14 February 2022: Galician successes; Rain and a mouse; Crap phone lines; Hitler; Fatal wokeism: & Other stuff.

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Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza

Something from the Guardian here on Galician book and movie successes of recent years. Must try to read or watch them. Though I doubt I’ll be as impressed by the scenery and ‘atmosphere’ of rural Galicia. Which is part of my ‘lived experience’.

There was, of course, the obligatory reference to rain in that article but, in fact, we’ve had dry, sunny weather for the last 6 weeks here in Galicia. As throughout Spain, it seems, since there’s now concern at low reservoir levels because of a nationwide drought. So it’s rather ironic that I was drenched last night, as I was crossing the bridge in a cloudburst sans brolly.

Earlier in the day, I had been carrying an umbrella when walking back to my car after lunch. Putting it down on the floor for a second near the market, I saw a large mouse run towards me and hide under my upturned umbrella. Lifting it, I realised the rather nonchalant creature was actually a young rat, which seemed to have been born without its caution/fear gene. I resisted the temptation to stamp on it and watched it meander away into the nearby square.

Why are so many official phone lines so bad when you’re trying to do something that you can’t do on line? I tried this morning to cancel an appointment with the Xunta/SERGAS re the latter’s Chave 365 but gave up when I couldn’t make out what I was being told because the voice on the other end of the phone was so weak. And this was after straining to listen to a crackling recorded message.

The UK   

What has happened over the past 2 years has been nothing less than the spread of an addiction to fear, sometimes enforced by law but often simply produced by psychological coercion – which was taken up with startling alacrity by virtually the entire country.  . . .This was the sort of chronic, disabling fear that becomes almost impossible to relinquish: a habitual dependency quite like a drug which renders life outside its remit intolerable. See the full article below.

The EU

Progress is naturally relentless; no bureaucrat wants to go backwards. Or even stand still. . . . Winemakers in Germany and Italy are protesting against a Brussels plan to make bottles and cans of alcohol carry health warnings.


Everyone knows that Hitler led a failed putsch in Munich in 1923. Some people may know he fell during a gun-battle with the police and broke his shoulder. But I wonder how many know that a bullet on its way to Hitler was met by one of his supporters. How different things might have been but for this chap. Who really should be more (in)famous. Especially if his  action was deliberate.


Wokeness kills, it says here. Thanks to the defunding of the police. In numerous cities, there seems to be a pretty clear relationship of causation, or at least of inflammation, between ‘defund’ policies and blow-ups in violent crime.    Not surprisingly, the focus is now turning in many US cities, away from ‘defunding the police’ to, in the words of The Economist, ‘refunding the police. The full article provides stats and the author’s rationale for his tendentious comments.

Quote of the Day

Fear is so much easier to incite than to dispel.

The Way of the World 

Talking of fear . . . Digital kompromat is changing our behaviour. It used to be the fear of God and hell that kept wrongdoing in check; now it’s what CCTV or your phone may reveal. This link might give you the full article.

Finally . . . 

The strap line(?) of a TV ad for the Halifax Bank: It’s a people thing. Who do they think they’re kidding?

For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.


A Government-created culture of fear is now our greatest danger. The hostile reaction to reopening has betrayed just how hard it will be to return to normality: Janet Daley, The Telegraph

Fear is so much easier to incite than to dispel. We were reminded of that when the prime minister announced what is likely to be the imminent end of the last remaining restrictions on normal life in England. The farrago of public criticism was, by the standards of recent hysteria, mercifully small but it still had the intended effect on public discourse. Because it was now likely to happen earlier than first predicted, the removal of those last rules was described as “premature”.

Even though the original planned date had never been anything more than an estimate based primarily on how severe the omicron variant turned out to be, it had now taken on the sanctity of a revealed truth which must not be contravened. This analysis was taken seriously by the media and thus inevitably by a significant proportion of the population.

More specifically, and damningly, the announcement was derided as a “political” decision, rather than a “scientific” one. Well yes, of course it was a political decision in the strict literal sense of the word, because it was a decision made by elected political leaders which is the way, at least for the moment, we still do things in a democracy.

What this meant was that it took in a much wider set of considerations that impacted on society and the economy than the (rapidly diminishing) effects of Covid which were the specific focus of those scientists – whose advice had now presumably been placed in a broader context than it was at the height of their influence. But what the scientists who queued up for their broadcasting appearances were implying was itself very “political”.

