Why this statue’s fall should concern us all

Following the bloody events in Charlottesville over the weekend, the Durham (North Carolina) branch of the Workers World Party (WWP) held a rally of solidarity in support of those “anti-fascist” protesters who clashed with Unite the Right marchers on that tragic day.

The WWP website reports that there were over 100 protesters present at this solidarity rally, during which a statue dedicated to the Confederate soldiers of the Civil War was pulled off its plinth and onto the ground. Video of the incident was uploaded to the internet and has since become worldwide news, clocking up well in excess of 100,000 views.

To the credit of local law enforcement, one of the main instigators of this illegal act has since been arrested and charged with various offences such as incitement to riot and damage to property.

Regardless of anyone’s opinion on the merits of Confederacy monuments, the County Sheriff’s office were absolutely right to take action against the main instigator of this event, WWP member Takiya Fatima Thompson. She remains predictably unrepentant, and she has amassed an army of online cheerleaders to help fight her cause. This glaring example of highly selective and conditional support for the rule of law is indicative of a growing and disturbing trend within Western civilisation generally and the US in particular.

I’m going to spell it out here, because it’s so fundamentally important. Simply not liking the guy who sits in the Oval Office is no justification for activists to thumb their noses at the law because they feel strongly about a particular issue; and it makes no difference even if they really, really can’t stand the current President. The strength of someone’s feelings is not magically connected to their obligation to behave legally.

Supporters of Takiya Thompson are predictably falling back on the argument that citizens have a moral duty to resist tyrannical and oppressive regimes, and they might have a point if we were discussing arbitrary arrests or the suspension of habeas corpus; but we’re not anywhere near that. We are in fact talking about a bronze statue that’s been standing quietly in North Carolina since the 1920s. Whatever its faults, that statue has never harmed anyone, abused their rights, selectively enforced the law or ended someone’s career for daring to express an opinion which does not conform to some inflexible and yet ever-changing criteria.

The Durham statue incident perfectly illustrates the rise of a new and pernicious tyranny which comes, as always, dressed in the disguise of justice and progress. Whether it’s hounding law abiding citizens out of their jobs, protesting the results of legitimate plebiscites or tearing down legally erected statues, the same hollow arguments ring out from megaphones across the civilised world as an increasingly self-righteous and self-regarding minority seek to impose their will through brute force and social intimidation.

If the North Carolina legislators have any regard for their own authority then the Boy in Gray must rise again. In time he may fall, but let him fall lawfully and with honour. Let him not be spirited away to some undisclosed warehouse, hidden from polite society as an inconvenience to be avoided rather than a sacred principle to be defended.

According to CNN, the assembled crowd chanted “we are the revolution” as the statue fell. If, as I suspect, that plinth remains empty, then a legitimately selected legislature will have allowed the Workers World Party to decide which images the good people of North Carolina may and may not look upon as they go about their lawful business.

With results like that, who needs elections?

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My Top 10 Occult Movies

1 – Excalibur (1981)

“They made themselves God, and Christ has abandoned us!”

Perhaps my choice of number one occult movie will be a surprise to some readers of this blog, but nonetheless, John Boorman’s adaptation of Thomas Malory’s famous Morte d’Arthur stands head and shoulders above the rest of its class. Excalibur is so overflowing with symbolism, synchronicity and occult references that it’s difficult to truly do it justice in a short blog post such as this.

Boorman’s first and undoubtedly best decision was to abandon any attempt at historical accuracy and concentrate on the archetypal themes explored in this most famous of the chivalric romances. His second and even braver decision was to incorporate the music of Richard Wagner into the score. Thus Excalibur helps to re-establish one of Western art’s greatest triumphs in its true context by wrestling it away from the National Socialists who had so selfishly appropriated it for their own dark and desperate ends.

A stellar cast including Gabriel Byrne,
Liam Neeson,
Patrick Stewart and Helen Mirren bring this timeless archetypal tale to life as each character struggles to find wisdom, bring peace and wreak vengeance in a world governed by the rules of blood, magic and honour.

What makes this film so very, very special is its endless attention to detail and the ever-deepening spirals of symbolism that can easily be lost on first, second or even third viewing. For example, the ever present and endlessly shifting symbolism of water is brilliantly exploited as both the sword and the young king rise from water. This idea or birth and rebirth is echoed later as Percival drowns and is yet saved, cleansed and reborn, emerging from depths to finally claim the Holy Grail which he has sought for so long. When considered in the light of Carl Jung’s remarkable work on the symbolic and psychological importance of water, this aspect alone can lead to many hours of thought, discussion and research.

