Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Some interesting thoughts on the EU that might explain why Britain is leaving it

Today the British Permanent Representative to the E.U. delivered a letter to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, starting the process by which Great Britain leaves the Union.

Though few expected it, there are so many reasons why this is happening, but the principal one is that we were allowed a referendum on the subject and other countries were not. Other reasons include the credible threat that Nigel Farage and UKIP posed to the Conservatives and the fact that at least one third of the British wanted to leave in every poll taken since 1973. 
Even well-informed British opinion-formers mostly never understood that the EU was not a trading bloc, but an embryonic federal state. Free movement of people was a design fault in a trading bloc, but it makes perfect sense if Europe is a sort of country.

There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.
Prime Minister Edward Heath, television broadcast on Britain’s entry into the E.E.C.
The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe.
Mikhail Gorbachev

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus

“Journeys, like artists, are born and not made. A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will - whatever we may think. They flower spontaneously out of the demands of our natures - and the best of them lead us not only outwards in space, but inwards as well. Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection...”
Lawrence Durrell, Bitter Lemons of Cyprus

Raki is so hard to get right but this one is neither too strong nor too weak. The secret, I realise, is eschewing ice. 

I am sitting outside Niazi's restaurant in Kyrenia, across the road from the elegant colonial Dome Hotel, blogging with my clumsy thumbs on my mobile. 

Kyrenia (Girne is its guttural and rather ugly name in Turkish) is a beautiful port on the north coast of Cyprus. It was a mostly Greek town which, since 1974, has been wholly occupied by Turkish Cypriots and incomers from mainland Turkey.

Cyprus was on my short list of countries I didn't want to visit, but this is my second long weekend in nine weeks. I am not sure why. Mostly because, for some reason, it seems so very easy. 

Friday, 24 March 2017

Suicide killers and the limits of the liberal imagination

Image may contain: 1 person, text

(Someone commented on this tweet: 'Look how magnificent we are when we die! We need more diversity on the terrorist side.')

The Westminster murderer came from Deptford in North Kent and not from a Muslim background. He was born Adrian Elms, to a white mother and a black father. He was a thug who had a long history of violent crime. He converted to Islam (like the man who beheaded Drummer Rigby in Woolwich and several other murderers), changed his name to Khalid Masood and grew a beard without a moustache.

He spent a lot of time in prison and some time in Saudi Arabia.

In his CV, which was sent out a few weeks ago, he described himself as “British”, “friendly and approachable” and a good listener. 

What is to be done to stop such people? I really do not know. But it is interesting to read the suggestions made in the press, which make clear the limits of the liberal imagination.

And, this time, by liberal I mean the word in all its seemingly mutually contradictory senses: the big-state liberalism of Hillary Clinton and the European Union and the small-state, classical liberalism of the Victorian liberals. 

The Times editorial this morning expresses the liberal response to Islamism when it says, "It is baffling to most people that decades of exposure to British values can leave someone so willing to kill and be killed in a death cult masquerading as a religion".

Do you find it baffling, dear reader, that exposure to 'British values' does not deter suicide killers? I don't. Any more than going to a church school prevents people growing up to be thieves or adulterers. 

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Small massacre in London, not many dead

This article has been published in Taki's Magazine. 

Yesterday several people were murdered just outside the House of Commons. Killing people outside security barriers makes much better sense for a terrorist than trying to pass them, though the murderer tried to do that too in the end, before being shot dead.

We are at war with an idea, one that kills people.

Tim Stanley, the British journalist and historian, spoke for many when he called it “A barbaric attack. Monstrous for shedding blood, but impotent because it will not change us or our way of life.” Lots and lots of other people said the same thing.

They may be right. There’s no way of knowing. I hope, though, that they're wrong and that it does change us. Change, for example, our ideas about immigration and about the multicultural future of Europe. 

For some reason, there is a great reluctance to discuss the link between terrorism and immigration. Instead, we get appeals not to blame Muslims for a few bad or mentally ill people in their midst.

So much mental illness these days.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Well happ'd on, brother-ranger of the brine!

A mixed bag of quotations today.

