Thou shalt not take race in vain

If you take issue with our diversity run riot, you are a [choose your own epithet: bigot, racist, troglodyte, fascist, champion of segregation or perhaps even genocide].

That’s par for the course, and one of those tags will be slapped onto your forehead regardless of the nature of your objections or the rationale behind them. But what if you welcome diversity on any scale and announce that in public?

Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? You are the opposite of all those awful things. [Choose your own modifier: open-minded, liberal, empathetic, sympathetic, colour-blind, anti-racist, anti-fascist, humane]. Or so you’d think.

Well, you’d think wrong. Because openly stating your commitment to racial diversity is just as bad as doing the opposite. According to the most up-to-date trend, skin colour is like God in the Biblical commandment. You can’t mention it by name at all, positively or negatively.

Thus, when we have a black person of any sex play Hamlet or, say, Agrippa (not a hypothetical example) in a West End production, we are supposed both to notice the incongruity and not to notice it. That is, we should mentally give the director the highest marks for his colour-blind daring, while at the same time pretending we see nothing unusual in Hamlet as the black Princess of Denmark.

If, on the other hand, we voice approval of such casting (voicing disapproval isn’t an available option), we break the terms of an unspoken but binding contract. WE HAVE NOTICED, meaning we are unconscious racists programmed to spot chromatic differences.

I hope I’ve explained what’s what to your satisfaction. However, if such subtleties still escape you, consider the case of Katrin Göring-Eckardt, Green MP in Germany and Vice President of the Bundestag.

Frau Göring felt duty-bound to comment on a recent survey that showed that 21 per cent of respondents would rather see more white players in Germany’s squad at Euro 2024. That was appalling, as far as the parliamentarian was concerned.

“This team is truly exceptional,” she wrote. “Just imagine if there were only white German players.” The statement was unintentionally ambiguous, or rather could be perceived as such, given the will.

One could imagine that such a monochrome team could be either better or worse than the present one, but that’s beside the point. Even mooting the theoretical possibility of an all-white team could be interpreted as nostalgia for the Third Reich. Aware of that possibility, Frau Göring tried to preclude ambiguity by ending her message with three rainbow emojis.

I’m not quite up on modern symbolism, but I thought the rainbow was a statement of sexual rather than racial diversity. Then again, the two are so securely fused as to be inseparable. Hence that semiotic finale should have absolved Frau Göring of any crime against modernity.

But it didn’t. All hell broke loose, and that impeccably woke woman was treated as Alfred Rosenberg incarnate.

Her crime was even having noticed that some Germany players were off-white. Whether she thought that was good or bad didn’t matter one jot. She took race in vain, meaning she is a racist. That’s all there is to it.

“I find it really worrying when people in Germany are judged by the colour of their skin,” also sprach Wolfgang Kubicki, the deputy leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP). Christian Democrat Manuel Ostermann wouldn’t be outdone: “Are you judging people based on their appearance? According to your own definition, that would be racist.”

In today’s Germany (or anywhere else in the West) an accusation of racism is tantamount to a capital charge. Such a stigma is like the yellow star Jews had to wear in the Third Reich, although the punishment is these days less severe, for the time being.

Frau Göring’s life wasn’t in danger, but her career was, and she knew it. Thus she deleted her objectionable post and offered profuse apologies.

“It upset me that 21 per cent of Germans would prefer it if there were more ‘whites’ in the national team,” she wrote. “I’m proud of this team and hope that we can convince the 21 per cent too.”

The politician seems unaware that, regardless of her protestations of woke probity, she broke one of the commandments of modernity. Perhaps it’s not really her fault – after all, no one has so far bothered to go up that mountain and receive those stone tablets, new edition.

Yet again it has fallen upon me to fill that gap, albeit using a more modern medium. So here it is, Decalogue, Mark II.

And God spake all these words, saying:

I am Modernity thy Lord. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Thou shalt make unto thee any graven image thou wilt like, such as posting images of thy genitals on the Internet.

Thou shalt not take the name of any race in vain.

Remember Martin Luther King Day, to keep it holy.

Honour thy father and thy mother, or thy fathers and thy mothers of any sex.

Thou shalt not kill any person other than a racist, transphobe or climate denier.

Thou shalt not commit adultery for verily I say unto you: no such thing exists and sex with anyone is holy any wise.

Thou shalt not steal unless thou art in need of funds for a political cause.

Thou shalt bear false witness that not just male and female Darwin made them.

Thou shalt covet rich man’s wealth and raiment off his back.

Blessed Modernity, who hast cast all holy Scriptures aside to give us thy real commandments: Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest.

Amen.

“What’s wrong with nationalism?”

This question was once put to me by an American interviewer of the MAGA persuasion, whose innermost belief was that nationalism was invariably commendable.

I gave him a longish answer centred around the fundamental difference between patriotism (good) and nationalism (bad). The second, I said, is the extreme form of the first.

And extremism – contrary to what Barry Goldwater once said – is always wrong because it tends to narrow one’s field of vision, causing intellectual and moral glaucoma. That renders a nationalist blind to the nuances and complexities of life, making him as primitive of thought as he is febrile of emotion.

The question was general, and so was my reply. But if we keep things concrete and ask what’s wrong with the nationalist populist parties making headway all over Europe, my answer can be short if not necessarily sweet. They are all pro-Putin.

Some leaders and members of such parties spread Kremlin propaganda because they are paid agents of Russian security services. Others do so because they are unpaid agents, shilling for Putin out of the disinterested badness of their hearts. Still others are simply useful idiots.

Not all such parties are identical in every respect. Some of them, such as Germany’s AfD, are full of neo-Nazis; others, such as our Reform Party, aren’t. Some, such as Le Pen’s National Rally, are known to have taken Putin’s rouble; others, such as Meloni’s Brothers of Italy, aren’t (that doesn’t necessarily mean they haven’t, only that we don’t know they have).

But there exists a common thread running through all of them. They all sacralise their nations, which is half a step removed from sacralising power – and strong leaders who wield it with no-holds-barred conviction. The weaker the actual leaders of their own nations, and today most of them are vacillating, self-serving wimps, the more likely our nationalists are to look outwards in search of an ideal model.

That makes them intuitively attracted to Putin, even though he no longer flashes his naked torso. A little pecuniary or other incentive from the Kremlin may intensify such affection, but in many cases it’s not even necessary. A Putinista’s heart can do the job on its own, and that organ, as Pascal explained, has its reasons that reason knows not of (Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point).

This brings us to Nigel Farage, a Putinista of long standing, which he kindly reminded us of in a BBC interview yesterday. Not that I for one have ever forgotten this little failing on his part.

“We provoked this war,” said Mr Farage, as he already knew we would back in 2014. “My judgement,” he added with characteristic self-effacing modesty, “has been way ahead of everybody else’s in understanding this.”

