Tuesday’s arson attack on the Kyiv region home of the former head of the central bank is prompting a strong backlash from Westernizers worried that the Zelenskiy administration will fail to fulfill promises to provide impartial justice. In the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday, a man wearing a balaclava threw flammable materials then a flare into the suburban home of Valeria Gontareva, who lives in London. The empty house was gutted. The attack followed one month of setbacks for Gontareva: a car ran over her foot in London, her family car was destroyed in an arson attack in Kyiv, masked raiders claiming to be police raided her Kyiv apartment.
. . . .
“This is no longer a series of incidents, it is TERROR,” the National Bank of Ukraine posted in a statement. “Its purpose is to intimidate reformers, past and present, to paralyse our activities, to make us silent. We will not be silent.” Gontareva became central bank governor in June 2014, at the start of the nation’s banking crisis. By the time she stepped down three years later, she had declared 87 Ukrainian banks insolvent, about half the total.
Kiev mayor ex-boxer Klitschko accuses Zelensky of move to curb powers
Former boxing champion and mayor of Ukraine’s capital Kiev, Vitali Klitschko on Wednesday lashed out at President Volodymyr Zelensky, accusing his government of an illegal attempt to curb his powers.
Klitshko wasn’t successful mayor and he controls real estate and development market in Kyiv. President’s team wants to get control on Kyiv. And they will succeed
If you want to keep up with daily news in Ukraine, check out https://www.ubn.news/. It’s the best source I’ve found.
Here are some of the most interesting headlines from the past week of news clips.
The Trump administration released on Thursday $250 million in military aid to Ukraine that had been held up. Democratic critics say the aid suspension was an attempt to pressure President Zelenskiy to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joseph Biden for alleged conflict of interest in his Ukraine dealings as Vice President. The aid suspension became known two weeks ago when then-National Security Advisor John Bolton visited Ukraine. During his visit, he campaigned against Ukraine’s planned sale of Motor Sich aviation motor factory to China. On Tuesday, Trump fired Bolton over a wide range of policy differences.
Ukraine has stripped U.S.-based Trident Acquisitions of the right to explore and develop oil and gas in the Black Sea, prompting Trident to say Ukraine has lost out on $1 billion in new investment. In July, Trident beat two other companies in a tender to develop the Dolphin Block, in the northwest Black Sea. Critics say the two-month tender preparation period was too short and major multinationals were not sufficiently encouraged to participate. However, in July, reports circulated in Bucharest that ExxonMobil plans to pull out of its Romanian offshore project, near the Dolphin Block. In 2014-15, Shell and ExxonMobil pulled out of Ukraine.
From the Editor: Once again Ukrainian oil and gas development has been kicked down the road –because the ‘wrong’ group won the tender. The shoddy treatment of US-based Trident flies in the face of the new government’s promise to open up opportunities to foreign investors. Similarly, Shell’s former oil and gas concession in the East has been frozen for three years – once again because the ‘wrong’ group won the permit. To keep the ‘wrong’ people from producing gas, Ukraine’s leaders opt to import gas. Reality check: in the 1970s, the Ukrainian SSR was the largest gas-producing republic of the USSR. In the intervening half-century, Ukraine’s underground geology has not changed – just the people and policies above ground. Best regards, Jim Brooke`
From London, Valeria Hontareva, the former central bank chief who nationalized PrivatBank, says she is the target of a vendetta by Kolomoisky and may ask for political asylum in Britain. On Aug. 26, a hit and run driver ran over her foot in London, breaking bones. On Aug 27, a Kyiv court granted authorities permission to “forcibly” bring her to Kyiv for questioning. On Sept. 5, arsonists burned up a car belonging to her daughter-in-law, also named Valeria Hontareva. Speaking to Ukraine’s Liga news site on Monday, Hontareva, a research fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said: “If our country is going to treat its own reformer like dirt, to politically and physically persecute, then I’ll have no choice to but to ask for political asylum.”
