Bias at the BBC again!

Yet another example of left wing bias from the Beeb.

In a piece about Republican endorsements of Hilary Clinton the BBC trumpets the fact that she has been endorsed by the Dallas Morning News, which is described ” a conservative leaning” paper.dallasmorningnews Well this WAS true. But during my recent visits to Dallas over the last several years it has become clear that that the Morning News has been slipping to the left. Consequently its endorsement of Mrs Clinton proves little; although the BBC ‘s mishandling of the story, such as it is, shows that auntie has not forgotten her prejudices!

A critical error?

From Hansard, May 7th 1888.

Mr. P.J. O’ BRIEN ( Tipperary North ) asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland [ A.J. Balfour ] , Whether he has yet received the Report in answer to the full enquiry which he promised into the circumstances of the case of the Cranna Orphanage in County Tipperary; whether it is accordance with the facts as reported at the coroner’s inquest on the body of the boy Madden; whether the remaining children in that Institution are still on the dietary [ regime?], the nature of which was then disclosed; and whether he will take steps to have this and similar Institutions visited at intervals by authorized Government Inspectors, so as to afford some protection to the orphan children therein confined, and to prevent the recurrence of such inhuman treatment as has been proved in the case of the Cranna orphans?    

THE CHIEF SECRETARY ( MR. A. J. BALFOUR )MORRIS(1889)_p333_THE_RIGHT_HON__A_J__BALFOUR_M_P (Manchester, E.) The local Constabulary authorities [ the police ] have furnished a copy of the verdict at the inquest on the body of the boy Madden, from which it appears that he died from weakness or syncope; but neither the jury nor the Coroner appears to have attached blame to any individual. The jury, however, in their verdict pointed out certain defects which, in their opinion, existed in the Institution as regards clothing, dietary, and attendance [ of a doctor?]. A letter has been received from the Bishop of Killaloe stating what steps have been taken to carry out the recommendations put forward by the Coroner’s Jury in order to remedy the existing defects.

MR. P.J. BRIEN The right hon. Gentlman did not answer the last part of the question. I understand that the Bishop of Killaloe very rarely visits the Institution.

MR A. J. BALFOUR I do not think a Government Inspector would be at all an improvement.

NOTE: Among the causes of Syncope mentioned by Wikepedia are, fasting, too few fluids, emotional distress and lack of sleep.  

When I mentioned the substance of this post to a friend ( a recently retired teacher ) he at once came up with the right diagnosis: “NEGLECT”

More on Apple

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I can’t find a picture of properly stored apples!

One of the few memories that I have of my father, who died when I was seven, is helping him store apples in a loft so that they could be used throughout the winter. The idea was make sure that they were as close together as possible so that we could make as much use as we could of the space; but at the same time to ensure that individual apples did not touch one another, so that if one were to start to rot the rottenness would not pass from one apple to another so infecting  them all.

I can’t help thinking of this when I think about the mess we have got ourselves over the Apple finding. Eamon-Delaney-150x150Our friend Eamon Delaney put his finger on the implications of what has happened in a piece in the Sunday Business Post  Mr. Delaney makes the point that the Apple finding is very close to the very heart of how this state has operated since its very foundation.

In fact it may well go back further than that, to the time when Gerald Balfour launched his campaign “to kill home rule by kindness.” The political part of his project failed. But for good or ill he and the others such as Sir Horace Plunkett who worked alongside him, left the new state a legacy of government activism ( for example the multifarious activities of the Congested District Board, and The Department of 200px-GeraldBalfourTechnical Instruction ) which dominated the way in which first the Free State and then Republic have acted.

Part of this was inevitably  taxation.  As Mr. Delaney points out the industrial policy of this state has always been grounded in the notion that the state could offer incoming businessmen a an extremely favourable tax environment which other jurisdictions simply could not match. I for one can remember advertisements inserted in the financial pages of British newspapers the sixties and seventies that made this clear. One of them ( I think ) went so far as to taunt the British Inland Revenue with the phrase “the one that got away.”

