Truth – Curse of the Woking Classes

Truth – Curse of the Woking Classes

Ed Dutton on Murray’s accomplishments

Human Diversity: The Biology of Gender, Class, and Race, Charles Murray, New York: Twelve, 2020, reviewed by Dr Edward Dutton

When writing Human Diversity, Charles Murray found himself in an invidious position. His followers were eagerly anticipating a work of outstanding insight, immense originality, and incredible intellectual bravery, along the lines of The Bell Curve or Human Accomplishment. But, at the same time, Murray wants to make a significant contribution to, as he puts it, “the most incendiary topics in academia”: racial differences, gender differences, and also social class differences. So, pleasing his followers is not so easy.

Murray wishes to challenge the fanatical and empirically inaccurate yet prevalent view among blow hard, leftist academics that “race is a social construct,” gender is substantially a “social construct,” and social class differences are entirely a product of cultural factors, such as nepotism. The problem is that anti-science ideologues are so influential that they likely work for most major publishing houses, including for the one which has given us this book. And even if they don’t, they have the political power to do serious financial damage to publishers who are courageous enough to put out books which demolish their latter-day religious worldview.

Furthermore, Murray himself is a just-about-Establishment academic, whose niche involves creating cracks in the Postmodern Echo Chamber while still being “respected” by an elite which must pay lip service to Postmodernism. He has carefully positioned himself on the border between respectable and radical (“radical” is going where the evidence takes you). Continue reading

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E R Dodds, Remembered

Women at the Altar

E R Dodds, Remembered

Rediscovering E R Dodds, Scholarship, Education, Poetry and the Paranormal, edited by C. Stray, C. Pelling and S. Harrison, Pp. 341, OUP, 2019, reviewed by Darrell Sutton

“This book originated in a conference on E.R. Dodds held at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, on 1 March 2014, under the aegis of the Corpus Christi College Centre for the study of Greek and Roman antiquity” [Preface].

Greek scholarship in England in the last 70 years has been represented by persons with formidable skill. These papers characterize one of them, a man of exceptional talents. However, these investigations inspire mixed emotions, not because of overt flaws in the research but because readers still may come away with a feeling that they were not brought into close contact with Dodds’ writings in the several articles where the author’s main task was to acquaint the readers with them.

E.R. Dodds (1893-1979) issued critical editions whose value is long-lasting. His intellectual achievements were considerable. He gained the respect of his peers the old-fashioned way, by producing work that was noteworthy. The volume supplies surprises in abundance. The fourteen chapters of this book – with a bibliography of his publications – provide insightful glimpses into his life and its contexts. Continue reading

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Neocons and the Permanent State (Part 2)

US Marines at the 2nd battle of Fallujah

Neocons and the Permanent State (Part 2)

by Ilana Mercer

“How does America change if our intelligence agencies were more accurate in their assessment of Saddam Hussein’s chemical and nuclear weapons programs?” The question was posed, just the other day, in “Make America Competent Again,” by David French, at the Dispatch, a neoconservative website. The tract is an agony aunt’s meander that calls for shoring-up competency in state and civil society.

But first: dissecting, deconstructing and exposing the neoconservative mindset and machinations matters. The reason is this: thanks to President Trump, neoconservatives are not exactly having a moment—they’re down in the doldrums. But they’ll be back. For neocons and liberal interventionists make up the Permanent State. The ideology the likes of which David French, formerly of National Review, and his ilk promote—foreign-policy bellicosity, endless immigration, mindless consumerism, racial shaming, “canceling” of deviationists and conformity to an American identity that’s been melted away in vats of multiculturalism—is in our country’s bone marrow, by now.

Therefore, the fighting words in response to French’s framing of the invasion of Iraq as a mere glitch in intelligence are these: no creedal neoconservative should be able to get away with the claim that a problem of criminality is really just a problem of competency. Continue reading

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Neocons and the Permanent State (Part1)

David French, by Gage Skidmore

Neocons and the Permanent State (Part 1)

by Ilana Mercer

Following the show of incompetence at the Democratic Iowa caucus, columns on competence proliferated. One stood out for its ineptness: “Make America Competent Again” by David French at the Dispatch. Mr. French is an attorney and decorated Iraq War veteran, who was prominent among National Review’s “Against Trump” writers.

