Friday, 26 June 2009

Eh-Level History

Some of our country’s “advanced”-level students of history have been complaining about a question which appeared in an examination: “How far do you agree that Hitler’s role 1933-45 was one of despotic tyranny?”. [1] The phrase “despotic tyranny” has caused some upset:
“[I]t is elitist . . . to assume every history student is going to have come across such a term.” [2]

“The use of the term ‘despotic tyranny’ excludes students of a lower ability.” [3]
At least it seems that some of our “advanced” students have learnt the egalitarian ideology well, if nothing else.

“I have been offered a place at Cambridge to study English literature and I was not familiar with the word ‘despotic’ at all despite intensive revision and reading around the topic.” [4]

“I understand that to be an A level history student you need to have a wide grasp of specialised vocabulary but can i realy be blamed for never hearing the word despotic before? I have never read it, let alone had it taught to me and i was under the impression that exams should be based on a student’s knowledge of a topic not on their knowedge of a word.” [5]

One unhappy mother summed up the complaint rather well:
“This was an exam on Hitler and history . . . not on swallowing a dictionary.” [6]
Doubtless it is sometimes difficult to determine the meaning of the various usages of words and phrases. I, for instance, have trouble understanding what “advanced” means.

[1] As reported by Alexis Thompson, “History students confused by Hitler ‘despotic tyranny’ exam question”, News Shopper Online, 19th June 2009. (H/T: Laban Tall, “The Best Educated Generation in History”, UK Commentators (weblog), 26th June 2009.)
[2]-[6] “HistoryStudent”, “JohnS”, “Bexleystudent09”, “cmarie”, “Mother Sidcup”, commenting on Alexis Thompson’s report. (I have spared the reader a rash of sic-ness.)

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

The Book of the World

“Now and then I believe I sense that the book of the world is becoming a little more legible.” [1]

It happens to me sometimes: in deepest thought or in drunkenness.

[1] [“Zuweilen glaube ich zu spüren, daß das Buch der Welt ein wenig leserlicher wird.”] Ernst Jünger, 14. Juni 1940, Gärten und Strassen (Berlin: E.S. Mittler & Sohn, 1942), p.150.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Fewtril no.269

Not mere apes: modernists. Mere apes might on occasion fling their own excrement, but they never claim it to be some form of new art.

Fewtril no.268

To confidence is owed half the success of becoming an intellectual; and to intellect is owed less than half.


To depict this age faithfully is an aesthetic sin, and I am therefore often reluctant to sully the page with any unsightly instances of it. Nevertheless, here is another:
My politics comes from Marxism and feminism; it’s republican, it’s gay and it’s green. It isn’t about ‘good works’, but its works are all towards the good of society. And that can’t be realised without the most radical transformations. [1]
As these blighters approach their goal of the radical transformation of society and state in line with their savage atavism, the pitch of their antipathy increases. Where signs still exist of former ways of thought, a great hysterical anger is raised, and the hysteria becomes the greater the fewer the signs that remain. Sometimes, the more that society and state are transformed towards their ways, the more inclined they are to believe that success is slipping away, as their eyes fix jealously and narrowly on what still remains outside their control. Therein is hidden something old and primitive, a savage instinct, a contempt wholly without noble aspect, which is roused to frenzy at the sight of weakness; but therein is also something quite new: this savage atavism is cultivated and treated to every defence which sophistication can muster.
Retrogression, relapse—this is in general the ideal of this band who dare to speak of liberty and progress. They wish to be the future. That is one of their chief pretensions. That is one of the means by which they catch the largest number of simpletons. We have, however, seen in all individual cases that it is not the future but the most forgotten, far-away past. Degenerates lisp and stammer, instead of speaking. They utter monosyllabic cries, instead of constructing grammatically and syntactically articulated sentences. They draw and paint like children, who dirty tables and walls with mischievous hands. They compose music like that of the yellow natives of East Asia. They confound all the arts, and lead them back to the primitive forms they had before evolution differentiated them. Every one of their qualities is atavistic, and we know, moreover, that atavism is one of the most constant marks of degeneracy. [2]
At the disposal of these degenerates are all the advantages of their inheritance, and, like profligate wastrels, they fritter it away.

[1] Beatrix Campbell, “Why I accepted my OBE”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 16th June 2009. (One of the commenters (“whatithink”) put it rather well: “Our honours system is now used entirely as a way of identifying people who are a complete menace to the rest of society.”)
[2] Max Nordau, Degeneration (London: William Heinemann, 1898), p.555.

