Category Archives: careerism

Immigration and British incompetence

Screen Shot 2016-07-01 at 23.32.20Dalrymple points out that much immigration to the UK, for instance from Poland,

has been good and even necessary for the country.

He draws attention to the fact that the inability or unwillingness

of the British public administration to control the kind of immigration that is most feared, for example from Moslem countries,

is associated with

a generalised administrative incompetence.

He attributes the incompetence to

a culture of frivolity and to careerism in bureaucracies grown too large and convoluted to have any connection with their ostensible purposes.

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So you want to be a consultant

Dalrymple is third from left

The young Dalrymple is third from left

Dalrymple remembers the advice proffered by a senior consultant to himself and other young people at the outset of their clinical studies. The consultant

was teaching us how to examine patients. He had just discovered that he had cancer of the bowel, which he took to be a sentence of death. His life was at an end, he said, and now he realised that he had devoted it to a worthless ambition, namely to become a consultant in a teaching hospital.

To achieve this he had led a deformed life for many years. He had

  • been endlessly on duty at night, ruining his family life
  • toadied for years to men whom he detested
  • failed to develop other interests
  • played silly academic games by doing research which he knew from its inception to be futile, since it was undertaken from a desire for promotion rather than from love of knowledge
  • lived his entire adult life in a single institution, knowing nothing of the world beyond

And now

it was too late, he was dying.

I know you don’t like me,’ he said, which was no more than the truth, for he had been an irascible and intimidating teacher.

But I want to give you a piece of advice. You won’t take it, I know, but I’ll give it you all the same. On no account pursue a career only for power or prestige. To live an interesting life, that is the main thing. You don’t appreciate it yet, but this is the only life you have, so make the most of it. Don’t do what I’ve done. The world is much bigger than any hospital.

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A continent limping towards the abyss

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 23.36.42Dalrymple points out that ‘ever closer union’

resuscitates old national stereotypes and antagonisms and increases the likelihood of real conflict.

He notes that politicians and bureaucrats,

like all people with bad habits, are infinitely inventive when it comes to rationalising the European Project, though they’re inventive in nothing else.

  • Without the Union, they say, there would be no peace; when it’s pointed out that the Union is the consequence of peace, not its cause, they say that no small country can survive on its own.
  • When it is pointed out that Singapore, Switzerland, and Norway seem to have no difficulties in that regard, they say that pan-European regulations create economies of scale that promote productive efficiency.
  • When it is pointed out that European productivity lags behind the rest of the world’s, they say that European social protections are more generous than anywhere else.
  • If it is then noted that long-term unemployment rates in Europe are higher than elsewhere, another apology follows.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 08.42.50The fact is that for European politicians and bureaucrats,

the European Project is like God — good by definition, which means that they have subsequently to work out a theodicy to explain, or explain away, its manifest and manifold deficiencies.

The personal interests of European politicians and bureaucrats,

with their grossly inflated, tax-free salaries, are perfectly obvious. For politicians who have fallen out of favour at home, or grown bored with the political process, Brussels acts as a vast and luxurious retirement home, with the additional gratification of the retention of power.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 23.41.11The name of a man such as Herman Van Rompuy,

whose charisma makes Hillary Clinton look like Mata Hari, would, without the existence of the European Union, have reached most of the continent’s newspapers only if he had paid for a classified advertisement in them.

Corporate interests,

ever anxious to suppress competition, approve of European Union regulations because they render next to impossible the entry of competitors into any market in which they already enjoy a dominant position, while also allowing them to extend their domination into new markets. That is why the CAC 40 (the French bourse benchmark) will have more or less the same names 100 years hence.

Dalrymple reminds us of the European Union’s role in corroding civil society.

Suppose you have an association for the protection of hedgehogs. The European Union then offers your association money to expand its activities, which of course it accepts. The Union then proposes a measure allegedly for the protection of hedgehogs, but actually intended to promote a large agrarian or industrial interest over a small one, first asking the association’s opinion about the proposed measure. Naturally, your association supports the Union because it has become dependent on the Union’s subsidy. The Union then claims that it enjoys the support of those who want to protect hedgehogs.

The best description of this process is

fascist corporatism, which so far lacks the paramilitary and repressive paraphernalia of real fascism. But as the European economic crisis mounts, that distinction could vanish.

One should not mistake the dullness of Eurocrats

for lack of ambition, or the lack of flamboyance for the presence of scruple. History can repeat itself.

Dalrymple says that whenever he reads the French press on the subject of the European crisis,

I’m struck by how little questions of freedom, political legitimacy, separation of powers, representative government, or the rule of law feature, even in articles by academic political philosophers. For them, the problem is mainly technical: that of finding a solution that will preserve the status quo (there is no such solution, but intelligent people searched for the philosopher’s stone for centuries).