Formerly no one was allowed to think freely; now it is permitted, but no one is capable of it any more. Now people want to think only what they are supposed to think, and this they consider freedom. Oswald Spengler

A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and that which we take the least care of all to acquire. Duc De La Rochefoucauld

Monday, 20 March 2017

Six thoughts

Bolshevism combines the characteristics of the French Revolution with those of the rise of Islam… Those who accept Bolshevism become impervious to scientific evidence, and commit intellectual suicide. Even if all the doctrines of Bolshevism were true, this would still be the case, since no unbiased examination of them is tolerated…Among religions, Bolshevism is to be reckoned with Mohammedanism rather than with Christianity and Buddhism. Christianity and Buddhism are primarily personal religions, with mystical doctrines and a love of contemplation. Mohammedanism and Bolshevism are practical, social, unspiritual, concerned to win the empire of the world. Bertrand Russell in a letter written from Russia  in 1920, published in 
Uncertain Paths to Freedom: Russia and China, 1919-22

We do not know whether Hitler is going to found a new Islam. He is already on the way; he is like Mohammad. The emotion in Germany is Islamic; warlike and Islamic. They are all drunk with wild god. That can be the historic future. Carl Jung, The Symbolic Life (1939)

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Emil Cioran predicts the end of European civilisation

Vacillating instincts, corroded beliefs, obsessions, and anility: everywhere conquerors in retreat, rentiers of heroism confronting the young Alarics who lie in wait for Rome and Athens; everywhere paradoxes of the lymphatic. There was a time when salon sallies traversed whole countries, foiled stupidity or refined it. Europe, coquettish and intractable, was in the flower of her age; — decrepit today, Europe excites no one. Even so, certain barbarians await their chance to inherit the finery, impatient at her long agony.
The Romanian aphorist Emil Cioran, in Syllogismes d’Amerture (1952) - the English translation of the book is here. 

It's interesting that he said this before the Algerian War, when Algeria still constituted three departments of France.

Pessimism was to Cioran what daffodils were to Wordsworth or butlers to P.G. Wodehouse. Cioran even achieved the feat of being too pessimistic for Samuel Beckett. This broke up their friendship.

Friday, 17 March 2017

The right and wrong kind of populism

The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, whose government came first in Wednesday's election, has said Geert Wilders represented 'the wrong kind of populism'. 

Mr. Wilders replied that he did not consider himself a populist and wondered what the Prime Minister considered the right kind of populism.

But I think Mr Wilders is deluding himself. He wants the Koran banned and mosques closed down. This means he is a populist and also a demagogue, by almost any definition.

His proposals on the Koran and mosques will never, I hope, be implemented. The proposals can only sow enmity between Dutch Muslims and non-Muslims. And alienating Dutch Muslims is the most dangerous thing that could happen. It is exactly what ISIS and the extremists want.

I imagine that many people who voted for Mr Wilders feel the same. But they don't care. 

They voted for him to signal that they want an end to Muslim immigration into Holland. 

As the mainstream parties do not offer this they vote for Geert Wilders instead. 

This reflects the profound wisdom of ordinary people, who are keen observers of life. They know that you should not vote for things you like. You should always vote against things you don't like.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Geert Wilders does not want to be Dutch Prime Minister and President Le Pen is a very long shot

'It is not that France has become Le Penist, reality has become Le Penist.' 
Elisabeth Levy, the French feminist writer
'I said the evening of Trump’s election that this is not the end of the world, it’s the end of a world. The EU world is ultra-liberalism, savage globalisation, artificially created across nations. I believe that this world is dead.' 
Marine Le Pen

A lot of things that should be obvious are not obvious to people who write for what used to be called the papers and are now called the mainstream media.

For example, Geert Wilders has no chance of being Dutch Prime Minister after today's election. This is because the Dutch constitution is designed to prevent rule by one party. 

Just to make it sure it doesn't happen he has gone out of his way recently, for example by referring to 'Moroccan scum' (he explained that he meant criminals who were Moroccan and not Moroccans in general, but it sounded very extreme), to ensure that almost all of the other parties pledged not to ally with him. 

He does not want the cares of office, which would destroy his career, at this stage at least. He naturally wants to change the political discourse from the opposition.