At Dr Cholodenko's Service

For any taurocoprologist, the appearance of each issue of the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies is an exciting event. For me, however, the latest issue carries an added thrill. Dr Alan Cholodenko, the world’s foremost analyst of quantum-mechanical effects in cartoons, has considered Paul Cossins [1] and me worthy of note in an interview therein:
If one Googles my name, one will find tagged to it a blog called ‘The Joy of Curmudgeonry: The International Journal of Boundless Idiocy’ (31 January 2006). Refusing to provide his given name, the blog’s author calls her/himself Deogolwulf; and s/he names her/his residence Lancashire, England! (. . . but of course, that could be a sham address on the part of ‘Deogolwulf’!)

If one examines the content of the blog, it seems ‘Deogolwulf’ is one among several analytic philosophers engaged in deriding me as an ‘idiot’, but not only me: the International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, as the journal of idiots. Of course, that derision is marked in the very title of the blog, meant to refer to the IJBS. So s/he and his/her mates, like Paul Cossins, paint with a scatter gun, mocking not only me but the journal, those it publishes, and even Baudrillard himself and his work as ‘idiocy’. (Indeed, for explicit disparagement by ‘Deogolwulf’ of Baudrillard, see ‘his’ piece entitled ‘The Professor of Absurdity’, The Joy of Curmudgeonry, 9 December 2005: [citation link].)

The denigration of me appears to follow this ‘logic’: how can a person teaching in an art history and theory department in Australia presume they have the right and ability to talk about and comment on Stephen Hawking, as I do so in my article ‘The Nutty Universe of Animation, the “Discipline” of All “Disciplines”, and That’s Not All, Folks!’, published in IJBS 3/1, January 2006?

But here it is crucial for me to declare: while I am a bit miffed by the blog and its ridicule, to say nothing of its being tagged to my name, at the same time I find it and these derogatory pronouncements marvelous, wonderful gifts, for they help to establish my bona fides, as it were! One needs enemies, Alexandr, even jokers like these, whom I have clearly and powerfully provoked, as has Baudrillard, the IJBS and those who publish therein. For me, their mockery turns on itself, mocking only them. For me, the hilarious and derogatory term Cossins and ‘Deogolwulf’ deploy in ‘The Professor of Absurdity’ reverses on them, turning into a self-description: ‘taurocoprologists’. So, instead of replying to them in a direct manner with reasoned responses, instead of trying to engage them in scholarly debate, I choose to just have a good laugh, one at their expense. I know this is how Baudrillard did and would ‘reply’ to such close-minded, empty-headed abusive utterances. [2]
I am honoured to have helped a man of Dr Cholodenko’s stature establish his bona fides, as it were, and I shall be at his service again if ever he should need it.

[1] Fellow taurocoprologist and erstwhile commenter at this blog.
[2] Alan Cholodenko, interviewed by Alexandr Dyakov, “An Interview With Alan Cholodenko”, International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, Vol.6:2, July 2009.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

An Old Play

“I guess you are a B.N.P supporter but you have conceded that we Muslims are allies in the fight against the ultra-left anti-family fanatics. In this case you should support us since we are the only morally serious section of the British population left. Look at the animalistic sexual incontinence of white Britons and the mass production of feral children by white English sluts — the ferals reach puberty, copulate with each other and produce yet more useless bastards who go on to lead the same useless and barbaric lives. How much longer can a society continue in this way? The Christian church is dead and buried, only Islam can guide the British people back to morality and decency.” [1]

The Mussulman has pegged his hosts quite well; and he has a good eye for an old and oft-performed play, which might this time be produced on a grander scale: liberals and social libertarians and other glib blighters destroy the fabric of a society, its authorities and moral strictures, its traditions and mores, its native bonds and communities, because such things repress the free expression of their bestial impulses, to which they are in thrall; whereupon, against a mass-collocation of barely personable and irresponsible individuals, and without effective defence from any social redoubts or moral depths, a stark power arises of necessity to set everything in order in the most direct fashion. The comedic aspect of this rather dreary play is that many of these liberal and libertarian blighters — the true believers rather than the cynical promoters — do not realise that they have any role in it at all, let alone a leading role. They are angered to hear otherwise; they believe that they are appearing in what is and what ought to continue to be a light musical farce or a drama of a base or mediocre kind, and are greatly surprised when the curtain comes down and the scenery is changed for the next act.

