Monday 29 June 2009

Back In Hospital

For a week starting tomorrow. And then out of action for much of the summer. If there is nothing on here from about a fortnight's time, then I am dead.

Tu Es Petrus

Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo ecclesiam meam.

Ah, Faith of Our Fathers. Father Faber was the son of the Rector of Stanhope, and, like a striking number of Tractarian or Tractarian-influenced converts, his ancestry was largely Huguenot (as is part of mine, although another side is Highland Catholic). So his "fathers chained in prisons dark" were not quite as his thoroughly rousing hymn would suggest.

Total Victory

Thatcher's anti-union laws and her European Single Market are clearly in the same robust health that she herself is.

British Homes For British Workers

Of course people with local links should have first call on council housing. That is why it is run by councils and housing associations, not by central government.

It is good to see council housing being taken seriously again. Can we hope that the proposal to abolish security of tenure will be dropped?

And can we hope for a facing up to the economic, social, cultural and political damage done by the handover of the wealth that was council houses to people who were thus launched into the property market ahead of those who had saved for deposits?

Money Well Spent


To stop a politician (whether or not a party politician) from becoming Head of State.

To give a direct constitutional role to God Who is active in His world.

To embody sheer good fortune, which imposes responsibilities on the more fortunate towards the less fortunate.

To bind together the United Kingdom.

To define our nationhood in neither ethnic nor ideological terms.

And to bind us to the other 15 Commonwealth Realms (each of which, including Britain, remains so entirely by choice), to the 10 British Overseas Territories with permanent populations (which remain British entirely by choice), to the three Crown Dependencies (which remain so entirely by choice), to the three inhabited territories (voluntarily) dependent on Australia, to the one inhabited territory (voluntarily) dependent on New Zealand, and to the two states in free association with New Zealand, as well as the Melanesian half of the people of Fiji (the other half being descended from Indian indentured labour), whose Great Council of Chiefs (which elects the President) continues to acknowledge the Queen as Paramount Chief even though Fiji became a republic following two coups in 1987 (and has not exactly had a happy history since).

Money very well spent indeed.


Over on Post-Right, my views on the American Bishops and illegal immigration have attracted the comments of the tellingly named Thomas O. Meehan:

The church’s position with regard to illegal aliens is shameful. The Catholic Bishops idiocy on many issues over the years has been manifest. They are notorious for farming out their reasoning powers to “experts” in the manner of the Warren Court, whenever approaching the nexus between church teaching and the real world.

On the other hand, the jobs of many Catholic corrections officers, public defenders, bail bondsmen etc. will be made safe by continued immigration from Latin America.


Saint Paul’s Catholic church in Princeton NJ erected an out-sized statue of St Mary of Guadeloupe to the right of the main alter. Spanish masses are now the norm. Left untended is the resident Black population who have seen their jobs taken wholesale by St Paul’s largely illegal parishioners. The days when an uneducated but upright black man could make a living in landscaping are over in the area.

No wonder that President Obama is not saying too much about Honduras. His black base is no happier about Hispanics than his white target audience is about allies of Hugo Chávez, with Irish Catholics clearly among those taking both views. And, thanks to a globe-trotting uncle, I have a Hispanic cousin now resident in Miami.

A Bit Of A Blur

Alex James must have been feeling as nostalgic as the rest of us, because he lit up a cigarette on stage. You are not supposed to do that these days. Still, what are they serving at Spectator lunches? He looked younger than I do.

Blur are not in fact younger than I am. But were they this year's only act not to have done Glastonbury because they were personal friends of King Arthur, or indeed of Joseph of Arimathea?

Happy Events

The Procession of the Blessed Sacrament at Ushaw on the last Sunday in July, beginning at 2pm, and organised by this Diocese's wonderful Association of the Eucharist.

And this, which I have been asked to pass on:

During the weekend of the 18-20 September 2009. Young Catholic Adults (YCA are part of the international Juventutem Federation) will be running a Traditional Retreat at Douai Abbey in the south of England, the weekend will be led by Juventutem Ecclesiastical Assistant Fr de Malleray. Summorum Pontificum must be working - at least in a "brick by brick" fashion, just look at the following:-

-For the first time Young Catholic Adults will be using the main Abbey Church for Mass

-For the first time YCA will be organising a Missa Cantata, sung by the Douai Singers; this will be followed by a Marian Procession

- YCA has booked out the whole of the retreat complex this year, on the advice of Douai Abbey itself, as the monks were so pleased with the YCA retreat last year

Places are limited so please book early

-YCA will have the retreat centre to itself
-There will be a social in the evening
- Fr. de Malleray FSSP head of Juventutem will preach the retreat, all Masses will be in the Extraordinary form
- There will be a Sung Mass (Missa Cantata) on Saturday 19th September 09’ at 10am. The choir will be the Douai Singers, in the main Abbey Church, followed by a Marian Procession at 11am (starting from the main Abbey Church) around the extensive grounds of the Abbey (weather permitting, if the weather is poor there will be Marian devotions in the main Abbey Church )
-The weekend will be full-board (except for the Sunday lunch)

How to book

The cost of the weekend will be from as little as 25 pounds for students (or 48-88 pounds for non students) for more details, please see or email or ring 07908 105787

Events Open to the Public

The Sung Mass (Missa Canta) on Saturday 19th September 09’ at 10am followed by a Marian Procession around the extensive grounds of the Abbey at 11am (starting from the main Abbey Church) are open to the public.

There are also a few rooms allocated for all age groups (not just YCA) so please book soon.

There are limited places so please reserve your place early!

Sunday 28 June 2009

When Will The Party Be Over?

James Purnell will be making a nuisance of himself again this week.

You'd never believe it, but time was when Labour used to expel parties within the party.

Good Grammar

The call by David Davis for the return of the grammar schools, of which his party (for how much longer?) voted to ban the creation of any more, is a huge story. So is his pointing out of the higher standards across the board in areas with grammar schools, such as Kent, and until recently Northern Ireland, where Peter Hain introduced comprehensivisation in order to punish the political parties. But coverage? About as much as Norman Tebbit received when he told people to vote UKIP. Or even less, if that is possible.

Ich Dien, Indeed

For forty years, Wales has been lucky enough to have Prince Charles, and Prince Charles has been lucky enough to have Wales.

Yes, there is the syncretism. And the environmentalism instead of conservationism. And the silly yet nasty cult of the silly yet nasty Dalai Lama. He can also come across as pro-EU, which paleocons occasionally are, because they see it as Christendom, which is exactly what it is not. But he is still at least the nearest thing to Britain's pre-eminent paleocon, with his work in support of traditional arts and crafts; with his appreciation of the relationship between Truth, Goodness and Beauty; with his opposition to zoning, whether by function (residential and commercial) or by class; with his understanding that Communism would come back if capitalism were unfettered; and with his championing of so many other causes dear to the hearts of those of us who are conservationists and not environmentalists, right down to saving the red squirrel.

Meanwhile, Wales is a happy and even hallowed land. Seventy-four per cent of those who could have voted for devolution there declined to do so. Ex-Labour Independents and small parties have lately captured many council seats, captured and retained the erstwhile Commons seat of Aneurin Bevan and Michael Foot, and captured and retained the corresponding seat at Cardiff, all on programmes as far from the economic sectarian Leftism that New Labour used to profess as from the social and cultural sectarian Leftism that New Labour now professes. Where that Commons seat was concerned, the favourite New Labour device of the all-women shortlist took a hell of a kicking.

A lesson to us all…

The Last Gasp?

It was put to me today that Irish Republicans are used to being angry, but no longer have any reason to be, so are reduced to shouting at Armed Forces Day events in order to get it off their chests. I can see the logic of that. But we should bear in mind that this didn't happen in Ireland. It happened in Glasgow. It wouldn't now happen in Ireland. It couldn't, really. Who would organise it?

Those shouting were clearly frustrated at something, and I expect that it was at the decision of those who, after all, have to live there to sign up to an Agreement which declares there to be two peoples, each with a right to self-determination, and one defined explicitly by saying No to anything to which both have to say Yes in order for it to come to pass.

But look at the investment in Nationalist areas. And yes, look at the ministerial office for Martin Maguiness et al. I think that there are serious problems with the Good Friday Agreement, by no means only the ones that are usually invoked. But I don't have to live there. And nor does any probably rather distantly Irish-descended person in Glasgow.

Saturday 27 June 2009

One Down, But Many More To Go

Very good riddance indeed to Alan “Haze of Dope” Milburn. Let him take his fellow Trot, Stephen Byers, with him.

John Reid has already said that he is going. Let him take his fellow Communist Peter Mandelson with him; Mandy may have a seat for life, but he does not have to use. And let the pair of them take with them Charles Clarke, probably also Jack Straw, and all the rest of Labour’s Soviet fellow-travelling faction that controlled the NUS.

Patricia Hewitt has already said that she is going, too. Let her take with her Harriet Harman, with whom she provided the legal cover for the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation.

Away with Alistair Darling of the International Marxist Group, and with his IMG comrade, Geoff Gallop, the man who first gave Tony Blair what little interest in politics he ever really had.

Away with all those who sang, not The Red Flag, but The Internationale, at the funerals of Donald Dewar and Robin Cook.

And so on, and on, and on.

Not least to include Geoff Mulgan, Blairite insider and straddler of the worlds of Trotskyism and the Communist Party, but now on course for a peerage and Ministerial office under Cameron, himself surrounded by the old hired help of Pretoria and Santiago. Once again, Molotov embraces Ribbentrop.

Darlington has form. Surely we can find a candidate there?

Traición de los Clérigos

The American Bishops are at it again, urging an amnesty for illegal immigrants.

In the words of the Catechism, "Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens" (paragraph 2241). You can't do that by entering illegally, or by working illegally, or by evading taxes.

By no means only in America, the sooner the Bishops stop urging their flock to accept the loss of their jobs, the running down of their wages and working conditions, and the confinement of their children and grandchildren to the bottom of the heap by means of de facto State bilingualism, the better. No, these things are not somehow to the good of the Church.

