In Defence of Inconsistency

Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko

In Defence of Inconsistency

Peter King on a further contradiction of conservatism

We like to think that we are rational and that we act in a consistent manner. If we are conservatives we are consistently conservative and so dislike modern art and architecture. We have an image of what a conservative is, just as we might of any other ideologue. But do we have to be consistent in all things? After all, those of us who oppose change have got used to antibiotics, modern transport and we even communicate to each other through the World Wide Web. No one sees any of this as inconsistent.

Likewise, it is quite common to hear conservatives accused of wanting to return Europe back to the some earlier golden age. But do we really want to do this? And if some of us do, while some do not, again does this matter?

Clearly, not all conservatives agree with each other. They will emphasise different points: some will stress monarchy and aristocracy, while others focus on education or religion. But all of these fit within the general sense of what we assume conservatism to be.

For myself, I am quite happy to admit that my views are not particularly consistent. Unlike some conservatives I see nothing necessarily objectionable about migration, as long as the emphasis then falls on assimilation rather than multiculturalism. I would also favour free markets rather than agree to a system of direct central planning. Yet when I married I saw this as an unbreakable commitment made before God. Marriage for me is for life and not a contingent relationship that can be ended when I get tired of it. My view on the issue of abortion is similarly uncompromising: I cannot countenance the idea of abortion and this even includes when a pregnancy arises as a result of rape. I do not see why we would make a child suffer as a means of dealing with the sins of (one of) the parents.

But what I would say is that I can justify all of these arguments, and I do not particularly concern myself that they may be considered inconsistently conservative. Indeed, I actually see problems in too much consistency. I have a great deal of respect for someone as intellectual rigorous as Robert Nozick, but I also appreciate that not many of us can be so consistent. Indeed, perhaps not many of us would really want to be so rigorous. Nozick tests an idea – free market libertarianism – to destruction and, in doing so, makes its limits for practical politics all too apparent. Such rigour and consistency is just not politically tenable: it would cause too much controversy and not enough people would vote for it. Compromise is always a necessary part of politics, and this is because it involves accommodating a diversity of firmly held views. This is something that conservatives will realise almost innately.

But the issue of consistency should not just be reserved to politics. What about art, music and literature? Should we be consistent here? Can, or perhaps rather, should a conservative like modern art and modern music? Indeed it is all too common to hear conservatives criticising artists such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin or modern composers like Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen: ‘How is that art?’ or ‘How can you call that music?’ Now I must admit that I have little time for either Hirst or Emin, other than to admire the manner in which they can make a little talent stretch a very long way.

But I have a confession to make: I do enjoy a good deal of modern art and my taste in music is decidedly eclectic. For example, I consider the work of Mark Rothko deeply spiritual and inspiring. I have literally spent hours looking at Rothko’s Seagram Murals in Tate Modern in London. But I also enjoy a lot of contemporary music, including composers such as Gyorgy Ligeti, Giacinto Scelsi, John Cage, Terry Riley and John Zorn. The two latter composers, who are both still active, have, like Rothko, a wonderful spiritual intensity to their work, but neither can be called traditional in the sense of obviously relating to the classical tradition. Does this mean there is something wrong with me?

By way of an answer I would say first that these musical choices are not instead of J S Bach and Claudio Monteverdi, but in addition to them. I do not like Bach or Monteverdi any less, and if I had to choose anything to die for it would be Bach’s cello suites (Paulo Pandolfo’s masterful transcriptions for the viola de gamba, just to be perverse). But also many antimodernists, such as Ezra Pound, have not always eschewed the new or have distanced themselves from the avant-garde. In contrast, John Zorn is in some ways the proto-typical New York bohemian, but his music refers to many traditional spiritual ideas as well as to his Jewish cultural roots. I assume that he is not by any means a conservative in terms of politics and culture, yet his music is full of ideas that I find inspiring and, no less important, I enjoy how it sounds.

