Category Archives: complacency

We are so wise and nice that nothing bad can happen to us

The smug deluded Scandinavians

Behind the notion (always somewhat specious and now defunct) that Scandinavians have attained a higher level of civilised governance lies, writes Dalrymple,

not only complacency, but arrogance. ‘We are so wise and nice that what goes on in the rest of the world cannot affect us,’ they suppose. ‘Moreover, anyone who comes to live here must be so thankful for our generosity.’

This, Dalrymple points out, is a fantasy.

It requires a form of moral grandiosity to believe that you can live in such a fairytale, with a happy beginning, a happy middle, and a happy end, without ever having to think of such potentially nasty beasts as national interest and old enmity.

Accentuate the negative

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 23.44.25It is easier, writes Dalrymple,

to be interesting about the bad than about the good.

And writing about the good

can easily descend into mere moral uplift.

Besides,

we live in an age when the slightest sign of complacency, as exemplified by counting your blessings, is regarded by the intelligentsia almost as indifference to the suffering of the world. How can anyone be so callous as to enjoy anything when there is civil war in the southern Sudan?

The world is rotten but I am not

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 23.39.11

The student prig’s moral grandiosity has a coercive quality, for he has liberated his inner totalitarian

Such, writes Dalrymple, is what the student prig, in his self-importance and complacency, wishes to communicate.

The student prig’s chief aim is to convey

the militant purity of his heart and soul. The world is rotten, he is saying—but I am not. I am pure. If the rottenness continues, it won’t be because of me.

Awareness of his virtue shines from the student prig’s face.

He glows with it, virtue for him consisting of the public expression of the correct sentiments. Virtue requires no discipline, no sacrifice other than of a little time and energy, instantly rewarded by the exhibition of his goodness.

The painlessness of virtue as the expression of correct sentiment is its chief attraction for the student prig.

Who would not wish to achieve goodness merely by means of a few gestures, verbal or otherwise? In that way, you can avoid genuine self-examination.

The student prig

feels a youthful impatience with the intractability of the world, hence a desire that its problems should be solved by symbolic means. This desire partakes of magical thinking: incantations will bend reality in the desired direction.

The student prig’s

moral grandiosity has a coercive quality. His virtue gives him the locus standi to dictate to others for the good of humanity. The expression he wears is that of someone who has liberated his inner totalitarian.

Well, much may be forgiven youth, says Dalrymple. But what is craven is

for older people in positions of responsibility to surrender to youth, even if the once in their lives that they were young happened to be in the 1960s.

Popish unctuousness and cowardice

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 09.28.47Less a shepherd, more one of the sheep

Pope Francis’s speech to Congress, writes Dalrymple, resembled that of

a politician seeking re-election. It was like the work not of a man intent upon telling the truth, however painful or unpopular, but that of a committee of speech-writers who sifted every word for its effect, appealing to some without being too alienating of others. If Bill Clinton had been elected pope, he might have made the same speech, so perfect was its triangulation, so empty its high-sounding phrases.

Interviewed after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Francis let it be known that if someone insulted his mother he could expect a punch, making a physical gesture to illustrate his point.

This is not exactly the doctrine enunciated in the Sermon on the Mount; and one could not imagine John Paul II or Benedict XVI making so foolish or crude a mistake under the complacent impression that he was charming.

Francis’s

propensity to run after false gods, most of them fashionable in the constituency to which he evidently wants to appeal, no doubt accounts for his popularity. He is bien pensant; and where he does not yet feel able to alter doctrine in a liberal direction he is evasive and even cowardly, afraid to court distaste or opposition by clear expression of what he means.

Dalrymple asks to whom and at what these papal weasel words are directed:

It is my wish throughout my visit that the family be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! How worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and beauty of family life.

Dalrymple:

Who and what are calling fundamental relationships into question? Fundamental relationships do not call themselves into question: someone must do it in the name of some doctrine, some belief. The Pope’s resort to the passive mood is indicative of his moral cowardice in confronting the opponents of what the Church believes in. Those opponents he knows to be militant and aggressive, and to confront them openly would lead to his fall in the popularity polls.

Francis

evades the issue with vague and oily declamation. It is one thing to be peace-loving and conciliatory, another to surrender by means of avoidance of the issue.

