First, a nostalgic recollection of how serious issues were discussed in the Russia of my childhood.
When I was little, my parents were friends with a singer in the Red Army Choir, whom I called Uncle Kolia.
(British visitors admired their singing, admitting wistfully that the Royal Marines weren’t as gifted vocally. Of course, the Choir had nothing to do with the Red Army. They were all professional singers whose job was to practise their art clad in the monkey suits of Soviet PR.)
His velvety baritone and perfect biographic credentials got him into the Choir when it was first formed, carrying him all over the world. The first Western country he toured was France. The tour lasted three months, and Uncle Kolia came back a changed man.
In common with many singers, he wasn’t blessed with a far-reaching intellect, so he didn’t even attempt to comment on the socioeconomic fabric of French society. What had blown his mind was the abundance of cheap consumer goods, and he had used his hard-currency allowance to bring back 27 cases stuffed with products of decadent capitalism.
From that day, Uncle Kolia used his experience of Western consumerism, to the exclusion of all other topics, as both a conversation starter and finisher.
In response to an unrelated statement, such as, “A fine day, isn’t it, Uncle Kolia?”, he’d put on a conspiratorial face and hiss: “Fine day, eh? Who cares about the weather? One rouble for two litres of orange juice! Twenty roubles for a suit! Five hundred roubles for a car!”
“So are things better out there than over here then?” That question never failed to restore Uncle Kolia’s sanity.
“Of course they aren’t! You see, we have socialism! It’s just that… well, two roubles for a shirt! Three roubles for a pair of shoes! Fifty kopecks for a chicken!”
Reading today’s report that Manchester, Liverpool, Hull and many other areas have higher death rates than Romania, Poland and Turkey (to say nothing of Western Europe), I feel like asking people in the streets: “So is medical care better out there than over here then?”
I’m sure the posthumous echo of Uncle Kolia’s miraculously Anglophone baritone would rumble above the traffic noise: “Of course it isn’t! You see, we have the NHS!”
Now, since my bloody-minded childhood I’ve always sought, if not always found, rational answers to rational questions. And already during those salad days of my life I discovered that most people aren’t like that.
Their response to serious questions is more typically Pavlovian than Aristotelian. Their knees jerk, but their minds remain immobile – often even in people who unquestionably have minds.
This always happens when I ask intelligent fans of the EU to name one rational argument in favour of that contrivance, and especially British membership in it. The only arguments they ever conjure up can be demolished in 10 seconds flat by an averagely informed and intelligent 12-year-old.
The same goes for the NHS, and I wish I had £10 for every time I’ve tried to argue that free at the point of delivery doesn’t mean free; that the purpose of medicine is to save people, not to level them down; that every socialist enterprise demonstrably functions mainly for the benefit of those running it; that Britain is a first-world country with third-world medicine; that no, Europeans don’t envy our NHS – if they did, they’d nationalise their medicine too.
All to no avail. Decades of brainwashing have scoured British minds of any rational thought when it comes to totemistic idols. Such as the two I mentioned and countless others.
Now, Uncle Kolia had his personality formed under the worst tyranny known to man. Those who had independent minds, especially if accompanied by dignity, integrity and honour, simply didn’t survive in Stalin’s Russia.
But Britain isn’t like that, is she? So how come so many good Englishmen (and Westerners in general) have developed this servile propensity to worship any bull’s head perched on top of the totem pole?
They grow up being able to read, think and say anything they want, and surely they’ve heard many sage men argue serious issues in a logical, well-informed manner. Many Englishmen must even have had professors teaching them how to think.
So how come they don’t? This is a short question demanding a book-length reply, with chapters bearing titles like Age of Reason Against Reason, The Socialist Delusion, Education That Doesn’t Educate and so forth.
God willing, I may be able to write it one day. Meanwhile I’d like to refer to Cecil Rhodes, who’s rapidly becoming a Soviet-style nonperson in British universities.
“To be born English,” he said, “is to win first prize in the lottery of life.” Perhaps. I’m just sorry that so many Englishmen have lost the winning ticket.