Saturday, 19 December 2015

15 pieces of good careers advice and a joke

Find out what you like doing best, and get someone to pay you for it. Katharine Whitehorn

If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life. Abraham Maslow

The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions. Alfred Adler

It is never too late to be what you might have been. George Eliot

Providence seldom sends any into the world with an inclination to attempt great things, who have not abilities, likewise, to perform them. Dr. Johnson

All happiness depends on courage and work. Honoré de Balzac

Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Goethe

Thousands of people have talent. I might as well congratulate you for having eyes in your head. The one and only thing that counts is: Do you have staying power? Noel Coward

The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves. Logan Pearsall Smith

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Mark Twain

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. Pablo Picasso

Never mistake motion for action. Ernest Hemingway

If you always do the next thing that needs to be done, you will go most safely and sure-footedly along the path prescribed by your unconscious. Then it is naturally no help at all to speculate about how you ought to live. … you cannot know it, but quietly do the next and most necessary thing. Carl Jung

Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings. Salvador Dali

It's only work if somebody makes you do it. Calvin and Hobbes

They all laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well, they're not laughing now. Bob Monkhouse

Sunday, 6 December 2015

The Dimbovita in December by Octav Dragan

More quotations

Balfour when young - a chaste young bachelor known in the House as Pretty Fanny

He has only half learned the art of reading who has not added to it the more refined art of skipping and skimming.

A. J. Balfour

As you know, I never read a book.

Isaiah Berlin (but Paul Johnson said he was a skimmer of genius). I unfortunately have not really learnt this art with books but on the net I am a skimmer of genius. 

A.J. Balfour pointed out that all the many philosophical arguments for why murder is wrong had nothing in common with each other except their conclusion. It is almost, he said, as if the authors started with the conclusion and worked backwards. I don't have his essays to hand to quote exactly.

The man who loses his temper makes himself ridiculous.

Harold Nicolson


Facebook just reminded me that I posted this picture of Brasov five years ago.

Have I really spent five (six actually) years on Facebook? 

What was life like before Facebook? 

It's a blur.

What an astonishing thing Facebook is -a box of delights - more interesting in its way even than War and Peace. And War and Peace is the novel I have spent all year crawling through, thanks to the attractions of Facebook.

This picture elicited, by the way, a wonderful comment from Dominic Johnson. 
The McDonald's sign is a little like spotting an overturned shopping cart in Constable's The Haywain.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Romania, the last old fashioned country in Europe

I always go to Spain or Greece thinking I am 40 years too late, France 50 years too late but when I came to Romania in 1990 I said to myself 'Paul you are still in time'. Though Patrick Leigh Fermor the same year was horrified by the damage the Communists had done since he was there in the 1930s economic growth changes things much more than Bolshevism. Enoch Powell was right to say that rapid economic growth was the enemy of conservatism.

This is the whole story published in the Times in October 2005, just after the bombings on the London underground by British Muslim terrorists. After the recent terrorist murders in Paris the opening lines are again, alas, timely.

