Paul and Jeremy

William Beveridge

Lord William Beveridge

Paul and Jeremy

Bill Hartley enters darkest England

These days British television is full of what are called ‘Reality’ shows. One such programme is Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away. A new series has just started. The programme follows the adventures of some High Court enforcement agents – that’s Bailiffs to you and me. Their job is to evict or recover debts and given the endless repeats out in the wilderness of daytime television, the producers have got themselves a winner.

The way it works is that if a claimant is dissatisfied with the rate of progress through the County Court then they may escalate to the High Court, meaning that the process is quicker and the bailiffs arrive without warning.

Veteran watchers of the show will be as familiar with the excuses as the bailiffs themselves. Defendants may claim to know nothing about the matter, or that vital paperwork is with their solicitors. None of this makes an impression on the bailiffs who refuse to be deflected from their aim of either recovering a debt or evicting a tenant. Since they are paid by results it’s easy to understand why. Even so they use a high level of tact and diplomacy to deal with the angry, tearful, or sometimes just plain inadequate defendants.

One half of a two man team is Paul Bowhill a ruddy faced fifty something in a stab vest, with a taste for strawberry blonde hair dye. After each job one of the team members will give viewers a debrief on camera. Generally this is a matter of fact resume of what has just taken place. Unlike his colleagues, though, Paul has an uncanny appreciation of the opportunity he’s been gifted and is anxious to exploit it.

Although the only information he possesses is the terse wording of a High Court writ, Paul doesn’t let this stop him. He is the Reality TV director’s perfect stooge. Paul will let himself be filmed at the wheel of the firm’s white van, giving an opinion on an upcoming job, without any supporting evidence. Paul is prepared to air a view on culpability before he’s even met the defendant and further down the line will cheerfully revise his opinion once some actual information becomes available. For the benefit of the camera, Paul is willing to go above and beyond. He is the Man In The Pub but with access to a national television audience. Sometimes he’ll take a defendant on the brink of eviction out onto the street to meet the landlord. It achieves nothing of course and how could it? Thousands of pounds out of pocket in rent and legal fees, the claimant isn’t going to change his mind. But Paul instinctively knows that a bit of street theatre will make for good television. He’s a man starring in his own show and he wants as much time on screen as possible.

Paul has a view on the workings of local government. ‘It looks like you’ve slipped through the system’ he’ll tell some hapless tenant. Then afterwards he’ll give us his opinion on what local government/social services should be doing. Paul is out of his depth but like the Man In The Pub that’s not going to stop him. The thing is he’s a decent person who has been given the opportunity denied to most pub bores, to share his views on camera. Paul actually cares; he’s not a callous man.

Some defendants are clearly ripping off a landlord but show him say, a single mother with children and he oozes compassion.

Another long running programme is The Jeremy Kyle Show. Mr Kyle is a well-groomed individual whose researchers have been trawling the lower depths of British society for years. What his programme shows is where half a century of welfarism has got us. Any of his subjects who admits to being in employment belongs to a tiny minority. Kyle’s ‘guests’ routinely thieve from each other or commit infidelities that you’d scarcely dream of. Women are impregnated by men so useless that if they were a horse you wouldn’t breed from them. Their lives, dominated by routine drug abuse and idleness, are shaped by constant bickering reinforced via texting and social media.

After watching or perhaps enduring this programme for any length of time what becomes apparent is the prevalent lack of moral standards. Pregnant? Doesn’t matter. The state will provide. Someone has left money lying around? Steal it. The possibility of repercussions would require thinking ahead and Kyle’s guests tend to live only in the moment. Many shows are conducted like a mock trial in which the culprit is to be identified. Tension is maintained by pauses in the action for commercial breaks. Sometimes the issue is parentage and a DNA test is used to determine who is to be inflicted on an infant as ‘father’. In other cases, to identify the culprit, Kyle relies on the lie detector test. A brief message runs across the screen hinting that not all authorities accept the veracity of this device, which is a massive understatement. For example Aldrich Ames the worst traitor the CIA ever had faced such a test and asked his KGB handler for advice. He was told, ‘get a good night’s sleep and be nice to the questioner’. He passed. Kyle however treats the results as if they have been handed down on tablets from Mount Sinai.

