Let’s hear it for wind-turbine warplanes

Where would the turbine go?

Evil is on the march, I wrote the other day, and the West should pool its physical, mental and moral resources to survive.

It therefore warms my cockles that the Western alliance is currently led by men who have the vision to identify the nature of the threat and the courage to engage it head on. I mean Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, and Joe Biden, US President.

Mr Stoltenberg cast a panoramic eye over the military conflicts unfolding around the world and unerringly spotted their common cause: global warming. Or, to be more exact, he blamed global warming on the military conflicts.

It’s such calamitous squabbling, he explained, that undermines “our capability to combat climate change because resources that we should have used to combat climate change are spent on our protecting our security with our military forces.”

Not only that, but to his great chagrin the warring parties exacerbate the problem by stubbornly refusing to use only environment-friendly weaponry: “If you look at big battle tanks and the big battleships and fighter jets, they are very advanced and great in many ways, but they’re not very environmentally friendly. They pollute a lot, so we need to get down the emissions.”

It’s good to see that the leader of the Western military alliance is capable of not only identifying the most urgent challenges, but also of coming up with ingenious solutions. Just think how greatly our Typhoon fighter could be improved if powered by a small, tasteful wind turbine.

At present, it carries almost five tonnes of criminal, planet-destroying fuel. A small wind turbine would be a fraction of that weight, which would free up the capacity to carry over four tonnes of vital supplies, such as food parcels for the starving children on the ground.

Of course, there is always the danger that, if there is no wind, the Typhoon pilot would have to perform the manoeuvre known as a “deadstick landing”, one with no propulsive power available. Since the plane may well crash, some may see that as a downside, but it’s overshadowed by the great advantage of saving the planet.

And nothing, repeat nothing, can be more important than that. Joe Biden, Mr Stoltenberg’s de facto boss put it in a nutshell: “The only existential threat humanity faces even more frightening than a nuclear war is global warming.”

Now, for as long as I – and Mr Biden – have been around, and that’s very long indeed, we’ve been indoctrinated to think that an all-out nuclear war would wipe out all biological, including human, life on the planet. Moreover, it could do so in a matter of days.

If global warming presents an even greater “existential threat”, then that disaster must be able to achieve the same gruesome outcome within hours, possibly even minutes. If that’s what Mr Biden thinks, he must have access to classified data inaccessible even to Greta Thunberg.

Hence anybody who doesn’t wish to see ‘our planet’ evaporate must campaign for the summary elimination of “big battle tanks and the big battleships and fighter jets” if, as seems likely, we are unable to convert them to environmentally responsible power.

Like most aggressors presenting an existential threat to mankind, global warming works in insidious ways. It disguises its evil intent by pretending to be its opposite. Thus, the winter of 2012 was the coldest Russia had experienced in over 70 years, and China in over 30. That could have fooled lesser men than Messrs Biden and Stoltenberg, but thank God they remained as vigilant as ever.

Oh well, enough sarcasm so close to the year’s end. Let’s just say that Mr Stoltenberg must be complimented for identifying the link between the West’s defence capability and its campaign to save ‘our planet’. Except he did so with what the Russians call “the precision of the other way around” (s tochnostyu naoborot, for my Russophone readers).

It’s channelling monstrously vast resources into responding to the woke, non-existent, anti-scientific threat that weakens the West’s ability to face up properly to evil variously originating in Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and so on, all the way down the list.

When the leaders of NATO and by far its strongest member, the US, talk utter drivel instead of issuing stern commands to the military, we should all be afraid, very afraid. This is the real existential threat we are facing, for it’s not evil tyrants who destroy civilisations. It’s the overlapping of evil tyrants on one side with weak, imbecilic leaders on the other.

However, I can’t leave you with the thought of just such an overlap occurring at the moment. Instead, I’d rather lighten up your mood with a festive exchange recently overheard:

“Hello, I’m Nigel and I’m an alcoholic. I drink whisky.”

“Hello, I’m John and I’m an alcoholic. I drink tequila.”

“Hello, I’m Dan and I’m an alcoholic. I drink vodka.”

“Hello, I’m Kevin and I’m a bartender. Coming right up.”

Happy New Year to everyone!

“Giz a pint of fizz, landlord”

“Right you are, guv. You fancy Krug Non-Vintage or Taitinger Blanc de Blanc?”

That was a picture that flashed through my mind when I found out that henceforth champagne would be sold in pints in Britain.

The picture included fragments of a Kings’ Head somewhere up country, a weathered mahogany bar, porcelain pump handles exhibiting various champagne brands, customers complaining the landlord gives them nothing but foam (“I’ll come for the rest later, mate.). The madcap vision lasted a few seconds before hard reality barged in.

No landlord in Britain will be able to pull a pint of Krug, not yet anyway. It’s just that champagne will now be sold in pint bottles, just like in the old days. Perfect for two people at lunch or for one thirsty gentleman at dinner. (For the benefit of my overseas readers, the imperial pint is 20 ounces, not 16 as in some of our former colonies.)

The conservative in me rejoiced. As Peter Hitchens correctly observed, the metric system was imposed on Europe by victorious revolutionaries, which in itself is sufficient reason to reject it. Yet Mr Hitchens has a knack for being annoying even when saying unobjectionable things.

In this case, he appealed not just to tradition but also to the intrinsic superiority of traditional measurement units. An inch, he wrote, is based on the length of a thumb, and a foot on the length of, well, a foot. That no doubt is historically true. Yet my thumb is much longer than an inch, and my foot (Size 9) is shorter than a foot. Then again, traditional measures go so far back that human anatomy might have changed since then.

Then came the annoying bit: Hitchens seldom misses an opportunity to remind readers of his first-hand experience of Russia where he spent a few months in the 90s. There, he said, food was often sold by the polkilo, which is basically a pound. Having thus established his bona fides as a Russian expert, he’ll doubtless explain in the next article that we shouldn’t support the Ukraine because the Ukraine and Russia are essentially the same, especially Russia.

According to him, polkilo means that even metric countries gravitate towards English measures. This is ignorant nonsense. Polkilo means half a kilo, 500 grams, more than a pound, which is 454 grams. The measure is clearly metric, and in fact Russians think in grams and kilos, not pounds. A shopper would routinely ask for 400 grams of sausage or 300 grams of cheese (provided those items were available).