As for the British political class,

it is composed largely of careerists,

and in the world of the Eurocrats,

ignoring arguments is the highest form of refutation.

A society in decomposition

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.07.37England has neither leaders nor followers but is composed only of egotists

The

intellectual torpor, moral cowardice, incompetence and careerist opportunism of the British political and intellectual class

A careerist, intellectually torpid, incompetent coward

A careerist, intellectually torpid, incompetent coward

is now very evident, writes Dalrymple. Despite everything that has happened in recent years, the corrupt mandarins continue to contrive

not to notice what has long been apparent to anyone who has taken a short walk with his eyes open down any frequented British street: that a considerable proportion of the country’s young population (a proportion that is declining) is ugly, aggressive, vicious, badly educated, uncouth and criminally inclined.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.08.41Lavish self-esteem

While British youth is utterly lacking in self-respect,

it is full of self-esteem: that is to say, it believes itself entitled to a high standard of living, and other things, without any effort on its own part.

Although youth unemployment in Britain is very high, that is to say about 20 per cent of those aged under 25,

the country has had to import young foreign labour for a long time, even for unskilled work in the service sector.

The British, idlest workers in Europe

No rational employer in a service industry would choose a young Briton

if he could have a young Pole; the young Pole is not only likely to have a good work ethic and refined manners, he is likely to be able to add up and — most humiliating of all — to speak better English than the Briton, at least if by that we mean the standard variety of the language. He may not be more fluent but his English will be more correct and his accent easier to understand.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.11.24Travesty of an educational system

After compulsory education,

or perhaps I should say intermittent attendance at school, up to the age of 16 costing $80,000 a head, about one-quarter of British children cannot read with facility or do simple arithmetic. It makes you proud to be a British taxpayer.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.15.37State-subsidised criminality

British youth

leads the Western world in almost all aspects of social pathology, from teenage pregnancy to drug taking, from drunkenness to violent criminality. There is no form of bad behaviour that our version of the welfare state has not sought out and subsidised.

British children

are radically unsocialised and deeply egotistical, viewing relations with other human beings in the same way as Lenin: Who whom, who does what to whom. By the time they grow up, they are destined not only for unemployment but unemployability.

Long bath in vomitus

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.17.38All the necessary electronic equipment is available for the prosecution of the main business of life, viz

entertainment by popular culture. And what a culture British popular culture is! Perhaps Amy Winehouse was its finest flower and its truest representative in her militant and ideological vulgarity, her stupid taste, her vile personal conduct and preposterous self-pity.

Sordor

Winehouse’s sordid life

was a long bath in vomitus, literal and metaphorical, for which the exercise of her very minor talent was no excuse or explanation. Yet not a peep of dissent from our intellectual class was heard after her near canonisation after her death, that class having long had the backbone of a mollusc.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.19.10Thugs in uniform

What of the police? They are

simultaneously bullying but ineffectual and incompetent, increasingly dressed in paraphernalia that makes them look more like the occupiers of Afghanistan than the force imagined by Robert Peel. The people who most fear our police are the innocent.

(2011)

Impenetrable drivel unworthy of the faculty of speech

The linguistic effluent that has engulfed Western society and economy

The linguistic effluent that is engulfing Western society and economy

Managerialese is the revenge of the unscrupulous and mediocre on the talented and principled

People who become managers in public service organisations and in large commercial firms, writes Dalrymple,

speak a kind of language that is neither colloquial nor technical nor philosophical nor literary nor precise nor poetic nor even quite human.

He asks whether their utterances correspond to what is going through their mind, or whether they have to translate their thoughts

into this simulacrum of language.

The bullshit piles up so fast you need wings to stay above it

The bullshit has piled up so fast you need wings to stay above it

No man of education and feeling can bear the tedium of it. A virus has entered the brain to

disarrange its language centres, rather as a stroke does.

Scourge of the talking robots

The source of the malady might, he suggests, lie with industrial concerns

and perhaps the business schools that trained their managers, as primates in the forests of Central Africa were the source of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Infection often escapes its original nidus to infect the surrounding population of the susceptible, in this case managers in and of the public service made susceptible by Margaret Thatcher’s ill-fated notion that the public service could be some kind of replica of private business.

Screen Shot 2015-03-22 at 11.26.35Verbigeration

Dalrymple points out that the argot is both a symptom and a sustainer of a social revolution. Those who consult its claims are

ruthless and ambitious, mediocre in everything except in the scale of their determination to rule some tiny roost or other, and be paid accordingly. The quid pro quo is that they must learn a new language, whose mastery is far from easy: I am sure that if my readers will try to speak for only a few minutes in managerialese they will find it almost impossible, for meaning will keep breaking through their best attempts at meaninglessness.

