Rhodesia is super

Rhodesia, writes Dalrymple, has been

condemned, loudly and insistently, as if it were the greatest threat to world peace and the security of the planet.

By the time he arrives, it has

no friends, only enemies. Even South Africa, the regional colossus with which Rhodesia shares a long border and which might be expected to be sympathetic, is highly ambivalent.

He expects to find, therefore, a country in crisis and decay. Instead he discovers one that is

thriving: its roads are well maintained, its transport system functioning, its towns and cities clean and manifesting a municipal pride long gone from England.

Miss Rhodesia

The European débâcle

Waarom Dalrymple meewerkt aan SCEPTR

The continent’s problems, says Dalrymple, are

largely the result of intellectual error, and frequently of dishonesty as well.

This is combined, he points out, with

a totalitarian impulse to suppress free discussion. Many subjects cannot be freely discussed, with the result that the only way of expressing disagreement with the prevailing orthodoxies and pieties is by an inchoate and destructive rage.

But let us control our rage and instead attempt to overcome political correctness

using the tools of rationality.

Types of Muslim perversion: Gramscian and Stalinist

Islamisation of the young — fundamentalism sweeps them

One view, Dalrymple notes, is that the radicalisation of a small minority of the Muslim young of Brussels (the European city with the highest proportion of Muslims)

was brought about not from the influence of their immigrant parents, or by the religious institutions in their country of origin (mainly Morocco), but by the preaching of members of the Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and of Wahhabi or Salafist missionaries on the other.

Dalrymple explains the difference between the two strains.

  • Muslim Brotherhood: new-Left, or Gramscian, wing of Islamism. Claims (at least for public consumption) an ‘interpretive’ reading of the Koran. Even has a feminist wing
  • Wahhabists: old-Left, or Stalinist, flank of Islamism. Cleaves to literalism. Obligation for women to wear the veil incontestable

Let the heavens fall, so long as my ideas remain pure

Knowing that Man remains Man, writes Dalrymple,

absolves me of the responsibility of trying to bring about a better species, which seems to be the favorite occupation and ambition of so many of our intellectuals. I am better advised to confine my efforts to behaving myself with tolerable decency, which in my case is a perpetual struggle.

He cites a passage in Johnson’s essay on charity (Idler, No. 4, May 6, 1758):

We must snatch the present moment, and employ it well, without too much solicitude for the future, and content ourselves with reflecting that our part is performed. He that waits for an opportunity to do much at once, may breathe out his life in idle wishes, and regret, in the last hour, his useless intentions, and barren zeal.

Dalrymple comments:

Is not barren zeal a description of the favourite state of mind of so many of us? Theoretical zealotry, which never has the opportunity to test its ideas against reality, and knows it never will, can keep a certain type of mind satisfied for years, decades, even a lifetime.

He points out that such zealotry is, of course, very far from harmless.

It finds some few who are willing to act upon it, with what results the history of the 20th century (as well as many other centuries) attests.

Some people

prefer the syllogisms of their ideas to the complexities of reality. They are to the world what obsessional housewives are to a house, and they turn a morbid psychological state into a historical catastrophe.

No wonder Dr Johnson is not in fashion

Engraving from James Barry’s portrait (1778-80)

An incomparably greater psychologist than Freud, having no axe to grind and no sect to found

Samuel Johnson, writes Dalrymple,

  • contrived to be a moralist without moralising
  • was humane and charitable without sentimentality

This is a contrast to today, Dalrymple points out, for

we prefer mental contortions, self-justifications, evasions, rationalisations, and all the other methods of avoiding the truth about ourselves, to Dr Johnson’s discomfiting clarity of mind.

Johnson had a gift, Dalrymple notes, for saying things that were

both startling and obvious. As he himself put it, we have more often to be reminded than informed.

Johnson’s prose style

would no doubt strike many people (if they read it) as formal—we prefer expletives and the demotic now.

The bar-room experts

Albion Street, Ordsall, Salford

Visit any pub or bar, writes Dalrymple, and

you will find people who seem to be party to the most secret of secret state policy, though they appear to work in humble capacities in local businesses, or who are unalterably convinced of the motives of people in authority whom they have never met and about whom they know practically nothing.

He adds:

I do not exclude myself from this class of know-all.

Europe’s death-wish

Dalrymple notes that in Western Europe today there are

large populations whose loyalty to, or even absence of hatred for, the host country cannot be assumed, and whose integration into that country’s society has been actively retarded and opposed by the doctrines of multiculturalism.

You have only to see, he says,

a group of men from the North-West Frontier gathering outside a Victorian terraced house in Bradford converted into a mosque, whose only obvious concession to Occidentalism is the wearing of Nike shoes and the possession of a mobile phone, to wonder what exactly they believe, think, and preach.

He points out that this population,

in the name of certain abstractions and shibboleths, is able constantly to replenish itself with new migrants, so that the need to integrate never arises: a huge ghetto, potentially hostile, is created that is self-sustaining.

Such a society

suffers from a death-wish, composed of an admixture of self-hatred and over-confidence that it is so unshakably strong that nothing can destroy or seriously undermine it.

Mr Loveday’s Little Outing

Dalrymple notes that Waugh’s 1936 short story satirises

the do-gooding propensities of the well-placed, who are inclined to take up causes whimsically as a means to mere self-gratification, without much thought for the possible consequences.

Dalrymple points out that

these days Mr Loveday wouldn’t have been released without a proper risk assessment and follow-up arrangements. I’m not sure that would have preserved the young woman on the bicycle, however.

Jewelled prose disguising narcissistic rage

Dalrymple asks of Virginia Woolf:

Might the revelation by the war of the utter frivolity of her attitudinising have contributed to her decision to commit suicide? If the good life is a matter of judgment, the war proved that all her adult life she had none.

Yet he notes that had she survived to our time,

she would have had the satisfaction of observing that her cast of mind — shallow, dishonest, resentful, envious, snobbish, self-absorbed, trivial, philistine, brutal — had triumphed among the élites of the Western world.

The examined life

‘Jednym z przywilejów praktyki medycznej jest wiedza o najbardziej intymnych myślach i uczuciach pacjentów. Ostatnio jeden z pacjentów poinformował mnie, że chociaż nie jest z powołania pisarzem, pokusił się o napisanie książki o filozofii swojego życia, która – miał taką nadzieję – będzie inspirująca dla innych.’