Just prior to the outbreak of the First World War, the above assertion was what English writer and commentarian G K Chesterton wrote about the politics of Europe. His aphorism proved to be astonishingly prescient: just under two years later, a collection of foolish French, German, British, Russian, Austrian and Turkish leaders declared war and alliance by timetable and, after twenty years of largely perfidious diplomacy, launched four years of utterly pointless mass slaughter.

A hundred years later, we have pretty much the same cast of mendacious, foolish characters (with noises off from the Americans) declaring that unless something is done by X Hour, then Y will happen by Z day and we will all be vapourised by the hopeless inability of the Greek population to organise a Zorba Dance in a Taverna.

Olli Rehn has pulled the XYZ stunt four times in three weeks on the Greek debt talks – and we’re only a month into the year. Venizelos has done it twice, and Papademos (who told the media the deal was done 20 days ago) now promises all will be signed by the end of the week. Yesterday he promised it would be completed “within hours”. Rehn said last Friday it would be signed during the weekend.

Berlin effectively sent an ultimatum to her EU partners about seizing Greek sovereignty, since when Nicolas Sarkozy has denied there was “Ever any intention of enforcing guardianship on Athens”. One only has to read the German memorandum of last Friday to see what a gigantic lie that is.

Papademos said at 1.30 am today that “talks between Greece and the bondholders are ongoing, and progress has been made”. Neither of those statements is true.

Herman van Rompuy said yesterday evening that it  was merely a question of “putting the current [Greek austerity] programme back on track”. The austerity programme was never on track, and has steadily exacerbated the Greek economic output since its half-baked inception.

Mathematically, short of a bondholder write-off at close to 90%, there is no chance at all that Greece’s debt repayment schedules are achievable.

And finally, for a fuller account of why none of this is about Greek tax evasion, idleness or debt-mania, see the Slogpost of last Saturday for the facts rather than the rhetoric.

Not much has changed in a century. The current lot are analogous to the generals in the Great War, calculating gains efficiency by men killed per square metre. “One more heave” is all we need. It will all be over by Christmas. The tank will change everything. The Dardanelles are Europe’s soft underbelly. Morale is high in the trenches. God is on our side. Gott mit uns, Gott strafe England, C’est pour la gloire.

Just the once – and don’t take this as an invitation to do likewise – I am going to break my obscenity rule.

The people running the world have always been, and always will be, fucking mad. It is the insoluble dilemma of our species that we seem to be incapable of breeding strong leadership personalities without the accompanying schizoid megalomanic tendencies.

And like every congenital disease, this one is easy to diagnose – but the very Devil to cure.


  1. You’ve hit the nail on the head John. I’ve often thought that in order to hit the heights of politics you must have some sort of fatal personality disorder. The way i figure it is that the “powers behind the office” need this as a means to control the person in the chair in case they get ideas above their station ans attempt to make changes that would benefit the masses but be bad for the elite.

    And so degernate liars, sociopaths and disconnected toffs are all the only


  2. More timely Chesterton

    We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
    Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
    It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
    Our wrath come after Russia’s wrath and our wrath be the worst.
    It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
    God’s scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
    But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
    Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.

    G.K. CHESTERTON 1874-1936

    The complete poem below


  3. What is a disgrace and testimony to the contrition of our own pathetic politicos is their absolute lack of criticism of the bankers coup in Greece and Italy. As such they cannot be respected or indeed trusted to bat for our team.
    The Greek courts however appear to be granting some redress.

    In Landmark Case, Greek Court Writes Off Employed Bank Customer’s Debt
    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 01/30/2012 – 12:44 European Central Bank Greece
    From zerohedge today
    Think filing for bankruptcy is the only way to get debt discharge? Think again, at least in Greece. While previously we have reported that Greek courts had written off “untenable” debts of unemployed Greeks owed to local banks, Kathimerini describes a landmark case which may have profound implications for the indebted country, in which a fully employed woman has had the bulk of her debt written off. From Kathimerini: “In what could turn out to be a significant ruling for Greeks suffering from the economic crisis, a court in Hania, Crete, has become the first in the country to order that the majority of the debt owed to banks by someone still in full employment be wiped out. Sunday’s Kathimerini understands that the Justice of the Peace Court in Hania based its decision on a 2010 law that allows judges to give protection to people struggling to meet their financial commitments. Until now, the legislation has only been used to give debt relief to unemployed people or those with no substantial income.” This means that virtually every indebted person in Greece, regardless of employment status will rush into court rooms, demanding equitable treatment and a similar debt write down. It also means that the Greek bank sector, already hopelessly insolvent, is about to see its assets, aka loans issued to consumers, about to be written off entirely. And since the ultimate backstopper of the entire Greek financial system is the ECB, the creeping impairments will have no choice but to impact, very soon, the mark-to-market used by both the ECB and the various national banks. Finally, how long before other courts in Europe express solidarity with their own citizens and proceeds with similar resolutions?

