Author Archives: DalrympleFans

What lies behind Grant’s adoption of gutter language?

Dalrymple explains that Hugh Grant (left) was the star of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) and once had some kind of trouble with the police

A tweet by the actor and thinker Hugh Grant, addressing the British prime minister, reads:

You will not fuck with my children’s future. You will not destroy the freedoms my grandfather fought two world wars to defend. Fuck off you over-promoted rubber bath toy. Britain is revolted by you and you [sic] little gang of masturbatory prefects.

Dalrymple comments:

No doubt the space allowed by Twitter does not encourage profound or logical reflection (though in the Analects, Confucius manages concision and compression somewhat better than Mr Grant). What is important in the above mental eructation is not its thought, or even feeling, but its mode of expression.

Grant’s dull and tedious adoption of the language of the gutter is

much more significant in the long term than Brexit or the actions of the prime minister. It points to the cultural degeneration of a nation that, insofar as it has an ideology at all, has made vulgarity posing as egalitarianism its ideology.

Grant’s greatest rôle: defender of freedom and democracy

Grant, says Dalrymple,

if I have understood correctly — though I am open to correction — has made something of his character as an upper-middle-class Englishman. But he is at one with the British cultural élite in vulgarity of expression.

We may be sure that,

irrespective of what the prime minister does, Mr Grant will be able to arrange for a bright future, at least in the material sense. We may be sure that, if any government were to threaten that assured material future by genuinely and inescapably egalitarian economic measures, his howls of indignation would be a good deal more sincere than in the tweet above.

Dalrymple notes that vulgarity as an ideology

is a substitute for economic egalitarianism, in which neither I nor the ideological vulgarians such as Mr Grant believe, and which both of us fear. Mr Grant, however, thinks that he can deflect some of the envy no doubt directed at him if he can show by his employment of vulgar language that he is really in the same boat as the most subterranean members of the underclass. He is asserting some kind of equality with them by his use of debased and inexpressive language.

The tendency to act down,

which occurs in spheres other than language, does not derive from any guilt about social or economic inequality, which, on the contrary, it is designed to preserve and maintain. It is rather a camouflage or smokescreen for privilege, whether that privilege be earned or not. But though it is playacting — indeed, defender of freedom and democracy may be Mr Grant’s greatest rôle — it is not without real cultural effect, an effect that is baleful if you do not approve of the coarsening that it brings with it.

Moreover,

lack of verbal restraint is not liberation, it is impoverishment of thought.

Movie review: Four Weddings and a Funeral

Dalrymple points out that the 1994 film starring the oily Hugh Grant is

abominable.

It has, he notes,

that kind of self-regarding and self-conscious charm that is not easily distinguishable from oleaginous fraud.

Vulgarity of expression in the British cultural élite

Leafing through the cultural section of the Observer, which Dalrymple explains is

the Sunday newspaper of the intelligentsia (at least, that part of it that still reads a newspaper),

he comes across the following statement, by a playwright called Lucy Prebble, about her latest work:

It’s a risky, clumsy motherfucker, this play.

The accompanying picture is of the playwright,

dressed in a rather pretty and no doubt expensive flowered frock, smiling and looking exceedingly pleased with herself.

Dalrymple notes that

apart from the obviously bogus self-deprecation of the statement,

the use of the word motherfucker

is clearly intended as a signal of her liberation from supposedly bourgeois restraint and her desire to assert her membership in the linguistic underclass. We may assume that as a successful playwright she is capable of more expressive, less uninformatively vulgar ways of describing her doubts about the value of her play. Her choice of word is not to convey anything meaningful about her play, which it is clearly incapable of doing, but to establish her social and political virtue, that is to say her nonmembership of an élite that once upon a time would not have used such a word, and certainly would not have wished it to be published that it had used it.

Exceedingly pleased with herself: Lucy Prebble

Motherfucker of parliaments

Enemies of democracy

The political class has set itself against the people’s will

Dalrymple writes that the temporary suspension of Parliament by Boris Johnson

has been depicted, in the world’s Press and in Britain, as all but a coup d’état, the manœuvre of an incipient dictator, at the least an authoritarian measure.

