Having already confessed to being a reader of middlebrow fiction, I get occasional emails from readers asking for recommendations. 

Well, there’s no disputing matters of taste, so don”€™t blame me if yours isn”€™t mine, and this particular recommendation may be too Brit-oriented for American readers, but my most recent middlebrow binge reading has been Hilary Mantel’s two novels about Thomas Cromwell,Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. World-shaking masterpieces? Nah, but they kept my attention for a thousand pages.

There’s a third book gestating, the author tells us, to finish off Cromwell’s life. There’s also a TV series from the first two, currently being shown on PBS.

Cromwell (1485?-1540) was Secretary to King Henry VIII of England.  He was the king’s fixer, his chief factotum, the guy who got things done. Cromwell got some quite tremendous things done:  the annulment against Papal opposition of Henry’s first marriage, the separation of the English Church from Rome, the dissolution of the monasteries, and the framing (probably) and execution of Henry’s second wife, Ann Boleyn.

Ban jun ru ban hu goes the old Chinese saying: “€œTo attend a prince is to attend a tiger.”€ Cromwell’s religious radicalism was too much for the king at last, and he lost his head.

“World-shaking masterpieces? Nah, but they kept my attention for a thousand pages.”

Henry’s Christianity was conservative. He would happily have stayed with Rome if his first wife had given him a son (and would not likely have believed the charges against Ann if she had). However, he was only the second king of his dynasty; loyalists and claimants from the previous dynasty were watching and maneuvering; Henry believed”€”probably correctly”€”that without a clear male successor, the horrible civil wars of the previous century would restart.

It’s a great story, and Cromwell is at the center of it. It’s not mere costume drama, either. In the lifetimes of Cromwell and Henry, the modern world emerged. Henry was born a year before Columbus set sail. By the 1530s, which Mantel is mainly writing about, millions of printed books were in European circulation, up from zero a century before. (A rather important one by Nicolaus Copernicus came out in the 35th year of Henry’s reign.)

The story of Henry, his wives and his schism, has been much told, but not previously through Cromwell’s eyes.

Cromwell has a walk-on part in Shakespeare’s 1613 play Henry VIII, positively portrayed: “€œA man in much esteem with th”€™ king, and truly a worthy friend.”€ His reputation went downhill from there, though. By the mid-20th century he was the amoral bully persecuting the saintly”€”and eventually sainted”€”Thomas More in Robert Bolt’s brilliant play and movie A Man for All Seasons. That is probably the definitive portrayal of Thomas Cromwell for most people today who know the man’s name at all.

Mantel’s inspiration is to tell the tale from Cromwell’s point of view, putting us inside his clever, worldly, somewhat cynical head. This involves some adjustments to our previous notions. Thomas More, for example, is drawn as considerably less than saintly. (Mantel is an agnostic; but then, so was Bolt.)

Consider More’s famous response to Cromwell when the latter argued that by refusing to swear an oath affirming the king’s supremacy over England’s church, More was encouraging others of the old faith to be “€œstyffe”€ in their resistance, and was therefore in part responsible for their deaths by execution. Replied More:

I do nobody harme, I say none harme, I thynke none harme, but wysh euerye bodye good.  And if thys be not ynough to kepe a man alyue, in good faith I long not to lyue.

This was said on April 30th, 1535 O.S.”€”480 years ago next Friday”€”when Cromwell and four others interviewed More at the Tower, where he was held prisoner.

We have those fine strong words from More’s own pen: he wrote his daughter a letter describing the interview. Cromwell, by More’s account, made no direct response. He seems to have been chastened by More’s sincerity; he only repeated some mild queries about the Act of Supremacy, then concluded the interview.

I was standing in Stamford, Lincolnshire on Saturday, admiring as always the architecture so splendidly Georgian it is used for filming Jane Austen adaptations. But that day the Palladian proportions were backdrop to something infinitely older in sense and sensibility. 

Morris dancers stomped the street, the town, with tabor and pipe and concertina – twirling in green-and yellow tattercoats, whirling watchers back to a time long before Jane Austen, and in spirit almost before England. The “€˜squire”€™ of the “€˜side”€™ – a tall and burly man with large gold earrings – called orders, and danced with seven others in and out and between each other, punctuating each complicated maneouevre with whoops and clashes of sticks that made our two year old hide his head in my shoulder. The blackface make-up used by Border Morris teams contributed to the pagan effect, uncanny even when seen in full sun in an English street, surrounded by selfie-snapping yellowbellies. We knew that the dancers were really data entry clerks or healthcare workers, that their side had not existed very long, and that there are no records of such dancing in England before the fifteenth century. But somehow when they smeared themselves and trod the old steps they altered into avatars from The Golden Bough, connected to something dark and deep that runs beneath the apologetic English surface like an aquifer.

