We are going green

Tear up that grass, hew down that tree, for we are going green.  Burn the bushes, spray weed-killer, for we are going green. Mix sand and quicklime, pummel stones to fine gravel, fill the air with fumes as we mix and pour the concrete, for we are going green.

The new electric car needs a charger and a driveway on which to charge it, so that front garden, though we loved it, must go. There is no space for lawns, herbaceous borders, hedging, in the new, green household.

We are of course of the comfortable Middle Class in our regulation Metro-Land home, we who understand how important these things are, as they are, and everyone must conform for their own good as well as that of the planet. Everyone who has a driveway will have a charger, and those who have none must concrete their front gardens.

I do not wish to recall the time I lived in a terrace house and parked on the road, as it might make me think about how I could have plugged the car in then. Presumably in streets up and down the land we will see cables strung across the pavement like a seething mass of snakes, and pedestrians will have to find another way by.

As for those who live in flats, are the cables long enough, or will the car have to dangle from a seventh floor window?

There are those who are fortunately enough to rent garages of course, and such a person may install his charger there, until the council terminates his lease to build flats on the land instead, which will be a fine sight to see, standing tall (with cars dangling out of its windows).

We, however, when the concrete dries, are going green.

See also


Titus Oates

Titus Oates was in a short time the most feted and hated man of his time. Few would understand him today, apart from Tom Watson.

In Good King Charles’s Golden Days there was an infamous scandal brought about by the abiding fear of the age, and promoted by one man into a frenzy alleging a sickening conspiracy suffusing the corridors of power.

He was a man whose manner made men listen, as he told them what they wanted to hear, what they wanted to believe, and he gave a justification for their darkest desires for blood. In the end he fell from his lofty perch and met a form of justice, but only after many innocent men had suffered the destruction of their reputations and death.

It is impossible to put a character on Titus Oates as he was above all an actor and dissembler.  We know he was born in Rutland and after the Restoration was educated in Cambridge for a while. He followed the wind: when the Puritans were in the ascendant he became a Puritan, but when they fell he reconciled to the Church of England. Like some in our time he rose to public office despite his obvious unsuitability; in the manner of his time it was within the Church. He had no reputation for intelligence, which has never been a bar to public office, but could speak.

Oates was a survivor on the edge; on one occasion as his career stalled he sought advancement by accusing a fellow cleric of abusing young men in his care, which was a gross slander and he fled London to avoid charges. Soon he was himself accused of a capital offence, and survived the noose only by the privilege attaching to his position. He joined up with a popular actor in a new enterprise, and failed at that also.

In 1667 came the turning point for Oates: this former Puritan Baptist and Protestant preacher embraced the enemy and was received into the Roman church. He left for France to enter a Jesuit College, and was in Spain also. The next year he was back in London, renouncing Rome and with a list of names.  These were men from the cream of society whom he accused of a foul and widespread conspiracy of which he had learned amongst the Jesuits.

This was an unsettled time – the Restoration was only eight years in an those who led the Civil War and Cromwell’s dictatorship were still there, but in the reaction to the Puritans was another danger, of emboldened papists drawing strength from Louis XIV revitalising France and the Roman clergy across the Channel. In 1666, London burned and some were quick to blame a papist plot (which was even inscribed on the Monument). The fate of the nation was in the balance as three factions circled the seat of power looking for advantage. There were plots of some sort, but no excuse as yet to strike with deadly force against the rival.

In stepped Oates with his revelation of a Popish Plot he learned of in France and a list of names.

Oates spoke well before the Privy Council, which was always on the look-out for conspiracies against the realm. They wanted to believe him. By chance, one of the names he first put forward, Edward Coleman, was found to have corresponded with King Louis’s personal priest, which gave credibility to the tale. Colman was hanged. Oates knew that the more he accused, the longer his fortune would last. More names followed and more elaborate plots were ‘revealed’.

Oates suffered an early check when he had an education from King Charles – the King was no fool and when he examined Oates he saw through him at once and locked him up – but Parliament wanted to believe in the Popish Plot and forced his release.