As China’s imports more and more food from Ukraine, China is on track to displace Russia next year as Ukraine’s largest single nation trading partner. During the first half of this year, China displaced Russia to become the largest source of imports for Ukraine, accounting for 13.9%. During the half-year, China ranked a close third as a destination for Ukraine’s exports. The ranking was: Poland – 6.9%; Russia — 6.5%; and China – 6.4%.
Since the July 1 start of the grain marketing year, Ukraine has exported 10 million tons of grain – 47% more than in the same period last year. Ukraine has exported 6.1 million tons of wheat, 2.2 million tons of barley, and 1.7 million tons of corn, according to the State Service for Food Safety and Consumer Protection. In addition, 1.8 million tons of oilseeds have been exported – 50% more than this time last year. After good weather in June and July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture raised its forecast for Ukraine’s grain exports to 54 million tons – 8% more than last year.
The Hungarian government has announced measures to offer up to 10 million forints (€30,590 or £27,000) to married couples who have three children under its new pro-family budget.
The government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will offer the $33,000 payment in the form of a loan to the eligible couples upon their marriage which would have to be repaid until the couple has three children and then the debt would be forgiven, Le Figaro reports.
Around 2,400 families have already signed up and applied for the loan this month which is paid back in small payments each month. Should the couple have a child within a five-year period, the interest on the loan is suspended along with repayments suspended for three years.
The eligibility for the programme has several criteria including that the marriage must be the first for at least one of those involved, the woman must be 18 to 40 years old, and one of the couples must have paid 180 days’ worth of tax contributions to the state.
As expected, Vasyl Lomachenko captured his third of the four most recognizable alphabelts at lightweight on Saturday, now holding the diadem of the WBC to go with the WBA and WBO straps already on his mantle. The Ukrainian phenom also made his third defense of Ring Magazine’s belt. It was a good, solid twelve round fight. As was the case in his first title attempt against Jorge Linares, Luke Campbell gave his all and had some moments. He was simply in with a better man.
It is boxing’s oldest adage that a good big man always beats a good little one. But tell that to Vasiliy Lomachenko. The brilliant Ukrainian defied a large height and reach disadvantage to add the WBC world lightweight title to his WBA and WBO belts with a gaping points victory over Luke Campbell. Most boxing experts rate Lomachenko as the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter. Watching the master at work it was again hard to argue.
But on a night of jangled nerves and jumbled memories Campbell did himself proud with a brilliant and courageous performance. Two judges made it 119-108, with another giving it 118-109, which seemed a touch harsh on the 31-year-old from Hull. Certainly the crowd thought so. As the fighters embraced at the end 20,000 people at the 02 Arena stood up and chanted: “There’s only one Luke Campbell.”
They knew the mountain Campbell had to climb could not have been much steeper. In Lomachenko he was facing a man who had ended his amateur career with two Olympic gold medals and a 396-1 record – and then claimed three world titles at different weights in a record time as a professional.
“He’s a special fighter,” Campbell said. “I’m disappointed. “Tonight was Lomachenko’s night but my time will come.”
Шановний пане Президенте!
Друга Петиція власників зброї набрала необхідну кількість голосів, і ми чекаємо на Вашу відповідь.
Жодна людина в світі не може досконало знатися на всіх питаннях. А правове регулювання обігу зброї ― сфера відносин, що потребує спеціальних знань.
Ми хочемо, щоб Ви прочитали це звернення до того, як Вам почнуть щось радити всім добре відомі ‟хлопці в погонах‟. Саме вони роками гальмували питання правового врегулювання обігу цивільної зброї і практичного втілення українцями природного права захищати своє життя і здоров’я, життя і здоров’я інших людей від протиправних посягань. Ці ‟радники‟ роками розповсюджували безпідставні міфи та культивували в суспільстві фобії щодо цивільної зброї.
Марно очікувати добрих ‟порад‟ від тих, хто по вуха загруз в оборудках з нагородною зброєю та поставив на потік продаж дозволів; від тих, хто побудував монополію на ринку охоронних послуг; від тих, чиї комерційні структури зрослися з правоохоронним відомством та отримують надприбутки зі схем продажу зброї.
