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.