“€œEnglishness was so long bound up in imperial adventurism that it found itself lacking meaning once the Empire had been dissolved.”€

And it is apologetic – as eager to apologise as a Hugh Grant stock character in full self-deprecatory mode. In contrast to the Scots, Northern Irish Catholics and to a lesser extent the Welsh, the English rarely express pride, or even any sense that they exist as an ethnic and cultural community, whom Bede was already calling English in the seventh century, and who have been united politically since the tenth. A recent study showed that some Englishmen can trace their roots back even before Bede (incidentally revealing that the conventional Saxon/Celtic dichotomy is largely nonsense), while in 1997 a West Country history teacher discovered he was a direct descendant of a man who had lived a few miles away 300 generations previously.   

Yet this venerable polity has no political party to rival the Scottish National Party (six MPs, two MEPs, 64 Members of the Scottish Parliament, expected to slaughter Labour in Scotland on 7 May), Sinn Féin (five MPs, three MEPs, power-sharing in Northern Ireland), or Plaid Cymru (three MPs, one MEP, eleven members of the Welsh Assembly). St. George’s Day is not a holiday in England, as St. Andrew’s is in Scotland, or St. Patrick’s in Ireland. Unlike the Welsh dragon or Scottish saltire, or even the Union Jack, the Crusades-evoking red cross on a white field is regarded as dangerous and, even worse, declassé – fit only for football or the English Defence League, a disturbing totem for a despised underclass that clings onto its identity the more fiercely as it is hacked away from under their feet. 

Many English people shudder, sigh or snigger to see their own flag. Students shun it, Labour councils loathe it, and ex-government ministers claim its flourishers have a “€œpropensity to violence”€. Academics deny English existence or dismiss it as retrograde and racist. Contemporary poets (except Geoffrey Hill) do not celebrate it. Rock stars (except maybe Morrissey) sing of other things. Even at the Last Night of the Proms, the annual acme of English musicality, St. George’s flags are usually easily outnumbered by British. Furthermore, many of the English melodies played on that night are really British, in which Englishness is absorbed into imperial fantasies (Rule, Britannia, Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory) or outré theology (Jerusalem).

Englishness was so long bound up in imperial adventurism that it found itself lacking meaning once the Empire had been dissolved. At home, England has so long been the dominant force in these islands that it has become complacent, and finds itself unable to adjust to diminished status. As The London Review of Books observed,

“€œIt seems they [the English] take their exceptionality so much for granted that they don”€™t even bother putting a name to it.”€

A nation which cannot define itself will find it difficult to defend itself.

The governments of Europe are confronting an epochal choice in the Mediterranean. Do they allow Europe to remain on course toward inundation by the African population explosion, inevitably turning Florence into Ferguson and Barcelona into Baltimore?

The conventional wisdom is that it’s unthinkable to stop the African tsunami. Veteran public radio correspondent Sylvia Poggioli assured gullible NPR listeners on Monday:

This is a human tide that cannot be stopped,” she says. … Europeans have to start providing legal channels that will allow them to seek asylum here. This is a humanitarian crisis, says Mascena, that cannot be solved by use of force “€” or by leaving these desperate human beings bottled up in Africa and the Middle East.

Or will Europeans adopt the sensible policies of Australia and Israel that have succeeded at turning back Camp of the Saints-style invasions by boat?

The Sub-Saharan African population bomb is the most obvious long-term problem facing global peace and prosperity. We”€™ve been lectured for decades about climate change, but the staggering fertility rates among black Africans have been largely hushed up over the last quarter of a century. We”€™re supposed to assume the problem will solve itself without any white people ever being so crass as to mention that it’s even a problem.

While birth rates have dropped in much of the world, they remain staggeringly high in much of Africa south of the Sahara. The simplest measure to work with is the total fertility rate, a projection of babies per woman per lifetime. While many countries have dropped below the replacement rate (for example, Iran is at 1.85), there are 35 countries in black Africa with total fertility rates over 4.0, compared to only four elsewhere on earth.

The highest TFR is seen in desert Niger at 6.89 babies per woman. You could argue that Niger in the southern Sahara is an unimportant wasteland, with only 8 million people back. (Oh, wait, that was back in 1990. Now it’s up to 18 million.)

“€œIt’s important for naïve white people to understand why black Africans aren”€™t terribly inclined to limit their own numbers, at least not without strict immigration restriction and constant hardheaded prodding by Westerners to undertake family planning.”€

Even more worrisome are giant Nigeria (177 million people) at a TFR of 5.25, Ethiopia (97 million) at 5.23, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (77 million) at 4.80.