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Could low taxes be part of the answer?

In the early 1980’s I was placing freelance articles in Irish business magazines about what the Industrial Development Authority was doing. My focus was to suggest that the IDA was not good at backing winners, and I doubted the wisdom of strategy that it was adopting. During the course of my enquiries it became obvious that the IDA and other state agencies ( not excluding the Revenue Commissioners ) were doing everything that they could to attract investment to Ireland.

It was also clear that the officials of the IDA knew very well that what they were doing infringed certainly the spirit of the European regulations, but also probably their letter. And they showed a good deal of nervousness on the issue. I could be wrong but my sense is now with hindsight that some kind of informal deal may perhaps have been done with the relevant authorities in Brussels who will have known what was happening but were turning a blind eye to what was being done in Dublin. There was certainly a lot of nodding and winking going on.apple-logo_318-40184

Well, well, whatever may have been the case the Apple finding has blown the whole case open. The fact is that policy makers in Dublin failed to see that whole free market culture of the EU was in conflict with the kind of industrial policy which was deeply engrained in the Irish State from, and even from before, its foundation.

The outcome of the current mess is difficult to predict. Word is that the governments and Apple’s appeal against the finding is likely to fail- but, of course, there is no way of knowing at this stage.  If it does then the implications are going to be momentous. The rot is starting to spread from Apple to Apple, or rather from Multinational to Multinational, and from country to country.

Brexit, of course, makes the situation look all the more intriguing. It may well be that freed from the constraints of the EU that the UK- or at least parts of the UK – might be able to offer extremely dangerous competition to Ireland for incoming projects. Ireland would, it is true, be able to point to unimpeded access to the EU something which UK could not in those circumstances be able to match. The Financial Services Centre in Dublin could well be a beneficiary.

Nevertheless aggressively promoted Enterprise Zones / industrial estates in say Fishguard and Enniskillen where Corporation tax might be lower than in this state could become the stuff of nightmares in Dublin. Irish policy makers are going to have to start arranging their apples with great care.

In respect of the Apple finding…

….it is odd to find an unnamed official in the Department of Finance saying “Ireland did not give favourable tax treatment to Apple” and “Ireland does not do deals with taxpayers.” Well this may be true now, but on my book shelves I have copies of the Telesis report ” A review of Industrial Policy” dated February 1982, the Government white paper on “Industrial Policy” issued on 12 July, 1984. In view of recent events they make instructive reading, although it should naturally be borne in mind that only the latter was official government policy even at the time.

In the Telesis report we learn on p 190 that “the most distinctive feature of the apple-logo_318-40184Irish package [ of incentives ] is the exceptionally low ( 10% ) corporate tax rate for the manufacturing sector. This rate is in effect until the year 2000.” Earlier on the same page the report notes that “During the negotiations between a company and prospective countries for investment, bargaining is the rule. Some powerful companies will encourage countries to outbid each other in order to maximize the benefits derived from incentive schemes” The report concluded that the incentives offered by Ireland to foreign companies too generous.

The 1984 white paper which is in effect a response to the Telesis report notes that the “administrative and marketing headquarters of multi-national companies normally perform activities for other units within a group of companies and are not directly involved in the generation of profits. To improve the opportunities for attracting such activities to Ireland, the Revenue Commissioners will continue to give speedy advanced rulings on the allowability of certain costs to companies planning to set up their administrative and marketing headquarters in Ireland” ( p. 63 ) Does anyone really believe that the Revenue Commissioners, or rather, of course, the officials who worked for them, would not have been mindful of the potential economic benefits to Ireland as they evaluated the  potential tax liability that any particular company might face if it chose to locate some  of its operations in Ireland?

