Thursday, 29 September 2016

The lady in red



I just had dinner with friend with a Ph.D. in political science, who is 'relaxed about immigration' and never heard of Edward Gibbon, George Brown or Anthony Crosland. He has just left the Liberal Democrats for the Greens.

He's too ignorant of history to make much discussion useful. This is because political science is a fake discipline. Political scientists should study history instead.


He said that to be a global city London needs a non white majority. I said London was the largest and most important city in the world in the 1920s, the centre of the world in fact. I mentioned Tokyo and he said that Tokyo has ceased to be 'a global powerhouse' because it is mono-ethnic. I mentioned Seoul and Beijing. He said he didn't know enough about those those two.  I could have mentioned Shanghai, Mumbai and Delhi.

Instead, I mentioned Istanbul, which was multiracial before Turkey was ethnically cleansed. It was news to him that Constantinople had a Christian majority in 1922. 

However, my friend said, completely unprompted, that Nigel Farage was the most important British politician since the war. He was right about that. 

And I did enjoy telling him the joke about Brown and the lady in a red dress in South America.

Quotations


"You only know what happiness is once you're married. But then it's too late." Peter Sellers

"[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone." Henrik Ibsen

Some see balloons and think, "Ah, bless, symbol of airy hopes/dreams". I think "Look at that garish, non-biodegradable plastic litter". Derek Turner

Three old English proverbs that are no longer current



"Life without a friend is death without a witness." (1640).


"They who would be young when they are old must be old when they are young." (1670)

"He that makes himself a sheep shall find wolves enough." (1619).


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

An American Lysistrata: Break Up With That Trump Supporter

Please click on this extraordinary article in Time magazine, the well-respected and famous American magazine. It is worth it. 

A lawyer and feminist called Jill Filipovic, who sounds like an invention of the late Michael Wharton, advises her readers to leave boyfriends who intend to vote for Donald Trump. Not to think seriously about doing so, but to do so. They are ipso facto bigots, racists and misogynists. 

She does not necessarily advocate divorcing husbands who vote for him.

It may be a little extreme to divorce over a presidential candidate, assuming everything else in the marriage is good (although Trump fandom suggests that lots of things about your husband aren’t very good). But ending a dating relationship, where there presumably aren’t joint finances or shared property or kids? Girl, do it, and don’t look back. I say “Girl” because the majority of Trump supporters are men.

Trump lost the debate but will it win him votes?



My Facebook friend, Peter Risdon, a classical 19th century liberal, has saved me the trouble of blogging about the US Presidential debate by letting me borrow his Facebook status. I cannot comment on his first paragraph, as I did not see the debates in full, but I agree with the rest.


I watched some of the Presidential debate; Trump was terrible. Even in the first part when he scored positively on immediate polling, he was awful.
I thought the moderator was somewhat unfair - the first portion was supposed to be two statements, two responses then open discussion, but it was two statements, Clinton's response then the moderator challenging Trump. But it didn't affect the outcome, Trump was awful anyway, and he went downhill from there.
So how on earth are people scoring Trump the winner? Most online polls did that, lots of anecdotal pieces in the media today show reaction in his favour, in bars and elsewhere. Not all reports show this, but a fair number do, from all sides (The Guardian has a piece showing undecideds saying "He was terrible, she was good, I can't decide between them").
The first possibility is, they're not, this is an inaccurate representation of reaction and Trump will be hit badly by this as polling continues over the next few weeks. That's the possibility that feels the most sensible.
The other is, they are accurate, and people are scoring Trump higher than his debating performance justified. I can only see that being because they agree with him, though he put his case badly.
And the other contribution to his polling is his work on the ground. His deficit in Michigan has halved since he went to that church in Detroit. That might count for more than his debating ability.
If Trump doesn't bomb as a result of this debate (and obviously he could and should) it can only mean he's a very, very imperfect messenger for ideas people are willing to support despite his personal qualities, including his debating.
So the polling now might cast some light on that aspect of this campaign.
Peter does not particularly like Donald Trump - who does? - but thinks, like I do, that something good might come out of the chaos his winning would create. Peter is an intelligent man. He wisely says
And the worst of it is, those heartless bastards who don't pretend to care about poor people do more for poor people than the Clintons of this world. It means more for NY city's murder rate to fall from 2,500 a year to under 500, if you're a poor New Yorker, than for Clinton to announce some pork barrel scheme for her donors that's ostensibly designed to help the less well-off.
I didn't watch the debate. Trump seemed subdued but fine in the several clips I saw but I had expected him to demolish his opponent and instead she probably did better. It's partly because it is hard for a man to attack a woman as aggressively as Mr Trump attacked male opponents in the primaries. 

