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, not like cavaliers. 

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?”