The Last Peasants
"The country is holding its breath today," read The Times. “Tension and nerves will be felt by millions who know that the bombers have chosen Thursday as a day of atrocity.”
The world has been rewritten by the writers of cheap thrillers. And not necessarily present day thrillers. We feel as if we are in the neurotic pre-1914 landscape of William Le Queux or early Edgar Wallace.
While Londoners were waiting pensively in the tube I was in another kind of pre-1914 landscape, driving through villages in the Maramures, the northern edge of Transylvania bordering on Ukraine. Here life hasn’t changed very much in centuries but it will soon change utterly. Here in the most conservative part of Romania, Europe’s least modern country, peasants have not completely given up traditional costumes, for example. Such tractors as were to be found here under Communism were long ago sold off and horse-drawn ploughs are universal. Old women in black scatter seed in the fields. This is subsistence farming of a kind which had disappeared elsewhere and must soon disappear here too.
It took me fifteen years to get to Maramures. In 1990 when everyone in the Transylvanian countryside wore traditional costume to Mass and cars were scarcely seen, I asked my Romanian companion, ‘Is this the poorest part of Romania?’ It was my first day here. ‘No, it’s the richest. Can’t you tell?” A disconcerting reply. ‘If you want to see somewhere poor and old fashioned you should go to Maramures. In Maramures they’re still living in the Stone Age.’
In those fifteen years Maramures has changed like the rest of Romania. Gloucestershire has been bought up by stockbrokers wanting weekend cottages and Maramures I had read was full of villas built by customs officers and police colonels.  And there are plenty of big new houses around. A lot fewer people wear costume every day than did when I missed my first chance to visit. Tourism is bigger business now than it was then and there is a steady stream of foreign visitors but the area still feels pretty undiscovered, well protected by its inaccessibility. You can’t get there easily from anywhere by car, train or plane.
In Maramures villages men in hats and women with scarves, aged from thirty upwards, spend a lot of time sitting on roadside benches. They look attentively at each car or pedestrian that passes and conversation languishes. Tranquil is I suppose the word. The bomb explosions in London seemed unreal to Londoners but less real in Maramures.
Agrotourism, putting up with peasants, is the joy of travelling in Romania. This is tourism on a human scale, bespoke. You are a lodger but treated as a friend.  Catch it before its innocence has been lost and before Romania enters the E.U. in 2007. Your hosts who are subsistence farmers provide milk for your coffee fresh from the cow at the end of the garden. How much will be lost when EU health regulations bring all this to an end.
The priest’s wife in the village of Botiza, Mrs Victoria Berdecaru, has revived the carpet making industry in the village, organised a very neat crafts museum and organises accommodation for visitors. I stayed with Vasile the handsome 40 year-old local carpenter and handyman who built the museum and who told me ‘I do everything except dig graves. I won’t dig graves.’
I came on a chance impulse to see the 38th edition of the Hora La Prislop festival. Horas  are traditional Romanian dances and every village has its dances. Hora La Prislop is held on a mountainside and participants from villages throughout the Maramures compete for prizes. It attracts a big well-mannered audience who sit on the grass watching the stage neither eating, drinking nor talking. I also noticed three or four foreigners, one bestrewn with two large and expensive cameras. The festival is great fun on a sunny Sunday afternoon if you repress the adage about trying everything once except incest or Morris dancing.
The date of the first festival, 1968, is telling. Nicolae Ceausescu was just beginning to wrap himself in the flag and emphasise the traditions of the Romanian peasantry, twenty years before he began to knock down villages to make way for agro-industrial complexes. We were back in the 1970s and you expected to see local party dignitaries in crimplene suits make speeches praising agricultural output.
This was the eve of Assumption Day. In Romania as in much of Southern Europe the Assumption of the Virgin is one of the most important days of the year. It is treated in the countryside as an unofficial holiday. The roads were full of processions, adults in full costume, and angelic girls in white as for a first Holy Communion.
People from all over the area and the two biggest processions converged on the Monastery of Moisei where Mass in the open lasted from early evening till midday. Until 1989 these processions were forbidden by the police and had to be held under cover of night but today every ex-Communist politician wants to be photographed on the Assumption at some famous monastery. Moisei was crowded with visitors and stalls selling refreshments. Long before the first procession was near the narrow road to the monastery was blocked and impassible by car.
Wooden churches are what Maramures is renowned for, with spires, steep roofs and wall paintings. I attended Mass the next morning in a Greek Catholic church in Iaud or rather in the graveyard amid hollyhocks and brightly painted crucifixes with most of the congregation. The women stood together in the front, the men together at the rear. Most of the women wore scarves and traditional blouses and skirts but there were a few in blue jeans and loose hair. Each year the numbers of the latter increase.
The priest at the close read out the names and size of the contributions made by parishioners to the cost of building the new church. (“€100 on the part of Mrs Ionela Ghica, €100 on the part of Vlad Dumitriu…”) Everywhere you go in Maramures new churches have been or are being built alongside the houses of incomers.  A few miles away an impressive Orthodox monastery complex has been built on the site of one suppressed in the eighteenth century.
Iaud is a village where half the population is Greek Catholic. The Greek Catholic rite resembles that of the Orthodox but the Greek Catholics, also known as ‘Uniates’, recognise the authority of Rome. Iaud boasts several fine wooden churches and a reputation for large families.  It seems that the inhabitants observe the Church’s teaching better than in richer parts of Europe. According to Vasile: ‘If you have three children here people think you’re impotent.’
Sighet, a pleasant Austro-Hungarian town a mile from the Ukrainian border, houses the infamous prison where after the Communist takeover the leading politicians and opinion-formers were incarcerated, tortured and in many cases killed. Today the prison is a well-designed museum that explains the Stalin era. When I visited the museum had plenty of customers. Children ran around noisily. I got a slight sense in the exercise yard of the horrors of the recent past, I stood in the little cell in which democrat Iuliu Maniu had died and I went out. I was pleased that President Ion Iliescu, a leading member of the Communist Party’s youth wing during the years when the prison was busiest, had not been to see it.
Vasile told me that the secret of a happy life is preserving tradition. ‘You have to change but you should keep the traditions.’ I thought of life in London where traditions have been dissolved by affluence, technology, pop culture and multiculturalism. In the Maramures past and present are seamless, the existence of God is assumed rather like the sun rising each morning, neighbours know everything about each other and no man is an island.
But the numbers of cars we saw everywhere with Italian driving licenses testify to the exodus of Moreseni to work abroad. In the locality where I was staying everyone went to Northern Italy, where the discipline of Italian life was irksome but the money was very good. In other parts of the Maramures I am told everyone goes to Spain. Maramures is beautiful but desperately poor and an economic impossibility. As Vasile said to me ‘When you say agriculture you say poverty.’ Europe no longer has room for subsistence farmers and even if people like Vasile would never swap their lives for anyone else’s, his three daughters will go to college and not return to live their mother’s way of life. Vasile has no regrets. ‘They must fulfill their destiny. I hope they will return here when they are old.’
© Paul Wood 2005

Catholic atheists

When Catholics do not believe in God they know exactly what God it is in Whom they do not believe. As a Spaniard said to George Barrow, why should I believe in your God when I do not believe in my own, Who is the one true God?

Friday, 4 December 2015

Quotations, mostly discovered this weekend

If Turkey were not a member of NATO, today the Dardanelles and Istanbul would have been Russian.

Lidia Wolanskyj, Russian politician

Like addressing sheeted tombstones by moonlight.

Sidney, Lord Herbert of Lea, after speaking in the House of Lords in the 1860s, quoted by Jeremy Paxman in the FT.

Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods; even rich men and those in possession of office and of dominating power are thought to need friends most of all; for what is the use of such prosperity without the opportunity of beneficence, which is exercised chiefly and in its most laudable form towards friends? Or how can prosperity be guarded and preserved without friends? The greater it is, the more exposed is it to risk. And in poverty and in other misfortunes men think friends are the only refuge. It helps the young, too, to keep from error; it aids older people by ministering to their needs and supplementing the activities that are failing from weakness; those in the prime of life it stimulates to noble actions -- 'two going together' -- for with friends men are more able both to think and to act.