Once the result is announced and the culprit identified Kyle begins screeching with simulated moral outrage. The audience know what is expected of them and join in with him emitting gasps of disdain. Sometimes before announcing the result he’ll seek an opinion on guilt or otherwise by asking for a show of hands. It’s worth observing the culprit at this point. Often they sit there showing little more than mild discomfort as their misbehaviour is exposed. They may persist with a denial that has the effect of encouraging Kyle to intensify his contempt. Gradually what becomes apparent is the sheer pointlessness of the exercise. Kyle’s guests may be vaguely aware of the cultural norms which say that we should aspire to decency and truthfulness but it’s quite obvious that these are alien concepts. It would take a social anthropologist to explain what has gone wrong. The only link these people seem to have with mainstream society is that the rest of us fund them. Kyle knows this, he’s not stupid but to repay the investment required to get these people into the studio they have to endure a tongue lashing and some humiliation. When you grasp that these people are probably incapable of understanding and acting on what Kyle has to say, then what we see is a form of bullying. Against the articulate and contemptuous Kyle they are hardly more capable of defending themselves than a small child. Because they lack the vocabulary there is a risk that a frustrated guest will resort to violence. Two burly bodyguards hover close by to forestall this. There was one hilarious episode when the threat emerged offstage. A friend or relative of a guest, seated in the audience, leapt up to confront him. A clearly shaken Kyle berated his guards for failing to provide protection.

An in-house psychologist is on hand to provide counselling. Given the cultural barrier, it’s questionable that his words will have any impact. Indeed when we see him at work he appears to be talking at rather than to the people. They respond with blank looks or nods of the head. Indeed given the emotions whipped up on stage is it likely that anyone would be in a fit state to absorb counselling immediately afterwards?

Jeremy Kyle presides over a carefully choreographed bit of theatre that often involves bullying people too inarticulate to hit back. In contrast Paul Bowhill, for all that he likes starring in his own TV show, is out there on the streets confronting the misery and sometimes showing real compassion.

BILL HARTLEY is a former deputy governor in HM Prison Service and writes from Yorkshire

                                                             

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If America becomes South Africa

Ilana Mercer with Oscar Wood

Ilana Mercer, with Oscar Wood

If America becomes South Africa

Ilana Mercer predicts the downfall of democracy

If African-Americans didn’t get out and vote for Hillary Clinton, they would be dissing him and his legacy. So warned President Barack Obama, in a speech at the Black Caucus Foundation in Washington DC, on September 17.

The woman whose election promises portend a war on whites, Walmart and the wealthy has nothing to fear. Obama’s political cant notwithstanding, there isn’t much chance blacks will side overwhelmingly with Hillary’s rival.

Like never before, the 2016 election has been characterized by “a muscular mobilization of a race-based community, coercive control of territory and appeals by powerful charismatic leaders.”

What do I mean by “coercive control of territory”? Consider what would transpire if Donald Trump were to campaign “big-league” in Birmingham (Alabama), Charlotte (North Carolina), or South Los Angeles. Riots would erupt. (Incidentally, to call the invasion and looting of private property a protest is a misnomer.)

As sure as night follows day, the American democracy is destined to resemble that of South Africa, where a ruling majority party is permanently entrenched, and where voting is characterized by what has become Barack Obama’s signature tactic, a “muscular mobilization of the race-based community.”

The last, twice-repeated reference is out of “Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South-Africa.” In 2011, the book used the tragic example of post-apartheid South Africa to forewarn Americans of the effects of a shift in their country’s founding political dispensation, a shift being achieved stateside through immigration central-planning.

America’s political class has been tinkering with the country’s historical demographic composition for decades. The consequence of the mass importation of poor, Third World immigrants is that America, like South Africa, is heading for dominant-party status, in which a permanent majority intractably hostile to the minority consolidates power, and in which voting along racial lines is the rule.

It used to be that the Democratic Party was this nascent majority’s political organ, offering a platform of preferential policies for a voting bloc whose “interests are viewed through the prism of racial affiliations.” Obama’s Dreams from America are for a country in which the historic majority is destined to become a marginalized minority, consigned to the status of spectator in the political bleachers. Ditto Clinton’s dreams. But, as election year 2016 has shown, the Republican Party is vying for a similar mantle.

That South Africa is riven by race is indisputable. Each election is “a racial census as far as whites and blacks are concerned.” In the much-ballyhooed, historic election of 1994, “only two to three percent of whites voted for historically black parties and perhaps five percent of blacks voted for historically white parties. The ANC relied for ninety-four percent of its vote on black support. The historically white parties had been barred from campaigning in the black townships.” Yet elections since 1994 have had the blessing of every liberal alive, and that includes many of the world’s self-styled conservatives.

“The rule of the people, demos, and the people’s ethnicity, ethnos” invariably clash, argued Michael Mann, “one of the leading historical sociologists of our time.” In “The Dark Side of Democracy: Explaining Ethnic Cleansing” (2004), Mann contends that in the earlier, more formative stages of their development, democracies are prone to carrying out murderous ethnic cleansing, which in extreme forms can become genocidal.

“The growth of popular sovereignty, the institutionalization of universal citizenship, [and] the creation of mass society”, he observes, have often seen “ethnic groups laying claim to the same territory resort to the use of force, and, when frustrated, to murderous ethnic cleansing and even genocide.” Examples of this phenomenon in modernity: the ethnic expulsions and massacres in the democratized former Yugoslavia and Rwanda during the 1990s, the genocide of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire under the Young Turks (particularly in 1915-1916), and the mechanized mass murder of the Jews in Nazi Germany. While the infant South-African democracy fits snugly within his thesis, democracy devotees have accused Mann of twisting like a Cirque du Soleil contortionist to stretch the definition of democracy in making his case.

