receive quickly melt away in horrendous inflation. The peso has the international value of brown wrapping paper, bringing to mind the 19th century Russian satirist Saltykov-Shchedrin. That wit quipped that “all you can get for the rouble in Europe is a punch in the snout”. Milei could say the same thing about the peso.

By any sensible standard Argentina is an economic basket case, and Milei, an economist by trade, knows how to get it out of that wicker conveyance. In fact, everything he proposes makes one think that Milton Friedman has come back as Javier Milei.

For a start, he intends to underwrite massive privatisation. “Everything that can be in the private sector will be in the private sector,” says Milei, and that also goes for the state-owned media outlets that he correctly sees as propaganda mouthpieces.

He will also abolish the peso and shift the economy to the US dollar, Hong Kong style. That will obviate the need for a central bank because Argentina’s interest rates will be set by the Fed.

During the campaign Milei often brandished a chainsaw, and he intends to take that implement to the big state, by cutting it down to size. He plans to slash public spending and reduce the number of ministries from 18 to eight. (Are you listening, Rishi?)

With their trademark legerdemain, world media have announced that Milei is going to ban abortion, only legalised in 2020. In fact, he is merely planning to put the issue to a referendum. Of course, our ‘liberals’ only ever believe in democracy when it promotes their own subversive agenda.

I wonder whether Milei can be ennobled in Britain so he could become our prime minister instead. I’d take him over Sunak any day. Every domestic policy Milei proposes would be a boon to our country as well, and the same goes in spades for his foreign policy. I could copy every pronouncement he has ever made on the subject, pass it for my own, and regular readers wouldn’t be able to spot the difference.

Immediately after Russia’s 2022 invasion of the Ukraine, Milei, a Buenos Aires MP at the time, carried a Ukrainian flag into the parliament building. Since then he has never deviated from an unequivocal support of the Ukrainian cause.

He sees both the US and Israel as Argentina’s friends and plans to move the Argentine embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. With such friends, Milei makes no secret of whom he considers as his country’s enemies:

“I’ll do no business with China or any other communist regime. I am a defender of freedom, peace and democracy. Communists, Chinese or other, have nothing to do with these. Nor is Russian president Vladimir Putin among defenders of freedom, peace and democracy. Neither is Brazil’s president Lula da Silva. We want to become the moral beacon of the continent. As a state, we’ll participate in no joint projects with either communists or socialists.”

Especially significant is Milei’s refusal to join the BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) which he correctly sees a facilitator of China’s global influence. If Argentina has to be allied with any superpower, it should be the US, not any other pretender to that role.

I must admit that comparing Sunak to Milei was unfair. One should never compare the words of one side to the actions of the other, which is the stock in trade of the ‘liberal’ media and has been since time immemorial. I still remember their shrieks about America’s war in Vietnam derailing the Soviet “struggle for world peace”. That was comparing the apples of napalm to the oranges of slogans.

In fact, I’d happily refrain from any judgement of Javier Milei until he has acted on his plans. Alas, my reticence wouldn’t be reciprocated by the Lefties, a colloquial term for the media. They have pounced on Milei long before he has even taken office. Never mind what he may or may not do – it’s what he says that makes them see red, their preferred colour.

Milei has such an overwhelming mandate that his deeds may well follow his words, and more power to him. But meanwhile I can’t see any other politician anywhere in the world who says all the same worthy things. Some pundits describe Milei as the Argentine Trump, and there are indeed some similarities. But Trump’s stand on China and especially Russia lacks Milei’s moral focus, putting it mildly.

For the sake of balance, I have to mention a small but: Milei claims Argentina’s “non-negotiable” sovereignty over the Falklands, which he perversely insists on calling Malvinas. But, as that character in Some Like It Hot said, “nobody’s perfect”.

Enemies on the Right

With friends like Tommy Robinson…

Many years ago I regularly contributed to a respectable conservative journal and was thus invited to its editorial parties. I stopped going though, after I once found myself rubbing shoulders with Nick Griffin, head of the fascisoid British National Party.