Now, to draw an obvious and close parallel, predicting a world war in 1934 would have been prophetic. Doing so after 1939 would have been idiotic because the war was already in full swing. By the same token, in 2014 Putin’s stormtroopers annexed the Crimea and established puppet ‘republics’ in the Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk provinces.

The Ukrainian side responded with limited military action, and the war has been raging ever since. What happened in 2022 wasn’t the beginning of the war but its proliferation to a full-scale engagement. Hence Mr Farage’s contortionist slap on his own back is only testimony to his bad taste, not proof of his status as a present-day Cassandra.

He then reiterated his remark first made in 2014 that he admires Putin, albeit only as “a political operator”, not as a person. Let’s not be coy about this, Mr Farage. Aforementioned admiration is really unqualified, isn’t it?

So well, all right, we provoked this war. But how?

Mr Farage’s reply came right out of the PR briefings at the FSB, formerly KGB: “It was obvious to me that the ever-eastward expansion of NATO and the European Union was giving this man a reason to say to his Russian people, ‘They’re coming for us again’, and to go to war.”

Now, Mr Farage tends to use English with precision if, to my taste, a slightly strained demotic colouring. Hence I’m sure he must know the difference between ‘reason’ and ‘pretext’. The former means the real cause of an action, whereas the latter is a false reason given in justification.

Had Mr Farage said ‘pretext’, there would be no argument in these quarters. But do let’s give him credit for lexical accuracy and accept that NATO’s “ever-eastward expansion” was in his view Putin’s real reason for embarking on the mass murder of Ukrainians.

In that case, Putin had to believe (not just claim) that, say, Estonia’s membership in NATO and the EU presented a real danger to Russia. Granted, a country with a population of 1.3 million couldn’t possibly be seen as a formidable adversary. But her territory could be used by NATO as a beachhead from which to invade Russia, putting paid to her “1,000-year-old state”.

One can see a boozy Russian mechanic somewhere like Vologda sharing that view with his mates over a bottle of the national drink. But Putin has one definite advantage over this hypothetical individual: he has instant access to a vast corpus of intelligence data.

Therefore NATO’s eastward expansion could only have been the reason for the war if the GRU and SVR had produced evidence of NATO preparing or at least contemplating such an aggression.

Since no such data exist, nor can possibly ever exist, said expansion wasn’t the reason for the war. It was merely the pretext Putin and his Goebbelses used to justify their attempt to spread Russian fascism over all of Europe, starting with its eastern part.

Again, Mr Farage clearly has a warm spot in his heart for Putin’s fascism or at least its propaganda. Spreading it without even bothering to change a single word may be seen as treasonous by some, since the Ukraine is our ally and Russia our self-proclaimed enemy.

For me, ‘Farage’ is yet another concise answer to the question in the title – and yet another reason (not pretext) why I’ll never vote for Reform or any other party he heads.

East is East and West is enemy

By entering into a comprehensive strategic partnership with North Korea, Putin has confirmed both Russia’s growing eastward slant and her perennial enmity to the West.

North Korea has been supplying arms and ordnance to Russia, and the new partnership allegedly includes provisions for Kim sending his troops over as well. But it’s Russia’s growing intimacy with China that’s particularly enticing, with the latter clearly cast in the male role.

In fact, Russia’s slant in the direction of China has been so steep that the country has tumbled into China’s embrace. About 60 per cent of all currency trading at the Moscow Exchange is in yuans, with that proportion steadily growing.

China accounts for about 40 per cent of Russia’s foreign trade, but this figure is misleading. For China dominates foreign trade in Asian Russia, especially the Far East. There China’s part in the region’s foreign trade approaches 90 per cent.

At the same time China has secured long-term leases (in effect, ownership) on some 37 million acres of Siberian territory, with the area size mushrooming year on year. All of this bears an eerie resemblance to the medieval relationship between the Mongols and the Russian princes who each had to travel to the Horde to obtain his licence to rule.

“Nothing is new under the sun,” goes the proverb, and my previous sentence set the stage for some historical explanation of the title above. The sentiment it expresses is a constant of Russian history – and has been since long before Russia became a unified country, rather than an aggregate of separate and typically hostile principalities.

I am talking about real history, not the figment of Putin’s imagination, a faculty he puts in high gear every time he tries to legitimise himself within the historical continuum. Thus he explained yesterday that Russia wouldn’t survive defeat in the on-going war.   

“It means the end of the 1,000-year history of the Russian state,” said Vlad. “I think this is clear to everyone…” I don’t know about that, but what should definitely be clear to everyone is that nothing that even remotely can be described as the Russian state existed 1,000 years ago.

What existed then was Kievan Rus’ founded by Viking marauders in the 9th century and already falling apart in the 11th. Until then it had been held together by the iron hand of Prince Vladimir who had baptised Rus’ in 988.

When Vladimir died in 1015, his sons kicked off an internecine carnage. Kievan Rus’ was rent apart, and her religion along with it. Towards the end of the 11th century, a great part of the country reverted to paganism, which was mentioned in a chronicle of 1071.

The conflict between eastern and western principalities was particularly ferocious: eastern princes must have felt that contaminating proximity to the West made western principalities less than Russian. When Andrey Bogolyubsky, Prince of Vladimir-Suzdal, captured Kiev in 1169, he gave the city to his host for a three-day rape and pillage – a treatment that in Rus’ was reserved for foreign cities. In other words, for Andrey and his troops Kiev was as foreign as any Polish or German city.

Most historians ascribe medieval Russian hatred of the West to religious strife, but they have causality the wrong way around. In fact, Vladimir chose the Eastern Rite specifically because he rejected not so much Western Christianity as the civilisation it was spinning off.

At that time Western Christianity was already producing the kind of statehood in which the relationship between the sovereign and the people was based on inchoate liberties. That was something princes from farther east were finding hard to accept, and Vladimir was no different.

The prince knew that, given some breathing space, the people under his sway could well begin to get ideas above their station. And, sensing unerringly that a civil war was already under way, he wanted them to remain abject slaves, not to become mere subjects.

That was the nature of the fundamental problems he had with Western Christianity and, by extension, with the West at large. In time those problems became an essential fibre of the Russian psyche, although not always in any straightforward way.

As if to prove their eastward slant, Russian princes were more than willing to enter into coalitions with eastern foreigners against the more western principalities.

Thus the Chernigov Prince Igor (hero of The Lay of the Igor Host and Borodin’s subsequent opera) formed an anti-Kiev alliance not only with the Smolensk Prince Rurik (a descendant of the founder of Kievan Rus’) but also with the Polovets chieftains. When, after Igor’s death in 1202, Rurik captured Kiev, most of the city was again razed and burnt. According to a chronicle, this “great evil was like no other since Russia had been baptised”.

