My Fantasy Boris – D.J. Webb


 

I must have had a shot or two too many to drink. Whatever it was, my dream—or was it a daydream—appears insubstantial in retrospect. Drifting into reverie, I imagined…

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, rose to his feet at the despatch box, amid anticipation on all sides of the House. Now we had left the EU on the “No Deal”, rumours were flying around that we might repudiate the Withdrawal Agreement and go it alone. Surely not? Surely the Conservatives didn’t have it in them?

“Mr. Speaker,

After extensive discussions in the Palace, we have reached an understanding of English Common Law and the underpinnings of our constitution. Upholding our law remains at the centre of everything this government will do.

Firstly, our fundamental law is the Common Law. Let me expand on this. The Queen reigns and, indeed, is part of the Crown in Parliament and thus at the apex of the legislative as well as executive and judicial branches of government. But what document specifies the Queen’s right to reign? Was there some dusty, long-forgotten constitution passed by the Witan under Alfred the Great? What provides for the Queen’s right to reign? Was it a decree she herself issued? Or a statute signed by her? In truth, any such thing would be circular—it would amount to the Queen declaring herself Queen. In fact, the monarchy’s existence is given in the Common Law. The Queen’s right to reign reflects the fact that there has been a monarch since time immemorial. There is no written constitution that provides for this. Continue reading

The Left’s Exploitation of Race


The Left’s Exploitation of Race

By Duncan Whitmore

Nearly two years ago, the present writer published on this blog an essay concerning how gullible leftists are whipped up into frenzies of hysteria for the purposes of fulfilling a political agenda often only loosely connected to the problems of which they complain. An example we gave was the leftist outrage at Donald Trump’s supposed racism and misogyny, allegations which are raised solely because of the wider threat that Trump poses to the mantra of globalisation and a US hegemonic world. Absent that threat, none of the 45th President’s alleged affronts against women and other races would have seen the light of day. Fast forward to today and the protests, riots, and looting following the killing, by a Minnesota policeman, of a black man whom he was apprehending, have demonstrated this useful idiocy – fuelled also, no doubt, by the economic frustrations of younger, university educated middle classes whom the COVID lockdowns may have driven over the edge – to an even wider extent.

Regardless of the specific images of rioting and violence with which we were greeted last weekend, it is probably the case that the vast majority of those who took part in the protesting feel that they care, quite genuinely, for what they perceive to be the plight of African-Americans. It is typical for libertarians, and the right genuinely, to paint all leftists as dyed-in-the wool Marxists hell-bent on destroying Western civilisation, but we should remember that many of them are themselves victims of years of indoctrination by their schools, universities and mainstream media which presented them with a wall of unbridled, hegemonic leftism. Indeed, we have to hope that they are not all committed fanatics immune to reasoned rebuttals of the leftist monologue, for if they are then our cause may well be lost. A handful of personal acquaintances of mine who drift around the left but who have, other than minor mutterings about Brexit and Boris, scarcely uttered a political statement in their lives, have, within the last few weeks, unloaded a deluge of social media condemnation of police brutality and decrying “institutional racism”, all with the “#blacklivesmatter” hashtag. A few even donned placards and took part in the protesting. True enough, most will be content to merely virtue signal rather than do anything that actually makes a real difference, and most have already reverted to posting “selfies” and worrying about the fact they cannot get a haircut during the COVID-19 lockdown. But they are not fundamentally bad people. Continue reading

The Conservatives: Not Fit for Any Honest Purpose


The Conservatives: Not Fit for Any Honest Purpose
Alan Bickley
12th June 2020

According to The Daily Mail, Madeline Odent is the Curator of the Royston Museum in Hertfordshire. This museum is funded by Royston Council. In the past few days, Mrs Odent has taken to Twitter, giving expert advice on how to use household chemicals to cause irreparable harm to statues she dislikes.

It is, she says, “extremely difficult” to remove the chemicals once they have been applied. She adds that “it can be done, but the chemical needed is super carcinogenic, so it rarely is.” Again, she says: “We haven’t found a way to restore artefacts that this happens to.” Her last reported tweet features a picture of Winton Churchill’s defaced statue in Parliament Square, and says: “Stay tuned for our next edition, where we’ll be talking about marble memorials of racists.”

The newspaper and various people are calling for the woman to be sacked. It is, I allow, surprising for someone to hold a job that involves conserving the past, and then to advise an insurrectionary mob on how to destroy the past. This being said, and assuming the story is substantially true, Mrs Odent is less to be blamed for giving her advice than those who employed her as an expert on conservation and its opposite.

We have had a Conservative Government since 2010. We have had a Conservative Government with a working majority since 2015. For the past six months, we have had a Conservative Government with a crushing majority. It all counts for nothing, because the Conservatives themselves are useless.

Political power is not purely, nor mainly, a matter of being able to make laws. It is far more a matter of choosing reliable servants. Before 1997, we could suppose, within reason, that these servants were politically neutral. They often had their own agenda. They could use their status as experts to influence, and sometimes to frustrate, laws and policies with which they disagreed. But there were not self-consciously an order of people devoted to a transformative revolution. The Blair Government broke with convention by stuffing the public sector with its own creatures, loyal only to itself. This is to be deplored. On the other hand, the Blair Government did have a mandate for sweeping change, and it is reasonable that it should have given preference to employing those who could be trusted to further both the letter and spirit of this mandate. The Conservatives have had enough time to make the public sector into at least an obedient servant of those the people keep electing. Instead of this, they have spent this time employing and promoting people whom Tony Blair would have sacked on the spot as malicious lunatics.