Such avoidance was evident when Francis said:

We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism.

Dalrymple:

This may be true in the abstract, but the wholesale persecution of religious minorities, and the perpetration of violent acts in a host of locations, is confined to Islamic extremism. It would have been better for the Pope not to have broached the subject than to have dealt with it in so pusillanimous a fashion.

The Pope’s secularist outlook is evident in his abolitionism:

I am convinced that this way is best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

Dalrymple:

There is nothing here about mercy, forgiveness, repentance, redemption or salvation. Rehabilitation is a purely secular concept, suggesting that the wickedness of crime is a form of illness, to be treated by the psychological equivalent of physiotherapy; sin, or even vice, doesn’t come into it.

Francis’s words

are indistinguishable from those of the European Court of Human Rights, when it ruled that it was a breach of fundamental rights that brutal repeat murderers should be sentenced to whole-life terms because such sentences exclude the possibility of their rehabilitation (even if, in practice, they would never be released). But while God may forgive Himmler – under certain conditions – surely Man cannot. The irreparable exists in the sublunary world.

At every point, Dalrymple points out, Francis

evaded specifics and resorted to unctuous generalities. No one ever courted unpopularity by denouncing injustice, but many risked much by being specific about what they considered, rightly or wrongly, unjust.

Francis

was against poverty in the way the preacher in the Coolidge anecdote was against sin. But while no secularist will speak up for poverty, the religious attitude has traditionally been more nuanced.

Francis spoke of the unjust structures that exist even in the developed world. This, says Dalrymple, is to

make a fetish of wealth.

Moreover, he was

exciting one of the seven deadly sins, envy.

Francis, Dalrymple concludes, prefers to court popularity while rocking no boats. He

plays to the gallery, wanting to be liked by everybody. There is nothing of timelessness in what he says but only of the temporal, the contingent, the fashionably platitudinous.

Cameron’s repellent utterances

Complacency and ruthlessness masked by sentimentality

Utter complacency and ruthlessness, the reverse side of the coin of sentimentality

Dalrymple points out that the language used by David Cameron, the British prime minister, is

deeply repellent.

It is

a mixture of undignified and condescending demotic and mid-Atlantic psychobabble. Just as Mr Blair was never Anthony, so for Mr Cameron dads are there for you (the kids), so that there comes a time when you (the kids) turn to them (the dads) and a light bulb suddenly flicks on inside your head. Psychobabble, the language of Rousseau’s Confessions without the confessions, does not come much shallower than this.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 08.28.35The choice of language is

a transparent attempt by Mr Cameron to persuade the public that he is just a normal chap – or as he would no doubt put it, guy – who happens to have found his way into 10 Downing Street, in more or less the same way I sometimes go down to the Castle Tea Rooms for my lunch.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 08.55.25Worse still is the sentimentality of what Cameron has to say, closely allied as it is, to

utter complacency and ruthlessness, both express and implied.

Screen Shot 2015-07-19 at 08.27.28

What is it about Cameron that repels?

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 23.26.34The British prime minister: a repulsive, ruthless sentimentalist who contemns his own countrymen

The language David Cameron uses, writes Dalrymple, is

a mixture of undignified and condescending demotic and mid-Atlantic psychobabble.

Especially repellent is

the sentimentality of what he has to say, closely allied as it is, to its utter complacency and ruthlessness, both express and implied.

Cameron’s actions, says Dalrymple,

cause me to shudder in the way I shudder when a singer misses a note. There is something wrong, kitsch or ersatz about it. An office-seeker who is prepared to parade his sentiments in public is ruthless, not sensitive. Sentimentality is frequently the reverse side of the coin of cruelty.

Implied in everything Cameron does is

contempt for the people of his own country,

whom he deems

incapable of grasping an argument about the desirability of fatherhood for children without the aid of Hello! magazine-type illustrations. This is to reduce our politics to the intellectual level of American tele-evangelism.

We are so wise and nice

Dalrymple on complacency and even arrogance in the fairytale country

Therefore what goes on in the rest of the world cannot affect us: Dalrymple on complacency, arrogance and the little fairytale country

The invincible complacency of the Dutch

A discussion of the Netherlands in particular and the northern European mess in general.