In 1237-1240 the Mongols occupied most Russian principalities, starting centuries of what Russian historians call the Yoke. In fact, most of the Russian princes happily collaborated with the Mongols, using them to settle accounts with their neighbours. Russia’s favourite saint, Alexander Nevsky, is especially remarkable in that respect.

Although Alexander wouldn’t accept even a mild compromise with Catholicism spearheaded by the militant monastic orders, he was more than willing to accept any far-reaching compromise with the Mongol invaders. In fact, rather than fighting them, he fraternised with Khan Batu’s son Sartaq, an Arian Christian, thus becoming the Khan’s foster son (Batu, incidentally, was Genghis’s grandson).

Though he had never heard of Quisling, Alexander acted in a similar capacity by busily collecting tribute for the Mongols from his fellow Russians and ruthlessly punishing those who wouldn’t pay. Having their eyes poked out and their tongues cut off were the mildest of the punitive techniques favoured by the great hero, and his Mongol masters approved.

In 1547 Alexander was canonised in the Russian Orthodox Church. Clearly, the Russians have their own standards of saintliness.

Moving rapidly through the centuries, we’ll see that most foreign observers, from Ibn Fadlan in the 10th century to Giles Fletcher in the 16th to Maistre and Custine in the 19th, single out xenophobia as a salient Russian trait. However, that xenophobia was selective, being more acute when directed at the West.

If you read the works of the Russian writers and philosophers of the 19th century ‘Golden Age’, you’ll find various manifestations of this tendency in all of them, from Tolstoy to Dostoyevsky, from Pushkin to Soloviov (Chekhov being a notable exception).

Sometimes this attitude is masked by fulsome protestations of affection, such as Dostoyevsky famously writing in his Karamazovs about going down on hands and knees to kiss “the sacred stones of Europe”, or Soloviov dreaming of fraternal reunification of Western and Eastern churches.

In the former case, Dostoyevsky’s affection for the inanimate objects in the West was matched by his virulent hatred of anything Western that moved. In the latter case, Soloviov’s version of ecumenism left one in no doubt as to which church should absorb which. And though Tolstoy professed to loathe the state as such, when he got down to specifics one realised that it was the Western state – and its elements in Russia – that he mostly abhorred.

Putin’s frequent forays into history betray both his own ignorance and a tendency he shares with many other tyrants: falsifying history for his nefarious ends. But true enough: he is indeed part of an historical continuum, that of Russia’s irreconcilable animosity towards the West.

From its very beginning (in the 16th century, not 1,000 years ago), the Russian state has combined the features of Byzantine Caesarism with Mongol tyrannical centralism, both Eastern. Hostile standoff with the West, punctuated with occasional blood-letting, didn’t start with Putin – and neither will it end with him.

Though Kipling had a different East in mind, he was right in his prophecy that “never the twain shall meet”. They shan’t – although one does hope that Russia’s hatred of the West won’t blow up the world.

Whoever wins, Tories lose

Replace Tories with conservatism, and the same observation will hold true for any Western European country. I’m just using Britain as my test case for simplicity’s sake.

Socialists have won the hearts of Britons, and it takes something extraordinary for the mind to step in and override the deep-seated intuitive bias.

That’s how Margaret Thatcher, the last conservative PM (and I do mean the last, not the latest) won her election at the end of the 1970s. That was the decade during which Britain had recklessly set out to prove it wasn’t so much the sick man of Europe as its basket case.

The social and economic conditions were nothing short of catastrophic, the unions were running riot, the country was grinding to a screeching stop, and the people were getting desperate. In came Maggie, preaching a philosophy more libertarian than conservative, but definitely anti-socialist. Drowning people clutched the straw and voted for her.  

She then delivered an economic turnaround, an act of political heroism for which I struggle to find any analogues during my lifetime, and it’s a rather long lifetime. Previously on the way to becoming a slightly richer version of the Soviet Union, the country began to resemble a slightly poorer version of the United States. That gave Britons a chance to heave a sigh of relief – and then revert to their innermost feelings and leanings.

That proved yet again that, though the Tories may at times win elections, they’ll never win the argument, not as Tories at any rate. They can achieve electoral victories only on the crest of an utter mayhem perpetrated by a Labour government or else by a successful attempt to hijack Labour policies and – above all – philosophies. They must out-Labour Labour to govern in the name of conservatism.

As to winning the argument, any seasoned debater will tell you it’s impossible to do so if the other side sets the terms. And the terms of political discourse have been not just set by socialism but chiselled in stone by it.

The NHS is a case in point. This is a massive socialist project that has been elevated to a moral high ground previously occupied by God. Anyone with a modicum of analytical ability will know that the problems of that socialist Leviathan are systemic, not symptomatic.

It doesn’t work as a civilised health system not because of mismanagement and corruption – although these are in ample supply – but because it’s based on a wrong premise. Like all ossified socialist structures, it can be neither reformed nor improved. It can only be replaced.

I’m certain that any Tory politician with an IQ creeping into triple digits knows this as well as I do. Yet he also knows that saying something along those lines publicly is impossible – not just politically but, if you will, ontologically.

The socialist notion that equally bad is morally superior to unequally good has been hammered so deeply into people’s minds that it has penetrated their DNA. The same goes for education.

Many parents deny themselves not only luxuries but also many necessities to spare their children the horrors of mind-numbing state education. Yet they’ll be aghast if a Tory MP suggested scrapping comprehensive schools altogether. Their own children’s education is actual reality, whereas politics is the more compelling virtual kind.

As private individuals, they’ll send their progeny to a private school. As people concerned for the greater good, they’ll vote for a politician who puts socialist education on a moral pedestal.

By the same token, as private individuals they resent having to have almost half their income extorted by the government, and they may even think that perhaps our social expenditure is too high. But they’ll flee like demons from the cross if a Tory leader were to explain rationally that the welfare state isn’t just ruinous economically but also defunct morally.

“We must all pledge our allegiance to the welfare state,” wrote the arch-Tory Peregrine Worsthorne back in the early 1950s. That was tantamount to worshipping socialism and all its dud products, but the future editor of The Sunday Telegraph knew what he was talking about. There it was, another socialist idea raised to a plateau occupied by cast-iron orthodoxies.   

Any vociferous dissenter would be using cold reason to argue against febrile emotions, which is invariably a losing proposition. Such an intrepid individual would be accused of getting sadistic pleasure out of the sight of poor people dying without food, shelter and medical care.

His attempts to justify his position by proposing a more effective system based, say, on private charities, would fall on deaf ears. By trying to change the terms of debate to which the people have given their unqualified agreement, he has branded himself a callous monster, an inveterate misanthrope.

The same applies to the belief that everyone with a pulse should play an active role in politics by voting governments in or out. Socialists know that the broader the franchise, the better their electoral chances, and any political party has to try to win power. Yet the idea that even adolescents should decide how their country is governed is manifestly insane.