“We need those people on side if we want to win,” explained another contributor, better-versed and more interested in the ins and outs of political jousting than I was. “If it means being in cahoots with such people,” I replied, “I’d rather lose.”

My colleague brought back to memory the French revolutionaries who came up with a spiffy slogan, pas d’ennemis à gauche, no enemies on the Left. In due course the guillotine delivered a cutting retort to that line of thought, but the concept survived even if its originators didn’t.

Marx and his Russian followers picked up the idea and dusted it off. Marx didn’t put it to a practical test, but the Bolsheviks did. Replace the guillotine with a bullet in the nape of the neck, and the outcome was the same: the whole party created by Lenin perished in CheKa cellars. The bullets were fired by their comrades on the Left, where there were supposed to be no enemies.

Alas, many people who describe themselves as conservatives have adapted the French slogan to their needs, mutatis mutandis. They may not say pas d’ennemis à droite, but they act in that spirit by clearly regarding everyone on the Right as their friend or at least an ally.

Now, regular readers know that I consider modern political taxonomy to be inadequate. But for the purposes of this exercise I’m prepared to treat as extreme Right what I’d normally describe as the nationalist, populist, variously fascisoid fringe. I see such people as alien to everything I hold dear, not substantively different in that respect from their mirror images on the Left.

Terms like ‘right’, ‘left’, ‘socialist’, ‘communist’, ‘fascist’, ‘nationalist’ all denote concepts gestated by the Enlightenment and delivered by its sharp revolutionary edge. Nationalism in particular couldn’t have existed in the past because nations didn’t exist.

From the Romans onwards, Europe was usually a conglomerate of empires, which term precludes nationalism by definition. I’ve heard of the Roman Republic, Roman Empire, Roman civilisation, Roman law, but I’ve never heard of the Roman nation. Had it existed, I would have heard of it.

Just look at two key figures in Italy’s history, Pontius Pilate and Thomas Aquinas. Even though they were separated by 1,200 years and played very different roles, they had one thing in common: indeterminate ethnicity.

Aquinas was a cousin to the Holy Roman Emperor and ethnically more German than Italian. Judging by Pilate’s service record in the equestrian order (native-born Romans seldom manned cavalry units) and subsequent postings to the Middle East, he too was of Germanic origin.

To those people Rome (or Italy) was a political, civilisational and cultural concept, not a national one. The same goes for the later European empires, up until the time they began to explode under the blows of modernity.

The fallout from those explosions produced the political perversions I mentioned earlier, including nationalism. If you define conservatism as an attempt to mitigate, ideally to reverse, the malignant effects of the Enlightenment, then a nationalist is as much of an adversary as a communist.

It’s important to distinguish between patriotism, love of one’s country, and nationalism, its extreme form. Nationalism is akin to a religious heresy, which is not necessarily defined as saying something wrong. It’s rather assigning an undue significance to one thing, extolling a part at the expense of the whole.

People who display this trait end up defining their whole being in unitary terms, which may be a sign of psychological derangement sometimes, but of vulgar thinking always. Overconcentration on a single issue is something I find intellectually and morally feeble – even if I happen to agree with the single issue.

Indiscriminate acceptance into the conservative fold of anyone who utters slogans having an emollient effect on the conservative ear strikes me as odd. Such welcoming chaps should take stock of their own beliefs and decide what it is that they wish to conserve.

If they don’t go through such a scrutiny of their intellectual inventory, they may end up regarding someone like Nick Griffin or Tommy Robinson as their friend. Now, Tommy, for the benefit of my foreign readers, is a thuggish guttersnipe with a list of criminal convictions as long as Donald Trump’s tie.

The convictions and subsequent prison terms weren’t meted out for any political activities. Tommy didn’t suffer for his commitment to conservative British values. He was sent down several times for such rather unconservative misdeeds as hooliganism, assault and drugs.