She was, as always, very boring. Her glassy smile was curiously creepy, I thought, and she looked old. She was smug and clearly does not like being in public. She is an introvert, who does not like people.

But why were there no questions on the wall or the Clinton Foundation? Who cares about the birther froth?

It is obvious that Trump is a sort of genius. Not a first class mind, as we Cambridge men say, of course - nor was Napoleon. 


Businessmen don't usually make good politicians. Berlusconi had his pluses and minuses. Joe Chamberlain is the great exception - I can't think of others. 


On the other hand, a businessmen is better suited to assuming power in a country with a presidential system than a parliamentary one.

Scott Adams, the Dilbert man and the person who gets Mr Trump best, thinks this.
By tomorrow, no one will remember what either of them said during the debate. But we will remember how they made us feel.Clinton won the debate last night. And while she was doing it, Trump won the election. He had one thing to accomplish – being less scary – and he did it.



Saturday, 24 September 2016

Jeremy Corbyn redivivus

I am of course delighted Mr. Corbyn won the Labour leadership election. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! It means the Tories will be in power for at least nine years, time in which to do much.
It was not a landslide victory but at 62% about what he won last year.
Labour MPs who have no confidence in their leader (172 out of 212) should, of course, declare UDI en masse. They have democratic legitimacy, not party members, many of whom are really Greens or even Tories. But the Parliamentary Labour Party doesn't have the courage, don't trust each other and have no big names. How little Parliament now counts.
Jeremy Corbyn will not win the general election or come anywhere close but he will move Labour and the British left  and the left-wing middle classes leftwards, at least for some years. These things matter. Nigel Farage never won a seat in Parliament but has moved the UK out of the EU. Donald Trump, of course, may move the zeitgeist who knows where and might do so even if he loses.

The centre does not hold? I am not sure. The Tories look very centrist to me. 

As does Hillary Clinton, all the Western European governments and the whole international oligarchy that rules the rich world. Still, tectonic plates are shifting. 

As they did last night in Bucharest, where there was a strong tremor, but I digress.

Women

Woman conquers man by her stillness. 
Indian proverb. 

Or as someone once said to me, 
Women are like judo players. They use your strength against you.

The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature



Here is a collection in Buzzfeed of 51 Of The Most Beautiful Sentences In Literature, as nominated by readers. Most are American and recent.


None of them greatly impressed me, actually. These are better than the ones in the article in my opinion. Passing reader, please suggest more in the comment box below.

'O, help me heaven,' she prayed, `to be decorative and to do right'. Firbank

Life is sweet, brother, who would wish to die? A gypsy speaking to George Borrow

Life is, I am sure, made of poetry. Jorge Luis Borges

Hatred of Catholicism is the only genuinely religious emotion the English ever experience.

No man can please others who does not please himself. Frederic Harrison

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. Daphne du Maurier

Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / Her infinite variety. Antony and Cleopatra

They are entombed in the urns and sepulchres of mortality. Sir Ranulph Crewe. The whole passage is here.


There are no fields of amaranth on this side of the grave: there are no voices, O Rhodope! that are not soon mute, however tuneful: there is no name, with whatever emphasis of passionate love repeated, of which the echo is not faint at last. Walter Savage Landor

Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back,/ Wherein he puts alms for oblivion. Troilus and Cressida

I saw the new moon late yestreen
With the old moon in her arm;
And if we go to sea, master,
I fear we'll come to harm.


Mr. Holmes, they were the footprints of a gigantic hound.