What we have to realise is that whether or not we want to return Europe some former golden age we are very unlikely to manage it. We are rather more likely to remain exactly where we are, which means that we will remain within modernity. Conservatism as we now know it is derivative of modernity and we would have to work very hard to consistently remain outside of the modern. This being so, we had better make use of those non-toxic elements of the modern to help us pursue our ends. Indeed, we need to distinguish between ends and means: we should remember that the medium is not the message and it never has been.

Of course, we still may prefer Bach and classical architecture. Much of what we are, as thinking and acting agents, does not come about by choice. I am the mix of the contradictions that I am. I have not chosen to be inconsistent, any more than friends I have who consider themselves left of centre but will not listen to anything later than Bach.

And finally, do we only ever do things just because we want to agree with others or because we seek their approval? Do we take up positions, whether it is on politics or music, because of what others might think of us, or do we live according to our own principles and get on with doing the things we enjoy?

PETER KING is Reader in Social Thought at De Montfort University. His most recent books are Keeping Things Close: An Essay on the Conservative Disposition and Here and Now: Some Thoughts on the World and How We Find it, both published by Arktos in 2015

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Me-Me Megyn Kelly and the Republican Debate

Megyn Kelly

Megyn Kelly

Me-Me Megyn Kelly and the Republican Debate

Ilana Mercer defends Trump’s boycott

The Iowa caucuses are upon us. Every sentient human being who has lived through The Trump Revolution thinks Donald J. Trump, the enfant terrible of establishment politics, will likely win the Republican caucuses, come February 1.

As of January 27, an Iowa Monmouth University Poll places Trump at 30 percent to Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s 23 percent, up from 19 percent last month. At 41 percent nationwide, Trump’s lead is double that of Cruz, his closest rival.

Other than news emanating from the Me-Me Megyn Kelly megaphone—most media predict a “huge” turnout among Republican caucus-goers, enthusiasm that’s hard to associate with Ted’s pompous, preachy sermons. (“Inauthenticity” is how Rand Paul put it.)

Still, not all media have learned to refrain from projecting their innermost desires onto and into their reporting. So when The Donald upset the political applecart again, January 26, some still posed numbingly stupid questions that ignore the candidate’s trajectory:

“Will Trump’s big debate gamble be brilliant or disastrous for his campaign?”

“Will Trump’s Boycott Play as Tantrum or Principled?”

The special-needs media’s professional retardation is a source of lots of laughter on Twitter:

CNN’s Ryan Lizza, “Trump is basically winning a multi-front war against every power center of the Republican Party.”

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough: “Anyone thinking Trump loses this game of chicken hasn’t been paying attention for the past 6 months.”

“Trump just shot Fox News in the middle of 5th Avenue,” tweeted another, alluding to Trump bragging he “could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and [he] wouldn’t lose any voters.”

And: “So it turns out Fox WILL be hosting an undercard debate.”

Here’s what just happened: Donald Trump had not expected to be subjected again to Megyn Kelly’s ministrations, after the anchor’s missteps during the first prime-time Republican debate, in Cleveland, Ohio, last year.

The consensus among very many outside the Beltway bubble was that the smug Megyn Kelly had been rude and overbearing during that debate, clobbering Trump with sub-intelligent, war-on-women questions.

Donald Trump had implicitly, at least, expected the network to rethink its decision to unleash showy Ms. Kelly, once again, on the occasion of a Republican debate, scheduled for January 28.

It’s hard to believe Kelly’s higher-ups at FNC are so stupid as to put her in the moderator’s chair again. Given the woman’s profile, I suspect Fox’s Golden Goose had henpecked the boss, Roger Ailes, to have at it again.

Kelly’s central focus is to be center-stage. This her unbecoming conduct over months has made clear.

“The Kelly File,” Megyn’s eponymous show, has persistently ignored news about the news-maker of the day, Donald Trump. Yet just this once, Kelly elected to extensively cover Trump’s decision not to attend a debate moderated by herself, to whom she referred adoringly as “yours truly.”

“Yours truly” was the theme of the January 26 segment.

