Category Archives: bourgeois virtues

The proletarianised bohemian intelligentsia

La gauche divine

La gauche divine

Imagining it has a divine spark (as opposed to what it thinks of as the bovine self-contentment of the bourgeois), the proletarianised bohemian intelligentsia

  • claims political allegiance with the proletariat
  • pretends to some of the tastes of the proletariat, for example that for association football
  • has a bohemian lifestyle and at the same time claims the economic advantages and privileges of a bourgeoisie

The proletarianised bohemian intelligentsia is the enemy, writes Dalrymple, of

thrift, honesty, reliability, respectability, solidity, respect for learning, willingness to postpone gratification and politeness.

Postcards from Brussels

A bourgeois city gone to seed

A Sint-Jans-Molenbeek street, Brussels:

The Sint-Jans-Molenbeek district: Brussels, the ‘sepulchral city’, as Conrad called it in Heart of Darkness, is, says Dalrymple, ‘dirty and unswept’; the houses, once all ‘bourgeois pride and prosperity’, are neglected

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The degeneration Brussels: 'Despite the fact that the public sector accounts for 50 per cent of GDP, it remains dirty and uncared for, and is architecturally ever more a hideous mish-mash. Many of the buildings were defaced by graffiti, the architectural equivalent of tattoos and just as idiotically egotistic'

Degeneration: ‘despite the fact that the public sector accounts for 50% of GDP, Brussels remains dirty and uncared for’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cretinism: 'Many of the buildings were defaced by graffiti, the architectural equivalent of tattoos and just as idiotically egotistic'

Cretinism: ‘many of the buildings were defaced by graffiti, the architectural equivalent of tattoos and as idiotically egotistic’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An architectural 'mishmash', says Dalrymple, but he would surely acknowledge that this is part of the city's charm

An architectural ‘mishmash’, says Dalrymple, but he would surely acknowledge that this is part of the charm of Brussels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palais des Beaux-Arts (Paleis voor Schone Kunsten), Victor Horta, 1928: the ugliest of all the major art galleries of the world, a building in the fascist style but without the courage of its megalomania, designed as if by a pocket Albert Speer

Palais des Beaux-Arts (Paleis voor Schone Kunsten), Victor Horta, 1928: ‘the ugliest of all the world’s major art galleries, a building in the fascist style but without the courage of its megalomania, designed as if by a pocket Albert Speer’

Asset inflation as the principal source of wealth corrodes character

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 00.05.06It not only undermines the traditional bourgeois virtues, writes Dalrymple. It

makes them ridiculous and even reverses them. Prudence becomes imprudence, thrift becomes improvidence, sobriety becomes meanspiritedness, modesty becomes lack of ambition, self-control becomes betrayal of the inner self, patience becomes lack of foresight, steadiness becomes inflexibility: all that was wisdom becomes foolishness. And circumstances force almost everyone to join in the dance….[It] is not an economic problem only, or even mainly, but one that afflicts the human soul.

(2009)

Detestable petit-bourgeois attitudes

Screen Shot 2014-02-17 at 13.01.06For more than 150 years, bourgeois respectability has been under concerted and rarely contradicted literary and intellectual attack, Dalrymple writes. The striving for respectability of the petite bourgeoisie is viewed as

not merely dull, but hypocritical and immoral. Better outright egotism than such hypocrisy, for at least egotism is sincere. Do what you like because, underneath a veneer of righteousness, that is what everyone does anyway. Riches being extracted solely by exploitation of the poor, the morality of the rich is only a smokescreen for their depredations. Besides, morality is a bore: it cramps one’s style.

African epiphany

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 08.50.31Dalrymple recalls a simple experience after which he would

never laugh again at the taste of people of limited means to make a comfortable home for themselves.

He describes his moment of understanding that rejection of bourgeois proprieties and respectability was

shallow, trivial, and adolescent.

Moreover,

my rejection of bourgeois virtues as mean-spirited and antithetical to real human development could not long survive contact with situations in which those virtues were entirely absent.