Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
– Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’
Cosas de España/Galiza
The Corner tells us here how the pandemic has hit Spain’s different generations. The young, it says, have fared worse. This may be true elsewhere but Spanish youth already had it pretty tough, with high unemployment and insecure jobs, for example.
Every government handout scheme invites fraud and I certainly wan’t surprised to hear of prosecutions in the UK in respect of the furlough scheme there. But I wonder if the percentage of attempts at fraud was as high as the 17% found by inspectors investigating applications under the Spanish ERTE scheme. It’s reported that 5,500 companies have been fined, around a falsely-claimed total of €26m.
A couple of essays from Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas
1. On Spanish politics
2. On the 3 types of Brits here in Spain.
Yesterday saw my 8th visit to Salamanca, surely one of the prettiest cities in the world. If you’re resident in Spain and haven’t been there, you’re not really living in Spain. By pure coincidence, I’d booked the same hotel as on my 7th visit, fooled by a change in name, if not location.
During this holiday month, it’s been almost a joy to drive through empty towns and cities. And even to find an on-street parking space. Occasionally.
The Way of the World
The drift towards ever more progressive attitudes is leading to the pervasive denial that male and female bodies exist. See the article below.
Can it really be true that, in Scotland, 4 year olds will be able to change their gender without the involvement of their parents?
Aero-generators: Turbines. ‘High technology windmills designed primarily to generate electricity’.
Finally . . .
For the superstitious among you, today is Friday the 13th. Though I seem to recall it’s a different day in Spain you need to be nervous about. Or is that April fools Day
Note: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here.
The trans purity test has lost touch with reality. The drift towards ever more progressive attitudes is leading to the pervasive denial that male and female bodies exist: Lionel Shriver
When conceiving Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, Helen Joyce anticipated a rough ride. Sure enough, an initially interested literary agent who considered her proposal “well-argued”, “persuasive” and “timely” eventually demurred that Joyce would need an advocate to “weather the storm that publishing this book will create. I am sorry to say that I am not that person.”
One sceptical British editor wrote, “Debate over trans issues is incredibly polarised and siloed, and if we are going to torch our own credentials as woke members in good standing we would prefer to do it for a book that has some chance of selling.”
A rep made of sterner stuff finally sold the hot potato to the small independent Oneworld in Britain. Yet to date no American publisher among the dozen approached (one editor dubbed the manuscript “radioactive”) will touch the incendiary tuber with a barge pole. Pre-publication, online detractors smeared Joyce as an antisemitic neo-Nazi. While the likes of Jenni Murray and Richard Dawkins furnished enthusiastic blurbs, other established writers, fearing stink by association, held back from endorsing a book they admired.
Reviews have been glowing. A first for Oneworld, Trans hit the Sunday Times bestseller list. It reached Amazon’s top ten. But don’t imagine that high-street booksellers nationwide are clamouring for more copies. Unlike Ryan Anderson’s similarly “radioactive” When Harry Became Sally, Joyce’s terrifying book is still available on Amazon. But would-be book buyers object on Twitter that their local Waterstones shops are suppressing sales. The shops stock one or two copies at most — often shelved in bizarre locations like media studies or stashed under the counter. Customers are obliged to special-order or told that the print run was puny (a lie; warehouses have never run short of a book already in its third printing).
Mainstream broadcasters such as the BBC have spurned interviews. Intelligence Squared, which prides itself on addressing contemporary controversies, pulled its podcast invitation on the day of recording. An award-winning war journalist, its CEO has covered terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan but couldn’t, he explained, face down his own staff.
What grotesque authorial assertions might warrant this recoil? That humans are either male or female. (Even the rare birth defect of the “intersex” comingles recognisably male and female anatomy.) That sex is not “assigned” but observable at birth. That we might think twice about allowing people born male who still have their kit into women’s prisons, rape counselling centres, domestic violence shelters, women’s changing rooms and women’s sports. Joyce has no beef with trans people, only with the movement’s radical ideology. However urgent, her tone is temperate.
Why has the trans issue become the definitive hot button? Why does this column cause me such anxiety? In the upended hierarchy of identity politics, the transgendered balance atop the totem pole. Of all ostensibly “marginalised” groups, trans people are supposedly the most persecuted, though this small (if growing) cohort has received a unique degree of celebrative cultural attention for a decade, featuring in a deluge of uncritical documentaries, films, novels and television dramas. Irresistibly, too, this is a victim group that even men and white people can join.
Further, young people are currently cast into a hell of obligingness. Their parents probably took drugs themselves, are cool with premarital sex and often endorse much of the “woke” agenda. How’s a poor kid to rebel? Fervent embrace of the rage for gender swapping offers a rare opportunity to separate from their infernally permissive, infuriatingly simpatico parents.
Successive civil rights movements culminated in the widespread legalisation of gay marriage. Overnight, being gay became passé. Homosexuality was boringly OK and the battle was won. But crusaders rarely retire. Energising activism provides an identity, a sense of purpose and often a livelihood. Seizing on what seemed the last remaining civil rights fight, advocates have pursued the trans cause with an unparalleled vengeance.
More broadly, progressivism is suffering from its own success. The left’s shibboleths about women’s equality, environmentalism, workplace health and safety, sexual harassment, disability access and racial discrimination have gone mainstream. Hence the left’s accelerating extremism. To maintain directional distinction, as the centre moves left, the left moves lefter.
In the Anglosphere, the left’s success is also institutional. The mainstream media, academia, cultural and civic organisations, publishing and the arts, and the executive class of big business now share a political monoculture that has even captured swathes of the Conservative Party. These people, often tagged the “elite” — a word once denoting excellence, but now connoting aristocratic condescension — compete with one another over who can appear more morally immaculate.
Having documented the descent into ideological cannibalism in improbable niches like online knitting circles, Gavin Haynes coined the useful expression “purity spiral”, whereby the test of political sanctity amid a once-likeminded group grows ever stricter, until the very originators of a school of thought are eaten by their own. The French Revolution, the Salem witch trials and Mao’s cultural revolution all got sucked into purity spirals. Our so-called elite are caught up in the same take-no-prisoners, circling-the-drain self-destruction.
Having your mind right on transgenderism is now the ultimate purity test. A loyal wokester is thus never to mention the unknown long-term medical consequences of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, the growing number of “detransitioners” who regret irreversible surgical disfigurement, transition’s threat of sexual dysfunction and infertility, or the moral dubiety of ushering children “affirmatively” on to a path whose lifelong implications minors are too young to grasp. Even to broach these subjects is to mark yourself as a pariah and be cast from the faithful.
Virtually everyone wants transgender people treated with respect and granted their civil rights. But for activists, that’s not the goal. It’s no coincidence that the subtitles of three recent books on this lightning-rod subject — Gerard Casey’s Hidden Agender: Transgenderism’s Struggle Against Reality, Kathleen Stock’s Material Girls: Why Reality Matters for Feminism, and Joyce’s Trans — all use the same word: reality.
What makes this purity test a bridge too far is the demand that we deny what we know and see. The charity ActionAid UK asserts bewilderingly that there is “no such thing as a biologically female/male body”. In claiming that maleness and femaleness are all in our heads trans activists aim to erase the existence of human biological sex from life, language and law, thereby justifying putting sex offenders with functional penises on women’s NHS hospital wards. But a psychic break from reality is the textbook definition of insanity. Let’s not go there.