The Mayhew de nos jours


In his post ‘Theodore Dalrymple: an appreciation‘, Babbington (‘former Leftist, occasional blogger — politics, philosophy, books; citizen of the English-speaking world, resident of the German’), remarks:

It is impossible to know what writing from our time will survive hundreds of years from now. No doubt some work of real quality survives by accident; other work never receives the fame it deserves.


Still, he says,

if I were allowed to choose what writing from our time would be saved and read far into the future — a light for posterity — I would have to include many essays by Theodore Dalrymple.

Among Dalrymple’s themes, Babbington points out, is

the devastating impact Left-wing policies and thinking have had on the poor.

Dalrymple has documented, he notes, how the culture created by Leftist thinking

has dissolved restraints upon individual whim. And this creates a brutal and miserable world.


Babbington reminds us that while Leftists are fixated on what they believe to be the negative impact on the poor of free markets, clear-sighted people are more concerned to address the matter of the effects on the poor of freedom from social norms. Babbington observes that Mayhew in the 19th century drew attention to the impact of capitalism (when there really were negative effects); in our times, Dalrymple recognises that the issue is the chaos and misery that result from sociocultural degradation and the collapse of moral standards.

Babbington points to a virtue of Dalrymple’s work — his

readiness to bring clearly into focus realities that many would prefer not to see, and not to think about. This is not a man to be restrained by the pieties of the age.

Babbington’s post is a useful starting point for anyone unfamiliar with England’s leading essayist (apparatchiks of the various legacy media — including those associated with the drivelscreen — tend to shut Dalrymple out of the discourse they manage). The post includes a selection of the choicer bons mots, and there are links to some resonant articles.

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