In fact, far from Hispanics' being the great hope of American Catholicism, Latin America has never been a very Catholic place, with slight if any Mass-going majorities, huge numbers of the unbaptised, rampant syncretism and surviving paganism, and a very heavy dependence on (historically European, these days usually North American) missionary priests. No wonder that the strongest opponents of the present levels of immigration, of any amnesty, and of the erosion of English in American life, are themselves traditional Catholics.

Quis Separabit?

They want something, of course. Just as the other side did. And the other side got it. So, what are the UDA and the UVF going to get? If it's a better deal for the Protestant working class (to match the better deal for Republican areas), then not before time. But there must be more to it than that. Mustn't there?

The Real Armed Forces Day

It is not today. It is on 11th November, and the whole point of it is that it is not a public holiday. Rather, at eleven o’clock in the morning, the ordinary routine of daily life is interrupted. Or, at least, it used to be. And it should be again.

As for improving relations between the general public and the Armed Forces, the latter should be brought home from Afghanistan and Iraq, and certainly not sent to Iran. If they are not, then they should simply bring themselves home, thus causing our rancid Political Class to collapse without so much as a shot's needing to be fired. Now that really would be doing their duty in the defence of the Realm.

Forty Years On

This weekend marks the fortieth anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the beginning of the movement that defined, and defines, homosexuality as an individual and collective identity economically, socially, culturally and politically. To suggest that it is any such thing is in fact scientifically baseless and historically illiterate. And the true character of that movement may be discerned from an examination of its origins.

From Queer As Folk through Shameless (which in a recent series featured incest between teenage half-brothers as a gigantic joke) to Clapham Junction, sex between men and teenage boys is glorified. We treat as a national treasure Peter Tatchell, a militant campaigner for the age of consent to be lowered to 14, which, had it been in force, would have legalised well over ninety per cent of the offences committed by Catholic priests, the only men who now run the slightest realistic risk of being prosecuted for sex with teenage boys.

But Tatchell is merely a faithful representative of the movement that originated out of those Riots and into the early 1970s, and which originated the idea, which has no prior history whatever and remains unknown in great swathes of the world, that persons, rather than simply acts, are homosexual, and that a predilection for such acts constitutes an identity comparable to class, ethnicity or even sex (which is written into every cell of the body).

That was and is a movement of, by, for and about those who sexually abuse teenage boys. It began several years after our own humane and necessary decriminalisation of male homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. Many of its pioneering figures abused teenage boys to their dying days, and the rest still do so to this very day. Every time that you see one of those rainbow flags, or anything like that, then remember that that is what it represents, aided and abetted by the likes of A C "sex is part of a happy childhood" Grayling, of the old legal advisor to the old Paedophile Information Exchange who is now Deputy Leader of the governing party, and all the rest of them.

Yet that is now the by far the richest and most powerful lobby group in several countries, including this one, where it absolutely may not be gainsaid on any issue. I know. I am already preparing myself for the unprintable comments on this post.

Twenty Years On

Neoliberalism has reduced Hungarians to penury, while the neo-Nazis are on the rise in Austria.

The old East European Stalinist nomenklatura runs Austria as well as Hungary through the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of Ministers.

An utterly unrepentant old Portuguese Maoist is President of that Commission.

And one of his recent henchmen, an equally unrepentant old stalwart of the Young Communist League, is the Ruler of Britain.

Little England: Another Political Little Britain?

If there really is a rise in English Nationalism (and I can't see it, not least because it has now peaked everywhere else), then England will presumably acquire political phenomena as odd as those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Plaid Cymru, a coalition of hardline middle-class Leftists and Arthurian restorationists.

The SNP, a coalition of hardline middle-class Leftists and people who wear tartan trews on a daily basis.

The DUP and Sinn Féin, not one but two of the most peculiar political movements in the world.

The comparable strands in English culture and society do of course exist. Most people in England are not remotely like that. But then, most people in Wales are neither hardline middle-class Leftists nor Arthurian restorationists. Most people in Scotland are neither hardline middle-class Leftists nor wearers of tartan trews on a daily basis. And most people in Northern Ireland are neither Marxist guerrillas with visions of Brian Boru, nor subscribers to the local franchise of Bob Jones University and all that comes with it.

Farah Fawcett, The C S Lewis Of Our Age

Lewis's death was hardly reported, since it coincided with that of John F Kennedy.

Fawcett's death is hardly being reported, since it has coincided with that of Michael Jackson.

Further comment would be superfluous.

Friday 26 June 2009

Saint Josemaría Escrivá, Pray For Us

Today is the Feast of Saint Josemaría Escrivá.

I am a convinced admirer of Opus Dei, both as a practising Catholic and as a man firmly of the Left.

Corporal mortification, to get that out of the way, is an integral part of Catholic spirituality. Catholics need to re-learn moderate self-denial on Fridays, on the Wednesdays in Lent, during Holy Week, on the eves of the Church’s greatest Solemnities, and before receiving Communion, as well as the considerable exigencies on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

These are of a piece with the cilice (a spiked chain worn around the upper thigh) and the discipline (a small whip used on the back). Convents manufacturing such items still do a roaring trade, and the rise of Opus Dei is itself a sign that the decadent period of disdain for asceticism even within the Catholic Church is an aberration now mercifully coming to an end.

In any case, people who suggest that Ruth Kelly wears the cilice to work merely demonstrate their own ignorance. Both the cilice and the discipline are used by numeraries, who are celibate, live in Opus Dei centres, and give most of their salaries directly to Opus Dei. Kelly is clearly a supernumerary, as are seventy per cent of Opus Dei members, and so presumably mortifies the flesh in ways more acceptable to clever-clever opinion, though none the worse for that.

Opus Dei believes in the sanctification of the world, thus first anticipating and then implementing the Second Vatican Council. By contrast, its opponents believe in the secularisation of the Church, falsely presenting that as "the Spirit of Vatican II". Therefore, they oppose corporal mortification as they oppose other Opus Dei practices: beginning the day by offering it to God, daily Communion, the Rosary, the Angelus, daily examination of conscience, invocation of the Angels and the Saints, ejaculatory prayer, use of holy water, and so forth.

This is because they disagree profoundly with Opus Dei about sanctification of and through ordinary work, not least because they so look down on the people who do a great deal of ordinary work.

They disagree with Opus Dei about living a contemplative life in the middle of the world, taking everything one does with liturgical seriousness, and recognising (as any orthodox Catholic must) that every experience of the true, the good and the beautiful is in fact a religious experience. Instead, they would rather that even the Liturgy were treated with no more (or even rather less) seriousness than most people attach to a pop concert or a football match, and that even the most obviously ecstatic mystical experiences were somehow explained away by pseudo-scientific, avowedly anti-Christian means.

They disagree with Opus Dei’s (i.e., with the Catholic Church’s) definition of Christian freedom in the Aristotelian (yet profoundly Biblical) terms given definitive Catholic and commonsensical articulation by Saint Thomas Aquinas, according to which the only true freedom is in accordance with the Will of God. Instead, they would define it in secular and Modern terms, as the freedom of the individual to do as he will (provided that he agrees with them), and that as the end in itself.

They disagree with Opus Dei’s (again, simply the Church’s) doctrine of divine filiation, of recognising oneself and every other human being as a Child of God. Adopted by God’s grace and thus in some sense ipse Christus, "Christ Himself", everything we do is therefore in some sense part of the world’s redemption: the mundane is transcendent. Instead, they would rather make the transcendent mundane.

They disagree with divine filiation’s very high understanding of the dignity of each and every human life, and with its strong imperative towards evangelisation. And they disagree with its inherent imperative, both to take up the Cross, and to experience a profound joy quite unlike any momentary chemical or sexual "high" of their own formative years. Instead, they would rather "modernise" on abortion, euthanasia and stem-cell "research". They would rather trim Christianity and Catholicism to suit every other system of belief, though even then not with a view to converting anyone. And they would rather have instant gratification, on the cheap in every sense.

Sanctification through work, the living of a contemplative life in the middle of the world, Christian freedom correctly defined, and the recognition of divine filiation: these are the principles calling all Catholics to rediscover and renew, ever-more-deeply, our beginning the day by offering it to God, our frequent Communion, our daily examination of conscience, our ejaculatory prayer, our use of holy water, and our devotion to the Mother of God, to the Angels and to the Saints. And, yes, our practice of corporal mortification.

All of this is whether or not we experience any vocation to join Opus Dei, undoubtedly God’s instrument in renewing the Church in this way, but even more clearly so if this renewal becomes the norm among Catholics generally, including our witness to ecumenical partners.

So much for admiring Opus Dei as a Catholic. But how can a man of the Left possibly do so? Well, Ruth Kelly was until recently the most prominent Opus Dei politician in the world (I am not sure who now is). The President of the Socialist International, António Guterres, has a long history in Opus Dei. Its ranks also include Squire Lance (who, frankly, ought to have been give the Illinois Senate seat), Antonio Fontán, Paola Binetti, Llúis Foix, Mario Maiolo and Xavi Casajuana (if we count Catalan nationalism as part of the Left; it is certainly a very long way from Franco), among others.

Most of the Chilean "Chicago Boys" were not members of Opus Dei. Pinochet himself never had any affiliation with it. Of six right-wing Opus Dei politicians listed on Wikipedia, four are dead (one since 1966), whereas the three broad left-wingers listed (including two women) are all still alive. So, insofar as it has a political orientation, Opus Dei’s would seem to be towards the Left, if anything.

Much like the Catholic Church Herself, in fact. Which is yet another reason to hope, work and pray for the Catholic Church at large to become much more like Opus Dei.

Payback Time

Various too-Tory MPs to pay back a total of £250,000.

Well, when is David Cameron going to pay back the £350,000 mortgage for which he billed the taxpayer in order to acquire his third house, adding that sum to the £300,000 that he just happened to have lying around anyway out of his entirely inherited thirty million?

Or have I missed something?