That’s why it had to be put onto the terrain of socialist egalitarianism, where it became hard to argue against. The underlying principle has entered the people’s hearts, making all its offshoots well-nigh irrefutable. The collective heart is mightier than the collective mind.

The question of how the Left has won the power to set the terms of debate can’t be answered in a few words. I tried to answer it in a few books but, regardless of whether or not I succeeded, the process was gradual and it took not years but centuries to come to fruition.

My overarching argument has an element of determinism to it, not my favourite element in the periodic system of political philosophy. But denying determinism shouldn’t mean denying continuity and causality.

Hence it stands to reason that the Enlightenment, with its destructive animus against all traditional beliefs and hierarchies – religious, political, social and cultural – was bound to initiate a chain of begets. All those hierarchies had to be put six feet under for the common man to soar miles high.

That had to beget a boundless political democracy, which in turn extended the same principle to every walk of life. Equality of wealth, status and even taste got to be universally accepted as a desideratum not only ideal but also achievable.

By a series of incremental steps over a couple of centuries, democracy of everything turned into socialism everywhere, as it was bound to do. People got to believe that they could only be saved collectively, not individually – and that such collective salvation was their birthright.

All this adds up to the secular religion of modernity, and secular religions preclude fundamental debates. People may question their particulars, but not their essence, and all political parties with any chance of ever forming the government in Britain tacitly subscribe to this injunction.

The dominant secular religion punishes heretics and apostates with political impotence and oblivion. The socialist terms of debate are the rules by which the game must be played, and the only option is not to play the game at all.

This option is available, with a long list of qualifications, to thinkers. But it’s off-limits for doers, men of action, which all politicians must be by definition. That’s why the perennial choice in British politics is between Labour Lite, aka the Tories, and Labour Full Strength.

The latter looks set for a triumphant landslide this time around. However, even when socialist candidates lose, their principles win. Such is the ineluctable logic of modernity, and it won’t be bucked.

Socialist lexi-con trick

He isn’t working

All politicians are good at verbal legerdemain – if they weren’t, they wouldn’t be politicians.

But socialists are infinitely better at it because they have no scruples about combining the gift of the gab with brazen mendacity. They not only come up with slogans but are capable of turning even a single word into one.

Having taken ownership of spurious neologisms, they then turn them into weapons in their quest for power. In my book How the West Was Lost, I referred to this stratagem as ‘glossocracy’.

One such word is ‘equality’, which, after a series of intermediate steps, in reality gets to mean ‘bigger and more powerful government lording it over a smaller and less powerful individual’. After all, people aren’t really created equal in any other than the theological sense.

In the material world, inequalities of personal traits and qualities are bound to produce inequalities of wealth and status. These can only ever be negated by coercion, of the kind that only the central state is strong enough to apply. The closer we wish to get to the egalitarian ideal, the bigger and stronger therefore the state has to be.

Since the word ‘equality’ seems to imply something else entirely, it’s nothing but a glossocratic tool, wielded by all British parties, including the Tories. Thus we have a Levelling Up Department, which, though founded in 2006 by Blair, has survived under all the subsequent Tory administrations.

Another glossocratic misnomer beloved of socialists is the word ‘work’ and all its derivatives. “Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains,” was how Marx and Engels put it to criminal use in their Communist Manifesto.

To them and their gang the word ‘worker’ thus meant strictly a manual labourer in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. The poor chap was oppressed, not to say enslaved, by ‘capitalists’ (another glossocratic term, by the way) and toiled round the clock for miserly pay.

You might object that a worker is anyone who exchanges his labour for a living, regardless of what kind of labour he does. It may indeed be manual, but it just as well may be mental or even, God forbid, creative. A scientist who never leaves his lab even on weekends works hard for his crust, as does a clichéd poet scribbling his verses throughout the night in his garret.

If you do proffer this objection, you miss the point. You are trying to use English, not glossocratic. True, your definition of a worker is correct as far as the English language is concerned. But we’re talking about the glossocratic language here, and there this word can’t deviate too far from Marx’s definition.

This little preamble explains the confusion Sir Keir Starmer caused by using the related term ‘working people’. Once his Labour Party is ensconced in power, it’ll never raise taxes on ‘working people’ – such is Starmer’s mantra, and it’s echoed in every pronouncement by his socialist colleagues and even his party’s manifesto.

Since anyone capable of doing elementary sums knows that Labour’s commitment to higher spending is impossible even to approach without tax rises, Sir Keir was taken to task by his normally sympathetic interviewers at LBC.

“What, or rather, whom do you mean by ‘working people’, Sir Keir?” they asked, or words to that effect. That was a signal that the marks were ready to fall for the lexi-con.

“When I say working people,” explained our future PM, “it is people who earn their living, rely on our services and don’t really have the ability to write a cheque when they get into trouble.”

In other words, he means people in employment who have less than £1,000 in savings, which is considered the minimum nest egg to handle contingencies. Such people add up to about a third of the working population. This means that at least two-thirds of Britain’s working households don’t qualify as ‘working people’, as far as socialist lexi-con artists are concerned.

The remaining third are people who have no savings, that goes without saying. But neither do they have overdrafts and credit cards to be used as umbrellas on a rainy day. That number, I’d suggest, has to be much smaller than even a third of the population.

(I go by the crowds of people who max out their overdrafts and credit cards for frivolous reasons, such as going on an expensive holiday. Surely they could do the same to save Grandma’s life or pay for Grandpa’s operation? Provided, of course, that the horrendous NHS waiting lists preclude a ‘free’ option.)

That means that at least two-thirds, and in reality probably more, of the working people should brace themselves for vast tax increases.

These can come in the shape of higher council taxes, levies on homeowners and motorists, lower thresholds and higher rates of inheritance tax, taxes on parents who scrape pennies together to give their children a half-decent education, definitely wealth taxes and much higher corporate taxes.

Jeremy Corbyn, whose leadership of the Labour party was passionately supported by Sir Keir, once promised to “squeeze the rich until the pips squeak”. This is exactly what his disloyal friend and disciple is planning to do – and ‘the rich’ is of course another glossocratic con.

Socialists define ‘the rich’ as loosely and self-servingly as they define ‘workers’. Anyone is rich to them who works hard to salt away a few pennies, to own his house (however modest), to send his children to a school that doesn’t confuse education with brainwashing, perhaps even to bequeath an estate to the next generation to give it a better start in life.

Such people keep the economy ticking over, and they are to be clobbered for that. And, if the current polls are any indication, they have only themselves to blame. They should see through the socialist lexi-con and refuse to fall for it at the ballot box.

“The Tory Party is a party of high tax,” sneer Labour spokesmen, and unfortunately they are right. However, the implication is that the incoming socialist government will lower the tax burden, which is a cynical lie. Or a lexi-con, if you’d rather.      

