Saturday, 24 March 2018

This morning I went back to the Village Museum

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How to fix the Irish border problem

The border between Northern and Southern Ireland and whether it will have to become hard again if the UK leaves the European Economic Area is much in news (the news that people interested in Brexit read). This article by Shanker Singham reveals the interesting information that 87% of Northern Ireland’s turnover represents sales within UK. Just 5% is sales to Eire, 3% to the rest of the EU and 6 % to the rest of the world. So Northern Ireland's primary economic interest is in maintaining the UK single market.

Shanker Singham argues that a customs border would give rise to few problems with

Europe is rapidly ceasing to be Christian - Romania, Poland and Malta are the exceptions

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Thursday, 22 March 2018

Cambridge Analytica and the Romanian election

My friend Rupert Wolf-Murray has made the headlines in Romania by telling Associated Press that Cambridge Analytica approached him before Romania’s 2016 parliamentary elections to work for the Social Democratic Party (PSD). 

He would have worked with another person and given strategic advice and assistance to the PSD campaign team for two or three months. Here Rupert is talking about it on television.

He declined the offer so does not know whether Cambridge Analytica did play any role in the election, which the PSD won by a wide margin.

Playing truant this morning in the Village Museum after a meeting

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Evil and historical judgments: more reflections on R.H.S. Stolfi's "Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny"

Historians used to have heroes and villains. Livy's hero was Scipio Africanus for good reasons, though Hannibal was too great to be a villain. Macaulay's wooden hero was the usurper William III. Leopold von Ranke's hero was Napoleon. 

American historians admired another high minded warmonger, Lincoln.

But no man is a hero to his valet and historians these days think like valets. 

Almost everyone has been debunked. They don't usually spend much time painting historical figures as heroic except when race comes into it, as it does with Martin Luther King, Rosa Parkes, Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. With them old fashioned history, of the type taught around 1900 and parodied by Sellars and Yeatman, still obtains. 

Because of race,  Lincoln is still a great American hero, even though he wanted to deport the freed slaves to Central America because, as he told the first ever meeting of blacks in the White House, 
"not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours".
Mandela and Gandhi, you note, are the Americans' foreign heroes now. They have replaced the racist and imperialist Churchill.

Historians do not much use the word evil, except about Hitler and the Nazis.

As Lord Bullock said

"If he is not evil, who is?"

Lord Peter Hennessy

I find this absolutely incredible. I knew standards at my middle class university had fallen (and the politics faculty was always made up of Calibans) but for a university website to describe Peter, Lord Hennessy (an annoyingly P.C. life peer) as 'Lord Peter Hennessy' as if he were the son of a duke, marquess or earl....

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Pope Francis is a populist

The other  day I agreed with Daniel Hannan that President Macron is the ultimate populist. I also said his far left opponent, Jean-Luc Melenchon, was one. 

It seems to me that another populist is Pope Francis.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Women down under

The old cohesive, blokish, laid back Australia has changed in many ways. The 1960s social revolution is working itself out there as much as anywhere.

An Australian feminist last year was advising women who want to have careers not to have children. I can't find the link. 

Australian feminists have marched against Donald Trump but never against female genital mutilation, an increasingly common thing in Australia.

The iconic feminist Germaine Greer came under attack for denying that sex is a social construct. She got into great trouble because she said

'If you're a 50-year-old truck driver who's had four children with a wife and you've decided the whole time you've been a woman, I think you're probably wrong.'
She got into trouble for saying that.

Islamism is a post-colonial movement

'Free market capitalism cannot provide for everyone or sustain the natural world. Its very imperative is of ever hastening exploitation of all resources including people, and it needs armies and weapons to secure those supplies. The political appeal, unchallenged in the 1990s, of this concept is fast fading by a combination of Islamic opposition and the radical popular movements of landless and poor peoples in many poor countries.' 
Jeremy Corbyn in the foreword to Imperialism: A Study, 2006.

“[T]his is an enemy for life, as well as an enemy of life.”
Christopher Hitchens
"We do not have a plan. They do. History shows that those that plan, anticipate and have a coherent strategy usually win. We are not winning."

Friday, 16 March 2018


"Whereas people of faith tend to accept the natural world, those who profess a material view often go to war with it. Such discontent has proved of great value to successive political movements that have promised to transform everything, from society to gender."
Toby Guise

"The positive testimony of history is that the State invariably had its origin in conquest and confiscation. No primitive State known to history originated in any other manner."
Albert Jay Nock

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Macron is the ultimate populist

Macron is the ultimate populist. So said Daniel Hannan the other day.

In many ways this is true.  He is up there with Napoleon III. But no-one calls him one. 

His left-wing opponent, Jean-Luc Melenchon, was also a populist and his right-wing opponent, Marine Le Pen. 

And Charles de Gaulle?

Monday, 12 March 2018

Immigration and robots

Professor James Newell of Salford University, in his latest posting in LSE blogs about the Italian election result, thinks that in Italy

immigration is essential to helping Italy overcome its economic problems, especially to ensure the sustainability of the pensions system, since immigrants are on average younger than Italians and have a higher fertility rate.
The same arguments apply to other Western and Eastern European countries. 

But why not use robots instead?

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Donald Trump is being clever with tariffs, Korea and China

The global economic system, like NATO, was set up after the war by the U.S.A., with British help, to contain Soviet expansion. 

Like spending on Nato, which Donald Trump in his election campaign called 'obsolete', U.S. tariffs unfairly disadvantage the U.S. for reasons that ceased to exist in 1991.