Vodka was sold in half-litre bottles, affectionately called pollitra, or quarter-litre ones, known as chekushka. However, hardened drinkers referred to that kind of pollitra as polkilo, replacing the pedantic liquid measure with the colloquial hard one. Perhaps that’s what Hitchens had in mind when going on shopping expeditions, in which case re-spect, to quote Ali G.

Sorry for this bit of arcana, but I had to set the record straight. My own feelings about the two systems are mixed, as are my experiences of them.

Until I left Russia at 25, I had lived, thought and breathed in the metric system. In the subsequent 15 years, I had to reorient my mind towards American measures, and metric units dropped into the background.

I measured distances in feet and miles, temperature in Fahrenheit, length in inches and feet, liquid in ounces, pints and gallons, my burgeoning weight in pounds. After a few years, whenever someone mentioned a metric unit, I had to do a quick mental conversion.

Then came 35 years, almost 36 now, in England, and my weight got to be measured in stones, rather than pounds, which somehow made me sound almost svelte. After all, 15 sounds much less than 210, even if it isn’t.

Pounds and gallons got bigger in England, but miles remained the same, although weights and liquid measures again became metric. That made it next to impossible for me to judge a car’s economy. Specs talked about so many litres per 100 kilometres, and my mathematical ability doesn’t quite stretch to converting that into good old mpg.

In all honesty, I can’t say which system is better. Each has its pluses and minuses. For example, a millimetre is cumbersome to express in fractions of an inch. On the other hand, Fahrenheit is more precise than Celsius.

Yet it’s not all about face value. As a conservative, I welcome every attempt to keep modernity at bay, especially revolutionary modernity.

When an English greengrocer was notoriously arrested for selling bananas in pounds, I thought that bow towards the EU was evil. To this day, when I shop for food I ask for a pound of this or that. This often elicits the moronic question: “In weight?”. A pound in money buys nothing these days, doesn’t everyone know this?

Getting rid of metric measurements would have the huge symbolic significance of shaking the dust of the EU off our feet, which has to be good. Yet I can’t get rid of the gnawing suspicion that, when it comes to putting champagne in pint bottles, the motives aren’t so much conservative as pecuniary.

I’m willing to bet that a pint bottle will cost as much as the current 750 ml one. The British pint is 568 ml, which means we’ll be paying almost a third more for our glass of champagne. I’m not sure my commitment to conservative memorabilia outweighs the difference.

Then again, I buy my champagne direct from French producers, which means my commitment to conservatism won’t cost me anything in this case. I’m wiping my brow even as we speak.

What are we doing to thwart evil?

“I didn’t say that!”

The short answer is next to nothing, and it’s about time we realised that. I’m using the personal pronoun ‘we’ in the broad sense of Western civilisation in general, not just any of its specific members.

Now brace yourself for a few blindingly obvious truisms, for no original thought is required to assess the current situation. Everything is plain for everyone to see, except for those who won’t see.  

Our civilisation seems to have forgotten the old maxim: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” The saying is usually attributed to Edmund Burke, though he never said it. But the thought rings true.

Or rather it’s a truism. Any schoolboy who doesn’t play truant when history is taught should know that great civilisations don’t perish due to muscular atrophy, certainly not for that reason alone. The principal cause of their demise is invariably the erosion of will.

When that happens, muscular brawn becomes helpless. And make no mistake about it: the West still has the physical wherewithal to defend itself. The old “two-power standard” still holds good on the civilisational level. (The expression originally comes from the Naval Defence Act of 1889, which called for the Royal Navy to be at least as strong as the world’s next two largest navies combined.)

But no matter how strong cowardly, sybaritic civilisations appear on paper, they’ll eventually succumb to wild-eyed fanatics with hatred in their hearts and no fear of death.

Just look at the world today, as 2023 is drawing to a close. Evil is on the march all over the globe, and nowhere is the West putting up resolute resistance.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has ordered his country’s military to accelerate war preparations, including getting the nuclear weapons ready. What’s the hurry? I don’t know, but I’m desperate to believe that our intelligence services do. Yet our governments are doing their favourite thing: nothing, other than expressing their deep concern.

Israel, a Western oasis in the middle of a barbarian desert, is desperately fighting for its existence, with Iran inciting packs of her proxies to pounce. This is an indisputable binary case of good against evil – but not as far as the West is concerned.

Israel’s response to Hamas’s satanic raid is drawing more and more criticism from the Western media and increasingly imperative demands to desist from Western governments. Erdogan, the leader of a NATO country, has publicly stated that Netanyahu is no better than Hitler – and NATO does nothing to bring him to heel.

What it does do is tell Israel to defend herself only half-heartedly, ideally not at all. Whatever she does, she mustn’t kill her enemies on pain of Western displeasure, possibly sanctions.

At the same time, another Shiite puppet of Iran, Houthi (otherwise known as Ansar Allah) has used its pirates practically to shut navigation through the Suez Canal. This affects the West’s economic interests directly, and its strategic interests over the long run.

Operating through its proxies, Iran threatens a blockade of the Mediterranean. To that end the ayatollahs are also supplying long-range weapons to the Polisario Front, a nationalist socialist group in Morocco setting its sights on Gibraltar.

The US Navy has two carrier groups in the region, which is more than enough power to squash the Shiite threat to the Mediterranean basin once and for all. And yet that naval Leviathan does nothing other than fire a few reluctant salvos here and there.

Both Iran and North Korea are supplying armaments to Putin’s fascist regime, thus repaying Russia’s earlier help with arming the two evil powers to the teeth. Iran-made Shahed drones are murdering Ukrainian civilians, while Russian cannon are firing North Korean shells.

The three evil powers are doing all they can to entrench, and in due course to expand, a mighty fascist presence in the heart of Europe, right on NATO’s borders. Do you think the West is doing all it can to resist them? Don’t answer this; we’ve had enough truisms for one day.

Orban, the leader of another NATO country, is openly trying to block the EU’s assistance to the Ukraine, a country heroically fighting evil on her own. And even the leaders of the countries that do assist the Ukraine are making every effort not to do more than is necessary merely to keep her afloat.

Millions of people had to die to stop the previous full-scale attempt at a fascist domination of Europe. This time not a single Western soldier has to go into battle. All it takes is giving the Ukrainians the tools to do the job – but it’s not the job that the West clearly wants to see done.  