It is, he says,

the opposite. It is designed to prevent a coup. The mirror-image of truth has largely prevailed.

Shyster

Three years of manufactured chaos

Dalrymple lays out the facts.

Parliament agreed to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. Although it had no force from the purely constitutional point of view, it was not intended as a glorified opinion poll and it was implicit that the winning side would decide the issue. No strong objections were raised in advance by those in favour of Britain remaining in the EU because they felt they would win with ease. Despite — or because of — the support of David Cameron and Barack Obama for the campaign for Britain to remain, those in favour of leaving gained 52% of the votes. Parliament, the majority of whose members were in favour of remaining, passed a resolution in obedience to the result; it would have been too brazen a defiance of the popular opinion that they had canvassed to have done otherwise. But having done this, they opposed both the deal negotiated by Theresa May and the withdrawal of Britain without any agreement. The EU had reiterated that it would not renegotiate the terms: it had no reason to do so, given May’s surrender on all fronts. Thus Parliament wanted neither the only deal then possible nor no deal.

Quisling

The élite knows best

Parliament was

attempting to prevent any kind of withdrawal whatsoever, even in May’s extremely attenuated form. It set itself up against the will of the people as expressed in the referendum. Parliament was expressing its authority over popular opinion, presumably on the ground that it knew best what was good for the people on whose opinion on the question it had sought. If anyone could be accused of mounting a coup, albeit a slow-moving and indirect one, and of political authoritarianism, it was Parliament.

Suppose, says Dalrymple, that the vote had gone the other way — that 52% of those who voted had done so to remain.

Does anyone suppose for a moment that the disappointed leavers would have refused to accept the vote and manœuvred to thwart the will of the majority? A few might still have argued for eventual withdrawal, but would not have obstructed or threatened the continuance of the government as the remainers have done. Who are the democrats round here?

Marxist-Leninist fool

Those who demonstrate against Johnson’s manœuvre

do so because they claim to want Parliament to have its say. But Parliament has had its say for three years, without resolving the issue, and with a determination to thwart implementation of the resolution it had passed — because it never had any intention of carrying out the people’s wishes as expressed in the referendum.

Triumph over the population

Dalrymple notes that

to hold a plebiscite and ignore the result is now a European tradition, but to call it a democratic procedure is to twist the word beyond any possible meaning. Both the French and the Dutch publics voted against the proposed European Constitution by a wider margin than that by which the British voted to leave the EU, but got it anyway in a revised form, as a binding treaty rather than as a constitution. The political class thus triumphed over the population, banking on the fundamental apathy of the latter. But this a dangerous game.

Traitors

Outraged dignity

The protesters against Johnson’s manœuvre

are not trying to defend parliamentary democracy, about which they do not give a fig: what they are protesting against is that the votes of those persons whom they consider ignorant, uneducated, prejudiced and xenophobic have a chance of being taken seriously, indeed as seriously as their own. This is an outrage to their dignity.

But as Dalrymple points out,

the educated are not ipso facto wiser than the uneducated, nor are they necessarily the stoutest defenders of freedom, a fact evident on many American campuses where opinion is free only as long as it coincides with the doxa. Among the greatest foes of freedom today are many of the educated. They are the anointed whose vision must prevail, and mirror-image truth serves that end.

He adds that

time is short, but ample enough for further betrayal.

Red menace

Grim smug Leftist performing animal

Self-righteous guru: hell is being preached at eternally by this humourless puritan

Greta Thunberg, writes Dalrymple,

is to self-righteousness and self-satisfaction what Mozart was to music — a prodigy.

But unlike Mozart,

she is an unattractive child, the grimness of her humourless puritanism being inscribed on her face. She has added a vision of hell: being preached at by her for eternity.

Thunberg’s

awfulness (of which she is unaware) is not really her fault. Her transformation into a celebrity is the work of adults.