The U.S., which is less dependent on trade than the other G-7 economies, could easily win a trade war if it conducts one cleverly. 

A basket of tweets

Peter Frankopan ‏(@peterfrankopan):
Reading the obituary of Nobel laureate Sir John Sulston - whose hobbies included ‘avoiding people’

Thomas Sowell (@ThomasSowell):
“As someone who has worked both in private industry and in academia, whenever I hear about academics wanting to teach ethics to people in business, I want to puke.”

Jeffrey Sachs (@JeffreyASachs):
On issue after issue, young people aged 18-34 are the MOST tolerant of potentially offensive speech *and trending upward*, while older Americans are the least. Play around with the Age filter and see for yourself. 

Saturday, 10 March 2018

A new era dawns in Italy

I take back what I said about the LSE's blogs reflecting the sad lack of diversity of thought among academics, who are almost always left-wing or at least liberal. Roberto Orsi's blog post on the Italian election has proven me wrong and makes up for wading through the muddy waters of Conor Gaerty's writing.

Dr. Orsi comes straight to the point.

The outcome of the election was determined primarily by the policies of uncontrolled mass immigration which started in 2014 under Enrico Letta and continued under Renzi and Paolo Gentiloni. These have de facto turned Italy into a giant camp for asylum seekers, generating a sense of societal breakdown and acute political conflict.
I want to know the reasons why European leaders have failed to defend their countries

25 Years in the Future, January 16, 1962

LOOK Magazine asked famous people in 1962 about how the world would be in 25 years' time, i.e. 1987.  Here are two predictions. President Kennedy's is long and dull. I wish Adenauer's were on the net.

David Ben-Gurion, (Prime Minister of Israel):

“The image of the world in 1987 as traced in my imagination: The Cold War will be a thing of the past. Internal pressure of the constantly growing intelligensia in Russia for more freedom and the pressure of the masses for raising their living standards may lead to a gradual democratization of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, the increasing influence of the workers and farmers, and the rising political importance of men of science, may transform the United States into a welfare state with a planned economy. Western and Eastern Europe will become a federation of autonomous states having a Socialist and democratic regime. With the exception of the USSR as a federated Eurasian state, all other continents will become united in a world alliance, at whose disposal will be an international police force, and there will be no more wars. In Jerusalem, the United Nations (a truly United Nations) will build a Shrine of the Prophets to serve the federated union of all continents; this will be the seat of the Supreme Court of Mankind, to settle all controversies, as prophesied by Isaiah. Higher education will be the right of every person in the world. A pill to prevent pregnancy will slow down the explosive natural increase in China and India. And by 1987, the average life-span of man will reach 100 years.”

Friday, 9 March 2018

Books are becoming everything to me

Books are becoming everything to me. If I had at this moment my choice of life, I would bury myself in one of those immense libraries that we saw together at the universities, and never pass a waking hour without a book before me.
Lord Macaulay, in a letter to his sister Margaret.
“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

A man who hopes to save Italy and Europe

 Asylum permits per thousand inhabitants across Italian regions

I recommend this interview in The Spectator with Matteo Salvini, leader of Lega, the League, which did better than the other right-wing parties in the Italian election and came ahead of Signor Berlusconi's Forza Italia. 

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Rereading Peacock forty years after

I picked up a second hand Penguin edition of Gryll Grange, Thomas Love Peacock's last and mellowest novel from 1860, in a charity shop in the enchanting and enchanted Devon town of Totnes last summer. Thanks to giving up the net (more or less) for Lent I actually reread it. I loved him when I was 14, but one is so much more highbrow at 14 than after 40.

Peacock's are conversation novels and therein is their great charm. Aldous Huxley revived the genre with Crome Yellow.

How civilised the conversations and the characters are. 
Dr Opimian's
tastes, in fact, were four: a good library, a good dinner, a pleasant garden, and rural walks.
What good have we done for America asks Lord Curryfin and Dr Optimian answers that we gave the Americans wine and Latin and Greek literature.

Nowadays such a question between British intellectuals would get such a boring answer. From Robert Peston on the BBC for example. I shall eviscerate his new book when I have time.

Real wages of Soviet workers regained their 1913 level only in 1963

My nephew was taught at school in England that Lenin was an improvement on Tsar Nicholas II. This article on the complete failure of socialism in the Soviet Union is worth reading for people who are not clear about it. 

It tells us inter alia that
According to such scholars as Professor Sergei Propokovich, Dr Naum Jasny, and Mrs Janet Chapman, for instance, the real wages of Soviet industrial workers in 1970 were hardly higher than in 1913. Similarly, the Swiss economist, Jovan Pavlevski, calculated in 1969 that the real wages of Soviet industrial workers attained the level of 1913 only in 1963. Pavlevski also found that the real incomes of Soviet agricultural workers in 1969 were only 1.2 per cent higher than in 1913.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018


Has it ever been really noted to what extent a genuinely religious life requires a leisure class, or half-leisure—I mean leisure with a good conscience, from way back, by blood, to which the aristocratic feeling that work disgraces is not altogether alien—the feeling that it makes soul and body common. And that consequently our modern, noisy, time-consuming industriousness, proud of itself, stupidly proud, educates and prepares people, more than anything else does, precisely for “unbelief.”
Friedrich Nietzsche, 'Beyond Good and Evil'

The Italian left 'will not work with anti-system parties' because the centre-left IS the system

Many people do not realise how few non-left-wing academics there are in the West these days - or how frightened those few are of expressing their views. 