Where Mann is at pains to prove the murderous nature of young democracies, the arguments against democracy for South Africa, which have been propounded by Duke University scholar Donald L. Horowitz, have considerable force. Finely attuned to “important currents in South African thought,” Horowitz offered up an excruciatingly detailed analysis of South Africa’s constitutional options.

In “A Democratic South Africa?: Constitutional Engineering in a Divided Society” (1991), Horowitz concluded that democracy is, in general, unusual in Africa, and, in particular, rare in ethnically and racially divided societies, where majorities and minorities are rigidly predetermined.

Prone to seeing faces in the clouds, the new South Africa’s Anglo-American cheerleaders were impervious to such sobering pronouncements. It remained for students of democracy such as Horowitz to hope only that “the probability will … recede that one person, one vote, one value, and one state will degenerate into only one legal party and one last election.”

“Elections to be meaningful presuppose a certain level of political organization. … The primary problem is … the creation of a legitimate public order. Authority has to exist before it can be limited, and it is authority that is in scarce supply in the modernizing countries,” warned Samuel Huntington in “Political Order In Changing Societies.” Little did Huntington realise that, with enough tinkering by its ruling elites, a modern and mighty country like the U.S. could devolve into an atavistic and dangerous place.

Not nearly as hopeful as Horowitz was that “noted student of nationalism”, Elie Bedourie:  “If majority and minority are perpetual, then government ceases to have a mediatory or remedial function, and becomes an instrument of perpetual oppression of the minority by the majority,” concluded Kedourie. It was after a visit to South Africa that he wrote the following, in the November 1987 issue of the South Africa International.

The worst effects of the tyranny of the majority are seen when parliamentary government on the unalloyed Westminster model is introduced into countries divided by religion or language or race. Such for example was the case of Iraq … where an extremely heterogeneous society came to be endowed with constitutions which made no provision for diversity, and where the result was tyranny of one group over the other groups in the society.

A prerequisite for a classical liberal democracy is that majority and minority status be interchangeable and fluid in politics*; that a ruling majority party be as likely to become a minority party as the obverse. By contrast, in South Africa, the majority and the minorities are politically permanent, not temporary.

America’s Founding Fathers attempted to forestall raw democracy by devising a republic. Every democratic theorist worth his salt—Robert Dahl and Elaine Spitz come to mind—has urged that the raw, ripe rule of the mob and its dominant, anointed party be severely curtailed under certain circumstances fast approaching in the United States of America. These are “whenever people of different languages, races, religions, or national origins, with no firm habits of political co-operation and mutual trust, are to unite in a single polity.”

In other words, multicultural America.

Adapted from “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South-Africa (2011)

* Editorial Note – and that those defeated in the recent UK referendum accept the result

Subscribe to Ilana’s new YouTube channel. This shy, retiring writer/thinker promises to get better at it

ILANA Mercer is the author of “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016), and “Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa” (2011). She has been writing a popular, weekly, paleolibertarian column—begun in Canada—since 1999. Her father was a distinguished rabbi. Ilana’s online homes are www.IlanaMercer.com & www.BarelyABlog.com. Follow her on https://twitter.com/IlanaMercer

©

ILANA Mercer

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Let the States Roar, by Stephen Maclean

Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge

Let the States Roar, by Stephen Maclean 

The significance of States’ Rights for fiscal probity

Notice is given from its ‘Constitutional Affairs’ department that ‘The New York Sun . . opposes a balanced budget amendment.’

The justification cannot be that The Sun favours deficit spending, for the broadsheet prides itself as a tribune for limited government, fiscal probity, and sound money — grounded on the Gold Standard.

An awareness of the speed of unforeseen circumstances is one likely scenario for the editorial stance: allowing for contingency language written into a balanced budget amendment to take into account war or domestic necessity requiring its temporary suspension, The Sun may reason that even such foresight would frustrate government efficacy.

This observer can only speculate. But one germane objection to a constitutionally mandated balanced budget arises in relation to criticism of the supply-side economic revolution of the 1980s. While true that lowering high marginal tax rates can increase government revenues — the famous Laffer Curve axiom — such tax reform itself is not conclusive of prudent government policy. No responsible tax proposal comes without its corollaries: limited government and budgetary restraint.

Ronald Reagan’s presidency was transformative for its approach to revenue enhancement, but Reaganomics suffered from an inability to rein in spending, due in part to its Cold War strategy of ‘peace through strength’ by intimidating the Soviet bear with U.S. weapon superiority.

President Reagan speaking in Minneapolis, in 1982

President Reagan speaking in Minneapolis, in 1982

Placating Democrats was another Achilles’ heel for balanced budgets, since the GOP administration logrolling greased tax-cutting legislation through Congress by promising the opposition enhanced welfare schemes.

