THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Of “The Year Reheated” and my blood running cold
An unexpected encounter with a monster

A nugget from an unexpected seam

I am reading "God or Nothing", which is described as being by Robert Cardinal Sarah but takes the form of a long interview with him. Relax, I have not "got religion" yet, but a good friend who is trying to steer me that way gave me the book as a gift some time ago. I am at a health spa in Turkey making a start on trying to solve my weight problem and, away from my daily routine, have finally found time to read it.  It's healthy to read about things I would not necessarily have sought out myself. The late Mrs P. used to point me down paths I would never have taken and I miss that. A man unguided is in danger of living in a bubble of his own ideas – or delusions!

I am not going to talk to you about God. I am not qualified and anyway He has his own long-established PR service and can speak to you directly if He chooses. Rather I am going to draw your attention to the words of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his book "Warning to the West", quoted by the Cardinal when asked why he is so critical, even harsh, about the development of "Old Christian Europe"

I am not the only one critical of the West. Alexander Solzhenitsyn had harsh words for those who perverted the meaning of liberty and set up a lie as a rule of life. In 1980 .... he wrote: "The Western World has arrived at a decisive moment. Over the next few years, it will gamble the existence of the civilisation that created it. I think that it is not aware of it. Time has eroded your notion of liberty. You have kept the word and devised a different notion. You have forgotten the meaning of liberty. When Europe acquired it, around the eighteenth century, it was a sacred notion. Liberty led to virtue and heroism. You have forgotten that. This liberty, which for us is still a flame that lights up our night, has become for you a stunted, sometimes disappointing reality, because it is full of imitation jewellery, wealth and emptiness. For this ghost of the former liberty, you are no longer capable of making sacrifices but only compromises ... Deep down, you think that liberty is won once and for all, and this is why you can afford the luxury of disdaining it. You are engaged in a formidable battle, and you behave as though it were a ping pong match" This man who experienced repression in the gulags of the former USSR can use such language. He knows first hand what true liberty is.

This speaks to me. I thought, gentle reader, it might speak to you. 


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I am reminded of the quote by Thomas Jefferson/John Curran or Wendell Phillips (no one can agree on the source) that said “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty”

If you don't look after it and guard it fiercely, it will be taken from you.

Bill Sticker

"A dark soul" Tom? Stained certainly. Slightly foxed perhaps, like some of my older paperbacks. However I have a good deal of much lighter reading as counterpoint which helps keep my mental feet on the ground.

Will try Irving and Murakami as you suggest.


Give yourself a break and read some John Irving and Haruki Murakami too. Too many political books make for a dark soul!


"PR Service" was a jocular reference to the Church Jesus founded. From your suggestion that God only has "us", I infer you are one of those Protestants. :-( [I am still an atheist, but I now very much know which Theos I am a-)]

Bill Sticker

"Warning to the West"? One to add to my reading list. Although I have a copy of "The First Circle" to delve into after "The Gulag Archipelago". Mildly depressing topics for the short end of the year but worthy ones, as they remind us that any freedom, once gone will be replaced with something far, far more terrible.


God does not have a PR service he only has 'US' and from time to time a few enlightened ones appear to help us understand how we can achieve liberty.

I would perhaps need to recommend a different book to explain what I mean.

james higham

Far from pooh-pooh this, I'm going to combine it with another I just read and agree there is great danger in going this way. It's almost like a trap they wish us to fall into.

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