In England favouring Brexit can mean unpleasant social or even career consequences: some of your colleagues will simply stop speaking to you. Brexit, which is scarcely a conservative position, since Anthony Wedgwood Benn, Michael Foot and Peter Shore supported it back in the day, as they say, and Dennis Skinner and Jeremy Corbyn do so now.

Even liking Tony Blair, academics have told me, is unmentionable.

The LSE blogs are a singularly dreary evidence of this lack of diversity of opinion, but somehow I found myself reading this post by James L. Newell, Professor of Politics (which is not a real academic subject) at the University of Salford. 

He is very unhappy about the Italian election result. I remind you that it is a sin against charity to take pleasure in another's sorrow. He says:

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Henry de Montherlant

Throughout history the world has been laid waste to ensure the triumph of conceptions that are now as dead as the men that died for them.

When something is detestable, and yet inevitable, what one must do is not merely to endure it-a hard task whatever one may do-but find an excuse for loving it. Everything is a matter of points of view, and misfortune is often only the sign of a false interpretation of life.

Teffi on Lenin

'As an orator, Lenin did not carry the crowd with him; he did not set a crowd on fire, or whip it up into a frenzy. He was not like Kerensky who would make a crowd fall in love with him and shed tears of ecstasy. I myself witnessed such tears in the eyes of soldiers and workers as they showered Kerensky's car with flowers on Marinsky Square. Lenin simply battered away with a blunt instrument at the darkest corner of people's souls, where greed, spite and cruelty lay hidden. He would batter away and get the answer he wanted... 
“Yes, we'll loot and pillage—and murder too!” 

Squire Haggard has died

Alas Squire Haggard (Michael Green) has died. 

I want to reread Squire Haggard's Journal in memoriam, which I found precis-ed thus by Amazon:
'Haggard's typical entries begin with some notation of the invariably miserable weather (typically "Fog," "Sleet," or "Gales") followed by itemization of recent deaths, either by exotic disease, like "Bloating of the Bowels," or by some witless human act, such as drinking a pail of ale in one continuous swallow. Haggard then plunges into his own affairs in his inimitable style, abbreviating freely and capriciously. Sometimes the squire has his slow days: "Lay on my bed nearly all day, shootg. at tradesmen who approached the Hall with bills and succeeded in damaging a particularly obnoxious grocer."'

What would the great philosophers have thought of the European Union?

The question is anachronistic because they were men (the great philosophers were almost all men) of their times but it is an interesting game.

Kant wrote in favour European unity (a close federation, but not a single European state), while Nietzsche possibly, probably Heidegger and certainly De Maistre would have disliked the E.U. 

Kant and Nietzsche both saw the history of Europe as moving towards a European political union. Kant saw European countries were moving towards a federation characterised by shared universalist and cosmopolitan ideas. He was a globalist.

Unlike Kant, Nietzsche was not enthusiastic. Nietzsche thought in European rather than in German terms, but foresaw the “levelling and mediocritising” of the European peoples, making them bovine, “weak willed highly employable workers” who are “prepared for

Charles Darwin on race and sex

A psychopath once told me that his religion was Darwinism "because Darwinism is a religion". 

All psychopaths are at least unconsciously Darwinians, even if they believe in another religion, as Stalin, for example, believed in Marxism, which is also a religion.

Nothing makes liberals angrier than conservatives who reject the idea of evolution for religious reasons, as Vice-President Pence does. I wonder if they give Muslims a free pass to do so. 

But Darwin's ideas are only liberal and progressive in the sense of making it very hard to believe in the existence of souls and therefore of the Christian God. Darwin clearly saw, as all biologists must, that hierarchy is the law of the universe. 

Saturday, 3 March 2018

More Thomas Love Peacock

Marriage may often be a stormy lake, but celibacy is almost always a muddy horsepond.

They have poisoned the Thames and killed the fish in the river. A little further development of the same wisdom and science will complete the poisoning of the air, and kill the dwellers on the banks. I almost think it is the destiny of science to exterminate the human race.

Lenin, who is still admired in Eastern Europe, in British universities and by Jeremy Corbyn

"If for the sake of Communism it is necessary for us to destroy nine tenths of the people, we must not hesitate." 
V.I. Lenin

Dr Opimian on America, from Thomas Love Peacock's Gryll Grange (1860)

The Rev. Dr. Opimian. Without magnetism we should never have discovered America; to which we are indebted for nothing but evil; diseases in the worst forms that can afflict humanity, and slavery in the worst form in which slavery can exist. The Old World had the sugar-cane and the cotton-plant, though it did not so misuse them. Then, what good have we got from America? What good of any kind, from the whole continent and its islands, from the Esquimaux to Patagonia?

Mr. Gryll. Newfoundland salt fish, Doctor.

Thursday, 1 March 2018


"In the future, there will be no women's sports. Just men's sports and men-who-call-themselves-women sports." 

"Of the twenty-seven worst mass shooters in America only one was raised by their biological father." 

Hope dies last

Hope Hicks resigned as White House communications director. 

Time to recycle the joke from when Anthony Scaramucci was ejected: in the future everyone will be White House press secretary for 15 minutes. 

There are two sides to the story of East Ghouta

Why are the Russians bombing East Ghouta (I assume they are) and killing civilians (among them children, of course) instead of starving the inhabitants into submission, which is how sieges usually work (though this is now, for some reason, considered a war crime)? 

My namesake Paul Wood writes about it here and is more even-handed than one expects from the mainstream media.