Students of the tarot will delight in just how many of the Major Arcana are hidden in plain sight as the seekers of truth are hung from “the tree” while the exiled Lancelot is re-imagined as the embittered and yet hugely important hermit. The embittered hero re-imagines ancient rites of passage by throwing the blood of Christ into Percival’s face, before sending him on his journey to the mystical Grail castle. Indeed, cups are yet another theme that seems to radiate out from the archetypal Grail to echo and repeat through Arthur’s world.

Of course Lancelot is himself a walking, talking archetype in his own right, easily finding his place somewhere between Achilles and Darth Vader as the fallen hero at last redeemed through self-knowledge and ultimately self-sacrifice. The significance of his self-inflicted wound will not be lost on students of Christian mysticism either.

Indeed, so heavy is the harvest of hidden wisdom within this movie that an entire book would be required to explore it all fully and do it justice. Suffice to say that Excalibur is a story that evolves and develops just as the watcher evolves and develops. What was once thought settled and understood is suddenly seen through different eyes as the viewer brings his own history and knowledge to the experience of watching.

This movie is a truly timeless and archetypal work, and this is what sets it apart from its contemporaries and elevates it to the position of my all-time favourite occult movie.

Watch the re-imagined trailer by HiDef.com and enjoy what is undoubtedly one of the greatest stories ever told.

My Top 10 Occult Movies

2 – The Mothman Prophecies (2002)

“You will see her, in time.”

Director Mark Pellington’s hugely disturbing exploration of prophesy, obsession, grief and loss is one of the subtlest and most unsettling examples of the modern storyteller’s art. Slowly brought to the boil by some excellent cinematography and the expert use of a non-musical sound score, The Mothman Prophecies manages to make the fantastical feel entirely credible.

Loosely based on accounts of the real-life Silver Bridge disaster, The Mothman Prophecies follows the story of a troubled man searching for answers that simply do not exist. Expertly shot in the freezing emptiness of flyover country, the bleak photography and slow-burn storyline somehow produce an ambient grey chill that seeps out of the screen and settles on the necks and spines of an unsuspecting audience.

Richard Gere steps outside his normal typecast boundaries to deliver a good performance as John Klein, a high-flying journalist who is haunted by the sudden death of his wife. That haunting takes a dangerous turn as it begins to manifest outside of Klein’s own imagination, inexplicably drawing him to an obscure town and leaving him with no knowledge of how he arrived there. As he probes deeper into his own experiences, Klein is forced to accept that the course of his life has been influenced by the same psychological contagion that’s consuming this icy backwater Virginian backwater.

The ever reliable Laura Linney plays the Main Street sheriff who’s struggling to come to terms with the strange sightings and bizarre events that are so unsettling her once peaceful community. Her well rounded character brings her own brand of hard-won wisdom to the increasingly sinister events as they unfold. However, the unsung star of this movie is undoubtedly Will Patton. His portrayal of a small town working man is the very antithesis of the learned mystic who seeks out prophetic powers. This makes Patton’s portrayal of Gordon Smallwood all the more compelling as the luckless labourer is driven first out of his mind and then into his grave by the Mothman’s obscure prophecies, predictions and pronouncements.

This is a brilliantly conceived movie that embraces the Mothman symbolism as somehow both cause and warning of impending disaster. The on-screen action constantly recycles and re-imagines that symbolism to form an overarching pattern that can be felt intuitively but never understood rationally. The Mothman is everywhere, and yet nowhere to be found. His eyes shine through the warning lights of our safety-obsessed world, whilst his voice echoes through the static buzz of phone lines and electrical systems, with no point of origin and no observable design.

Perhaps more than anything else, The Mothman Prophecies is an examination of chance and chaos, those universal forces we attempt to extinguish through learning, reason and ever-increasing organisation. Just like the point, the line and the circle, the Mothman’s mark is an integral part the Divine language, meaning that we unwittingly codify him into our collective experience, and sometimes find him waiting in the shadows of the seemingly ordered world we make for ourselves. We will never be free of the Mothman because we carry him with us wherever we go.

The great strength of the Mothman Prophecies is its unwavering commitment to a real and enduring mystery. The otherworldly prognosticator known only as Indrid Cold is never explained or justified, nor can he be. Is he real or imagined, angel or demon, benign or malevolent? The only certainty is that his appearance heralds disaster for both the communities he blights and those unlucky souls who hear his call from beyond the veil. This stubborn but well-judged refusal to allow the viewer any satisfying conclusion infuses the idea of the inexplicable into the viewer’s mind, where it lingers long after the credits have rolled.