And that’s assuming that chaotic Congo is actually counting its vital records properly. UN demographers recently discovered that they had been understating the current total fertility rate in Africa by 0.25 due to shoddy record keeping by African governments. Thus, two years ago the United Nations Population Division released a shocking update to their population projections, revising the forecast for the continent of Africa upward to 4.2 billion in 2100 from 1.1 billion today.

That is about a half dozen times greater than the population of Europe.

Africa is almost certainly not going to add over three billion residents over the next 85 years. Something else will happen instead, ideally a decline in African fertility to sustainable levels rather than mass migrations or a rise in the death rate.

Africans will attempt to decamp en masse to Europe and to other first world countries, such as America.

If Africans aren”€™t allowed to get away with that, however, they might actually deal with their own fertility excesses, just as almost everybody else outside Africa has more or less done.

The problem is that this reform needs to happen soon. Due to the phenomenon of “€œpopulation momentum,”€ even after the Total Fertility Rate falls to the replacement rate, the population keeps growing for about another 40 years.

It’s not impossible for black cultures to learn to show some self-restraint. The total fertility rate in Barbados, for instance, is only 1.68, and in poorer Jamaica it’s 2.05.

Even dystopian Haiti is down to 2.79 from 3.80 at the time of the earthquake in 2010, although with little thanks to the enormous number of NGO charities that white people run on that densely populated and deforested Caribbean country to keep the Haitians fed. After the 2010 earthquake, I looked for foreign charities boasting online of providing contraception to Haitians, but could find almost none. Apparently, that would be racist, even though a lower population growth rate clearly ought to be the highest priority for that impoverished land.

It’s important for naïve white people to understand why black Africans aren”€™t terribly inclined to limit their own numbers, at least not without strict immigration restriction and constant hardheaded prodding by Westerners to undertake family planning.

Europeans used to be less naïve about African proclivities.

Evelyn Waugh’s 1932 satire of the Emperor Haile Selassie’s attempt to modernize Ethiopia, Black Mischief, includes a bravura passage about the progressive government’s effort to launch a Pageant of Birth Control with a poster showing a starving family of thirteen next to a prosperous family of three, with the question “€œWhich home do you choose?”€ inscribed above “€œa detailed drawing of some up-to-date contraceptive apparatus.”€ The peasantry, however, interpret the emperor’s advertisement in an unexpected fashion:

See: on right hand: there is rich man: smoke pipe like big chief: but his wife she no good: sit eating meat: and rich man no good: he only one son.

See: on left hand: poor man: not much to eat: but his wife she very good, work hard in field: man he good too: eleven children: one very mad, very holy. And in the middle: Emperor’s juju. Make you like that good man with eleven children.

And so the peasants flocked into the capital, “€œeagerly awaiting initiation to the fine new magic of virility and fecundity.”€

But Waugh was Punching Down; so today we”€™re more high-minded and thus more ignorant about Africa.

Why have black Africans traditionally been obsessed with procreation? In the most comprehensive and insightful explanation of Africa I”€™ve ever seen, the 1997 book


Africa: A Biography of the Continent, author John Reader notes:

Children were precious and the drive to reproduce became a central feature of African culture and social order. … From the time that Europeans first set foot in Africa, travellers have commented upon what they saw as an excessive interest in sex among Africans.

Reader is an English photojournalist who was sent by Life Magazine in 1969 to photograph a Leakey family expedition to dig up early proto-human fossils. This triggered in Reader a passion for understanding Africa at the deepest levels.

Although Reader’s book never uses the term, a central aspect of his model of what makes humanity different in Africa from most of the rest of the world is its traditional lack of a Malthusian limit.

In most of the world, the struggle to feed a growing population from a limited amount of land strongly disciplined the culture in some fashion, perhaps in the direction of monastic celibacy, intensive cultivation of the soil, or late marriage. The average Englishwoman from 1200 to 1800, for example, married around age 25.

High cultures attempted to sublimate sexual drives into art, but in Africa, dance (with its constant pelvic thrusting) is intended to encourage impregnation as soon as possible, rather than at a carefully chosen time.

Phantom Terror, by Adam Zamoyski (Basic Books, 2015).

Born in America and raised in Britain, Adam Zamoyski is not a tenured university professor devoted to obscure subjects that appeal only to audiences of academic guilds. Nor does he write for a small readership. That’s why his books sell and his prose excites; he can narrate a compelling account while carrying an insightful thesis. His latest book, Phantom Terror, bears a subtitle that will cause libertarian ears to perk up: “€œPolitical Paranoia and the Creation of the Modern State, 1789-1848.”€ 

Challenging the validity of modern states and their various arms and agencies is the daily diet of committed libertarians, but Zamoyski is not, to my knowledge, a libertarian of any stripe. Yet he challenges the modern State and its various arms and agencies, whatever his intentions or beliefs, and he refuses to shut his eyes to the predatory behavior of government. To appreciate the goals of his book, one must first understand how he came to his subject.