Frauke Petry: “refugees welcome” attitude has become a new religion


Frauke Petry, leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD), is reported in Die Welt as saying welcoming refugees has become the a substitute religion.


She said that many Germans are so blinded by this over willingness to help everyone in the world that they cannot see that many of those they endeavour to help do not share German values in regard to minorities, religious freedom, or the rights of women.

Secular religion is exactly the right way to understand the phenomenon, a religion of solidarity, charity and human rights. Since the end of the Cold War and Communism, anti-racism and anti-discrimination has been a substitute religion all over the developed world. As Edward Norman said years ago, welfare considerations have taken the place of the sacred in the West. He accurately blamed 'neo-Puritanism' and said,

"When Christians identify the present secular enthusiasm for humanity as basic Christianity - the love of neighbour - they are in reality acclaiming and legitimising their own replacement."
When he wrote that back in the 1980s he imagined that the replacement for Christianity would be secularism. Now it looks as if secularism might be replaced by Islam.

Frauke Petry is married to, though recently separated from, a Lutheran pastor and religion may drive her as it did the East Germans who protested against Communism in 1989.

It is interesting how many powerful German politicians come from religious families and are, as far as one can gauge, motivated by a religious impulse. Chancellor Merkel grew up in East Germany as the daughter of a very left-wing Lutheran pastor and President Gauck was a pastor himself. I wish they saw that loving ones neighbour does not necessitate moving populations from Asia to Europe.

Friday, 23 September 2016

4 quotations



The first recipe for happiness is: avoid too lengthy meditation on the past. Andre Maurois

Life is, I am sure, made of poetry. Jorge Luis Borges

Augustus John told his sister: Nina, we have become the sort of people our parents warned us about.

Americans love to say they think outside the box. Trump lives outside the box. Hillary is the box. Kellyanne Conway

Bucharest life


Last night I was invited to a great Greek fish restaurant, To Perigiali, close to my house, opposite the National Bank in Smardan. I don’t like fish that much but had a wonderful calamari stuffed with delicious cheese. Who knew calamari could be huge, one fish enough for three? Good retsina too. I was invited by two Greeks who are envious that the UK is leaving the EU. I said the Euro is a problem to which there will never be a solution and they mournfully agreed. 

The night before, I went to Kumar’s Agra Palace in its new premises. Great food, of course, up to standard of a good London Indian resturant, but we waited 75 minutes and one of us had to leave unfed because of the babysitter. The other, British and a passionate Remainer, wanted to talk about the Single Market and I tried not to. Being Remain or Leave is like being Catholic or Protestant – better not discussed. Also his sadness upset me, like a dog looking imploringly at me.

I didn’t get away this morning before my cleaning lady arrived with her constant babble of Romanian. She is too proud to bash my little carpets over the side of the balcony and unforgivably put them in the washing machine where my favourite lost some of its colour. I was trying to be jocularly grumpy but it ended with her demanding another salary rise. 

How I absolutely hate scenes like this, especially first thing in the morning when I am half conscious. I suppose were I married they would be normal. We bachelors live a bit like Lucretius’s gods, far above the earth, detached from the pains and joys of mortals.

In Bucharest in some ways I found the 19th century life I dreamt of as a child. I wanted to be a Cambridge man run to seed playing the piano in a bordello in a Balkan city. Making an honest living, note. Bucharest in the Adrian Nastase era was a bit like that. 


A big tremor last night. The earthquake is coming, of course.

I'm a liberal and I loathe liberal smugness

I saw this on Facebook and think it true, especially the last sentence. I was a smug person who disliked Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Most nice people did in those days, of course.
I'm a liberal and I loathe liberal smugness. It's a form of snobbery. Liberals are the worst kind of snobs. Self righteous presenters, thin skinned and rather dim, really. Most of the really Rebellious people are conservatives.


People over 40 can save the world if they act quickly before the progressive young take over.

Brexit shows it can be done, but there is little time.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Today I have lived in Romania for 18 years


I just checked on a 1998 calendar. Today I have lived in Romania 18 years. The first two crawled past because every day was so strange. The last 16 flew. I am very grateful to live here, in this country that still enchants me, but wish the years would slow down.