Ever wonder why we have so much crime?

West Ken, this morning

As I write, a key railway line in London has been out of service for almost two days, with trains between Shepherd’s Bush and Clapham Junction suspended and many other trains diverted.

This is a major inconvenience that I’m sure can be expressed in a monetary equivalent, and not a small one. At the same time, a street in West Kensington, an upmarket area between those two terminals, has been blocked off by police.

All this mayhem has been caused by one young man who at 4.20am yesterday climbed on the roof of a residential building, displaying nothing short of acrobatic agility. He then started breaking off TV aerials and masonry, such as chimney pots, and hurling them into the street and on the railway tracks.

Police negotiators and other officers immediately arrived at the scene and tried to talk the man down. They are still there, and he is still on that roof, one hopes running out of chimney pots.

A Met Police spokesman said that the “incident remains ongoing” and – pay attention for here’s the crux of the matter – “Officers are trying to speak to him following concerns for his welfare”. 

Since the intrepid pot-thrower himself doesn’t seem to share such concerns, the situation is at an impasse. The perp refuses to listen to reason, and he has no concern for his safety or for rail traffic in West London that he is holding hostage.

This, though I’m certain that Met negotiators are well-trained in appealing to the better parts of criminals’ nature. If the wrongdoer happens to belong to a socioeconomically disadvantaged and historically oppressed minority, as this one does, Met officers doubtless feel his pain. They know that such standoffs call for extra sensitivity on their part, with their milk of human kindness never going sour.

So how can they get that criminal – sorry, that victim of racial, economic and social inequality – down from that roof if he wishes to stay where he is? There seems to be no solution to the conundrum, at least none that the Met can think of.

This is where I come in, ready to offer my services to the cause of public safety. My solution is guaranteed to be effective, and it’s so simple that it can be explained in three letters: SAS.

That unit is trained in handling situations involving criminals and tall buildings. This they proved in 1980, when they stormed the Iranian Embassy taken over by six terrorists (also victims of colonialism and institutional racism). SAS got 25 out of 26 hostages out alive and killed all the bandits. Job done.

If they could do that half a century ago, surely they’d know exactly how to handle a single pot-thrower who has no weapons other than whatever he can break off from the roof. Their commander would explain that no “concerns for his welfare” applied any longer, and they certainly didn’t take priority over concerns for the wellbeing of local residents and train passengers.

After that, the SAS soldiers would get the chap in their crosshairs and, speaking in simple words even he could understand, tell him he has one second to stop his barrage and 10 to descend. If he failed to do that, he’d be shot.

Too radical? Well, my second option would be for the officers to climb onto the same roof and Taser the criminal, or subdue him using another one of the dozens of techniques they know how to use effectively and quickly.

That nothing like this has been done for two days should answer any questions you might have about the reasons for our steeply climbing crime curve. Our police aren’t allowed to do policing any longer – just as our teachers aren’t allowed to teach.

They, both policemen and teachers, may get their pay from their immediate employers, but in their hearts they are supposed to see themselves first and foremost as social workers cum therapists.

Cops are expected to mollycoddle even murderers, never mind a chap who merely causes thousands in damages by paralysing a railway line. I wonder what they’d be instructed to do if the same man were raining bullets rather than chimney pots on the street. Would they then be allowed to summon a weapons unit or the SAS? Or would they first ring the psychologist and social worker on their speed dial?

Tocqueville wrote that in America all political problems became legal sooner or later. With us, it’s the other way around: all our legal (and crime) problems sooner or later become political. And the politics of the land are solidly woke, with both major parties insisting that a criminal’s rights supersede those of his victim’s.

It’s a good time to embark on a criminal career in Britain. Chances are such a novice wouldn’t be caught. Or if caught, he wouldn’t be prosecuted; if prosecuted, he wouldn’t be tried; if tried, he wouldn’t be convicted.

If you contemplate retraining as a felon, I recommend burglary. In most cases, cops even refuse to investigate such crimes, correctly realising that a burglar does the same thing as our government: redistributing wealth. Burglary is still rather lucrative, and the risk is close to zero. Best of luck!

Ice Age is upon us

June has been unseasonably cold, making the conclusion in the title irrefutable. True?

Not quite. You’ll object that we shouldn’t jump to far-reaching conclusions on the basis of such a small sample, and you’ll be right. That’s the difference between weather and climate: the first is short-term, the second can only be judged properly over a long time.

Events in any country, and certainly one as hard for Westerners to understand as Russia, is the same way. Only a panoramic historical look can enable one to see clearly what’s really happening there and why.

That’s the look that precious few Western commentators can cast. Hence Western politicians are so often caught off-guard, eyeing yet another twist in Russian politics with genuine bemusement on their faces.

They can barely understand what’s happening in Russia at any historical moment, and they certainly have no clue about why it’s happening. That means our governments can only respond to each Russian threat with a spasmodic kneejerk, which tends to be too little too late.

If they were capable of detecting an historical continuum between, say, Lenin and Putin and everything in between, they’d be forewarned and forearmed. As it is, our governments have to play catch-up, with Russia always acting and the West reacting.

This is, briefly, what we should know and appreciate.

Once the Bolsheviks took over Russia and won their Civil War, they decided to act on their global doctrine and conquer the West in one fell swoop. In 1920, shouting “Onwards to Paris and Berlin!”, the Red Cavalry rode in the general direction of the Channel, but got only as far as Warsaw where Marshal Pilsudski’s horsemen chopped their historical enemies into mincemeat.

Clearly, the Red Army, useful as it eventually proved to be, was too blunt a weapon for what was developing into a delicate task. More perfidious subtlety was required, and perfidious subtlety was something only the Cheka (currently FSB) had.

Thus the first few years of Bolshevik rule saw the formulation of two Cheka policies which, mutatis mutandis, Russia has been alternating ever since: Military Communism and New Economic Policy (NEP).

The purpose of the former was to rape first the country and then the world into submission; the chief objectives of the latter were to mitigate the effects of the former, back-pedal a bit, let some steam off, put the West’s fears at rest and set up the next round by attempting to present to the world a picture of ‘change’, ‘liberalisation’, Khrushchev’s ‘thaw’, Stalin’s ‘perestroika’, Gorbachev’s ‘glasnost’, Yeltsyn’s ‘democracy’ and so forth.

Sudden shifts in Russian policy can never surprise anyone who is familiar with this alternating pattern: the bloodthirsty collectivisation followed by Stalin’s caution against ‘vertigo from success’; post-war Walpurgisnacht followed by ‘the thaw’, which was bound to adumbrate Brezhnev’s reaction, which in turn set the stage for another NEP binge. 