Саме тому, маємо повідомити Вам наступне:
1. Українське суспільство більше не сприйме відповідей на кшталт: „не на часі‟, „всі один одного перестріляємо‟ або „суспільство не готове, бо не той менталітет‟. Будь-що з цього буде однозначно сприйнято, як неповага до свого народу, який п’ятий рік поспіль проливає свою кров зі зброєю в руках за свою країну!
2. Проєкт закону «Про зброю», створений фахівцями галузі і представниками академічної спільноти, вже готовий! Вперше в історії незалежної України його розроблено громадянами — для громадян, а не “міліцейськими” чиновниками для обслуговування своїх власних потреб.
Проєкт готувався відповідно до конституційних і міжнародних норм та досвіду, з урахуванням рекомендацій Європейського союзу та зауважень Головного науково-експертного управління Апарату Верховної Ради України. Неприпустимо, щоб при розгляді цього питання багаторічний власний та міжнародний досвід було проігноровано!
Повторна підтримка Петиції власників зброї на тлі, вочевидь, тотальної зневіри до самого інституту звернень до Президента, без перебільшення — величезний кредит довіри Вам особисто.
Сьогодні цілковито у Ваших силах не дати знову поховати вирішення цього надважливого для країни питання на роки, як це сталося за час роботи Ваших попередників.
Для цього Ви маєте все:
програмну підтримку цього питання Вашою партією — найбільшою фракцією нової ВРУ;
однозначний запит суспільства на ці зміни;
Закликаємо Вас скористатися історичним моментом і дати Україні шанс стати справжньою Республікою, де люди шанують закон і самі стануть гарантами безпеки і спокою у власній країні.
Громадянам необхідне Право, а державі — Закон!
Yesterday, in the late hours of Tuesday, August 27, Strana published an article titled “Drunk, greedy and lazy. An American colonel called the Ukrainian military the main issue at the Yavoriv Training Center,” which allegedly referred to the blog of U.S. Army Colonel Robert Tracy, chief of the Joint Multinational Training Group – Ukraine (JMTG-U), revealing terrible and unpleasant details about the Ukrainian military.
Of course, shock was the initial reaction to the report on intoxication issues in the ranks of the Armed Forces, laziness and terrifying corruption. But this report is aimed at unprepared, average readers, often too lazy to double-check the data absorbed, but if should just dig a little deeper…
Firstly, the blog by “Lieutenant Colonel Casey” is overloaded with clear narratives that Russian propaganda has been channeling since 2014 through both its internal and external informational platforms, affiliated with Moscow. At the same time, the text published in the blog is full of phrases typical for the Russian language, literally translated into English… Who knows, maybe this is just a consequence of Casey’s prolonged stay among the Slavs? But the real reason is as follows
According to information available about the “lieutenant colonel’s” blog, it was created in August 2019, and before a yesterday’s repost by Strana.UA, it had only a couple of visitors.
That is, it turns out that a blog recently created on a platform, which is now widespread in Ukraine, suddenly attracts attention of Strana’s “journalists” (perhaps they were those very few visitors who checked out the blog). Without any verification of the blog’s authenticity and its affiliation with an actual person, Strana moves to repost the piece. Seriously!?
Anyway, here’s what we call a classic information operation, aimed at discrediting the Ukrainian military. . . . .
Still, it’d be great if the Lieutenant Colonel commented on this publicly and put the matter to rest.
Sign up for the UBN newsletter at https://www.ubn.news/
A New Generation Takes Over…PM Honcharuk Vows to Double GDP Growth to 5-7%…Low-Interest Rates Will Create ‘East European Tiger’ in the 2020s…US Grads To Run Finance, Economy, Ag… New Infrastructure Minister Promises Private Freight Trains, Toll Highways, Concessions for Ports/Airports and, Maybe, Chinese Investment in Post Office
By James Brooke
🔵In a generational turn of the wheel, the youngest parliament in the history of Ukraine history elected the youngest prime minister in the history of Ukraine — Oleksiy Honcharuk, a 35-year-old free-market reformer. The Rada, with an average age of 41, approved a pro-business cabinet of almost all new faces. Volodymyr Fesenko, an analyst with Kyiv’s Penta think tank, told Reuter the new government is “the most liberal … in the history of Ukraine.”