Why am I happy to have spent so many years here? I wrote this article called 25 reasons why I love living in Romania, in no particular order which has received 107,000 clicks so far. 

110,000 now.

This is a picture by Octav Dragan of the street in the old town where I live. 



I don't think this was taken recently, as it's now full of huge potholes three years after the asphalt was resurfaced at great public expense. Thank God it's not too gentrified, though a club and a restaurant have appeared and, worst of all, at one point a Souvenir Shop. Dread words (I am becoming Wallace Arnold, I know.) Still gypsies still wander around the street in dressing gowns.



Quotations for Tuesday


"Life is not a journey, it's like a musical. The point isn't to arrive, but to dance and sing whilst the music plays." Alan Watts, the philosopher

"The secret of success is constancy to purpose." Benjamin Disraeli

"It wounds a man less to confess that he has failed in any pursuit through idleness, neglect, the love of pleasure, etc., etc., which are his own faults, than through incapacity and unfitness, which are the faults of his nature." Lord Melbourne 

My head says Hillary will win and my intuition says Trump



For months my head has told me Hillary will win and my intuition said Trump.

Whoever wins, Donald Trump has dismantled the old ghastly Republican party of the early 21st century, which took votes from poor people and sent their sons to die in unnecessary wars. 


How wonderful that Mr Trump accused George W Bush of deliberate lying to justify invading Iraq and still won the nomination resoundingly.

But, in truth, Donald Trump destroyed nothing - the old Republican Party was a dead man standing. Had it not been, Trump would not have won the nomination or come close.


What was conservative about George W Bush? Nothing, except low taxes for the well-off. He spent like a sailor and was blase about legal and illegal immigrants. Worst of all for a

Monday, 19 September 2016

Terrorist attacks might win the election for Donald Trump

The suspect in the New York explosions, surprisingly enough, does have a Muslim name, Ahmad Khan Rahami, but the police have no idea what the motive might be. I imagine there will be more of these attacks, in the USA and elsewhere. Whether it is intended or not (and it probably is) it will help Donald Trump and hurt Mrs Clinton. It could clinch the election, though Donald Trump has the Big Mo already.

On a subconscious, irrational level, an old lady fainting at the commemoration of September 11th will, for some voters, not inspire confidence in her as Commander-in-Chief.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Things will change radically, but we do not yet know how

Things will change radically but we do not yet know how. Trump and Sanders are part of the change, Hillary not.

Things are changing around the developed world in ways in which it is impossible to understand. Donald Trump is a brilliant politician, or if you prefer, charlatan. (The two are not always distinct.) But he has achieved this amazing degree of success only because he represents and guides powerful forces, whose inchoate ideas he expresses or appears to express.

On the other hand, the people 
Donald Trump represents, middle class (which in the USA means lower-middle and working-class) white Americans, are a smaller and smaller part of the electorate each year, so this might be their last chance.

I think that this great change in thinking is very hopeful.

Solitude




“I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity.”
Albert Einstein

“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.”
Aldous Huxley

"Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine."
Honoré de Balzac  

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Quotations



I feel myself inhabited by a force or being—very little known to me. It gives the orders; I follow.

Jean Cocteau 



The intelligent are to the intelligentsia what a gentleman is to a gent.

Stanley Baldwin

Monday, 12 September 2016

The passing of David Cameron

I liked David Cameron. He was very clever, though always lightweight, a Blairite, never a Tory but a Whig. I can't forgive homosexual marriage or changing the rules of succession to the throne, but he kept Labour out of power for six years and steered the UK out of the financial crisis far better than Labour could ever have done. 

He seemed very faintly absent from his own premiership, but this was probably an illusion. He was the best Prime Minister since Mrs. Thatcher and before that Supermac, though James Callaghan had his qualities and Lord Home would have been excellent had he had more than a year.

I am very glad that Mr. Cameron was too clever by half in the end. Nick Clegg, his Liberal Democrat deputy in the coalition, said that one day Mr. Cameron's fine brain wouldn't be enough to get him out of a scrape. So it proved. The referendum was a wonderful thing. He and Nigel Farage have changed British history more than any other two politicians since the 1940s. The difference was, of course, that Mr. Farage wanted to.