When women kiss I am always reminded of boxers shaking hands after they enter the ring.


(A schoolfriend read out Schopenhauer's aphorisms on women to me when we were 12.)

The famous book Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus should really have been Men are like Dogs, Women are like Cats, in so far as e.g. women only ever seem to take other women seriously. 

Dominic Johnson (he's a vet.)

It is unfortunate, considering that enthusiasm moves the world, that so few enthusiasts can be trusted to speak the truth.

A.J. Balfour

Society is constantly persecuting.

A.J. Balfour

my sweet old etcetera
aunt lucy during the recent

war could and what
is more did tell you just
what everybody was fighting

my sister

isabel created hundreds
hundreds) of socks not to
mention shirts fleaproof earwarmers

etcetera wristers etcetera, my
mother hoped that

i would die etcetera
bravely of course my father used
to become hoarse talking about how it was
a privilege and if only he
could meanwhile my

self etcetera lay quietly
in the deep mud et

cetera, of
Your smile
eyes knees and of your Etcetera)

ee cummings 

When we shed our empire we forgot to shed our arrogance.

Enoch Powell, opposing Britain fighting over Kuwait in 1991. I disagreed with him about that war and about intervening in the former Yugoslavia but about Iraq and Libya his remark is apposite. And Syria?

Our society will change. Our society will change radically. In 20-30 years there will no longer be a German majority. We will live in a supercultural society. This is what we will have in the future. And I want to make it very clear, especially to right-wingers: This is a good thing!

Dr. Stefanie von Berg, German Green Party politician.  I quoted this before, but it deserves repeating.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

American black killers oppressing whites

We hear a lot recently about whites in the USA killing blacks but in 2013 there were 409 black on white homicides, while 189 blacks were killed by whites - despite blacks being only 13% of the population and whites still being 74% of population.

Why American blacks commit so many violent crimes compared to other groups, even making allowance for their social class, I have no idea. But oppression works two ways. Judging by homicide statistics, American blacks are more oppressing than oppressed.

Back in Bucharest

Back in Bucharest after a short trip abroad, celebrating yet another birthday, my taxi driver is a Catholic who very sweetly at the end of the journey asks me if I am a priest. A great compliment and the nicest thing that was said to me since another taxi driver asked me if I were an artist. 'Why do you ask?' 'Because you don't seem to have your feet on the ground.' 

Tonight's taxi driver was a furrier until his employer went out of business because people started to think furs immoral. In Romania where everyone wears them. I am sad about this and love furs, but remember that an ecological friend told me that bears are killed for their furs by having hot pokers inserted in their anuses. Even very sexy girls in furs do but justify this. Shades of King Edward II's death. 

[Do you remember Dr. Fagan's remark about King Edward II – “a perverse life, Pennyfeather, and an unseemly death”?]

Should the UK bomb ISIS? I need to think about it

I have been too busy to think about whether or not I want us to bomb Syria but I know these things. 1. The ISIS attack in Paris is a lot less worrying than Germany letting in maybe millions of migrants settle in Germany. 2. For reasons i do not understand the UK and France (and USA) will use intervention in Syria to try to overthrow the Syrian government. 3. The Syrian government though utterly vile and disgusting is better than the realistic alternatives. 4. The problem is not in the Middle East but in Europe and the other rich countries. 5. ISIS will have done Europe a huge favour if people see the danger of islamisation. 6. This is unlikely to happen because of high minded, kind hearted, articulate people with good intentions. 7. I am angry with those good people rather than with ISIS.

Fascism, sometimes but rarely a useful word

in the early 1970s Tony Benn's son Hilary, as a teenager, pushed his father, who did not want to be outflanked by his son, to the hard left. Now grown to mature years, Hilary Benn turned out not share his father's barmy extremism and be fairly moderate. He has thrilled his party and the British left by describing ISIS last night, in the House of Commons, as fascist. Martin Kettle, in the Guardian, gushed.
Fascism was the pivotal word in Benn’s speech, held back until nearly the end, as a great conductor does with the climax of a symphonic argument. Fascism is still a morally and historically charged word unlike any others, especially in a chamber where Churchill’s ghost still lurks on occasions such as these. Yet Benn’s final sentences skilfully invoked other traditions too – not least the plain, unvarnished English dissenting culture from which he himself springs.
It was a good, persuasive speech - click here to watch it. Though, in my opinion, the Labour party's internationalism is one of its worse and most dangerous features, not as Mr. Benn said, its best feature. And he was utterly, unpardonably wrong when he said all refugees wanted to return to Syria. 

I am guilty of bandying the word fascism around - I have described England as increasingly fascist - but what is the point of using the word to blacken Saudi Arabia or ISIS, etc? They are not remotely fascist, if by fascist you mean resembling Mussolini's system and they are quite as bad or in fact much worse. And if Assad is a fascist, and ISIS are fascists and for sure the non-ISIS allegedly moderate rebels are fascists it seems Syria has three fascist choices and a negligible number of democrats. And a democratic election would be a disaster anyway as it would bring to power Sunni Islamists and for sure they are not democrats.

Fascism is not a problem any more but everyone wants to prepare for the last war. Evil morphs. Atheistic ideologies and racism gave rise to much evil in my father's day - now Islam and anti-racism are the problem.