There were well-publicised raids on the homes of accused men and anyone in the public eye could be accused, and no doubt some stood by Oates to avoid accusation. The gallows began to fill. In the meantime, Oates was given an apartment in Whitehall, a noble coat of arms, and rumours of a marriage into nobility.

After three years of blood and destroyed reputations, the acquittals began and it became clear that Titus Oates was spinning fantasies. His fall was rapid and brutal, and his final wild accusations against the King himself let to prison and poverty, and this as the reign of King Charles II was drawing to a close and the heir was known to be a papist himself, and the new King James II had Titus Oates dragged back before a judge, to be stripped, pilloried, whipped through the streets and thrown in prison (where he remained until the papist King was himself chased off the throne in 1688).

It could happen today. We have seen it, when a politician without principle of discernment makes wild, unfounded allegations about the frenzy of the age. The question for us is how we deal with it, to resist or be driven along with the popular mood of hatred and accusation.

One thing for the immediate moment – such a man as Oates, and we know who stands in his shoes today, must never be feted or honoured. Now one such has been put forward for elevation to the House of Lords, where he would have honours, titles, arms and lifelong privilege to accuse whomever he wishes without consequence. It does not matter what his party leader promised him in return for resignation: no such man should be considered for that place.

See also


The grossest abuses of power

There are some things you have to read with a sick-bucket beside you, and the latest report from the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is one of them. The commission was established on the basis of a fraud, but it has revealed true tales of depravity and cover-up which should cause shock beyond the easy headlines.

It cuts two ways. Firstly there is the damage caused by Tom Watson in his politically driven idiocy, which is breath-taking. We always knew him for what he is and this confirms our worst assessment.

However the report also looks at genuine cases and the culture of impunity which allowed them to go on.  There are very few, but even one would be too many, of powerful men getting away with evil behaviour because of their political connections. I would hope that these cases, in the 1970s and early 1980s, were a symptom of its time, but what we saw of police inaction in Rochdale and Telford is the same disease in another guise.

The cases are not all in one party.  The most shocking is the case of Cyril Smith.  He was a very distinctive politician who became a media star. He was morbidly obese, dangerously so but somehow keeping respect from his colleagues in the Liberal Party. He climbed to prominence through local politics in Rochdale. Just being elected was enough to make him a Liberal star, and his massive presence made him formidable. If stories filtered down, they wanted to protect their own.

We had been here before:  an attempted murder on Exmoor organised by someone to protect the Liberal Party when their man was about to be exposed, a man who deserved no reputation, who used his power to abuse a vulnerable young man in his employ. The dog died, the gun jammed before the second shot, and the abuser went free, comment being limited to whether he arranged the murder, not the behaviour which brought it about.

Here in the report we read of police officers ordered by their superiors not to investigate politicians. We hear of Smith, secure in his connections, bursting into a local newspaper office, the Bury Messenger, and demanding that the editor hand over the damning evidence he held, and Special Branch following that up, seizing the papers and so doing the abuser’s work for him.  It is hard to imagine that happening without the newspaper publishing a front-page account of everything that happened, but somehow Cyril Smith, just an ordinary MP with no office of state but a celebrity, knew he could get away with it, and with police threats against the paper under the Official Secrets Act, he did.  I would like to know why the newspaper did not shame the monster at once and challenge any jury to convict them for handling those papers. It is incomprehensible.

It is a principle of our idea of democracy and the rule of law that politicians, howsoever high they may be, have no immunity from the law. They are just men and women doing a job like the rest of us and the police may put a foot in their door as with anyone. The police must be careful not to take every allegation against a politician at face value as there must be malicious complaints made all the time as a way to shift the political balance and public opinion, but actually to stop enquiries because a man is famous or political, that is infamous.

The 1970s were a notoriously corrupt time. This is when scandals were hidden to protect the reputations of celebrities, as we found out after Jimmy Saville died, and in the many trials of living celebrities which followed. We should hardly be surprised if politicians used the same privilege. It might not happen today, we hope, but we just do not know. How many more dogs will be shot on Exmoor to defend the Liberal Party or senior police officers be terrified for their pensions if they embarrass someone who really does not want to be embarrassed.  Had there been a scandal involving a criminal MP during the Zombie Parliament, with every vote teetering on a knife-edge and the polls rolling like a storm-tossed sea, would there not have been pressure felt not to upset the balance?  It was with just that effect in mind that Tom Watson made his fake allegations.