The Western media are hysterically agitating for negotiated peace both in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Allow me to translate: given today’s situation, ‘negotiated peace’ means the surrender of both the Ukraine and Israel. That in turn means the surrender of the West and the triumph of evil.

I lay no claim to uncanny perspicacity here: this is yet another truism, and everyone knows it is just that. Yet the West feigns ignorance, pretending to believe that this is yet another “quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing”.

The West is increasingly reluctant to see Putin’s war as a clash between good and evil. One reads more and more articles arguing that, since both sides are equally bad, we shouldn’t favour one over the other. This isn’t a dearth of knowledge for our pundits know exactly what’s what. It’s a collapse of will.

The appeasing phrase quoted above had consequences that ought to have taught the West a lesson. It didn’t. All the West learned is how to paraphrase the same sentiment with nothing short of lexical adroitness.

But enough despair. The season calls for statements of hope, and mine is that the West will come to its senses. Dum spiro spero, as Cicero used to say. He must have been fond of truisms too.

Papist terrorist threat uncovered

Run for cover

The future of the Free World, or at least its Leader, the US, is in safe hands. In a startling coup of investigative brilliance, the FBI has identified the principal source of terrorist threat in the country.

You may think that it’s mostly Muslims who fly big planes into tall buildings, blow up public transport, randomly mow down pedestrians and drive SUVs through crowds.

That only shows how antediluvian your notions are, and I’m man enough to admit mine aren’t any more up to date. To my shame, I too thought that the stock battle cry of a terrorist was most likely to be ‘Allahu Akbar!’.

Well, let me tell you, you have another think coming, and so do I. For the real terrorists aren’t necessarily going to scream Allahu Akbar as they explode their suicide vests. They are at least as likely to shout Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.

I owe this insight to an FBI investigation, and I’m pleased the Bureau displays utmost vigilance in protecting the Free World from heinous crimes. The target of the investigation was conservative Catholics in general, and especially those who prefer Latin to vernacular as their liturgical language.

Members of this group, according to an internal memo, could be identified by the rosary beads they carry. That made me consider the logistic problem of putting enough explosive inside the beads to cause serious damage. The task looked impossible, but with my characteristic humility I had to admit my pyrotechnic expertise was limited.

The Bureau’s office in Richmond, VA, took the lead, mounting spying operations on RTCs (Radical-Traditionalist Catholics, in its nomenclature). Once the group was assigned its own initials, one knew the investigation was in full swing.

Agents were sent out to spy on Catholics as they were worshipping in their churches. The spies’ task was to report on any suspicious activities and also to recruit snitches within the congregations.

The memo circulated within the Richmond field office accused such Catholics of “adherence to anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ and white supremacist ideology.” It especially highlighted Catholic hostility to “abortion rights.”

A few months later the country got tangible proof of the insidious activities of the RTCs. By the looks of it, they must have penetrated the US Supreme Court, coercing it to overthrow Roe vs Wade and deal a blow to ‘abortion rights’.

Moreover, that decision brought into question the very idea that a woman has a natural right to abortion. If that’s not crypto-terrorism, I don’t know what is, and I’m sure an RTC trace will eventually be uncovered.

Now, it’s only one man’s experience, but I have several champions of the Latin Mass among my friends (that’s hardly surprising because I’m one such myself; birds of a feather and all that). True enough, on the issue of abortion they share the terrorist views of the US Supreme Court, although none of them has ever been tempted to toss a fire bomb into an abortion clinic.

They also oppose unlimited immigration of cultural aliens, but one would be hard-pressed to detect a particular Catholic bias in that stand. Nor has a single one of them ever advocated solving the migrant problem by terrorist means.

There isn’t a single anti-Semite in the lot, and their attitude to LGBTQ is circumscribed by the ecumenical Christian dictum of “love the sinner, hate the sin”. None of them is a white supremacist; in fact, some of them aren’t even wholly white.

I have to stipulate that none of the RTCs I know personally is an American, and certainly not a Virginian. Making allowances for national variances and also for the limited nature of one’s own experience, I’m prepared to believe that the group that so excited the passions of Richmond’s Feds includes some nasty people who dislike Jews, immigrants and ethnic minorities.

Yet when I lived in the States, I met many people who felt that way, and not a single one of them was a Catholic. Most of them were atheists, and some belonged to various Protestant sects. However, the FBI would quickly run out of agents if it decided to investigate all atheists and Protestants as potential terrorists, even if it only limited the search to those guilty of hostile barroom invective.

If those Catholics who defy the recommendation (not an order) of the Second Vatican Council and insist on celebrating the traditional Latin Mass have one thing in common, it’s not propensity for terrorism. They are all conservatives.

Since conservatism is a character trait rather than an ideology, it affects every aspect of behaviour and convictions. Five gets you ten – nay, ten thousand – that a man conservative in his religion is also conservative in his politics, social views and even tastes in art.

Could it be that conservatism as such is seen by American security services as potential terrorism? When all is said and done, agencies like the CIA or the FBI are instruments of government policy. That turns into a potential target for investigation any group opposed to most things the US government is doing.

Since US government policies are mostly anti-conservative (the US is by no means unique in that respect), all conservative groups are automatically suspect. And conservative Catholics especially so.

Historically, the anti-Catholic bias has been strong in America. After all, the country was first settled by Protestant dissenters who hated apostolic confessions, especially Catholicism. That hostility seeped into politics: Catholic worship was illegal in 11 of the first 13 American colonies, and Catholic proselytism was punishable by death.

The Founders, with one or two exceptions, detested Catholicism. There was only one Catholic among the 56 signatories to the Declaration of Independence, and there have been only two Catholics among the 45 US presidents, with neither, especially Joe Biden, known for his piety.

I wouldn’t be surprised if anti-Catholic sentiments, overlapping with anti-conservative ones, played a role in the FBI investigation. Yet, to the country’s credit, when the news of it broke last year, a scandal ensued.

Christopher A. Wren, FBI Director, was dragged over the coals of the House Judiciary Committee, and he put it all down to excessive local zeal. It was “a single product by a single field office,” he explained. However, new evidence shows that traditional Catholics were targeted across the whole of the United States.

To emphasise the ideological constituent of the campaign, The Atlantic magazine, your quintessential ‘liberal’ publication, published an article whose title reflects characteristic liberal moderation: How the Rosary Became an Extremist Symbol. The article was tastefully illustrated with bullet holes forming the shape of a rosary.

