29 Sep

Lefties, letters and lit crit

Why the persistence of this delusion that good writing flourishes when there is a left wing government?

In a recent article about Anthony Burgess, Irvine Welsh writes, “There are notable exceptions, but generally speaking the embracement of a reductive conservative political philosophy seldom heralds an era of flowering for an artist.”

I can attach no meaning to his use of the word “reductive,” but Welsh is certainly right about the notable exceptions. Plato under the rule of a strict oligarchy. Tolstoy and Dostoevsky in Tsarist Russia. Nietzsche under Bismarck. Eliot, Pound, Wyndham Lewis and T.E. Hulme all wrote in a very conservative period. Sisson says somewhere that, in paying due respect to such fine writers as these, the lefty critics always feel somehow they have to make excuses for their politics as if this were some sort of inexplicable lapse. Do the lefties never notice that it was these conservatives who did the really original work in the English literature  of the 20th century? They don’t come much more conservative than Pound and his slogan was “Make it new.” There is a good reason for the fact that it is the conservatives who are actually the avant garde. For conservatives are traditionalists and it is only those who understand tradition who can develop the tradition. Has Welsh not read Eliot’s Tradition and the Individual Talent – an essay which discusses precisely this truth?

Most of the world’s great literature – and its music and visual art – was published under “reductive” dictatorships. Or are we to imagine that Bach lived on hand-outs from The Arts Council?

Welsh says, ”Burgess read, wrote, drank gin… lambasting socialist Britain with its high rates of taxation. For this we must forgive him.”

These are words spoken from a very great height and I must say it is unusual to hear absolution pronounced by a leftie lit crit with such a restricted awareness of what actually goes on in the world of English letters.

One thing is clear though: Welsh, as a writer, is the living refutation of his own argument.

27 Sep

The state will provide

Young first-time buyers in England could buy a house at 20% below the market rate if the Conservatives are re-elected, David Cameron has pledged.The Tory leader said the party would build 100,000 new homes reserved for those under 40 buying their first home. They would be exempt from some taxes and would be built on brownfield land already identified for development, Mr Cameron said. Making this pledge – an extension of the Help to Buy mortgage scheme – Mr Cameron said the Conservatives wanted more young people to “achieve the dream” of owning their own home.

“I don’t want to see young people locked out of home ownership,” he said. “We’ve already started to tackle the problem with Help to Buy mortgages – and these new plans will help tens of thousands more people to buy their first home.”

Sounds good eh?

Not if you think, as I do, that the state has no business getting involved in the housing market. But, as a true socialist, Cameron has announced a state subsidy. He wants to appear generous. How easy it is to be generous with other people’s money! The scheme will be paid for, of course, out of further taxation and, as he has said, tax exemptions on those who are helped to buy.

Thus the taxpayer – already labouring under a heavy burden – will pay yet more in taxes.

This amounts to the abandonment of morality in politics as Cameron tries to buy votes with our money.

Not only is the scheme a state subsidy, it is a subsidy tomorrow – like jam tomorrow. If he was going to do it, why hasn’t he done it already?

Is Cameron really so cynical as to think that the public will fall for this trick?

Yes, he is. And we will.

21 Sep

The swag is mightier than the sword

Forty-nine Turkish hostages, including diplomats, women and children, have been released by the terrorists of Islamic State. The lavish scenes of jubilation on their safe return were prominent on Turkish TV. But did you see the earlier pictures of the fearless men of the Turks’ secret intelligence service, backed by special forces, charging across the borders into northern Iraq and Syria brandishing brown envelopes stuffed with lolly?

Ransom payments for the release of hostages is one of the main sources of Islamic State’s funding. How else? You didn’t think they held flag days did you or levied VAT on cut-throats? Though they probably make a packet out of sponsored mass public hangings. Another source of revenue is the sale of stolen antiquities from the ancient cities they have overrun. Colossally rich individuals with jihadist sympathies from the Gulf states have been observed delivering millions in sacks full of dollar bills. But IS’ main source of revenue is from the sheiks of Qatar and Saudi Arabia – who also backed Al Q’aeda – Sunnis, Wahabis who supported the fundamentalist rebels in the uprising against Assad.

The context of these untidy arrangements is the rivalry between the regional superpowers: the Saudis who are Sunnis and Iran which is Shia. These two states did not invent this sectarian rivalry: it is only the latest eruption of the thousand year old attrition between those two Muslim sects. The Sunnis don’t even believe that the Shias are Muslims at all. IS is also the creation of the western powers in the prosecution of the two Gulf wars in which Saddam Hussein’s regime was destroyed and nothing but chaos left in its place.