Note. Historian Niall Ferguson rightly pointed out today [Sunday 6 December] that fascism was hierarchical in structure, as well as national in appeal, but today's Islamism is both [a] a network in structure, as well as [b] International in appeal. Quite.


'"Do you believe," said Candide, "that men have always massacred each other as they do to-day, that they have always been liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools?

"Do you believe," said Martin, "that hawks have always eaten pigeons when they have found them?"'

Voltaire, 'Candide'

“He was one of the numerous and varied legion of dullards, of half-animated abortions, conceited, half-educated coxcombs, who attach themselves to the idea most in fashion only to vulgarize it and who caricature every cause they serve, however sincerely.”

Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment

“I am an excitable person who only understands life lyrically, musically, in whom feelings are much stronger as reason. I am so thirsty for the marvelous that only the marvelous has power over me. Anything I can not transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn't impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.”

Anaïs Nin

Thursday, 26 November 2015

It seems the Turks are to blame for downing the Russian plane on the Syrian border

What is my opinion about the Russian plane downed yesterday by the Turkish air force after spending 17 seconds in Turkish aerospace on the Syrian border?

I had a completely open mind. I am certain that Russia has been throwing her weight around deliberately.  A British priest friend, however, said on Facebook: 

"I am ex-Air Force and I still talk almost daily with senior serving and ex-serving members. There has been a LOT of discussion of this. It seems the Russian aircraft flew across a tiny arm of Turkish land that projects into Syria. The Russian aircraft was over Turkey for 17 seconds. The missile that hit the Russian aircraft took 40 seconds to reach it. That means the Turks shot it down over Syrian airspace - well after it had left Turkish airspace. The Greeks tell us that the Turks regularly fly illegally over Greek airspace, but the Greeks don't shoot them down. There was no hint that the Russian aircraft was attacking - its course was clearly exiting Turkish airspace. Turkey therefore acted illegally and it is very unlikely that NATO will back them. Apparently NATO would like Turkey out of NATO anyway because they are likely to try to drag NATO into some war that NATO has no interest in." 
A senior US diplomat said on Facebook that the USAF would not have done what Turkey did.

I now get the Washington Post on my kindle because of its wonderful production values but I bitterly hate it and want rid of it. The WP is very warlike towards Russia which makes me feel sure Turkey must be to blame. The WP which worries about climate changes and thinks people who don't want to take in Syrian refugees have no right to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving day reflections

To my American friends celebrating Thanksgiving I wish them a happy occasion and remind them of a joke of Garrison Keillor, whom I love. 
"My ancestors were puritans from England. They arrived here in 1648 in the hope of finding greater restrictions than were permissible under English law at that time."

I am not sure what Thanksgiving is about but it is about puritans landing in America. G.K. Chesterton said,
"The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England."

Puritanism runs through American culture like Southend through a stick of Southend rock. 

The puritans, even more than the Pharisees, get a rather unfair press. I, for one, shall be sorry when the USA loses its Protestant religiosity which is what makes the country what it is. But even if Americans cease to be religious they will still be puritans, albeit, as they are now, debauched puritans. 

Political correctness is all about puritanism. One of the most attractive things about Orthodox countries, like Romania, is that they do not have puritans. It is Protestant countries like England and America that are bedevilled with them, like wasps in summer. 

On the other hand puritans are much better at book-keeping and probity in general than other faiths. It is no coincidence that Orthodox countries score above Catholic and Protestant ones in every index of corruption. 

Calvinism and puritanism flourish even after belief in God dies. When the left likes homosexuality and sexual freedom it does so for puritan reasons, not cavalier ones. 

Mr. Obama today likened the Syrian refugees whom he wants his country to accept to the pilgrim fathers.  He has a point. Muslims are puritans as well, of course, Calvinists plus polygamy, so maybe Muslim immigrants in America will fit in. I am sure that, unlike the original puritans, the Muslims will not displace the natives. They may, however, cause quite a few changes.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Liberal leadership in dangerous times

Peggy Noonan has published an article well worth reading.
"Madrid and London took place during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and could be taken as responses to Western actions. The Charlie Hebdo massacre was in its way a story about radical Islamic antipathy to the rough Western culture of free speech. But last week’s Paris attack was different. It was about radical, violent Islam’s hatred of the West and desire to kill and terrorize its people. They will not be appeased; we won’t talk them out of it at a negotiating table or by pulling out of Iraq or staying out of Syria. They will have their caliphate, and they will hit Europe again, as they will surely hit us again, to get it."

I agree with much of it but I do not think that the refugees are a side issue. They are a much more important issue than ISIS and ISIS is - perversely - helping wake people up to Islamisation. 

I have not regarded Mr Obama as a bad president until very recently. he presided over economic recovery and was right for example to save GE. But these words ring very true.
"the imperious I, to the inability to execute, to the endless interviews and the imperturbable drone, to the sense that he is trying to teach us, like an Ivy League instructor taken aback by the backwardness of his students. And there's the unconscious superiority."

Mr. Obama is pretty arrogant - and I start to see that he is naive and professorial like the disastrous Woodrow Wilson. He might be too intelligent to be a good leader as Wilson was. Think James VI and I. I am disappointed that he sees climate change as a big danger - to my mind it is pretty obviously a rather fatuous ignis fatuus. Migrations not global warming are the big issue.

Mark Steyn was very funny about left-of-centre leaders' concern about sea levels in the Maldives in the 22nd century. By then the Shia former citizens of the Maldive will be living in Europe.