They were criticising Boris Johnson for making a public health pronouncement for opportunistic reasons: simply to boost his own popularity when he was in electoral danger. So they were, by trying to undermine public confidence in his decision, playing politics too – which, as unelected advisers (whose earlier forecast of what would be the appropriate moment to end regulations had always been provisional) was quite inappropriate. Wasn’t there something oddly disproportionate in the outrage over putting an end to what are, in truth, only very minimal restrictions? What was actually at the heart of this alarm seemed to be a sense that the Government was brazenly declaring a definitive end to the Covid chapter of our history: that’s it, all finished, you can go back to life as you have known it.

But it is not just sidelined experts who have expressed doubt about this return to normality. Nor is it only those who have obviously benefited in terms of personal convenience or reduced costs. There is a phenomenon that is much more profound and dangerous at the root of this which we may perhaps, in our modern vanity, have thought we would never see again.

Ironically, it is the thing that science and the technical progress to which it has led, was supposed to prevent forever: the willingness of human beings – as individuals and communities – to embrace fear. And I do mean “embrace”. Not just to accept the reality of danger, or to flee from realistic threats – those tendencies exist for sound evolutionary reasons. The capacity for anxiety is essential to survival. No, what has happened over the past two years has been nothing less than the spread of an addiction to fear sometimes enforced by law but often simply produced by psychological coercion – which was taken up with startling alacrity by virtually the entire country.

This was the sort of chronic, disabling fear – as we can see clearly now from those who are reluctant to give it up – that becomes almost impossible to relinquish: a habitual dependency quite like a drug which renders life outside its remit intolerable. (One sees this sort of syndrome in children and adolescents who have become so conditioned by terrifying early experiences that they are primed to perceive danger in every life situation.)

There is now a proportion of the population which is, in effect, refusing to leave the imprisonment which it concluded was the only safe refuge. What is more, many people are arguing that nobody should be released until some undefined state of absolute safety for everyone (even the seriously ill or vulnerable) can be guaranteed. This demand is both logically impossible and morally unacceptable and yet – in the bizarre state of mind that has been induced over the past two years – it is being seriously entertained.

We know how we got here. By a brilliantly sustained orchestration of opinion-forming techniques that was so blindingly successful that it took even its designers by surprise. What needs to be discussed now as a matter of urgency is just how dangerous the result has been. What happens when people become truly terrified – so fearful that they are prepared to sacrifice much of what makes life worth living? They become obedient, docile and passive – which was the whole point of this programme after all. If that passivity – that relinquishing of free will – persists long enough, they become incapable of making individual choices, of taking initiative, of inventing brave advances that might alter their own condition and that of others.

Once launched, a campaign to cause widespread fear cannot – as the Government discovered last week – just be stopped in its tracks. You can’t just blow a whistle as if it were the end of the football match and expect everything to resume. Fear is disabling: it makes people feel helpless. But, perversely, it is also habit-forming. The sense that your fate is out of your control can be comfortable. Just do as you are told. If it goes wrong, it will be somebody else’s fault.

This might be the greatest danger from which we have just managed to escape. Everything in our modern order – democratic process, the enforcement of law, economic transactions – depends on the principle of rational behaviour: the idea that individuals can act responsibly and be entrusted with freedoms. How close did we come to losing our grip on that?


  1. Good morning Colin,

    The content of each & every subject in today’s blog (& possibly your previous blogs) stem from the destructive effects of socialism, even the official phone lines. Entitlements create citizens who cannot think for themselves; they are constantly fearful & have an unhealthy dependence on big government. The Janet Daley article captures the point exactly. When each entitlement is thought of as a right, then there is no feeling of gratitude. You can neither be happy, nor be a good person, if you are not grateful.

    We teach children to say “thank you” when given things & we would rightfully feel affronted if the child then only said “what else am I entitled to have?”. It’s socialism that produces selfish people. Teaching people to work hard & to take care of themselves & others, only works in a society free from totalitarian government control. People who earn what they receive are, by & large, less selfish in a free economy. Socialism just teaches selfish people to demand more. Which attitude makes a better society?


  2. Thanks, Perry.
    It’s a problem that, whereas communism is always communism, its milder version – socialism – takes several forms. Even the USA has socialist elements such as unemployment pay and public healthcare, for some at least. The UK has more socialist elements than the US, of course, and the Scandi countries (‘Democratic Socialism’) even more.
    So, would any mixed economy have your support? If so, where is it?
    I suspect you wouldn’t really advocate a return to the ‘red in tooth and claw’ capitalism of the late 19th century in the USA. But I might be wrong on this.


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