The exaggerated respect with which her pronouncements have been received

will be a matter of wonder to future generations. She has addressed not only crowds but parliaments, where she has been accorded a mixed status:

  • guru because she has uttered the tenets of a powerful doxa that so many thirst to believe
  • performing animal because she is so young to perform so unexpectedly well

Thunberg’s humourlessness

is a great asset in the modern world, for when earnestness is mistaken for seriousness and gaiety for frivolity, a sense of humour is not only unlikely to flourish, it is likely to be reprehended. Literal-mindedness has become so general a psychological phenomenon that jokes, most of which are directed against someone, are sure to be taken in their most literal meaning.

Humour has become dangerous. But Thunberg is safe; Dalrymple notes that

the very idea of a joke seems alien to her. I suspect that she is one of those persons who is puzzled when people laugh.

The political class is a law unto itself

A real ray of sunshine: Philip Hammond is one of the leading Quislings

The anti-Johnson protesters are enemies of democracy

Dalrymple writes:

You would have thought, from the howls that greeted Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament, that he had appointed himself prime minister for life. Our democracy was in danger, said the demonstrators, meaning that Johnson’s manœuvre had made it harder for Parliament to obstruct the wishes of the people as expressed in the referendum.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, he says,

was right when he said that the outrage was bogus: it was that of a spoiled child who doesn’t want to go to bed.

Plebiscitary democracy,

in which a government puts questions to the population in the expectation of getting the answer it wants, is dangerous. The modern European tradition is to hold a plebiscite and take no notice of the result if it is ‘wrong’. This is what the demonstrating ‘defenders of democracy’ want. If they had objected beforehand to the procedure, pointing for example to the absurdity of deciding so complex a question on the basis of a single vote decided by 50% of the votes plus one, they might have had a point. But they did not. They expected to win the referendum and only turned against it because of the unexpected result.

Parliament, Dalrymple points out,

has conducted a long rearguard action against putting into effect the vote that it called. The majority of MPs were opposed to Brexit, but instead of coming straight out with it, they prevaricated so long and so efficiently that they almost scuppered the whole process. Having canvassed public opinion in a supposedly binding referendum on a vital subject, to ignore the result can only strengthen the impression that the political class is a law unto itself.

A world heritage site of incompetent modernist architecture

Left to rot: the magnificent Victorian original building

Dalrymple at Aberystwyth University

The university’s original magnificent Victorian building

stands unoccupied except by detritus that can be glimpsed through its Gothic windows unwashed for decades.

The rest, he says,

is of such ugliness that one is left clutching one’s eyes in despair.

Unutterably hideous: one of the university’s structures

The students,

who in term time make up a third of the town’s population, care deeply about the fate of the planet and the future of the environment, but live in squalor.

They

turn everywhere they inhabit into a slum, and wade happily through the litter that they drop — principally the wrappings and containers of their refreshments rather than lecture notes.

Modernist architecture of almost laughable ineptitude

The grisliness induces in the onlooker a sense of hopelessness in the face of such degradation

The best Algerian restaurant in the principality

Maghreb cuisine in Ceredigion

After an enjoyable day in the Cardiganshire coastal town of Aberystwyth, Dr and Dr (Mme) Dalrymple dine in

a Moroccan restaurant. Actually it was Algerian, but as the owner, an Algerian, pointed out, no one in Aberystwyth has heard of Algeria.

It was, says Dalrymple,

instructive to talk to someone such as he, for then you begin to realise how many remarkable people there are in the world.

How, the doctor-writer asks,

does one go from being a teacher of French and Arabic in Algeria to being the owner and chef of a restaurant in Aberystwyth? He had been in Wales for forty years, and on the wall of his restaurant were the flags of Algeria and Wales, by coincidence of the same colouration. He loved his adopted country, which speaks well of it.

The tajine

was as good as I had eaten anywhere.

Brooklyn Mephisto

Dalrymple notes that Jeffrey Epstein’s taste for orgies was

only partially sexual in origin. A man in his situation could have paid for any amount of sex, of any kind, in private. What he really enjoyed was corrupting others—and not just others, but prominent and powerful others. He enjoyed playing Mephistopheles, apart from any sexual gratification he may have had on the way.