🔵Setting an example for small government, the new Cabinet has 17 ministers – one third fewer than the 25 ministers of the outgoing Cabinet. Several ministries were merged. Near midnight, the new Rada voted to lift parliamentary immunity. A second, final vote is to be Tuesday.
Highlights of the day:
🔵With this new parliament, President Zelenskiy said: “Now the country will finally be able to switch to fifth gear.” In a call for action, he demanded: “The liberalization of the economy, the creation of a powerful investment magnet to attract foreign investment. Building a digital state in a smartphone, where queues at state institutions and hellish bureaucracy remain in the past. Elimination of raiding, monopolies, and smuggling. Gaining real energy independence, energy efficiency and solving tariff problems.”
🔵“A new generation has come to power,” Prime Minister Honcharuk told the Rada and the nation. Since 2015, Honcharuk, a lawyer by training, served as an advisor to Ukraine’s first deputy prime minister and was the director of the Better Regulation Delivery Office, an EU-funded consultancy dedicated to cutting red tape. Honcharuk was elected by 69% of parliamentarians present Thursday, 290 out of 418. In a recent interview with Novoe Vremya magazine, Honcharuk said he wants to make Ukraine “an Eastern European tiger.”
🔵Ukraine’s new Prime Minister called for doubling the economic growth rate. “This government faces the task of accelerating economic growth,” Honcharuk told lawmakers, noting that 10 million Ukrainians lived below the poverty line. “We need to grow, but not to grow by 2-3%, but, at a minimum, by 5-7%.” Honcharuk said talks will start in September with the IMF to “negotiate a new 3-4-year cooperation program.”
🔵Lower interest rates are key to economic growth in the 2020s, Honcharuk said. “Cheap lending is one of the tactical goals that we will set for ourselves in the near future,” he said. Today, Ukraine’s prime interest rate is 17%. Next year, Honcharuk says, he wants to see hryvnia home mortgage rates of 12-12%. “Interest rates on loans may fall this year,” he promised. “People will start doing business. It can start with construction and industry.”
It hurts to say this, but I feel freer in Ukraine, than in the U.S.
There seems to be a horrifying similarity between pre-revolution Russian and present day Ukraine.
Before the massacre that was the Communist revolution, they spent decades nurturing hatred against aristocrats, priests, entrepreneurs. Now it seems that the media in the US has created a religion of hatred against whites, men, heterosexuals, families.
Taxpayer $$$ in San Francisco Funds Screening of Movie “Why Don’t We Murder More White People?”
San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) is a large museum next to the Moscone Convention Center downtown. This non-profit is funded by the City of San Francisco, the National Endowment for the Arts, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the James Irvine Foundation. From July 23 to August 25, YBCA screened Jonathan Garcia’s movie Why Don’t We Murder More White People? It was on an endless loop and each cycle lasted 11 minutes and 17 seconds, and is now on Youtube. Mr. Garcia produced this video as a year-long YBCA fellow, for which he got a stipend and an honorarium. YBCA identifies him as: “Community Engagement & Inclusion Associate, Chief-of-Staff of the SOCIAL CLUB, author.”
Most of the video is of non-whites complaining about whites. They say such things as:
“I’m angry at white people most of the time.”
“It’s like, just part of like whiteness to be abusive and violent.”
“Whiteness invades my life and my mind.”
“You could be violent, and through that perpetuate whiteness. You could not look at your whiteness and be perpetuating that violence, still. Like, you could do nothing and still be violent.”
I think the author is Lt. Col Tracy: https://rktracy.blogspot.com/2019/08/multinational-conference-for-collective.html
(NOTE #1: It seems the blog was removed!)
(NOTE #2: I should have known! This was most likely a fake story by Russian propagandists. More: https://zloy-odessit.livejournal.com/2860938.html)
My soldiers’ efforts are focused on boosting Yavoriv Combat Training Center and training instructors to see the defense capabilities of the Ukrainian Ground Forces getting stronger each day. However from what I’ve seen here, I have to say, our training mission could be extended beyond 2020. It’s not about the training infrastructure and equipment. It’s mainly about Ukrainian soldiers.
