Category Archives: bores

A crashing bore actuated by burning hatred

Dalrymple writes that on the whole, the commentary evoked by the bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth

obeyed the injunction not to speak ill of the dead, as if the passage of time and the deaths of millions in the name of the birthday boy did not somewhat attenuate the social imperative to mute one’s words.

Marx

believed that crises were inevitable until the advent of his utopia, in which such phenomena as private property, banks, and the bourgeoisie would cease to exist. In Marx’s vision, the ant would lie down with the anteater.

The combination, says Dalrymple,

of scathing criticism of the present and adolescent daydreaming is irresistible to quite a lot of people.

Dalrymple notes that Marx

was one of those people who love humanity and hate men. He was in most respects an unattractive figure, cocksure, domineering, intolerant, and hypocritical—though he had an undoubted charm in the domestic circle and was both very clever and intensely cultivated.

In his writing he was

a crashing bore with a brilliant turn of phrase. Burning hatred is never far from his prose, and gives it its spice. Nowhere is it clearer that hatred is by far the strongest of political emotions.

The anteater shall lie down with the ant

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A demagogue and a terminal bore

Chávez bestrode his country like a colossus inflated with gas

Resentment, notes Dalrymple,

is the nourishing broth in which demagogues like Castro and Chávez grow and thrive. The worse they make the situation, the better their explanation for it. We were right all along! See what they are doing to us! Since resentment is self-reinforcing, the demagogues are always sure of at least some support, however obvious the disaster they have wrought.

Dalrymple says that he is not prescient, far from it, but

I knew from the moment that Chávez took power that his rule would end disastrously. Whatever the parlous state of the country at the time he took power, he could only make it worse. (I reviewed a book by one of those fools whose wishful thinking flits like a butterfly from revolution to revolution and from radical to radical, and who took Chávez at his own estimate.)

A disaster from which Venezuela will take generations to recover

Chávez

was the kind of leader who could produce a shortage of saltwater in the Pacific. It was only appropriate that he should so have admired Bolívar that he named his ‘revolution’ after him, for Bolívar’s life ended miserably and his plans were utterly set at naught. ‘He who serves the revolution,’ said Bolívar at the end of his life, ‘ploughs the sea.’

Dalrymple points out that Chávez was

a charismatic nonentity, a terminal bore whose mind was stuffed with cliché, verbiage, and resentment. He bestrode his country like a colossus inflated with gas. He never said in a minute what he could say in an hour; if he had a fundamental belief, it was ‘I speak to an audience, therefore I am.’

His constant appeal

was to resentment, the most sustainable of all emotions. (It can last a lifetime and, being easily transferred, is heritable).

Chávez’s

resentful charlatanry, his patent-medicine-salesmanship of quick political and economic solutions, was a disaster for his country from which it will take generations to recover.

The most boring man ever to be prime minister

Dalrymple notes that the politician David Cameron was

a dullard.

Worse, left to his own devices, Cameron was

a terminal bore.

This was tacitly admitted when

a man called Bill Knapp, a consultant (in what, exactly?)

had to be brought over from the USA in order, in the words of Cameron’s fourth-rate ‘director of communications’,

to sharpen lines for the PM’s Question Time appearances and the wider TV debates.

Dalrymple notes that Cameron was in point of fact

the dullest man ever to hold the position of prime minister.

Speaking power to truth

Political correctness is not a neurodegenerative disease, the doctor explains,

but it might as well be, so devastating is its effect on intellection. It appears to be infective, spreading from brain to brain. It is more like a form of chronic mass hysteria.

A little like our economic system, it must be forever expanding to survive.

The capitalist system, Dalrymple reminds us, must

stimulate new desires in consumers and make those desires as quickly as possible seem like needs, without the satisfaction of which life is rendered impossible.

Similarly, political correctness,

to extend its soft-totalitarian hold over the population, must discover new injustices to set right — by a mixture of censorship, language reform, and legal privileges for minorities. The meaning of life for the politically correct is political agitation.

Dalrymple points out that the greater the violation of common sense, the better.

It is like communist propaganda of old: the greater the disparity between the claims of that propaganda and the everyday experience of those at whom it is directed, the greater the humiliation suffered by the latter — especially when they were obliged to repeat it, thus destroying their ability to resist, even in the secret corners of their heart.

That is why the politically correct

insist that everyone use their language: unlike what the Press is supposed to do, the politically correct speak power to truth.

