Self-advancement considered as one of the fine arts

Dalrymple writes that only Stendhal, or Balzac,

could do justice to José Manuel Barroso’s trajectory in life: from revolutionary Maoist student to prime minister of Portugal to chief apparatchik of the European Union to vice-president of Goldman Sachs with special responsibility for advising the bank on how to mitigate the effects of Brexit (for the bank, of course, not for Britain or Europe). If he had been born a couple of decades earlier, he would have been a high-up in Salazar’s dictatorship.

The attraction of the European Union, says Dalrymple,

for those who are prepared to endure its tedium and its requirement always to speak in langue de bois is evident. It offers a golden reward in exchange for the obliteration of personality, character and scruple. It plays Mephistopheles to a hundred minor Fausts.

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