Dalrymple explains that Epstein

was born into a modest family and pursued no glorious academic career. He was of high intelligence and very ambitious. One might have thought that his achievement of riches (by whatever means accumulated) would have assuaged feelings of inferiority that he felt vis-à-vis those who had succeeded via family connection or the conventional academic route. But great success from humble beginnings does not always, or perhaps even generally, extinguish the flames of resentment, but rather fans them.

It is a relief and joy

to prove that the great ones whose ranks the parvenu has joined are no better than he, that underneath their polished exterior and their inherited or academic distinction is still a person of crude and basic appetites. To implicate them in his depravity gives him a certain power over them: the power of equal standing. Never again will they be able to consider themselves his superior. His apparent generosity towards them is the establishment of the relationship of a blackmailer to his victim.

Dalrymple argues that Epstein’s wish to bring people down to his level, the better to have some hold over them and feel at least their equal, was

an extreme manifestation of a commonplace egalitarian impulse to bring everyone down to one’s own level, if not lower. The pleasure we take in a debunking biography, irrespective of the greatness of the subject’s achievements, is a relatively harmless satisfaction of this impulse, though debunking can become an addiction to the point that we cease to admire any achievement. There is much greater pleasure in pulling people down than in raising them up, besides being something much easier to do. This is why egalitarians hate the privileged much more than they love the unprivileged.

That Epstein seemed to have been able with such ease to befriend and probably corrupt so many of an élite

will have the effect of casting further suspicion on the very notion of an élite. But ye have the élite always with you. There is an élite among anti-élitists.

The folly of von der Leyen

A mixture of cliché, slogan, and evasion

The president-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is quoted as saying:

The last four years have taught us that simple answers don’t take us far. All that one heard was ‘Close the borders and migration will stop’ or ‘We must save everyone on the Mediterranean.’ We have seen that the phenomenon of migration has not stopped, and that there is a limit to the ability to integrate [the migrants]. Therefore a global approach is necessary. We must invest massively in Africa to reduce the pressure to migrate. At the same time we must fight organised crime so that we ensure that the Schengen agreement [which allows free movement of people between countries party to it] can function because we protect our external borders [i.e. the EU’s borders].

Dalrymple comments:

This evades almost all the difficult questions about immigration. With a superb indifference to practicalities, von der Leyen fails to tell us how either the push or the pull that drives migration is to be lessened, apart from ‘massive investment in Africa’.

Von der Leyen, he notes,

does not tell us who is going to bankroll this massive investment. Is it to be financed via the forced contributions of European taxpayers and be administered by European bureaucrats? The history of massive aid investment on the part of Europeans in Africa has not been happy.

Dalrymple asks:

If the massive investment is not to come from government, with its almost infallible ability to turn investment into liability, who is it to come from, and for what purposes?

The answer

must be the private or corporate sector. But why is it that the private or corporate sector, supposedly ever on the search for commercial opportunity, does not already make such investments? How is it to be persuaded to do so? Is the purpose of its investment to make a profit or to reduce migration?

Dalrymple observes that cliché has

entered the very fabric of von der Leyen’s mind. Surely it must have occurred to her that it is a little late in the day for investment, however massive, to halt the pressure that has led a third or more of sub-Saharan Africans—who will soon be three times more numerous than the Europeans—to want to migrate to Europe.

Besides, he says,

it is not the poorest of the poor of Africa who arrive clandestinely in Europe; it is those who can — or whose family can — pay the air fare, giving them the chance to overstay their visa, or pay people-traffickers (often several thousand dollars) to smuggle them in. Many migrants enter under family reunification schemes inscribed in European law.

A rising standard of living in the emigration centres of sub-Saharan Africa brought about by massive investment, were it to occur (which is far from certain), would

more probably increase than decrease the migratory pressure, in so far as more people would have the means to undertake the migration.

This thought

does not in the slightest inhibit von der Leyen from using the language of the imperative—a way of thinking that might result in the compulsion of reluctant countries to pursue a futile policy at great cost. Moreover, it is very difficult to see how any effective or selective migration policy could be carried out without a closure of borders.