Banking On It

Attlee never went through with the 1945 Manifesto commitment to nationalise the clearing banks. At the time, he was probably right. But he went through with the nationalisation of the Bank of England. And the man who reversed that assertion of democratic political control over monetary policy is now learning how right Attlee was. An independent central bank, or anything like one, is an intolerable alternative government.

Lost In The Post?

There is still no sign that the Monarchy (Abolition), Public Services (Abolition), Strong Unions (Abolition) and Rural Communities (Abolition) Bill will ever be brought back before the House of Commons. Jolly good. Is this perhaps because the Government is now so reliant on the media support of the estimable Geraldine “You Put Yourself In The Window, Caroline” Smith? Geraldine Smith is also a good, and I mean good, Catholic…

Let There Be Light

Charlie Marks reprints the following press release:

Here we go again. A newly published report by the watchdog Consumer Focus says that Britain’s privatised energy companies are over-charging customers and failing to pass on billions of pounds of savings made from the falling price of gas and electricity, it is reported. Consumer Focus states the fall in wholesale prices has saved energy companies around £1.6 billion, but this has not been reflected in average domestic bills.

Energy bills rose by 42% last year, with the average household paying £1,293 for the year.

The Campaign for Public Ownership believes that the only long-term solution to the problem of energy company profiteering is to restore the energy companies to public ownership.

The problem lies in the ownership structure of the energy companies. All of them are Public Limited Companies, whose overriding aim is to maximise profits for shareholders. That’s what PLCs do. Instead of reacting with horror to the entirely predictable news that PLCs are putting the interests of shareholders before Britain’s long-suffering energy consumers, we should instead be calling for the government to take the one step that will lead to lower energy prices in the long term. Restoring the energy companies to public ownership will mean that prices can be lowered, as there will be no shareholder dividends to pay.


The Campaign for Public Ownership is a newly formed cross-party organisation which aims to harness public dissatisfaction with privatisation and campaign for a reversal of the disastrous policies of the last twenty-nine years. The Campaign seeks to expose the cost to the public of privatisation, and highlight the inefficiencies and profiteering of the privatised companies. We also strongly urge that the British government does not give a penny of taxpayers money to a privately owned company without the public receiving equity in that company. The Campaign will seek to counter the negative propaganda about public ownership put about by those with a vested financial interest in privatisation. It’s time to bring to an end to the Great Privatisation Rip-Off.

Electricity was nationalised by the Tories, before the War. And public ownership is, of course, British ownership. How could any conservative possibly be against that? How could any conservative possibly be in favour of the ownership of key national resources by foreign interests? The only way to prevent that under all circumstances is public ownership.

A Good Day To Bury Bad News?

Not on here.

Social Dumping: A Victory In Sight


A deal to end the bitter jobs dispute at the Total-run Lindsey oil refinery, which has led to walkouts across the country, has been agreed, unions say.

The agreement follows talks between union leaders and employers of contract staff at the North Lincolnshire site.

Unions said the deal involved the reinstatement of 647 workers sacked for taking unofficial strike action and would be put to the workers on Monday.

Total said it was pleased that "a positive conclusion" had been reached.

In a statement on Friday, a spokesman for the company said: "Total is pleased that the contract companies and the unions were able to reach a positive conclusion at talks last night.

"We expect this means that the contractors will be able to get back to work as soon as possible and get the project completed on time and with no further disruption or additional costs."

The Lindsey workers went on strike on 11 June after a sub-contractor cut 51 jobs. It is thought those people will also be offered the chance to return to work.

The dispute sparked wildcat sympathy walkouts involving thousands of workers at power stations and oil and gas facilities across the country.

Les Bayliss, of the Unite union, said: "Following hours of detailed negotiations we now have proposals for a return to work which will be recommended by the stewards to the workforce.

"The employers have agreed to reinstate the sacked workers but the details have to be put to the workforce first."

Workers burned letters inviting them to reapply for their jobs.

Another union, the GMB, has recommended workers accept the deal and end the dispute.

The negotiations were adjourned after five hours in London on Tuesday and resumed in Manchester on Thursday afternoon.

Total was involved in the talks after previously refusing to take part.

On Friday morning, staff at some of the sites affected by sympathy strikes began to return to work.

Hundreds of workers at Sellafield in Cumbria and Longannet in Fife, who had downed tools, voted to end their walkouts.

Other sites affected by industrial action following the Lindsey dispute included Drax and Eggborough in North Yorkshire, Stanlow in Cheshire, Aberthaw in south Wales and Didcot in Oxfordshire.

The sacked Lindsey workers had been planning to stage a demonstration outside the Paris headquarters of Total next week.

They had been employed on a project known as HDS-3 to build a new site alongside the existing Lindsey plant.

Total fears the dispute has set the project back by months and that as a result it will cost an extra 100 million euros (£85m).

It has not yet commented on the outcome of the talks.

Chuckles In Brussels

Or, indeed, in Strasbourg, dear to my heart for reasons known to at least one regular reader, but which I do not propose to discuss on here.

It takes quite something to make anyone pay attention to the European Parliament, but when it reconvenes with its oldest member in the Chair, then the fact that that member is Jean-Marie Le Pen might bring home to people to quite whose legislative will the EU subjects us. (There is no reason to assume that the BNP is anti-EU on principle; it would be all in favour of an entirely possible Fascist one.) And there is endless fun to be had with the Tories’ new group over the next year or so of its life, which is the longest that it can possibly hope to last.

From within the belly of the beast, I have already been invited more than once, in absolute seriousness, to place a bet on the first Tory to leave. I said that I could just about be persuaded to bet on Dan Hannan as the last Tory in it, but was told in every case that there was nothing on which to bet there, since no one could possibly dispute it.

Are there not other Groups that could propose measures and motions for generous welfare provisions, for public services in the public sector, for universal healthcare provided by the State, for workers’ rights, and for the public ownership of important companies? Much of this new Group would vote for such measures and motions. But then there would be the Tories.

Are there not other groups that could propose measures or motions to safeguard or restore family life in general and paternal authority in particular by safeguarding or restoring high-wage, high-skilled, high-status employment such as coal-mining? Much of this new Group would vote for such measures and motions. But then there would be the Tories.

Are there not other Groups that could propose measures and motions for the payment of mothers to stay at home with their children, for adoption and against abortion, for palliative care and against euthanasia, in favour of President Obama’s support for traditional marriage (or, at the very least, against compelling anyone to conduct deviations from it), against sex and violence in the media, against State toleration of drugs and prostitution, against unrestricted Sunday trading, and against supermarkets opening on what are supposed to be public holidays for everyone including shop workers? Much of this new Group would vote for such measures and motions. But then there would be the Tories.

And are there not other Groups that could propose motions, perhaps on appropriate anniversaries, condemning by name all those (including Margaret Thatcher) who signed the Single European Act, and condemning Winston Churchill for his carve-up of Eastern Europe with Stalin? Much of this new Group would vote for such motions. But then there would be the Tories.

And so on.

I Am Not A Number

Why this fuss about the BNP requiring a membership number on application forms for its employment? I can tell you for a fact that so does the Labour Party.

Is a Labour Party membership number also required on the form to be on the Cameron A-list? Or did that list’s preponderance of persons thus numbered just happen anyway?

Still No Smiling For Irish Ayes

The Wall Street Journal editorialises:

In some countries they rig votes, in the European Union they repeat votes to get the desired result.

After Ireland last year rejected the EU's Lisbon Treaty -- itself a rehashed carbon-copy of the EU Constitution that Dutch and French voters rebuffed in 2005 -- the Irish are being asked to reconsider. There will be another referendum in early October, Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Wednesday, and this time the Irish are expected to get it right. In Europe, they don't take "no" for an answer.

Proponents say the Lisbon Treaty is key to reforming the squeaky institutions of the 27-member union. Skeptics, including a majority in Ireland, see a significant power grab. The Treaty gives the EU a nonelected president, a quasi foreign minister, a beefier defense and foreign policy and fewer national vetoes in a number of policy areas.

To justify a revote, EU leaders put on a big show at last week's summit, giving the impression of tough negotiations in which Dublin supposedly won important concessions. The main prize Mr. Cowen took home is a protocol that claims to address Irish concerns, such as worries that the Treaty would allow the EU to meddle in Irish taxation, abortion issues, workers rights and neutrality.

Oh really? According to the EU summit's own conclusions, the protocol "will clarify but not change either the content or the application of the Treaty of Lisbon." So the Irish will vote on the same text they previously rejected by a seven-percentage-point margin despite assurances by their government as recently as last month that this would not happen.

In the year since the last vote, the Irish economy has tanked, and a pro-Brussels vote this time is possible if only because many Irish worry that the EU may abandon them in their economic hour of need. It's a fear the government knows how to exploit. A precondition for economic recovery, Mr. Cowen said Wednesday, is to "remove the doubt about where our country stands in relation to Europe."
Just a couple of weeks ago the bien pensants in Brussels bemoaned the success of euroskeptics in European Parliamentary elections. This latest run-around on the Lisbon Treaty for the purpose of boosting the power of the EU at the expense of individual states is not the way to create more europhiles.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports that Spain has received more than €2.7bn in subsidies in the last 12 years for fishing practices which exacerbate over-fishing. The Irish Republic has made from EU membership only one third of the money that her fisheries have lost as a result. That matter remains without so much as the pretence of being addressed. Just Say No. You have done it once. Now do it again.

The Source Of The EU's Power

Peter Hitchens writes:

The EU's power is at heart an agreement by the central member states that certain directions will be followed. There is no need for coercion, though an underlying fear of larger neighbours, well-taught during the 20th century, certainly motivates many of the smaller nations. The two key members, France and Germany, formalised their very curious alliance at the Elysee Treaty of January 1963. The smaller and poorer original members, Benelux and Italy, were either economically, militarily or diplomatically overshadowed by the Franco-German partnership, which continues to be the heart of the project. The origin of the EU's power lies in the joint recognition of France and Germany, and their establishments, that they cannot manage without each other, that Germany can have power if it exercises it through the EU but not if it does so openly, and that France can have standing, prestige (and considerable economic benefits) if it accepts an unstated but actual German political primacy.

