Category Archives: cruelty

Société pour la prévention de la cruauté envers les mouches de l’Ardèche

A new organisation dedicated to protecting this vulnerable group

We have always, warns Dalrymple,

to keep a hold of ourselves, and temper our inclinations by conscious thought and self-control. The fact is that the Kingdom of Cruelty is within us.

Flypapers cannot be permitted in a civilised society

The misery of these oppressed insects must end

He writes that certain people, when for instance hanging up flypapers, and after the cloying ribbons have been hung,

enjoy watching flies arriving on the flypapers and engaging in a struggle that can lead only to their slow death.

Such people delight in

witnessing the suffering of flies.

Outlaw flyribbons now!

They can

happily watch it for many minutes on end.

Therefore Dalrymple has founded the SPCMA, which will campaign for the outlawing of flyribbons.

He points out that

it is not the fault of a fly that it is a fly and not a kitten.

He notes that

if things had been otherwise, we could all have been born flies. There (that is to say the flypapers) but for the grace of God go we.

It is not the fault of a fly that it is a fly and not a kitten

Barbarity in the name of righteousness

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 22.02.50No need to emphasise, writes Dalrymple,

the terrifying demonstration effect

of what is done to supposed infidels

by people to whom plenty of bullets are available as an alternative, swifter, and more certain method of procuring death.

We conclude, as we are intended to conclude, that

these are fierce and ruthless people whose belief in their desert-tribal righteousness is unshakeable.

To commit barbarity in the name of righteousness is to some men

one of the greatest joys. And not just to Islamists, though at the moment it is they alone who have the courage of their barbarity, and rejoice publicly in it.

Cruelty

is never worse than when higher authority is invoked not merely to justify it, but to demand it.

The curse of welfarism

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.42.01

Young British mothers

Dalrymple writes that there is in the West, and especially in Britain,

a rising tide of neglect, cruelty, Sadism, and joyous malignity.

Where does the evil come from? Dalrymple points out that

a necessary, though not sufficient, condition is the welfare state, which makes it possible, and sometimes advantageous, to behave like this.

Fatherhood

Young British fathers

The State

is the parent of last resort—or of first resort. The State gives assistance to the mother of any child, once it has come into being. In matters of public housing, it is advantageous for a mother to put herself at a disadvantage, to be a single mother, without support from the fathers of the children and dependent on the State for income. She is then a priority; she won’t pay local taxes, rent, or utility bills.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.39.30As for the men, the State

absolves them of all responsibility for their children. The State is father to the child. The biological father is free to use whatever income he has as pocket money, for entertainment and little treats. He is reduced to the status of a child, though a spoilt child with the physical capabilities of a man: petulant, demanding, querulous, self-centred, and violent. The violence escalates and becomes a habit. A spoilt brat becomes an evil tyrant.

Broken windows

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 08.41.39

Charming

Dalrymple picks up a copy of A China Passage by J.K. Galbraith, the American fellow traveller who was highly esteemed and very wealthy (he spent his winters at Gstaad) but who also possessed a touching simplicity and modesty.

In 1973, Dalrymple explains, Galbraith had visited China

in the slipstream of Nixon.

It was during the Cultural Revolution, with its

appalling suffering, in which perhaps a million people died and tens of millions were horribly persecuted, and only a few years after the greatest man-made famine in history. Nevertheless, Galbraith quotes the Sinologist John K. Fairbanks, who wrote as if he had learned his style directly from Galbraith himself:

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 08.44.08The big generalisations are all agreed upon: there has been a tremendous betterment of the material life and morale of the common people.

The remarks, Dalrymple points out, are extremely callous. Galbraith offers vignettes of the Cultural Revolution like this one:

The workers were rather proud of having confined their fighting to the morning. Sadly some windows did get broken.

Such is the way, writes Dalrymple, that Galbraith discusses

the greatest episode of deliberate cultural vandalism of modern history, accompanied as it was by cruelty on a gargantuan scale.

