Category Archives: civilisation

Looters at the ready

The threat of barbarism and mob rule

In conditions of anarchy, after, for instance, a hurricane,

a crude and violent order, based upon brute force and psychopathic ruthlessness, soon establishes itself, which regards philanthropy not as a friend but as an enemy and a threat.

While Dalrymple acknowledges that

all of us who were born with original sin (or whatever you want to call man’s fundamental natural flaws) are capable of savagery in the right circumstances,

he points out that by no means all of us

immediately lose our veneer of civilisation in conditions of adversity, however great. A veneer may be thin, but this makes it more, not less, precious, and its upkeep more, not less, important.

Looters, Dalrymple notes,

look bitter, angry, resentful, and vengeful as they go about what British burglars are inclined (in all seriousness) to call their ‘work’. The gangs are reported to have used racial taunts during their depredations. In all probability, the looters believe that, in removing as much as they can from stores, they are not so much stealing as performing acts of restitution or compensatory justice for wrongs received. They are not wronging the owners of the stores; on the contrary, the owners of the stores have wronged them over the years by restricting their access to the goods they covet and to which they believe they have a right. The hurricane has thus given them the opportunity to take justice into their own hands and settle old scores.

It is, he says,

a terrible indictment of all the efforts undertaken in recent years by government welfare programmes and institutions that practice affirmative action, such as universities, to ameliorate the condition of underclass blacks. It implies that the nihilistic alienation of the looters and gang members is as great as that to be found in Soweto at the height of the apartheid regime. Far from ameliorating the situation, then, the billions spent on welfare programmes, and the intellectual ingenuity expended on justifying the unjustifiable in the form of affirmative action, have resulted in a hatred that is bitter and widespread among those condescended to in this manner.

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Why young occidentals hate

Cretinous iconoclasm

Youth in the West, writes Dalrymple, is deliberately kept from any deeper knowledge of civilisation by the

ideological self-hatred that has been so strong a current of Western intellectual life for the last three or more decades, that precludes any pedagogic affirmation of the Western tradition.

This self-denigration

explains in part the kind of hatred (and contempt) that young Muslims feel. Not only does the ideological self-hatred of Western intellectuals prevent them from learning anything of the Western tradition, other than Radio One and McDonald’s, but it supplies them with the tropes with which to justify their pre-existing anger and violence.

Dalrymple notes that the self-hatred of Western intellectuals

is not genuine or sincere: they do not really want to beat our supermarkets into souks, as swords into ploughshares. Rather, the intellectual’s expression of self-hatred is directed at other Western intellectuals, to prove the self-hater’s broadness of mind, moral superiority and lack of prejudice. It is not only rebellious youth who experience peer pressure; and anyone who pointed out, for example, that for a very long time now the Western medical tradition has been incomparably superior to all other medical traditions in the world combined and multiplied a thousandfold, would forfeit approval, even though what he said was true, and obviously so.

Barbarism

Insincere ideas can become official orthodoxies, with very real consequences. The Muslims of the West

are hardly to blame if they do not realise that the posturings of our intellectuals are not intended to be taken literally. When Western intellectuals express no admiration for or appreciation of the cultural achievements of their civilisation’s past, when only denigration and iconoclasm appear to advance an intellectual’s career, when moral stature is measured by the vehemence of denunciation of past or present abuses, real or imagined, it is hardly surprising that Muslims conclude that the West is eminently hateful; it must be, because it hates itself. They haven’t heard of Marie Antoinette playing shepherdess.

The insincere play with fire

Those who claim to hate and despise themselves

will very soon be taken at their word by others, particularly by those who believe themselves to be in possession of an all-embracing creed. Far from promoting reconciliation and tolerance, therefore, multiculturalism breeds contempt, hatred and violence.

No attempt, writes Dalrymple, is ever made to explain the West’s hitherto overwhelming superiority in many fields

except by reference to injustice, exploitation and colonial depredation. That the phenomenal and unique inventiveness of the West might be connected in some way with its long philosophical and cultural development, going back to ancient Greece, is a thought that is never for a moment entertained.

In the mental world of many young people in the West, and especially Muslims,

the difference in the wealth of nations is the result of plunder, not invention and innovation, to be redressed by more effective plunder in the opposite direction.