My namesake thinks Putin may have bitten off more than he wanted to chew. Journalists


Today is Mărțișor and the first day of spring in Romania. Some years it's sunny. This year we've a foot of snow and it's minus 16° Celsius = 3° Fahrenheit.
"Mărțișor is an old tradition celebrated throughout Romania every year on March 1st. The name Mărțișor is a diminutive of March (Martie in Romanian). It is believed that the person who wears the red and white string would enjoy a prosperous and healthy year." 
More on Mărțișor here.


 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 
-2 Corinthians 4:16

 Forty is the old age of youth; fifty, the youth of old age. 
-Victor Hugo.

• The only time you really live fully is from thirty to sixty. The young are slaves to dreams; the old servants of regrets. Only the middle-aged have all their five senses in the keeping of their wits.
-Hervey Allen

Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle, Old Age a regret.
-Benjamin Disraeli

• We are all American at puberty; we die French. 
-Evelyn Waugh 

• At 46 one must be a miser; only have time for essentials.
- Virginia Woolf

• My generation, faced as it grew with a choice between religious belief and existential despair, chose marijuana. Now we are in our Cabernet stage.
- Peggy Noonan

• Then fifty comes and goes, and fifty-one, and fifty-two. And life thickens out again. Because there is now an enormous and unsuspected presence within your being, like an undiscovered continent. This is the past.
― Martin Amis, The Pregnant Widow

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Footnotes to history

Poles and Swedes partitioned Ukraine 100 years before Poland was partitioned by Prussia, Russia and Austria, but nobody talks about that. Lord Salisbury, the future Prime Minister, pointed this out.

People always say that the 1905 Russo-Japanese war was the first time in the modern era that a European state was defeated by a non-white state, but the Abyssinians defeated the Italians at Adwa in 1896.

Enlightenment values as a secular religion

"The world is trying to experiment with attempting to form a civilised but non-Christian mentality. The experiment will fail, but we must be very patient in awaiting its collapse; meanwhile redeeming the time: so that the Faith may be preserved alive through the dark ages before us; to renew and rebuild civilization, and save the world from suicide."
T. S. Eliot, "Thoughts After Lambeth" {the 1930 Lambeth Conference that permitted Anglicans to use contraceptives in certain circumstances)

"Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, Justice" was the official and public motto of the Ottoman Empire under the reforming liberal Young Turks who organized and carried out the Armenian Genocide -the template for the litany of nation-building State slaughters that has ensued for over a century of progress. Christian Roy

Germany's "historically unique experiment"

Yascha Mounk is a German in his mid-30s who is a Lecturer on Political Theory at Harvard and describes himself on his website as "one of the world's leading experts on the crisis of liberal democracy and the rise of populism". Talking recently in an interview with German TV about the threat to democracy posed by populists he said populists thrive for three reasons. The first is economic stagnation and the third is the internet, which allows extreme politicians to be heard. The second reason is this:
"We are in a historically unique experiment. There is no example in history of a democracy founded on mono-ethnicity and transformed into a liberal multi-ethnic democracy. We are halfway, but certainly not arrived yet and have to feel in the dark."

Saturday, 24 February 2018


"A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire." - Francois de La Rochefoucauld

"How did you go bankrupt?" Bill asked.
"Two ways," Mike said. "Gradually and then suddenly."
Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises.

"He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future."
Adolf Hitler

The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz

The history of Eastern Europe is a series of national or ethnic conflicts, one on top of another. Galicia, now Western Ukraine, which came under the rule of the Habsburgs when Poland was partitioned in the 18th century, was always divided by conflicts between the Austrian government, the Polish landed gentry, the Jews who dominated business and the professions, owned 20% of properties and half the property leases, and the Polish and Ukrainian (or Ruthenian) peasants. 

I think Ukrainians and Ruthenes are the same thing but some think otherwise. Gentle reader, please educate me on this point.

Omer Bartov, an Israeli historian, has written 
Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz, about his mother's home town in Galicia, which was in Austria when she was born, in Poland when she emigrated to Palestine, was later ruled by the USSR, the Germans, the Soviets again and is now in Ukraine.

Before the Second World War Jews made up the majority of the town's population and lived in the best houses. They were a minority of 11% in Galicia as a whole but made up most of the Galician business class, owned 20% of terrains of land and held 50% of the leases. They were resented for racial, religious, class and economic reasons, as were the Poles and Ukrainians.

Violence was part of the town's history going back at least to 1648 when the the town's large Jewish population were tortured and killed by Cossacks (Ukrainians) in extraordinarily horrible ways, including skinning Jews alive, tearing unborn children from their mothers' wombs and other equally terrible things. From the first chapter, then, this is a harrowing book to read, though after the town was liberated from the Turks by the Poles for the last time in 1683 it seems to have been largely undisturbed by war until 1914.

The town changed hands several times during the First World War and the enormities committed during and after the war are hard to read or to believe. Witnesses tell of mass murders, mass rapes, torture and gouging out of eyes. These things happened to Jews, especially at the hands of Russians, and also to Ukrainians and Poles, who killed one another and raped one another's women.

Austria Hungary had kept order and peace between the ethnic groups. It was an E.U. that worked. When the Empire fell apart in 1918, thanks partly to the foolish idealism of the American President, Poles and Ukrainians struggled to replace Austrians. 

Jews were seen as having been loyal to the Austrians, which made them unpopular with both nationalities.