Galbraith is

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 08.42.05a mouthpiece of Maoist propaganda, accepting its categories uncritically. In the 1920s and 30s, sheeplike Western travellers in Russia had accepted its category of kulak. Similarly, Galbraith can write about a factory that

had been partially disrupted until the People’s Liberation Army moved in to restore order. The union I gather to have been one of the reactionary elements that aroused the antipathy of the Red Guards. It was disestablished.

This use, says Dalrymple,

of the phrase reactionary elements betrays a startling lack of awareness that visitors to the Communist world had been gulled before. Nor was Galbraith interested in who the Red Guards were or what they actually did. The fate of individual people was far beneath his notice, which explains why his anecdotes are so rarely interesting, let alone illuminating. His is a humanitarianism without a human face.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 08.43.28

By an American aristocrat

Galbraith tells a story about how the Chinese farmed areas of low fertility:

We were told how one production brigade had transported soil for many miles to make one peculiarly rocky spread slightly productive.

According to Galbraith, the decline in agriculture in New England

would not have taken place if politicians rather than market forces had been in charge. The moral of the story for Galbraith?

The market can be ruthless as politicians cannot.

That market relations, Dalrymple comments,

can sometimes exact a human price is no doubt true; but to have lived through the first three-quarters of the twentieth century, and to suggest that there is any cruelty and depravity of which politicians are not capable, requires a capacity for incomprehension amounting almost to genius.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 08.42.19This remark is also made in the book:

At the close of almost every meeting one is asked for ‘your criticisms’ of the institution or the New China. I’ve found one that is true, irrefutable and well-received. ‘You are smoking far too many cigarettes.’

Dalrymple comments:

Millions of people beaten, tortured, and humiliated, the remains of a millennial civilization wantonly smashed, and Galbraith bravely takes up the antismoking cause.

Galbraith wrote of the Nanking Hotel:

Sufficient for the needs of this modest, simple patrician

Sufficient for the needs of this modest, simple patrician

I have a bedroom, sitting-room, bathroom and air conditioning. But that is sufficient.

What touching simplicity and modesty, says Dalrymple. However, in Paris, having suffered such deprivation in Nanking, he is more salubriously accommodated:

I was two days at the Ritz with no grievous sense of social guilt, no insuperable problem of culture shock.

Dalrymple comments:

How delightful to be so generous, so very right all the time, and yet make a fortune and stay at the Ritz!

Self-congratulatory posturing

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 08.50.54Kindness, writes Dalrymple,

turns into cruelty when it helps to maintain the need for kindness to be exercised; it then becomes an exercise in self-congratulation rather than in doing good.

Screen Shot 2015-09-04 at 09.00.37

The specialists who aspire to heartless elegance

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 08.02.04A light little well-bred laugh

Denton Welch’s A Voice Through a Cloud (1950) ought, writes Dalrymple,

to be given to every medical student to read.

Dalrymple draws attention to this passage in the (unfinished, posthumously published) novel:

One day a specialist was in the ward, examining a patient, when the patient fell down in front of him in a fit. The patient was a fat middle-aged man; he shrieked and trembled and rolled on the floor, as if he were wallowing in mud. It was a terrifying and grotesque sight, but the specialist watched it with a smile on his face. He neither raised the patient up nor prevented him from cutting his head on the corner of the bedside locker.

Denton Welch

Denton Welch

When at last the convulsions had subsided and the patient, with blood on his face, looked up bewildered, the specialist’s smile grew even more Buddhistic and bland and he said in a fluting voice, so that other people should hear, ‘Well, I must say there’s one improvement this week — you’re falling so much more gracefully!’

He gave a light little well-bred laugh, which at once raised up in my mind a picture of some woman with enormous bust measurement, swathed in strainingly tight red velvet. He seemed delighted with his own urbane, unsentimental wit, and I felt that at that moment he would have used the words heartless elegance about himself. He seemed really to be living for a moment in his own conception of an 18th-century French marquise in her brilliant salon.

I suddenly began to hate the specialist for his clownish show of vanity and facetiousness. I hated him so much that my face began to burn. I felt insulted and outraged; I wanted to have the specialist publicly beaten in front of all the staring patients. I imagined his black pin-striped trousers being taken down, and his squeals of shame and pain ringing through the ward.