This relationship became more one-sided after German reunification, but has survived remarkably well considering the strains it could have imposed. The certainty, among France's elite, that conflict with Germany in future is futile, over-rode traditional French fears of a united Germany. (Arthur Koestler wrote interestingly about the doomed relationship of the two countries, one a land of bread and wine, the other a land of coal and iron, and their unequal populations, in the opening pages of his extraordinary book Scum of the Earth, which I thoroughly recommend to anyone interested in the darker corners of European history).

The absorption of Britain was almost certainly a mistake on the EU's terms. They were attracted by the access to British markets it offered, by the possibilities of absorbing our military capability into an all-Europe one, by the fishing grounds, by the large net contributions which we were bound to make. Above all, they wanted to end what they regard as annoying British attempts to prevent a single power dominating the continent, the principle of London's foreign policy since the days of the first Queen Elizabeth. What they didn't anticipate was the depth and strength of the incompatibility between the Continental approach to law, government and regulation, and British traditions.

It was undoubtedly a mistake on British terms. We gained nothing economically or politically by it, losing what remained of our special Commonwealth trading links, losing our territorial waters, our foreign policy independence and our ability to make our own arrangements for regulating and subsidising our industry and agriculture. We also lost our political independence, and control over our own borders. I could make a longer list if I thought it would help the argument, but most readers will get my point. British establishment enthusiasm for the European idea was rooted in chagrin, and in mistrust of the USA, following our defeat at Suez.

It was in a way a sort of British Vichy mentality, defeatist and self-denigratory. It became clear during the 1980s that we were quite able to recover from the economic and political sickness of the Eden-Macmillan-Home-Wilson-Callaghan era, and were also able to conduct ourselves effectively as a medium sized diplomatic and military power. It was also increasingly clear that the ever-closer union promised in the Treaty of Rome was becoming irksome because of its growing interference with British laws at home and with our freedom of action abroad. Meanwhile, the endless promises of greater access to markets in Europe never seemed to be fulfilled.

It is perfectly true that the EU has no power of any kind to force us to remain within it, and in fact the Lisbon Treaty for the first time codifies the procedure for a country which wishes to leave the EU. We could leave tomorrow, without damage, if we so wished. But the leaderships of all political parties refuse to countenance this. Why? It is perfectly correct in saying that the British government and civil service gold-plate EU laws and regulations, because they like them so much and see them as opportunities to do what they wanted to do before.

Also on occasion ministers like to claim that the EU is forcing them to do things they wish to do anyway (a very important reason why British politicians, unwilling to reveal or take responsibility for their own real aims, support EU membership so strongly. The Strasbourg Human Rights Court, a non-EU body, often performs the same function, 'forcing' British governments to do things they wanted to do anyway, but couldn't get past the voters. The Strasbourg Court has no power in Britain, except the power the British government wants to give it).

But British politicians are not so keen to acknowledge their impotence over such things as Post Office closures, the wrecking of our fisheries, or the current rubbish collection mess, as they don't like admitting how much power they've handed over in return for the general irresponsibility the EU provides.

Off The Wall?

Was it bad of me to laugh uproariously when, last night of all nights, Andrew Neil interviewed General Sir Mike Jackson? Was it? Was it really?

Twenty minutes into The World At One, and they were still talking about Michael Jackson. They had even played Blame It On The Boogie! On Radio Four! On the news!

Much comment about how odd he was. But in fact his two divorces, for example, were quite typical of his generation. And there is nothing unusual about a man of 50’s death from a heart attack because he insisted on attempting to keep up the workload of a man of 30 or younger.

Still, I hope that it will all have quietened down by next Thursday. Question Time is to feature Jarvis Cocker…

Thursday 25 June 2009

Country Roads, Take Me Home

Gareth Thomas is a Minister of State in the appalling Department for International Development, the enemy of Saint Helena, against whose interest it will happily spend far more money than would be the cost of doing the right thing by that community of British citizens living on British territory, and so not properly the province of that Department at all.

He is also the MP for Harrow West, which he probably thinks is in the countryside. And he is responsible for a scheme to pay supermarkets to import foreign food instead of using readily available domestic produce.

Of course I know that there is far more to the countryside than agriculture. But New Labour's dislocation from both is mind-boggling, and a sign of just how far removed from Labour's history it is. Far from being an atavistically urban phenomenon, Labour's earliest heartlands - in the Twenties, when it first became possible to speak of safe Labour seats - were very largely county divisions, in the Welsh valleys, in Nottinghamshire, in Derbyshire, in the West Riding, and here in County Durham. Yes, they contained a lot of mining. But they also contained a lot of farming. And, unlike with mining, they still do.

By contrast, Labour failed to hold a single Manchester or Sheffield seat at the 1931 Election. I am open to correction, but I think that Labour never had an MP in Birmingham until 1945 apart from Mosley's brief sojourn in the party, and I am practically certain that it never returned a Liverpool MP until 1945 either. There are other such examples. Inroads into urban areas were often, as here in the North East, on the back of existing strength in the surrounding countryside.

Real agriculture is a mainstay of strong communities, environmental responsibility and animal welfare, and a clear example of the importance of central and local government action in safeguarding and delivering social, cultural, political and environmental goods against the ravages of the "free" market. Working farmers sat as Labour MPs between the Wars.

Farm labourers, smallholders, crofters and others were once organised to secure radical reforms, including rural amenities such as schools, medical facilities, Post Offices, and so on. The Attlee Government created the Green Belt and the National Parks. But where is it all now? Where are today's successors of those who opposed the destruction of the national rail and bus networks? Who is fighting for affordable housing in the countryside, and for planning laws and procedures that take account of rural needs?

And so on, and on, and on.

Instead, we have a Government which is determined to bankrupt the agricultural sector, at least, once and for all.

Britain Needs A Labour Party

Endless trouble accessing the Guardian website, hence the slight lateness of this. Thank heavens that, despite all the hysteria, print will never die.

Sir Simon is right. We need a Labour Party. Not a Marxist party. A Labour Party. As to what that used to look like, and could and should look like again, see my two-parter here and here.

Rather more than New Labour's fifteen per cent of thirty-five per cent beckons.


Suddenly you are concerned about the lives of Iranians. A fortnight ago, and for several years up to then, you wanted to kill hundreds of thousands of them in a war. Indeed, you still do.

None Dare Call It Treason

And now, they never will.

Sic Semper Tyrannis

The election of the new Governor of Virginia is a sign of how much things have improved since the Bubba-Dubya Era came to an end.

In the blue corner, having beaten Bubba and Mrs Bubba's ghastly, racist rabble-rousing bag-carrier, is Creigh Deeds. A man who wants a $10,000 tax credit for businesses that make "job-creating investments". Who wants tougher sanctions against the lenders of subprime mortgages. Who was endorsed by the NRA during his 2005 Attorney General run, yet wanted to require identification at gun shows, and supports a state ban on the civilian ownership of semi-automatic rifles. Who voted to make English Virginia's only official language, to render illegal immigrants ineligible for state and local benefits, and against allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates. In favour of the death penalty, alas. And a bit Green. But persuadable on traditional marriage. All in all, the return of the Democratic Party to the well-deserved electoral dominance that, like healthcare, the Bubbas never delivered.

And in the red corner is Bob McDonnell, the sort of Republican who can be, and is, endorsed by those who supported Mark Warner and the splendid Tim Kaine, Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and prevented by term limits from standing again for Governor of Virginia. Kaine is far more pro-life than the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele. He signed a state law banning embryonic stem cell "research" funding. He signed legislation authorising a Choose Life license plate. And he helped to pass, and signed into law, America's first abortion reduction bill, modelled on the 95-10 Initiative of Democrats for Life of America. Every inch a Democrat, any Republican who can be endorsed by his supporters is one of the good ones.

Free Chen Guangcheng

Sign here.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

Light In The North

A chance encounter with an old friend who is now a seminarian for (and in) the Diocese of Oslo. One fifth of Norwegian Catholics are converts; he is one of them, as is the Bishop. And Norway, with 12 seminarians for fifty thousand Catholics, has the second-highest such ratio in the world, beaten only by Malta. Such are the fruits, not of self-conscious and often rather cranky "traditionalism", but of solid, undeviating orthodoxy.

Breach of Protocol

The "Protocols" given to the Irish are worthless. Not one word of the Lisbon Treaty has changed. Every argument for a No vote still stands.

Meanwhile, if David Cameron really is against Lisbon, then he will promise not to ratify it if it has not been ratified on his becoming Prime Minister, with no need of a referendum. He won't, because he isn't. If you want a British referendum, then you just want the matter to be decided over the preceding month by the BBC, as happened in 1975.

Question Time

With which of the following policies of the Polish Law and Justice Party does Daniel Kawczynski, never mind David Cameron, agree?

- a state-guaranteed minimum social safety net;
- state intervention in the economy;
- a tax decrease to two personal tax rates (18% and 32%), with tax rebates related to the number of children in a family;
- a reduction of the VAT rate;
- public ownership of several dozen companies of strategic importance to the economy or the country;
- opposition to cuts in social welfare spending;
- a system of state-guaranteed housing loans;
- free health care, provided by the state;
- opposition to abortion, euthanasia, same-sex "marriage", and sex and violence in the media;
- the building of three million inexpensive housing units in order to help young couples get married;
- increased maternity leave;
- a grant to parents for every newborn child;
- closing large supermarkets on Sundays and holidays, so that their workers can spend more time with their families.

And does Phil Wilson go round the old pit villages of the Sedgefield constituency extolling the virtues of Winston Churchill in general and his carve-up of Eastern Europe with Stalin in particular? We need to face the fact that there were several wars, albeit interrelated, between 1939 and 1945. The Latvian "SS" (what were they supposed to do, try and set up their own Army?) were not fighting for Germany and they were not fighting against Britain.