Royston as a town and Hertfordshire as a county have been dominated by the Conservatives almost without a break since the creation of elected local government in the nineteenth century. Yet Royston Council allowed Mrs Odent to become the curator of its town museum. It allowed this in 2015 – five years into a Conservative Government. To her credit, she did not lie her way into the job. Once more according to The Daily Mail, she claims that she negotiated a contract with her employers that allowed her to “decolonise and diversify” the museum, and that her employers gave her a “safe platform” that she could use to “piss off some racists.” She adds: “a) my boss thinks I’m funny, b) she also supports BLM, and c) I’m the one reading [your direct messages].”

Ever ready to pose as the spokesman for a disenfranchised majority, Andrew Rosindell, the Conservative Member for Romford, announced that the spreading wave of vandalism was being driven by “a politically-correct gang of anarchists who hate everything about this country.” Fair enough, so far as these people do hate England. But this is not an insurrection of anarchists – not even the kind who like the power to destroy. It is an insurrection driven by the wealthy and the well-connected. Mrs Odone is the daughter of an American college president and the wife of a banker. She is part of a network of the rich who feel no twentieth century shame about their wealth, so long as they believe and act on their beliefs in a repeat of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. And they have been given the power to make this revolution by Conservative Governments.

A government of conservatives would long since have purged these people from every institution within its orbit of control or influence. It would have remodelled some and shut others down. This Conservative Government has instead left or even put them in charge of these institutions, and they are now acting in mockery of the parliamentary majority won just six months ago.

For the avoidance of doubt, I do not approve of police brutality. Indeed, I have long believed in abolishing the police. I am no fan of Winston Churchill. I do not believe, had I been alive at the time, that I would have supported slavery or the slave trade. I do not think, in retrospect, that having a big empire was a good idea. But the events that have been made the excuse for what is now happening took place in a foreign country, or a long time ago. What we now have is, I repeat, a cultural revolution – a cultural revolution led by what amounts to the ruling class. The BBC has incited it. Big business and the rich are cheering it on. The police have no wish to stop it.

It is also a cultural revolution that will not end with pulling down the statues of men whose actions may not have been spotless. Again, I quote Mrs Odent, whose honesty, if nothing else, is to be commended: “[W]e all immediately forget history when statues are destroyed.”

And a Conservative Government that, last December, swore blind it would stand by us has abdicated what little control it might still have. If disappointment is reasonable, we have no reason to be shocked. The Conservatives are, and always have been, unfit for any honest purpose. Sooner or later, I have no doubt – if it has not already happened – Mrs Odent and Boris Johnson will meet at some smart dinner. They will get on very well. Why not? She may despise him. Being herself intelligent, she has no choice. Being intelligent, though, she can also be sure that, unlike the average reader of The Daily Mail, he is not her enemy.

On Cambridge University, post-modernism, climate change, Oppenheimer’s Razor, and the Re-Enlightenment


On Cambridge University, post-modernism, climate change, Oppenheimer’s Razor, and the Re-Enlightenment

By Neil Lock

In the early 1970s, I studied mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge. I enjoyed it at the time, but was left with a feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Although I scraped a First, and was offered a place on Part III of the Tripos, I decided to go out into the real world instead. Never did I make a better life decision.

Over the intervening decades, I have come more and more to question the value of universities. I would have expected the remit of a university to be (1) to seek, (2) to develop, and (3) to pass on, ideas and practices to improve the human condition, both today and in the future. There should be no dishonesties in their processes, no imposed orthodoxies, and no restrictions on the freedom to seek, or to tell, the truth. Yet, universities – not just at Cambridge, but world-wide – seem to have become bastions of political correctness. Anyone in the faculty, who doesn’t toe the party line and parrot the narrative of the moment, will find difficulties in funding or in getting papers published, or may even be in danger of dismissal. Peter Ridd in Australia and Susan Crockford in Canada are topical examples.
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Homer, Vergil and the Culture War (2020), by Sean Gabb


Homer, Vergil and the Culture War
Sean Gabb
22nd February 2020

One of my Books
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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. Continue reading

LGBTs, Leftists and Libertarians


LGBTs, Leftists and Libertarians

By Duncan Whitmore

In a previous essay posted on this blog, the present writer explored the poisonous proliferation of identity politics in today’s political discourse. One of the themes of that essay was that identity politics has served to create false group identities which misrepresent the interests of the individuals who are supposed to make up those groups, solely for the purpose of being able to pit each group against other groups for political gain. The actual interests of the individuals within each group are served poorly, if at all.

Continuing on a similar theme, we will, in the present essay, examine how various minority groups that have been championed by the left – many of which, such as those characterised by race, religion or sexual orientation, have won genuine and much needed victories against prior legal repression – are being exploited by the left in the current culture war. Although libertarians are right to welcome a renaissance of traditional, local, cultural and religious values as bulwarks against the metastasising growth of the state, it is not minority groups (or the vindication of their rights) per se which are a threat to traditional cultures; rather, the genuine threat is the attempt by straight, white, middle class virtue signalling liberals to grant legal privileges to these groups in an attempt to attack and weaken what remains of Western civilisation. Far from having their own, long term interests preserved by allying themselves with the left, these minorities may well be leading themselves over a cliff edge if they are swept up in the backlash against leftism that is manifest in the resurgence of populism, nationalism, traditionalism and anti-globalism. Consequently, we shall why it is libertarianism that can allow minority groups to flourish, and why members of minority groups should become libertarians. Continue reading

On the Copernicus Moment


This is the last of a set of seven essays, in which I have been trying to understand and to diagnose the political, economic and ethical ills of our times. Today, I’ll try to pull together all the strands I have explored, and to sum up where we are today. And I’ll seek to “turn the corner” towards the not so small matter of how to cure these ills.
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