After seven years of horror in which a generation of frightened and embittered Polish, Ukrainian and Jewish children grew up, 
including a brief period of Bolshevik rule, peace returned in 1921 and the town settled down as part of Poland. The monarchy had provided its own legitimacy but Poland's legitimacy rested on ethnicity. It was an ethnic state where minorities made up almost a third of the population and who were inevitably second class citizens. 

So the peace that lasted until 1939 was a frozen conflict.

With the Poles now in charge, the Jews started speaking Polish (almost everyone in this drama spoke German, Polish and Ukrainian) and Ukrainians dreamt of their moment of national revival. Some joined the nationalist party of Stepan Bandera that began to use violence.

The First World War and the Second World War were one Thirty Years' War. This is the background to the atrocities committed by Germans, Ukrainians, Poles and Russians between 1939 and the late 1940s when Stalin asserted Communist control over the area, deported the Poles and slowly suppressed the Ukrainian resistance.

The Soviets took over Buczacz in 1939. The Soviet invasion meant

"those national minorities that had been under the thumb of the Polish authorities, the Ukrainians and even more so the Jews, now had the upper hand as the Soviets used them to enforce their rule."
No doubt the Jews were very grateful to be ruled by Communists rather than Nazis. The local Catholic priest, Father Rutyna, an ethnic Pole, testified that Ukrainians and Jews greeted the Soviet soldiers with flowers and pointed out to them whom to arrest, including teachers and municipal officials. 
"'I saw how they threw their captives like cattle into the truck and sat on top of them with their rifles and took them away. These were teachers, people from the administration whom they unfortunately all later slowly murdered.'"
The Polish elite suddenly lost its power. A Jew became mayor and Jewish proletarians were appointed to jobs in the town hall and police. Poles were anti-Soviet and many were deported. 

When the Germans invaded in 1941 the Ukrainians thought that their time had at last come. Ukrainian militias, some members of which had resisted the Communists, took charge of the town and began killing Communist collaborators and others against whom they had a grudge, but in a couple of weeks the Germans took over. With the help of very many Ukrainian collaborators the SS began a comprehensive massacre of the vast majority of the fifteen thousand Jews in the town, drawn out over three years, as well as killing people from other ethnic groups.

Professor Bartov is writing about the fate of the town's Jews, not the townspeople as a body, but acknowledges that another tragedy was also unfolding, the ethnic cleansing of the Poles by the Ukrainian militias. In my opinion it would be a better book had it covered this story too. 

He says that the Polish government in London estimated that half of the original 48,000 Poles in the town were lost through killing, flight or deportation and that the Poles were pleased when Soviet soldiers returned to deal with the Banderite Ukrainians. I'd have liked much more about this but the book skirts it.

One Ukrainian in the town told local Jews that
"the Ukrainian intelligentsia does not approve of the murder of the Jews"
but plenty of Ukrainians of a lower intellectual level did approve of it and of murdering Poles. They did not know that, had Operation Barbarossa gone to plan, the Germans intended to starve to death millions of Ukrainians that winter.

The Ukrainians in 1941 were repeating the murderous role they played in the revolt of 1648 but I'd have liked a detailed explanation of what sort of Ukrainians killed Jews and Poles and why. I presume that, as in 1648, they were peasants, wreaking revenge on groups who were perceived to be well-off and privileged, meaning this was a peasant's revolt. The Romanian revolt of 1907, always said to have been Europe's last peasants' revolt, and glorified as such by the Communists, was also aimed at Jews. As Solzhenitsyn said, writing about the Russian civil war, Jews were generally wealthier than the peasants and therefore they were obvious targets for attack.

In addition, Jews were no doubt considered by Ukrainians to have sided with first Austria, then Poland and then Bolshevik Russia. 

Professor Bartov has a good gift for narrative and details a very long and harrowing catalogue of atrocities by the Gestapo and the SS and their Ukrainian collaborators. He notes the
“astonishing ease [with which] spouses and children, lovers and colleagues, friends and parents, appear to have enjoyed their brief murderous sojourn in the region”
as they killed people whom they knew. 
“For many of them, this was clearly the best time of their lives.”
One Gestapo driver, who in the 1950s was investigated by the Germans for murder, before the case was dropped as most such cases were, told the investigation that he still could not understand why
“the Jews went to the execution like sheep. . . . I shook my head over that at the time.” 
He seemed, to the author, to blame the Jewish community leaders, not the Germans, for the killings.

There are many stories in the book of sickening killings, some horrible stories of Jews who were betrayed by Gentiles and somewhat fewer stories of brave Christians who saved Jews at great risk. There are also plenty of stories of robberies and murders of Jews carried out by young Jewish policemen recruited by the Germans. One Jewish witness said Jewish policemen 

"made a fortune from the torments of the Jews and lived by the slogan: 'Eat and drink for tomorrow we shall die!'"
The most affecting stories are the stories of children killed. They remind me of the unbearable stories of the children hunted and murdered by Gilles de Rais.
One five year-old girl in a school held a German officer's hand and begged her not to kill her, but he shot her first because she was annoying him.

A girl of six hiding in a bunker remembered hearing a Jewish boy saying to a Ukrainian policeman,

“I'll show you where there are Jews, will you let me live?"
A Jewish girl who was given shelter and passed off as Polish, despite speaking the language poorly, and who survived remembered:

"The children always played 'Germans and Jews' . . . and 'Jew hunt.'"
After a time, children at execution sites were buried alive rather than shot, to save bullets.