I’ll leave my American readers to decide how all this tallies with the First Amendment. Myself, I’m just amazed that even our atheist world continues to play the religious card. I suppose ancestral resentments are too good a weapon to discard in the all-out war on conservatism.

The original Santa wasn’t very nice

This is one the funniest cartoons I’ve seen lately. But its implications are far from funny.

If the Incarnation and the Resurrection are the two most staggering miracles of Christianity, then the cartoon illustrates the third one: its survival.

It reminds us, in a humorous form, of the precarious balance at the very heart of Christian doctrine, with half a step to either side potentially able to turn it into nothing more than an antiquarian artefact.

The clash between the two terms, homoousios and homoiusios, defined the first ecumenical council at Nicaea in 325 AD. The two words differed in only one letter, ‘i’, ‘iota’ in Greek, which gave rise to the expression “one iota of difference”.

Yet that one letter spelled the difference between survival and demise, universal truth and subversive heresy. At issue was the divinity of Christ and the nature of the Trinity.

Homoousious (‘of one substance’ in Greek) was the doctrine stating that God the Son is of the same essence as the Father and thus is equal and co-eternal with him. Homoiusios referred to the heresy stating that the essence wasn’t the same, but only similar.

That made Jesus a sort of adopted son of the Father, and certainly not his equal. Proponents of that doctrine insisted on a pecking order in which Jesus was a divine being but not God. He occupied a place above any human or even any angel, but below the Father.

The principal champion of that doctrine, probably the deadliest in the history of Christianity, was Arius, a Cyrenaic presbyter. One of his most impassioned opponents was St Nicholas, a Greek bishop from Asia Minor.

A later legend turned him into a nice, cuddly Santa Claus who stuffs children’s stockings with presents. St Nicholas owes his Christmassy reputation to the numerous miracles attributed to him, but perhaps his greatest miracle was defeating Arianism at Nicaea.

Apparently the arguments got so heated that St Nicholas even punched Arius in the face, but then Arius could try the patience of even a saint. Anyway, if you love our civilisation, you should join me in celebrating the TKO victory St Nicholas and his friends won over Arianism at Nicaea.

For, if the difference between the two terms was only one letter, there was a universe of difference between the two doctrines. If a Christian is someone worshipping Jesus as God, then there would have been no more Christians ever had Arius picked himself up from the floor and gone on to win.

Nor, and this point should also be important to non-Christians, would there be any Christian civilisation, no Christian culture. No Giotto, no Dante, no Bach – even no Voltaire or Tolstoy, two apostates from Christianity and yet two products of it.

Arianism was among the first deadly heresies endangering the survival of Christianity, but far from the last one. Throughout its existence Christianity was a ship having to steer a course among both rocks and mines, each threatening its survival.

Here is the list I can think of offhand, and I am sure it isn’t complete:

Gnosticism – Manichean dualism of darkness and light, accompanied by rejection of the body as evil and a claim to special knowledge that will lead to salvation.

Docetism: Christ’s body was not human but only a phantasm, and therefore his sufferings were only apparent.

Chiliasm – the kingdom of God will eventually arrive without God’s help.

Pelagianism – man is unaffected by the Fall and can keep all the divine laws.

Socinianism – denial of the Trinity. Jesus is a deified but not divine man.

Catharism – the physical world is definitely meaningless and possibly evil.

Eckartism (Free Spirit heresy) – it’s possible to reach perfection on earth through merely a life of austerity and spirituality.

Orthodoxy triumphed against all these foes, but it suffered its greatest damage from internecine strife. “And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand,” as recorded by St Mark.

The East-West Schism of 1054 split Christianity asunder, and, like the clash between St Nicholas and Arius, it too was largely caused by divergence in the understanding of the Trinity. Atheist commentators would later mock the argument as petty, the way they also mocked “religious wars fought over one letter”.

The issue was that of filioque, a disagreement that seems to be recondite, obscurely theological and, to a non-Christian outsider, trivial.

The West, as represented by Rome, had declared unilaterally that the Holy Spirit proceeds equally from the Father and the Son. The Roman bishopric inserted words to that effect into the Latin text of the Nicaean Creed, though not into the Greek version.

In turn the East, as represented by Constantinople, insisted that the procession was not double but single, from the Father through the Son. And in either event, the East maintained that the West had had no business deciding such matters on its own, without convening an ecumenical council.

The clash wasn’t just academic but violent, coming to the fore both in the 1182 massacre of the Latins (Western Christians) by the Greeks (Eastern Christians) and the 1204 slaughter of the Greeks by the Latins during the Fourth Crusade.

What to us may seem like a squabble over technicalities was a matter of life or death to our ancestors. And they were right.

Without going too deep into matters theological, the issue of filioque had far-reaching secular ramifications as well. The Western doctrine is symbolically represented by an equilateral triangle, with the Holy Spirit proceeding equally from the Father and the Son. By contrast, the Eastern version is more like a vertical line leading from the Father through the Son.

Could that be why political pluralism found a more natural home in the West, and political tyranny in the East? Let’s not forget that for at least a millennium and a half Christianity was a dominant factor in every walk of life, and the briefest of looks at even today’s cultural and political institutions will serve a useful reminder of that fact.

The balance of Christian orthodoxy has survived in the East, perhaps the only doctrinal shift that didn’t bring the house down. But the structure was badly shaken, becoming less sturdy on both sides as a result. Christianity became more vulnerable to its enemies, less animated by its erstwhile pugnacity.

St Nicholas, once he has wound down his parcel delivery business for another year, must be looking on with sadness in his eyes. He fought, he won, but those who came after him have frittered his victory away. But not completely! exclaims the old saint and sits up. And the look in his eyes once again becomes a ho-ho-whole lot steelier.

I maligned France by omission

Yesterday I vented some of my bile (don’t worry, I have plenty left) on the subversive slogan of modernity one sees on every public building in France.

But that’s not all one sees everywhere one goes, not during this season. For laid out in front of the church in every village is a beautiful Nativity scene.

Some of the crêches are simple, some quite elaborate. For example, the Nativity scene in one village near us occupies an area the size of a tennis court, with all the people and animals live-size or even bigger.

Christmas lights are everywhere, for all the government warnings about the need to save electricity. Such warnings are largely ignored. The people of a country constitutionally committed to secularism since 1905 won’t let the state prevent them from celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ with all the proper pomp and circumstance.