Here is a very good article by Dan Hannan, MEP, on what produced the Paris jihadis.

Think of the experience that boy will have had in his adolescence. His every interaction with the Belgian state will have taught him to despise it. If he got any history at all in school, it will have been presented to him as a hateful chronicle of racism and exploitation. When he hears politicians on TV, they are unthinkingly blaming every ill in the world on Western meddling. It's hardly an inducement to integrate, is it?
Americans are very good at assimilating newcomers. They go in for loud displays of national pride — flags in the yard and bunting on Independence Day and stirring songs — that strike some Euro-snobs as vulgar, but that make it easy for settlers to want to belong.
In the EU, by contrast, the ruling doctrine is that patriotism is a dangerous force, and that the nation-state is on its last legs. Eurocrats dream of making the 12-star flag a common post-national symbol, just as they have already replaced national passports with an EU version. "Europe — Your Country," says the sign at the Commission building

The academics and schoolmasters are the unacknowledged legislators of the world - their politically correct teaching are at least in part responsible for the crisis the West is in. It reminds me of the late 19th century German schoolmasters whose nationalism paved the way that led to the horrors of Nazism and the mid-20th century. 

Germany and Europe are changing rapidly

On October 10 2010 the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, told a meeting of her party's youth wing that the idea of people from different cultural backgrounds living happily "side by side" did not work. She said the onus was on immigrants to do more to integrate into German society. 
"This [multicultural] approach has failed, utterly failed.'
More recently a German Green Party politician called Dr. Stefanie von Berg told the Hamburg parliament
"Our society will change. Our society will change radically. In 20-30 years there will no longer be a German majority. We will live in a supercultural society. This is what we will have in the future. And I want to make it very clear, especially to right-wingers: This is a good thing!"

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Charles De Gaulle on Muslims in France

According to Harold Macmillan's diary, Winston Churchill told his cabinet in January 1955 that
Keep England White 
would be a good slogan in the forthcoming general election. I often wondered what Charles De Gaulle's views on immigration were, knowing that he began his memoirs with the words I find very stirring
All my life I have had a certain idea of France.
I have just come across the answer, which is here.
It is very good that there are yellow French, black French, brown French. They show that France is open to all races and has a universal vocation. But [it is good] on condition that they remain a small minority. Otherwise, France would no longer be France. We are still primarily a European people of the white race, Greek and Latin culture, and the Christian religion.

Don't tell me stories! Muslims, have you gone to see them? Have you watched them with their turbans and jellabiyas? You can see that they are not French! Those who advocate integration have the brain of a hummingbird. Try to mix oil and vinegar. Shake the bottle. After a second, they will separate again. Arabs are Arabs, the French are French. Do you think the French body politic can absorb ten million Muslims, who tomorrow will be twenty million, after tomorrow forty? If we integrated, if all the Arabs and Berbers of Algeria were considered French, would you prevent them to settle in France, where the standard of living is so much higher? My village would no longer be called Colombey-The-Two-Churches but Colombey-The-Two-Mosques.
No official figures are kept in France but Pew Research estimated that in 2010 there were 4.7 million Muslims in France (7.5% of the total population) which is fewer than the ten million that De Gaulle thought could not be absorbed.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Quotations to read while waiting for the next ISIS atrocity

Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,

Where wealth accumulates, and men decay'

Just as the Christians turned pagan temples into churches and pagan holidays into Christian holidays, multiculturalism is replacing an old culture with a new one. It is the expression of a deep-seated hatred of this culture in its religious, racial, and moral expressions. 

Samuel T. Francis

I don't think I have ever really loved my country. And certainly not mine to the exclusion of other people's. Why is this important? 

Canon Giles Fraser, former canon of St. Paul's Cathedral, who writes for the Guardian.

It is MADNESS, it is SUICIDAL for a country to PAY to bring its enemies into its bosom!

Newt Gingrich.

American exceptionalism is always just American provincialism, no matter how benevolent it seems. Not everyone is like us, and a lot of people are actively trying not to become like us. Jihadis are, roughly speaking, the armed wing of that group.

Gary Brecher

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Assad and migrants

Two things seen on Facebook:
Islam is like an explosive with a dead-man's switch. Some mean SOB has to keep his finger on it all the time to stop it detonating. Assad is as good as any for that job.
We control who gets inside banks.., government buildings, airports,clubs, discos yet anymore can get inside the EU by crossing the Med.

Is Bucharest, though not old, the most beautiful city in Europe?

I thought walking through the streets between Cismigiu and Buzesti, decaying 1880s buildings, trees bright brown with autumn leaves, that Bucharest though not old is the most beautiful city in Europe. Like living in a lithograph illustration for a strange book found in a second-hand shop. It won't be so compelling, though, if or rather when they ever give the houses a lick of paint and repair everything.

An example of what I mean is a house I walk past every day. photographed by my gifted friend Davin Ellicson.

Candidates are advised not to attempt this question

I remember my history master of genius, Dr Alan White, mentioned this history exam question
'Asquith was the last British Prime Minister not to travel by plane. Discuss'

saying drily (he said everything drily) we would be well advised not to answer this question.

Which reminds me of an exam question from Sellars and Yeatman 

' "Cap'n are't thou sleeping down below?" Candidates are advised not to attempt this question.'

Another exam question from the early 1970s
"The world owes more to Marks and Spencer's than to Marx and Spencer". 

I think Harold Wilson may have made that pun first, though he omitted Herbert Spencer.