The fall of Hillary Clinton



Democrats wonder and worry: Why isn’t Clinton far ahead of Trump?


was the Washington Post headline on Friday.


Mrs Clinton had not given a press conference 
until last week for 270 days, and when she did it was not noteworthy. In that time she had made some very dull speeches and disappeared for days between appearances. Most of those 'appearances' were behind closed doors, raising funds from rich Democrats. When she finally let the press into her latest fundraiser, for homosexuals, it proved her undoing.
“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the 'basket of deplorables'. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.”
It raised loud laughter, but it wasn't funny and she isn't laughing now.

2016 will be remembered for a lot of things but, apart from anything else, it was the year when the electors started to get blamed by the politicians and political activists for

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Katie Hopkins writes a very moving account of a teenage boy's life in the Calais Jungle

This blog is for my writing, not other people's, but I just read an article so very interesting that I decided to link to it and urge you to have a look at it. It is exceptionally well written, sensitive and, oddly enough, written by Katie Hopkins, who goes out of her way to acquire a reputation for insensitivity.

Katie Hopkins is, by her admission, the British version of Ann Coulter. Both ladies are what Romanians call terabiliste, meaning women who shock for the sake of shocking. But, as the daily news becomes more and more shocking, both have taken up and talked very good sense on the issue of Third World immigration. 

They have to a certain extent the prerogative of licensed jesters to tell the truth.

Of course, the migrants are trying to flee poverty and are right to want to do so. There is no real humanitarian reason why they should be settled in Europe and the strongest reasons why they should not. 

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Quotations for the weekend



[Vladimir Putin] is very interesting. I certainly believe that he is – a man of power of course – somehow affected by the necessity of faith. He is a realist. He sees how Russia suffers from the destruction of morality. Even as a patriot, as someone who wants Russia to have great power again, he sees that the destruction of Christianity threatens to destroy Russia. A human being needs God, he sees that quite evidently, and he is certainly affected by it inwardly as well.

Pope Benedict XVI

Europe becomes more and more a province of Islam, a colony of Islam. And Italy is an outpost of that province, a stronghold of that colony…In each of our cities lies a second city: a Muslim city, a city run by the Quran. A stage of Islamic expansion.
Oriana Fallaci

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the 'basket of deplorables'. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.

Hillary Clinton

Friday, 9 September 2016

Frenchmen of various colours


Austria's Freedom Party has been accused of racism for seeking to celebrate the lifting of the Turkish siege of Vienna 333 years ago. The Freedom Party said disingenuously that the event was purely educational, rather than an attempt to make a comparison between the Muslim invasion of Central Europe in the last 17th century and today's Muslim migrants.

Meanwhile a French National Front mayor, Robert Ménard, the Mayor of Béziers, will be taken to court by an anti-racist organisation for saying on television that being French means,

“in the words of Charles De Gaulle, being European, white and Catholic.”
Saying that Jews, Protestants and Muslims cannot be French is offensive, racist and certainly opposed to the principles of the French Revolution (principles I detest, by the way, but that's another story). I wonder if he really meant to say this or he 'misspoke'? Probably he wanted to get in the papers, and the Huguenot vote isn't important, but more and more Jews are supporting the FN. 

Ethnic Frenchmen are white, but they need not be Catholics and non-whites are French citizens too.

What is sad, however, is that in a free, democratic society elected politicians (and the rest of the population) are no longer free to say what they like, however reactionary,

Thursday, 8 September 2016

People would hate Jesus much more than Mother Teresa

The Pope canonised Mother Teresa, now St Teresa of Calcutta, on Sunday, which produced an outpouring of loathing and hatred for the new saint in the social media and the English left-of-centre quality papers. 

This is nothing to what people would say about the Second  ... 

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

English journey






Robert Frost said home is where, if you have to go there, they have to take you in. I didn't have to go to England but went because Brexit made me realise not how much I love my country - I knew that very well every day - but how rarely I visited. 


And I like to go to politically exciting places like Iran, Pakistan and North Korea. This summer that meant the UK. 