    and so it goes


  4. Very few get to the top controlling positions without a major character flaw, and traits like honesty and integrity are more often than not the casualties of this affliction. And these people all go to the same exclusive clubs, unlawful secret and otherwise.


  5. As that Glaswegian political commentator for the downtrodden masses
    Billy Connolly says, “The mere fact that someone wants to become a politician should automatically disqualify them from ever being one”.


  6. A very interesting post. I hope this idea takes off. On a similar note Steve Keen made the claim that banks are the buyer when making a loan, they buy a future income stream. The borrower is a seller of his future labour. Professor Keen says the ancient law of caveat emptor should apply in these cases.


  7. “The people running the world have always been, and always will be, f**king mad. It is the insoluble dilemma of our species that we seem to be incapable of breeding strong leadership personalities without the accompanying schizoid megalomanic tendencies.”

    (This is my third attempt at posting this comment and I may have worked out why each of the previous two attempts failed. I have now substituted asterisks for letters in JW’s naughty word. Hopefully it will work and hopefully the other two comments will not eventually be moderated ‘in’.)

    They are often described as Sociopaths but I believe the term Psychopath is more accurate. It is to be hoped that we do not see just how appropriate my choice of word is as conditions deteriorate in Greece. With reports of thousands sleeping rough in Athens, appearing in the MSM, it does not look good.


  8. It is I suppose a paradox of human nature that those who seek power and control, are the very people who in a sane world should be prevented from doing so in the interests of public safety.

    It’s another stumbling misfortune that these sociopathic nutters cling to power with every sinew, bend every rule, tell any lie, misdirect any circumstance, wield any financial, economic or technical weapon they can lay their hands on. They hide behind privilege and protocol, pass laws to enrich and protect themselves and their cronies/benefactors.

    All we can do is to continue exposing them, hold them to account and frustrate their selfish agendas wherever possible.

    It’s a lonely job as most people sleep-walk their way through life and don’t really give a toss until they either a) lose their job or b) lose their savings, or indeed both. When they lose their civil liberties then they just might wake up from their collective coma, it will however be too late then.


  9. In laymans terms the EU treaty just signed has given foreign police the power to extradite UK citizens for petty offences and what some people would consider to be non offences. I don’t think most people have any idea what is about to be unleashed. I personally know two people right now, a man called Robert Green who has been advocating for a lady with Downs syndrome who was abused as a child and whose uncle was force fed whisky and murdered and made to look like suicide (he hated whisky and would never have chosen it as his final drink) and an 86 year old WW2 5 medalled veteran called Norman Scarth who are both being prosecuted with the full weight of the law thrown at them in a spectacular way for the non crime of handing out leaflets to passers by, of institutional abuse. People better get ready for the nastiness to come, because it is on its way. We are indeed being ruled by mad men and John your use of the F word is in no way gratitous.


  10. I often wonder about this problem. Why do we always end up with cretins in charge? What is it that draws these people to politics and why do the most capable and sane of our society stay well clear? Actually the second part of that is easy to answer, why would any sane person want to spend their lives surrounded by politicians? But the mental state of politicians does bear some thinking about.
    A few years back I used to go and volunteer for a charity that helped people who were struggling with various mental health issues, and just life in general really. Some of the full time staff were obviously trained councillors and I had some very interesting discussions with them about what drives people. There is a type of counselling called reality therapy or choice theory. I am in no way claiming to be an expert here, but from memory the theory basically states that there are certain human needs that we all have.They list them as survival, love, belonging, power, freedom and fun. The theory is that when people start behaving irrationally it can often be because they are not receiving one of these basic needs, they have an imbalance, therefore they will behave irrationally, often in an attempt to get this need met.
    Different people have different make up. It would be pretty obvious that career politicians have a big need for power in their lives. They devote themselves entirely to it’s acquisition. If the entire purpose of their career is not to implement something, or to change something but simply to meet their own psychological need then it would explain a lot. I’m being reminded of the piece about Angela Merkel now. It would fit with the information given in the slog, and I’m sure if anyone dug into Sarkozy, Cameron or any of the others we would see a similar character and pattern. Power at all costs. In short Billy Connelly was right as quoted above.