The story is simple: While researching, Zamoyski uncovered data suggesting that governments in the decades following the French Revolution deliberately incited panic among their citizens to validate increasingly restrictive policies. The more governments regulated and circumscribed individual freedoms, the more they took on the shape of nation states: geopolitical entities that had their roots in 16th- and 17th- century Europe but had not fully centralized.

“€œZamoyski does not focus on any one state but moves from city to city, leader to leader, depicting how European governments staged rebellion for their own benefit.”€

If there’s a main character here, it’s Napoleon Bonaparte. Zamoyski has written about Napoleon in previous books, including 1812: Napoleon’s Fatal March on Moscow (2005) and Rites of Peace: The Fall of Napoleon and the Congress of Vienna (2008). Having escaped from exile in Elba in February 1815 and suffered defeat at the Battle of Waterloo later that year, Napoleon, once the Emperor of the French, had been reduced to the status of a prisoner, stripped of his dignity and rendered militarily ineffective, his health quickly declining.

Tsar Alexander of Russia, seeing the great Napoleon neutralized, called for a holy covenant with Emperor Francis I of Austria and King Frederick William III of Prussia. For Alexander, who envisioned the State as the realization of a divine idea, the three united rulers reflected the trinitarian Christian God from whom their autocratic, quasi-sacred powers derived. Alexander believed that the unsettling of tradition and order during the French Revolution could be counteracted or cured by the systematic institutionalization of despotic government. First, though, the masses needed to be instructed in the manifest nature of revolutionary threats lurking behind every corner, in every neighborhood, among friends and family, in unexpected places.

And then came the police, a new body of official agents vested with administrative powers and decorated with the symbols and insignias of authority.  Until then the term “€œpolice,”€ or its rough equivalent in other European languages, designated minor officials with localized duties over small public spaces. European states lacked the administrative machinery of a centralized enforcement network besides the military, whose function was to conquer foreign territory or defend the homeland, not to guard the comfort, health, and morals of communities in disparate towns and villages. The latter task was for parochial institutions, custom, churches, nobility, and other configurations of local leadership. 

In the wake of the French Revolution, with its ritualistic brutality, mass hysteria, and spectacular regicide, sovereigns and subjects began to accept and support the power of centralized governments to deploy political agents, including spies and informers.  According to Zamoyski, the growing police force”€”secret agents and all”€”was less interested in basic hygiene, sanitation, and safety and more interested in subverting the political clout and conspiratorial tendencies of local nobility.

To maximize their power, emperors and government ministers gave color to grand falsehoods about their weakness. Only in their exaggerated vulnerability, catalyzed by true and imagined Jacobins, Freemasons, Illuminati, and other such bugaboos, could they exercise their strength.  Seizing upon anxieties about civil unrest, rulers cultivated in their subjects a desire for police protection, supervision, and surveillance. Conspiracy theories worked in their favor. Francis ordered his police to be vigilant about the spread of Enlightenment ideas; he enacted censorship measures by which people disciplined themselves into obedience, leaving the police to serve, often, as mere symbols of control.

Zamoyski does not focus on any one state but moves from city to city, leader to leader, depicting how European governments staged rebellion for their own benefit.  Several individuals figure prominently for their different roles during this turbulent time: Edmund Burke; Empress Catharine II of Russia; William Pitt; Klemens von Metternich; King Ferdinand VII of Spain; King Louis Philippe; Arthur Wellesley, the First Duke of Wellington; Charles Maurice de Talleyrand; Robert Steward, Viscount Castlereagh; Joseph Fouché, and marginal characters both stupid and intelligent, of high and low station.

The 2016 presidential primary season has kicked off with a veritable Rainbow Coalition of prospective candidates. Rubio and Cruz are all-in for the GOP, with Fiorina and Carson likely additions to the field. Add Hillary Clinton to the mix as the Democrat to beat, and perceptive observers can anticipate (or dread) many coming months of hand-wringing among Republican elites and conservative pundits regarding how the party can expand its base and attract more women and racial/ethnic minorities.

Luckily for the GOP, Rush Limbaugh thinks he has the perfect solution for the “€œwomen and minority outreach”€ quandary…don”€™t reach out to them.

There. Problem solved. Thanks for reading! See you next week.