Now the West has no intention of fighting another war to wipe out IS and to clear up the chaos. Our leaders have repeated the message again and again: “There will be no boots on the ground.” IS knows this very well and that is why they are able to rampage, murder and destroy as they please.But IS is only the most recent and most dramatic – media savvy and filmable – of a fundamentalist Muslim insurgency which extends into Sudan, Somalia, Mali, all across North Africa and into Syria and Iraq. This insurgency is facilitated by the West’s imbecile policy of supporting the Arab Spring – thus compounding in North Africa the errors made in Iraq.

Europe will become the next victim of the Muslims’ imperialistic ambition and for two main reasons: first the Trojan horse of uncontrolled mass immigration and secondly the vastly superior birth-rate among Muslims in the European countries. As Bishop Michael Nazir Ali has warned, there are already no go areas for non-Muslims in many parts of Britain. We must expect these to increase exponentially.

One morning in the not too distant future, we shall wake up to discover that our country, our continent, our civilisation have all gone.

Western governments have no intention of scrapping their suicidal policies. Everything is done with the aim of appeasement and to avoid the suggestion of “Islamophobia” – whatever that might be. All the insurgents on three continents know this. Why shouldn’t they know it, since we confirm it every day by our actions, or rather our inaction?

Unless we discover the wit and the courage to change our policy, Europe faces a new dark age.   

18 Sep

The non-existent Archbishop

Justin Welby, Arch of Cant, says, “I sometimes wonder whether God exists.” He added, ”There are moments when you think, ‘Is there a God? Where is God?’” He – Welby, I mean, not God – gives us a brief autobiographical sketch, a vignette from his fascinating life which he wishes – as modern churchmen love to say – to share with us: “The other day i was praying as I was running and I ended up saying to God, ‘Look, this is all very well, but isn’t it time you did something – if you’re there?’”

I imagine God out on his morning run – just a gentle million parsecs jog around the Andromeda galaxy – and thinking to himself, “Well, Welby, this is all very well, but isn’t time you did something about the parlous state of the Church of England?”

Welby looks at the suffering and tribulation in the world and wonders if there is a God. I look at the condition of the Church of England and wonder if there is an Archbishop of Canterbury. Surely an Archbishop who had good intentions would not allow the church, under his stewardship, to degenerate into such a dung heap? But degenerate it has, and that’s what makes me wonder whether the Archbishop really exists.

I’m afraid it’s the old story: Archbishop knows no theology; Archbishop fails to read the Bible. He’s worried about the so called problem of evil and human suffering and so, with an arrogance bordering on the Luciferian, he thinks to try to justify the ways of God to man. Wrong from the start: it is we who are under the judgement of God and not God who must conform to our ideas about what is good and what is evil and from whence these concepts originate.

If the Arch of Cant had ever bothered to read the Bible – only the first few chapters mind, I’m not requiring him to make a greater intellectual effort than to get past Genesis III – he would learn that the Bible says clearly and firmly near its very beginning that evil is a mystery into which we are commanded not to pry – on pain of death:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

However, since Adam took Eve’s apple and lost the paradisal look, God has not left us clueless as to this forbidden mystery. For alongside the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is the Tree of Life. And the Tree of Life is the Cross of Christ. Whatever else all this might mean, it declares firmly that in the matter of suffering God does not exempt himself. The Creator, in his Son, by whom the worlds were made, suffers alongside His impudent creatures. The Enlightenment philosopher would say that, given such a shocking case, it had been better for God never to have brought the universe into being in the first place. But what does he know?

We are not left entirely in the dark about evil. St Augustine tells us that, for all its terrible appearances, evil is finally insubstantial – in Augustine’s phrase it is privation boni, the mere absence of good. As St Thomas Aquinas said, evil is banal and a mere parody of good – as Satan is the uncreative Ape of God.

To presume in that Humean playground to give an explanation of evil necessarily involves us in the even greater presumption of being able to explain God. If the word “God” is allowed to mean anything beyond what is weighed in the false balances of the Enlightenment philosophers, the very concept is absurd. For the origin of evil lies in the unsearchable counsels of God, and it is as inexplicable as the being of God himself. We cannot go beyond Augustine’s privatio boni, for the fruit of this tree we are not allowed to eat. All we know, according to St Augustine, is that despite the appearances, love is the only reality; and evil and suffering, along with death, are among those things which shall be swallowed up in victory.

The final absurdity of the Enlightenment project is in its rejection of absolute moral values while persisting in the folly of continuing to ask absolute moral questions.

Welby should be careful he isn’t overdoing it and he reminds me of the American President Gerald Ford who, it was claimed, could not walk and chew gum at the same time.

Don’t try to pray when you’re jogging, Justin: it clearly puts too much strain on your mental faculties.

