Author Archives: DalrympleFans

Silence is violence

Dalrymple notes that the slogan reflects the demand that

everyone join in a chorus, failure to do so being a crime.

This, he points out,

goes further than authoritarianism, under which dissent is a crime. As under the totalitarians, positive and public assent to and enthusiasm for certain propositions are required.

Failure in this regard

is a symptom or sign of being an enemy of the people. If you do not join in the chorus, but are silent, you are a racist, complicit in the killing of George Floyd and other crimes.

The pleasures of resentment

Dalrymple writes:

That the world is unequal, unfair, and often unjust is true, but resentment is, of all human emotions, among the least constructive and most incompatible with real happiness, though it may bring with it certain sour satisfactions, including the elimination of personal responsibility for one’s situation.

Unfortunately, also,

it is one of the few emotions that can last a lifetime, for it is protean in its ability to find justifications for itself.

Dalrymple points out that Nelson Mandela’s achievement was the avoidance of the interracial violence that had long been predicted as inevitable in South Africa and the only way things would ever change there. He did this by his dignity and lack of rancour after his release from prison and during his presidency.

Threats and balderdash combined

Ferocious self-righteousness

Dalrymple writes that British venting of pseudo-virtue over the killing of George Floyd

had a strong flavour of humbug, that is to say the desire of protesters to make themselves look and feel good without having to go to the trouble of behaving well.

London alive with the sound of baloney

The menace of their poppycock lay, he says, in this: that if you did not participate in expressions of outrage, you were in some sense responsible for what happened. One of the demonstrators held aloft a placard saying ‘White silence is complience [sic]’.

By this token, the demonstrator’s silence on the Chinese occupation of Tibet, or on the war in the eastern Congo, was complicity with horrors far greater in extent than the death of Floyd.

But

silence is not even approval, let alone complicity, and to imply that everyone must express equal outrage about what one is outraged about oneself is self-righteousness carried to the level of megalomania.

‘No justice, no peace’ read another placard,

as if to justify anticipated looting and burning, perhaps even killing.

The pleasures of righteous indignation, he says,

are among the greatest enemies of clear thought.

Dying is really rather fun

Such is the impression conveyed by a poster Dalrymple spots in an undertaker’s window near Père-Lachaise, where he used to like to stroll before it was shut. He comments:

Representing it as a pleasant afternoon outing does not make for a mature attitude to death, which after all remains, despite a great deal of technical progress, the bourn from which no traveller returns. The nearest we come to the ars moriendi these days is a comprehensive funeral plan so affordable that it makes for happy contented mourners.

No more than a minor inconvenience, if that

Père-Lachaise

Undertakers must advertise

Deep and deleterious snobbery of the metropolitan cognitive élites

Madeleine Bunting

Dalrymple remembers keenly an article in the London Guardian by Madeleine Bunting, one of the newspaper’s writers, because of what it revealed of modern upper-class British attitudes. Bunting stated that underclass girls in Britain got pregnant so young because the only alternative for them to early motherhood was shelf-stacking. Dalrymple comments:

This élite-educated columnist implied that stacking supermarket shelves was the summum malum of human existence, overlooking the fact that stacking shelves is a perfectly honourable and socially useful thing to do, is not unpleasant in itself, may not be the last job the person doing it will have, and is probably suitable for many people.

It is, he says,

the disdain that hurts, and that is what the modern upper class so successfully communicates to those below them on the social scale.

Dalrymple’s message to the likes of Bunting in all their hauteur is that they should

stop pretending that they are tormented by guilt at their own good fortune, which at the same time they do everything possible to preserve.

Guardians of the orthodoxy

Dalrymple notes that outrage,

especially when it is experienced in the context of an abstract cause, is pleasing to us, or at least to a great and perhaps increasing number of us.

No one will have failed to notice, he says,

the rapidity with which the morally unthinkable these days becomes the acceptable and then, very soon afterwards, the unassailable. Once the formerly unthinkable becomes the unassailable, outrage is expressed by the guardians of the orthodoxy when the unassailable is in fact assailed by people who are deemed not merely mistaken in their views, but wicked or evil.

The unassailability of the new orthodoxy

inhibits free discussion, for while most people like to feel outrage, few people like to be the object of it, except perhaps a few exhibitionists who enjoy notoriety for its own sake. Most people keep their heads below the parapet, not wishing to draw the fire of the defenders of the new faith.

A golden age of smelly little orthodoxies

Dalrymple writes:

I do not think anyone would say that we are nowadays free of what Orwell calls ‘smelly little orthodoxies’.

Indeed, the latter

seem to have proliferated since the end of the Cold War.

One might even say that we live in

a golden age of smelly little orthodoxies. Orthodoxies breed heresies and heresies breed anger.

Fanatical psychopathic Leninist power-lust

It is not that the communist régime refused to reform, writes Dalrymple,

it is that it was incapable of reform for the same reason that a woman can’t be a little bit pregnant. If a régime makes the kind of claim for itself that the communist régime made, even if the leaders had themselves long since ceased to believe it, namely that it is the ineluctable dénouement of history if not that of the universe, it cannot retreat. This is because its crimes, claimed to be a step in the march of history, would thereafter be seen for what they were: the choices of fanatical psychopaths avid for total power.

Victory to the kleptocrats!

In Angola, writes Dalrymple,

a revolutionary movement emerged triumphant, and

the post-revolutionary régime was of course

a pure kleptocracy under cover of Marxist rhetoric.

Without corruption, communist states could not survive

Communist countries would not have been able to function without corruption because, writes Dalrymple, political decision-making was substituted for the price system.

Where there are no prices, and the economy is largely demonetarised, goods and services can be distributed only by corruption.

He says the mystery of the Soviet Union and of the other Cold-War-era people’s republics is not why they produced so little, but why they produced anything at all. The answer is

corruption. An ‘honest’ communist state would produce nothing.