Back in June of 2016, when the anti-Trump cabal was engaged in a political blood sport as degrading as dwarf tossing—Mr. French came into focus as the object of neoconservative Bill Kristol’s fantasies. To wit, never Trumpsters like Kristol imagined that from the ashes of the Republican primaries would rise a man to stand for president against the victor, Donald J. Trump. This Sisyphean task had been attempted and failed by 17 other worthies. One of the political dwarfs tossed at Donald Trump by the aforementioned Mr. Kristol was Mr. French, who espouses an aggressive, expansionist foreign policy and is a tool of democratic internationalism.

The first sign of incompetence in “Make America Competent Again” is that the column is hopelessly littered with the Imperial “I”:

“I THOUGHT—after federal officials let Jeffrey Epstein kill himself in prison—that I COULD no longer be shocked by incompetence. Yet, HERE I AM, the day after the Iowa caucuses, shocked again. … If you follow MY WRITING at all, you know that I THINK that …  As I TYPE this newsletter …”

This amounts to a big fat epistolary selfie. Continue reading

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What the Ancients did for Us

Claude Lorrain, Apollo Muses

What the Ancients did for Us

Michael McManus, on our pagan heritage

The pre-Socratic pagan philosopher Anaxagoras took two pots of paint, one black and one white. He took a drop of white and added it to the black, then a drop of black and added it to the white. There, said he, mixing them. We know that both pots have changed colour – that is a fact – but we cannot tell the difference with our senses. If our senses are unreliable on such a basic detail in front of our eyes, then how can we be forever certain of anything else – especially how states should be organised or people ruled?

If by ‘us’ is meant conservatives, then pre-Socratic philosophers did a lot for us. Many of them favoured the conservative, pragmatic, cautious, live-and-let-live approaches to knowledge and policy that eschew the arrogance and certainty of dogma and ideology. ‘In human affairs,’ wrote Xenophanes, ‘there is no certain truth, and all our knowledge is but a woven web of guesses.’ Empedocles cautioned against our tendency to assume that we know more than we do: ‘Having seen only our own part of life, swift to die, we fly away like smoke, certain only of what we have met ourselves.’ Heraclitus pondered on the link between time and change and famously concluded that not only can we never step into the same river twice but that we ourselves are not the same person that we were on the first occasion. Ideologues imagine that they can implement a fixed system of state rule that applies once and for all: one man, one vote, one time, as a satirist put it. Lacking such arrogance, born of a cramped knowledge of the world, conservatives remain humble in the face of changing events. Beware the person of one book, cautioned Aquinas. He might have had twentieth century communists and theocrats in mind. Continue reading

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ENDNOTES, February 2020

Ethel Smyth and her dog Marco, 1891

Endnotes, February 2020

Ethel Smyth’s Mass in D; overture to The Wreckers;  and a recital at Middle Temple Hall, reviewed by Stuart Millson

Ever since the revival of Ethel Smyth’s opera The Wreckers in 1994 (a once-famous piece, championed by such figures as Bruno Walter and Sir Thomas Beecham) there has been a growing interest in the work of this Edwardian socialite who was also a political radical and suffragette. Recently, the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chandos Records joined forces for the first recording of Dame Ethel’s Mass in D, a work of enormous power and fervour; a piece in which Smyth scales the heights alongside Parry and Elgar – and which bears witness to her associations as a student at Leipzig with figures such as Grieg, Dvorak and later Johannes Brahms.

Writing the work on the Royal Yacht of Empress Eugenie of France, Smyth dedicated the piece to a well-to-do Anglo-Irish family, the Trevelyans – in particular, to the daughter of the house, Pauline. The composition of the piece seems to have accompanied a religious crisis for its creator – a possible conversion from Anglicanism to Catholicism, but a journey that was never made. Continue reading

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F.W. de Klerk’s Great Betrayal

F.W. de Klerk

F.W. de Klerk’s Great Betrayal

by Ilana Mercer, sometime citizen of South Africa

On February 2, 1990, 30 years ago, F.W. de Klerk, South Africa’s last white president, turned the screws on his constituents, betraying the confidence we had placed in him. I say “we,” because, prior to becoming president in 1989, Mr. de Klerk was my representative, in the greater Vereeniging region of Southern Transvaal, where I resided. (Our family subsequently moved to Cape Town.)