The White paper identified “information technology, including computer services” as a sector which it wanted to encourage in Ireland. “It is clear,” the White paper emphasised ” that the greatest potential for development is in information technology…information technology will be the fastest growing industry for the remainder of this century.” Consequently the Ministers of Industry, in consultation with the Minister for Communications, “and other appropriate Ministers, will report to Government at an early date on the future and development in this country of information technology services and the detailed steps necessary to that end” ( p.68 ). There is no indication of what these steps might be  ( although see 104 ) However elsewhere the White paper indicates that  executives of the Industrial Development Agency ” ( I.D.A. ) and other State agencies will develop a closer relationship with selected companies [ emphasis supplied ] and the full range of both financial and non- financial services will be directed towards the company’s key activities” ( p.112, see also p.111, also see Telesis p. 225, 229, 235 )

The White paper NEVER says that tax can be reduced for individual companies. However the Telesis report is more forth coming. In its discussion of “policies for attracting new foreign owned industry to Ireland” the report emphasises the fact that the incentives which the I.D.A.” can use to induce a company to locate in Ireland are varied and substantial.” It goes on to say that the attractions of the 10% tax rate is enhanced by the fact that it “can usually be reduced to a much lower level or eliminated altogether [ emphasis supplied ] through various depreciation and other tax credits.” On the same page ( p.173 ) the report stresses that attracting electronics companies to Ireland has been a particular concern of the I.D.A.

Taken together the Telsis Report and the White Paper paint a picture of  highly developed campaign to attract industry, and especially electronics companies to Ireland. in which grants and Ireland’s low tax rate were crucial. This process naturally involved the Revenue Commissioners if only because the companies concerned wanted to know how much tax they would pay if they set up here, as there was robust competition between  the various jurisdictions for example Scotland and Wales. The White paper makes it clear that the Revenue Commissioners were empowered to let companies know exactly what costs they could and could not write off against tax. The Telesis report adds that these write offs often, but not always meant, that the effective tax rate paid by the companies concerned was far below 10%.ireland_1

Nor can it be plausibly argued that these benefits were available to all companies equally. The Telesis notes that “creating and sustaining jobs in indigenous firms is far more difficult and expensive than doing so in foreign-owner firms” ( p.231 ) Consequently it is no surprise that both the Telesis report and the White paper make it clear that the policies of state aid that they favoured were selective. Not all companies were equal ( see Telesis, p 228 )  Foreign companies were favoured over domestic ones ( See, the White Paper, p 62-63 ) , and high tech over “screw driver” operations ( See, the White Paper, p. 36-37 ). I may be wrong, but so far as I can see nothing is said about the importance of increasing tax revenue. The whole thrust of Irish industrial policy at the time was- as the White Paper puts it – “the maximisation of value-added by industry and the capturing of this added value within Ireland for further investment and the creation of employment ( p.19 ) Ireland says the Telesis report “should respond more selectively by bidding very high on the really attractive projects [ such as Apple? ], and significantly lower on the bulk of potential projects” ( Telesis, p. 226 ) The report then goes on ( p.227 ) to describe the sort of project which it favoured.

And what of the EEC and its rules? Telesis ( p. 236 ) notes that the “EEC rules frown  [ Emphasis supplied ] upon grants for ongoing operating expenses and on subsidies directed only to indigenous but not foreign owner companies.” ( p. 236 ) And the gist of much of the next page is that because every body else was bending the rules – examples are given-  there was no reason why Ireland should not do so as well. The EEC rules were not seen as a major problem, although Irish policy makers were conscious of them. They seem to have been more nervous about the GATT rules and the OECD guidelines ( p.337 ).

Unless then there is convincing evidence to show that situation was radically less selective in 1990 when Apple arrived here, than what it had been in the eighties, it is, how best can I put it, easy to see why the authorities in Brussels might have been misled into thinking that Ireland did indeed do deals with tax payers, and that Apple, being the “powerful” company it was, might perhaps have been a beneficiary of such a transaction.

What, one wonders- would happen if the EU were to put some of our retried officials from ( say ) the Revenue Commissioners or the IDA under oath? The tale they told might be interesting.