Having fought numerous battles at football stadiums, he now mostly brawls on-line by uttering variously vulgar statements in defence of aforementioned British values. Now Tommy wouldn’t know British values if they came up behind him and hit him on the head with a three-litre bottle of cheap cider, which I’m guessing is his preferred refreshment.

The conservative British virtues he not only doesn’t possess but wouldn’t even recognise are civility, self-restraint and moderation. These are more important than a fervent commitment to any political causes, including conservative ones.

A thug who vituperates day and night against uncontrolled immigration of aliens is still a thug fundamentally alien to British – indeed conservative – values even if we agree with the underlying sentiment. As far as I am concerned, his loudmouthed slogans present as much of a threat to conservative civility as the aliens he is desperate to keep at bay.

The problem with bite-sized slogans is that they encourage bite-sized thinking. Moreover, they are confined to politicking which ought to be the lowest form of human activity but has become the dominant one. Modern democratic politics encourages thinking in terms of the next election only, and snappy slogans have been known to swing votes.

Hence everyone is conditioned to think like a politician, which nowadays means looking for allies wherever they can be found. Thus ‘no enemies on the right’: provided some odious brute like Robinson attracts votes away from the Lefties, he is our friend.

Let’s scale the next political barrier and worry about the rest later, such is the widespread attitude. I’m sure Danton must have felt the same way about Robespierre, Trotsky about Stalin or, if you will, Röhm about Hitler.

Conservatism is all about preserving and upholding the core values of our civilisation – not about stemming the influx of undesirable aliens to our shores or even electing a politician who says things we like to hear. This may be a part of the conservation exercise, but only a small part, a piece in a kaleidoscope of other small parts.

The overall picture, on the other hand, is a harmonious canvas with many seemingly different parts held in fine balance. That makes a sense of balance a cardinal conservative virtue – and a perversion like nationalism a deadly sin.

Let’s not idealise savages

Simple folk, those who make up most of the world’s population, tend to think in binary terms. If A and B are in conflict and people find something wrong with A, they think B can do no wrong and never mind the facts to the contrary.

This is unfailingly reflected in popular arts, such as cinema. The good-guy-bad-guy dichotomy adorns most Hollywood productions, especially those designed to play to mass audiences.

It’s pointless to argue whether this is a case of art imitating life or the other way around. A bit of both, I’d suggest, although the former is probably ahead on points. One way or the other, people noticeably transfer that black and white aesthetic of Technicolor films onto their feelings about real-life conflicts, either present or historical.

When observing a confrontation involving a side that displeases them for whatever reason, they expect, positively beg, the other side to please them no end. The other side usually obliges, which involves no hardship on its part. Whatever misdeeds it has committed will be dismissed as mere naughtiness, or a response to unjust provocation, or often as enemy propaganda.

This sort of thing may sound innocuous, and so it would be if it didn’t lead to appalling errors of judgement – and appalling actions caused by the errors. By way of illustration, consider the mass response of Westerners, mostly of the leftward persuasion, to conflicts between their countries and those differently civilised (is this PC enough?).

These thoughts, by the way, are immediately inspired by the crowds in all Western countries coming out in support of supposedly innocent, not to say sinless, Muslim victims persecuted by those ghastly Israelis.

It’s easy to dismiss such marches as mainly an outburst of pent-up anti-Semitism, and that is doubtless a factor. But a much more significant factor is an outburst of pent-up discontent with the West.

Our civilisation has failed to meet those people’s expectations, and it doesn’t matter that those expectations are silly and unfair. What matters is that they haven’t been met, which has activated the simple binary mechanism I mentioned earlier.

Israel, in addition to whatever sins she may or may not have committed, also carries the stigma of being unapologetically Western. Thus the protesters look at Israel’s sins through binoculars at point-blank range and see their immensity filling the lenses. They then reverse the binoculars, look at the other side’s failings through the other end and see them so tiny as to be negligible.

The perceived virtue of a country or a civilisation seems to be inversely proportionate to its proximity to the West. Though we are currently observing an especially malignant manifestation of that tendency, the tendency itself has a long history.

