A Conspiracy against the New World Order?
20th March 2020
I have no particular knowledge of medicine or the natural sciences. However, I remember the Aids panic of the 1980s, when we were told there would be two million deaths by 1990 in this country alone. I remember the Mad Cow Disease of 1996, when we were told that a million people would turn into zombies by 2016. There have been a dozen lesser panics the details of which I presently forget. The Coronavirus may be a modern equivalent of the Spanish Flu of 1918-19. But I have reason to be sceptical. Indeed, if ignorant of medicine in any practical sense, I do know a lot about the bubonic plague pandemics of 542-4 and of 1347-51. These exploded among populations severely weakened by hunger, following downturns in global temperature. The Spanish Flu took hold because of the dislocations produced by the Great War. The human race now has never been so well-fed and so well-provided with medicine. It seems that most victims of the Coronavirus were very old or already in poor health. I do not, of course, welcome any death. But I shall need to see much higher rates of infection and many more deaths – and much and many more outside those groups presently most at risk – before I regard this as other than some collective madness. Read more
I usually read your emailed newsletters because, for the most part, I find your observations thought-provoking.
I’m writing to tell you that you continue to fail to convince me of the benefits of studying classics, particularly the learning of Latin – my own experience of which (I concede) is entirely vicarious. Both my two sons were fortunate in winning music scholarships to Eton College, where Latin still looms large on the timetable. Both sons dropped the subject at the earliest opportunity, which they considered nowhere near early enough. Similarly, time spent enduring Latin lessons as choristers at St Paul’s Cathedral was time ill-used – the boys were hard-pressed enough as it was, what with singing in the cathedral for three hours a day, six days a week – and with three instrumental skills to practise. Now in their mid-twenties, neither of them know any more Latin than I do (i.e. semper fidelis, per adua per astra, quid pro quo, illegitimi non carborundum, i.e., e.g. and etcetera). Read more
Just done this podcast. I don’t feel that I gave my best, but it does cover a lot of ground.
Homer, Vergil and the Culture War
22nd February 2020
The Classics Faculty at the University of Oxford is considering whether to remove from its undergraduate courses the compulsory study in their original languages of Homer and Vergil. The reasons given are that students from independent schools, where some classical teaching is kept up, tend at the moment to do better in examinations than students from state schools, and that men do better than women. I regard this as the most important news of the week. I do so partly because I make some of my living from these languages, and so have a financial interest in their survival. I do so mainly because I see the proposal as a further enemy advance in the Culture War through which we have been living for at least the past two generations. Read more
A Brief Word on Brexit
1st February 2020
(Published in The Libertarian Enterprise, 2nd February 2020)
Yesterday evening – that is, the 31st January 2020 – at 11pm GMT, my country left the European Union. We did so after four years of heated and often hysterical argument. Nothing much seemed to have changed this morning. I went out shopping, to see the same people buying the same things at the same prices. Since we are now in a transition period, lasting till the end of this year, in which we remain within the Single Market and subject to the rules of the European Union, it would have been odd if anything visible had changed. Yet, if nothing visible had changed, one very important thing has changed. Read more
Time’s Feathered Arrow
14th December 2019
I feel a vague duty to write something about the general election. However, since everyone else has written almost everything about it that can be written, this is a duty that I will shirk. I will write instead about a subject I have always found of compelling interest – that is, about me.
The week before last, I had my sixtieth birthday. I glared at my women when they insisted on presenting me with birthday cards, and was glad to receive only two other cards through the post. I made sure not to put them on display. I made sure to tell none of my colleagues or students that I was now officially old and past it. However, Keir Martland – a most wicked young man – knew the truth, and has arranged a series of flattering appreciations published on the MisesUK Blog. You can see them here, here, here, here and here. Read more
How to Deal with Jeremy Corbyn
(Published in The Libertarian Enterprise on the 3rd November 2019)
The Conservatives made two big mistakes in 2017. The first was noticed at once and will not be repeated. This was having Theresa May as their leader and her friends in charge of the campaign. Its effect was similar to pushing a wax effigy about on wheels and stopping it every so often to play pre-recorded and usually malevolent platitudes. Boris Johnson is an undoubted human being, and he knows how to say what people want to hear. Read more