Author Archives: DalrympleFans

The selfie, the tweet, the Facebook page made flesh

Screenshot 2020-01-25 at 17.14.18Prince Harry holds up a mirror to modern egotism

Dalrymple writes that the Queen and Prince Harry provide a contrast

between one conception of life, one culture, and another.

In the Queen there is

  • self-restraint
  • a kind of existential modesty despite exalted position
  • full awareness that she owes her importance to an accident of birth
  • an iron sense of duty at whatever personal cost

In Prince Harry there is

  • personal whim
  • self-expression as an imperative, the ego being the object of almost religious devotion
  • the belief that he owes an accident of birth to his importance
  • a sense of entitlement

Dalrymple comments:

There isn’t much doubt as to which of these attitudes to life is in the ascendant, sociologically and philosophically. As Blake put it, ‘Sooner strangle an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires.’ To swallow down our emotions is now regarded as treason to the self, where it is not comical or a subject for derision; not to express oneself is to risk later psychological disaster.

Such is the power of modern culture

that a cosseted and highly unusual family is not immune from its influence.

There is

a desperate search for uniqueness among people who have a weak sense of self as distinguished from others. In an age of celebrity, not to be outstanding in some way is felt almost as a wound, certainly as an indication of failure.

The inflamed need for individuation

causes people to be reluctant to accept anything traditional, because the tradition did not originate with them and has no justification that they consider wholly rational. Life is all about choice: my choice. The extension of choice is why transgression is a good in itself.

Dalrymple adds that Prince Harry

is not being straightforward. He wants to destroy tradition and at the same time benefit from its continuation. He has no claim to the public’s attention except that he was born who he was in the very tradition that he wants to overthrow because he wants to be really, truly, just himself. I can well understand why a young man in his position does not want to play the part allotted him by fate; I wouldn’t have wanted such a part myself. But in order not to be a hypocrite, he should have gone off quietly into obscurity, without public subvention, to study butterflies or Sumerian epigraphy.

Europe cursed by welfarism

Screenshot 2020-01-25 at 16.31.12It is not demography that makes demographic renewal necessary in Europe, it is social security

It is often said that Europe has need of demographic renewal, so low is its birth rate. Dalrymple points out that this argument is

false, or intended to disguise something very discreditable.

The rate of youth unemployment in European countries with a total population of more than 150m is 20-25%, meaning there is a considerable reserve army of labour.

It should surely be easier for a young Spaniard, Greek, or Frenchman to integrate into German society than for someone from the Middle East or Africa. But the young Europeans, especially those without qualifications, are not desperate for work because, thanks to state allocations, they can get by without, and would hardly be better off if they did move to where there is work.

Countries with full employment need to import labour,

but cannot do so from other countries in Europe because that labour would require much higher wages to give them an incentive to seek work, higher wages than their labour was worth. In these circumstances, migrants are a necessary source of cheap labour, irrespective of whatever other advantages or—more likely—disadvantages they might bring.

Screenshot 2020-01-25 at 16.15.17

Youth unemployment in EU member states

Authoritarianism of so-called liberals

Screenshot 2020-01-25 at 15.59.09Why beholdest thou the authoritarianism that is in thy brother’s polity, but considerest not the authoritarianism that is in thine own polity?

Dalrymple writes that those who accuse Hungary and Poland of authoritarianism are not necessarily friends of freedom of choice themselves, except in respect of which restaurant to go to tonight.

I’m bored with Mexican, why not Moroccan? This is not necessarily a perfect model for society, or at least for all societies, as a whole.

He notes that

it is a common human trait to accuse others of the faults that one has oneself. In the case of authoritarianism, the accusation is easy, because there can be no complex modern society without the exercise of authority by someone. The question is whether that authority is exercised with both moderation and some kind of check or balance. For the former, an inner sense of limitation is necessary, and many so-called liberals do not have it.

Another in a long line of autocratic German leaders

Screenshot 2020-01-25 at 15.33.27Dalrymple observes that Angela Merkel’s sudden acceptance of a million migrants

was an authoritarian decision that made Viktor Orbán look a model democratic ruler. For when Merkel said, ‘We can do this,’ what she meant was, ‘You can do this,’ or rather, ‘You must do this,’ and all without the semblance of a consultation of the wishes of the German population in so serious a matter. She had nothing to lose herself but her polls, and she was near retirement anyway.

Her unilateral decision

must surely have deepened divisions in German society, between the better educated who were the least affected, and the worse educated who were the most affected by her decision. The former would be more concerned with feeling good about themselves—a specially urgent desire in Germany, for reasons I need not explain—than with the effect on those who would bear the brunt of the consequences of the decision. Voilà the rise of populism, that is to say of popular opinions that some people don’t like and think despicable.

