Category Archives: absurdity

Trump’s finest hour

Donald Trump: patriotism, generosity and good sense

Reading in his morning newspaper that the General Assembly of the United Nations had greeted a short section of Donald Trump’s speech with laughter, Dalrymple’s esteem for the US president grows. The laughter, Dalrymple writes,

gave rise to Mr Trump’s finest moment. He took it in good part, admitted that he had not expected it, and said it was perfectly all right.

The moment

revealed something about world opposition to Mr Trump: that it is bogus or not deeply felt, and is pro forma.

Dalrymple asks:

  • Would the General Assembly have laughed disrespectfully at Mr Putin or Mr Xi, and would either of them have reacted in the same good-natured way if it had?
  • Did anyone laugh at Mr Obama’s fatuously grandiose claim that his election marked the beginning of healthcare in the United States and the healing of the planet, at least the equal in absurdity of anything said by Mr Trump?
  • Is Mr Trump’s slogan Make America great again any shallower than Mr Obama’s Yes we can?

Barack Obama: absurdity, grandiosity and fatuity

Dalrymple points out that Trump is held to a different standard; and anyone really believing the president was an incipient totalitarian dictator wouldn’t have laughed.

Trump’s speech offered

a more generous view of the world than that of most of his opponents. He called on the people of all countries to be patriotic, acknowledging that people of all countries had something to be patriotic about.

Trump’s was a vision of the world that was

far more genuinely multicultural and multipolar than those who believe in, or call for, a kind of European Union on a global scale, in which all cultures are ground into a food mixer from which a health-giving culture juice of universal rights (to healthcare, social security, etc.) will emerge.

The European Union monstrosity: an emergent bureaucratic tyranny

Trump’s view of patriotism certainly did not entail

the hatred of or disdain for, let alone enmity towards, other countries. What he said in essence was that he wanted a world of live and let live. He appeared to understand that a world government without borders would necessarily be a monstrous bureaucratic tyranny with no possible legitimacy.

To be sure, he simplified problems, but

to look to political speeches for subtle elucidation of knotty problems is like looking to tabloid newspapers for metaphysical insight.

British social policy defined

An idiocy wrapped in a lunacy wrapped in an absurdity, to produce misery and squalor

Dalrymple writes:

A tax on knowledge is a terrible thing, but a tax on ignorance, prejudice, evasion and half-truth is worse. That is what every British household with a television must pay, for the privilege of having the earnest but frivolous lucubrations of the BBC purveyed to it, whether it wants them or not.

This poll tax — or licence fee, as it is known — is the equivalent of nearly $200 per household a year, and is thus worth evading. Unfortunately, it costs nearly three times as much to catch evaders as the licence fees would have raised if paid. One proposal is to halve the licence fee for single mothers. Dalrymple comments:

In other words, we should subsidise a subsidy, in the name of a universal right to misinformation and trashy entertainment (and at the same time confer yet another incentive for single parenthood).

It makes you nostalgic for Marxism

Perhaps in earlier times, writes Dalrymple, Salman Abedi

would have found a Marxist groupuscule providing the total explanation of all the ills of the world that troubled youth so often seek, and suggesting to them the total solution. But the downfall of the Soviet Union destroyed the prestige of Marxism, so Abedi sought his total explanation and solution elsewhere. The obvious place was Islam, for he was of Muslim descent and heritage and there were no other contenders for possession of his soul, both little and grandiose.

Of interest to psychopathologists

Happier days

Dalrymple comments:

I never thought I would lament the demise of Marxism, but I have recently begun to remember it rather more fondly. By comparison with Islamism, it was intellectually compelling; Marxists could have interesting things to say, however mistaken they were, which Islamists never can and never will be able to do. At most, they are interesting to psychopathologists.

The ideology of the caliphate, he notes,

is so absurd and intellectually vacuous that to try to refute it is to do it more honour than it deserves or is capable of supporting.

But, he says, history proves that

absurdity is no obstacle to acceptance, even (or perhaps I should say especially) by the intelligent and educated.