Firstly, they don’t speak English. The truth is, they don’t truly care about actually learning it. Given the amount they seem to care about English, my instructors need an extra platoon of interpreters during training. But it doesn’t work in all cases. Thing is, they don’t have a complete understanding of each other! They are kind of a mishmash of different folks being trained here. Some of them speak only Ukrainian or only Russian, whereas others can only speak Romanian or Hungarian.
Secondly, Ukrainian soldiers are lazy slackers who are reluctant to work, they tend to intentionally sabotage any move of their U.S. instructors. Taking into account their greed for money, one has to be aware that Ukrainian military tend to steal and sell anything once they think they have found a good deal.
Thirdly, heavy consumption of alcohol is a common event. All Ukrainian soldiers at Yavoriv Combat Training Center drink dangerously high levels of alcohol. With that in mind every time we had to start training with a BAC test. But that was of little help. Drunk Ukrainian soldiers who even couldn’t stand up straight because of the booze were banned from training. Some of the training activities were either canceled or rescheduled. What struck me most is their commanders’ omission with regard to that improper behavior. Their unwillingness to tackle alcohol abuse suggests that they could be immersed in a culture of booze together with their subordinates.
Fourthly, most of Ukrainians are poorly educated and of low intellect. The easiest tasks seemed challenging for them. It’s no wonder taking into account that the majority of soldiers come from disadvantaged backgrounds whereas the best part of the population left the country for a better life abroad.
What really blew my mind, however, is not-so-casual corruption. Ukrainian soldiers have to pay bribes for any promotion – either to be promoted from private to corporal or from a lower to a higher position. Their superiors would definitely expect a bribe for that. There’s a certain pay rate depending on the rank and position.Ukrainian commanders take bribes without fear of disciplinary action being taken against them. And this is normal behavior throughout the Ukrainian army.
🔵A Dubai-originated fund, Marquis Holdings, is studying investing over $1 billion in Ukraine through the end of 2020, Amer Kharb, the fund’s Ukraine country representative, tells UBN. Kharb, who plans to open an office in Kyiv this fall, targets investments in infrastructure, construction, logistics, agriculture, defense and energy.
🔵U.S. national-security adviser John Bolton comes to Kyiv this week in a bid to torpedo China’s purchase of Ukraine’s Motor Sich, a leading manufacturer of helicopter and airplane engines, reports The Wall Street Journal. Bolton seeks to meet with Vyacheslav Boguslayev, the veteran CEO of the Zaporizhia-based company. After Motor Sich lost the Russian market, China started negotiating to buy the ailing company, once the highest valued the company on Ukraine’s stock exchange.
🔵“The acquisition of Motor Sich would boost China’s military buildup and civilian aviation capacity, which Washington has taken pains to retard in a near-total Western embargo on selling military goods to China,” writes the Journal of a deal now before Ukraine’s Anti-Monopoly Commission. A US company reportedly is in talks with the US Overseas Private Investment Corporation, to get financing and insurance for a joint venture.
🔵Even before President Trump’s trade war with China, Ukraine and the US had traded places as corn suppliers to China, reports Successful Farming, an Iowa-based news site. Six years after shipping its first load of corn to China, Ukraine now is the largest supplier. This year, Ukraine is to ship 4 million tons of corn to China, supplying 80% of its import needs.
🔵Once a niche producer, Ukraine is now the world’s sixth largest producer of soybeans.
this great newsletter by visiting https://www.ubn.news/
From what I saw, it seemed like a nice ceremony, with appropriate emphasis on veterans of the war. It included live streams from different Ukrainian cities.
A strange and, in my opinion, incongruous moment was this patriotic rap:
Duke University psychiatry professor Allen Frances claimed President Trump may be responsible for millions of deaths and said he’s been more destructive than infamous dictators Adolf Hilter, Mao Zedong, and Joseph Stalin — a series of claims that sparked criticism over CNN’s lack of pushback.
Frances appeared on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday, and almost immediately contradicted himself by comparing Trump to mass murderers, right before he discouraged personal attacks.