They were fighting for Latvia, a sovereign state between the Wars. And they were fighting against Stalin, at least as great a threat to Britain as Hitler ever was, as well as against genocidal terrorism bearing more than a passing resemblance to that perpetrated against Levantine Arabs by those who also blew up British Jews going about their business as civil servants, and who photographed the hanging of teenage British conscripts with barbed wire.

Second Jobs

Peter Lilley is right. If the second job of Minister is all right, then why not the second job of anything else?

Tony Benn and Michael Foot were working journalists throughout their time as MPs, including their time as Cabinet Ministers.

Being an MP is not a full-time job. It simply isn't. Only the evisceration of local government has turned it into one, if you want it to be one. For that as for so many other reasons, that evisceration urgently needs to be reversed.

Topslice This

If the BBC really wants to keep the license fee to itself, then that fee should be made optional, with as many adults as wished to pay it at any given address free to do so, including those who did not own a television set but who greatly valued, for example, Radio Four.

The Trustees would then be elected by and from among the license-payers. Candidates would have to be sufficiently independent to qualify in principle for the remuneration panels of their local authorities. Each license-payer would vote for one, with the top two elected.

The electoral areas would be Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and each of the nine English regions. The Chairman would be appointed by the relevant Secretary of State, with the approval of the relevant Select Committee. And the term of office would be four years.

At the same time, we need to ban any person or other interest from owning or controlling more than one national daily newspaper. To ban any person or other interest from owning or controlling more than one national weekly newspaper. To ban any person or other interest from owning or controlling more than one television station. To re-regionalise ITV under a combination of municipal and mutual ownership. And to apply that same model (but with central government replacing local government, subject to very strict parliamentary scrutiny) to Channel Four.

An Inquiry

What about Afghanistan?

Tuesday 23 June 2009


Such as the House of Commons will not have if it cedes power over its affairs to some quango or other.

What we now need are not new, unelected, irremovable bodies, but new, elected, removable MPs.

Still, where can we all apply to be on this new auditing body? When will the advertisement be appearing, presumably in Society Guardian? Or have I missed something?

Bercow's Backers

No wonder that so many New Labourites voted for John Bercow. No one ever asks him about his Hang Mandela days. Just as they never ask John Reid or Peter Mandelson about the Communist Party, in those days the paid agents of an enemy power. Just as they never ask Alistair Darling about the International Marxist Group. Just as they never ask Stephen Byers or Alan “Haze of Dope” Milburn about Trotskyism. Just as they never ask Charles Clarke about Labour’s Soviet fellow-travelling faction and its control of the NUS not only during his presidency, but also during (among other people’s) Jack Straw’s. Just as they never ask Harriet Harman about the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation. And so on, and on, and on.

The “moderate”, “mainstream”, “Centre Left” New Labour was, and is, riddled with this sort of thing, entirely unrecanted, and with only the tactics (if anything) changed.

Likewise, the “moderate”, “mainstream”, “Centre Right” Cameroons are riddled with old cheerleaders for, and fund-takers from, the Boer Republic set up as an explicit act of anti-British revenge in a former Dominion of the Crown. Circles in which it was also de rigeur to demand the dismantlement of the public services, the forced abortion and sterilisation of ethnic minorities and the working class, the legalisation of all drugs, and the abolition of marriage, public holidays, any minimum age of consent, and much else besides.

(Quite what would have happened to them if they had ever moved to South Africa or, say, Chile with views like that? This rather amusing question can also be asked of the enemies of uniformed, row-seated, teacher-led, rigorously examined schooling: what would have happened to you if you had ever moved to the Soviet Union?)

Once again, entirely unrecanted.

And once again, with only the tactics (if anything) changed.


That's "cants", with an a.

They are suddenly pretending to be all concerned about the trade union movement in Iran, which they have previously treated with the same total disregard or active hostility with which they treat the trade union movement in Britain, or the United States, or anywhere else.

Still, the entertaining side continues apace. Dear old Auntie sees the low vote for the "most liberal" candidate as proof beyond any reasonable doubt that the election must have been rigged. It was held in Iran, dear. Have you got that? Iran.

And now that the North Tehran Trendies' British counterparts are terribly attentive (ha, ha) to the working class in Iran, is there any chance that they might begin to acknowledge the existence of working-class, or poor, or rural opinion in, say, Britain?

Meanwhile, I have the dubious pleasure of finding myself in agreement with Nicolas Sarkozy. Face-covering (not head-covering, but face-covering) is incompatible with the conduct of British, as of French, social and cultural life.

Onwards in sympathy for opposition to usury, but also in total opposition to any according of legal status to Sharia law, to Muslim schools here (where my own Catholic schools have existed since a good thousand years before any other kind did), to polygamy, to male no less than female genital mutilation, and to the building of mosques with domes and minarets, which are triumphalistic manifestations of an Islamised society, culture and polity, and which were in that spirit added to former churches during Islam's forcible overrunning of the Eastern Roman Empire. But halal meat is a serviceable weapon in the armoury against the hunting ban.

Will Sarkozy, among so very many others, now also see the light over Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Xinjiang, Turkey...?

Saint Pius XII

Here we go again. "Jewish groups", answerable to no one but themselves of course, are apparently trying to block the beatification of Pius XII. As with the partial rehabilitation of the Lefebvrists, this is their business how, exactly?

Anyway, as someone once said, "Tell a lie big enough..." In fact, Pius XII was first ever called "Hitler's Pope" by none other than John Cornwell, in his 1999 book of that name, a thinly disguised liberal rant against John Paul II with the 'thesis' that the future Pius XII, while a diplomat in Germany, could have rallied Catholic opposition and toppled Hitler. Pure fantasy, like the origin of the whole "Pope supported Hitler" craze: the 1963 play The Deputy by Rolf Hochhuth, who was later successfully prosecuted for suggesting that Churchill had arranged the 1944 air crash that killed General Sikorsky.

Pius XII directly or indirectly saved between 8500 and 9600 Jews in Rome; 40,000 throughout Italy; 15,000 in the Netherlands; 65,000 in Belgium; 200,000 in France; 200,000 in Hungary; and 250,000 in Romania. This list is not exhaustive, and the Dutch figure would have been much higher had not the Dutch Bishops antagonised the Nazis by issuing the sort of public denunciation that Pius is castigated for failing to have issued.

After the War, Pius was godfather when the Chief Rabbi of Rome became a Catholic, and was declared a Righteous Gentile by the State of Israel, whose future Prime Minister (Moshe Sharrett) told him that it was his "duty to thank you, and through you the Catholic Church, for all they had done for the Jews." When Pius died in 1958, tributes to him from Jewish organisations had to be printed over three days by the New York Times, and even then limited to the names of individuals and their organisations.

All of this is contained in works of serious scholarship by Margherita Marchione, Ralph McInerny, Ronald J Rychlak, and others, most recently the superlative Rabbi Professor David G Dalin.

Colonel Claus Schenk, Count von Stauffenberg, recently given the full Tom Cruise treatment, was a devout Catholic, with close dynastic connections to the Bavarian Royal House of Wittelsbach (whom the Jacobites would have on the Thrones of England, Scotland and Ireland), to the family of Saint Philip Howard (martyred Earl of Arundel), and so on.

In Austria, Hitler had murdered the Chancellor, Englebert Dolfuss, who in fact defended, on the borders of Italy and Germany, Catholic Social Teaching and what remained of the thoroughly multiethnic Hapsburg imperial ethos (to this day, numerous German, Magyar and Slavic names are found throughout the former Austria-Hungary) against both the Communists and the Nazis.

Yes, he was authoritarian. But look at his neighbours, and look what he was up against domestically. Imagine if a Fascist putsch in the Irish Free State (and at least one was attempted) had coincided with very serious Communist and Fascist threats in Britain. The British Government of the day would have been authoritarian, too. And, while the emergency lasted, it would have been right. In the same tradition was Blessed Franz Jägerstätter. Google him, people. Google him.

Examples of Catholic anti-Nazism could be multiplied practically without end. The more Catholic an area was, the less likely it was to vote Nazi, without any exception whatever.

Oh, and the present Pope's Maths teacher sent him to get the Hitler Youth form, and then just kept it on file for him. "Thus was I able to escape it." In other words, he was never in it. Whatever lie on the matter the BBC may have succeeded in planting in almost every media outlet on earth.

Sanctus Pius XII, ora pro nobis.

Monday 22 June 2009

New Kids And Their Bloc

I sometimes get angry emails from the right sorts of addresses, blaming my very persistent comments on things like Coffee House, Conservative Home, the Telegraph blog and Iain Dale's Diary for eventually forcing David Cameron to say that he would campaign for a No vote in any referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. In that case, when is he going to promise not to bother with a referendum if Lisbon has not been ratified by the time he comes to office, and instead simply not ratify it, because he doesn't agree with it? Don't hold your breath.

Meanwhile, to the Tories' new Strasbourg group, which my comments on those sites are today - seriously, people have written to me saying this - accused of having forced all those Tory MEPs to sign up to even though they had been all ready, as I said, to tell David Cameron where to stick it and just get on with their five guaranteed years. Well, I give it a year. And that is only because I am feeling charitable today.

Take the Dutch Christen Unie, the latest manifestation of a long tradition of overtly Calvinistic politics in the Netherlands. It may be a bit Green and a bit pro-immigration, but it supports the one-earner model, so that one parent, usually the mother, can stay at home and take care of the children. It wants to leave Sunday a day of rest. It is opposed to abortion and euthanasia, and instead supports adoption and palliative care. It would end the Dutch policy of toleration towards drugs, pornography and prostitution. It would enable civil servants to refuse to conduct same-sex "marriages". It defends church schools. It would limit the use of genetic manipulation. It supports the public services, in the public sector. And it wants to increase spending on international development.

In other words, it is too good for Cameron's Tories. They all are. They deserve British allies like the Labour MPs who mostly voted against Heath's Treaty of Rome. Who all voted against Thatcher's Single European Act. And who voted against Major's Maastricht Treaty in far greater numbers than the Tories, including the only resignation from either front bench in order to do so.

They deserve British allies like the trade unionists who have spent decades defending the high-waged, high-skilled, high-status jobs of the working class. Not for us the restriction of travel to the rich, or the arresting of economic development in the poorer parts of the world.