And the guests stampeded to her studio for a chance to genuflect to Kelly and diss the front-runner for the umpteenth time. This time it would be different. This time, Trump was going down.

Kelly’s “Breaking News” coverage entailed parading other candidates past and present to berate Trump’s actions—to call him a coward, running scared of a woman; to question the candidate’s commitment to Iowans, label him as someone who doesn’t show-up, when Trump has been in Iowa all along, showing Iowans The Love.

Especially asinine was the snarky Millennial-like press release Fox News chose to put out in response—a release that cemented Donald Trump’s decision to do something more useful and foil the Megyn Kelly extravaganza.

The notice was too frivolous for actor Sean Penn to have penned (we recently discovered Penn could write). Perhaps the ghost writer was goofy, late-night show host Jimmy Fallon?

“We learned from a secret back channel that the Ayatollah and Putin both intend to treat Donald Trump unfairly when they meet with him if he becomes president — a nefarious source tells us that Trump has his own secret plan to replace the Cabinet with his Twitter followers to see if he should even go to those meetings …”

Come again?

Actually, the network’s juvenile jab at Trump sounds remarkably like … Megyn Kelly. In an attempt to shape news, not report it, Kelly has reported minimally on the newsmaker-in-chief. But the anchor has been consistently snarky in her sparing “coverage” of Trump, over the months.

Nasty nightly are Kelly’s sidekicks, Chris Stirewalt and Howard Kurtz (“Howie,” as Kelly calls him). Together, the three berate Trump and his lumpenproletariat, including any media that cover him. Kelly has bitched about “rerun” interviews; and congratulated herself on air for not being “all Trump, all the time,” when she, in fact, covers Trump hardly at all.

But you’d have to see the Kelly cobra in action to appreciate the venom with which the following words were spat out:

“Many more men like Donald Trump than women. Hispanics and African-American are not crazy about Donald Trump.” His base consists of whites without college degrees.

“He’s very smart at manipulating some media.” (Here Kelly pulls a face to distinguish herself from the pack).

“Fact checking Donald Trump is like picking up after a dog with diarrhea.” (A favorite Kelly File guest gets guffaws.)

“Is the front-runner on the GOP side an honest person?” (That’s Kelly floating suggestive ad hominem.)

So, is Kelly a consummate professional or is she a consummate self-promoter, preoccupied with the production that is Megyn Kelly? Differently put, how professional is Kelly?

Not very.

It matters not who was right or wrong during the first round—did Trump object illegitimately to the so-called piercing arrows in Kelly’s intellectual quiver? Or was the candidate legitimately offended by the anchor’s foolish identity politics on display?

A serious journalist with a grasp of the enormity of the Trump Revolution; a journalist who didn’t wish to give up on ever again interviewing the candidate, or forever forfeit access to a possible future president, a journalist with gravitas would have labored less at promoting herself and more on mending a professional relationship.

Not Kelly. And Kelly’s colleagues and bosses are enablers; they’ve taught her everything about ratings, make-up and hair. (Yes, your new hair is magnificent, Megyn Kelly. Glad you got rid of the old, matted shag that likely needed extensive reviving before each show. You’re a pretty girl. But boy, are you vain and a tad vacuous. The way you always bring the Kelly File show back to … yourself. Does that take skill or just all-consuming narcissism?) Alas, her mentors have not taught Kelly much about off-camera, unglamorous, shoe-leather journalism.

Namely, you are not the story. Your job is to get the story.

So what did our lady so fair do over the holidays to fix her professional faux pas? Kelly took her sassy keister to Vanity Fair, where her pictures were splayed over the glossy magazine’s pages. Trump, she told the You-Go-Girl journalists at VF, had attempted to woo Ms. everybody-wants-me Kelly. Now what do you think about that!

Suppose Trump had tried to curry favor with Kelly. Is that something a professional who still wishes to interact with her subject shares publicly? No! Kelly’s actions all along have been those of a woman who sees herself as a personality first. As an ego in an anchor’s chair, or a woman scorned, Kelly is game to go up against Trump.