Cherchez les Saoudiens

Moreover, Islamism in Europe, Dalrymple points out,

can count on the financial support of, or sustenance by, the Saudi, or Wahhabi, state, which has spent untold millions in spreading its version of rigourism, on creating the atmosphere in which it flourishes and without which it would not survive.

A wealth of absurdity in one small booklet

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-14-00-13At the British Medical Association (the physicians’ labour union), certain persons whom Dalrymple describes as being among

the little popes of political correctness

have, he says, consigned the term cleaning ladies to

the semantic equivalent of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum.

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-14-01-33However, he notes that

even if they were henceforth to be called cleaning persons rather than cleaning ladies, I doubt that the BMA would press for equal wages with them. All persons are equal, but some persons are more equal than others.

In the BMA pamphlet A guide to effective communication: inclusive language in the workplace, doctors are instructed not to use the expression expectant mothers but rather pregnant people. Dalrymple comments:

The BMA now lives, or wants to live, in a world in which taking offence is its own justification: the offended, or yet-to-be offended, have taken over from the victims as the world’s heroes.

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-14-03-04

‘The British Medical Association, of which I am an undistinguished member, recently published a booklet entitled A Guide to Effective Communication, which I strongly suspected would be as helpful as a booklet entitled Improving Athletic Performance by Cutting the Achilles Tendon. I was right.’

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-09-41-38

‘Whether anyone has ever met an expectant transsexual offended by the term expectant mother is not stated; nor is the possibility aired that, if such a being actually existed, he or she should simply be told not to be so silly.’

screen-shot-2017-02-04-at-14-10-05

‘Long experience of apparatchiks has taught me that anyone who prefaces what he is about to say—his communication—with the words “I am committed to…” will soon proceed to something unpleasant hiding in his thicket of polysyllabic euphemism. If a hospital manager, for example, says “I am committed to…” (or, even worse, “I am passionately committed to…”), you know that something is about to be closed down and its staff (except for the managers) sacked.’

'No words of mine can do justice to the wealth of absurdity that the framers of this booklet have managed to pack into fourteen pages, which has come in for well-merited mockery.'

‘No words of mine can do justice to the wealth of absurdity that the framers of this booklet have managed to pack into fourteen pages, which has come in for well-merited mockery.’

Imbecile militants of libertinism

Havelock Ellis

Havelock Ellis

Dalrymple writes that the shallow, twisted and dishonest sexual revolutionists’ ideas

about the relations between men and women—entailing ever greater sexual liberty, ever less mastery of the appetite—were so absurd and utopian that it is hard to understand how anyone could have taken them seriously. But mere absurdity has never prevented the triumph of bad ideas.

Their sensibilities

have permeated our society. The Dionysian has triumphed over the Apollonian. No grace, no reticence, no measure, no dignity, no secrecy, no depth, no limitation of desire is accepted.

There is, writes Dalrymple,

denial that sexual relations are a proper subject of moral reflection or that they need to be governed by moral restrictions. The result is soaring divorce rates and mass illegitimacy.

He points to the profound

change in moral sensibility, in the direction of a thorough coarsening of feeling, thought, and behaviour.

Gogol for the absurdity, Kafka for the menace, Orwell for the lies

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Mistrust, fear, emasculation, and compliance with untruth in the professions and universities. Modern Western propaganda and the political-ideological correctitude that infects, among many other fields, the medical profession is not, Dalrymple writes, intended to persuade, much less to inform, ‘but to humiliate’. The less true it is, the better, for ‘by not only forbidding contradiction to its claims but demanding assent to them, the human being’s sense of independence and worthiness is destroyed from within….The more preposterous the claims and the more obvious the defects in reasoning, the more effective….This process of human destruction…is far advanced in Britain and…in the rest of the Western world’. To understand what is going on, he says, ‘it is necessary, and probably sufficient, to read three authors: Gogol for the pervasive absurdity, Kafka for the pervasive fear and menace, and Orwell for the pervasive lies’