 

The Temptation of Alan Hawe

christs-temptation-in-the-wilderness-montreal1-660x350The temptations of Christ in the wilderness mentioned by St Mark and described in the gospels of Luke and Mathew is an arresting part of the Christian message. It must of course have formed part of the early oral tradition of the Church if only because Luke and Mathew give the give the various temptations to which Jesus was subjected in different orders. It must either go back to what Jesus himself told his apostles, or be the result of some deep reflection by someone in the early church as he meditated on the internal moral challenges and temptations that he found himself subject to as he spread the Christian message.

Either way it is of extraordinary interest, and not just to Christians but to everyone who wants to understand the workings of the human mind, as we try to make sense of some of the horrifying news stories which this summer has been full. Even those who doubt the truth of Christianity should surely not ignore the fact that within the Christian tradition there is a huge body of wisdom about the difficulties that we face as human beings.

The first and most obvious point that emerges from the material in Luke and Mathew  about the temptations of Christ is its realistic understanding of human nature. The gospels see human life as being a series of struggles against the forces of evil. Humanity is beset on all sides. The misdirection of the human will is all pervasive. Here then is no optimistic enlightenment vision in which men will flourish if freed from external oppression. The structures may not help. Jesus was no uncritical admirer of the Roman Empire or the Jewish authorities. Far from it. But the real challenges are experienced within the human personality itself. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews ( almost certainly not St. Paul )  tells us that Jesus was tempted “in all points like we are yet without sin” ( Hebrews, iv, 15 ) There is then no exemption from temptation. We are all, even the best of us, whether we are liberals or conservatives, Jewish or Muslims, Shintoists or Sikhs, are faced with the possibility of getting it wrong. This, indeed, is a possibility that is inherent in our freedom. Error is the price we pay for choice.

The great merit of the account of the temptation in the wilderness is that it provides us with a map of the sort of temptation we are likely to face. It is a kind of summary of some of the  ways in which it is possible to crash out as a human being. We are all equally threatened with disaster. Of course we face many kinds temptations. There is nothing exhaustive about what is said here.  But the passages concerned focus on three particular forms which temptation can take. There is the temptation to materialism. There is the  temptation to misuse our religion. And there is the temptation to believe that we have the right to organize the lives of others. The temptation that is to act as if we are we alone are indispensable.

This last seems to have been the temptation to which Alan Hawe ( page23_hawe the teacher in Cavan who recently murdered his wife and their three children and then killed himself ) succumbed. In one of the notes he left behind “explaining”   ( if that is really the word) the atrocity, he wrote that his family would not be able to survive without him.

Of course this was utter nonsense. The bereaved do live on. But nonsense or not it was revealing nonsense. Somewhere within his mind was an appalling overestimate of his own importance. He was the centre of their lives. They  enjoyed no authentic existence without him. How can a decent man, and in some ways he seems to have been an exemplary human being, have come to believe this? Perhaps because his very sense of responsibility as a husband and a father had become in some strange, but all to human way, been corrupted.

Of course the rest of us will be able to congratulate ourselves with the comforting notion that we would never do anything so stupid and so evil. We would rather have died than do what he did…etc..But after we have patted ourselves on the back perhaps we should pause. How often have we made ourselves the centre of our world, and convinced ourselves that we are too are more important and wiser than is really the case?  Perhaps we should all remember the words of my late friend Maura Toler Aylward ( a very wise woman ) who pointed out that “ the grave yards of Ireland are full of indispensable people.”  Is there not perhaps a little of Alan Hawe within us all?

helplinesMay he and his family rest in peace.

Christianity and freedom: a personal view

By Philip Vander Elst.

For decades, many observers of the contemporary cultural scene have been rightly concerned about the growing evidence that materially advanced Western societies are experiencing a process of moral breakdown and social fragmentation resulting in high levels of crime, anti-social behaviour, and cultural decay. At the same time, our generation is confronted, as never before, by a bewildering proliferation of alternative cultures and lifestyles – from Islamic fundamentalism and Eastern Religion, to New Age paganism, secular humanism, ‘gay liberation,’ and most recently, ‘transgenderism’.budha two All this raises an all-important question: What is the proper moral and cultural foundation of a free and civilised society? What framework of values justifies and sustains liberty, and helps to ensure that it benefits the individual and the community?