[1] Bilal H., addressing another commenter in the comments to Unity, “Cheers Tim, but we already know what Fascists are”, Liberal Conspiracy (weblog), 9th June 2009. (Some slight cosmetic changes have been made to the comment.)

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Impressions and Ideas

“It seemed very natural to think, that the Treatise of human nature required an author, and a very ingenious one too; but now we learn, that it is only a set of ideas which came together, and arranged themselves by certain associations and attractions.” [1]

Thomas Reid’s damnation of David Hume’s thesis of impressions and ideas strikes just as well against Richard Dawkins’s doctrine of memes, though I should not like to suggest thereby an equality between the latter two gentlemen: the Scotsman was ingenious; the Englishman sells books.

[1] Thomas Reid, An Enquiry into the Human Mind on the Principles of Common Sense, ed. D.R. Brookes (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2000), Ch.II, Sct.VI, p.35.

Monday, 8 June 2009


In reply to a commenter at Comment is Free, who wrote of the interests of the various races and peoples in Britain, and of the officially-disgraceful interests of those Englishmen who wish to preserve their homeland, another commenter had this to say:
“I guess you are ignorant of the fact that genetics tells us Homo sapiens originated in Africa?
“Silly me, of course you are.” [1]
It has the usual smugness which surrounds politically-inspired stupidity. I am yet to hear a good reason why anyone believes that a genetic origin of Homo sapiens in Africa has any significant bearing on present racial-political matters. Yet it is used to imply that everyone in the world — or, more selectively, everyone European — is of “African” origin, an implication relying on a dumb equivocation between present-racial and original denotations of that word. Is it too hard to understand that one hundred thousand years ago, in what is now called Africa, members of Homo sapiens were not African or European or Chinese? Is it beyond the meanest comprehension to grasp that Europeans and Chinese are not descended from Africans in any present-racial sense? To believe otherwise would be little more rational than to believe that two of three brothers are descended from the third because they all share the same father and because that other brother still lives in the paternal home. Yet, by a grand political legerdemain, taking advantage of the mental dimness by which recent categories cannot be distinguished from ancient ones, it might be fancied to be seen that all the peoples of the world — the Chinese, the Europeans, the Middle-Easterners, and so on — ought not to preserve themselves, their lands, and their cultures against the claims of all and sundry, or rather against “common humanity” — except it seems that only the European race has been so stupefied as to fancy so.

[1] “rickb”, commenting of Sunny Hundal, “The Hope We’ve Gained from the BNP”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 8th June 2009. (Corrected quotation: removal of additional definite article and of the capitalisation of “sapiens”.)

Saturday, 30 May 2009

On Parliaments

“In Parliaments, Men wrangle in behalf of Liberty, that do as little care for it, as they deserve it.”

George Savile, Marquis of Halifax, “Of Parliaments”, A Character of King Charles the Second, and Political, Moral, and Miscellaneous Thoughts and Reflections (London: J. and R. Tonson and S. Draper, 1750), p.104.

“[B]ut as Swine are to Gardens and orderly Plantations, so are Tumults to Parliaments, and Plebeian concourses to publique Councels, turning all into disorders and sordid confusions.”

King Charles the First, Eikon Basilike (London: R. Royston, 1648), reproduced as Eikon Basilike, or The King’s Book, ed. E. Almack (London: The De La More Press, 1903), p.12. (Soon after this book was published, doubt was cast on the king’s authorship, mostly notably by John Milton in his Eikonoklastes, and by Bishop John Gauden, who claimed himself as the author, despite eyewitnesses who affirmed it to be the king's work. In the learned view of the editor of the fore-mentioned reproduction, King Charles most probably was the author. David Hume also thought so. See his History of England, Vol.V, (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1854), p.278, as did Christopher Wordsworth, who has written the most thorough account: see his Who Wrote Eikon Basilike? (London: John Murray, 1824).)

Friday, 29 May 2009


It is true that the word “cult” can be applied maliciously against any small group so as to provoke antipathy towards it; for “cult” now carries sinister connotations, whereby, for instance, one is led to imagine a small group of people, mostly and barely able to think for themselves, dupes of sinister interests, passively led by powerful individuals to believe and act in some ways rather than in others. To most of those who belong to the wider societies of the West, steadfast under the dominion of mass and media, under governmental and business-economical propaganda, all such stand-apart groups with the label of “cults” do seem to be sinister and frightful, enough indeed for every right-thinking man to have no thought but to wish to see them stamped out.