I must admit, however, that I have a few misgivings about Rush’s advice. For the benefit of readers who are unfamiliar with my past, I”€™m a fairly hardcore partisan. For five years I ran a group called the Republican Party Animals, through which (in the words of The Guardian) I “€œbrought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.”€ So I have a bit of a history with the GOP. But I never revered the elephant like a god; that nonsense is for Hindus and Hannity. I was always quick to point out an unwise strategy when I saw one. And I view Rush’s strategy as unwise at best, and potentially suicidal at worst.

“€œLimbaugh is trying to sell the GOP on a soothing lie.”€

Limbaugh was addressing an overflowing crowd at a secret gathering of the Hollywood conservative group Friends of Abe at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in August 2013 when he went off on a small tangent about the “€œwomen and minorities”€ issue:

“€œPeople say to me, “€˜well, how would you go get the Hispanics, Mr. Know-It-All? How would you go out and get the women?”€™ Oh, that’s easy for me. I”€™d just let them show up (applause). How would you go out and get these special interests? You know what? I”€™d stop looking at them that way (smattering of applause). We”€™re all Americans (louder applause).”€

His message is simple: Don”€™t view potential voters as “€œspecial interests.”€ Just hold to your principles and if they show up, they show up.

Is there wisdom in the national GOP adopting a policy of not making an effort to attract women and minorities? From a PR perspective, yeah, sure. The professional diversity-pushers and “€œvictim group advocates”€ in the press are all stick and no carrot. They never reward, only punish, and all heterodoxy must be rebuked, no matter how many virtual vaults of liberal Bitcoin a person has amassed. You can be Juan Williams, but an offhanded remark about Muslims at airports will get you banished.  You can be Jaime Escalante, but criticism of the teachers union will get an “€œenemy of the children”€ sign hung from your neck.  You can be Jackie friggin”€™ Robinson, but an expression of support for a Republican will get you fired from your newspaper gig.

So yes, in that sense, it’s futile for Republicans to try to appease the race and gender-baiters. But the main problem with Limbaugh’s strategy is that it violates rule number one for electoral success: never lie to yourself. Lies are what you tell voters, and the better you can sell a lie, the more successful you”€™ll be. Look how well lying did for two very unlikely bedfellows “€“ Dick Cheney and Barack Obama. Cheney balls-out admitted lying about his opposition to gay marriage in 2000 in order to win the election. And Obama? Well, he’s still in office. Give him a few years, and he”€™ll be telling Vanity Fair how he had secretly always been pro-gay marriage; he just couldn”€™t say so in 2008.

In his speech, Limbaugh spins the idea of not pursuing female and minority voters into something that’s downright noble. Heroic, in fact. The lie he’s selling is that the GOP shouldn”€™t pursue women and minorities not because it’s futile, or because it’s difficult, but because “€œwe don”€™t look at Americans as special interests.”€

“€œBlazing Saddles could never get made today.”€

We all know how virulent political correctness has become. In fact, to cite another tedious cliché, it’s been “€œgoing mad”€ (exclamation point optional unless you”€™re a Daily Mail commenter) since, by my count, around 1993.

But this particular “€” and weirdly popular “€” platitude regarding Mel Brook’s 1974 blockbuster western parody is patently false.

Far grosser (any Farrelly Brothers movie), funnier (Zoolander, Anchorman), more “€œethnically offensive”€ (

)  “€“ or all three (Tropic Thunder) “€” movies have been released in the 40+ years since Blazing Saddles broke box office records.

From the sounds of it, Adam Sandler is trying to “€œmake Blazing Saddles today.”€ The Ridiculous Six is described as “€œa broad satire of Western movies and the stereotypes they popularized.”€

How “€œbroad”€ are we talking, Kimosabe? Well, here are a few admittedly tiny snippets of the Sandler screenplay:

A Native woman named “€œSits-on-Face”€ “€œsquats down behind the teepee and pees, while smoking a peace pipe.”€

“€œDo I dare detect the slenderest streak of resistance to the “€œidentity politics”€ tantrum-throwing that’s been such a successful leftwing tactic, especially in show biz, for so long?”€

Then a white male character says to her, “€œSay honey: how “€˜bout after this, we go someplace and I put my peepee in your teepee?”€

Another Native woman character is named “€œBeaver’s Breath,”€ and reportedly, that was the last blade of sweetgrass as far as the film’s extras were concerned.

A dozen of them walked off the set a few days ago, the movie’s “€œcultural consultant”€ leading the way, a tiny Trail of Tears.