The answer of secular liberal humanism, the dominant ideology of 21st century Western intellectuals, is a simple one. Since there is no (allegedly) convincing evidence that God exists, and the human race follows a wide variety of different religions and belief systems, it is obvious that there are no moral and cultural absolutes – no demonstrably objective truths outside the narrow realms of mathematics, formal logic and the natural sciences. It therefore follows that the only proper attitude to adopt is one of neutrality and tolerance. All creeds, cultures and moral codes are equal and should be treated as such. None should be regarded as being superior to the others, and the law should not discriminate between them. In particular, children should be educated as far as possible in a ‘value-free’ environment, so that their ‘freedom of choice’ as adults is not compromised by early ‘indoctrination’. By contrast, belief in God and moral absolutes is typically regarded as bigoted and ‘authoritarian’, and therefore a threat to tolerance and freedom – a conviction reinforced by the erroneous belief that religious faith in general, and Christianity in particular, has always been an obstacle to the advancement of liberty and science.

This dominant secular humanist outlook explains the hostility aroused by the ‘Religious Right’ in the United States, especially within the ‘liberal’ media, and helps to account for the general spread of political correctness within Western educational and cultural institutions. As a result, there is everywhere a frantic anxiety to flatter and appease – in the name of equality – every conceivable minority, except, of course, Christians and Conservatives.

 

The inconsistency and incoherence of secular humanist ‘liberalism’

The glaring contrast between its commitment to ‘tolerance’ and its censorious attitude towards those who challenge its precepts, however, reveals the internal incoherence and inconsistency of humanistic ‘liberalism’. Even when its belief in choice and toleration is sincere, it is inconsistent with its other assumption that all values are relative, because if nothing is objectively right or wrong, tolerance becomes an arbitrary prejudice rather than a moral virtue, and its rejection by others cannot be logically condemned – a point to which I will return.

In reality, careful philosophical reasoning and close study of the historical record do not support the assumptions of secular humanism, even if one ignores its internal contradictions. They show, on the contrary, that the growth of liberty, the advancement of science, and the general progress of society, have been intimately linked with the development of Judaism and Christianity. Just as belief in a Divine Creator stimulated scientific discovery because it implied that Nature was orderly and therefore open to systematic investigation, so, in a similar way, the belief that we are all God’s children, made in His image, paved the way for the eventual abolition of slavery and the recognition that all human beings have a right ‘to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness’.

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Acton, briefly MP for Cavan!

Sceptical readers who doubt these claims but are willing to investigate them in detail, should consult three outstanding books among the many which could be recommended. They are (1) Essays In The History of Liberty (Liberty Fund Books), by the great 19th century liberal and Catholic historian, Lord Acton; (2) Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730 – 1805 (Liberty Fund Books), and finally, (3) The Theme is Freedom: religion, politics and the American tradition (Regnery, USA), a wide-ranging and penetrating analysis of the religious foundations of Western liberty (complete with an exhaustive bibliography) by the late American Conservative writer and scholar, M. Stanton Evans.

 For the benefit of those with little time or leisure to read these books, the historical case for linking the growth of freedom with the development of Judaism and Christianity begins with the observation that the world of classical pagan antiquity was almost entirely hostile to the idea of liberty. With the rare exception of some Stoic philosophers, it had no conception of human rights, let alone respected them in practice. Not only was despotism practically universal, with political power concentrated in the hands of absolute monarchs, but slavery was an omnipresent institution whose raison d’être was not even questioned in the Athens of Pericles.EMEA-athens