A borderless world

I was on a bus - my ticket cost $1- going from Palmyra to Damascus and they were showing a BBC thriller with Arabic subtitles. TV in a bus was a novelty for me. I watched the mime. 

It was essentially a John Buchan type thriller, but the well dressed upper-middle class senior civil servant turned out at the end, inevitably, to be the bad guy. In place of the patriotic Rhodesian Richard Hannay, the brave, resourceful hero was a young black man. And I felt sorry, as I watched, for Al Qaeda, who I realised had no chance against global post-national culture.

American writer Gary Brecher put it very well.
Not everyone is like us, and a lot of people are actively trying not to become like us. Jihadis are, roughly speaking, the armed wing of that group. The truth about the clash of civilizations you hear people discussing is that it’s all the other way: The Mall is invading Islam, the Mall is taking over. There isn’t any Sharia Law in North Carolina, but there damn well are US-style malls in even the most conservative Islamic countries. 
Bill Clinton told Australians on Sept. 10, 2001 that he believed in 
the ultimate wisdom of a borderless world.
Borderless and with one global deracinated culture.

There is nothing but Western civilisation anymore, though it is ceasing to be Western, if Western means mostly white and mostly Christian. The future will be countries made of communities that do not comprehend each other, identity politics and an authoritarian state or superstate imposing approved behaviour. They will be bound together by pop music, Hollywood and a secular theology of human rights.

I think national borders (and languages) are wonderful and make freedom, democracy and a diversity of national cultures possible, but increasingly the borders are not between countries but within them.

The communications revolution means 
national identities are inevitably much less clear-cut than before. Increasingly, national independence is being subsumed by international law, international bodies and an internationalist political and business elite. Mass migrations are radically and quickly changing the rich world. 

I prefer a global post-national culture to Al Qaeda, but I don't like either. Come to think of it, Al Qaeda might appear to hate modernity but it is part of the global, post-national culture too and so is ISIS, which has now blown up a lot of Palmyra.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Against equality

"If you criticise the whole idea of human equality—which is basically what I do—you are going against a prevalent quasi-religious orthodoxy."

Roger Scruton

I feel I am in the same position but thankfully this orthodoxy is not established in Eastern Europe, yet.

What do we do about ISIS?

What a difference three weeks make. It was only three weeks ago that charges against Marine Le Pen of the Front National were dropped for saying about Muslim areas in France
It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of neighbourhoods in which religious law applies. It is an occupation. There are no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is an occupation anyhow and it weighs on people.
if it didn't weigh on the French before it certainly does now, after the ISIS attacks that killed 130 people.

The FN didn't benefit much from the Hebdo murders. Let's see what happens this time.

Everyone should read this very short article by Niall Ferguson. 
Let us be clear about what is happening. Like the Roman Empire in the early fifth century, Europe has allowed its defences to crumble. As its wealth has grown, so its military prowess has shrunk, along with its self-belief. It has grown decadent in its shopping malls and sports stadiums. At the same time, it has opened its gates to outsiders who have coveted its wealth without renouncing their ancestral faith.
I am glad he is writing in this vein though I do not think things are quite so bad as that. There is no alternative to Western civilisation but would a civilisation not dominated by white Christians still be Western? I wish very much that I had worked at university and been a rival of Niall Ferguson. The thing the world most urgently needs at this moment is conservative historians.

What is interesting is that no-one not even experienced journalists know what is going on in Syria. Patrick Cockburn, a left-winger, knows more than most and confirms my suspicions. We are being fed lies by the US government about Russia, ISIS and about the obviously non-existent 'moderate rebels'.
In an article that you really should read (click here) he says Western leaders have claimed they believed six impossible things before breakfast.
These impossible things included the belief that it would be possible to contain and even destroy IS, while at the same time getting rid of President Bashar al-Assad and his regime in Damascus. The US, Britain, France and their allies have refused to admit that the fall of Assad would create a power vacuum that would be inevitably be filled by Islamic fundamentalists from IS or al Qaeda clones such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.What this strategy has meant on the ground is that when IS attacked the Syrian army in Palmyra in May the US air force did not bomb its fighters because Washington did not want to be accused by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf monarchies of helping Assad.
The result was a victory for IS as it seized Palmyra, beheaded captured Syrian soldiers and advanced westwards close to the crucial north-south highway linking Damascus to the northern cities.
He also says
If the Russians had really only been launching air strikes against Syrian moderates and not against IS, it is unlikely that IS would have gone to such trouble to place a bomb on a Russian plane leaving Sharm el-Sheikh that killed 224 passengers.
That sounds very plausible, though ISIS may have punished Russia just for aiding Assad.

I have no doubt that Assad has helped ISIS, but I suspect not quite as much as the press keeps insisting. i am also clear that Turkey and Qatar helped found ISIS and ISIS flourished because of the USA's anxiety to help create a Sunni anti-Iranian government and thus block the Shia crescent that links Hezbollah, Assad and Tehran.

Why is ISIS attacking the French, the Russians and the Lebanese Shias at the same time? To invite retaliation, which will allow it to pose as fighting a Holy War against Christians (much as the Western leaders want to forget their Christian identity and replace it with multiculturalism). We must not fall into the trap of reacting in the wrong way as George W Bush did and we must not victimise or alienate European Muslims of whom there are now huge numbers.

On the other hand, the strange lack of anger about these atrocities and absence of almost any public hostility to Islam concerns me. It is the dog that did not bark in the night. 