Hey, one of the extras was crying, ok? At least, that’s what she told a reporter, adding:

“When I began doing this film, I had an uneasy feeling inside of me and I felt so conflicted. I talked to a former instructor at Dartmouth and he told me to take this as finally experiencing stereotyping first hand. We talked to the producers about our concerns. They just told us, ‘If you guys are so sensitive, you should leave.’”€

Another extra complained, “€œNothing has changed. We are still just Hollywood Indians.”€

(Actually, no. “€œHollywood Indians“€ were mostly played by Italians and Jews “€“ and Italians by Jews, until the Godfather, but we”€™ll get to that in a moment…)

Weirdly, “€œwalking out in a huff”€ was some kind of show biz “€œthing”€ last week.

Robert Downey, Jr. split an interview after he was questioned about “€œhis drug addiction and time in jail, as well as his political views.”€

Then a bunch of black actors ran away from a stage production called “€œFerguson,”€ after they realized it wasn”€™t a passion play with Michael Brown standing in (without his hands up, though) for Jesus.

Had any of these geniuses thought to Google the playwright’s name, they”€™d have discovered within seconds that Phelim McAleer is the savvy rightwing provocateur behind prog-poking documentaries like FrackNation.

And his Ferguson “€œscript”€ is made up almost entirely of verbatim transcripts from grand jury testimony in which witness after pro-Brown witness was discredited.

Post-walkout, McAleer wasn”€™t in a conciliatory mood:

“The truth is the truth. If it doesn’t fit in with their beliefs, they need to change their beliefs.”€

He added later:

“€œThe Ferguson cast are walking out because I wouldn’t change the script to attack the police and because of my “€˜conservative”€™ politics.”€

Which reminds me: both Adam Sandler and Robert Downey, Jr. always make it onto those lists of “€œHollywood conservatives”€ “€“ which now have to be updated to include Bruce Jenner, who came out as a Republican during his big sit-down with Diane Sawyer. (She didn”€™t walk out at that point, but looked like she wanted to…)

Anyhow, regarding the “€œdon”€™t let the wigwam flap hit you on the way out”€ attitude displayed by Sandler’s people and then McAleer:

Do I dare detect the slenderest streak of resistance to the “€œidentity politics”€ tantrum-throwing that’s been such a successful leftwing tactic, especially in show biz, for so long?

People forget just how long.

It’s a sign of strength for a man to admit his weaknesses, which is why I freely confess that I am economically retarded. I know nothing about economics. Sometimes it’s even hard for me to find my wallet.

Still, it’s obvious that communism is a logically dumb and emotionally infantile economic system that appeals only to dreamers, spazz cases, and that tiny cabal of super-elites who”€™d stand to profit from it. Communism makes neither economic nor psychological sense. If you can”€™t understand why rewarding need over ability is an inevitable dead end, well, it’s not my job to hand-feed you that baby bottle, comrade.

Beyond that, I am economically agnostic. I don”€™t even know if I understand what is meant by the word “€œcapitalism”€ enough to declare whether or not I approve of it. In fact, I tend to dislike anyone who even uses that word. Whether they employ the term positively or negatively, I’ve learned to avoid anyone who utters the word “capitalism.” It doesn”€™t matter whether it’s some free-market Randian fanatic with freckles and a bow tie or some herpes-ravaged neckbearded hipster who jerks it to statuettes of Lenin in his studio apartment”€”they”€™re equally annoying.

I come from the working class, and I used to be proud of it. I”€™m still working”€”constantly”€”but I”€™ve forgotten why it’s supposed to be a matter of pride. Generally, it sucks to work. These days, working-class pride reminds me a little bit of “€œfat acceptance.”€ It’s a defensive sort of pride about a shitty situation. It’s the sort of pride designed to mask shame.

“€œWhile it’s true that it takes a laborer to produce an iPhone, it takes a genius to design one.”€

But this new crop of smug blind testosterone-deficient young dorm-room and mother’s-basement neo-communists who shit their diapers at the merest hint of “€œracism”€ while blithely dismissing communism’s documented atrocities don”€™t even seem to know what it’s like to work. They actually seem to believe that communism is good for workers, which must be why communist societies sent so many workers to slave-labor camps.

Having figured out absolutely nothing about life or the way the world operates, these smarmy new hipster commies are certain they know it all. When you scan their barren intellectual landscape and realize you”€™re dealing with anarchists collaborating with communists who all want to join forces with Big Government to fight “€œthe power,”€ you quickly ascertain that you”€™re not dealing with the sharpest knives in your mail-order Ginsu set.

This past Saturday, that ragtag crew of losers, misfits, trust-fund socialists, and people who idolize the abstract idea of “€œworkers”€ while never having put in an honest day’s work themselves took to Twitter with the hashtag #ResistCapitalism.