Whatever is wrong with us, Islam is not the solution

Michel Houellebecq: 'looks like a man who has crawled out of an ashtray after a prolonged alcoholic binge in clothes that have not been washed for weeks. This does not mean he approves of the world he inhabits: it is that he can conceive of no other, at least for Western man, and if anyone thinks otherwise he is deceiving himself. Grunge is reality; everything else is veneer'

Michel Houellebecq: ‘looks like a man who has crawled out of an ashtray after a prolonged alcoholic binge in clothes that have not been washed for weeks. This does not mean he approves of the world he inhabits: it is that he can conceive of no other, at least for Western man, and if anyone thinks otherwise he is deceiving himself. Grunge is reality; everything else is veneer’

Fundamentalist Mohammedanism has nothing of any value to say to the inhabitants of the 21st century

The novelist Michel Houellebecq’s theme, writes Dalrymple, is

the emptiness of human existence in a consumer society devoid of religious belief, political project, or cultural continuity in which, thanks to material abundance and social security, there is no real struggle for existence that might give meaning.

Arduous vacuity

Such a society

will not allow you to go hungry or to live in the abject poverty that would once have been the reward of idleness, whether voluntary or involuntary. This lends an inspissated pointlessness to all human activity, which becomes nothing more than a scramble for unnecessary consumer goods that confer no happiness or (at best) a distraction from that emptiness.

For Houellebecq,

intellectual or cultural activity becomes soap opera for the more intelligent and educated rather than something of intrinsic importance or value.

The Houellebeckian mood

An economics lecturer character

describes his work as the teaching of obvious untruths to careerist morons, rather than as, say, the awakening of young minds to the fascinating task of reducing the complexity of social interactions to general principles.

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Joris-Karl Huysmans: the novelist of pessimism and decadence became ‘desperate to escape his nihilistic condition’ and ‘returned to Catholicism later in life and became an oblate’

So brilliantly

does Houellebecq describe the arduous vacuity of the life of his protagonists that one suspects (or knows?) that his books are strongly autobiographical.

The very success of the Enlightenment project, says Dalrymple,

is the root of its failure. Having eliminated myth and magic from human life, it has crushed belief even in itself out of society. Bravery and excitement have given way to comfort and convenience; degeneration is the inevitable and unavoidable result.

The protagonist and narrator of Soumission

is a teacher of French literature in a Parisian university, a specialist in the work of Joris-Karl Huysmans. This was a clever choice on the part of Houellebecq, for Huysmans returned to Catholicism later in life and became an oblate, his last book being Les foules de Lourdes. Huysmans followed the path that the protagonist, in desperate need to escape his nihilistic condition, will follow; but Catholicism having lost its faith and becoming, under Pope Francis, little more than transcendental social work to the hosannas of the right-thinking, there is no living faith in France except Islam for him to convert to. It is Islam, faute de mieux. The subtlety of Houellebecq’s book consists of demonstrating that the spiritual need of the protagonist can be made to coincide with his material interest.

Islamism: 'intellectually nugatory'

Islamism: ‘intellectually nugatory’

Houellebecq

does not feel it necessary to point out that the protagonist, having converted, will not be free to apostatise should he subsequently decide that he has made a mistake; Islam is like a vein, it has an built-in mechanism of preventing backflow, so that conversions flow in one direction only. Free enquiry on many subjects will henceforth be denied him, and eventually even the subject of his scholarship is likely to be prohibited.

Soumission is far from a crude anti-Islamic polemic, says Dalrymple.

It is rather a meditation, admittedly using all the author’s habitual tropes which fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, are susceptible to an infinite number of bitterly amusing variations, on the state of Western civilisation and what makes that civilisation vulnerable to attack from so intellectually nugatory a force as Islamism which, by all reasonable standards, has nothing of any value whatever to say to the inhabitants of the 21st century.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 22.42.14Houellebecq’s novel

is an invitation to us to look inwards, to think of what is wrong with us rather than with them. Whether we or they will read it like this, I rather doubt. As to a solution, it is hardly the place of a novel to supply it. But whatever it might be, Islam is certainly not it.

 

Why the second-rate flourish

Screen Shot 2014-02-01 at 22.43.18The untalented ambitious triumph because

they can devote themselves to intrigue, backstabbing, and jockeying for power….I have often seen the gifted and morally upright pushed aside or thwarted by schemers and apparatchiks who viewed their betters with a mixture of fear and hatred.

An apparatchik is

a person who doesn’t mind how long a meeting goes on unless he has another meeting to attend. He is interested in power for its own sake, divorced from purpose.

This type of careerist mediocrity possesses

sensitive antennae for the power of others. When that power is strong, he retreats; when it shows a weakness, he pounces.