Churches all around us were bursting with worshippers last night – this though not every church had an ordained priest in attendance. All over Europe professions devoted to selfless, poorly paid service are losing staff, not just the clergy but also nurses, carers, charity workers.

In rural France, one priest often has to cover several churches, sometimes as many as 40 of them. Anyone sticking to the old-fashioned notion that Mass ought to be celebrated by an ordained clergyman has to make sure in advance that the service he plans to attend will be so blessed.

Ours was, and it was deeply moving. The regular curé was present but, at 95 or so, he was too frail to celebrate the Mass by himself. Most of the work was done by another priest, but the old man served the host and later said a few words, bidding a cheerful good-bye to the congregation.

The moving solemnity of the occasion was in contrast to this morning’s Sky News broadcast, featuring an interview with a seaman serving overseas. The seaman was actually a seawoman, which these days is par for the course.

Her interview served a useful reminder that Yuletide is conducive not only to joyous revelries and solemn contemplations but also to bone-crushing banality.

“Do you miss your family at Christmas?” “Yes.” “Tell us how your family celebrates Christmas.” At that point my ears perked up. Obviously, I thought, the interviewer knows that the reply will be whacky and imaginative.

It wasn’t: “We put on funny jumpers and paper hats, Mum makes a big meal, and we play a lot of Christmas music.” Well, I never. Some people will go out of their way to be original.

Yet this is the day when one doesn’t really crave originality. One longs for tradition instead, unifying not separating, same for all. So even that pointless interview didn’t jar this morning as it would have done on any other day.

Happy Christmas to all of you, my readers! May the simple joy of this day stay with you all year, unsullied by sadness and tragedy. If you can spare a thought for Him whose birthday we celebrate today, so much the better. But rest assured that, even if you can’t, He will be thinking of you, and His thoughts will be full of love.

P.S. If you plan to operate a car today, please take special care. Because men often drink a lot on Christmas Day, they ask their wives to drive.

‘Liberté’, ‘égalité’, ‘fraternité’

These words, without the quotation marks, appear on every public building here in France, which makes them hard to avoid. These are the founding words of modernity, and not just in France.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t drive past our village council, where I see that slogan proudly emblazoned on the façade. And each time, I rejoice – one should always celebrate, if only inwardly, any reminder of the truth.

That’s what the slogan of the French Republic does: it reminds me of the truth. But it does so not by affirmation but by negation. By telling me not what the truth is but what it isn’t.

I hope that one day that triad will be submitted as Exhibit A at the trial of modernity. The charge will be grand larceny.

The slogan first gained currency during the French Revolution, an impassioned attempt to destroy the edifice that Christendom had built over 18 centuries. Yet when the mob got going in earnest, the revolutionaries found the building too sturdy to be razed to the ground.

So they settled for the next best thing. They kept the house standing, but evicted its rightful owners, those who had built it in the first place, added numerous extensions, decorated the house inside and out, lovingly maintained it for centuries.

New owners moved in, took stock of the verbal furniture and decided to keep some of it, to dupe the masses into thinking that a change of ownership didn’t just mean unrestrained vandalism. The vocabulary they found especially useful highlighted freedom, equality and brotherhood, three pillars of Christianity.

That added perfidy to vandalism and vulgarity to beauty. The new owners didn’t break the old furniture into sticks; they reupholstered it in ugly, lurid floral patterns. They didn’t yank the icons off the walls and toss them onto a bonfire; they disfigured them by using crayons and charcoal to add obscene details.

Freedom was one such icon, God’s gift to man. “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free,” recorded St John. Perhaps “even freer” would have been more accurate, if less sonorous. For the first gift of freedom had been given to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

It was the gift of free will, the ability to make uncoerced choices between right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, just and unjust, good and bad. Such is the ultimate freedom, the only kind that emphasises the chasm separating man from beasts.

Ostensibly, wild beasts are free to do anything they want: run in any direction, sleep whenever or wherever they want, pounce on whatever they choose. But in fact, they aren’t free; they are enslaved. They are slaves to their biological makeups, and their behaviour is predetermined for ever.

Man, on the other hand, can use his free will to raise himself high above his physical nature, so high that it would be barely visible. That would be the right choice, but man is equally free to make a wrong one. Adam and Eve chose wrong and stigmatised mankind with the mark of original sin. Man was no longer perfect, but he was still free. That is to say he was still human – freedom was to remain his immanent property for ever.

Yet that’s not what liberté meant to the vandalising vulgarians, and it’s no accident that the distinction between freedom and liberty doesn’t exist in French. Their liberty came to them not from God but from the guillotine. Liberty was delivered to them on a platter containing piles of severed heads.

No wonder that their vulgar prophets talked about social contracts: their liberty was a transactional deal enforced by violence. Contracts replaced covenants; vulgarity replaced beauty; falsehood replaced truth.

Equality was another Christian property suffering the same gruesome fate. To the previous owners of the house, all people were equal before an authority infinitely higher than earthly kings or magistrates.

Everyone was regarded as an autonomous human being, to be cherished not because of any towering achievement or superior character but simply because he was indeed human. In fact, people short of achievement or incapable of it, like frail boys routinely drowned by the Spartans or unwanted baby girls left to die in the woods by the Romans, began to be seen as God’s creatures to be loved before all others.

Though some people may have been wicked, some weak and some moribund, none was useless. They all had redeeming qualities because they had all been redeemed. They were equal in a way that trumped the mundane inequality of birth, wealth or status.

The vulgarising vandals replaced that sublime equality with crude levelling. That was a lie even on its own puny terms: if anything, worldly, material inequalities multiplied.

But at a higher, spiritual level, humanism proved its inhumanity. If both prince and pauper used to be equally sustained by the hope of salvation and life everlasting, modernity gave the pauper the false promise of becoming a prince, and it gave the prince the false hope of keeping the pauper at arm’s length.

What followed was a series of increasingly destructive wars, the likes of which the world had never seen. Hundreds of millions of corpses later, the only equality on offer was proved to be equality of the grave.

Brotherhood was another item of furniture vulgarised by the vandals. The old owners knew they were all brothers for the simple reason that they all had the same father. Even if at times they, like Cain and Abel, didn’t behave in a brotherly fashion, they always knew that their kinship would survive even if one of the brothers didn’t.