“[T]he whole idea of discrete, concrete races is bunk.” [1] I do not know of anyone who believes that human races in the sense under consideration are discrete biological groups, i.e., species in the sense of exclusive groups of interbreeding organisms which are incapable of producing fertile offspring with organisms of other groups. Certainly, the political-fantasy paradigm of racists — the dreaded Nazis (accompanied as always by sinister and mental-background music, just so you know to hate them) — didn’t believe so. I cannot recall that anyone in the present era has taken human races to be discrete species. [2] I cannot therefore imagine of what use the debunking of the idea would serve, except to insinuate that there is no biological reality to races as intra-specific subgroups, the denial of which is a curious and recent phenomenon — some might say a politically-inspired and -useful delusion — strangely applicable to only one species.

[1] Sarah Ditum, in the commentary to her own “How Churnalists Become Friends to the BNP”, Liberal Conspiracy (weblog), 27th May 2009.
[2] Charles Darwin presents a treatment of the matter in Chapter VIII of The Descent of Man; and Selection in Relation to Sex, Vol. I. (London: John Murray, 1871).

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Empty Bragging

“Opening my newspaper the other day, I saw a short but emphatic leaderette entitled ‘A Relic of Medievalism’. It expressed a profound indignation upon the fact that somewhere or other, in some fairly remote corner of this country, there is a turnpike-gate, with a toll. It insisted that this antiquated tyranny is insupportable, because it is supremely important that our road traffic should go very fast; presumably a little faster than it does. So it described the momentary delay in this place as a relic of medievalism. I fear the future will look at that sentence, somewhat sadly and a little contemptuously, as a very typical relic of modernism. I mean it will be a melancholy relic of the only period in all human history when people were proud of being modern. For though to-day is always to-day and the moment is always modern, we are the only men in all history who fell back upon bragging about the mere fact that to-day is not yesterday. I fear that some in the future will explain it by saying that we had precious little else to brag about. For, whatever the medieval faults, they went with one merit. Medieval people never worried about being medieval; and modern people do worry horribly about being modern.”

G.K. Chesterton, “On Turnpikes and Medievalism”, in All I Survey (London: Methuen & Co., 1934), p.11.

Modern Ugliness

“Not long ago the periphery of the city was untouched meadowland, stretches of bucolic peacefulness unlike anything else in Germany. This has been ruined by the depositing of hills of gravel, by the cutting down of the forests, by railroad spurs, and by monstrous industrial plants which the General Staff, with characteristic barbarian inability to understand that some things are irreplaceable, had finally brought here too.” [1]

So wrote Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen about Munich in the nineteen-thirties. Whenever I travel in Europe, I take my pre-nineteen-fourteen Baedeker guide-books. They are works of an old publishing art, bound in red leather, with gold-lettering on the covers, wherein can be found delightful maps, fine descriptions of old streets and buildings, prices for hiring one-horse carriages, and so on. Upon entering a town or city, I am enabled, by book and street-name, by old stone and eccentric regret, to bring a little of the old world back to life, yet not quite enough to dispel the sight of the modern ugliness that has grown up in such a place, and which surrounds the old centre like a besieging army. And when I reflect on what has happened, and what has gone, I feel myself becoming very counter-revolutionary.

[1] Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen, 9th September 1937, Diary of a Man in Despair, tr. P. Rubens (London: Duck Editions, 2000) p. 64.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A Blind Eye

Illegal immigrants gathered openly in Trafalgar Square yesterday to protest against the “injustice” of not being British citizens, and yet for some reason they were not rounded up and put into camps ready for deportation. Still, I suppose the sight of the authorities taking seriously the integrity of the country and its laws might scare the voters away, millions of whom haven’t even arrived yet.

Friday, 1 May 2009

A Common Mistake

“The indignant Monarch for a moment gave way to his natural hastiness of temper—‘Prisoner, Sir! I am not an ordinary Prisoner!’ But if Charles by an instantaneous emotion lost his temper, the Lord President lost his presence of mind or command of language, for when the King said, ‘Show me that jurisdiction where Reason is not to be heard?’ The Serjeant unwittingly replied, ‘Sir! we show it you here, the Commons of England’.”

Isaac Disraeli, Commentaries on the Life and Reign of Charles the First, Vol.V (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1831), pp.437-8; original emphasis.