They deserve British allies like the Catholic and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, who fought tooth and nail against abortion and easier divorce. Like the Methodist and other Labour MPs, including John Smith, who fought tooth and nail against deregulated drinking and gambling. Like those, including John Smith, who successfully organised (especially through USDAW) against Thatcher's and Major's attempts to destroy the special character of Sunday and of Christmas Day, delivering the only Commons defeat of Thatcher's Premiership. And like the trade unionists who battled to secure paternal authority in families and communities by securing its economic base in high-waged, high-skilled, high-status male employment, frequently marching behind banners that depicted Biblical scenes and characters.

And they deserve British allies with deep roots in the former mining communities, in the women's suffrage movement, in the 1945 General Election victory, and elsewhere. We are unsullied by the weird cult of Winston Churchill. Instead, we can and do condemn his carve-up of Europe with Stalin. Just as we condemn genocidal terrorism against Slavs and Balts no less than genocidal terrorism against Arabs, or the blowing up of British Jews going about their business as civil servants, or the photographed hanging of teenage British conscripts with barbed wire.

Many of them need these British allies in order to call them away from neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy, both of which have in any case collapsed. Nothing could be more destructive of national self-government, or traditional family values, or the historical consciousness of a people. Cameron is completely signed up to both.

So I give it a year. And that is only because I am feeling charitable today.

Rantzen Rigging


Whom, did Jeremy Vine have on to talk about the election of the new Speaker? You'll never guess.

Still, Rantzen made a good case for Widdy. But she's retiring. That's the only problem.

In view of that fact, and of the importance of Richard Shepherd where he is as things grow even worse for civil liberties, Margaret Beckett is the best of the bunch.

Reinstate The Lindsey Oil Refinery Workers

The Facebook group is here.

Countrycidal Capitalism

Country pubs and shops are closing at a terrifying rate. Such are the results of the utterly anti-conservative “free” market.

Once, there was a political movement which organised farm labourers, smallholders, crofters and others. It obtained rural amenities such as schools, medical facilities, Post Offices, and so on. From within it, the Attlee Government created of the Green Belt and the National Parks, and people opposed the destruction of the national rail and bus networks.

That movement saw real agriculture as the mainstay of strong communities, environmental responsibility and animal welfare, and as a clear example of the importance of central and local government action in safeguarding and delivering social, cultural, political and environmental goods against the ravages of the “free” market. And it fought for affordable housing in the countryside, as well as for planning laws and procedures that took account of rural needs.

But now, all we have is a mercifully unenforced (because unenforceable) ban on foxhunting in order to coax thoroughly shameful MPs into voting for an immoral and illegal war, together with an “Opposition” which believes that to have been, and to be, the number one priority, or even any priority, in rural areas.

I yield to no one in wanting to repeal the hunting ban. But I despise with all my being those who see the countryside as just somewhere to go at the weekends in order to hunt. It is because of them that country pubs and shops are closing at a terrifying rate. Such are the results of the utterly anti-conservative “free” market to which they are militantly committed.

Civic Charles

A comment from one "Tzipi" who, with the Political-Media Class's characteristically total detachment from wider economic, social and cultural life, apparently cannot believe that I know people who know Prince Charles.

Well, of course I know people who know Prince Charles. Don't you, Tzipi? He is one of the most active figures in British civic society, and has been for several decades. You clearly need to get out more.

The Narcissism Revolution

Richard Spencer writes:

It will be Twitterized!

Leave it to the neocons, their congressional allies, and much of the “conservative” blogosphere to make Barack Obama look like an elder statesman of Burkean inclinations.

As the newly color-coded “Green Revolution” unfolds on Twitter and other hipster-powered social networks, The Messiah has been rather circumspect in his public statements: saying that he thinks the Iranian people’s “voices should be heard” is as far as he’ll go. Obama wants to wait and see, and no matter what happens, he’ll meet with the Iranian president, whoever he might be, in the coming months. (Joe Biden stated unequivocally, “The decision has been made to talk.”) This policy of Splendid Wishy-Washiness with regard to the election is, without question, wise when an outside power is unstable and no one’s certain where the chips might fall.

The Republicans, of course, have recognized this deficit in obnoxious global-democracy happytalk, and have stepped up to fill the void. This is their moment! Since 9/11, you can always count on them to do Stephen Colbert impressions and put forth various windy resolutions in Congress whenever an international crisis of some sort occurs.

Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R, Va), who’s making a bid to be the next Newt, led the way:

The Administration’s silence in the face of Iran’s brutal suppression of democratic rights represents a step backwards for homegrown democracy in the Middle East.

And later,

America has a moral responsibility to stand up for human rights around the world and to condemn the abuses that are occurring in Tehran today.

John McCain declared he’s certain the election, in which evil Ahmadinejad won almost two thirds of the vote, was a “sham” and, more ominously, announced, “I hope that we will act.” (Thankfully “act” only means, at least for the time being, “not talk to evil Ahmadinejad.”)

The blogosphere has been far worse. If Republicans are saying, “We’re all Iranians now!” then the bloggers are writing, “The Iranians are all Americans now!” It’s the Narcissism Revolution, and everything that happens in Tehran is, pretty much, all about us.

Andrew Sullivan is perhaps the most prominent in this regard. Sully has, of course, partaken in multiple “casual encounters” with various political movements in public blog posts over the past decade. At the beginning of the century, he was “warblogging,” spouting off all kinds of nonsense about “Munich” and—in 2001!—demanding that we consider nuking Iraq before it was too late! By the 2006 midterms, he’d switched to bashing the GOP and had gone quasi-antiwar—how conveeenient. And last year, Sully, much like Brüno, fell in love with Ron Paul, for a bit, and then abandoned him to follow Jesus Christ Superstar and launch a new career as a White House shill. Now on The Daily Dish, Sullivan’s quoting from various revolutionary “tweets” from Tehran—this vicarious Iranian liberal nationalism being his most pathetic political infatuation to date. The Twitter Revolution, according to Sully, will be a “game changer,” as a liberal democracy in the heart of the Middle East will set off a domino effect of progressive change that will transform the hearts and minds … Wait, haven’t we heard this before?

Even some in the Religious Right are falling in love with themselves all over again with this Green Revolution thing. Take this from Catholic author Mark Shea:

It is beyond ironic that the country most identified in our minds as one of the major fomenters of Islamic nutjobbery should suddenly reveal a gigantic population of people who seem to have grokked [apparently this word means “understand, like, deeply”] the ideas of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Speaking of which, what also stuns me is how deeply in tune the Greens seem to be with ideas which are now quite despised here in the West by our elites, namely, the truth that, as JFK put it, ‘the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.’ Our elites, all agog for the New Atheism, sneer at such stuff as incipient “theocracy” even as the marchers in Iran call upon God to overturn the tyranny of the regime. It’s the other side of the coin that secularists never take sufficient stock of: the fact that faith in God doesn’t *just* inspire monstrous deeds. It can also fire incredible heroism and pull down despots.

The Greens in Iran are acting on ideas that are stunningly American (and, of course, deeply Catholic [of course!]). It is Augustine who tells us that an unjust law is no law at all. It is St. Thomas who says that a people have the right to overthrow a tyrant since raw power is not the same as authority from God. And it is the American Founders who insist that precisely *because* man has rights that come from God, not the state, that the state which tramples those rights is rightfully overthrown. How strange it is to hear Muslims shouting “Allahu Akbar!” in support of the teachings of Thomas Jefferson and St. Thomas.

As evidence of this rapturous state of affairs, Shea shows us a YouTube video that looks a lot like all those horrible black-and-white “B-list Celebrities ♥ Obama” ditties we were bombarded with last spring. In this dispatch from the barricades, a collection of diverse, attractive Iranians hold up signs above the soft sounds of emo-rock guitar.

Sunday 21 June 2009

Father, Dear Father

This year, Father’s Day calls, as it always does, for the introduction of a legal presumption of equal parenting. For the restoration of the tax allowance for fathers for so long as Child Benefit is being paid to mothers. For the restoration of the requirement that providers of fertility treatment take account of the child’s need for a father, and the repeal of the ludicrous provision for two women to be listed as the parents on a birth certificate. And for paternity leave to be made available at any time until the child is 18 or leaves school.

That last, in particular, would reassert paternal authority (and thus require paternal responsibility) at key points in childhood and adolescence. That authority and responsibility require an economic basis such as only the State can ever guarantee, and such as only the State can very often deliver. And that basis is high-wage, high-skilled, high-status employment. All aspects of public policy must take account of this urgent social and cultural need.

Not least, that includes energy policy: the energy sources to be preferred by the State are those providing the high-wage, high-skilled, high-status jobs that secure the economic basis of paternal authority in the family and in the wider community. So, nuclear power. And coal, not dole.

Green Is The New Orange

No, not another post about Northern Ireland.

Remember the ridiculous Rose and Orange “Revolutions” in Ukraine and Georgia respectively? “Uprisings” for incorporation into the global cash-war machine by means of NATO and the EU? Well, the result in Iran certainly bears comparison with Saakashvili’s “election” by well over ninety per cent of those who “voted”. Yet now we have the Green “Revolution”. Imagine!

What do Mousavi’s cheerleaders think that his Iran would be like? California, but without Proposition Eight? Because it wouldn’t be, you know. It really wouldn’t be at all.

Frankly, if Georgia could ever become a member of either NATO or the EU, then there is no reason why Iran couldn’t. Just look at a map. Thank goodness for Russia to veto either such application (or a Ukrainian one), in the extremely unlikely event that anyone ever took such a thing seriously in the first place. But the Tehran Trendies also want into the global order of (collapsed) neoliberal economics and (collapsed) neoconservative foreign policy. Mercifully, no one else in Iran does.

