Category Archives: bien pensant causes

A sure way to revive German nationalism

Oddly enough, the Germans don’t seem keen to furnish the bazooka

Impose redistributive loans on Berlin for Keynesian purposes!

Dalrymple observes that negative-yielding bonds, representing a quarter of debt issued, are

hardly a resounding vote of confidence in the future. They are like an umbrella to protect us from an approaching monsoon.

He points out that economic gloom

is growing in Europe, where growth remains low and youth unemployment in many countries is high.

Yet-lower interest rates, penalising savers,

will not revive EU countries’ economies. Having lost control of their currencies as a result of monetary union, these countries cannot apply a fiscal stimulus.

Lagarde thinks she has the answer

We hear calls, echoed recently by Christine Lagarde, for a large European budget that can apply a stimulus to various countries as necessary. Such a budget, Dalrymple explains,

is seen by some as an antidote to the growth of populist nationalism in Europe, supposedly the consequence of the continent’s economic woes. An editorial in the Guardian, daily bible of the bien-pensants of much of the English-speaking world, was headed: The nationalism that taps into people’s angst and dislocation can be effectively challenged with a bazooka of a eurozone budget. In other words, if only governments of countries in which populism—that is to say, the popularity of one’s opponents—spent enough money to revive their economies, the people would return to their senses and re-enter the social-democratic fold that has served Europe so well—even if it led to the present trouble.

Where will the firepower of the proposed bazooka come from?

There can be only one answer under the present dispensation: from Germany. Oddly enough, the Germans don’t seem keen to furnish the bazooka. They have had some recent experience of large-scale lending, and it was not altogether happy in its results, economic or political.

A genuinely closer political union (the supposed aim of the European Union, but which Europeans have repeatedly said they do not want) might impose redistributive loans on Germany for Keynesian purposes—other countries in the EU outvoting Berlin.

It’s not easy to imagine the Germans accepting this. There could hardly be a better way to revive German nationalism, one of the eventualities that is the target of the proposed bazooka to destroy.

The situation would be even more dangerous because Germany

has achieved its pre-eminent economic position, in part, by not allowing a commensurate increase in the standard of living of its people, who may not be pleased to play the role assigned them by the EU. Polls already suggest that this is so.

Popish unctuousness and cowardice

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 09.28.47Less a shepherd, more one of the sheep

Pope Francis’s speech to Congress, writes Dalrymple, resembled that of

a politician seeking re-election. It was like the work not of a man intent upon telling the truth, however painful or unpopular, but that of a committee of speech-writers who sifted every word for its effect, appealing to some without being too alienating of others. If Bill Clinton had been elected pope, he might have made the same speech, so perfect was its triangulation, so empty its high-sounding phrases.

Interviewed after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Francis let it be known that if someone insulted his mother he could expect a punch, making a physical gesture to illustrate his point.

This is not exactly the doctrine enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount; and one could not imagine John Paul II or Benedict XVI making so foolish or crude a mistake under the complacent impression that he was charming.

Francis’s

propensity to run after false gods, most of them fashionable in the constituency to which he evidently wants to appeal, no doubt accounts for his popularity. He is bien pensant; and where he does not yet feel able to alter doctrine in a liberal direction he is evasive and even cowardly, afraid to court distaste or opposition by clear expression of what he means.

Dalrymple asks to whom and at what these papal weasel words are directed:

It is my wish throughout my visit that the family be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! How worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and beauty of family life.

Dalrymple:

Who and what are calling fundamental relationships into question? Fundamental relationships do not call themselves into question: someone must do it in the name of some doctrine, some belief. The Pope’s resort to the passive mood is indicative of his moral cowardice in confronting the opponents of what the Church believes in. Those opponents he knows to be militant and aggressive, and to confront them openly would lead to his fall in the popularity polls.

Francis

evades the issue with vague and oily declamation. It is one thing to be peace-loving and conciliatory, another to surrender by means of avoidance of the issue.

Such avoidance was evident when Francis said:

We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.

Dalrymple:

This may be true in the abstract, but the wholesale persecution of religious minorities, and the perpetration of violent acts in a host of locations, is confined to Islamic extremism. It would have been better for the Pope not to have broached the subject than to have dealt with it in so pusillanimous a fashion.

The Pope’s secularist outlook is evident in his abolitionism:

I am convinced that this way is best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

Dalrymple:

There is nothing here about mercy, forgiveness, repentance, redemption or salvation. Rehabilitation is a purely secular concept, suggesting that the wickedness of crime is a form of illness, to be treated by the psychological equivalent of physiotherapy; sin, or even vice, doesn’t come into it.

Francis’s words

are indistinguishable from those of the European Court of Human Rights, when it ruled that it was a breach of fundamental rights that brutal repeat murderers should be sentenced to whole-life terms because such sentences exclude the possibility of their rehabilitation (even if, in practice, they would never be released). But while God may forgive Himmler – under certain conditions – surely Man cannot. The irreparable exists in the sublunary world.

At every point, Dalrymple points out, Francis

evaded specifics and resorted to unctuous generalities. No one ever courted unpopularity by denouncing injustice, but many risked much by being specific about what they considered, rightly or wrongly, unjust.

Francis

was against poverty in the way the preacher in the Coolidge anecdote was against sin. But while no secularist will speak up for poverty, the religious attitude has traditionally been more nuanced.

Francis spoke of the unjust structures that exist even in the developed world. This, says Dalrymple, is to

make a fetish of wealth.

Moreover, he was

exciting one of the seven deadly sins, envy.

Francis, Dalrymple concludes, prefers to court popularity while rocking no boats. He

plays to the gallery, wanting to be liked by everybody. There is nothing of timelessness in what he says but only of the temporal, the contingent, the fashionably platitudinous.

Every ad agency’s dream

With Gerry Adams at the Bobby Sands and James Connolly commemorationSome observations on the next prime minister of Great Britain

Jeremy Corbyn, writes Dalrymple, has throughout his years in the House of Commons

voted for his beliefs, not for his career,

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.34.30refusing to join

the majority of the MPs at the trough of expenses.

While Tony Blair, for instance, is a public egalitarian in search of a private fortune, Corbyn is no hypocrite. He

lives his ideals. He is a man of grinding and unnerving integrity, a man of such probity that he would let the heavens fall so long as his version of social justice was done.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.40.08There is, says Dalrymple,

not a bien pensant cause in sight to which Corbyn does not wholeheartedly subscribe with the uncritical belief of an apostle, and for which he would be unprepared to go to the stake.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.28.50A point in his favour is that he does not appear to be

a man of erudition, culture or literary talent.

Another plus is

his evident authenticity by comparison with other politicians, most of whom are as synthetic as the toys that used to be put in cereal packets.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.39.09This dour monomaniac dresses

like a social worker from the 1970s, but at least it is from his own choice, not that of a public relations firm. He is genuine. He is not the product of an advertising agency, and by self-evidently not being such a product he is an advertising agency’s dream.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.49.21Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.47.52Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.46.24 Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 15.48.16