World of pagan antiquity almost entirely hostile to the idea of liberty

The common view of pagan antiquity, expressed most clearly by Aristotle, was that slavery was justified because “from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule…some men are by nature free, and others slaves, and that for these latter slavery is both expedient and right…” In addition to regarding more than half the human race as little more than animals, whose lives and persons belonged to their owners, the world of classical antiquity had no real concept of limited government but believed, instead, that the individual only existed to serve the State – whether that political community was a single city or an empire. Hence, for instance, the failure of Athenian democracy to recognise or respect the rights of dissidents and minorities, demonstrated most famously in the trial, condemnation and death of Socrates. Indeed, this example underlines the point at issue with particular clarity, since it shows that despite the existence of freedom of thought and speech – the glory of ancient Athens – and the ability of Athenian citizens to participate as equals in the political process, there was no sense that individuals were ends in themselves or possessed any right to life, liberty or property which could be regarded as imposing moral limits on the power of the State. The idea that rulers were subject to a Higher Law and ought to exercise power and authority in the interests of the governed, was propagated by some of the Stoics, but their ‘still small voice’ had no countervailing impact on the customs, mores and institutions of the ancient world.

Western civilisation only really began to accommodate and assimilate the ideal of liberty and equality before the law, as a result of the gradually unfolding impact of the Biblical view of God and Man. Thus whereas pagan religion regarded Humanity as the passive victim of essentially amoral natural and supernatural forces which could only be appeased and controlled by elaborate rituals and sacrifices designed to win the favour of the ‘gods’, the Bible presented a radically different picture. According to the Biblical conception, there is only one God, and He is the eternal, self-existent Creator of the Universe. As such, He is the source of all life and consciousness, and the Father of all mankind. In addition, says the Bible, God is the Voice that speaks to our conscience and therefore the source of that Moral Law we find written on our hearts. This difference in theological perspective, compared with paganism, had dramatically contrasting consequences for politics and society. Of these consequences, two deserve special attention.

The first was the change that gradually took place in people’s attitude to the State and towards authority in general. Whereas paganism was saturated with the worship of power and the pursuit of pleasure and success as ends in themselves, encouraging the fusion and concentration of temporal and spiritual power in the hands of the ruler, Biblical Christianity emphasised the superiority of God’s Law over all kings, princes and human authorities, and insisted that the possession of power and responsibility at any level was a sacred trust which should not be abused out of pride or vanity, or for personal gain. Secondly, Biblical Christianity’s emphasis on the universal Fatherhood of God powerfully reinforced the ideal – shared by some Stoic philosophers – of the brotherhood of Man, while the notion that every human being is made in God’s image, introduced the idea that every individual is precious and has God-given rights which may not be violated by the State. Christianity’s additional stress on the weakness and sinfulness of human nature, and its affirmation that Christ died for the redemption of all men and women, also suggested extra reasons for limiting and preventing the abuse of power, and loving one’s neighbour.

Although the underlying logic of Biblical Christianity has been libertarian in its political and social implications, its pivotal role in the centuries long struggle against torture, slavery, tyranny and inhumanity, has often been obscured not only by the slow pace of historic change, but also by the human failings of Christian statesmen, theologians, and denominations. In particular, Christians have added their own terrible contribution to the sum of human cruelty whenever they have fallen prey to the temptation to use the power of the State to coerce the consciences of individuals, instead of imitating the example of Jesus and the Early Church by loving their enemies and combating error and heresy with the spiritual weapons of prayer, argument and evangelism. But despite these failings, and their responsibility for Christendom’s ugly record of persecution and intolerance during the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern era, no impartial historian can deny the Biblical and Christian roots of freedom and liberal democracy.