Meanwhile Frau Koellner, the wife of
 the SS man in charge of killing Jews in the town, discussed with a German woman friend how they could keep their children from knowing what was happening. The friend, years later, testified to this when, at her husband's trial, Frau Koellner denied that they had known about the killings.

I read it all, but you might want to skip parts.

At least one American reviewer has read this book and drawn the conclusion that after reading it we should be more welcoming to immigrants and refugees. This is obviously aimed at readers who support Donald Trump or aimed at making readers who dislike him feel pleased with themselves. 

Another conclusion is that because different ethnic and confessional groups can get along for generations, when forced to do so by a strong state, before exploding into violence, it therefore follows that increasing the size of ethnic or religious minorities creates a greater risk, in the long term, of terrorism, civil war or genocide.

Lenin's ancestry was a state secret

Lenin considered himself and was always considered Russian, but he was not an ethnic Russian. Lenin's father was half Chuvash and half Kalmyk. The Kalmyks are a Mongol people, which is how Lenin got his slightly Mongoloid appearance, and the Chuvash are a Turkic people. 

This is interesting when one thinks that Trotsky and also, I think, though I cannot find it cited on the internet, Lenin himself referred to Stalin's 'Asiatic cruelty'. 

Friday, 23 February 2018

Roger Scruton

"Hayek sees that the zero-sum vision is fired by an implacable negative energy. It is not the concrete vision of some real alternative that animates the socialist critic of the capitalist order. It is hostility toward the actual, and in particular toward those who enjoy advantages within it. Hence the belief in equality remains vague and undefined, except negatively. For it is essentially a weapon against the existing order – a way of undermining

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Jakub Kyncl photographed Constanta Casino

Image result for Jakub Kynčl Constanta Casino

Newborn babies good, unborn babies dispensible

10 million babies may die in the first months of life over the next ten years whose lives could be saved if mothers were offered the right services. So said the man reading the news on the BBC World Service this morning. He asked
'Why is it so hard to prevent deaths in the first month of life?'
He was talking about a new UNICEF report. Babies born in rich countries, the report unsurprisingly states, have a high chance of survival, while the number of newborn deaths in poor countries is alarmingly high.

This is very sad and something should be done. Aid donors, rich countries in other words, should do something. So should the poor countries concerned.

But notice the difference between UNICEF's and the BBC's concern for new born babies and unborn babies. They show no concern for unborn babies.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Review of R.H.S. Stolfi's "Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny" - Part 2

Macaulay disapproved of Napier's History of the Peninsular War because he disapproved of military history. He thought it immoral to divorce military strategy from history in the wider sense. 

He had a point. Someone said that military justice is to justice what military music is to music. Perhaps military history is in the same case. 

Russell Stolfi's unsentimental attitude to Hitler may derive from coming to him from studying German military strategy. He is an interesting military historian who sometimes admires Hitler as a strategist. Nevertheless he is sure that Hitler made many mistakes and, by ignoring the generals, lost the war on a single day.

I learnt from Stolfi that once Britain and France declared war Hitler was in a hurry to invade France, expecting every day to learn that the Allies had taken over Belgium without firing a shot. Would that they had!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Review of R.H.S. Stolfi's "Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny" - Part 1

John F. Kennedy, aged 28, wrote these words in his diary on holiday in Germany in the summer of 1945, after visiting the Berchtesgaden and the Eagle's Lair.
“After visiting these two places you can easily see how that within a few years Hitler will emerge from the hatred that surrounds him now as one of the most significant figures who ever lived. He had boundless ambition for his country which rendered him a menace to the peace of the world, but he had a mystery about him in the way he lived and in the manner of his death that will live and grow after him."
They now read very oddly, although there is no question that Hitler was one of the most significant figures who ever lived. Kennedy did not foresee that the hatred that surrounded Hitler in 1945 has not lessened at all in 72 years. 

Books read since last summer

Reading War and Peace intermittently and lackadaisically took up almost two years, not because it is dull but because it is hard to read when the internet exists. Since then I have read a few books and hope to get off the internet as much as possible. Giving it up for Lent (video, audio and this blog excepted) is an experiment.

Bold means I loved it and highly recommend it. * means I have read it before.

Last year:

War and Peace - 
the best novel I ever read, toppling The Charterhouse of Parma.

Lady in the Lake*
, Raymond Chandler, transcendent prose.

Quotations about 'Cambridge (and Oxford)', written in my commonplace book just after I went down

[I collected them in the dear bygone time before the internet made finding quotations easy. I wonder where I found them. I suppose I just read a lot, much easier to do before the Internet and life began.]

Oxford to him a dearer name shall be
Than his own mother university.
Thebes did his green, unknowing youth engage,
He chooses Athens in his riper age.
John Dryden

But how I longed
As a boy for the groves and grooves of Academe.
Christopher Fry, Venus Observed

Quotations I collected when I was 22

I kept commonplace books of quotations in the months between going down from university and starting work. Five thick ones, A4 sized. I intend to publish a selection from them as an e-book. One has been sitting in my sitting room for years and here are a few quotations from it.

Think you, if Laura had been Petrarch's wife
He would have written sonnets all his life?

Lord Byron

Quotations - I do not necessarily endorse quotations I publish

“We [Americans] have a record of conquest, colonization and expansion unequalled by any people in the Nineteenth Century. We are not about to be stopped now.” Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, 1895

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Will #MeToo be the antidote to Donald Trump and save the left?