But it’s not enough to execute this policy of two steps forward, one step backwards domestically. The West’s support, or at least acquiescence, is a sine qua non. That means disinformation and strategic deception don’t just lie at the heart of Russia’s policy. They are Russia’s policy – and that’s really why Lenin called the Cheka “the essence of bolshevism”.

That organisation has shown it’s not only willing but also eminently able to string the West along. Its strategic debut in the early 20s was an auspicious event: Operation Trust. The OGPU, as it then was, created a bogus anti-Bolshevik network inside Russia and dropped a few telling hints in the West that the regime was about to collapse – given inactivity on the West’s part and a little financing.

The West swallowed the bait and was immobilised at a time when the demons were at their most vulnerable. Cheka ‘ops’ were being financed by their targets, and, as an additional benefit, the Trust lured some prominent émigré leaders into Russia, where they were murdered.

The history of the Cheka/KGB/FSB (I’m leaving out a few of its monikers) is one continuous string of such successes.

An extremely abbreviated list would include the post-war peace movement, as a result of which Western atomic scientists felt called upon to share their secrets with the Russians; the bogus anti-communist guerrilla movements in the forests of Lithuania and Latvia in the late 40s-early 50s, which pre-empted any real resistance; the detente and ‘SALT process’ of the 70s, enabling the Russians to embark on an unprecedented military build-up that put them in a position of strength vis-a-vis NATO; the ‘Prague Spring’, a perestroika rehearsal possibly designed to test the West’s reaction; the Solidarity movement, probably run by the KGB from the very start; and – at the risk of angering some of my Russian friends – even to a large extent the dissident movement of the 60s and 70s which was infiltrated by the KGB, and many of whose leaders are now known to have been KGB informers. 

That all those operations duped not only their ultimate targets but also many of their rank-and-file participants is neither here nor there. Let’s doff our hats to the memory of the self-immolating Czech students, Lithuanian peasants riddled with Cheka bullets and Russian youths dying in Kolyma – but let’s not allow tears to impair our vision or sorrow to cloud our judgement.

The KGB’s most outstanding figure was Andropov’s mentor Lavrentiy Beria who led that organisation from 1938. After Stalin’s death, which Beria welcomed and, according to strong circumstantial evidence, might have accelerated, he proposed to his Politburo colleagues a glasnost and perestroika programme which anticipated the ‘op’ of the 80s in such details as the introduction of private enterprise, abolition of collective farms, withdrawal from Germany and a greater accent on the production of consumer goods.

The objective was all-familiar: presenting a human face to the West, luring it into disarmament, blackmailing it into a massive transfer of funds and technology, finlandising first Europe and then the rest of the world.

Yet the more cautious Party apparatchiks, led by Khrushchev, thought the Chekists were moving too fast. Beria was killed, but the Cheka, in the decaying shape of Yuri Andropov, won the next round. When Andropov’s protégé Gorbachev took over, the Russian language made the most important contributions to the OED since ‘disinformation’: ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’.

People who warned that the triumphant shrieks over the 1991 collapse of communism were premature were dismissed as conspiracy theorists. Can’t they celebrate with the rest of us the triumph of liberal democracy, which is tantamount to what a particularly inane commentator described as “the end of history”?

I was writing articles at the time, describing the ‘collapse of communism’ as a thermodynamic event of evil changing its form, not its essence. Russian post-communist history, I wrote, is a fusion of NEP and Operation Trust: a successful attempt to curry favour with the West by flashing a kindly smile rather than a lupine scowl. A version of Military Communism is bound to follow.

Conservative journals would publish my Cassandra impersonations, but with the condescending smile of a grownup observing a frolicking child. They knew what I was saying was just fear-mongering, but generously chose not to stop my saying it.

In fact, the period from Gorbachev to Putin represented Beria’s posthumous victory over Khrushchev. It was a transfer of power from the sclerotic, ossified Party apparat to the new ruling elite made up of the more forward-looking members of the Party nomenklatura fused with organised crime and led by the KGB, first as the éminence grise and later, with Putin’s advent, directly.

Throughout the 90s, the KGB were pulling the strings from backstage. Its Active Reserve officers were attached to every sizeable commercial concern, every government office. That, incidentally, was the role Putin played in the entourage of Petersburg’s mayor Sobchak.

The West either failed to realise that the new ‘democratic’ elite was made up of high-ranking Party nomenklatura and the KGB, or didn’t attach much importance to that fact. Would you have felt the same way, I kept asking, if the post-war West German government included nothing but NSDAP functionaries and SS officers? No reply.

Gradually the KGB, the most dynamic and savvy member of the new class, began to move into the foreground. The time came to take the reins overtly, and Yeltsyn got his arm twisted into appointing a KGB officer as his successor. And once Putin’s – which is to say the KGB’s – tenure turned into an outright dictatorship, it became possible to initiate a new aggressive policy in the style of Military Communism, while trying not to eliminate NEP altogether.

The structure I’ve built here is stripped down to its bare bones, with many nuances and parallel developments left unmentioned. An element of entropy is ever-present, and not every subsequent step was a controlled development of a strategy. But it’s foolhardy to deny that a strategy has always existed, even if its path at times resembled zigzags more than a straight line.

The Bolsheviks weren’t aliens from another planet; they were a natural, though not inevitable, development of Russian history. By the same token, Putin’s Russia is a development of Soviet history. We’ll ignore the historical continuity at our peril – it’s impossible to pre-empt a threat if you don’t understand its nature. Sun Tzu said something to that effect.  

Take this, you Foucault Kant

Philosophers at London’s Soas (formerly the School of Oriental and African Studies) think there is something fundamentally wrong with the ways their subject is taught at our schools and universities.

Specifically, they take exception to a curriculum requiring the study of Plato, Hume, Russell, Locke, Descartes and Wittgenstein. I have to agree: this list is grossly inadequate.

There isn’t a single Christian thinker there, and only Plato has a valid excuse of a chronological nature. For example, I don’t see how it’s possible to omit Aquinas – as a theologian, he baptised Aristotle; as a philosopher, he modernised him. Then again, Aristotle himself is left out – possibly on the assumption that, if you put him in, you’d also have to add Aquinas, who is a bit too… well, white.

Then again, no book has influenced subsequent modern philosophy as much as Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, and there were better political philosophers than Locke even in England, not to mention other countries. In short, one can quibble about who should and who shouldn’t be on the list till the peripatetic philosophers come home. In any case, Soas’s concerns strike me as legitimate…

Just as I wrote this, I decided to take a closer look at their gripes, to see whether their problems are the same as mine. Well, let me tell you – they aren’t. My concerns and theirs are like chicken salad and chicken dung (I promised Penelope I’d stop using the ruder word).

Those Soas scholars feel that our philosophy curricula are in urgent need of “decolonising”, ridding them of the toxic influence exerted by dead white men. To my amateur way of thinking, the chromatic accent could be mitigated by adding Augustine and Tertullian to the syllabus, but these aren’t the names those professional philosophers see in their mind’s eye.