No attempts are made at school to induct young people into the tradition of Western civilisation,

for fear of offending their parents’ cultural sensibilities if they are, say, Muslim; though no more efforts in that direction are made on behalf of kafir youth. Both kafir and Muslims enjoy the fruit without ever knowing the tree. They are like the East End boys of old, who thought that milk came in bottles because they had never seen or heard of cows.

How the West invites terror

Riaz Khan Ahmadzai

Riaz Khan Ahmadzai

Muslims, writes Dalrymple,

are not deceived by pusillanimous, odious, unctuous, and fatuous expressions of understanding for their feelings that have emerged from official circles, in a vain and cowardly attempt to defuse the situation by a precipitate though insincere abandonment of the best values of the Enlightenment.

Islamic fundamentalists

know perfectly well that the West does not respect them, and that the only way they can cut a figure is by terror. Technologically, scientifically, artistically, philosophically, economically they are nullities: but they know how to be vicious, and that makes up for every other defect. If the world will not listen to their tedious religiose lucubrations, it will at least pay heed to their bloodcurdling threats. Each expression of pseudo-understanding is music to their ears: they know that threats of mass decapitation and killing in the streets have worked. It is an open invitation for more of the same.

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

The Western democracies, says Dalrymple,

have demonstrated a lack of resolve comparable only to that of Chamberlain and Daladier in the face of Hitler.

When, he says,

we see the freedom that the Enlightenment wrought challenged in so intellectually primitive and thuggish a way, we realise how very much we owe the Enlightenment. You don’t really appreciate something until you have lost it.

The problem of the Muslim world is that

it wants the material fruits or benefits of the Enlightenment without the Enlightenment. A considerable proportion of the large migrant population from Islamic countries to Europe has wanted this too, which is why many such migrants are notably less successful in their adopted countries than their Hindu, Sikh, and Chinese counterparts. Muslims have been trying to square this circle for well over a century, since they first became aware of how retarded they were by comparison with a civilisation that theirs once more than equalled. Like the inhabitants of the ghetto, they want the respect of the rest of the world without wishing to do the things necessary to obtain it.

Screen Shot 2016-07-23 at 09.45.50

Una defensa de la civilización

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 09.31.19Filósofo, médico, psiquiatra, viajero del mundo, sociólogo, periodista, crítico. Dalrymple representa una combinación única de experiencia amplia y provocativa, educación profunda, y habilidad literaria impresionante – una especie de tormenta perfecta de intelecto.

Daniels ha sido arrestado como espía en Gabón, ha sido buscado por la policía sudafricana por violar el apartheid, visitó el lugar de la masacre de civiles por parte del gobierno de Liberia, ocultó su condición de escritor, por temor a la ejecución en Guinea Ecuatorial, se infiltró en un grupo comunista inglés con el fin de asistir al Festival Mundial de la Juventud en Corea del Norte, interpretó Shakespeare en Afganistán en presencia de su príncipe heredero, hizo contrabando de libros para los disidentes en Rumania de Ceaușescu, fue arrestado y golpeado con porras por fotografiar una manifestación contra el gobierno en Albania, fue vigilado por la policía de Indonesia en Timor Oriental y cruzó África y América del Sur utilizando sólo el transporte público. Pocas personas han viajado tan extensamente y con tanto coraje como Dalrymple, que ha visitado y escrito sobre decenas de países en todos los continentes excepto la Antártida.

Como periodista político, empezó a relatar en la década de 1980, todas estas experiencias en artículos para la revista Londres Espectador y en seis libros de viajes publicados bajo su nombre real, Anthony Daniels. Pero también era hasta hace poco un médico a tiempo completo, ejerció tanto tanto de médico y un psiquiatra. Fue ayudante de cirujano durante seis meses en Rhodesia (hoy Zimbabwe) y ejerció la medicina en una pequeña aldea en Tanzania durante dos años, donde dice que trata, entre otros casos, ‘los niños mordidos por víboras puff’ y adultos ‘mutilado por los leopardos’. También trabajó una clínica psiquiátrica en las Islas Gilbert (en el Pacífico Sur) durante tres años y durante 15 años ejerció como médico y psiquiatra de una prisión en Inglaterra. En este último cargo, ha entrevistado a miles de criminales y víctimas de la violencia doméstica, personas que han intentado suicidarse, así como a los posibles terroristas islámicos, violadores, asesinos, drogadictos y ladrones. Todavía continúa ejerciendo como testigo experto en casos de homicidio británicos.