Watch the trailer here and enjoy one of the most unremittingly creepy movies of modern times.

My Top 10 Occult Movies

3 – The Ninth Gate (1999)

“Some books are dangerous, not to be opened with impunity.”

Controversial director Roman Polanski manages to pull off the difficult Hitchcock-esque trick of keeping the viewer enthralled by the fairly sedate story of a search for forbidden knowledge hidden among the closely guarded manuscript collections of Europe’s ageing dynasties.

Johnny Depp actually plays a character, rather than a caricature in his portrayal of Dean Corso, a mercenary freelance bibliophile. Concerned only with profit, Corso is employed to authenticate a rare and valuable occult work, which is itself steeped in rumour and folklore. As his investigations continue, a formerly hidden, and yet altogether darker design slowly reveals itself, finally crossing the boundary between historical curiosity and contemporary reality.

Veteran actor Frank Langella is definitely the unsung hero of The Ninth Gate, and he’s more than a match for Depp on screen. His understated menace as the pathologically cold publishing magnate Boris Balkan completely convinces the viewer that they are in the presence of a man who has already gone to, and will go to any lengths to achieve his dark design. He is the shadowy and obsessive puppet master, controlling events from within his private library or from the end of the phone line, seemingly much closer to the action than he appears to be.

The excellent screenwriting and direction effectively immerses the viewer in Corso’s journey from disinterested sceptic to fervent believer, as he is drawn ever deeper into a hidden world of secret power, and those archetypal ideas from whence that power flows. Every clue followed and revelation discovered is skilfully crafted to convince both character and viewer that there is indeed a vein of fundamental truth running through these esoteric texts that the modern world has deliberately chosen first to ignore and then to forget.

Any casual or serious student of occultism will have a field day with the symbolism so skilfully woven throughout this feast of hidden metaphors and mixed messages. At the same time, the Ninth Gate is also a very playful movie, which somehow manages to exploit endless clichés of the genre while still remaining fresh and entertaining. The homages to both Hammer and Wheatley as the movie builds to its conclusion are some personal favourites.

The Ninth Gate also reminds us of the old adage that the destination is nothing without the journey, as Dean Corso undergoes his own everyday initiation into the black arts, fearing neither noose nor fire, to play the greatest of games and win.

Like all great occult books and movies, The Ninth Gate can be revisited time and time again, always offering something new and fresh as life’s journey changes, shapes and influences the eyes through which we see it. Watch the trailer here, and also a nice clip of Dean Corso and Baroness Kessler and find yourself immersed inside the inescapable riddles of the dark arts before you even know it’s happened.

My Top 10 Occult Movies

4 – The Sin Eater* (2003)

“The terrible thing about the truth is that sometimes you find it.”

With this stylishly shot tale of intrigue and Vatican politics, the modern movie industry shines a technicolour spotlight on what had previously been an obscure and secretive folk ritual. Screenwriter and director Brian Helgeland expertly blends arcane ritual with Catholic chic as it lifts the lid on a timeless world of forbidden knowledge and those mortals who seek it out.

The late Heath Ledger heads up a cast of well-crafted and entertaining characters as he attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding his mentor’s apparent suicide, a cardinal sin for a man who was already excommunicated. Ledger’s portrayal of Alex Bernier puts an accessible face on this tale of high ritual and realpolitik.

Bernier and his friend Thomas Garrett are the last of the Carolingians, a Catholic order that still embraces the unsanitised church of angels and demons, possession and exorcism. Although something of an embarrassment to the modern Vatican orthodoxy, the two young priests are tasked with investigating rumours that their excommunicated mentor had found redemption through the Other, the Sin Eater.

Peter Weller is aging brilliantly, and he’s never looked or sounded better as Cardinal Driscoll, the Vatican power broker and papal pretender who tasks the two priests with confirming the rumours. The church believes that the existence of a man who can bypass papal authority and guide a heretic soul into heaven is something of a theological loose end, a loose end which should’ve been tied up some centuries before.

As their search drags the two friends ever further into darkness, Bernier begins to understand that tracking down the Sin Eater is just the start of his own personal pilgrimage. As he discovers more about that hidden side door into the afterlife, he also sees that same truth reflected in himself, the course of his own life and the church that set him on his path so many years before. Eventually that newfound knowledge will force him to re-examine all that he believes to be true, and sends his life in an altogether different direction.