All that is necessary for humbug to triumph is for honest men to say nothing

The politically correct, Dalrymple notes,

never seem to become bored with their thoughts. This leads to a dilemma for those who oppose political correctness, for to be constantly arguing against bores is to become a bore oneself. On the other hand, not to argue against them is to let them win by default. To argue against rubbish is to immerse oneself in rubbish; not to argue against rubbish is to allow it to triumph.

From Germany, hope for insomniacs

The federal foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Zzz zzz zzz… Verbal anæsthesia: the federal foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, delivers an address that is well-timed (coming shortly after the British voted to leave the European Union), and in duration no longer than about an hour-and-a-half, concerning the glories of the European Union. Zzz zzz zzz…

Zzz zzz zzz zzz…

Picking up a copy of the Paris daily the Monde, which he describes as the French equivalent of the Times of New York, though

still rather more interesting,

Dalrymple comes across an article by the Bundesminister des Auswärtigen, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. To read it, Dalrymple says,

is to enter a world of grey thought, evasive cliché, Soviet-style slogans, verbal anæsthesia. I think you could put almost anyone to sleep by reading it aloud to him.

Steinmeier’s remarks are intended to be

a stirring call to readers, like de Gaulle’s radio broadcast from London.

There are passages such as this:

We are committed to making Europe better. This is the direction taken by the proposals put forward by Jean-Marc Ayrault [the Ministre des Affaires étrangères et du Développement international] and myself. We have ideas on improved internal and external security, an active migration policy and a policy for growth and employment. We look forward to receiving lots of constructive ideas. A better, more flexible EU will respect differing views on the further progress of Europe and will allow for different speeds, without excluding anyone or leaving anyone behind. Instead of arguing about what the ultimate goal of European integration should be, we should work towards tangible results. It is only by working together that we will make progress. That is why it is so important for us to consult each other in the group of 27, to listen carefully to each other, and then take joint action.

Hergestellt in Detmold, Deutschland

Hergestellt in Detmold, Deutschland

Zzzz zzz zzz zzz… Dalrymple comments:

I do not know Mr Steinmeier and have no animus against him. He is probably a perfectly decent man, as politicians go. What intrigues me is whether his article corresponds to any thoughts that actually ran through his head. If they did, one can only pity him: how boring it must be to be Mr Steinmeier.

But Dalrymple does not want to be accused of selective quotation, so he closes his eyes and lets his finger alight at random on part of the article. Here is the passage:

We are looking back on an unprecedented 70 years of peace and stability. More than 25 years have passed since we brought an end to the division of our continent. The process of European unification is an unparalleled success story. At its core is an agreed political framework under which the member states come to Brussels to manage their relations and settle their conflicts — and do not head off to the battlefield. This agreement has lost none of its utility or significance. The European peace project must be passed on intact to the generations who will follow us.

Zzz zzz zzz zzz… Dalrymple says that to combine, in such a way,

soporific banality with cunning evasiveness takes, I suppose, talent of a kind, the kind of talent required to rule without appearing to want to do so. It is a dull talent, and one that I cannot much admire.

The IMF would make the Apocalypse seem dull

Screen Shot 2015-10-17 at 07.37.00The habit, writes Dalrymple, of

informing oneself, however sketchily, about what is going on in the world is deeply ingrained. Christine Lagarde has never, as far as I know, said anything interesting, but one reads what she says all the same.

Insipidity’s monument

'Nothing for [the British prime minister] Cameron is a ­matter of principle, only of advantage, and short-term advantage at that, his sole discernible goal being that of maintaining himself in power'

‘Nothing for Cameron is a matter of principle, only of advantage, and short-term advantage at that, his sole discernible goal being that of maintaining himself in power’

Why, exactly, is David Cameron such a bore? The answer, writes Dalrymple, is that the British prime minister

calculates the effect of whatever he says upon the polls.

He is

a man as it were without qualities, good or bad, unless to be monumentally dull and boring is itself a bad quality.

The editor of the Lancet is a Pecksniffian bore

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 01.44.05It must be a terrible thing, writes Dalrymple,

to have such boring thoughts, not occasionally but repeatedly, if not constantly, and feel obliged to express them.

 

Teach Yourself Poisoning

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 19.56.50A discovery — in one of the few second-hand bookshops in Britain that have not been killed off by the state-funded ‘charity’ shops — of the 1929 (third) edition of Malay Poisons and Charm Cures by John D. Gimlette, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., Residency Surgeon, Kelantan, Un-Federated Malay States (Retired); Formerly Surgeon-Magistrate, Selinsing, Pahang; Sometime Temporary Major, R.A.M.C.

Gimlette (1867-1934) lost a finger and a foot after contracting septicæmia in the course of his work. He was invalided back to England in 1921.