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High life

Moral sainthood is a bore; sinners are much more fun

As long, that is, as the sinners sin against themselves and not others

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

13 February 2016

9:00 AM


I had the rather subversive idea of offering a six-figure sum to Oriel College, Oxford. On one condition: that the college immediately withdraw the Rhodes scholarship from the South African Ntokozo Qwabe, the hypocrite who led the campaign to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes, and from any other recipients of Cecil’s munificence who are blackening his name a century later.

It is the least these hypocrites deserve. Oxbridge has become a joke in the way it tries to emulate the LSE in radicalism and other such ludicrous poses. The group that called Jihadi John ‘a beautiful young man’ should be allowed to speak at Oxford, according to the jerk that is the warden of Wadham College, Oxford, yet Germaine Greer is banned. This illustrates the perversity of our universities. I debated four times at the Oxford Union and won three out of the four. My only defeat was because of a politically incorrect remark I made when an extremely obese black female student complained about almost starving to death following Hurricane Katrina. (‘You could use a bit of a diet, honey.’) I have never been invited back and am rather glad about that. It takes too long to get there, the black-tie dinner is sloppy and the wine quite poor. What’s more, the students are not very respectful — and dim. PC reigns supreme. The only good that ever came out of those trips is that three times out of the four I brought some girl students back to London with me. Mind you, that was long ago.

Radical do-gooders are a pain in the ass. They are driven by moral rage, and PC is their bible. They are basically fanatics who mask their radicalism in pretend sainthood. Reducing the world’s suffering is a noble idea, but more often than not those who get the most publicity have terrible double standards. Some American neocon recently wrote how a rational saint would rescue two strangers from drowning rather than one person, his mother, because it is better to save two souls than one. Not me. I’d rather rescue my mother any day — I’m not English, after all — and to hell with two or three or four strangers. I guess that makes me a bad guy in the eyes of the moralists.

Can moral sainthood ever be a bore? Of course it can — sinners are much more fun. By this I mean those sinners who sin against themselves. I pride myself on being one. Sinning against one’s fellow man is a no-no. Uncle Sam means well, but has sinned against humanity since he was created. American Indians come to mind, not to mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Vladimir Putin is now portrayed as a very bad fellow, but he’s only looking out for his great country, something the moralists of the West do not seem to comprehend. Which brings me to an article in Tatler magazine about Greek ship-owners.

The writer hints that ship-owners in London keep their money out of the home country that is suffering, and enjoy the high life in the capital’s hotspots while their fellow Greeks sink deeper and deeper into poverty. This is bollocks. The Greek state has always cheated its subjects and the Greek diaspora took place because of the state’s failure and corruption. Greeks went abroad in order to compete on a level playing field. They took loans from foreign banks, repaid them after hard work, and built fleets having risked everything. And they repatriated their money by building ships in Greece, factories, schools and hospitals. The Greek flag is one of convenience, which means that taxes are low on Greek-flagged vessels.

Greek sailors support their families by sending their salaries home, Greece being the number-one shipping power in the world. Earning their income outside Greece is an advantage only because it allows ship-owners to operate without state interference and corruption. Most ship-owners I know have houses in Greece, inject millions into the Greek economy, and give generously to Greek charities. The fact that some of us choose to live abroad is a minus for the Greek state, one that passes retroactive laws and operates like a gangster syndicate at times. Greece would be a very poor third-world country without the shippers, but try saying that to a media that see only what they want to.

Shipping is to Greece what blue-chip companies are to America. Surely if a man takes his chances and makes his money he should be allowed to enjoy it without some hack hinting that the country would be better off if he had stayed back in his village and lived off the handouts of the state. Envy, incidentally, is a mortal sin, and the Western world is full of it. My father shut down his factories at the outbreak of the war in order for them not to be used to help the Axis forces. The commies nevertheless blew them up after the liberation. Go figure. The only ones who suffered were the workers. Old Dad went to America and bought ships, then returned and rebuilt. Did that make him an unpatriotic Greek?

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