Mercifully, not least because that order has no more interest in incorporating Iran, as such, than it had in incorporating Yugoslavia as such, or Iraq as such. Assuming that the demonstrations being reported are really taking place, they are now taking place in cities that are variously Arab, Kurdish, Baluchi, Turkeman (like those whose Shi’ite mosque was so savagely attacked just outside Kirkuk in the so much improved Iraq that we have created), Azeri and so on to a very large, sometimes predominant, extent.

Only about half of Iran’s population is ethnically Persian. Much of the oil is in the Arab South West. There are Kurds in the North West. Half of the Baluchis are in the East, the other half being across the border in Pakistan with long-standing secessionist tendencies. There are so many Turkemen that Tehran is actually the second-largest Turkish-speaking city on earth, even though Turkish is a minority language there. There are more Azeris than in Azerbaijan. There is a sizeable and very ancient community of Jews, complete with its own reserved seat in Parliament, like the Christian Armenian and Assyrians (also found in Kirkuk). And so on.

Iraq is being blown apart, and Iran is next. That is what global capital requires. Can you think of another multinational state that is to global capital’s inconvenience? Ahmadinejad can, even if that is not why he hates the state in question.

He is not the only one.

One of the many similarities between the Ahmadinejad tendency and the neocons is their belief in the all-pervasive, wholly negative influence of Britain. In the neocon case, this derives from the marriage of strictly academic, if highly contentious, work and a stock Irish-American saloon-bar rant against a perceived Anglophile network within the WASP élite. What are David Trimble, Paul Bew and Tim Collins doing, associating with this sort of thing through the Henry Jackson Society?

Neoconservatism takes this anti-British hysteria even further, demanding the wholesale Americanisation of Britain’s, Canada’s, Australia’s and New Zealand’s economic, social, cultural and political systems, though without the conferral of American citizenship, and thus without representation in Congress or the Electoral College. And of course, there is, as always, the American Republic’s fundamental claim to all the historically British parts of the Americas, a claim currently being pursued, entirely unchallenged by Britain, in Bermuda.

So much for the Anglosphere, from which America is in any case busily detaching herself by means of the unrestricted immigration supported by the neocons. That support is because they rightly recognise that there cannot be a “free” market in goods, services and capital but not in labour (or vice versa), there being nothing less conservative than capitalism.

This hatred of Britain and of the perceived Anglophile network, the latter seen as a global phenomenon, is as important as Zionism to the neocons. They were ethnic and regional outsiders compared to the WASP élite and its traditional base of mainline rather than Evangelical Protestants in the heartland, a base of variously English, Scots-Irish, German and Scandinavian descent. This was as true of the Irish Catholics, among others, as it was of the Jews. Neoconservatism is as much (or as little) an Irish Catholic as a Jewish movement, among other things. And Zionism also has a history, which it glorifies greatly, of quite exceptionally vicious violence against British targets.

The milleniarian hysteria, held in contempt whether at Wheaton or at Qom, may be common to the Useful Idiots on both sides. But it is in the hatred of Britain, and of all those deemed favourably inclined towards Britain, that there is the real meeting of minds. There is no reason to assume that the mind of Mousavi is any different.

After the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, now Iraq, and putatively Iran too, Belgium (a classic creation of the Anglophile network if you believe in such a thing) is next. And after that? Well, have a guess.

Not The Sun Prince

On Any Questions, only Kelvin MacKenzie laid into Prince Charles over his intervention to ensure that not everything decreed by the Groucho Club shall come to pass. He decried both monarchy and, at another point, any public role for religion, even favourably (if without citation) quoting Stalin on the latter question.

There is nothing remotely surprising about this. Quite the reverse, in fact. The greatest threat to this country’s Christian, monarchical constitution – indeed, the only such threat has ever existed in any serious way – has come, and still does come, from what could loosely be called Thatcherism, i.e., the entrenchment of 1960s immorality in the form of neoliberal economics.

That threat has intensified, to put it at its very mildest, since assorted old Communists and Trotskyists correctly identified these as the perfect new means to their own entirely unchanged ends. But it was always inherent in Thatcherism anyway.

It is impossible to imagine a less Thatcherite figure than Prince Charles, whose mother the Leaderene herself once called “the sort of person who votes for the SDP”, and whose ongoing reconstitution of a Court Party is the best news in at least half a generation for those of us who would prefer a genuinely pluriform polity. He is not always right. But as hung Parliaments, far more accurately reflecting opinion in the country at large, become more and more common, we could scarcely hope for a better man to assume the functions of the monarch in that event as the coming decades unfold.

I wonder if he fancies helping to fund a purely educational, and therefore legally charitable, body comparable to those other bastions of tax-free political impartiality, Policy Exchange, the Henry Jackson Society, the Social Affairs Unit, and so forth?

That body would study past, present, and potential future remedies against poverty, ignorance, illness, idleness, squalor and armed conflict by means of central and local government action inclusive of concerns variously rural, monarchist, cautious and organic with regard to constitutional change, Eurosceptical, Unionist, pro-Commonwealth, academically selective, economically patriotic, morally and socially conservative, explicitly Christian, conservationist rather than environmentalist, and foreign policy realist.

Certain regular readers will doubtless be having words…

Sikh And Ye Shall Find

Last night, I watched a repeat of a documentary initially marking the twentieth, and repeated to mark the twenty-fifth, anniversary of the miners’ strike. Not for the first time, I was struck by the admirable qualities of the Sikhs.

I have no sympathy for any second, bloody partition of the Punjab in order to create Khalistan; but then, who has, these days? And I don’t agree with them theologically, of course. But within the world as it shows every sign of remaining for rather a while yet, Sikhs, I feel, are a Good Thing.

Poisonous Kosovo

Most of the Roma in Kosovo are Muslims. And look how they are treated. No wonder that their leaders in Serbia, like all the other Muslim (including Albanian) leaders there, and like the government of almost every Muslim country on earth, so vigorously opposed, and oppose, the secession of Kosovo.

Every noxious trait in terrorism – Islamist, Maoist, Nazi, narcotic – meets in the unutterably vile Kosovo “Liberation” Army and its rancid little plaything sponsored by NATO and the EU.

The Roma in Kosovo look it and speak it. Like the Romanian ones in Belfast, for example. But are our own Gypsies “Roma”? They might have it in them, but anyone who can tick the White British box has all sorts of things in them. “Five or six families in Wales” are usually said still to speak British Romany, but researchers at Durham freely admit that they have been looking for those families for quite some time.

The Roma of Eastern Europe are an ethnic group, or several related ethnic groups. But how are our own Gypsies any different from Scottish tinkers or Irish Travellers, simply a section of the predominant population which refuses to abide by the same rules as the rest of us? As we have seen in Belfast, resentment of their special treatment in matters such as planning feeds hatred against the indisputably real Roma.

English Catholicism Today

Not very working-class; in fact hardly so at all on a week-by-week basis, even in parishes where much of the population is generally so, and would largely identify as Catholic. Practising Catholics are disproportionately likely to have degrees, professional salaries, and so on. The Catholic schools, of course, are both large-scale producers and, in employing teachers, large-scale consumers of the middle class.

Barely at all Irish in anything beyond surnames, to the extent that someone like Dan Hannan can not only be hugely critical of the Northern Ireland peace process, also decried in the same classically Unionist terms in this week’s Catholic Herald by that newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief, but also use his Telegraph blog to bemoan the loss of Jim Allister’s seat. We will not see again a Cardinal who feels it necessary to affect an Irish accent despite being a Reading doctor’s son who went from public school to the heart of Recusancy, the English College in Rome. Practices such as saying “Ay-men” instead of “Ah-men” are now very visibly dying out, and may already have done so in some parts of the country.

Increasingly solid in its orthodoxy, as Catholicism itself, rather than some sort of inherited working-class Irishness, becomes more and more the point of it. Almost anyone under 40 or even 50 who attends Mass regularly is thoroughly sound in the spirit of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Most other people that age only turn up at Christmas, or for baptisms, weddings and funerals. Much like the poor, alas.

Influenced both for orthodoxy and (insofar as this is still necessary) for Englishness by the really quite striking, and growing, number of priests who are now converts, with at least one diocese that would close down, its territory absorbed into one or more of its neighbours, were it not for former Anglican clergy. Convert clergy are often well into middle age or even older, which brings all sorts of things of its own. But it should also be said that a very high number of such young men as are still being ordained in England are not cradle Catholics, generally having converted at university. There is a hugely important extent to which all practising Catholics of post-Vatican II vintage are essentially converts, Catholics by choice who, Catholic schools or no Catholic schools, probably discovered most of what they know about Catholicism after leaving school.

More and more aware of the special place of England in the heart of Rome, whereas Ireland has only ever been the Prodigal Son’s brother; it has always been for England that the fatted calf would be killed. After all, Rome is run by Catholic countries’ toffs and intellectuals. English toffs are disproportionately Catholics, and Catholic intellectuals (usually converts or with backgrounds at least partly on the Continent) are a permanent feature of the English scene. Whereas Irish toffs are Protestants, and Irish intellectuals (at least in the Republic), while traditionally coming from the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy, are these days the most militant atheists in the Western world, defined by hatred of their Catholic family backgrounds. Chairs in Catholic Theology are now being created in English universities, something completely unimaginable in the Irish Republic, although it could probably be done in Northern Ireland. The emphasis in English historiography is now on writing all things Catholic in, rather than, as in Ireland, on writing all things Catholic out.

But not terribly Polish. Eighty per cent of people in Poland are practising Catholics. Yet only one Pole in ten in Britain is a practising Catholic. Have they come here in order to escape from the Church? Or do they dislike Her character here? If the latter, then the rise of orthodoxy into the Episcopate should do much to bind them to Her. But by then, will it be too late?

All in all, a very long way from where things used to be.

Saturday 20 June 2009

Laus Deo!

A Catholic for ten years today.

War Will Be Their Fault

The Western media are like tweedy ladies who couldn't believe that Tony Blair won elections, or their own Eighties selves who couldn't believe that Margaret Thatcher won elections, just because they personally didn't know anyone who would vote that way.

Claims are being bandied about of turnouts in excess of one hundred per cent and such like. Only declared opposition sources are saying these things. But, of course, they are duly being reported as fact by the BBC et al, who are too bone idle to leave the faaaashionable dinner tables of North Tehran.