Billed as a pretty standard tale of murky goings on in the heart of the Vatican, the profound ideas driving this movie and its wonderfully stylised execution elevate it far above your average Catholicism-is-really-not-that-great yawn fest.

This movie barely seems to be trying as it effortlessly explores the age-old idea of redemption through sacrifice. In this case the Sin Eater assumes the burden of sin himself, thus releasing the soul of the dying and allowing its progression to the afterlife. It also neatly crystallises the endless struggle for truth, and hammers home the stark warning that once discovered, the truth will never allow life to continue as it did before.

Although admittedly on the fanciful side, The Sin Eater is a move that manages to entertain and yet still holds true to its more profound message. Behind the lavish backdrops and frightening effects is a very human story of life, death and self-discovery; beautifully revealed as the aging, world weary Other at last finds peace and is thus reborn and re-imagined for a more modern age.

Watch the trailer here and enjoy number 4 in my occult top 10.

* Also known as “The Order.”

True Colours

Unless things change dramatically, it’s looking increasingly like Britain will leave the European Union without any kind of meaningful trade deal or reciprocal arrangements on citizens’ rights.

This will be a great disappointment to the vast majority of both leave and remain voters, but the latest round of talks in Brussels has demonstrated that both sides are approaching the negotiations from fundamentally different perspectives. Interestingly, these two divergent viewpoints neatly serve to illustrate the fundamental reason behind Britain’s restive relationship with the European Union, and its true motivation for walking away.

Whilst frustrating and very concerning for everyone involved, the increasingly fraught Brexit process has finally killed any pretence that the European Project is about anything other than ever increasing political power. Don’t take my word for it, but look instead at the primary motivations of the opposing parties.

While the British approach is essentially pragmatic, focusing on trade, cooperation and partnership, the EU is concerned primarily with maximising political influence over the UK after March 2019. This is why the talks will most likely fail as neither side is capable of relinquishing what it sees as its own inalienable rights. The idea of EU institutions continuing to control UK law is anathema to the British, while the EU simply cannot imagine any kind of relationship with the UK which doesn’t involve direct political influence. Oddly enough, they’re easily able to imagine such a relationship with Canada and Japan, but the UK will be treated very differently. The reason for this glaring double standard is because the UK is now a clear and present threat to the European Project.

The increasingly acrimonious wrangling over EU citizens is an excellent example of these two incompatible viewpoints. Leaving aside any quibble over details, the UK has made a meaningful and substantive opening offer on citizens’ rights. Tentative discussion of a possible transition period for EU citizens living in or moving to the UK shows some level of flexibility, and a willingness to compromise on important issues.

In stark contrast, the EU has been exposed as utterly unwilling to accept the reality that it will no longer wield direct legal influence over UK affairs once Britain has withdrawn from the bloc. This is why their negotiators continue to indulge the fantasy of the European Court of Justice continuing its jurisdiction over EU citizens residing in the UK after March 2019.

One does not need a Master’s degree in treaty law to realise that such an idea is patently absurd and completely unworkable. An old friend of mine is married to a lady from East Germany (and an hour spent talking with someone who grew up behind the Iron Curtain is an education in itself). Is the EU seriously suggesting that my friend would have to appeal to one Supreme Court for his justice, while his wife would have to appeal to a different one for hers? What about their young child, where would he have to go when he grows up? Could he choose whichever he fancies? What happens if one Supreme Court rules against him, can he just run to the other like a child playing his parents?

No sovereign nation, of any stripe, can be expected to allow a foreign court to rule on issues of law within its own borders. The fact that drinking alcohol is legal in the UK does not save British citizens from arrest in Saudi Arabia. How could it?

The EU negotiators must know this because they are extensively educated, yet still they persist, in the full knowledge that such intransigence will probably scupper the whole negotiation process.

With each round of talks, my suspicion grows that the no-deal scenario has already been decided by Brussels. The EU knows the UK is leaving and there’s nothing it can do to stop that from happening. The only course of action left is to catch Britain’s fingers in the door as it walks out in a last ditch effort to discourage others from following.

It gives me no pleasure to say it, but there will probably be no meaningful Brexit deal. It’s going to get a lot nastier from here on in, and we can expect undisguised EU hostility to continue for many years after we’ve gone. We’d best get used to it now and adjust accordingly.