Having given a wide berth to every known fact, Rousseau’s romantic notion of primitive societies arrived at a destination hailed by his contemporaries and still credited by his descendants. Dismissing the notion of original sin as a reactionary superstition, Rousseau glorified the noble sauvage, whose primordial pagan purity was then sullied by civilisation.

The chief culprit, both textually and contextually, was specifically Christian civilisation that was already under frontal assault in Rousseau’s lifetime. That fanciful theory proved influential, as such theories invariably do when they cater to the public mood.

Step by step – and I’m talking about long strides reaching to our time – Western malcontents developed a peculiar concept of history. Within it only pagans had virtue even if they also had some minor vices. The West, on the other hand, showed a full compendium of vices even if it also had some minor virtues.

The pre-Christian pagan West had a relatively free ride. With the Battle of Salamis (480 BC), Western readers were encouraged to sympathise with the Greeks rather than the Persians. And even with the Punic Wars some 300 years later, few historians insisted that Carthage’s cause was just.

The Romans, whose chosen pastime was watching people disembowel one another on gladiatorial arenas and whose unwanted new-born girls were dumped by the roadside to be devoured by wild beasts, were still tolerable – and look, smirks The Life of Brian, how much they have given us.

Materialist historians did try to interpret Carthage in the light of fashionable anti-colonialism, but only half-heartedly. Yet typically hushed up was the salient fact about Carthage. Yes, it boasted a developed civilisation and packed a mean military punch. But it was also diabolical.

Carthaginians practised human sacrifice and cannibalism, which proved to be their undoing. The proto-Western Romans might not have used terms like Satanism, but they sensed something dark and revolting about Carthage. Hence they were prepared to fight to the last man, which resolve eventually defeated Hannibal’s military genius.

However, if we fast-forward to the present time and its take on history, the West has lost any claim to clemency on the part of ‘liberal’ historians. For example, the European colonisers of the New World are routinely castigated for their merciless cruelty – and the critics have a point.

The local Indian tribes were displaced at best, exterminated at worst. Since they resisted colonisation, the Europeans’ only choice was between fight or flight, and the latter wasn’t a viable option. But it’s true that many things they did were unnecessarily cruel, which was unforgivable – and not because the other side didn’t do the same things and worse.

The English, the French, the Spanish and the Portuguese were Christians. They ought to have known better because they knew what better was. Hence every time they tortured a prisoner, or killed an Indian they didn’t have to kill, they wilfully betrayed their own civilisation.

Point conceded, and I’m not even going to counter it with an appeal to progress and the superior quality of New York and Boston as compared to the wigwams of nomadic camps. In return, I’d rather be spared panegyrics for the sublime Aztec civilisation and the primordial purity of the Indian tribes.

It’s that binary fallacy again: every time the Puritan settlers or Spanish conquistadores went against their own civilisation they are supposed to have scored a point for the Pre-Columbian Americas.

Yet most Indian tribes, especially in the northern and western parts of the continent, were as diabolical as the Carthage of Hannibal. They, all those romantic Iroquois and Mohawks, also practised human sacrifice and cannibalism, persisting well into the 18th century.

When European missionaries tried to talk the natives out of eating people, the natives often ended up eating the European missionaries. All that is a time-dishonoured hallmark of Satanism.

The same goes for the Aztecs who did create some sort of civilisation replete with attractive artifacts. Yet there too cannibalism was practised as the culmination of ritual sacrifice and also, according to some sources, as a dietary supplement. Yet today’s historians, while derisive about Christians worshipping God, are magnanimous about Pre-Columbians worshipping Satan.

Such, I think, is the historical background to all those marches of millions screaming hatred for Israel, largely because it’s Western, and love for the Muslims, largely because they aren’t Western. If those malcontents dislike A, they are housetrained to love B, however unlovable it would otherwise be.

Yet savagery has a high adhesive value. It can stick to its champions, turning them too into savages. Given our inferior education and superior communications, such an outcome is well nigh guaranteed.