Claramente, Daniels se ha dado cuenta de los beneficios intelectuales de la carrera de medicina: hablar con diversos grupos de personas acerca de sus problemas y aprender a diagnosticar sin implicarse emocionalmente. Esto, junto con sus viajes épicos por el mundo le han dado la capacidad de sopesar las ventajas y desventajas de una multitud de culturas, religiones y sistemas de gobierno, una comprensión de la vida, los problemas y las filosofías de la pobreza en su país y en el extranjero; una experiencia que le ha servido para distinguir los rasgos principales de las diferentes culturas y las conductas humanas, y con un punto de vista único desde el cual reflexionar sobre la existencia del mal.

En sus escritos, Daniels, se basa en su experiencia personal, la reflexión profunda para producir su línea de pensamiento en la que desconfía profundamente de las actuales modas intelectuales. Según Dalrymple, durante más de un siglo, los intelectuales occidentales se han preocupado no con la identificación de la verdad, sino con la abolición de los límites sociales tradicionales sobre el comportamiento individual con el fin de conseguir licencia personal completa. Al hacerlo, han colocado la nueva autoridad de la razón por encima de la de la religión, la convención social, la tradición y la etiqueta, que restringen el comportamiento individual y por lo tanto debe ser destruido. Pero el uso de los intelectuales de la razón no es de buena fe. Explotan la razón en una forma de disputa filosófica que excusas casi todas las formas posibles de comportamiento antisocial. Por lo tanto, el pensamiento académico abarca teoría cada vez más compleja y absurda, que sustituye a la simple observación e imparcial.

Esta línea intelectual golpeó a Dalrymple cuando regresó a Inglaterra de la vida en el extranjero. En África, había visto la verdadera pobreza, la supervivencia fue un logro de la especie, el pueblo aún conserva su dignidad y su ética de trabajo. Para su sorpresa, descubrió que la vida de los ingleses que habitantes en los suburbios estaban ‘tan saturados de violencia arbitraria como la de los habitantes de más de una dictadura’, con la diferencia de que en el Oeste ‘el mal es elegido libremente’ en lugar de ser un producto de la coerción gubernamental. Él determinó que la disminución de la civilidad, siempre defendida por intelectuales occidentales habían adoptado un efecto desastroso en muchos segmentos de la sociedad y de las clases bajas donde hubo víctimas más por la falta de oportunidades, como en la época de Dickens, pero aun así bárbaros dispuestos. El trabajo de Dalrymple es una defensa de la civilización.

Él eligió el seudónimo de Theodore Dalrymple en 1990 para poder describir anónima y con gran detalle la depravación de la que fue testigo cada día en Inglaterra. En 1994, comenzó a escribir en City Journal, que años más tarde recopiló muchos de sus ensayos en Life at the Bottom y Our Culture, What’s Left of It (2001 y 2005, respectivamente). También ha escrito muchos otros libros y ensayos de crítica social para publicaciones como National Review, el Telegraph y el New Criterion.

Let us be altogether more discriminating

Flüchtlinge willkommen

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.48.04So, even now, say a few Germans. In Sweden they cried (until they brought in border checks),

Flyktingar välkomna.

Dalrymple turns to Max Frisch’s Biedermann und die Brandstifter (1953), written

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.48.47in the aftermath of the Second World War as an attempt to explain (and to warn) how a patent evil like Nazism can triumph in a civilised society.

The play’s protagonist, Dalrymple explains,

is a comfortable bourgeois living in a town that is beset by several mysterious acts of arson. He is visited at home by Schmitz, a hawker, who half-persuades, half-intimidates his way into an invitation to lodge in Biedermann’s attic, and who soon brings a second hawker, Eisenring, to stay in the house.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.34.08Gradually it becomes clear that Schmitz and Eisenring

are the ones setting the fires in the town, but Biedermann refuses to acknowledge it. His blindness arises from moral and physical cowardice, and from wishful thinking—the hope that what he sees does not really mean what it obviously means.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 08.49.23Schmitz and Eisenring bring barrels of gasoline into the house and Biedermann,

pusillanimous to the last, helps them make the fuses and gives them the matches with which they burn his house down.