As I noted, the Kelly File has kept up a barrage of hostilities against Trump, since the August fall-out. The man has a case against Kelly.

For a time following the much-needed dressing-down and time-out forced by her snarling attack on Trump, in August of 2015, Kelly was slightly more serious, more demure. She has since rebounded with a vengeance.

After Vanity Fair, off our fair lady rushed to make hay on the Charlie Rose show, where she was utterly charming, as she indubitably is. Until you stop to analyze her actions.

The onslaught of Kelly charisma has become tiresome and off-putting.

With Charlie Rose, Kelly, as always, brought it back to herself: She told the interviewer how Fox News boss Roger Aisles had liked “the package: the smarts, the looks, the voice.” Her words about herself.

During the Rose interview, we learned from motormouth that because she’s so cute (presumably), she was given a stripper name by her sources when investigating a story about a stripper who cried rape.

When she first burst on to the Fox News scene, years ago, Kelly announced in an interview that she was beautiful inside and out. She left out boastful.

As to Fox and friends’ brave stand for their freedom of press and against Trump’s freedom of association:

Contrary to Geraldo Rivera’s confused assertion, Donald Trump had not dictated to Fox News, but dissociated from the network this once.

“Lol [laughing out loud], Donald J. Trump isn’t scared, he’s efficient with his time,” tweeted Alec. Trump will be holding a competing (fundraising) event in Iowa. If the competition to Fox News takes it upon itself to send in the cameramen—Trump’s event will probably trump the specter of “two Cubans arguing,” in ratings (as another tweet taunted).

Fox New has since compounded its problems by using “terrorizing” to describe the Trump campaign’s “vicious attacks” on Kelly. That’s underhanded.

The Left is going to love Megyn Kelly even more for supposedly intimidating Donald Trump. For Kelly to love herself more is impossible.

Ilana Mercer is a paleolibertarian writer, based in the U.S.  She pens WND’s longest-standing, exclusive paleolibertarian column, “Return to Reason.” She is a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. Her latest book is “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South Africa.” Her website is  She blogs at   Follow her on Twitter: “Friend” her on Facebook:


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Race Differences in Sporting Achievement

Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens

Race Differences in Sporting Achievement

Frank Ellis considers a compelling analysis

Subjected to different evolutionary pressures because they emerged in different parts of the world, racial groups demonstrate superior and inferior levels of attainment in various sporting endeavours. Such is the straightforward premise on which Race and Sport is based. In an earlier age, one that was not encumbered by neo-Marxism, this would have been accepted as an empirically demonstrable and rational proposition. These days the view that races differ in athletic and sporting ability (and much else besides) because of genes and evolutionary selection pressures, despite huge amounts of evidence some of which is marshalled by Dutton and Lynn, is enough to attract the standard accusations of racism. The problem for the politically-correct left is that once it is conceded publicly and not just behind the scenes that genes play a huge role in sporting achievement it opens the way publicly and openly to discuss racial differences and IQ. Thus the discussion of any differences even when blacks demonstrate superior ability to non-blacks is to be suppressed and censored. Continue reading

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Glenn Beck back to School, by Ilana Mercer

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck back to School, by Ilana Mercer

Former Fox pundit needs educating

Former Fox News Channel broadcaster Glenn Beck, now of The Blaze TV, has been warning theatrically of an inchoate catastrophe should the country choose Donald J. Trump “as its next president.”

Trump “will be a monster much, much worse” than Barack Obama, a “blank” says Beck.

Worse than George W. Bush? Will Trump be worse than the 43rd president, who is ranked 37th by Ivan Eland, author of “Recarving Rushmore: Ranking the Presidents on Peace, Prosperity, and Liberty”?