Another book about Steve Bannon and Donald Trump is out. Joshua Green, author of Devil’s Bargain, watched the Golden Globes ceremony with Mr. Bannon last month and quotes him saying,
“It’s even more powerful than populism. It’s deeper. It’s primal. It’s elemental. The long black dresses and all that - this is the Puritans! It’s anti-patriarchy. I think it's going to unfold like the Tea Party, only bigger. It's not Me Too. It's not just sexual harassment. It's an anti-patriarchy movement. Time's up on 10,000 years of recorded history. This is coming. This is real.”
Steve Bannon is a very perceptive man and might have a point, but in the short term #MeToo is aimed at Donald Trump and keeping the zeitgeist progressive. It is a very clever tactic by the Democrats to turn a scandal about someone in the heart of the Hollywood Democrat establishment and use it against Republicans.

Death of a poacher

But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper’s eyes were dim. 
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!

An African hunter (a poacher) has been eaten (all save his head) by a lion and Facebook is full of morally disgusting people (with British names) who are rejoicing and cracking jokes. 

Monday, 12 February 2018


Jordan B Peterson (@jordanbpeterson):
Or it might be an informed choice made by autonomous individuals...
“The rate of millennial women choosing to become stay-at-home-moms is on the rise. Bad work-life balance and lack of flexibility may be to blame:

Sunday, 11 February 2018

More quotations

If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.
Rollo May

The culture of Christianity has always been, in a measure, self-critical, and many of the political freedoms that we now take for granted have their origin in customs deeply rooted in the habit of Christian forgiveness.
Sir Roger Scruton


Sir Roger Scruton:
The emergence of this culture of repudiation is a normal result of the breakdown of an old religion. Faced everywhere by customs, artefacts, and rituals that have been shorn of their old authority, the would-be priest is moved to acts of sacrilege and iconoclasm.

Sam White (@SamWhiteTky):
Tomorrow and forever, everywhere: racism, identity politics, racism, racism, identity politics, racism, identity politics.

Catholic Archbishop: Church in Germany frightened by Muslim hate crimes

From Die Welt:

The Catholic Church finds the increase in hate crimes against Christians in Germany frightening. It quotes Archbishop Ludwig Schick told "Frankfurter Allgemeine Woche" that "the highest vigilance is required....Unfortunately, signs of brutalization can be observed across society."

Was it Great Britain, not Russia, that was interfering in the 2016 US Presidential election?

The investigation into whether Trump colluded with Russia to help him win the election - spoiler alert: he didn't - is for me very boring and not at all important. What is interesting is that the FBI relied on uncorroborated information in order to investigate someone in the Trump campaign. They did so because they, quite reasonably, had faith in Christopher Steele, the supposedly retired M16 man who produced the information.

The Guardian in April 2017 said:

John Kelly's troubling views and why I back the South in the U.S. Civil War

The Guardian is very disappointed that retired General John Kelly, Donald Trump's Chief of Staff, is not 'restraining' the president, which they see as his duty. And he does not have approved views on the Civil War.
John Kelly expressed some troubling views of his own. He described Robert E Lee as “an honorable man” and blamed the conflict on “the lack of an ability to compromise” rather than slavery. ....Pressure grows on him to resign.
I remember my supervisor in my first term at university telling me that the Civil War was fought over the Union not about slavery. I replied 'Of course. No other reason would possibly have been justifiable'. She seemed a little surprised.

First freedom became a reactionary idea - now democracy is going out of fashion

From a comment left by a British (Northern Irish Protestant) man on a journalist's Facebook wall today.
The Brexit vote showed that the English experiment in self-government has run its course. A condominium worked in the New Hebrides... It could work well for the English natives too. Nicola Sturgeon, Guy Verhofstadt, Leo Varadkar and George Soros running things rather Theresa May? Yes please!
This is typical of several dozen things I have read on Facebook and Twitter about how the British referendum shows that democracy simply doesn't work. 

Some of these appalling anti-democratic comments were made by decent good people, whom I generally respect. I think that none of them were made by Tory Remainers though. The left are almost always more authoritarian and much more snobbish than the right.

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Jordan Peterson

"People do not care whether or not they succeed, they care about whether or not they fail."

"The humanities in the universities have become almost incomprehensibly shallow and corrupt in multiple ways."

“One of the things that struck me as near miraculous about music, especially in a rather nihilistic and atheistic society, is that it really does fill the void which was left by the death of God - and it's because you cannot rationally critique music. It speaks to you, it speaks of meaning, and no matter what you say about it, no matter how cynical you are, you cannot put a crowbar underneath that and toss it aside.”

"Life without religion was tried, but found impossible, and we have ended up with what we have now"

"Life without religion was tried, but found impossible, and we have ended up with what we have now, sex and personal gratification, nihilism and crushing indifference and the sudden exponential growth of the occult.
Oh, and pretty big rates of suicide, divorce, abortion, crime and spiritual emptiness."

Angela Merkel rides again

Angela Merkel is a woman, as slow as Theresa May at making decisions and as unconservative.

There the resemblances between the two seem to end. Frau Merkel is a brilliant and cunning politician who did to her party what Mr. Blair did to his. She created a real conservative party, the AfD, rather as his legacy is a far left Labour Party led by Mr. Corbyn and George W Bush and Mr Obama's is President Trump.

British 'Integration Tsar': It is not OK for Catholic schools to be anti-gay marriage.