The new owners knocked the stuffing out of that furniture and upholstered the hard wood with a thin layer of gaudy, kitschy fabric. The chair became uncomfortable and eventually impossible to sit on – one hears today’s leaders address their flock as fellow citizens but never as their brothers. And fellow citizenship is a much flimsier bond than ultimate kinship.

Tomorrow, we’ll celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, which fact everyone knows, but most people would rather forget. What most people don’t even know or might have forgotten is that we’ll also be celebrating real freedom, real equality, real brotherhood.

Let the vulgarians celebrate their fake triad. Christians will acclaim the real Trinity.  

There’s no dignity to Dignitas

Let’s set the scene first.

Dame Esther Rantzen, some kind of TV personality (sorry, but my ignorance of the genre doesn’t allow me to be more specific), has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.

She now wants to go to the suicide clinic in Switzerland to end her life. Her relations wish to travel with her to provide moral support, which creates all sorts of problems.

Eight years ago Parliament voted against legalising assisted suicide. That makes aiding and abetting it a criminal offence punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Since sending her nearest and dearest down isn’t the legacy Dame Esther wishes to leave behind, she made an impassioned plea to Parliament, begging it to put the issue to another vote.

As an aside, this fits in with the modern democratic pattern. Any new law catering to fashionable sensibilities gets chiselled in eternally durable stone. Yet a law going against such sensibilities is written on sand, which can be blown away by a gust of emotive righteousness.

Now, if you or I made that plea, we’d at best receive a reply from our local MP, more likely from his secretary, to the effect that he is deeply sympathetic and all that, but there is little he can do about it. With that he’d remain faithfully ours.

But since Dame Esther is a TV personality, she can’t be fobbed off quite so easily. Hence a lively debate ensued, underpinned with words like ‘dying with dignity’, ‘agony’, ‘unbearable pain’, ‘anguish of the whole family’ and so forth.

However, some public figures, including an MP or two, are arguing against another vote on the issue because they object to assisted suicide for any number of reasons.

Lord Sumption thinks that: “the real issue here is not about the merits or demerits of assisted suicide – it’s a question of the power of the state. Does the state have the moral right to intervene in such an intensely personal and agonising issue?”

On balance, he thinks the state has that right, which is why he’d vote for such a law. I’d vote against it, but not for the reason cited by Lord Sumption.

I’m as opposed as the next man to expanding the power of the state, but the issue here is precisely about “the merits and demerits”. If assisted suicide has the demerit of an unlawful taking of a human life, then it falls into the legitimate remit of any state, no matter how hands-off and libertarian.

Other commentators talk about slippery slopes and the thin ends of wedges. Relying on empirical evidence, they sensibly cite the examples of Holland and Belgium, the first countries that legalised euthanasia.

And let me tell you, when it comes to promoting modern perversions, those countries are indeed the lowest of the low. Once euthanasia became legal, Netherlandish doctors began to kill people at an ever-increasing rate.

They bump off demented patients, even though the law says the euthanasia candidate has to be of sound mind. They kill mentally disturbed teenagers and young girls with anorexia. They put to death women grieving for their dead husbands.

All in all, euthanasia accounts for one in every 20 deaths in Holland, and the proportion is steadily going up. It’s hard to avoid the impression that, if euthanasia becomes legal, sooner or later it’ll become compulsory.

Other countries follow suit. For example, in Canada patients are offered death over treatment as a way of cutting medical costs. That show of fiscal prudence, otherwise commendable, here seems ever so slightly inappropriate, but I’m no expert on pecuniary matters.

I’m better at catching the whiffs of modern deviancy, and one of them is a thinly disguised lament that we have too many old people for our own good. More and more people have the audacity to live so long that they deplete state coffers without adding anything to them.

Putting the wrinklies down can thus be seen as a public service, while clinging on to life against all statistical odds begins to look like obtuse, bloody-minded selfishness. That makes assisted suicide a public-spirited act akin to heroic martyrdom. And if some old codger is too slow to appreciate the morality involved, he may be helped to see the light, or rather darkness.

Getting back to Dame Esther, I have personal reasons for sympathising with her plight, if not with her plea. Some 20 years ago, I too was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer considered incurable.

In fact, I still remember a Scottish consultant with a whole alphabet after his name declaring: “Your prognersis is puer”. I mentally translated that diagnosis into English as saying that my prognosis was poor and rendered my soul to God.

Yet here I am, 20 years later, alternately regaling and disgusting you with my vituperative comments on modernity – including the aspect of it that deals with assisted dying. Call it a miracle, call it good luck but, whatever you call it, it happens.

The possibility, however remote, of recovery from cancer and other deadly conditions is an argument against assisted suicide, but it’s not a very strong argument statistically. All other arguments mentioned above are stronger, and I’d add to them the possibility of a misdiagnosis.

Yet what surprises me is that not a single objection to assisted suicide I’ve read in the past few days refers even obliquely to the fact that for many centuries our civilisation regarded suicide as a sin worse than murder. Since that view was based on the formative civilisational premise, one would expect it to get an airing, even if it’s then emphatically dismissed.

In fact, most commentators hasten to establish their atheist credentials first, lest they may be accused of objecting to that practice for uncool reasons. One would think that days before the world will celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, that name should at least come up in the historical context if no other.

Yet for centuries suicides were denied Christian burial, and they couldn’t be interred on consecrated grounds, a privilege not denied to murderers. One reason for that was that a murderer could repent his sin, but a suicide obviously couldn’t.

But there was a philosophical reason too, every bit as valid as the ecclesiastical one. A murderer takes one human life or several, but he doesn’t defy life as such. That’s exactly what a suicide does.

He doesn’t just take a human life, he destroys the very notion of human life. He also commits the worst cardinal sin of pride by claiming total sovereignty over his own life, denying God even minority co-ownership.

A suicide is different not only from a murderer, but also from a martyr. A martyr sacrifices his life for a cause he considers greater than himself. He thereby asserts the proper hierarchy by acknowledging that such causes exist. His is an act of love.

A suicide says by his very act that no cause is greater than himself. He hates all of them; he detests life. His is an act of hate. As the be all, he feels entitled to become the end all – Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden for a lesser display of hubris.

I’m not, God forbid, suggesting that my archaic view of the world should still hold sway over modern sensibilities. I’m just surprised that, so close to Christmas, no debater has made even a passing reference to the Christian implications of assisted suicide.