And I still haven't written up my journey. Here's a start.

I arrived in England at midnight. I had bought a ticket with Easyjet from Nice to Luton and a room in a mediaeval hotel in St Albans. This was not a good idea as my plane was delayed over an hour and I was told I was lucky. Easyjet planes are often delayed three hours.

St Albans. The staff at the station, who had never heard of my hotel, the best known in the town, told me it was too far to walk, which it was not. I ordered a minicab from a dreamy and rather sweet Kashmiri with a beard that stretched almost to his waist. He told me there was a large Muslim community in the St Albans. He had been to Kashmir a number of times and felt equally Pakistani and British.

St Albans is one of the loveliest old towns in England. And a great place to stay if you visit England, as it is very close by train to London but very far away indeed, its buildings Georgian and earlier. It existed, of course, in Roman times, when St Alban was martyred.

Lunch in Inner Temple with two charming people mourning the referendum result and dinner with a friend whose life's work Brexit represented. She, like all the really passionately anti-EU people I know in Britain, is Jewish. I don't think this has any significance, except to disprove the idea that Jews are less patriotic than other people.

What fun Soho is, how beautiful and serious the women are. Morally serious, I mean, not unlaughing. The intelligent people in their late 20s are what make every city. The ones in London are very impressive, unarrogant, stylish but modest. 

England is the best country in the world and nowadays has lovelier women than Romania, although this is partly because the hot Romanian girls are now mostly in London (you, gentle female Romanian reader in Bucharest, are, of course, the exception).

Dinner the next night with a City friend, a former young fogey and strongly Brexit. He said, ruefully, 

Bismarckiana


The statesman's task is to hear God's footsteps marching through history, and to try and catch on to His coattails as He marches passes by.

Laws are like sausages. It's better not to see them being made.

Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to profit by others' experience.

People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.



Man cannot control the current of events. He can only float with them and steer. 

A proletariat of graduates.

Quotations for Tuesday



There is no other day. All days are present now. This moment contains all moments. 

C.S. Lewis

Only God stays. Everyone leaves.

Anon.


British political news quotations



At this summit Theresa May was direct, confident but insistent that on key policy issues she must be allowed to play her cards close to her chest whether on Hinkley or Brexit.

This was not the way of her predecessors. Not does she fawn at US or other global leaders in quite the way Cameron, Gordon Brown or Tony Blair used to - and that may not be a bad thing either.

Romanians think the Third World War has started



A year ago General Mircea Chelaru, who was Chief of the General Staff of the Romanian Army in the late 1990s, said last week that the migrants entering Europe represent the start of the Third World War and a threat to European identity.

Former President Traian Basescu, who left office in December, has said that Europe should continue to be mostly Christian and that Muslim migrants should not be accepted in Europe. He said that ISIS is at war with Christianity and also that great powers never succeed in conquering small countries and mentioned Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. So he thinks it will be in Syria and added

no people educated in the spirit of the Koran can be made democratic.

Whores, bigots and undiplomatic langauge



Prince Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the Jordanian who is 'UN human rights chief' and who favours worldwide blasphemy laws, yesterday likened Messrs. Farage and Trump to ISIS.

Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that the Philippine President called Mr. Obama 'the son of a w****'.

Why is the word whore too rude to publish? In Romania it is used all day long every day. 


Macaulay referred to 'Tis Pity's She's a Whore' as a play it was almost indecent to name.

First rules of politics


The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia. Otto von Bismarck


The first rule of politics. Don't invade Afghanistan. Harold Macmillan


The United States has broken the second rule of war. That is: don't go fighting with your land army on the mainland in Asia. Rule One is, don't march on Moscow. Viscount Montgomery of Alamain

Monday, 5 September 2016

Angela Merkel, like David Cameron and Theresa May, is centre left



Angela Merkel, like David Cameron and Theresa May, is centre left.


As Timothy Garton Ash said several years ago, both Germany and Britain have two social democratic parties.
Judy Demsey explains here how Mrs Merkel has moved her party to the left on nuclear energy, parental leave, minimum wage and refugees.