They’ve compiled a universal toolkit designed to build curricula heavily slanted towards sublime Asian, Middle Eastern and African philosophers, those who have enriched the world with such seminal contributions as Knowledges Born in the Struggle; Conceptualising Epistemic Oppression; On Being White: Thinking Towards a Feminist Understanding of Race and Race Supremacy; and Knowledge Sovereignty among African Cattle Herders.

I must admit to woeful ignorance of all these titles and, judging by the passion with which the toolkit authors promote their curriculum, many philosophy professors everywhere are just as illiterate. I suspect that even when Wittgenstein himself taught at Cambridge he ignored the unique perspective on logic and the philosophy of language offered by African cattle herders.

There’s only one way to fill this embarrassing gap, and the toolkit authors kindly tell us what it is. Teachers should stop teaching and start learning. This takes the trans principle out of the smutty sex arena to make it truly universal. For it’s not professors who should teach students, but vice versa.

However, before those colonising academics are ready to absorb new knowledge, they should understand the evil role they play in “racist systems”. It’s only after repenting their sins that they can open their hearts to virtue. Only then they’ll be able to soak up the valuable knowledge imparted by African cattle herders.    

The authors of the toolkit express this idea much better than I can ever aspire to:

“Without this intellectual insight, it is impossible to even find the root of the problem, let alone begin to address it. The teacher in a decolonial classroom must learn to learn from the perspectives and knowledge systems of the students and to unlearn their own colonially mediated assumptions and background knowledge.

“Unlearning means stopping oneself from always wanting to correct, teach and enlighten. Rather, the teacher should be prepared to forgo a singularly authoritative role and be a facilitator of, and participant in, good learning.”

Reactionaries among you may think that “correcting, teaching and enlightening” is a useful definition of a teacher’s job. And to be able to do it, a teacher indeed must perform a “singularly authoritative role”. To my shame, even I stuck to that view throughout my short teaching career and thereafter.

But the toolkit authors explain that my understanding has little to do with education. It’s nothing but pernicious power play. Teachers, like I used to be and so many still are, seek to maintain and widen social divides, which is a “reductive capitalist notion”.

To that end those reductive capitalists insist on using such known weapons of class oppression as tests, exams, essays and incomprehensible philosophical texts. Anyone can see that your average African cattle herder must feel lost and disadvantaged in such a classroom. He’d be much more comfortable with media commonly used by African cattle herders, such as blogs, texts and podcasts.

If essays are still required for old times’ sake, then students themselves should create the topics. And it’s students rather than teachers who should then assess and mark the works they’ve submitted to themselves. Straight A’s all around, no one is culturally disadvantaged, the noxious effects of colonisation lie in smouldering ruins.

It’s natural that academics working at a university specialising in Oriental and African Studies should wish to see philosophers from those parts better represented in the curriculum. If their intention were to expand their students’ minds by the study of, say, Lao-Tze or Avicenna (Ibn Sina, if you’d rather), I’d doff my hat and possibly toss it up in the air.

However, first, they propose their toolkit as a panacea against “colonising” thought not only at their specialised institution but at philosophy departments everywhere. Granted, no such department should ignore non-European thinkers, but they should be treated as merely a footnote to the intellectual foundations of our own civilisation.

Second, works like Feminist Understanding of Race and Race Supremacy have nothing to do with philosophy and everything to do with the urgent desire to destroy what little is left of our civilisation. It’s just woke propaganda couched in pseudo-academic cant.

Third, the toolkit authors want to replace education with indoctrination, and they clearly take their cue from the Red Guards of Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Those feral youngsters were also told they should instruct their professors, not the other way around. And if the academics proved to be slow learners, the Hóngwèibīng were given a carte blanche to smash their ‘dog heads’ – and I don’t mean figuratively.

Then again, I have it on good Soas authority that there would be nothing wrong with that scenario if played out in our universities. The Red Guards were Asian, weren’t they? That means they knew the ultimate philosophical truth better than all those big fat Kants. And if they shared that truth by smashing a few older heads, then good riddance to bad rubbish. What’s there not to like?

I admire the Russians’ honesty

Dmitry Medvedev, Putin’s deputy in the Security Council, has let the cat out of the bag, ending once and for all any doubts about the Kremlin’s plans for the West.

Russia’s former president spelled it out so exhaustively and eloquently that all you need is a translation not interpretation. So here’s the road map of Russia’s hybrid war on the West:

“We must every day try to cause maximum damage to the countries that imposed sanctions on our country and all its citizens. Damage to everything that can be damaged. Damage to their economies, their institutions and their rulers. Damage to the well-being of their citizens. To their confidence in tomorrow.

“To that end, we must continue to look for critical vulnerabilities in their economies and hit those weak spots everywhere, paralysing the work of their companies and government departments. We must find problems in their most important areas and strike at them mercilessly. We must literally annihilate their energy supply, industry, transport, financial and social services, creating a panic over an imminent collapse of the whole critical infrastructure.

“They are afraid we’ll supply weapons to the West’s enemies? We must give them every possible type of arms, except nuclear (for the time being)!

“They fear anarchy and a surge of crime in large cities? We must contribute to creating chaos in their municipal councils!

“They are scared of war in space? So that’s what they must get. Let’s makes sure all they’ve got stops, breaks down, goes to hell!

“They are scared of social unrest? Let’s set it up! We must saturate their media space with the most sinister midnight horrors, taking advantage of every awful phantom pain. No more sparing their psyche! Let them tremble in their cosy houses, let them shake under their blankets.  

“They are bleating about our use of fake news? Let’s turn their life into a continuous crazy nightmare, where they won’t be able to tell the most insane lie from reality, infernal evil from daily routine.

“And no more rules of engagement with the enemy! Let them get their just and most painful comeuppance for the harm they’ve caused Russia. Everyone can do his bit!”

Thank you, Dmitry, for making it unnecessary for me to read between the lines, trying to figure out what this or that message from the Kremlin really means. That’s one good thing about totalitarian chieftains: they can say exactly what they mean without fearing any public backlash.

All we have to do is follow Cranmer’s advice and “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest”. For Putin’s acolyte and spokesman has issued an open-ended claim of responsibility for any bestial attack on any Western country, be it cyberwar, sabotage, arson or terrorism. Now we’ll know exactly who supplies weapons (“for the time being”, not nuclear) to the terrorists and who provokes social conflicts.

Is there any chance now that our governments will finally acknowledge that we are at war and act accordingly? After all, if one side is waging war, and the other side pretends nothing is happening, which side do you think is going to win?

Those of us who go to church must pray for the Ukraine’s victory and light a candle for those heroic Ukrainians who have died not only for their freedom, but also for ours. And do let’s put as much pressure as we can on our governments to make sure they stop vacillating and give the Ukrainians whatever they need to stop this fascist juggernaut in its tracks.