  11. Profile of a sociopath (or collective noun for a gathering of EU madmen)

    Glibness and Superficial Charm

    Manipulative and Conning
    They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.

    Grandiose Sense of Self
    Feels entitled to certain things as “their right.”

    Pathological Lying
    Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.

    Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
    A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.

    Shallow Emotions
    When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.

    Incapacity for Love

    Need for Stimulation
    Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.

    Callousness/Lack of Empathy
    Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others’ feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.

    Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
    Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.

    Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency
    Usually has a history of behavioral and academic difficulties, yet “gets by” by conning others. Problems in making and keeping friends; aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, stealing, etc.

    Not concerned about wrecking others’ lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.

    Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity
    Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual acting out of all sorts.

    Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle
    Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively.

    Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility
    Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily.


  12. @Send in the clowns

    A friend of mine who is a gymnastics teacher can diagnose tendencies to thieving in six to ten year olds.

    He has a portable gymnasium which he uses when the weather is nice. It is a rope on a hose-reel sort of thing. At the beginning of the lesson he describes an area with the rope. All the children are told that this is the gymnasium and that they are not to go outside. Having said that, he opens his “door” by moving the rope to one side and the children may file in through the gap.

    During the lesson it is evident that one or two children cross the line inadvertently without noticing its presence. It is these children who need some gentle therapy in recognizing boundaries. If they are not taught this (and at that age it is as easy as it is subtle) then they will never recognize the boundaries between what is rightfully theirs and what is not.

    This can be done for children who have minor social problems – and in a way that is wholly constructive. There are also some more serious therapies for young adults who have social problems, but they do need to be more intense.


  13. “During the lesson it is evident that one or two children cross the line inadvertently without noticing its presence. It is these children who need some gentle therapy in recognizing boundaries.”

    I believe I have seen the same sort of gratuitous therapy in operation around the poolside of many med hotels. In those instances it takes the form of beach towels draped over poolside sunloungers, is that what you mean?


  14. For you to use language like that speaks of your anger and despair.

    That word springs unbidden every time I think of van Rompuy. In fact, it is his third name as far as I’m concerned.

    There is no cure for the distressing ailment of Politicus aer calidus. Democracy, as currently viewed, is but a staging post on the downhill slope of decay from the zenith of civilisation – that of a benevolent despot. What is happening today is merely a gathering of pace; the grim reality awaits us at the bottom…


  15. Yes I have been following Roberts case and its a pure showcase for absolute corruption and rotten to the core principles. An absolute travesty of justice. Seems to be as bad in Scotland as anywhere else. Im seething with anger!


  16. Very interesting that the comparison with pre-WWI is being made here. Over the last months, I have seen it being made in a couple of totally separate places, so I guess there is something to it if completely different people make the same observation.

    Pre-WWI, there had been so much bickering about this, that and the other among the European powers that be, that the feeling came to “to fire a few shots to clear the air”. The solders left in the fall in great spirits exclaiming that they would be back at Christmas time. Some did survive to come back at Christmas time, but it was Christmas 4 years later…


  17. @Jwoo
    No, I was quite clear in what I said, and you are being unnecessarily disingenuous.

    To my mind any child would benefit from gentle therapies of this kind. For one thing we would have fewer near-psychopathic bankers to deal with. German, Dutch or British.


  18. Do you mean your friend who is a gymnastics teacher THINKS HE can diagnose tendencies to thieving in six to ten year olds?


  19. …..”handing out leaflets to passers by….”

    More and more councils are requiring a license for the handing out of leaflets in the street. (See the Manifesto Club: Josie Appleton and others are campaigning against this). Not only do you need a license but you’ll have to pay a good whack for it, too. Oh, and did I fail to mention content? Whoops! Silly me. Yes, you aren’t allowed the license until the content of the leaflet has been…ahem…’approved’.

    So, interesting to hear on the radio yesterday that the Arts Council are to distribute some £34m amongst various district councils for the promotion of the arts in areas deemed to be,…er,…less ‘involved’ in the arts than average.