This imbalance was a source of irony for Austrian School economist Murray Rothbard. ‘If taxes and government spending are both slashed, then the salutary result will be to lower the parasitic burden of government taxes and spending upon the productive activities of the private sector,’ he wrote. But in the 1980s, that was not on the Washington agenda. And he added,

To the extent that supply-siders point out that tax reductions will stimulate work, thrift, and productivity, then they are simply underlining truths long known to classical and to Austrian economics. But one problem is that supply-siders, while calling for large income-tax cuts, advocate keeping up the current level of government expenditures, so that the burden of shifting resources from productive private to wasteful government spending will still continue.

Perhaps The Sun has been illuminated by an earlier president, Calvin Coolidge, who made his name for both tax cuts and budgetary restraint. No-nonsense Coolidge told a meeting of businessmen in June 1924, ‘I am for economy. After that I am for more economy. At this time and under present conditions that is my conception of serving all the people.’

Such discipline became the overriding objective of the Coolidge administration. Presidential biographer Amity Shlaes notes the President’s insistence,

While I am exceedingly interested in having tax reduction . . . it can only be brought about as a result of economy,” [Coolidge] said at one point. He would not put tax cuts before budget reduction, insisting on twinning the two goals. To underscore the point, twin lion cubs given to Coolidge by the mayor of Johannesburg were named “Budget Bureau” and “Tax Reduction”.

Shlaes is wise to this budgetary failing of the Reagan presidency — ‘the federal budget rose by over a third during his administration’ — and, like Rothbard, she realises the moral ambiguity of increased revenues: ‘Coolidge didn’t favor tax cuts as a means to increase revenue or to buy off Democrats. He favored them because they took government, the people’s servant, out of the way of the people.’

Doubtless The Sun (and other naysayers) takes a stand against a balanced budget amendment due to the nature of contemporary politics that is addicted to ever more taxes. Establishment Democrats and Republicans are hostile to the simple wage-earner, whether this person be employer or employee. Market capitalism has been superseded by crony capitalism, wealth creation by wealth redistribution. In this light, balanced budgets are achieved not by decreasing spending but by increasing taxes that hits all strata of the population, regardless of soak-the-rich rhetoric.

As of this writing, American indebtedness beggars belief: federal debt, for which Treasury obligations are presently outstanding, nears $20 trillion (nearly 105 per cent of GDP); while total U.S. debt exceeds $66 trillion when the present value of long-term, unfunded federal liabilities are included — altogether, in the lifespan of these obligations, more than $100 trillion. The scale of debt is incomprehensible; the paucity of credible attempts to address it, unforgiveable.

So what to do? Three remedies spring to mind:

First, greater scrutiny of Washington expenditure, by adhering to the limited, enumerated powers granted to Congress by the Constitution, and by enforcing the prerogatives of the States and individuals as set out in the Tenth Amendment.

Second, enacting legislation — perhaps as an additional clause to the balanced budget amendment — to limit taxing to 20 per cent of GDP, the nominal figure at which Laffer/Rahn Curve proponents argue government revenues are maximised.

An inherent problem with both remedies is that, in the words of James Madison, they are but ‘parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power . . .’ What is necessary, according to the Federalist Papers co-author, is that ‘ambition must be made to counteract ambition.’ And the answer lies with a third remedy: the States.

The Union, after all, was a compact of the States, pooling their collected strength in matters of general interest – primarily promoting external security and dismantling internal trade barriers — while retaining sovereignty in domestic affairs (as reaffirmed in the Tenth Amendment). Were the resulting general government to overstep constitutional limitations, it was within the authority of the States to nullify said legislation.

Such was the impetus behind the Principles of ’98 as formulated by Jefferson and Madison, and practised in antebellum America by southern States against punitive tariffs and by northern States in opposition to slavery.

Many mistakenly see in nullification the route to secession. Not so. John C. Calhoun was a most vocal defender of States’ rights, which he argued were the final defence of the Union. ‘We have thus direct and strong proof that, in the opinion of the Convention [of 1787], the States, unless deprived of it, possess the veto power — or, what is another name for the same thing, the right of nullification,’ Calhoun informed the Senate in February 1833. ‘I know that there is a diversity of opinion among the friends of State Rights in regard to this power, which I regret, as I cannot but consider it as a power essential to the protection of the minor and local interests of the community, and the liberty and the union of the country.’

From his perspective, State ‘interposition’ between the Constitution and ultra vires federal legislation was the very antithesis of a radical departure from the status quo. I am a conservative in its broadest and fullest sense, and such I shall ever remain, unless, indeed, the Government shall become so corrupt and disordered, that nothing short of revolution can reform it,’ Calhoun professed to the Senate in January 1837 (emphasis in original). Again,

I believe that in the rights of the States are to be found the only effectual means of checking the over-action of this Government; to resist its tendency to concentrate all power here, and to prevent a departure from the constitution; or, in case of one, to restore the Government to its original simplicity and purity. State interposition, or, to express it more fully, the right of a State to interpose her sovereign voice as one of the parties to our constitutional compact, against the encroachments of this Government, is the only means of sufficient potency to effect all this; and I am, therefore, its advocate.