Brendan O'Neill is a sort of Trotskyite, a sort of Communist, an atheist who believes in open borders. I find I agree with almost every word he ever says. And I agree with almost every word of this article- and all of them are important. 

Now, it is spiked’s view that the intensification of intervention in Syria is unlikely to solve the problem at hand. Nonetheless, we also feel that there’s little positive in the dearth of appetite for physically fighting ISIS. It, too, speaks to the subdued, passion-policing response to Paris. As John Stuart Mill put it, ‘War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing is worth war is much worse.’ This is what we have post-Paris: a ruling and thinking class which thinks its own values are not worth fighting a war for, and in fact should not be loudly and proudly stated through song, argument, flag-waving or any talk of ‘America winning’ or ‘France winning’ lest we intensify the suspicion some among us feel for those values.


is the headline on an article by

Charles Glass that seems very wise although must is not a word to use to princes. No-one until now wanted to fight ISIS, which the US's allies, it is now clear, encouraged - in a desire to get rid of Assad that had nothing whatsoever to do with his regime's cruelty.

Nothing would turn Iraqis and Syrians to the jihadis more quickly than a Western invasion.Those of us who witnessed the Iraqi uprising of 1991, when Kurds and Shiites used the demoralisation of Saddam Hussein’s army in Kuwait to liberate 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, know that it had more potential to save the country than the American-led invasion of 2003 did. The U.S. pulled the plug on that rebellion in March 1991, and launched its own bid to control Iraq in 2003 that it is still paying for.One step would not involve any combat at all: Close the open supply line between ISIS and the outside world through Turkey. Turkey is an ally, but no friend.

This very good article in Taki's magazine called
Four ways to save Europe
is full of good points but though the first three suggestions are good the fourth is too extreme for me. 

Finally, here is a charming essay entitled

The Vicar of Baghdad: 'I've looked through the Quran trying to find forgiveness... there isn’t any.'

And a tweet I liked.


Friday, 20 November 2015

That Youth's sweet-scented Manuscript should close!

When you get older you only want one thing... to be young, said a friend of mine on Facebook. I wondered if it is true. He is thinking of sex, I expect. And thinking about it (ageing I mean, not sex) I decided I like getting older - life is a search for understanding and that begins at 40 and increases a lot after 50. 

I suspect life for a man starts at 50. For women life starts much sooner.

"What music is more enchanting than the voices of young people, when you can't hear what they say?" 
So said Logan Pearsall Smith. When one envies the young just remember how lacking their conversation is. At least this young men's, even clever ones' - clever women of 24 or even 21 know a huge amount.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

What does sitting on a sunny beach MEAN?

I wonder why most people think sitting on the beach is fun. It isn't but people think it is. I suppose this is how many things work, including politics, religion, property bubbles, wars. Most people think something is true so it must be true.

I wonder if it is ultimately about linguistics. Beach recliner as hieroglyphic for joy. 

Schopenhauer said "Money is human happiness in the abstract; he, then, who is no longer capable of enjoying human happiness in the concrete devotes himself to money". Beaches are happiness in the abstract too, though not if you were a bookish child forced almost every day in summer to sit on the beach in Essex.

‎"Romania is Islamic land"

The murder of over 120 people in Paris by Muslim gunmen at the weekend raises the question: can the same thing happen in Romania? To which the answer is, yes of course. Romania is a likely target and if the terrorists badly want to stage an atrocity here they may succeed, but Romania is better protected in some ways than France or Great Britain.

There have been attempts by Muslim fanatics to enter Romania for at least fifteen years, but almost the only  advantage of having been a police state is that the  secret service (SRI) is one of the few effective Romanian institutions. M16 contacts tell me that the SRI know how to do their job.

The Muslim community, even after the recent noticeable influx of refugees from Syria, is very small. The Muslims live mostly in the Dobrudja, in other words the coast and its hinterland, reasonably law-abiding and loyal to the country. Romanian Muslims consider themselves and are in all respects except ethnicity Romanians. This makes it easier for the authorities to keep track of people. Unlike in multiracial London and Paris extremists here, even were they to get in, would not find vibrant Muslim communities in which to hide and be accepted.

Neighbouring Bulgaria was less lucky. A Muslim suicide bomber exploded a bomb on a bus full of Israeli tourists in Burgas in 2012 and six people were killed, over thirty injured.
Syrian Sheik Omar Bakri, who claimed responsibility for the Burgas bomb, was carefully watched and prevented from entering Romania. However, he said in an interview at the time that both Romania and Bulgaria were legitimate targets for attacks, because they are ‘Islamic land’ and because troops from those countries are fighting in Afghanistan. 

"Once Islam enters a land, that land becomes Islamic and the Muslims have the duty to liberate it some day. Spain, for example, is Islamic land, and so is Eastern Europe: Romania, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia."

Actually, the Sheik's history is not accurate, at least not about most of Romania, though he could have dragged in the Ukraine, Hungary, Greece and Southern Italy where Islam did enter (even Rome was sacked, but not occupied, by the Muslims). All of what is now Romania was, it is true, once in some sense part of the Ottoman Empire and shown as such on the maps, but Islam never 'entered' Romania, except for the Dobrudja,, the Bucovina and for 150 years the Banat. The great achievement of the Wallachians, Moldavians and Transylvanians was, when they could no longer resist the Turk by force of arms, to make terms and preserve their autonomy and the property of their landowners. Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece failed to preserve their system of landownership and government. The three principalities which made up most of what is now Romania simply paid tribute to the Sublime Porte and were untouched by Islam. They were always ruled by Christian princes, owned by Christian landlords and governed by their own laws. In fact, Wallachia and Moldavia were never territories of the Ottoman Empire but protectorates. The only other semi-detached part of the Ottoman Empire which had this form of self-government was the Lebanon. Romanian landlords and nobles were very lucky to escape the fate of their counterparts elsewhere in South-Eastern Europe.

