03 Feb

Dark Satanic Mills

When William Blake coined the phrase “dark satanic mills,” it is thought he was referring to the universities.

I recalled that thought when, last Friday evening, Jacob Rees-Mogg was at the centre of an ugly scene as he was ambushed when about to give an address at Bristol university. Masked protestors tried to prevent Rees-Mogg from giving his talk. The mob roundly abused him. calling him – among the more printable epithets – Nazi, Fascist and racist 

Rees-Mogg may have been shaken but he was certainly not stirred to overreaction and he played down the disturbance: “All it was was a handful of shouty people who wanted to disrupt a public meeting I was about to address. It was not really a fight, just noisy. They did not want me to have a platform and were not willing to discuss any specific concerns.”

He added, “No one seemed likely to hit me but I am a weed.”

We are going to see a lot more of this sort of thing because the Left’s idea of democracy is not to allow freedom of speech for anyone who disagrees with them. Violent disruption of public meetings is the political modus operandi of the Corbynistas and particularly of his storm-troopers in the 300,000 strong Momentum gang. They know no other method – for they have always lost every reasonable argument that ever was.

We expect no better of Corbyn’s sort, but that this kind of violent protest is a regular feature of university life these days should make us ashamed.

I have had some personal experience of this and I shared this experience with the philosopher Roger Scruton, the founder of The Salisbury Review.

The year was 1985 and I was teaching a philosophy course in York. When I heard that Dr Scruton was coming to speak at the university, I went along with some of my students. Attendance was not routine and we had a bit of bother trying to find the precise location of the talk. It had been advertised to take place in the chemistry lecture theatre but at the last minute we were all redirected to the physics theatre because there had already been threats from the mob.

When I say “the mob,” I mean of course the lumpen intelligentsia, the York university students.

When we arrived, the atmosphere in the physics theatre was – let me put it mildly – unwholesome. In the front few rows members of the public sat awaiting the start of the talk. In the middle and at the back, the student mob yelled and swore and catcalled and shook their fists. The sort of stuff Rees-Mogg had to endure: “Fascist, Nazi, racist” – along with other unmentionables.

At the appointed time, Roger appeared on the rostrum. The thugs became louder and more bellicose. The noise was such that there was no possibility the talk could take place.

Roger managed only one sentence: “But I’ve come to talk about free speech!”

Ironical eh? But that pampered rabble wouldn’t have understood a piece of irony if it had leapt up and bitten them on  the bum.

Things deteriorated so far that clearly Roger’s safety – and perhaps even his life – was in danger. He was bundled out by the stewards and, like the Three Wise Men before him, warned to return to his digs another way.

Next day I took the matter up with the university authorities and asked how they intended to deal with the perpetrators of the near riot.

The written reply from the vice-chancellor would have done justice to Halifax, Chamberlain, Rab Butler or any other arch-appeaser of totalitarianism you can think of:

“What could I have done?”

I wrote back: “You could identify the thugs and send them down.”

There was no reply to that.

And so, as the rabble’s attack on Rees-Mogg, reminds us, this is now our inheritance. The university was for a thousand years throughout Europe the place for the civilised exchange of ideas and the most rigorous public debate. Now it is run by grossly overpaid vice-chancellors and their sycophants, the mindless thickos of the intellectual left. From their first day, the snowflake students are ushered into their safe spaces where they will remain for three years protected  against any idea they might find uncongenial.

Thus our universities have outlived their useful purpose – that is the sacred duty of rational exchange.

The only remedy is to close them down.

15 Feb

Apostolicae Curae

There is room at least for a little clearing of the air.

Many of my friends, and a greater number of my enemies, ask me how I can still profess allegiance to an undoubtedly debauched modern Church of England, heretical in doctrine, tasteless in liturgy and secularised in the realm of moral theology. I answer simply that it was not always like this. The puny timeservers who presently rule the church are not its founding fathers and for this we must thank God. The Church of England is the English language inheritance of the Catholic Christianity which formed religious sensibility in England for almost a thousand years before the mistake described as the Reformation. In other words, the Church of England is apostolically constituted and so founded upon this rock – a rock as legitimate and indeed not inferior to that gang of opinion  to be found in Rome.