To regret religion is to regret civilisation

The thinness of the new atheism, says Dalrymple,

is evident in its approach to civilisation.

To regret religion, Dalrymple writes,

is to regret civilisation and its monuments, its achievements, and its legacy.

Grand Mosque of Córdoba (begun 784), part of interior

Grand Mosque of Córdoba (begun 784), part of interior

Fuck off, humanity!

Tours Nuages, Nanterre. Emile Aillaud, 1977

Tours Nuages, Nanterre. Emile Aillaud, 1977

This is the message, writes Dalrymple, of modern French architects. Their work, he points out, is

some of the worst in the world.

Perhaps, he says,

the rejection of beauty as a goal by French architects accounts in part for the adoption as a style by so many of the young French of deliberate ugliness and self-mutilation. In a world of brutal ugliness over which you have no control, you might as well admit defeat and join in.

He notes that while the worst of modern culture originates in England, it has in the rest of Europe

spread rapidly.

One of the greatest achievements of our civilisation

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 08.33.25The presumption of innocence, writes Dalrymple,

does not apply only to those about whose physical violation of the law there remains some doubt. It applies to every accused person without ­exception.

Without this noble lie, justice

becomes the mere exercise of power, arbitrary and likely to be cruel.

It does not come naturally,

as looking at the faces of most of the accused in any law court will quickly persuade you. It takes considerable self-control to entertain the possibility that a man who looks so malign may yet be innocent.

Triumph of the antinomians

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 12.05.15Dalrymple writes in the preface to Our Culture, What’s Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses that in much of the world, the miseries of poverty

are no longer those of raw physical deprivation but those induced by comparison with the vast numbers of prosperous people by whom the relatively poor are surrounded and whose comparative wealth the poor feel as a wound, a reproach, and an injustice.

Ronnie Kaufman's photo on a jacket by Jen Huppert Design

Photo by Ronnie Kaufman on a jacket by Jen Huppert Design for the Ivan R. Dee (Chicago) 2005 edition

In the 20th century,

the hope of progress has not proved altogether illusory,

but

neither has the fear of retrogression proved unjustified.

The First World War

destroyed facile optimism that progress towards heaven on earth was inevitable or even possible.

Then came communism and Nazism, which between them

destroyed scores of millions of lives in a fashion that only a few short decades before would have appeared inconceivable.

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 12.47.50Many of the disasters of the 20th century

could be characterised as revolts against civilisation itself: the Cultural Revolution, or the Khmers Rouges.

Only recently, in Rwanda,

ordinary people were transformed into pitiless murderers by demagogic appeals over the radio. They achieved a rate of slaughter with their machetes never equalled even by the Nazis.

In the circumstances,

one might have supposed that a principal preoccupation of intellectuals would be the maintenance of the boundaries that separate civilisation from barbarism.

One would be wrong.

Some have embraced barbarism; others have remained unaware that boundaries do not maintain themselves and are in need of maintenance and sometimes vigorous defence.

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 12.54.10The prestige intellectuals confer upon antinomianism

soon communicates itself to nonintellectuals. What is good for the bohemian sooner or later becomes good for the unskilled worker, the unemployed, the welfare recipient — the very people most in need of boundaries to make their lives tolerable or allow them hope of improvement. The result is moral, spiritual, and emotional squalor, engendering fleeting pleasures and prolonged suffering.

Civilisation

Screen Shot 2015-08-09 at 12.55.17needs conservation as much as it needs change, and immoderate criticism, or criticism from the standpoint of utopian first principles, is capable of doing much — indeed devastating — harm. No man is so brilliant that he can work everything out for himself, so that the wisdom of the ages has nothing useful to tell him. To imagine otherwise is to indulge in the most egotistical of hubris.

The disastrous notions of the underclass about how to live

derive from the unrealistic, self-indulgent, and often fatuous ideas of social critics.