Muslims were forbidden to settle in Wallachia and Moldavia to prevent them from appealing to the Sultan for protection against the Christian authorities. Ethnicity in the era before nationalism was less important than religion and every Christian who owned land was a citizen. Greeks, Serbs, Armenians and Albanians were magistrates and bishops. Jews could settle, but could not be citizens unless they converted.

It is not clear how we should describe the status of the Regat in English, but protectorate or suzerainty are inaccurate approximations. Home rule is not quite right for the Phanariot era in the 18th Century, when the principalities were ruled by Greeks, who bought their throne from the Sultan and did not last long, but would apply to the periods of native princes in the seventeenth century and after the Wallachian uprising of 1821. At any rate the Sultan played no part in ruling the Regat whose rulers had far more freedom from Constantinople than Romania now has from Brussels. Only in 1876 did the new Ottoman constitution for the first time enact that Wallachia and Moldavia were full parts of the empire. The War of Independence followed in 1877, a war, though, that was not really fought for de jure independence, but under compulsion from the Czar who would have marched his army across the principalities in any case.

Romanians tell me that Romania resembles other Balkan countries, especially Serbia and Greece, and they should know much better than me, but I always fancy that the Balkan feeling, which you get in other Balkan countries, Albania most of all, and which is really a Turkish feeling, is sensibly less in evidence here. This may be simply due to the fact that Romanian is, despite all attempts to deny it, a Latin language. But if I am right and it goes deeper than this, this would be the explanation. At any rate, there are no mosques here, except in the Dobrudja,.

I first came to the Balkans in 1990 by train, hoping to see Europe morph into Asia. Strada Lipscani felt utterly sui generis and un-Western, with gypsy or Arab music playing from transistor radios, but, apart from the old town in Bucharest, Romania was Europe and so was Bulgaria, despite her statues of Lenin, mosques and the gypsy quarter in Plovdiv. In 1990, after Romania, Istanbul was almost a bore - it was back to capitalism and Mars bars and foreign newspapers - but it was Muslim and the East. It felt like Asia. Now that I have lived in the Balkans for seventeen years, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey feel as if they have very much in common. At moments they almost feel like the same country, which historically they were - Greater Greece, Byzantium.

I didn’t know back in 1990 that the Moldavian and Wallachian landed class spoke Greek (and dressed like Turks) until the middle of the 19th century or that a Greek general, Alexander Ypsilantis, raised a revolt in Moldavia in March 1821 against the Sublime Porte in order to create a new Byzantine Empire, expecting to win support from Romanians, only to be defeated by Tudor Vladimirescu, who fought for the Sultan. Historians speak of Ypsilantis's revolt as the start of the Greek War of Independence but the Greece he was fighting for was not a national idea but a multiracial Christian state united by Greek culture and religion, Byzantium in fact. Vladimirescu, by contrast, wanted to free Moldavia and Wallachia from both the Turks and the Greek aristocracy. Nevertheless the idea of a Greek-Rumanian confederation still lingered on even into the late 1850s. 

When I went to Constanta for the first time in 1999 and saw the mosque there, overlooking the Black Sea, I felt that I was in an odd, hybrid place. My generation was the last that could forget that there were large numbers of Muslims in Western Europe. That was in 1999 and we cannot forget them now. The roughly 20,000 Romanian Muslims, who live mostly in the Dobrudja, inaccurately called Turks, are a tiny number compared with the millions in England, France, Germany and Spain. The town where I was born, like Constanta, now has two mosques.

I have met three or four Romanian so-called Turks, who were all very nice people. The one I liked most was a very sympathetic young woman (she might have had gypsy blood) in Constanta who told me she had converted to Christianity and in her spare time went around Muslim villages, trying to convert other Muslims. She wanted, she said, to set them free. How different from the Anglican way of doing things. Something about her simplicity moved me a great deal.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The present is a foreign country

No-one can ever understand a foreign country.

After 17 years I know I have learnt that I know almost nothing about Romania, but I effortlessly understand so very much that very intelligent foreigners never can about my own country - as it was 25 years ago.

As we grow older we all live in foreign countries. Increasingly this is true literally as well as figuratively and I am an example.

One of the advantages of being a foreigner is not fitting in and not understanding. None of us feel we fit in or understand - that is the human condition - but foreigners are not meant to fit in or understand and this is a great liberation.

And increasingly the developed countries are becoming settled by more and more foreigners. In some ways this makes them more interesting for xenophiles like me, but many people who didn't want to live in a foreign country find themselves doing so without leaving home.

Monday, 16 November 2015


"The fear that a designing foreigner may one day make him unknowingly eat a cat is still present in some form or another in most British minds."

Lord Edward Cecil.

"If diversity was strength the former Yugoslavia would have been a world power."

Robert Stewart

"Prejudice is latent wisdom."

Edmund Burke

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes."

Bertrand Russell

"All questions are ultimately theological." That sounded like Hilaire Belloc but I tracked it down at length - it is Cardinal Manning

"Every major question in history is a religious question."

Belloc said this - which is very apposite 72 hours after over a hundred people were killed by ISIS terrorists in Paris.