I am as Catholic as Augustine and Aquinas, as Anselm and Duns Scotus; as Andrewes, Law, Hooker, John Donne, Eliot and C.S. Lewis. That is I am an English-speaking Catholic – which is more than can be said (in the realms both of theology and our native language) of those in high places who now so indispose us

I do not need to justify my Anglican credentials in the face of current episcopal apostasy, of a secularising coterie of bishops and a General Synod in thrall to the nostrums of secular enlightenment. My church is historically founded on its direct descent from the primitive church. This is a fact of history and nothing advanced by the debauched “liberal” hierarchy now governing us can diminish this reality.

So, in answer to the heartfelt questions as to where I should now go after the relentless decline, women bishop and all the rest, I will say simply that I shall stay where I am: a catholic Anglican and delighted to be part of the everlasting church.

Stray bishops reading this piece might ponder – since these days they are taught neither Latin nor history – where the title of this article comes from. It’s from a papal bull of 1896 which declared Anglican orders to the priesthood to be “absolutely null and utterly void.”

How very ecumenical, Holy Father as was.  But Your Holiness, have you ever considered the fact that your own credentials are indissolubly joined with mine?

As the Home Guard bloke said in “Dad’s Army,” “They don’t like it up ‘em.”

11 Jan

Kids are the masters now

Having walked down through the piercing blue and gold of a spectacular midwinter spring along the promenade, halfway to Sovereign Harbour, east of Eastbourne – which, for me, is as good as east of Eden – I stood in the wet fish shop ordering my dover sole, kippers, fresh prawns and jellied eels. Bliss – except you couldn’t hear yourself speak out your fishy order for the noise of the dear children around your feet. Screaming, shouting, charging about in a state of hyperaesthesia and hyperkinesis for that they had seen a live fish in a living fish shop

Suffer the little children who have never before seen anything livelier than a chicken nugget or a takeaway pizza

I don’t blame the children for the pandemonium. But their parents, rather than embarrassed, seemed proud of this display of tantrums as good as anything by Gordon Brown, our most forgettable Prime Sinister. Why didn’t the noble dad threaten the little sods with a clip around the ear? Why didn’t he offer to take them to a “movie” featuring the doom-laden sentimentality that we have come to know and loathe as Walt Disney Productions Inc? I’ll tell you why not. Because the kids are the masters now and therefore must be obeyed, accommodated and indulged by every means.

When I was a parish priest, christenings were a torment. Give me a good funeral any day. Or even, at a pinch, a wedding. But they would turn up to the baptism with the sainted little Troy, Sky or Gemma along with a great number of their fellow creatures: Mumsnet mid-twenties airhead wives (or partners of course – you can never be too careful these days); everyone bearing “their” own hysterical and uncontrollable sprogs.

As a poor parish priest what do you do?

Well you try to be as charitable as possible. You bend over backwards to accommodate this efflorescence of modern parenting. You say, “Look, we don’t want to do baptisms at the dark hour of four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon; a hole and corner private party; a mere curtain-raiser for the booze up and the cake. We welcome this child into the congregation of Christ’s flock. So it is desirable that his (or her of course) baptism be conducted within the context of the Parish Communion. We don’t expect young children to be as docile in the service as our oldest churchwardens; and if they get restless, please take them out to the vestry where we have a creche and numerous toys…”

But they do get restless and noisy. And they do get savage. But they won’t take them out. They regard even the idea that they should remove the noisy productions of their own selfish genes as an insult. An infringement of their hideous progeny’s inhuman rights.  And so, of course, the ordinary members of the congregation are unable to hear the words of the service for which they come every week.

Not a word of criticism is allowed against these vacuous suburbanites with their amusing taste in clothes and diet and “music” and above all in the choice of names for their doubtful offspring. And indeed, I sympathise with them. For “kids” are the masters now

I came home with the noise of the fish shop still migraining in my ears to read in the daily paper that parents are now giving their children “ a second birthday” In other words, when a child in the family has a birthday, the other children must be given cards and presents too, so that they do not feel neglected.

O brave new world that hath such people in it it! Or as Sky would say – presented with a cabbage – “Yuk!”