13 Sep

We are/are not at war

One day after John Kerry declared that the US is “not at war…that is the wrong term” with Islamic State, the White House and the Pentagon announced, “We are at war with Islamic State.” It is reassuring to see that the power with the greatest ability to defend the western world from barbarism has such a clear and unambiguous foreign policy. Two weeks ago President Blabbermouth said, concerning IS, “We do not have a strategy.” This week he set out what the strategy is and, in doing so, kindly let IS know precisely what the terms of his new-found strategy amount to: “America will do everything necessary to defeat IS, but we will not put boots on the ground in iraq or Syria.”

This announcement followed in a great tradition of such announcements –  for example, the earlier announcement that the US was about to withdraw its military presence from Iraq; and the even earlier announcement which so considerately informed the Taliban of the exact date on which US troops would leave Iran. I suspect this crazy way of *waging war…*not waging war (delete as the whim takes you) is just the flip side of the west’s policy of appeasement and pre-emptive self-abasement. In the matter of prosecuting war, the west restricts itself to self-excoriation according to the canons of political correctness. We must not be Islamophobic which, being translated, means: first fail to see what the existential threat to the west is and then do nothing about it.

Yesterday a correspondent  described US policy as “cowardly.” I agree and suppose that we should now re-phrase Clausewitz’s doctrine to read: “Cowardice is politics pursued by other means.”

President B’mouth merely contradicts himself when he says that the US will do all it takes to destroy IS but in the same breath declares, “But of course we’re not going to send in the infantry.” The truth is that the destruction of IS will most probably require a considerable ground force.

This stupidity will have dire consequences – indeed is entailing dire consequences already. Why else do you suppose most of North Africa, the Middle East, much of Saharan Africa, Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria have become places where Islamic terrorist uprisings have created hell on earth? It is simply because that policy of appeasement and pre-emptive self-abasement, coupled with starry-eyed wishful thinking, supported the so called Arab Spring and deposed the unlovely but useful dictators who were indeed bastards – but they were our bastards.

The scale of terror and the intensity of our present war will increase until the west faces up to the brute fact that we are suffering again one of the periodic eruptions of militant and barbarous Islamic imperialism which have occurred for the last fourteen hundred years. In the past the western world had the intelligence to understand this and the courage to to defeat the uprisings.

Our enemies understand very well that we are the first generation of westerners lacking both the intelligence and the courage required. And it will be the death of us.

08 Sep

IPSO is a Facto

Sir Alan Moses starts work this morning as chairman of the new Independent Press Standards Organisation IPSO and promises that it will not be “a sham.” Indeed it is not a sham: it is a political quango set up in response to campaigns by Hacked Off and Guardian journalists to abolish our free press. This must not be allowed to happen. The health of the nation depends upon the freedom of the press. Even that old Puritan John Milton understood this and argued vigorously in its defence in his 1644 speech, later printed as Areopagitica. Muzzling the press is the first act of all tyrannies. Just reflect on states such as the USSR under Stalin, Germany under Hitler and China ruled by Mao and his successors. Look at any dictatorship you fancy and ask yourself whether you would prefer to live there or here in Britain, with all its faults.

Newspapers are a pretty untidy business and actually their methods of news-gathering are often despicable. But not as despicable as the methods of all governments which control the mass media. These governments are thereby enabled to hide their own misdeeds and criminalise public scrutiny. The freedom of the press is what guarantees our liberty – or at least some measure of freedom. The free press can hold governments to account and this is ever more necessary given our current debased and corrupt political class.

There should be absolutely no regulation of the press. This does not mean that the papers and the broadcasters can do as they like. They must be subject to the law of the land as everyone else is so subject. If I break into your house, or even if by my words and writings slander you or libel you, then I have committed an offence and for which I can be arraigned. The same goes for journalists, newspapers and television companies.

There are enough laws and we don’t need further regulation. Control always works in favour of authority. Yes, and the basis of all authority is freedom.

07 Sep

Just war Justin?

On an aeroplane returning from Korea, the Pope was asked if he thought it right for the western allies to bomb Islamic State in Iraq.  “Yes,” he said. The Archbishop of Canterbury was today asked the same question by Edward Stourton on The Sunday Programme. He answered in the usual Lambeth style: tread water and waffle. To begin with, he declared that the situation is very complex…”…military issues…socio-political issues..” and so on. Then he said something truly odd: “We don’t want to empty the Middle East of Christians.” You don’t have to, Justin. Islamic State are doing this already. Stourton pressed him but he still wouldn’t give a straight answer and excused himself with the cop out, “I’m not qualified…”

No, and you’re not qualified in economics either Archbishop – but that doesn’t stop you spouting endless advice to the government, to the nasty bankers, to the loan sharks. Not qualified? Funny things qualifications. Now I’ve never heard the Archbishop say anything substantial about theology. Is this because he lacks qualifications there too?