No strict guidelines exist about how interposition would work in practice. For Calhoun, though, the procedure was clear: ‘But I rest the right of a State to judge of the extent of its reserved powers, in the last resort, on higher grounds — that the constitution is a compact, to which the States are parties in their sovereign capacity,’ he explained to the Senate back in 1833; ‘and that, as in all other cases of compact between parties having no common umpire, each has a right to judge for itself.’

Too far-fetched? Not when viewed through the prism of the American Legislative Exchange Council, which chronicles the migration from high-tax States to those with low (or no) income-tax burden. In the past ten years, ALEC reports, ‘those states with no income tax saw their population rise 109 percent faster than their high-tax counterparts.’ The 2016 Competitive Index records this migration to States like Texas (1st) and Florida (2nd) from California (49th) and New York (50th), corroborating that Americans are voting with their feet.

To these low-tax jurisdictions Americans will turn, both for personal well-being and for protection from Washington; these States will be in the vanguard of holding Congress to account — many already standing up for their constitutional responsibilities.

All these are reasons enough for The Sun and others to have qualms about putting their faith solely in a balanced budget amendment.1 Legislative checks-and-balances have their place, but the fourth pillar of the American governing edifice has a unique opportunity by virtue of anteceding and authoring the federal compact. To the States, tax-weary citizens must turn in the last resort and as the last refuge for their rights and liberties.

ENDNOTE

1 Curiosity compelled me to see if any other Sun reader was prompted to make inquiries about its editorial position on a balanced budget amendment; fortunately, the question was posed and thus answered: ‘The Sun favors monetary reform, the return to a dollar defined as a specified weight of gold. Once that is in place the indefinite budget deficits that seem to have become the norm would not be possible. It is a better method of achieving the same result. The balanced budget amendment would be an incentive for the Congress to raise taxes.’

Stephen MacLean maintains the weblog The Organic Tory.

E-mail him at: disraeli.macdonald@gmail.com

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ENDNOTES, 13th September 2016

Elgar, Bicycle Statue by Oliver Dixon

Elgar, Bicycle Statue by Oliver Dixon

ENDNOTES, 13th September 2016

In this edition: historic Elgar recordings from Somm, “Our revels now are ended” – contemporary work by Jonathan Dove that concluded the 2016 Proms season

Somm Records continues to offer the slightly unusual and often unexpected classical repertoire, and you might say that a new disc featuring Elgar’s Cello Concerto somewhat contradicts that policy. However, when the Elgar in question is taken from recordings made in the late-1920s and early-1930s by the composer himself, Somm’s choice of music becomes clearer. Set out across four CDs (with a detailed and fascinating booklet on the whole enterprise by musicologist and audio engineer, Lani Spahr), the performances – some of which include various “takes” and test pressings made by the original recording company – are a model of digital remastering and restoration. Another remarkable find from the archive is a private HMV Record made by cellist, Beatrice Harrison, of the third movement – accompanied at the piano by a member of the Royal Family, HRH Princess Victoria. The Cello Concerto is not, however, the only work to appear: the two completed symphonies, and the 1932 Menuhin performance of the Violin Concerto, also provide a window into Elgar’s sound-world, and into the performance styles of the time (often with a quick tempo – with little sign of the slowed-down grandeur we find in some Elgar concerts today). Continue reading

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Cosmetology in Poland

Lautrec, Woman at her Toilette, 1889

Lautrec, Woman at her Toilette, 1889

Cosmetology in Poland

Mark Wegierski reminisces about a happier time in East-Central Europe

Poland is a country where the fashion sense and interest in cosmetology of many women is perhaps the third-highest in Europe (after France and Italy). Already during the later Communist era, it was said that women in Poland’s large cities would adopt the fashions of Paris a few days after their appearance in the West. Also, many Polish women tend to visit their “kosmetyczka” (cosmetician) at the beauty salon or aesthetics center with a frequency somewhat greater than that seen in Anglo-American societies.

I gained some knowledge of this whole scene through my female relative – herself a tall, lithe, brown eyed brunette who might have appeared to some observers as a former model – who had been working in the cosmetological profession for over twenty years. Unlike in Anglo-American societies, there are extensive programs of study at the university level in cosmetology in Poland. My relative, having the appropriate university training and decades of experience, rather lamented the fact that standards in the profession appear to be dropping, with some cosmetological study programs lasting a mere three months.