That’s right”€”as many were quick to point out, they sipped their Starbucks coffee that was brewed from beans harvested by oppressed Third World agricultural laborers, flipped open their MacBooks that were produced by Chinese slave labor, and used the corporate tech giant Twitter to resist capitalism. 

Why on God’s green Earth were they resisting capitalism on a sunny spring Saturday afternoon when they could have been out enjoying the weather? Well, as they tried to explain it, capitalism is the cause of white supremacy and colonialism and patriarchy and economic inequality and poverty and xenophobia and homophobia and discrimination against transgendered otherkin and police brutality against poor young black males and every other newfangled latter-day cultural sin whose very mention causes their frazzled neurons to tremble in Pavlovian terror.

OK, great, guys. If capitalism upsets you so much, I encourage you to resist it all you want. Resist it until the cows come home. But may I ask exactly how you plan to go about doing that? Do you simply go off the grid, repair to the mountains, and subsist on acorns and squirrel meat? If not, what system would replace this “€œcapitalism”€ that you”€™re “€œresisting”€? How would such a system encourage technological innovation and lengthen lifespans? How would it quantify economic fairness? How would it avoid ye olde communist trap of liquidating anyone who made the merest whisper of ideological dissent? In other words, what the hell is your game plan? Do you even have a blueprint? An Excel spreadsheet? A PowerPoint presentation? What about even a simple outline on one sheet of loose-leaf paper?

Well, see, that’s the problem. They didn”€™t really say. They seek only to topple. In far too many cases, this daffy jihad against capitalism’s predatory tentacles seems to be nothing more substantial than a self-righteous comic-book saga in the minds of those who wouldn”€™t know how to survive for ten minutes without capitalism. Bashing capitalism seems less about offering a viable alternative to it than it is about some weird-ass psychosexual master/slave relationship these socialist dreamers have going on in their heads, some nerdy Star Wars-level clash between themselves and a cartoonishly demonized overclass of hand-rubbing, money-grubbing, bloodsucking rich people. It’s all really quite kinky when you think about it.

The Week’s Most Temperamental, Detrimental, and Occidental Headlines

Last Friday night, nearly 40 years after establishing himself as the world’s greatest athlete by winning the Olympic decathlon, Bruce Jenner became what is easily the world’s most famous man who thinks he’s a woman.

In a televised interview, the haplessly beleaguered patriarch of the squawking Kardashian clan announced that he is a woman, that he has the “€œsoul”€ of a woman, and that he has known it since he was about five years old. He denied being gay, although his 1980 appearance in Can”€™t Stop the Music made him seem gayer than all the Village People combined.

Jenner revealed that he started taking hormone injections in the 1980s, that he now sports a pair of 36B boobs, that he underwent a tracheal shaving to minimize his Adam’s Apple, that he endured a series of rhinoplasties designed to give him a feminine nose, and that he of course makes all of these extreme alterations to who he really is in order to, you know, become who he really is.

His extended family supports him”€”his 89-year-old mother says his announcement made her even prouder than when he won the gold medal in the decathlon. The entertainment industry, but of course, supports him. And if you dare to do anything but support him, you are the delusional one.

In other news, the emperor’s new clothes look absolutely stunning.

“€œIn other news, the emperor’s new clothes look absolutely stunning.”€

It was yet another one of those damned peaceful protests that somehow turned violent.

Angered at the death of a black man named Freddie Gray”€”who died with most of his spine severed at the neck after Baltimore police arrested him and took him for a bumpy paddy-wagon ride”€”a familiar scene played out. On Saturday, what is by now a typical”€”and despite the venue, a visually interchangeable”€”throng of rambunctious, crotch-grabbing “€œteens”€ egged on by a sprinkling of scraggly white communists proceeded to smash, threaten, and grab their way through downtown Baltimore while the city’s Orioles played a game at Camden Yards. At one point in the evening, baseball fans were locked in the stadium and forbidden to leave as police choppers combed the skies.

Video footage of the “€œunrest”€ is here, here, here, here, and here.

Rest assured that this is only the beginning of such shenanigans in Baltimore. The riots in Ferguson, MO lasted months”€”and started at the end of last summer. The weather is only starting to get warm in Baltimore. There’s another difference to consider”€”Ferguson is home to about 14,000 blacks. Baltimore is home to about 400,000 blacks.

“€œBut what about the scraggly white communists?”€ you ask. Oh, they bus those in, just like they always do.

Christina Hoff Sommers describes herself as a feminist. But her fatal flaw is that she refers to herself as a “€œFactual Feminist,”€ which infuriates, upsets, and ultimately “€œtriggers”€ the newer incarnations of feminism that run purely on menses-smeared emotion and shrieking illogic.