Welch, Dalrymple explains, also describes in the novel

the petty cruelties and humiliations visited upon him by the nurses.

Welch suffered chronic, painful illness caused by a road accident in which his spine was fractured. Dalrymple writes that he

was 33 when he died. He suffered from Pott’s disease of the spine as well as the injury. His heroic efforts to remain productive make one ashamed — at least temporarily, while one recalls them — to carp about trivial inconveniences.

A nasty, primitive ideology

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 08.07.19The Islamist cause is mad, stupid and evil

Dalrymple writes that young Western middle-class Muslim plotters, of whom there are many,

are fully at home neither in the culture of their parents nor in that of the host country.

Youth

is the time when one looks outward for unifying explanations of one’s dissatisfactions, and education is in part the means by which abstractions become more real than the phenomena before one’s eyes. An extremely nasty and primitive ideology, in which a distant but perfect future appears to its adherents more real than anything in the present, lies ready to hand. According to this ideology, insensate cruelty is a sign not of bad character or sadism, but of commitment.

Young educated Muslims

think they have plenty of supposedly objective grounds for their resentment against the host society.

In the West, Muslims

do significantly worse educationally and economically than any other group. A larger proportion of Muslims leave school with no qualifications than any other minority. While young Hindus have a youth unemployment rate below the national average, Muslims have a rate much above it. Young male Muslims are filling British prisons, while there are very few Hindus or Sikhs in prison. In these circumstances, the young educated Muslims form an élite that, with the misplaced and arrogant idealism of youth, feels a responsibility to enlighten, lead, or liberate their less fortunate brethren, of whom there are many.

Many young Muslims reject communal self-examination

in favour of conspiracy theories and the exaggeration of supposed grievance, for of course the only defect of Muslim society that believers permit themselves to admit is unjust powerlessness vis-à-vis the unbelievers.

One taboo subject is

the pivotal role of the suppression of women in reinforcing Muslim stagnation. But if you discourage half of your population from seeking education or a career, as occurs in some Muslim populations, it is hardly surprising in a modern economy that educational and economic levels are, in the aggregate, low.

Muslim journalists repeatedly write in Western newspapers that

Muslim anger must be understood and presumably assuaged or appeased: as if Descartes had written, ‘I’m angry, therefore I’m right.’ But rage is not its own justification, and the rage of young men is frequently misplaced. They project outwards what they feel inwards; and, if they have sufficient intellectual sophistication to do so, they give their petty discontents — and the discontents of the would-be bombers are petty — a vast significance. Education gives them the mental dexterity conceptually to transmute concrete evil into abstract good.

The result is often murderous

when un-self-critical and self-pitying anger meets ideology. The compass of the evil done by the uneducated angry is usually small by comparison with that done by the educated (or at least, the technically trained) angry. The worst the uneducated can manage is a mob and a riot. It takes education, or training, in close alliance with resentment, to put evil more extensively into practice.

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.

Choked to death on his vomit

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.12.55Ha! That’ll teach him to have been raised so far above us (by our election)

Celebrity, writes Dalrymple,

is conferred on people almost, though not quite, at random: their talents are minor and their appearance pleasing, but they must not otherwise be remarkable or too far removed in their tastes and manner, at least in public, from those who give them fame.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.10.36The contract between celebrities and those who confer celebrity upon them

Celebrities must

allow their lives to be examined and reported on, truthfully or not, in all the media. They must agree to be in the public eye as an old-fashioned family doctor was always on duty for his patients.

Mrs Todgers

Mrs Todgers

How the cult of celebrity is a form of self-worship

The eyes that are cast upon the celebrities

are simultaneously adulatory and sadistic.

Those eyes remind Dalrymple of the eyes of Mrs Todgers in Martin Chuzzlewit:

Mrs Todgers meant by this that she must embrace them once more, which she accordingly did with great ardour.