    Well, I wonder what kind of ‘art’ will be promoted with all this cash (circa £3m to each ‘deprived’ area, the report implied….I may have misheard that bit). Certainly there can be no events which are (a) unlicensed in their own right (premises License etc); (b) not approved for promotion by leafleting in the street. So maybe, the good burghers on the ‘approvals’ committee will settle for endless viewings of Mary Poppins on account of it being,…you know,….unlikely to cause offence to (insert your own minority here)…er,..anyone…but most of all “those who must give approval”. Hush, no…its not sensorship. Heaven forbid. You can put on whatever play or review you like. Just so long as it’s OK with us.

    One thing’s for sure: when the £3m gets spent it will prove to be monumentally poor value for money.

    Meanwhile, just under cover, slightly below the radar, The Beat Goes On.


  20. The numbers sleeping rough in athens are one of the final nails in the coffin of this era.

    The banks probably knew that this couldn’t last forever and simply tried to make the period where they have robbed us from 2008 to now last as long as possible. Public, judicial and,dare I say it, political opinion are beginning to present a united front. The hour of consequence is staring them in the face.


  21. McSoap
    I had an American shrink chum who used to say that humans are driven by the need for food, shelter, sex, and odd sex.


  22. 24 carat
    I think what gets me about Rumpy-Pumpy is the look of utter offence he has on his Mekon-like mug every time anyone dares to tell him the truth.


  23. @Gemz

    For whatever reason I cannot get the comment box to work in the correct ‘reply’ place above.

    “No, I was quite clear in what I said, and you are being unnecessarily disingenuous.”

    It requires a particular form of arrogance to assert that because you intended to be clear, that you actually achieved it, but that aside, I cannot be disingenuous when I pose a question. Try to be accurate.

    As an aside however of some import, you have yet to acknowledge let alone respond to the following , which arose from your comment in an earlier Blog:

    You stated, “You just need to vote for them. They have that uncommon quality “integrity” – something JW finds lacking too.”

    Unsurprisingly perhaps, to many on this Blog, I challenged you thus:

    “It seems clear to me, you regularly contribute to a Blog, as a guest, when you believe the host to be dishonest. Have I misunderstood that?”

    You didn’t bother to respond which is symptomatic of when you have backed yourself into a corner.

    But given the topic, which is our host’s integrity, I think many will be interested in hearing your response.

    Hopefully you will give it without calling into doubt the intellienge of all and sundry, or fudging it, or ignoring it, which are your usual tactics.


  24. @Solly

    well he had a beard and a man’s name, I guess he probably was. As to his thinking, it was the results he achieved that impressed me along with his insights.


  25. Because of its dynamism and efficient economy, Germany has been a difficulty for Europe since unification in 1871.
    The Great War (please not the First World War-a bad Churchillism) was an effort to prevent German domination of Europe, and England had to prevent Germany controlling the western coast of Europe, which would have neutralised the Royal navy and thus control of the Empire and its resources. The cost was excessive but the goal was achieved-temporarily.
    The Second World War was again to prevent German domination of Europe-the goal was temporarily achieved.
    The EU was again such an attempt-and has failed totally, again the costs have been high.
    This is not a moral judgment of Germany in any way-just an explanation that a nation of its dynamism cannot realistically be constrained.


  26. “your question may not have been disingenuous, your manner certainly was. Any gentleman would have realized that much.”

    Yes thank you for confirming what I thought. You have impuned the integrity of our host, repeatedly. You have called into question the intelligence of several who post here, repeatedly. Then you have the temerity to question the manners or breeding of someone who questions it, you Madame are a fraud.

    I for one will waste no more time on your posturings.


  27. That teacher, can’t he take his rope into Parliament and the House of Lords to teach the miscreants in those two houses to stop stealing money that doesn’t belong to them and squandering it on rubbish? Like the £500,000 already frittered in prosecuting a man for handing out a few leaflets? I’m sure the rope would be put to good use, there’s plenty of sturdy lampposts round that area.


  28. Laurence writes:”””””””””but if Cameron can do this to ‘The Shred’, why not to Archer”””””””””

    Forget Archer. The man who should be targeted next is another useless dodger. It’s the man whose job it was to “regulate” at the Financial Services Authority. The man directly responsible for allowing bankers like Goodwin to create this havoc. That man is Adair Turner (Lord Turner to you oiks).
    The useless Turner and his equally pointless Hector Sants are still in their (well-paid) jobs at the FSA.
    If you want to campaign, then Turner should be your target.


  29. the application of the ‘code Napoleon’ in the UK – everything is forbidden unless expressly allowed.

    As opposed to our old system whereby everything is allowed unless expressly prohibited.


  30. I have learn several good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much effort you place to create this kind of fantastic informative website.


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