She recently gave a speech at Oberlin College”€”the same place where that sweaty warthog Lena Dunham made a false rape claim against a male student”€”and was confronted by the usual gaggle of estrogen-poisoned lunatics who falsely accused her of denying rape and even supporting it. She was vilified with the sort of hateful hyperbole that these days ALWAYS seems to exceed whatever imaginary “€œhate speech”€ is being protested.

A letter to the school paper that was published three days before Sommers’s speech equated her words”€”none of which are violent”€”with literal violence. If you”€™ve been following these things, that’s increasingly common among the LGBT fanatics”€”accusing even the mildest critics of engaging in literal violence merely by uttering disagreement in the most milquetoast of manners.

Some students, terrified to even be exposed to her presumably toxic words, scurried away instead to a designated “€œsafe space”€ where they wouldn”€™t be assaulted and aurally raped by her speech. On Twitter, Sommers wryly noted:

Oberlin activists had “safe space” for those triggered by my talk.Oberlin admin. provided police security to protect me from safe spacers.

Still, many antagonists were “€œbrave”€ enough to attend her presentation. Many such rude, hysterical jackasses (actually, most were “€œjill”€ asses) sat at her lecture with their mouths duct-taped shut. Others lodged almost universally hostile questions at her. She was frequently interrupted.

Sommers later told a reporter:

I doubt my appeals to reason and rules of evidence made much of an impression. I hate to say it, but some of those students need the services of a professional deprogrammer. What I saw was very cult-like.

What was she expecting? It is, after all, a modern college.

While in Dublin recently I read an article in the newspaper about the Greek crisis. It was in the Irish Times and was very serious. The author, the well-known economic journalist Martin Wolf, asked a series of questions about the crisis and then answered them.  For example he asked whether the crisis was the fault of the Greeks, to which his answer was no:

Nobody was forced to lend to Greece. Initially, private lenders were happy to lend to the Greek government on much the same terms as to the German government. Yet the nature of Greek politics… was no secret. Then, in 2010, it became clear the money would not be repaid. Rather than agree to the write-off that was needed, governments (and the International Monetary Fund) bailed out the private creditors by refinancing Greece. Thus began the game of “€˜extend and pretend”€™. Stupid lenders lose money. That has always been the case. It is still the case today.

“€œIf this is a tale of stupidity, it is of stupidity “€“ or dishonesty “€“ all round.”€

This seems to me at best a partial truth. The lenders were indeed foolish, or worse than foolish, relying as they did on Greece’s fraudulent membership of the common currency to forestall any possibility of default. But the Greeks, or rather the Greek government, can hardly be absolved of all blame for the situation. The latter borrowed huge sums of money to fund current consumption, having previously falsified its public accounts in order to meet the criteria to join the common currency. If nobody had to lend to Greece, Greece did not have to borrow, at least not like it did and for the purposes that it did. And if it is true that stupid lenders lose money, stupid borrowers lose their assets. If this is a tale of stupidity, it is of stupidity “€“ or dishonesty “€“ all round. Ascription of the correct proportions of moral blame, however, may not necessarily be the best method of finding a solution, if there is one, to a situation.

But high finance has never really been my forte or my interest. My attitude to finance is primitive: I spend less than I earn. When, during the heady days of the boom, my bank asked me whether I wanted a loan, I naively told it that I did not need a loan. The bank’s reaction remind me of that of a newspaper for which I used sometimes to write when I refused to do an article for it on the basis of information that was self-evidently false. What, they asked, has that got to do with it? And for the bank (at the time), what had not taking a loan got to do with not needing one? 

The story in the Irish Times that really caught my imagination that day had the headline:

Dublin man denies sending pig’s head in post to garda’s (policeman’s) home

This is a story of real human interest: what bubbling passion, what anger, resentment and hatred, would lead a man to do such a thing? There must be a drama of Shakespearean proportions behind it.

The case is as yet unexplained, for “€˜Brendan Mahoney (47), of Cabra Park, Dublin, denied posting a packet that contained an article that was menacing, namely a pig’s head, in 2012.”€™ This was contrary to Section 55 of the Community Regulations (Postal Services) act of 2011.

What is the man’s defence? That it was not he, but another, who posted the packet? Or perhaps that a pig’s head sent through the post is not menacing? After all, such a head can do the recipient no harm. It might be meant to express a menace, rather than be a menace in itself, but it might equally be meant to express contempt or an insult. And since all parts of the pig are edible, it might even have been a gift. I often eat pig’s snout salad when I am in France, and pig’s cheek is an old Irish dish. The case is a wonderful opportunity for legal sophistry. It saddens me that I shall never know why a man should send a pig’s head from Dublin to a policeman in the far west of the country, a story worthy of Flann O”€™Brien.

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