Category Archives: Cheshire cat

Vehemence is the tribute egotism pays to guilt

Jeremy Corbyn compares the Israeli government to the Nazi, appears to mean it, and is applauded by many for doing so

The easy resort to the most extreme possible descriptions of people and actions that one detests seems, writes Dalrymple,

to be a characteristic of our times.

This combination of moral imprecision and verbal inflation has occurred in the West

with the large expansion of tertiary education.

The word fascist has come to be used

lightly, almost joyously, to describe anybody or any policy which conflicts with the moral orthodoxy of the moment.

Its employment

obviates the need to examine and refute arguments, just as no one needs (or is able) to refute a paranoid delusion.

The label

by itself is enough to stifle discussion, a word without definite meaning but with a connotation like the grin of the Cheshire Cat that remains when all else of that creature has melted away.

Vehemence, Dalrymple notes, is

the tribute that egotism pays to guilt. I ought to feel the wrongs of the world deeply because that is how good people feel them: therefore if I express myself strongly enough I will at least appear to be good. The stronger the words the deeper the feeling I appear to feel.

For instance,

a possible future prime minister of Great Britain, Jeremy Corbyn, compares the Israeli government to the Nazi, appears to mean it, and is applauded by many for doing so.

The Cheshire cat

The psychiatrist and communist fellow-traveller Reg Ellery, writes Dalrymple,

was of a type by no means uncommon, the intellectual who changes his mind but whose certainty is like the grin of the Cheshire cat, being what remains when everything else has disappeared.

Dalrymple adds:

I, of course, am not at all like that; at least, I don’t think that I am. No, no, I am quite certain that I am not.