After all, just seven months ago our king was anointed in the name of Our Lord, promising to uphold his religion. I’d wonder how King Charles feels about assisted suicide, but I’d rather not commit an act of lèse-majesté. I’ll pray for Dame Esther Rantzen instead.

You far-Right extremist, you

The last time ‘Right’ and ‘Left’ meant anything much

The English lexicon of abuse isn’t a patch on its Russian equivalent, but it’s certainly fit for most purposes as it is, without crying out for expansion.

It also varies from country to country, although our globalised media are pushing English, including this aspect of it, towards uniformity. Still, an irate Briton is less likely than an American to imply an oedipal relationship between a man and his mother. Then an American typically invokes a certain part of the female anatomy only metonymically, to denigrate a woman; while a Briton is more likely to use it metaphorically, to denigrate a man.

Yet both nations have seen fit to augment their arsenal of swearing with the blunderbuss of perhaps the most stigmatising term of all: ‘far-Right extremist’. This is used indiscriminately to demonise anyone who deviates one iota from the ‘liberal’ agenda of today.

The agenda is set by the ‘liberal’ media, which misnomer describes most newspapers and almost all TV channels. The goalposts are moveable: for example, a generation ago a putative far-Right extremist denied that the world would freeze to death; today, he denies that the world will fry to death.

Now, we all of us abhor discrimination in the widespread, strictly pejorative, sense of the word. Yet the word has its inoffensive side: simply denoting recognition of the difference between one thing and another.

In that capacity, discrimination is an indispensable asset, enabling people to tell good from bad, beautiful from ugly, sinful from virtuous and – germane to my today’s subject – precise from imprecise. Such categories are vital to language because it thrives on precision and withers by vagueness.

Unless words are used in their strict meaning, the same for all, any communication between two speakers may turn into a game of Chinese whispers. This is especially true of the political vocabulary, where words don’t just denote things or concepts. They also communicate prejudices, emotions and ideologies.

Those foreign implants have proved so virile that political terms nowadays communicate only prejudices, emotions and ideologies. Since these differ from one man to another, most communication turns into miscommunication. ‘Far-Right’ is a case in point.

It can mean so much that it ends up meaning nothing. For example, I’ve seen this term used to describe both Adolph Hitler and Margaret Thatcher, which implies commonality where there was none. And I do mean none: there existed not a single policy advocated by both.

This is the lexical confusion that Stephen Glover commendably set out to put straight in today’s article. He rebuked, correctly and deservedly, irresponsible hacks who attach that stigmatising tag to anyone whose view of life or any of its aspects isn’t identical to that of the BBC and The Guardian.

However, sensing that his assault would be defanged in the absence of his own, correct, definition, Mr Glover dug a hole for himself. He tried to make the term more precise, only succeeding in making it less precise. This is what he wrote:

“Let’s define what the expression means. There’s a large overlap with fascism. Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were of the far-Right. They were undemocratic, totalitarian and oppressive. They outlawed free speech and a free Press. In almost all respects, their policies were identical to those of far-Left tyrants such as Stalin.”

If I understand Mr Glover correctly, the far-Right is, “in almost all respects”, the same as the far-Left. That invalidates both terms so much that they can be safely deleted from the dictionary. Rather than clarifying the issue, Mr Glover obscured it.

Also, he left the economic aspect out of it, an omission I usually welcome because I think the economy as the prime mover of society is these days overrated by the Right, Left and Centre alike. That’s what I call ‘totalitarian economism’, which intellectual trend is too simplistic to be valid.

However, recognition that the economy isn’t everything doesn’t mean it’s nothing. While economic freedom doesn’t always produce political liberty, political liberty always produces economic freedom. That alone should make the economy worth considering even before we look at the history of social discontent caused by economic ills.

Socialism in its different guises ultimately boils down to a triumph of centralism over localism, and of the state over the individual. In that sense, the economies of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy and the Soviet Union were similar, though not identical.

They were all socialist, which has to mean Left-wing. Yet I wouldn’t lump them together – it’s that discrimination business again, let’s not push it aside.

Of the three economies, Stalin’s was the most radical. Although some artisans and small cooperatives were allowed to operate, the Soviet economy conformed to Marx’s idea of the state owning “the means of production”.

Hitler’s economy, on the other hand, was corporatist, not unvarnished Marxist. There was no wholesale, Soviet-style nationalisation. Messrs Krupp, Thyssen and Porsche retained the ownership of their concerns, but de facto those owners were turned into managers.

The state told them what products to manufacture and in what quantities, how much to charge for them and how much to pay the workers. The state controlled, but it didn’t own, which was the corporatist version of socialism.

Mussolini practised yet another version. Unlike Hitler, he had been an ideological socialist before he became a fascist dictator. In both capacities, he advocated state control, which made him closer to Stalin and Hitler than, say, to Margaret Thatcher.

Yet Mussolini’s view of the economy was formed not only by the Marxist Georges Sorel, but also by the libertarian Alberto di Stefani. His attempt to split the difference is generally known as syndicalism, which was more Sorel than di Stefani, but not really like Stalin.

While the Bolsheviks talked about workers’ control without meaning it, Mussolini tried to practise the idea by transferring some real power to the labour unions. In that sense, he wasn’t a million miles away from our Labour politicians from the 1950s.

Yet Stalin’s radicalism, Hitler’s corporatism and Mussolini’s syndicalism were all aspects of socialism, which is many awful things, but being far-Right certainly isn’t one of them.

Franco, on the other hand, wasn’t a fascist at all, although he aligned himself with the fascist, Mussolini-like Falange to win the Civil War. Nor was Franco a totalitarian, although he was indeed oppressive and undemocratic. However, lumping him together with Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin betokens either lazy thinking or shabby education.

It took Franco some 10-20 years to heal the bleeding wounds of the internecine Civil War, during which period he did rule with a heavy hand. But his economics steadily moved from the macro to the micro end. That tendency culminated in the 1959 Stabilisation and Liberalisation Plan, ushering in free-market reforms.

In parallel, Spain moved closer to Western liberties, and towards the end of Franco’s rule she wasn’t substantially different from other European nations. He was never Left-wing in the sense in which the other three rulers were. At his most oppressive Franco most resembled the traditional Western autocratic ruler. One tell-tale sign of that affiliation is that Franco was a pious Catholic working hand in hand with the Church, not a militant atheist like the other three.