Mrs Todgers and 'Kim'

Mrs Todgers and Kim

But

the house being full with the exception of one bed, which would now be occupied by Mr Pecksniff, she wanted time for consideration; and so much time too (for it was a knotty point how to dispose of them), that even when this second embrace was over, she stood for some moments gazing at the sisters, with affection beaming in one eye, and calculation shining out of the other. (from ch. 8)

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.15.23At a news-stand, Dalrymple leafs through some magazines

devoted to the pseudo-private-lives of celebrities of whom I have never heard.

He notes headings concerning the celebrity known as ‘Kim’:

KIM’S HUMILIATION

KIM DUMPED ON HER ANNIVERSARY

KIM’S BIG LIE

KIM’S WIG

STRESS MAKES KIM’S HAIR FALL OUT

Dalrymple comments that

the sadism is all too evident. How the celebrity-conferring and celebrity-worshipping public will have relished her suffering! It serves her right for having the fairy-tale life that we conferred on her, and that we should so like to have.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.33.50Accounts of alcoholism, or alleged alcoholism, are a

favourite way in which the magazines, on behalf of their readership, take their revenge on those upon whom celebrity has been conferred.

The onetime idol’s

descent into rehab should preferably be repeated, and the supposed battle lost in advance.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.53.06Once the celebrity has reached the alcoholic stage,

his function is to be a template for the readership’s inexhaustible Schadenfreude.

He must never recover, and the course of his life should be a downward spiral into utter sordor. A happy ending is when

he chokes to death on his own vomit at a comparatively early age. That’ll teach him to have been raised so far above the rest of us, even if it was only by our own election.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 09.52.23Celebrities are inhabitants

both of a fairy-tale world and our own rather sordid reality. We set them up and we pull them down, enjoying the pleasures both of hero-worship and of cruelty.

The cult of celebrity

is a form of self-worship, both because celebrities are not threateningly different from ourselves, and because we have the power of fame and ignominy over them.

Mrs Todgers and Mr Moddle

Mrs Todgers and Mr Moddle

To commit barbarity in the name of righteousness is one of the greatest joys

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 08.50.12The burning need for an Islamic Enlightenment

You don’t have to be a follower of Jung, writes Dalrymple,

to discern something deeply symbolic in these beheadings by self-appointed executioners. To sever the head from the body, at least nowadays when we have a more refined sensibility, is not merely to kill: it is symbolically to annihilate not only the biological existence of the beheaded, but the very thoughts he has had during his lifetime.

To throw away a head as if it were a worthless inanimate object

is to deny in the most categorical way possible any ideas that it might have had while living. It is to imply that only correct thoughts can henceforth be allowed to exist in heads, the kind of thoughts that the executioners themselves have; not until there is unanimity in thoughts, they imply, will our heads rest easy on our shoulders.

No need to emphasise

the terrifying demonstration effect of the decapitation of supposed infidels by people to whom plenty of bullets are available as an alternative, swifter, and more certain method of procuring death.

We conclude, as we are intended to conclude, that

these are fierce and ruthless people whose belief in their own desert-tribal righteousness is unshakeable.

To commit barbarity in the name of righteousness

is one of the greatest joys known to man — or at least to many men — and not just to Islamists, though at the moment it is they alone who have the courage of their barbarity, and rejoice publicly in it….Cruelty is never worse than when higher authority is invoked not merely to justify, but to demand it.

The answer to the question, ‘Can people taken more or less at random, who are however members of a class or nation perceived to be an enemy of Islam, rightly be beheaded?’ is thought to be found somewhere in the Koran or the Hadith, and nowhere else. Original thought is

unnecessary, since the answer to every question has already been given, if only we are diligent enough to find it in irreproachable texts. If the Koran or the Hadith says that such beheading is right, it is right; if it says it is wrong, it is wrong. If Mohammed says we can cut off people’s heads whenever we choose, then we can; if he doesn’t, then we can’t.

Compared with this,

even the most literal-minded Bible fundamentalist in the West lives, de facto at least, like the child of Voltaire, for even such a fundamentalist probably wouldn’t dare justify decapitation as a policy by reference to David and Goliath. And if by any chance he did, he would rightly be laughed at by his fellow citizens.