I recall that on Sunday, September 21, 2003, during my visit to Poland, I travelled with her to Warsaw, in her compact but elegant Peugeot 206, to attend a large trade show for cosmetologists. It was a sunny and rather warm day. I had been staying at Ciechocinek, which is a spa and resort town of about 14,000 permanent residents. It is known for its unique titration towers – large wooden structures with thick layers of bramble, through which water from nearby salt springs is filtered into the air, producing a healthy microclimate, approximating that of sea air. Ciechocinek lies about 200 kilometers northwest of the capital.

We drove into Warsaw along the Wislostrada (Vistula Highway) which lies to the east of the main city of Warsaw, along the Vistula River. We found the trade center with some difficulty, and there were literally hundreds of cars parked on the sides of the road as we drove up toward the huge building. We found a parking spot in the vast underground garage, despite the bustle of the place.

The trade center had probably been built only a few years ago. Warsaw is clearly the most prosperous city in Poland, with a huge building boom. While this is great for Warsaw itself, there are still the much poorer regions and smaller towns of Poland, especially in the southeast of the country, that are hoping for some relief from their often grinding poverty and unemployment. The official unemployment rate in the country as a whole had been around twenty percent for several years in the 1990s and early 2000s.

We finally rushed up into the trade center venue, a vast hall jam-packed with exhibitors and huge crowds. My companion complained that admission to the trade show should have been more selective (i.e., only for recognized professionals). As it was, anyone who paid 15 zlotys was allowed inside, resulting in a virtual mob scene.

The cosmetology-related products, devices, and furniture on display were of an enormous variety, and the prices for some of the items were out of this world, e.g., several thousand Euros for a professional salon bed. I gained some insight into how expensive getting effectively set up in this profession could be.

My “chauffeuse” insisted on viewing virtually every exhibit in the trade show, but after an exhaustive and exhausting run-through, which included picking up various brochures and pamphlets, we stepped out of the door. We thought of eating at the local cafeteria in the trade center building, but the crowds there were massive, too.

Slipping out of the “madhouse”, we drove in light Sunday traffic to Three Crosses’ Square (Plac Trzech Krzyzy) which is in the Downtown-South part of Warsaw, where there was a fine restaurant with which she was familiar.

Walking to the restaurant, called Modulor Café Bar, one noted the bright whiteness of the freshly restored church at the center of the square; the ponderous-looking, cavernous modern hotel (the Warsaw Sheraton, I believe); as well as the trendy student hang-out, Szpilki Szparki Szpulki (Needles, eyes, threads).

Modular Cafe

Modular Cafe

Eating at the Modulor restaurant at about six o’clock in the evening, it was mostly empty, but I imagine that it is jumping later in the evening, as it caters to a trendy clientele. There is a large bar alongside part of the right wall of the restaurant, the tables are of imitation marble, and there are various framed caricatures of persons active in the Warsaw arts scene – some of them probably from earlier decades  – on the walls.

The food – such as roast strips of chicken on a bed of lettuce – was excellent, with the added bonus that you could order things like real milkshakes (i.e., something frothy that can be sipped rather than slurped).

Except in major and medium sized cities, and a few smaller centers, very high-quality restaurants in Poland are not that easy to find, presumably because the cooking at home is usually so good, and it has been estimated that the average Polish person eats only 1 in 30 meals at a restaurant (although this may have begun to change to more out-of-home dining in more recent years).

Having rested up, we returned to our car, to begin our over three-hour trip back to Ciechocinek.

Unfortunately, a large, prosperous middle-class has not yet arisen in Poland, and it is that class of women that would probably give the largest support to cosmetology. Indeed, in the aftermath of Communism, a small number of people have become very rich, while wide swathes of the population have been pauperized. Ironically, some people look back with comparative fondness at the so-called “golden years” of the Gierek era of the 1970s, when small luxuries appeared to be within greater reach of the average pocketbook.

Mark Wegierski is a Toronto-based writer and historical researcher. He was born in Toronto of Polish immigrant parents

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Kill Bill, volume 2, by Ilana Mercer

Image.toutlecine.com

Image.toutlecine.com

Kill Bill, volume 2,
by Ilana Mercer

Hillary – first she rubbishes* the country, then she expectorates all over it

How does evidence against something, become evidence for that very same something?

Plain evidence against the good health of Hillary Clinton has become, with the aid of the malfunctioning media, evidence for her stamina. “She has the constitution of a boar,” said a defender on Fox News, following Mrs. Clinton’s very public collapse at the 2016, 9/11 memorial.

“She powered through it all,” parroted the rest.

“Pneumonia blows over like the flu” was the consensus on MSNBC, as they collected affidavit after affidavit from their reporters to swear to how humid, crowded and uncomfortable it was for Hillary on that fateful, New York day.

“Probably nothing,” said that no-good neurologist Sanjay Gupta, at CNN, mere hours before the news of Clinton’s pneumonia broke.

How does a display of faltering health from Hillary become a reason to doubt the stamina of a man, Donald Trump, who’s like The Incredible Hulk?

Like magic, Trump materializes at multiple events a day, hops from Mexico to Louisiana, and seems to be having fun while at it. “Give me more,” his whole countenance seems to scream.