It could certainly happen today, and does, but in a different way. We have read of how the police in Rochdale and in Telford, and in Oxford, deliberately ignored what they knew was happening in order to avoid the embarrassment of being accused of racism.  It seems that is a more serious accusation than one of aiding and abetting rape and child abuse.

Another common aspect is the way that the police dehumanised the victims, from the ‘meat rack’ of the 1970s to the ‘little slags’ of today’s failed process. It just took one officer to make it work, but from the top there were orders to leave it alone which seeped down through the ranks as a blind-eye attitude, and all to save a senior officer being embarrassed at an allegation of racism.

The things we will do to avoid embarrassment – literature is full of it, and it makes for a good novel when Beau Geste can cross continents in exile and fight armies of bandits single-handed when a simple explanation would have sufficed, but those are fiction: the police must get a grip.

The microcosm is seen in the way the police seem willing to persecute bloggers and twitterists for things which are not even crimes at the behest of serial complainers, or to arrest innocent Christian street preachers on false testimony, and yet they do not arrest the informants for attempting to pervert the course of justice, because they are frightened of embarrassment. If police forces are unable to say ‘no’ in even these petty cases, how can they be trusted to take anything major on?

There are arrests of MPs on occasion for perverting the course of justice over driving offences or even such minor things as overstating their expense claims, so you might think that fear of political embarrassment has passed and there are no lessons to be learned from the failures of the 1970s and early 1980s, but there are too many indications that the sickness is still there, and that there will be more atrocities swept under the carpet for nothing more than embarrassment.

Reason, Error and Absurdity

The Use Of Reason

The Use and End of Reason, is not the finding of the summe, and truth of one, or a few consequences, remote from the first definitions, and settled significations of names; but to begin at these; and proceed from one consequence to another. For there can be no certainty of the last Conclusion, without a certainty of all those Affirmations and Negations, on which it was grounded, and inferred.

As when a master of a family, in taking an account, casteth up the summs of all the bills of expence, into one sum; and not regarding how each bill is summed up, by those that give them in account; nor what it is he payes for; he advantages himselfe no more, than if he allowed the account in grosse, trusting to every of the accountants skill and honesty; so also in Reasoning of all other things, he that takes up conclusions on the trust of Authors, and doth not fetch them from the first Items in every Reckoning, (which are the significations of names settled by definitions), loses his labour; and does not know any thing; but onely beleeveth.

Of Error And Absurdity

When a man reckons without the use of words, which may be done in particular things, (as when upon the sight of any one thing, wee conjecture what was likely to have preceded, or is likely to follow upon it;) if that which he thought likely to follow, followes not; or that which he thought likely to have preceded it, hath not preceded it, this is called ERROR; to which even the most prudent men are subject.

But when we Reason in Words of generall signification, and fall upon a generall inference which is false; though it be commonly called Error, it is indeed an ABSURDITY, or senseless Speech.

For Error is but a deception, in presuming that somewhat is past, or to come; of which, though it were not past, or not to come; yet there was no impossibility discoverable. But when we make a generall assertion, unlesse it be a true one, the possibility of it is unconceivable.

And words whereby we conceive nothing but the sound, are those we call Absurd, insignificant, and Non-sense. And therefore if a man should talk to me of a Round Quadrangle; or Accidents Of Bread In Cheese; or Immaterial Substances; or of A Free Subject; A Free Will; or any Free, but free from being hindred by opposition, I should not say he were in an Errour; but that his words were without meaning; that is to say, Absurd.

I have said before, (in the second chapter,) that a Man did excell all other Animals in this faculty, that when he conceived any thing whatsoever, he was apt to enquire the consequences of it, and what effects he could do with it. And now I adde this other degree of the same excellence, that he can by words reduce the consequences he findes to generall Rules, called Theoremes, or Aphorismes; that is, he can Reason, or reckon, not onely in number; but in all other things, whereof one may be added unto, or substracted from another. But this priviledge, is allayed by another; and that is, by the priviledge of Absurdity; to which no living creature is subject, but man onely. And of men, those are of all most subject to it, that professe Philosophy.

