Saturday, 24 February 2018

3 quotations

"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

Of all Marxism's fallacies perhaps the most false of all is the belief that culture is determined by economics. It is, in fact, the other way around. 

Class conflict does not drive history nearly so much as national loyalties and religion do. Nationality and religion are not 'false consciousness', but the idea that they are is still influential, in spite of the history of the twentieth (and nineteenth) centuries. 

It was national feeling, not international Communism, that made Soviet soldiers fight like lions against the Germans in the Great Patriotic War. It was national feeling in the fifteen republics, not economic failure or desire for democracy and freedom, which made the Soviet Union collapse in 1991. It was also national feeling that led to the First and Second World Wars and the murder of huge numbers of Jews and other civilians, which is why national feeling is understandably regarded with grave suspicion by many people.

Most leaders of the Soviet Union were not ethnic Russians

A portrait shot of an older, bald man with bifocal glasses. He is wearing a blazer over a collared shirt and tie. In his hands, he is holding a set of papers.
"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
An interesting fact that I just discovered by chance is that none of the leaders of the U.S.S.R. had Russian blood in their veins, except Andropov and Gorbachev. Those two both had ethnic Russian fathers, though their mothers were Jewish and Ukrainian respectively. 

Stalin was Georgian, while Khrushchev, Brezhnev and Chernenko were Ukrainians. I knew about the others, but I didn't know about Brezhnev.

Friday, 23 February 2018

We are all American at puberty

"We are all American at puberty; we die French." 
Evelyn Waugh (diary entry, 18 July 1961.)


"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

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. 

No wonder Western civilisation is going to fall into the sea. They are the sort of people who disapprove of shooting big game but don't mind rats being killed with rat poison.


The idea that animal lives are of equal, or for some people, greater value than a man's is very recent, very nasty and very decadent indeed.


This disapproval on Facebook in 2018 of poaching would have surprised that stern, unbending Tory Lord Chancellor Eldon in 1818. Even he only approved of hanging poachers, after due process of law. He didn't think they should be eaten alive by lions. 


The constant use of the word poacher is in fact very significant. It's a parable. The benign state protects lions and obedient people rejoice when a rule breaker is eaten alive.


Most of all it's about the loss of religious faith and therefore loss of respect for humanity who are reduced to the level of animals in people's minds.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Exactly

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: https://t.co/37AKbKMYOp
TWITTER.COM

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

Quotations


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.

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.”

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.

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.

Trudeau

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.