My Top 10 Occult Movies

5 – The Medusa Touch (1978)

“He sounded quite mad, and yet I believed every word he said.”

The late Richard Burton is in fine form as the tortured and occasionally repentant bringer of death and mayhem to those unfortunates who become entangled with his own dark destiny. It’s often been said that Hollywood’s gain was literature’s loss as Burton decided to follow the call of the stage over the comfort of the study. The Medusa Touch gave him the unique chance to blend both roles as he brilliantly portrays conflicted and misanthropic author, John Morlar.

Bludgeoned beyond hope of recovery in the opening scene, Morlar’s strange and haunted life is retraced through a series of interviews and encounters, doggedly unravelled by world weary French detective Inspector Brunel. Director Jack Gold deftly builds and maintains an omnipresent and growing sense of menace in every mundane scene as Brunel slowly wrings the hidden truth from a reluctant cast of characters including barristers, publishers and neighbours, who are all deathly afraid of the nearly dead man without really knowing why. Lee Remick’s performance as the rational therapist who begins to doubt everything she knows is crucial to drawing both Brunel and the viewer into Morlar’s own inevitable descent into insanity.

When Morlar launches his final catastrophic assault on God from the twilight between life and death, Brunel has no choice but to act. Knowing that Morlar’s crimes are beyond any corporal authority, the protector of justice is forced to forsake that which he has sworn to defend by committing murder.

The Medusa Touch’s great strength flows from its sheer ordinariness in the face of the inexplicable, as the characters who cross Morlar’s path are at once relieved and yet hesitant to speak of the supernatural force they somehow sense has touched their ordered, rational lives. Michael J. Lewis’ quirky but will crafted soundtrack brilliantly supports a series of compelling cameos by Derek Jacobi,
Jeremy Brett and Michael Hordern as Morlar’s chill shadow darkens their lives.

Watch the trailer here and enjoy a brilliantly crafted, scripted and sadly underrated film.

My Top 10 Occult Movies

6 – Signs (2002)

“Is it possible that there are no coincidences?”

Perhaps not a movie that readily springs to mind when considering the subject of occultism, but nonetheless M. Night Shyamalan’s tale of mystic revelation is just filled with archetypal drama. The power of things unseen is experienced through the losses and struggles of very ordinary people with very ordinary lives. It’s just a case of digging below the surface and looking beyond the rural farming community in which this fantastical yet very human story is told.

Indeed, it is to Shyamalan’s credit that he chose a community tied to the earth within which to base his story of extra-terrestrial aggression. Indeed it is the very isolation of the Hess family which makes their story all the more compelling, as it gives a refreshing perspective on the whole alien invasion drama, as the central characters are both far removed from and yet at the very epicentre of the action.

A pre-meltdown Mel Gibson puts in a very believable performance as the embittered Graham Hess, a lapsed preacher who’s come to believe there is little more to this world than what our own senses can reveal. Having lost his wife in a tragic accident, he can no longer accept the idea that there could possibly be a beneficent presence in the world which transcends our rational understanding. God is a ghost to him now. In philosophical terms, Hess has been forced to face the problem of suffering, and he cannot reconcile his own personal pain with the idea that redemption can be found even in the darkness.

The ever reliable Joaquin Phoenix puts in a wisely understated role as Merrill Hess, who can’t stand to see his older brother abandoning the spiritual centre around which his entire existence had previously revolved.

The seemingly routine story of loss leads to an unexpected turn of events as the Hess family find themselves barricaded inside their isolated farm while alien raiders descend upon the globe. With no real training or weapons, they are forced to rely upon their wits and each other to survive, and it slowly begins to dawn on Graham Hess that they might not be completely alone in their struggle after all. They won’t be rescued by any avenging angel, but the signs were always there.

Atmospherically shot and expertly scored, this film’s philosophical strength lies in its ability to bestow profundity upon the mundane, and to remind the viewer that all action and reaction has meaning, suggesting a higher if obscure purpose for all things. This revelation unfolds as Graham Hess finally begins to understand that he, Merrill and even the children have been subtly guided to a time and place where they can at last read the signs and save the day.

Shyamalan expertly exploits the crop circle craze of the nineties and noughties to tap into the timeless idea of an alien invasion. This psychological sleight of hand fools the viewer into thinking he’s watching a monster movie, when the real story is that much quieter and more subtle; as easy to miss as the signs themselves unless you’re really paying attention.