In Eland’s near-exhaustive appraisal, Bush II falls in the category of “bad,” for having “undermined the Republic at home and abroad with interventionist policies,” policies Trump has criticized. Stumping for Trump, Sarah Palin has taken pains to praise Rand Paul’s libertarian recommendations that Jihadists be left to “duke it out” alone in the Middle East. Continue reading

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ENDNOTES, January 2016

Pierre Boulez conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra

Pierre Boulez conducts the BBC Symphony Orchestra

ENDNOTES, January 2016

In this edition: Tribute to Pierre Boulez * Brahms at the Barbican * Romantic English violin concertos from Tasmin Little * Enescu chamber works

The classical music world was in mourning earlier this month with the announcement of the death at the age of 90 of the composer and conductor, Pierre Boulez – a titan of 20th-century music. I first encountered the music of this remarkable man in the early 1980s, through a broadcast from the 1981 Proms of Notations (given by the Orchestre de Paris) and by attending an extraordinary concert the following year of Répons – a multi-dimensional, electronic discourse, with the composer conducting – not at the Royal Albert Hall – but at the venue of the Royal Horticultural Halls. The audience sat on the floor in complete concentration, while Boulez – an expression of extreme seriousness on his face, and deliberate, almost “scientific” hand gestures (no baton was used) – directed every facet of what was, for me, a completely new musical language. Continue reading

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Concerning Common Sense

Mark Rothko, White and Greens in Blue

Mark Rothko, White and Greens in Blue

Concerning Common Sense

Peter King in pursuit of the real

I would like to propose what might be called the common sense view of politics. This is, in truth, an anti-politics. It is an excuse for not acting and instead wishing a plague on all their houses. It is this common sense view that keeps us alienated from politicians while allowing them to get away with things that we do not support.

This common sense view can be characterised by a number of statements, which, while not all mutually compatible, provide us with a picture of the form it takes. All these statements, if they were ever to be articulated, would be personalised. They would not be stated in the abstract, but as things which ‘I’ or ‘we’ feel, and I shall state them accordingly without necessarily suggesting any affinity with the views in question. Continue reading

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The White Revolution, by Ilana Mercer


The White Revolution, by Ilana Mercer

The silent majority supports Trump

Donald Trump’s mortal enemies in mainstream politics and media have shifted strategy. In the ramp-up to the Iowa, February 1, Caucus, the culprits have been pushing presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio onto a defiant Republican base. The Cartel has taken to discussing Trump as a nightmare from which they’ll soon awaken. Candidate Trump’s energetic, politically pertinent speeches, and near daily rallies—packed to the rafters with supporters—are covered by media only to condemn this or the other colorful altercation. Ted Cruz, we‘re being lectured, is poised to topple Trump in Iowa. <> Continue reading

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Ranchers Hammond and Bundy


Ranchers Hammond and Bundy

Ilana Mercer hails the best of America

America, as one wag put it, is a “post-constitutional” country. Even worse, a plurality of Americans has now turned, en masse, against the First Principles of its founding. The organizing principle that currently informs American thinking is statism. It’s the state über alles: its laws, and the foot soldiers that enforce hundreds of thousands of arbitrary rules.

This sorry state-of-affairs is abundantly clear from the standoff between farmers and Fédérales, brewing in Burns, Oregon. Continue reading

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It’s the Pits

Kellingley Colliery

Kellingley Colliery

It’s the Pits

Bill Hartley laments the death of coal

Three energy related announcements were made in the closing weeks of 2015. In November the energy minister Amber Rudd MP announced that within ten years Britain would cease to generate electricity by burning coal. Rather patronisingly she added that we could hardly expect the Indians and Chinese to give up their evil coal burning habits if Britain continued to pollute. Nowhere in this announcement was there anything about energy security or how without coal to generate electricity, the government could be confident of keeping the lights on. So obvious a decision was this to the minister that no further comment seemed necessary. Evidently reassuring the electorate did not feature in her priorities. Continue reading

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Lockwoods and Ripon

Ripon Cathedral

Ripon Cathedral

Lockwoods Restaurant and Ripon

Any visitor to North Yorkshire would be well advised to spend a day in Ripon, a small city of tremendous beauty and charm – not to mention some fascinating attractions, and excellent places to eat. The glorious Cathedral. Continue reading

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