Britain has a supposedly Conservative Government. Giving evidence a couple of weeks ago before a House of Commons committee, Dame Louise Casey, the Government’s ‘integration tsar’, talked about 'Operation Trojan Horse' and the reasons why Islamism and Salifi extremism were taught in state schools in Birmingham. She went on to say

“When does a teacher running a secular school say, ‘No, it’s fine for you not to do theatre,’ or music or those sorts of thing? When is that OK? I do not really have any view on which religion it is that it is promoting those sorts of views, but they are not OK, in the same way that it is not OK for Catholic schools to be homophobic and anti-gay marriage. That is not OK either—it is not how we bring children up in this country.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Women on boards

Many commentators suggest that gender diversity in the corporate boardroom improves company performance because of the different points of view and experience it offers. However, rigorous, peer-reviewed academic research paints a different picture. Despite the intuitive appeal of the argument that gender diversity on the board improves company performance, research suggests otherwise. Results of numerous academic studies of the topic suggest that the presence of more female board members does not much improve — or worsen — a firm’s performance. 
More here. The findings are described as 'surprising'.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The UK needs Michael Howard as Prime Minister - there is no-one else

The UK needs Michael Howard to come back to the Commons and form a government. No one else has the stature political skills and is Leave. A Prime Minister is needed who believes in Brexit.

Suffragettes made no contribution to women getting the vote

A lot of nonsense in the press today about Suffragettes. I am sorry to see allegedly Conservative politicians like Mrs. May and the unspeakable Davidson woman praising the Suffragettes, whose illegal and violent tactics delayed women getting the vote. 

Women were given the vote by a predominantly Conservative government as a reward for their contribution to the war effort.

From a letter in today's Guardian:

It is simply untrue to state that the suffragettes only targeted property, not people. That may have been true of the leadership, but certainly not of the rank and file membership. In one year alone, 1914, shortly before Mrs Pankhurst disbanded the WSPU’s campaign to concentrate on the war effort, there were several incidents of suffragette violence against individuals: Lord Weardale was attacked with a horsewhip by Mary Lindsay, who mistook him for Asquith, the prime minister; a bomb on a Blackpool train badly burned a train guard. Meanwhile there were widespread reports of suffragettes practising with revolvers on shooting ranges around London. Had war not broken out in 1914, there can be little doubt that suffragette violence against individuals would have intensified still further.

Time once more for Lord Curzon's 15 Good Reasons Against the Grant of Female Suffrage.

Is there a precedent?

In all of history has there ever been a flood of refugees that was almost entirely composed of military age young men?

Real Tories are an endangered species

Anna Soubry threatens to quit Conservative Party if Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg take over. 'They aren't proper conservatives.' And she is? 

They were chosen by their local parties not chosen by Central Office. I so dislike the A List of non-conservative candidates chosen to appeal to focus groups as if the Tories were trying to launch an advertising campaign, not win seats. 

I'd like to go back to Knights of the Shires who went to church on Sunday, shot and hunted and loved the monarchy. Snobby left of centre journalists jeered at common little men on the Tory benches who liked Margaret Thatcher but in her day most Tory MPs were public school educated countrymen with  a strong sense of public service of the sort who had been Tory MPs since Wellington's day.

Islam and Catholicism as nationalism

"The Prophet Muhammad when assessed fairly, undoubtedly emerges as the greatest national hero that any country ever produced.
His greatness, however, lies in masterfully exploiting the concept of Prophethood, which, being an integral tradition of the Middle Eastern culture, is less spiritual and more political.

Prophethood is based on the doctrine of revelation: it means that God, the Creator, loves mankind so much that He wants to guide the human creatures to save them from hell. In return for this favour, God demands absolute submission, that is, man must worship the All-Mighty and live by his laws without ever questioning their purpose, validity and relevance.

We don't want to fight but by Jingo if we do...

The Great MacDermott's song was the big hit of 1877, as Britain geared up to go to war to defend Turkey from Russia in the Balkans. Here he is on YouTube!

Thus the word jingoism was coined. The Tories sympathised with the Sultan as legitimate monarch, the Liberals with the Christians for Blairite reasons.

We had no reason to fear Russia. Even had they captured Constantinople it wouldn't have mattered. The Cold War was probably not necessary but, even if it were, it is certain that Russia is no threat to Britain now.

I used to be a pro Turk a propos 1877. I am not sure now and should read about it but I think that that war, which led to Romanian independence (but Wallachia and Moldavia were de facto independent anyway), was unnecessary.  The majority of people in Eastern Thrace (which remains in Turkey) were Muslim 
and I am not sorry it is not in Greece, but the majority in Constantinople were Christian. Now I regret that, as so many hoped, Mass was not celebrated in the Hagia Sofia. Yet I regret the passing of the Ottoman Russian and Hapsburg empires. In the Middle East a democratic federal Ottoman Empire would be far better than the mess we have now.

Trump: NHS 'going broke and not working'

BBC headline - President Trump: NHS 'going broke and not working'. 

He is right of course but the BBC disapproves.


Justin Trudeau defended his ongoing reintegration of ISIS supporters by comparing them to Italian immigrants. He eulogised Fidel Castro on his death and yesterday corrected a young woman who used the word 'mankind', telling her the correct word was peoplekind.

No comment by me is necessary.

The British don't want to be ruled by foreigners

The reason people who want UK to leave the EU do so is that they don't want to be ruled by foreigners. This way of thinking is permitted, which is one of the things that makes Brexit such an interesting issue, but it is not far from the borders of permitted thought. There are actually Remain voters who think this racist. I have spoken to two such people. 

Historians will one day tell us why they think like that or psychologists. Theologians are beyond hope these days.