How to Judge People by What They Look Like
by Edward Dutton
(Published in The Salisbury Review)
This short book is equally naughty and entertaining. It bounces along, making its points in a light-hearted and generally a witty manner. It is naughty so far as it is a flat challenge to many of the pieties of our age.
We are told never to judge a book by its cover – that the substance of a person, this being character and intelligence, have no measurable relationship to his external form, this being his physical appearance. At the extreme, of looking at correlations between race and intelligence, you can get into serious trouble for disputing this piety. Even moderate dissent earns hostility or just ridicule. Look, for example, at the relevant textbooks. The phlogiston theory is covered as an early theory of combustion, superseded by the truth. Phrenology is denounced as barely short of a moral and intellectual failing. No one thinks ill of Lamarck for this theory of inherited characteristics. Lombroso and his measurement of criminal heads are seen as steps on the road to Auschwitz. Read more
Latin Stories: A GCSE Reader
Henry Cullen, Michael Dormandy, John Taylor
Bloomsbury Academic, London, 2017
ISBN: 978 1 3500 0384 2
Any English speaker who calls Latin easy is either a genius or a fool. It is a synthetic Indo-European language that communicates in ways very different from English. Nouns are divided into at least five classes, each of which has five or six or seven cases – singular and plural – to express meanings that we express by adding prepositions. Pronouns have their own declensions. Except for the perfect passive tenses, verbs are generally inflected. Because the Classical grammar is a snapshot of a language in rapid and profound change, there are duplications and irregularities everywhere. The future tense, in particular, is broken, and has been reconstructed in every language I know that descends from Latin. Add to this an elaborate syntax, an indifference to what we regard as a normal order of words, and a vocabulary that is naturally poor, but expanded by allowing most common words to bear different meanings that must usually be inferred from their context. Read more
Britain: A World Power Again, if by Accident?
(22nd December 2018)
In London, and it seems elsewhere, the political and media consensus is that Britain is in its weakest international position since the late summer of 1940. Because we have a government of fools, we are at the mercy of the French, the Germans, the Spanish, and even the Irish. If we accept Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, we become a colony of the European Union. If we withdraw our notice to quit, we suffer a different though probably equal humiliation. If we leave without any deal, we face some degree of economic disruption. Which of these options is worst may have some bearing on the lack of agreement within our political class – though which brings more or less advantage to any of the individual groups in Parliament also has much bearing.
I disagree with this consensus. I still regard Theresa May as our most incompetent and possibly treasonous Prime Minister in at least living memory. At the same time, we find ourselves with the greatest power to shape our destiny since 1938. It needs only minimal work from our diplomatic establishment, and minimal cooperation among our leading politicians. Let me explain. Read more
“Which if not Victory is Yet Revenge”
Thoughts on the Tory Apocalypse
by Sean Gabb
1st December 2018
As I write, those who demand a second referendum on the European Union seem ever more likely to have their way. Their argument is: that it is now two years since we were asked to vote on leaving; that no one expected the process of leaving to end in the present shambles; that we should be asked what we now think of leaving. These calls are an obvious fraud on the electorate. Since the Danes rejected the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, the custom in Europe has been for any unfavourable referendum result to be followed by another vote, in which the preferred result is given. This was done to the French, the Dutch and the Irish. It is now being done to us. Read more
Theresa May: A Study in Bare-Faced Wickedness
by Sean Gabb
21st November 2018
Because I am writing about the European Union, I shall be neither surprised nor upset if the majority of my British readers go straight for the delete button. I write near the end of a week of fierce and increasingly unanimous denunciation of the Draft Agreement the British Government has “negotiated” for our withdrawal. However, more than half the people on my mailing list live outside the United Kingdom, and some of these have asked me to explain to the best of my ability what is happening. Here is the briefest summary I can manage that still makes sense. Read more
Thoughts on the Fallen
by Sean Gabb
11th November 2018
A hundred years today since the end of the Great War – a sentence ripe with melancholy. I am old enough to have been a child in the visible shadow of that war. Yes, I would listen to men and women, younger than I am now, talking of their part in the Dunkirk Evacuation, or discussing who had made a fool of herself in the street when the bombs fell on Chatham. That second war, filled with colour and excitement, was barely history when I was a boy. Its end was more recent than Tony Blair’s Serbian adventure is to us. Habits of life and patterns of friendship set in The War were still established facts in the world that I had joined. Behind this, however, loomed the greater and more terrible events of an earlier war. Every day, I saw the old women in black, the old men without arms or legs, or wearing dark glasses – the memorials built large so all the names of the fallen could be fitted on them in capitals an inch high. There was no colour in that war, no excitement – only the sadness of irretrievable loss. Read more
The Environmental Scam:
One Quick and Easy Response
by Sean Gabb
9th October 2018
Once you cut through their verbiage, the enemies of bourgeois civilisation have two demands. These are:
- Put me and my friends in charge of preferably a one-world government with total power over life and property; or, until then, or failing that,
- Give us a lot of money.
When I was younger, the occasion for making these demands was something to do with poverty or economic instability, and the alleged need was for a bigger welfare state, or state ownership of the means of production, or playing about with money to “move the aggregate demand curve to the right.” The nice thing about these claims and their alleged solutions was that they all had to be debated within the subject area of Economics. Because most of us knew a lot about Economics, we could always win the debates.
By the end of the 1980s, winning was so easy, the debates had become boring. Since then, the alleged need has shifted to saving the planet from some environmental catastrophe. The resulting debates are now harder to win because most of us are not that learned in the relevant sciences. Though I am more than competent in Economics, my main expertise is in Ancient History and the Classical Languages. Much the same is true for most of my friends. Read more