Growing up in East Germany as the daughter of a far left pastor, she clearly retains a lot of his internationalist and left wing values. Most East Germans, on the other hand were not true believers or internationalists and, as a reaction to her migrants policy, provide a good source of recruits for AfP and PEGIDA.

America is not Britain's friend



In an awkward joint press conference, Mr Obama refused to recant his statement during the EU referendum campaign that Britain would go to the 'back of the queue' for a trade deal with the US if it left the Brussels club.
And he also delivered a stark warning that action is needed to stop the Brexit process 'unravelling' the special relationship.
The word queue strongly suggests that George Osborne and his Labour friend Lord Mandelson, architects of Project Fear, the attempt to scare the British into voting to stay in the EU, drafted Mr. Obama's original warning to the British electorate. Americans use the word 'line', not 'queue'.

I hope we remember that America is a very uncertain friend. There is no special relationship between the US and UK and never was except in British fevered imaginings. The only special relationship America has is with Israel.

And in fact there are no eternal friendships in diplomacy, as Palmerston said, only eternal principles.

Trump draws even with Hillary - we are seeing a people's revolt against liberalism

Lots of coming-of-age novels will be set in 2016.

2016 is seeing a people's revolt against liberalism. I doubt it has very much chance even if Trump wins, but we'll see.


Donald Trump is tied with Hillary Clinton, representing a big improvement for him, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos national tracking poll that came out on Friday.

I expected this to happen, but saw no point in saying so. He has been climbing in the polls

This is the best time to be alive

We are living in the best ever time in history. It reminds me of the reign of Marcus Aurelius, which is where Gibbon starts the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Quotations


Vietnamese children used as slave labour to produce 'weed'. Provenance only bothers counter culturals if it is about food.



All the people nitpicking Hillary for the Benghazi attack seem to CONVENIENTLY IGNORE the success of her foreign policy in Libya as a whole.

I have a vision of the future, chum




I mystified a left-winger recently by saying there was too much internationalism these days.

'How can you have too much internationalism?'
But of course you can - international law is by definition undemocratic and so are international organisations. And internationalism at the expense of a sense of national identity reduces countries to machines for living and creating GDP.

I believe in free trade, think it brings prosperity and peace. Genuine free trade, not the EU single market version and probably not the Chinese and Japanese versions.  I know that free trade does not require mass immigration. 


I dislike the cultural effects of globalisation but they are very hard to resist.

The world will be one big heavily policed mall/golf course, with national culture reduced to restaurants and folklore kitsch.

When people protest against this future their protests are ignored or are unfairly labelled 'far right' a designation which should be reserved for fascists. How differently anarchists and occupy are treated by the press. The anti-immigration protesters of our day, as far as i can see, are not fascists but a belated answer to the neo-Communists of 1968. Yet the 1968-ers who, grown old, until recently ruled us, are never considered extremists.

Brexit followed by President Trump would change things. But in Germany internationalism will hold sway for a very long time.

Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Party came third yesterday in an election in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Alternative for Germany (AfD), came second with 20.8% of the vote. The British conservative press call AfD 'far right' and report the result as a defeat for Mrs. Merkel's migrant policy.


In fact what is interesting is that 79% of Germans voted for pro-migrant parties. Why?

Hungry Venezualans eat pets for food

Hungry Venezuelans have been eating pets and hunting cats and dogs, apparently. They broke into Caracas zoo recently to butcher a horse. Thanks to socialism.


Friday, 2 September 2016

A still fairly low-level Islamist insurgency


The terror attacks in Nice and Wurzburg are the latest manifestations of what should now be seen as a still fairly low-level Islamist insurgency taking place in a number of west European countries.
Johnathan Speyer, an Israeli political analyst who has written for The Guardian and The Jerusalem Post, was recently banned by Facebook for life for using these words.  Some time later, after a lot of publicity, his account was restored.

Even if you do never click on the links I thoughtfully provide, please click on this to read his short and very incisive article. 