Then there’s the sexism angle (where, in the YouTube video that accompanies this short text, the writer is forced to reach for some Dutch courage). How is it that we hold a female presidential candidate with pneumonia to a different standard than a male presidential candidate without pneumonia?

Now there’s a no-brainer.

How do we pivot from a real problem, the reality of Hillary’s ill health, to hailing her strength: Hillary is obsessively private—chastely so—rather than suspiciously ill? In this context, Trump, naturally, is said to be deceptive rather than manifestly robust and revved-up with energy.

How does a display of deplorability by Hillary Clinton—lumping in her highness’s “basket of deplorables” millions of Trump supporters in fly-over-country—become a ruse to put VP candidate Mike Pence on the Rack and extract a confession from this mild-mannered man about the deplorability of a third, unrelated party, David Duke?

And how is the deplorable Hillary’s list of thought crimes, imputed to Trump supporters, stand as evidence of anything other than a form of totalitarianism?

And the American media-pundit complex dares to talk about Russian authoritarianism?

Finally, first she scoffs at the country, then she coughs all over it. So tell me this: does Hillary Clinton’s dangerous decision to cough her way around the country—rather than come clean about her infectious disease and quarantine herself—show that, at the very least, Hillary’s decision making is profoundly flawed?

Over and out.

*Editorial note : we have an analogous problem here in the UK with the vindictive remainers. As James Anthony Froude once memorably observed, only a “miserable caitiff” cannot love his own country

Subscribe to Ilana’s new YouTube channel. This shy, retiring writer/thinker promises to get better at it

ILANA Mercer is the author of “The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed” (June, 2016), and “Into The Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa” (2011). She has been writing a popular, weekly, paleolibertarian column—begun in Canada—since 1999. Her father was a distinguished rabbi. Ilana’s online homes are www.IlanaMercer.com & www.BarelyABlog.com. Follow her on https://twitter.com/IlanaMercer

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Yorebridge House Hotel, Bainbridge

yorebridge-house

Yorebridge House Hotel, Bainbridge

What an incentive to be a school Head Master in Bainbridge in the 1850s – being placed in a house of such size and beauty as Yorebridge House: for, prior to its current incarnation as a luxury hotel and previous one of Head Office of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, this imposing stone house belonged to the Headmaster of the local school – which stands opposite in the courtyard, a fraction of the size!

One approaches the House along paths and through doorways lined by pillar candles blazing away in glass canisters – we were immensely impressed by the fact that these were real candles, lending a welcome glow lighting the way to the house, rather than fake candles or just lights. This gave an initial impression of warmth, as well as an exciting feeling of something special, almost magical, grandly impressive and yet intimate and thrilling at the same time. Continue reading

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The Fall of Rome and Decline of the West

JMW Turner, The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire

JMW Turner, The Decline of the Carthaginian Empire (Tate.org)

The Fall of Rome and Decline of the West

On the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11, Mark Wegierski reports

It seems doubtful that America can ever re-capture the spirit of that patriotic surge that occurred in the wake of the September 11th attacks. Arguably, all that patriotic energy was misdirected and wasted by the George W. Bush administration, in its pursuit of a misbegotten invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Comparing the Fall of Rome to the situation of the West today, while it has some merit, is also a somewhat inaccurate analogy. In the absence of any technological advantage, the conflict between Rome and the barbarians was almost entirely a physical and moral struggle, between a decadent and enfeebled Empire, and more vital, healthy, prolific tribes. In comparing Rome to the West today, what is striking is the noticeable lack of any ideologies of self-hatred among the Romans (although some like historian Edward Gibbon have argued that Christianity fulfilled that role) as well as of any unusually pronounced hatred of Rome by the barbarians. Continue reading

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Kill Bill Volume One, by Ilana Mercer

From Kill Bill Volume One by Quentin Tarantino

From Kill Bill Volume One, by Quentin Tarantino

Kill Bill Volume One, by Ilana Mercer

Or, it takes a village (idiot) to vote for Hillary

If you strapped Bill Clinton to a polygraph (or to some lie detector that can’t be fooled by the Clintons)—I suspect that, he too, might confess to a preference for Vladimir Putin over Barack Obama.

Mr. Clinton had been appropriately scathing, in 2008, about Obama’s mythical status in the media. A “fairy tale,” he called the current president.

However, his wife and her supporters on The Hill and in media have ruled that any remotely realistic utterance about the Russian president—such as that he’s a strong leader who’s popular with his people and acts in their interests—puts you outside the camp of the saints.