“Trump is as destructive a person in this century, as Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were in the last century,” he said. “He may be responsible for many more million deaths than they were. He needs to be contained, but he needs to be contained by attacking his policies, not his person.”
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide against the Ukrainian people, reports Interfax-Ukraine.
“I appealed to the Israeli side to recognize the Holodomor as an act of genocide of the Ukrainian people,” Zelensky said at a briefing on Monday after bilateral talks with Netanyahu.
“Today, together with Prime Minister Netanyahu, we will visit Babi Yar and honor the victims of mass shootings in Babi Yar and the Holocaust. All these bitter moments of our common history should unite us with the hope for a bright future and the impossibility of repeating such tragedies,” Zelensky added.
Babi Yar is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and a site of massacres carried out by German forces during their campaign against the Soviet Union in World War II.
The Holodomor was a man-made famine of Soviet Ukraine in the 1930s that claimed the lives of millions of Ukrainians.
It’s been a few days since election day since July 21st and as expected from multiple opinion polls over the past month, Vladimir Zelensky and his party “Servant of the People” have won a landslide victory within the Verkhovna Rada. Four exit polls were released as polls closed within the country with the “Servant of the People” garnering more than 40% of the total vote within the country.
Yuriy Boyko’s “Opposition Platform – For Life” expectedly came into second place, followed by Tymoshenko’s “Fatherland”, Poroshenko’s “European Solidarity”, and Vakarchuk’s “Voice” respectively.
Official Results: (with approximately 98.95% of all votes counted)
Servant of the People: 43.1%
Opposition Platform – For Life: 13%
European Solidarity: 8.1%
Special Mentions to these smaller parties who didn’t breach the 5% threshold
Radical Party of Oleg Lyashko: 4%
Strength and Honour: 3.8%
Opposition Bloc: 3%
Ukrainian Strategy of Groysman: 2.4%
Party of Shariya: 2.1%
The complete turnout for the election was approximately 49.8% , which is lower than the previous parliamentary elections in 2014 (which had a turnout of 51.9%).
However, the turnout by oblast and electoral district within the country was varied. The highest regions for voter turnout seemed to be oblasts in the West and the Centre of the country, with Lviv, Ternopil and Chernihiv oblasts leading the way with over 50% of voters showing up to cast their ballot.
. . . .
Ukraine has had both a historic presidential and parliamentary election with an outright majority being achieved for the first time in the country’s recent history, giving him a wide range of power not seen before in Ukrainian politics. However, it remains to be seen how effective and how true to life Zelensky will be to President Holoborodko (his presidential persona in Servant of the People), whereupon there will be distinct effort in pursuing reforms within the country. Reforms which would put him into conflict with Ukraine’s establishment in both business and politics.
No other president in the history of Ukraine has had such resources under his control while facing such a weak and fragmented opposition and enjoying such enormous popularity among his compatriots.
Konstantin Shorkin (Carnegie Moscow Centre)
It is however a bit grating to see media outlets in Western Europe and the United States be a bit too rosy when it comes to him and his election victory and the “shockwaves” it would send to the oligarchs in the country (considering his campaign has heavy connections to Ihor Kolomoisky, another oligarch). His campaign still has conflicting and non-existing statements regarding key issues for the country and committing to a certain cause in these could very well reduce his popular image.
relevant b/c many people wrote to me about Trump-Russia collusion as it related to my being in Ukraine.
And my favorite clip, pertaining exclusively to the term “exonerated”:
The failure to stand up for conservative thinking is leading us into a new cultural dark age.
The intellectual scene always used to have room for great minds from the Right. Today they would be denounced for thought crime by a Left that cannot tolerate dissent.
British intellectual life has always made room for the conservative voice. From Burke and Hume to Maitland and Oakeshott, British philosophers have offered a continuous reflection on our social and cultural inheritance, with a view to understanding the fundamental idea on which conservatism has been founded – the idea of belonging. They have insisted that the goal of our earthly life is not to remake the world but to belong to it, and that the true political virtues are patience, understanding and humility rather than indignation or revolutionary rage.