This was all Marine Le Pen's father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, ever wanted. His daughter, on the other hand, wants power. 

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Carl Jung on good and evil

Filling the conscious mind with ideal conceptions is a characteristic of Western theosophy, but not the confrontation with the shadow and the world of darkness. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.

It is a fact that cannot be denied: the wickedness of others becomes our own wickedness because it kindles something evil in our own hearts.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Why I don't like International Women's Day

A week ago sunny weather arrived in time for Mărţişor. Time to walk
hatless and scarfless along Calea Victoriei in the spring

Romanians consider that spring starts on March 1 (
Mărţişor) and men here
celebrate it by offering mărţişoare to women. A mărţişor is a trinket,
usually by peasants who come to Bucharest to sell them,
though some fortunate ladies receive expensive versions of mărţişoare
encrusted with gems.

If you failed to invite a lady for dinner on Mărţişor today you have a
second chance, because March 8th is International Women's Day. It is a day which, if it is noticed at all in the West, is marked by left-wingers and feminists. In Romania it is a very big thing but, after more than forty years of left-wing ideas and political correctness, it is simply about giving women presents and inviting them to dinner.

A very pleasant custom but, still, I dislike IWD because it is Marxist.

Monday, 6 March 2017

One United People

I just came across by chance these words of the American revolutionary John Jay, in the Federalist Papers 2 (October 31, 1787):

With equal pleasure I have as often taken notice that Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.
Readers know that I am alarmed by attempts to turn European countries into 'proposition nations' united by values. The USA and other new countries founded by European colonists are not ethnic states but I am not convinced that they are proposition nations either. The USA's core identity is (17th and 18th century) British. It seems that in 1787 it was also more or less a European-style ethnic state, despite the many German and other settlers. Franklin complained about how badly the Germans spoke English and how they had no feeling for freedom.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Chamberlain, Churchill and the End of Glory

If I am to manage to continue reading books I probably have to give up fiction. Having taken almost two years with 'War and Peace' (do read it if you haven't), I returned with relish to John Charmley's 'Churchill: the End of Glory'.

The book caused great controversy when it appeared 25 years ago because it portrayed Churchill in a new and unflattering light. It is sceptical about Chamberlain and Deladier's decision to go to war with Germany in 1939 and the British cabinet's decision not to find out the details of Hitler's peace overtures after the fall of France in 1940. Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax wanted to. Churchill, the new Prime Minister, and the Labour leader Attlee convinced the (all-party) war cabinet not to do so.

Having been lucky to evacuate the army from France in time and having ruled out negotiations, Churchill had no plan for defeating Germany nor any means of doing so.

As Professor Charmley points out:
The Americans were not about to enter the war in December 1941, as Churchill's despair in November showed. They came in because they were forced to, just as the Soviets had done; only the British and the French were mad enough to volunteer for war.
I followed 'Churchill: the End of Glory' with Professor Charmley's 'Chamberlain and the Lost Peace', which dissects the way in which England came to go to war.

Neville Chamberlain and Benito Mussolini at the Führerbau building in München, Germany, 19 Sep 1938, photo 2 of 2:
Neville Chamberlain and Benito Mussolini at Munich, 19 September 1938

I recommend both books very highly.

They tell a very sad story about the end of British greatness.

I admire Churchill as a great Englishman, comparable with Nelson, Wellington and Dr Johnson. I have come to think, however, that Neville Chamberlain and Halifax were wiser statesmen.

Yet it was they, not Churchill, who took us to war.

The crucial decision that led to war was the decision to give a guarantee to Poland and, oddly, Romania. It was taken by Chamberlain in March 1939, under pressure from Halifax, after Germany seized the Czech lands.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Quotations for the weekend

That in woman which inspires respect and fundamentally fear is her nature, which is more ‘natural’ than that of man, her genuine, cunning, beast-of-prey suppleness, the tiger’s claws beneath the glove, the naivety of her egoism, her ineducability and inner savagery, and how incomprehensible, capacious and prowling her desires and virtues are. Nietzsche

Nanny's philosophy of life was to do what seemed like a good idea at the time, and do it as hard as possible. It had never let her down. Terry Pratchett