In short, Mr Glover failed to straighten out the taxonomic mess he so correctly identified. Yet the fault lies not with him but with the inadequacy of modern taxonomy, going back, like so many modern perversions, to France circa 1789.

The terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ first appeared when members of the country’s National Assembly divided into supporters of l’ancien régime to the president’s right and supporters of the revolution to his left. Since then, the two terms have been inflated like helium balloons to a point where they burst, leaving a terminological mess behind them.

In my book How the West Was Lost I proposed a different taxonomy, based on the subject’s relationship to Western civilisation, otherwise known as Christendom. The two broad categories I suggested were Westman and Modman, each with sub-categories.

Without going into lengthy detail, of the three rulers Mr Glover described as far-Right, Hitler and Mussolini (along with Stalin) would in my system be described as ‘nihilist Modmen’, whereas Messrs Sunak, Biden and Macron are ‘philistine Modmen’. Franco, on the other hand, would be ‘authoritarian Westman’.

This taxonomy is far from perfect, but then in this life we are seldom blessed with perfection. Yet I think it describes political realities more accurately than the current distinction between Right and Left.

It also knocks the verbal weapon of ‘far-Right extremist’ out of the hands of people who aren’t fit to bear lexical arms. That’s worth having.

Young Americans: kill all Israelis

A little reminder

No, young Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 didn’t put this sanguinary desideratum in quite so many words. Yet in a recent Harvard-Harris poll, 51 per cent of them said they believed the long-term answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was for “Israel to be ended and given to Hamas and the Palestinians.”

Even young (an adjective I use interchangeably with ‘silly’) people must realise what would happen to the Israeli Jews as a result. If they don’t, the events of 7 October should give them an accurate idea.

Currently, there are over seven million Jews in Israel. Assuming that a million or so would be able to get out in the nick of time, some six million would be slaughtered. Does the numeral sound familiar?

Actually, I shouldn’t accuse those youngsters of an inability to anticipate obvious consequences. Over 58 per cent of them agreed that “Hamas would like to commit genocide against the Jews in Israel.” That understanding, however, proved no hindrance to their response.

An additional 32 per cent believed in a two-state solution, which means arriving at the same outcome slightly more slowly. Or do they think that, if Hamas turned into, say, Hamasia or Hamastan, it would become better-disposed towards Jews?

Considering that only four per cent of Americans aged 65 and over felt Israel should be ended, my argument in favour of raising the voting age at least to 25, better still 30, got a tremendous boost. Anyone who casts a ballot assumes a political responsibility, and I’d think it axiomatic that responsibilities should only ever be given to responsible people. Yet all 2,034 respondents were registered voters.

Also, 60 per cent of the youngsters said Hamas’s terrorist raid was “justified by the grievance of Palestinians”, a view shared by 27 per cent of Americans overall. Quite. A craving for a two-state solution and a grievance against those who oppose it justify raping and murdering Israeli girls, not always in that order.

Commenting on the poll, Sen. Roger Marshall said: “Ideological rot among young Americans, driven by woke values and victim culture, has gotten so bad they’ve convinced themselves to sympathize with actual terrorists who hate America.”

Well, yes, sure, those terrorists hate America, but it’s a long-distance hatred, more or less abstract. The target of their concrete, immediate hatred is Israel in particular and Jews in general. I’m sure those young Americans didn’t ponder Hamas’s anti-Americanism too deeply. No, they cast their murderous vote because they too hate Israel and Jews.

Before I let older Americans off the hook, 37 per cent of them said it was Israel that was committing genocide, which means over a third of all Americans don’t even know what the word means. Sixty per cent of the youngsters agreed, and 53 per cent added that therefore no one should be punished for supporting the “genocide of Jews”.

This is what’s called ‘liberalism’ in America and elsewhere. A liberal is these days someone who thinks people should be punished for using a wrong personal pronoun but not for advocating the murder of millions of people, provided they are Jews.

I’ve never had any first-hand experience of the American educational system, and even my second-hand involvement with it is several decades out of date. Yet this poll is sufficient to suggest it’s failing. Oh, I’m sure enough young Americans emerge into the outside world armed to the teeth with an ability to programme a computer, calculate compounded interest, and manipulate share prices.

It’s in the area of the humanities that American education seems wanting. For it’s the humanities that should inculcate into youngsters the moral and philosophical fundamentals of our civilisation. As a minimum, they ought to learn – with apologies to Kipling – that liberalism is liberalism, fascism is fascism, and never the twain should meet.

In fact, while today’s fascism isn’t becoming any more liberal, today’s liberalism is becoming more and more fascistic. This isn’t a case of the opposites attracting, which cliché defies both common sense and empirical observation.

If the opposites attract, they aren’t really opposites. However dissimilar they may be on the outside, their cores overlap on some fundamental premises or – in the case of today’s liberalism and fascism – common genealogy.

What we are observing is Enlightenment chickens coming home to roost, except that on closer examination those fluffy creatures turn out to be birds of prey tearing to shreds the spiritual flesh of the West. This season is a good time to remind ourselves of some home truths, one of which is that, without Christianity, the West is a rudderless ship cast adrift. Sooner or later it’ll crash against the rocks, and there will be no survivors.

If you don’t believe any of these melancholy musings, take another look at the poll under examination. Over half of all young voters in the leading nation of the West see nothing wrong with a Holocaust Mark II. Moreover, they don’t think that agitating for it should in any way be curtailed.

Not that I suggest for one second that a similar poll would yield different results in Britain, France or Holland. The problem isn’t national but civilisational – and also, I believe, physiological.

It’s not for nothing that throughout recorded history, societies have had councils of elders, but not councils of youngsters. It’s only various hues of fascism, red, brown or these days ‘liberal’, that take their lead from barely post-pubescent boys and girls. (Have you listened to Greta Thunberg lately?)

Trotsky, the guru of the European Left, knew where the constituency for his brand of fascism could be found. “The youth,” he said, “is the barometer of a nation”. Nowadays, it’s not only the barometer but also the navigator, unerringly charting a route to perdition.

Paedocracy, I often repeat, is much more damaging than its more popular cognate. This poll shows just how damaging it can be. It also shows other things, wider, deeper and scarier. But with carols playing and Christmas trees lit-up, now isn’t the right time to think of them.