The conservative voice sounded clearly in the Cambridge, where I studied in the 1960s. I absorbed from the atmosphere of that university a unique conception of social order, in which common-law justice, aristocratic eccentricity and a suspicion of top-down government were tied together in an inextricable knot. This social order, I was taught, is the property of the ordinary person and not the preserve of the state. The attempt by fascists and communists to appropriate it had been defeated, and our duty was both to restore our cultural inheritance, and also to repossess it as our own.
I absorbed the Cambridge lesson from the curmudgeonly Maurice Cowling; others absorbed it from F.R. Leavis, others from the younger dons (John Casey in English, Michael Tanner in philosophy, Norman Stone in history), all of whom saw the curriculum as a cultural bequest. We did not accept this bequest as dogma, but were encouraged to absorb it and also to question it. We learned that the lessons of history are far from simple, and that the truth will never emerge from dogmatic assertions, but only from sceptical and open-minded argument, in which real knowledge rather than comfortable opinion provides the links.
Among the most challenging of our mentors was the late Norman Stone, the Glaswegian historian whose ability to communicate the big picture left a lasting impression on his pupils. Norman was a strong, if ironical, defender of our inherited identity, but, as a Scot, he understood that identity has many layers: a Scot is not forced to choose between being a Scot and a Brit, any more than he is forced to choose between whisky and wine – Norman being, in the matter of alcohol, a believer in a borderless community of the Enlightened. He had a deep knowledge of the European empires, a love of Austro-Hungary, and a remarkable acquaintance with the languages of central Europe. He set an example of imaginative involvement with other cultures that was all the more impressive for the sarcastic wit with which he punctured our patriotic illusions.
When, in later years, I joined the battle against communism, I collaborated with Norman, whose historical vision enabled him to perceive the spiritual depth beneath the malign surface of the Soviet Empire. National identity, he taught, is of the first importance; but it is always part of a wider community in which legal, spiritual and linguistic forces make and re-make the social fabric. I travelled with him in communist Poland, where he showed me the hidden life beneath the polluted surface.
My Cambridge education was completed by those travels behind the iron curtain. I came to see that, unless free enquiry is upheld by universities and the media, the conservative voice will be silenced. The result will be the kind of totalitarian paralysis that I witnessed in Eastern Europe.
Reflecting on recent witch-hunts, my own included, I have been particularly struck by the letters of mass denunciation which are now commonplace in our universities.
Letters against Jordan Peterson and Noah Carl, with many signatures, have recently excluded two important dissidents from the University of Cambridge. I was reminded of the petitions that academics in the communist countries were forced to sign, begging for the punishment of their dissident colleagues. But these new denunciations are all the more disgraceful in that the signatories do not have the secret police at their elbow, guiding their pen. The accusers are enthusiasts, inspired by an ideology that sees conservative views and attitudes as evil – not to be discussed but to be silenced.
Having just survived a Leftist show trial, with no help from the lame Conservative government of Mrs May, I feel a certain alarm at the change in the public culture of this country. The idea of a thought crime has been with us for a long time, of course. We used to look in astonishment on Moscow show-trials, in which the victim, convicted of deviationism, bourgeois idealism, “neo-Schellingism”, Zionist imperialism or whatever, is given a brief chance to confess enthusiastically to his fault, before being taken away to the firing squad. Where was the evidence, we asked, and what exactly was the crime?
Now we see respectable thinkers accused of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia and a host of other thought crimes, on the strength of a word out of context, a long-forgotten friendship, or (as with Jordan Peterson) a photograph proving that you are capable of standing next to someone wearing the wrong kind of T-shirt. The punishments are mild compared with those of the Moscow trials. But they are severe enough, as I and Peterson have both discovered. And in every case there is no defence. For every attempt at a defence entrenches the accusation. If you point out that the thought crimes are largely chosen to mean whatever the accuser wishes them to mean, then that is sure proof that you are guilty.
We are, it seems to me, entering a realm of cultural darkness, in which rational argument and respect for the opponent are disappearing from public discourse, and in which increasingly, on every issue that matters, there is only one permitted view, and a licence to persecute all the heretics that do not subscribe to it. This signifies, to my way of thinking, the death of our political culture, and the rise of a kind of godless religion in its stead.