To quote Lord Acton’s summary of the progress made during the Middle Ages: “Representative government, which was unknown to the ancients, was almost universal. The methods of election were crude; but the principle that no tax was lawful that was not granted by the class that paid – that is, that taxation was inseparable from representation – was recognised, not as the privilege of certain countries, but as the right of all…Slavery was almost everywhere extinct and absolute power was deemed more intolerable and more criminal than slavery. The right of insurrection was not only admitted but defined as a duty sanctioned by religion…”

 In the subsequent centuries, the Protestant emphasis on the individual’s personal relationship with God and his right to read and interpret Scripture for himself, coupled with the New Testament view of the Church as the ‘priesthood of all believers’, encouraged the gradual growth of freedom of conscience, as well as the advance of democracy in Church and State. old bibleMost important of all, the Christian notion that human beings are made in the image of God and therefore endowed with the gifts of reason and free will, produced a powerful theological argument in favour of freedom of thought, worship and speech: namely, that if God Himself gives us the freedom to choose whether to accept or reject Him, neither the Church nor the State has the right to interfere with that freedom. This is a particularly vital insight given the fact that both the pursuit of truth, and the cultivation of virtue, require that individuals be free to compare and discuss ideas and choose between good and evil.

The link between Christianity and liberty is perhaps most clearly discernible when one examines the political consequences in the twentieth century of the anti-Christian atheism of philosophers like Marx and Nietzsche, and their subsequent disciples: Lenin, Mussolini and Hitler (For a full analysis of this issue, see: Stanton Evans, The Theme is Freedom, chapter 3).

The link between atheism, nihilism, and totalitarianism

Denying the existence of God, these prophets and architects of totalitarianism explicitly rejected the idea that there is an objective and eternally valid Moral Law. They asserted instead that human beings must create their own values, and that the supreme manifestation of human freedom and significance lay in the ruthless conquest and uncontrolled exercise of power, since human autonomy could only be affirmed and demonstrated by the forceful exercise of the naked will, untrammelled by the external restraint of traditional Judeo-Christian morality. The result? The Nazi and Communist holocausts and the increasingly murderous record of the State in the twentieth century, so graphically documented in Professor R.J. Rummell’s landmark study, Death by Government, Death by govermentTransaction Publishers, USA, 1996).

Despite the historical evidence, many deny the philosophical connection between atheism, nihilism and totalitarianism, on the grounds that the value of human life provides an objective foundation for morality without invoking the idea of God. What these critics fail to understand, however, is that it is impossible to justify our conviction that human life is valuable unless we treat it as a self-evident moral axiom reflecting an eternal (and therefore Divine) Reality outside ourselves. Otherwise it is nothing more than an emotional prejudice on a par with our liking for strawberries.

For all these reasons, those who cherish liberty and wish it to survive in the 21st century, ought to resist the continuing erosion of the Judeo-Christian ethic and the spread of secular humanism.

Philip Vander Elst (copyright)

The Queen’s speech

Opening-ParliamentHere is something else for Mrs. May’s desk. What will the Queen’s speech say about Brexit? If it backtracks or even gives the appearance of doing so then Britain could face a crisis of legitimacy, with frustrated leave voters saying, with some justification, that they had been betrayed. If though Mrs. May puts enough robust pro Brexit language into the Queen’s mouth to allay the fears of UKIP, then is there not a danger that an unsympathetic Brussels will deem article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to have been invoked- something Mrs May does not want to do- at least yet.

I’m glad I’m not the one drafting the speech! Or have I missed something?

Gunfire in Dallas

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FDR visits Dallas in 1936

The murder of five policemen in Dallas was a atrocious crime. Those they loved must be comforted; and the perpetrator brought to justice. But this is a crime which raises uncomfortable questions. It raises questions because it was a crime which emerged from a troubling context, namely the all too numerous killings of black men by the police in the United States. This is not an invention of the liberal media. It is a sober, and sobering fact. I do not know what is going on. Knowing the United States as I do, I very much doubt that white racism alone is responsible, although it may in some instances be a factor. But whatever the facts, however disturbing they may be, we badly need to know what they are. The whole matter including all its ramifications needs to be thoroughly investigated perhaps by a presidential commission. The best monument we can build for those so cruelly killed in Dallas would the knowledge that we had broken the terrible cycle of violence of which they were the victims.