If there is a war, then it will be their fault.

Friday 19 June 2009


The Spectator editorialises:

There was something magnificently comic about Lord Rogers of Riverside accusing the Prince of Wales of ‘unconstitutional’ behaviour. The modernist architect is predictably outraged that his hideous design for a development on the site of the old Chelsea Barracks has now been ditched — after Prince Charles wrote to a member of the Qatari royal family, which was financing the project.

The Rogers project would have been a horrible eyesore so close to Sir Christopher Wren’s Royal Hospital, and the Prince was right to urge the Qataris to consider an alternative design commissioned from Quinlan Terry. No doubt Lord Rogers feels aggrieved to have been outmanoeuvred by the royal Rolodex. But as one of the most conspicuous and well-connected members of London’s elite it is hilarious that he, of all people, should complain about another man using his contacts to get his way.

There is nothing ‘unconstitutional’ about this splendid outcome. Lord Rogers is angry for one reason alone: he got beat.

Is A Just War Still Possible?

The American Conservative has made universally available this, by Stuart Reid:

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away—actually, it was 1958, in the Royal County of Berkshire—I was staying with a friend from school one Sunday and, as a treat, his mother took us to Mass at the big American air base nearby. In those happy days, the guy in the guard hut did not pat you down with a metal detector before lifting the barrier. He didn’t even ask for ID, as I recall, just leaned toward the driver’s window, smiled, asked what our business was, and then let us through with a “Yes, ma’am” and a friendly salute.

The chapel was small, businesslike, perhaps rather austere. Above the altar was an electronic indicator board that would have started flashing THE RUSSIANS ARE COMING, or some such, if Soviet bombers had suddenly been detected heading our way. At the back of the chapel, close to the exit, were two airmen in combat gear—jump suits, maps strapped to knees, lots of zips, foil-wrapped Hershey bars stashed somewhere along with vitamins, Benzedrine, Russian phrase books, Swiss Army pen knives, compasses, possibly pistols, or, better still, revolvers…

Introibo ad altare Dei,” said the priest.

Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam,” said the server.

The two airmen followed the familiar, ancient liturgy, as they had done hundreds of times before. It was business as usual: kneel, stand, genuflect, bow, cross yourself, try not to let your mind wander or your eyes stray, and be ready to scramble if that freakin’ sign begins to flash. It would not for a moment have occurred to these two good young men that there was anything incongruous about being dressed to kill while worshipping the Prince of Peace, and to kill, furthermore, on a scale never hitherto imagined.

Nor, I doubt, would it have occurred to anyone else at Mass that morning. So far as we boys were concerned, everything was not only congruous but admirable and glamorous. This was the real deal. We were in America, if vicariously, among people who came from the same gene pool as Pat Boone and Montgomery Clift, Doris Day and Natalie Wood, Shelley Berman and Bob Newhart, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. To have been a teenager in England in the late 1950s was to have been an American. We were the products of cultural imperialism, and we loved it. No yoke was ever sweeter.

The Cold War was a motion picture or a giant game of chicken or both. The U.S. was James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. Russia the smirking boy with the comb between his teeth who chickens first but gets his sleeve stuck in the door handle and drives his car over the cliff. But there was more to this than glamour; it wasn’t only make-believe. This was a world of certainty, of moral clarity. These airmen were defending us against atheistic communism and therefore against slave camps, mass murder, and nerdy clothes. To us the nuclear deterrent was cool, and it obviously worked because there had not been a world war for at least 13 years. I mean, duh! (as we had not yet learnt to say). Only wimps and fellow travelers were against the deterrent.

Now we live in another galaxy. In the 50 years since I knelt with those airmen, the world has changed out of all recognition, and then some. The Cold War has ended, and Western values have triumphed. Films that would once have been restricted are now rated PG. There are rock concerts in Red Square. The Mass is in English. Phil Spector has been banged up for murder. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.

Was it worth it? To a liberal capitalist, certainly; to a liberal democrat, perhaps; but surely not to a conservative. The Cold War itself increasingly looks like displacement therapy, or a military-industrial scam. Who now seriously believes that Washington would have risked millions of American lives in a war over Berlin? As for the nuclear deterrent, it’s obviously time to join the peace activists. There will always be nukes, of course—you can’t unsplit the atom—and while Russia and China have them, it is perhaps just as well that the United States should have them, too. Even so, their deployment signals that you are prepared to massacre civilians, and that is against the rules of war. It is barbaric. It is also stupid, since one of these devices could go off when you are not looking, especially if it were to find its way into the hands of an Islamist or a survivalist with a grudge.

Whatever else he may be, Barack Obama is not stupid, and he can see the downside of deterrent. The president may not be hanging as loose as he did on the hustings, but the brand looked pretty assured in Prague last month when he undertook to lead the world into a nuclear-free future.

“Today,” he told his Czech brothers and sisters, “I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” No one could object to that. Or to: “[A]s a nuclear power—as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon—the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it.”

Maybe you could object to that last if you were, say, Bill Kristol. Immediately after the Prague speech the son of the father of neoconservatism pursed his lips in the Washington Post and wondered bossily whether Obama meant to imply disapproval of America’s use of nuclear weapons in 1945.

The substance of Kristol’s beef, however, was that peace could not be secured the Obama way—by talking to bad guys like the Iranians—but only by spreading “liberal democracy” and encouraging “responsible regimes.” Could he really be saying this? Again? Gulp. Yes, he could. “But,” added Kristol, “we have a long way to go before achieving a world of pacific liberal regimes. George W. Bush’s hope for a world without tyranny is the necessary—though perhaps still not the sufficient—precondition to a world without nuclear weapons.”

If a nuclear-free future is contingent on a string of Iraqs, then forget it: let’s keep the nukes. But maybe things are not as desperate as Kristol fears. Once you removed the glossy packaging, there was less to Obama’s rhetoric than met the eye. At one point he gave us a glimpse of something that closely resembled the Bush doctrine. “Let me be clear,” he said. “Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran’s neighbors and our allies. The Czech Republic and Poland have been courageous in agreeing to host a defense against these missiles. As long as the threat from Iran persists, we intend to go forward with a missile defense system that is cost-effective and proven.”

Iran is no danger to anyone, least of all the United States, but in Prague Obama chose to maintain the fiction that the deployment of missile defense shields in Poland and the Czech Republic is nothing more, and nothing less, than good old Yankee altruism. These shields, he was saying, will defend you against nuclear attack by Iran. Oh, yeah? I am grateful to Justin Raimondo for drawing my attention to this report from Prague in the Daily Telegraph:

Arena Protivinska, 30, described herself as a ‘big fan’ of Mr. Obama but accused him of ‘hypocrisy’ for urging world peace while also pushing forward with the missile shield. ‘He sounded like George W. Bush saying that we should be afraid in order to justify missile defense.’"

Still, it would be churlish not to acknowledge that Obama did us all a service in Prague by reminding us that America, as the only nation ever to have used nukes, had a moral responsibility to act. The arguments against nuclear weapons have not changed since Hiroshima, and it never does any harm to return to first principles.

The key point, the one that trumps all others, is that you may not do evil that good may come of it. The argument that dropping the atomic bombs on Japan was no crime because it ended the war is no argument at all. Women are perhaps better at seeing this than are men. Here is Dorothy Day’s reaction to the news from Japan in August 1945:

Mr. Truman was jubilant. President Truman. True man; what a strange name, come to think of it. We refer to Jesus Christ as true God and true Man. Truman is a true man of his time in that he was jubilant. He was not a son of God, brother of Christ, brother of the Japanese, jubilating as he did. He went from table to table on the cruiser which was bringing him home from the Big Three conference, telling the great news; ‘jubilant’ the newspapers said. Jubilate Deo. We have killed 318,000 Japanese.

That is, we hope we have killed them, the Associated Press, on page one, column one of the Herald Tribune says. The effect is hoped for, not known. It is to be hoped they are vaporized, our Japanese brothers, scattered, men, women and babies, to the four winds, over the seven seas. Perhaps we will breathe their dust into our nostrils, feel them in the fog of New York on our faces, feel them in the rain on the hills of Eaton.

The great English philosopher Elizabeth Anscombe was another who recognized the wickedness that had been done in our name. In 1956, while a research fellow at Oxford, she protested vigorously against the university awarding an honorary degree to Harry S. Truman. She wrote an unforgiving pamphlet setting out her reasons for believing that the former president should be reviled rather than honored. Like Dorothy, she was not too sissy to use scorn as a weapon:

I have long been puzzled by the common cant about President Truman’s courage in making this decision [to drop the bomb]. Of course, I know that you can be cowardly without having reason to think you are in danger. But how can you be courageous? Light has come to me lately: the term is an acknowledgement of the truth. Mr. Truman was brave because, and only because, what he did was so bad. But I think the judgment unsound. Given the right circumstances (e.g., that no one whose opinion matters will disapprove), a quite mediocre person can do spectacularly wicked things without thereby becoming impressive.

Where would we be without women? Men don’t like the truth about modern war, which is that it is often both criminal and cowardly. The rot began in World War II when, abandoning all civilized rules of conduct, we terrorized and murdered hundreds of thousands of German and Japanese civilians by using so-called conventional weapons. Then we developed a way of using nuclear power to kill even more people but at less risk to ourselves. Risk-free war is what we now crave, with the almost invariable result that—despite the skill and courage of the poor bloody infantry—more civilians than combatants die when the drums begin to roll. The smart bombs we drop from drones operated from Kissimmee, or wherever, are seldom clever enough to distinguish between a terrorist training camp and a bunch of whirling dervishes at a folk wedding.

The truth is that man is no longer civilized enough to wage war. It’s why we lost in Vietnam and Iraq. It is why we will lose in Afghanistan. War doesn’t work. “[W]ar is the worst solution for all sides,” said Pope Benedict XVI in August 2006. “It brings no good to anyone, not even to the apparent victors. We understand this very well in Europe, after the two world wars.”