And also let’s not forget to have a drink to Medvedev and his laudable honesty – as long as we don’t try to match him glass for glass. If half the stories I’ve read about Dmitry are true, we’d definitely be on a losing wicket there.

Meanwhile, the G7 countries have agreed to raise £50 billion for the Ukraine, using for that purpose the interest accrued by the Russian assets frozen in the West. My preference would be not to freeze those assets but to confiscate them, and use the money to reconstruct the Ukraine after the war. But, as Thomas Jefferson once said, “half a loaf of bread is better than none.”

Putin, this time bypassing any intermediaries, called this development “cynical and criminal”. He also vowed an “extremely painful” retaliation. If you wonder what he means by that, just re-read Medvedev’s speech.

An ideology goes up in flames

Some anniversaries are celebrated, others, such as the one yesterday, are mourned.

It was seven years ago that London’s Grenfell Tower, an exemplar of social housing, burst out in flames. The fire claimed 72 lives, sacrificed to a pernicious ideology (is there any other kind?).

There were multiple technical reasons for Grenfell Tower to have turned into a death trap. For example, once a kitchen fire started, a fire-resistant window was supposed to stop it from spreading, but didn’t – the window didn’t really resist fire.

Even if flames had broken out, they weren’t supposed to ignite the fire-proof cladding, but did – the cladding turned out to be inflammable.

(I can’t resist myself: all the commentators on this tragedy eschew the adjective I’ve just used. They say ‘flammable’ instead, on the woeful but correct assumption that many people are so ignorant that they may think ‘inflammable’ means fire-proof. In fact, the correct adjective derives from the verb ‘to inflame’, as in ‘such illiteracy further inflames my contempt for modern education’.)

If the fire had ignited the cladding anyway, other flats were supposed to be protected by their own fire-resistant windows, but weren’t – those windows didn’t resist fire any better than the original one did.

As residents escaped, the front doors were supposed to close behind them, thereby preventing poisonous smoke from engulfing the single staircase, but didn’t – the system malfunctioned, and the staircase turned into a gas chamber.

The fire brigade should have realised that their ‘stay put’ command was inappropriate because the fire was spreading rapidly, but didn’t – one wonders if our firemen are trained to be not only heroic but also smart.

They were supposed to fight the fire and rescue people by using a wet riser delivering water to the top floors, but couldn’t – there was no such wet riser.

The Fireman’s Lift was supposed to assist the rescue effort, but didn’t – it didn’t work because it hadn’t been checked.

It’s obvious that the building was jerry-built, with little attention paid to the residents’ safety. If we were to assign blame, we’d point the first accusing finger at the local authority, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Much of it includes some of the world’s most upmarket neighbourhoods, but North Kensington, where Grenfell Tower sits, ranks among the 10 per cent of most deprived areas in the UK. One would think that the Council would treat all its flock as equally as the zeitgeist demands, but this would be misunderstanding the nature of our socialist modernity.

Here we are encountering a problem that goes beyond Kensington and Chelsea. For socialism indeed treats all people as equal, the same way a cattle farmer treats all his livestock as equal. They are a herd made up of numbers, not individuals.

Individuals are those who live in the more southerly areas of that Borough, doubtless including members of the Council. Those in North Kensington are a faceless herd expected to obey the master’s prod. If they can’t afford a Chelsea mansion, they should shut up and be thankful for the crumbs tossed at them by the powers that be.

Even as cows aren’t housed individually, the human herd has to be bunched up together, living out the socialist fallacy of collectivism. Thus council housing in Britain isn’t just bricks and mortar, or more commonly cement and rebar. It’s an embodiment of an ideology. It’s a statement of how people should live.

It was in 1628 that the lawyer Sir Edward Coke formulated a pre-socialist legal principle that has since become proverbial: “For a man’s house is his castle, et domus sua cuique est tutissimum refugium [and each man’s home is his safest refuge].”

‘Castle’ was a figure of speech – Sir Edward didn’t expect every Englishman to live in one. He did, however, expect every house to be an individual dwelling over which its owner had complete sovereignty and where he felt safe.

An apartment block of any kind, even a decent one, is a residential idea that runs contrary to the history and national character of the English. Urbanisation run riot makes such structures a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless.

Most residents of upmarket blocks traditionally see their accommodation as a stopgap measure, something to bear until they can afford to move into a private house. This craving for one’s own ‘castle’, however cramped and remote from civilisation, is a distinguishing feature of Britons, making them stand out among other urban Europeans.

Yet Grenfell Tower residents, and most other people living in social housing, aren’t on an upswing of a mobility curve. They are what used to be called ‘the deserving poor’, or perhaps undeserving ones, to borrow G.B. Shaw’s quip.

They are the material on which socialist ideas can be tested, putty in the hands of ideologues. And the ultimate residential idea of socialism is a prison.

Just think: everyone there lives in identical cubicles, wears identical clothes, goes to bed and wakes up at the same time, follows the same daily routine, does the same work or none – everyone is equal, except of course the warders who oversee the facility and control its populace.

A council tower block approximates that ideal as much as the law allows. Its denizens are free to walk out and roam the city, but they must always return to the grim, ugly structure they struggle to call home. In fact, they often express their contempt for it by breaking what can be broken and spraypainting the rest with graffiti.

As far as the socialist ‘warders’ are concerned, the structure doesn’t have to be good-looking and comfortable, and neither does it really have to be safe. Just slap it together on the cheap out of some pre-fab blocks, herd hoi-polloi together and expect them to be thankful for the state’s largesse. That’s all our poor deserve. And if a few of them burn to death, there are more where those came from.

I’m sure no member of the Royal Borough Council ever enunciates such ideas or even harbours them. When queried on the Grenfell Tower tragedy, they’d all blame the contractors, the builders, the compilers of specs – everyone but themselves.

Yes, they realise how shabby such quarters are, but they are better than none. We Thought of the People, is the ubiquitous mantra. One wonders how poor Londoners lived in the old times, before those monstrous tower blocks disfigured the city’s topography. Did they sleep rough?

They didn’t. They lived in houses – tiny, poorly furnished, inauspicious-looking, but their own. They couldn’t afford anything better, but they could afford to keep their human dignity. This is something they aren’t allowed to have under socialism, and it’s that ideology that plonks veritable death traps in the middle of our cities.

Concrete, that awful material beloved of socialists and fascists alike (M. Le Corbusier, ring your office), has replaced bricks and mortar, and undignified ant-heaps (M. Le Corbusier, are you there?) have replaced human habitation.

So yes, the immediate reasons for the Grenfell Tower tragedy were technical. But the real, underlying reason was ideological. An ideology is an ogre that’s always athirst, and those 72 fell its victims.