For it is most true that Cicero sayth of them somewhere; that there can be nothing so absurd, but may be found in the books of Philosophers. And the reason is manifest. For there is not one of them that begins his ratiocination from the Definitions, or Explications of the names they are to use; which is a method that hath been used onely in Geometry; whose Conclusions have thereby been made indisputable.

See also


Family, faith, flag, freedom

It is a quiet civil war within political parties; less quiet in the nation as a whole. I have to ask though how far apart the sides actually are. It is a yawning chasm between the extremes, but for most it is a matter of priorities. Extremists have no hierarchy of priorities as normal people have.

Were the Kulturkrieg just a time of new opinions being aired and thriving or withering in time, that would be interesting, discomforting for the conservative-minded, but a natural thing for any age. Instead, we find threats and actual careers ended, families impoverished, as a heap of unelected opinion formers try to bang in their own rickety Overton Windows without debate.

I do not want to write, yet again, of the ‘Woke’ idea in this consideration: they are not liberal in any logical sense. They might think they are, but their essence is prescriptive, censorious, regimented, and their prescription is strict laws against freedom. They are extreme conservatives, just for a different conservative philosophy, and with such a departure from sense and reality that those ideas are unworthy of serious philosophical consideration. No: the liberal-conservative divide lies elsewhere.

One aspect on the battlefield is the push-of-pike between socially conservative and socially liberal. The general thrust is characterised on both sides as a fight for freedom. On the liberal side that seems to ring truest, as the essence of the philosophy is that individuals will find their own path without interference from the norms of society, which norms must give way to allow free expression of lifestyle. That is a powerful message, especially to the young finding their feet in the world, wanting to spread their wings.

From a socially conservative viewpoint however, a free, liberal society can only thrive if there is society in the first place. Otherwise freedom is illusion. We need not descend as far as ‘Warre Of Every One Against Every One‘ to see that complete liberty becomes no liberty at all: our security to build and thrive depends on having a structure within which to build and thrive. Fundamental to that are family, faith and nation.

The radical liberal idea speaks to the desire of all to breath free and to be what we can be, without being defined by other’s requirements, or in Hobbesian terms “a generall inclination of all mankind, a perpetuall and restlesse desire of Power after power”.

It sounds all very well until you see those cast aside by others’ freedom weeping in the dark corners; children abandoned and falling into neglect or crime; women with no more hope passing from abuser to abuser; the lost cultural understandings; the feral individuals becoming Caliban; the neglect of poor communities because they are no longer communities.

The late Roger Scruton provided a philosophical basis for social conservatism. It was said that he set his face against the economic liberalism of the Thatcher era, but in fact his objection was to treating that economic idea above all, as if free economics would solve every social issue too. It cannot, and there we have a more accurate division between the wings of conservative thought. In that characterisation the two sides, of economic liberalism and social conservatism, are not in opposition to each other in any principle; only in emphasis.

Difference of emphasis is how Jordan Peterson has characterised the psychological conservative-liberal split, and he notes that the two are not so much in opposition as in a necessary symbiotic tension, and by implication that society will ossify or collapse unless both character types and their ideas and are present.

Where we are then in the genuine liberal-conservative divide is not such a division as it may seem. If it is characterised as freedom against restriction, it misses the complexity of positions. Socially conservative Conservatives are most often supporters of free enterprise, free trade and free commercial innovation. It is the social field where paths divide, but even there it is in individual areas. Social conservatism is unpopular in the opinion-forming media, which according to the Peterson thesis is inevitably the domain of creative, liberal types, but it is necessary to defend family, faith and flag for the stability of society on which all else is built.

See also

Some social conservative organisations:

Groups promoting aspects of socially conservative ideas seem to come and go with the tide, either becoming so mainstream as to vanish in redundancy or becoming the-place-not-to-be-seen, or just evaporating as the momentum is lost. Some remain however.