A constellation of circumstances had aligned to catapult de Klerk to a position of great power. In 1989, a severe stroke forced the “The Crocodile,” President P.W. Botha, from power. Nothing in the background of his successor, President F.W. de Klerk, indicated the revolutionary policies he would pursue.

In a 1992 referendum asking white voters if they favored de Klerk’s proposed reforms, we returned a resounding “yes.” Sixty-eight percent of respondents said “yes” to the proposed reforms of a man who sold his constituents out for a chance to frolic on the world stage with Nelson Mandela. For surrendering South Africa to the ANC, de Klerk shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mandela. Continue reading

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Life on the Line

Liverpool, Lime Street Railway Station, then

Life on the Line

 by Bill Hartley

Railways are back in the news with the HS2 project under fresh scrutiny, due to the cost estimate having risen to an eye watering level. The latest figure is about three times what Britain spends annually on defence. But Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham is warning of dire political consequences should the project be curtailed at Birmingham.

Whilst moving from north to south in Britain isn’t too bad, the real area of neglect lies east to west. On a journey along the Trans Pennine route, say from Leeds to Liverpool, crumbling Victoriana carry state of the art rolling stock. How the two have merged and survived is remarkable. How much longer it can continue without substantial investment is questionable.

The line is used in some unusual ways. Outside peak periods a new kind of traveller took to the tracks. The story began many years ago at Stalybridge in Greater Manchester. The station has an independently run buffet bar free from the corporate awfulness of the standard railway franchise and they sell proper beer. Word got round and students crossing the Pennines began to stop off for a ‘quick drink’. Continue reading

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In a Royal Line

Ermonela Jaho, photo by Russell Duncan (c)

In a Royal Line

‘An Evening with Rosina Storchio’, recital of songs and operatic arias sung by Ermonela Jaho, accompanied by Steven Maughan at the piano, Sunday 2nd February 2020, Wigmore Hall, London, reviewed by Leslie Jones

This was soprano Ermonela Jaho’s Wigmore Hall debut, on the 50th anniversary of Opera Rara, for whom she undertook the title role in Leoncavallo’s Zazà in 2015 and the part of Anna, in Puccini’s first opera Le Willis, in 2018. A CD containing the repertoire featured in this recital, entitled Homage to Rosina Storchio, will be released later this year.

Opera has its own rich history, enhanced by the availability on the web of classic performances by its luminaries. Musicologist Ditlev Rindom reminds us in the official programme that Puccini and Toscanini were passionate admirers of Rosina Storchio, whose stellar career lasted from 1892 to 1923. She also appeared in the world premieres of Leoncavallo’s La bohème, Mascagni’s Lodoletta and Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (the latter in Milan, in 1904). How appropriate, then, that Ms. Jaho’s encore was ‘Un bel di vedremo’. Continue reading

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Getting the Canadian Right

Carle Hessay, Abstract No. 25

Getting the Canadian Right

by Mark Wegierski

There are currently three main groups in Canada that do not understand the Canadian Right — the media, the other parties, and conservatives themselves. In the last few decades, Canadian conservatism has been hurt by its too-ready association with the U.S. Republican Party, and a lack of knowledge of its own roots and history. Actually, the bivalent term “Red Tory” can represent some of the best tendencies of Canadian conservatism (such as those articulated by Canadian traditionalist philosopher George Parkin Grant), as well as a less-salubrious, opportunistic embrace of left-liberalism. The so-called “right-wing” of the Conservative Party has been marked by an infatuation with “free market philosophy” and the reduction of all policy to tax-cuts and budget-cuts. Yet free-market fundamentalism has not traditionally been a hall-mark of conservatism in Canada.

At the same time, social conservatives who care about social and cultural issues have become bogged down in the now-fruitless debate over abortion rights and same-sex marriage. Like it or not, the latter have become an indelible part of the Canadian political landscape. Nevertheless, it is still possible to promote pro-family policies (especially through the tax-system) that can win broad acceptance in Canadian society today. For example, the tax-penalty on households with one main breadwinner in the marriage should be ended. Continue reading

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