He points out that the Islamist disease is attacking an already enfeebled European body and goes on:
A hollowing-out of European culture has taken place over recent years. The elites of the continent are united by a set of joint perceptions deriving from a shared experience of life. They are transnational, cosmopolitan, sceptical of passionately held belief, reflexively secular. Their shared experience of the world is of a safe place, in which a certain set of attitudes and connections enables life to be lived in a pleasant and free way.

Civilisational conflict, passionate religious ideological commitment, even fervently experienced patriotism do not feature very highly on the elite’s radar. Such sentiments are to be dismissed with a smile, or treated with bewildered fear and apprehension if they appear to be persistent and potent.
The word insurgency put me in mind of what Zbigniew Brzezinski, Jimmy Carter's National Security Adviser, said in an article in April. He sees Islamist terrorism as the direct result of Western imperialism.
In today’s postcolonial world, a new historical narrative is emerging. A profound resentment against the West and its colonial legacy in Muslim countries and beyond is being used to justify their sense of deprivation and denial of self-dignity.
....the currently violent political awakening among post-colonial Muslims is, in part, a belated reaction to their occasionally brutal suppression mostly by European powers.
He is right that this is the historical context in which to see Islamism and the terrorist campaign against Christendom. 

It is the way Romanians see things. They are usually sad that large numbers of non-white immigrants have settled in Western Europe, but they always see it as a just punishment for colonialism. Even a left-wing, anti-racist Romanian friend, who won a scholarship to Yale, tells me that she hope that, in her lifetime, Italy will have a majority African population, as punishment for Italy's small, short-lived African colonial empire.

We are seeing the start of a new kind of guerrilla war. It is fruitful to see Islamist terrorism in the context of a Third World revolt against the First, a punishment for Britain, France and the USA intervening in the Middle East. It is like the Third World revolution that was the hope of Marxists in the 1960s and 1970s, after it became clear that Western European workers were never going to be a revolutionary class.  This is why many on the European Left find themselves on the side of Muslim insurgents.

But Islamism as anti-colonialist struggle cannot be pressed too far. Religion is a much more important factor. It is not only Muslims who were ruled by colonial powers, but we do not see Hindus blowing up civilians in London in revenge for Amritsar. The Chinese are as proud, aggressive and angry about historical slights as Muslims. Middle Eastern Christians, also ruled by Britain and France, are being killed rather than killing.

The history of Muslim invasions of Europe (from which Eastern Europe defended the West) long predates the era of colonialism. In fact, they start with the very semi-mythic beginnings of the Islamic religion and the 'righteous caliphs' who succeeded Mahomet. 

As far as imperialism and colonialism go, the Arabs were adepts at it in the seventh century. Muslims were conquering and colonising Christian lands a thousand years before the tables were turned.

But Islam is a religion which badly lacks self-confidence. It is clear to Muslims, though not to Westerners, that Western society is built on essentially Christian principles (despite recent developments like single-sex marriage). And yet the West are rich, powerful and leaders in every field of endeavour except sports, while Muslim countries, if rich, are so only because of mineral resources, not human resources. This is a standing rebuke to Islam.

Yes, ISIS is a criminal conspiracy but what else was the international Communist Party? Both were violent, criminal organisations as well as political movements. The difference was that the Viet Cong did not explode bombs in Washington DC. The other difference is that Western Europe, during the Cold War, even though it was humiliatingly dependent on the USA for its defence, had a greater sense of self belief.

There are some signs though that this self belief might be returning.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

There is a divine sense of humour at work in the universe. Irony is the gift to see it.



There is a divine sense of humour at work in the universe. Irony is the gift to see it.


This thought came to me when I read a poll carried out by the Electoral Reform Society that said David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn's part in the Brexit referendum campaign persuaded many voters to vote Leave.

The Electoral Reform Society, though ostensibly neutral, can't hide how unhappy it is with the referendum result. Referendums are not part of its ideas for electoral reform, which seek to doom England to ending our first-past-the-post system, in favour of perpetual coalitions in which the liberal centre always has a veto.

If a future referendum is held they want an official body to adjudicate on whether assertions by politicians are factually true. The members of such a body would be, of course, the kind of experts that Michael Gove accurately said the country is tired of. Exactly the experts who advised of immediate disaster if Leave won the vote.