Although not really intended as an occult movie, the perennial message of the wondrous hiding in plain sight is extremely satisfying. It also serves as an important reminder that archetypal influences are often so subtle that it’s very hard to distinguish them from the simple activity of life itself.

Above all, this is a film that teases the viewer with the possibility that life’s coincidences are part of a larger, more complex design we are seldom able to discern. However, every now and then the veil may part, showing us a glimpse of those forces we often dismiss as mere chance or blind luck.

Watch the trailer here and enjoy Signs, the most subtle of occult movies.

Revealed: The World’s Biggest Blowhard (and it’s not Donald Trump)

Either large swathes of the media class have lost their ability to reason clearly, or they are deliberately choosing to ignore the wealth of evidence that suggests North Korea is nowhere near as combat ready as it would have the world believe.

Now I’ll admit that’s a pretty bold statement, but that insular country’s latest missile launch is a perfect example of rhetoric leaving reality far behind. Let’s abandon the spin and consider the known facts for a moment.

We know that on Tuesday morning, North Korea launched what appears to be some kind of intercontinental ballistic missile. Given that country’s pathological propensity for pretentious self-aggrandisement, does anyone think it a little odd that the only record of that momentous, paradigm shifting event is a single series of still photographs? I do.

Let’s not forget that we’re talking about a country whose biggest export appears to be video footage of its seemingly endless parades celebrating this or that glorious revolutionary whatever. We’ve all seen those terrifying looking trucks trundling past the camera dozens of times now…trundling past mind, not actually performing in the field anywhere. For a nation that defines itself by its military might, its air force seems painfully shy at these bombastic occasions…funny that.

North Korea reminds me of the blotch-faced blowhard at the end of the bar. He always has a lot to say about this or that conflict somewhere in the world, based on his own extensive experience in Iraq, or was it Afghanistan; you know, while he was in the Army, or was that the Navy? The details are always just vague enough to be unverifiable.

Whatever you may think of his North Korea policy, President Trump has now sent two (or maybe three) US carrier groups to that part of the world, and they are bringing a clear message with them. That message is clear because US carrier groups have seen action in the past, their activities and capabilities are known and have been recorded countless times. In other words, the existence of US carrier groups has been proven beyond any doubt. The same cannot be said of North Korea’s alleged conventional forces, let alone its alleged nuclear capabilities.

Does anyone think, for one second, that if big Kim possessed anything like a US carrier group that there would be any doubt as to its real-world existence? It would be steaming across the globe and causing a nuisance everywhere it goes; and as for the accompanying propaganda, my God, we’d never hear the end of it. Even microscopic life outside this galaxy would be aware that chubby Kim junior has a got great big boat and he’s not afraid to use it.

However, recorded and verified history tells a very different story of North Korea, revealing a country that simply cannot continue to exist without outside help. That lack of self-reliance was tragically demonstrated after the Soviet Union collapsed, leading to a famine in which hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions perished. Today it continues to rely on foreign aid from its avowed enemies, and still can’t manage to pour concrete in a straight line. Here’s a link to some footage of them apparently building a massive apartment complex in Pyongyang, but look closely, what’s wrong this picture?

There are hardly any machines! Where are the diggers, the earth movers and the core drillers? The official State news channel is probably the only place you’re likely to see any technology of that kind hard at work. Are we really expected to believe that a nation unable to muster a modest amount of construction equipment is capable of producing a miniaturised atomic device, and fitting it to a missile that can break orbit and then descend to a pre-designated point? In other words, real rocket science. That’s without even mentioning all the sprawling secondary industries required to support such a technically demanding endeavour. I’m calling bull**** on this whole Potemkin pretence right now!

Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe that North Korea has indeed launched some kind of missile, but I’ll bet real, folding money that they didn’t build it themselves. It’s worth noting that the top secret, uber secure launch site is less than forty miles from the Chinese border. That can’t be a coincidence.

For all China’s public protestations about North Korea’s belligerent behaviour, nobody in that insular and impoverished nation so much as puts food in their own mouths without Beijing’s blessing. It is a terrible indictment of our current world order that a permanent member of the UN Security Council has knowingly kept the North Koreans on starvation rations for nearly a quarter of a century, all in the name of keeping US troops far away from its own borders. In reality, North Korea is just one huge Chinese buffer zone, and always has been.

This latest missile launch is not a show of strength, it’s a sign of desperation. There is no way that either Pyongyang or Beijing would risk the ire of the most powerful military the world has ever known, unless they believed their decades long bluff was about to be called.