Macron’s insidious policy of disease control

Screenshot 2020-01-25 at 15.16.21Emmanuel Macron wants a Europe-wide approach to immigration. This, says Dalrymple,

does not recognise that what suits one country does not necessarily suit another. It also implies a supranational authority that has the power to implement such a policy, even against the wishes of a local population. He wants migrants arriving—illegally, of course—to be shared out among European countries according to a binding formula.

His proposal implies that the migrants

are not a benefit but a liability to the receiving country, which is why they have to be parcelled out as if they were the bearers of some contagious disease.

Wanting your gluten-free cake and eating it

img_2400Dalrymple describes the case of a man who

indulges in the public disclosure of deleterious information about his employer

while demanding

continued employment, using highly divisive legal protections as an instrument of coercion.

 

The French ask only to be free, like the butterflies

Harold Skimpole

It is understandable, writes Dalrymple,

that those who benefit from the Byzantine system of pension arrangements in France should be anxious for them to continue. Workers on the railways, for example, mostly retire in their early 50s, and a train driver who retires as soon as the rules allow him will quite possibly be in receipt of a pension for twice as long as he worked. His pension theoretically is paid from the contributions of current workers, but since the number of current workers is half the number of former workers in receipt of a pension, the contributions have to be topped up by the government from tax. The 42 privileged pension schemes of early and generous retirement for specially-designated workers — a small minority of the population— are subsidised by the rest of the population, who have to work much longer in order to receive less generous pensions.

Why then, he asks, is there an apparently quite high degree of public support for the present wave of strikes? The answer is that

many French people do not see that what they are sympathising with is the maintenance of a system of privileges. Neither do they see that it is they who are paying for those privileges.

They support the strikers because they are

unaware of the underlying realities of the situation, also because of a general dissatisfaction with life, when anything that discomfits those in authority is welcomed, even if it is even more inconvenient for themselves.

The reward of moral courage

Viktor Orbán presents Scruton with Hungary’s Order of Merit

Sir Roger Scruton, writes Dalrymple, swam against the tide

regardless of the deprecation, insult, denunciation, even hatred directed at him. His name among much of the British intelligentsia was a byword for political atavism, as if he had been a radical advocate of tyranny and pogroms rather than a defender of freedom and civilised values. At the time of his coming to public notice, much of the intelligentsia refused to believe that a highly gifted and knowledgeable man could also be a conservative. Their rejection of all that was traditional seemed so self-evidently right to them that they thought that the only possible explanation for someone who valued tradition was obtuseness, moral turpitude—or both.

In the two editions of his book about thinkers of the New Left,

he praised them generously for whatever he considered praiseworthy in them. He paid them the honour of reading their work with attention, trying hard to decipher what it meant (by no means easy, given their frequent resort to high-sounding, multisyllabic verbiage), and refuting what was sufficiently intelligible to be refutable.

Sartre

was—for his earlier work—Scruton’s hero. Sartre had then the ability seamlessly to combine observation and experience of life with subtle metaphysical thought. It was only the later Sartre, an apologist for tyranny and mass murder, whom Scruton reprehended.

Scruton saw the events of May 1968 as

the wilful destruction of a beautiful civilisation by the spoiled beneficiaries of that civilisation and as a rejection of refinement in favour of crudity. He sided with the preservers rather than with the destroyers. The fragility of our cultural inheritance was clear to him.

He was revered in Eastern Europe where,

with others, and at risk to himself, he helped keep alive the hopes of dissident intellectuals. He ran clandestine philosophical seminars in several countries. It was a matter of disappointment to him that young British people were so cut off from any historical knowledge and so lacking in powers of imagination that they had no conception of what life in a totalitarian system could be like.

Václav Havel presents Scruton with the Czech Medal of Merit

This infernal machine

The motor car, writes Dalrymple,

has come completely to dominate urban life so that, for example, front gardens have been asphalted over completely to accommodate it, thereby destroying all pride in the buildings behind, which have been allowed to decay because they are no longer worth preserving. Roads that were once pleasant, leafy, airy, and spacious are now cramped and crowded and littered with multicoloured machinery.

What a relief!

Dalrymple writes that the defeat in the general election of Jeremy Corbyn,

whose economic ideas could produce a shortage of salt water in the Pacific, was incomparably more important than the question of Brexit, a minor distraction by comparison.

He notes that

we no longer have to muse upon whether and how to leave — or escape — Britain. The prospect of crushing taxes, total government and union control of the economy, expropriation of private property without proper compensation (or any), and a general Venezuela-ization, has receded.