Mrs. Clinton is making it a habit to tell Americans what to say and how to think if they want to qualify as … Americans. Continue reading

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ENDNOTES, 4th September 2016

prom-64_cr_bbc-chris-christodoulou_1

ENDNOTES, 4th September 2016

The Proms: Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic, performing Boulez and Mahler

Each year at the Proms, certain performances stand out and provide the landmarks of the season. Last year, the Sibelius cycle embodied the 2015 Proms for many of us, and I still remember the overwhelming impact that Bruckner’s Fourth Symphony and Bartok’s Concerto for Orchestra made in 1981, in the hands of Sir Georg Solti and the Chicago Symphony. On Friday 2nd September, another legendary partnership took to the platform at the Royal Albert Hall – the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of their first-ever British chief conductor, Sir Simon Rattle (a conductor whose dazzling career began in the early-1980s with an apprenticeship role with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, followed by years of dedication and achievement in Birmingham with the CBSO).

A packed Royal Albert Hall and a heartfelt welcome from the Proms audience demonstrated the affection and respect in which Sir Simon is held, but of course, the prospect of hearing the Berlin Philharmonic – the ensemble of Furtwängler and Karajan, and perhaps the greatest orchestra in the world – also contributed to the excitement. The Berliners performed two works: the short, beguiling Éclat written in 1965 by Pierre Boulez (for this, a chamber-sized ensemble of just 15 players was required) and then the main work of the evening, the massive full-orchestral dreamscape and phantasmagoria that is the Symphony No. 7 (1904-5) by Gustav Mahler.

Éclat typifies the music of Boulez: a musical language in which there is no trace of the tunes and recognisable structures of classicism, romanticism and even early modernism, but which – even in its pure abstraction – manages to convey a brilliant craftsmanship of sound; with piano (which begins the work) percussion and woodwind piercing the air, as if in some odd dream in which notes of music appear and disappear, like fleeting, disjointed memories. The definition of the word éclat (from the New French Dictionary) is as wide-ranging as the piece itself – “a sudden bursting… a crash, clap, peal” – or better still – “sudden uproar, shiver, brightness, glare, glitter”. The Proms programme note (expertly written by Paul Griffiths) also refers to the poet Stéphane Mallarmé, who wrote of the “pure éclat” of a swan breaking free of ice on a lake – Mallarmé being one of the poets who inspired Boulez.

Sixty years before Boulez was forging his new musical language, Gustav Mahler emerged as the re-creator of symphonic form: his ardent post-Wagnerian and Brucknerian romanticism, shaped and tinged by a mixture of nature-sounds, legends, poems and the ghosts of children; a heady cocktail of psychological disturbances, yet towered over by immense landscapes in which unsettling thoughts appear. Such is the soundscape of his extraordinary five-movement Seventh Symphony. A languid, but tense opening – a moment inspired by the sight and feel of the movement of oars on a lake in Carinthia – gives the symphony its slow-breathing launch, the composer then considering numerous, sometimes fleeting ideas, which give rise to dizzy, unresolved passages, and to climaxes that end abruptly in nothingness. And yet, in all of this circuitous exploration, a purpose gradually emerges – a great striding as if the whole orchestra is over-heating, to an astonishing, blazing ending – music made to perfection for the effulgent brass instruments of the Berlin Philharmonic. In this first movement of massive steps and peaks, the air suddenly clears to give way to chamber-like sections of music: precursors, almost, of the abstractions and éclats of Boulez; as beautifully-etched sounds, describing ice or crystal, or a distant horn or trumpet call – or hollow clang of cow-bell, hang delicately in the air – making us see vast distances and feel the heady sensation of high altitudes. Sir Simon Rattle shaped these transcendental interludes with profound sensitivity: the tension in the air was palpable – it was as if the thin sheet of sound could snap at any point.

The Seventh Symphony is probably best known for its unusual central section: three Nachtmusik movements, each one offering a miniature symphonic story in itself – from the commanding and sinister horn-calls of the shadow-filled first (the second movement of the whole symphony), to the shaking dances of death, and fiddler and mandolin-accompanied reflections of the remaining pair. Interestingly enough, it was this part of the work which Mahler first completed: inspiration for the opening eluding him, until that chance visit to Krumpendorf, Carinthia, led to the successful shaping of the great Langsam (Adagio).

Finally, the great Rondo that takes the symphony to its ringing, chiming resolution – and here the orchestra and conductor drew on great reserves of energy. Find the power they certainly did: from the martial-sounding timpani “fanfare” with horns roaring, to the one other great, affirmative brass chorale – about halfway through the movement. My preferred version on disc of Mahler 7 comes from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and Lorin Maazel – a reading of absolute cogency and mastery, captured by CBS Records. This latter performance is characterised by a Teutonic heaviness of sound, weighed down with strong, almost lugubrious feeling. But in their Albert Hall performance, the Berliners and Rattle discovered a silkier side to the score: smooth and delicate strings, with many of the heavier passages gaining from a quicker tempo – mercury and velvet, almost, appearing in the playing.

This was a landmark Prom, a memorable visit by a great orchestral partnership, and a symphony from Mahler that embraced all of human emotion.


STUART MILLSON is the Classical Music Editor of The Quarterly Review

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