Category Archives: cynicism

The West is soaked in academic drivel

The fatuous ideology of diversity

People in the West live, writes Dalrymple,

in a totalitarian condition in which they are afraid to say some things and—what is worse—are required to say others. They are obliged to deny what they believe and assent to what they do not believe. There is no better way to destroy the personality. People become cynical, time-serving, increasingly self-absorbed. Their impotence breeds apathy. Once they start to utter things for the sake of their careers or their peace and quiet that they do not believe, they lose self-respect and probity and thus their standing to resist anything. People without probity are easy to control and manipulate; the purpose of political correctness is not to enunciate truth but to exercise power.

The threat comes not from government

but from the universities and the semi-intellectuals that they turn out. The governments of once-liberal democracies lamely follow the fashions and obsessions that emerge from universities, and few politicians have the courage or stamina to resist. To do so would require a willingness to present an intellectual case against them, not once but repeatedly, as well as a rhinoceros hide to be unaffected by the opprobrium and insult to which they would be subjected (insult these days being the highest form of argument). We do not live in times propitious to patient argumentation by politicians about matters of principle. What cannot be said in three words will not be heard, so that surrender is the default setting.

A dictatorship of virtue

Dalrymple notes that even applying for a job, particularly in US universities,

is a kind of Calvary for the person who does not share modern academic-bureaucratic obsession with race and sexual proclivities. The applicant must fill in forms about his attitude towards diversity—there being no permissible diversity in attitudes towards diversity.

Many universities demand a personal ‘diversity statement’ from the applicant. It requires of the successful candidate a full commitment to modern orthodoxies.

To admit that all you want to do is study the life and times of, say, William the Silent, the Khedive Ismail or José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, and convey your enthusiasm for this subject to others, would be fatal to your chances. You must want, in the cant phrase of our times, to make a difference. You must bring your straw to the fires of resentment, so that the diversity bureaucracy will never extinguish them and never be out of a job.

Prolefeed proves hard to swallow

The Dominion, Southall, Middlesex. 1935

The Dominion, Southall, Middlesex. Erected 1935

His brother drags Dalrymple to see

one of those technically sophisticated but childish films that are often commercially very successful.

Emerging from the cinema afterwards, the pair converse.

DALRYMPLE FRÈRE: What did you think?

DALRYMPLE: Rubbish.

DALRYMPLE FRÈRE: But it was well made.

DALRYMPLE: Well-made rubbish is still rubbish. The fact that it was well made makes it worse, not better. The deliberate production of intellectual, moral, and artistic dross is a malign form of cynicism.

DALRYMPLE FRÈRE: Oh.

The British Zeitgeist

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 08.56.56It is one, writes Dalrymple, of

sentimental moralising combined with the utmost cynicism, where the government’s pretended concern for the public welfare coexists with the most elementary dereliction. There is an absence of any kind of idealism that is a necessary precondition of probity, so that bad faith prevails almost everywhere.

The British State

sees itself as an engineer of souls, concerning itself with what people think, feel, and say—as well as with trying to change their freely chosen habits—rather than with performing its inescapable duty: that of preserving the peace and ensuring that citizens may go about their lawful business in confidence and safety. It is more concerned that young men should not smoke cigarettes in prison or make silly jokes to policemen than that they should not attack and permanently maim their elders and betters.

One definition of decadence, he writes, is

the concentration on the gratifyingly imaginary to the disregard of the disconcertingly real.

No one who knows Britain, says Dalrymple, could doubt that it has very serious problems.

  • Its public services—which consume a vast proportion of the national wealth—are not only inefficient but beyond amelioration by the expenditure of yet more money
  • Its population is abysmally educated, to the extent that that there is not even a well-educated élite
  • An often criminally minded population has been indoctrinated with shallow and gimcrack notions—for example, about social justice—that render it unfit to compete in an increasingly competitive world

Dalrymple warns that such

unpleasant realities cannot be indefinitely disguised.

Payment of my mortgage requires my silence

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 08.11.26Integrity, writes Dalrymple,

is a fragile thing, and most people have only a limited reserve of it. They are usually more concerned for their private welfare than the public good. (I mean this as no criticism. It seems to me to be an ineluctable fact about being human.) So when intellectual, moral and financial corruption grows, they will not resist it to the bitter end. Rather they will join in – most with a heavy heart, some joyfully — and keep their traps shut.

But

the knowledge that they have sold their souls means that they live the rest of their lives in fear and self-loathing.

And the deep-seated cynicism

is inimical to real work and progress. Ersatz work comes to replace work: the production of signs, for example, saying ‘Allow us to help you’ when there is no intention of helping anyone. The cynicism corrodes the public servant and the public alike: everyone treats everything as a source of plunder and personal advancement.

Take the police. They are

adept at producing pleasing figures. They are very good at changing the category of crime into which a reported incident falls. Just as universities have an interest in inflating marks, thanks to government targets, so the police have an interest in deflating the seriousness of the crimes reported to them.

The job of chief constable, for instance,

is not that of a policeman any longer, but that of public relations officer and political toady. This is not because they are by nature wicked men, but because of the nature of modern administration, in which reality is less real, or at least less important, than the presentation of reality.

Parliament of petty profiteers

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 12.25.36Again and again, writes Dalrymple, Britain’s political class

is revealed as ­fin­ancially ­unscrupulous and grasping, not missing the slightest opportunity to enrich itself at public expense, leading the electorate to the conclusion it is out exclusively for ­itself and cares not at all for the good of the country.

The danger is that

cynicism about the political system will­ result either in complete apathy and retreat into private life or support for some kind of authoritarianism.

The British parliament again and again

protects the financial interests of its members, acts as judge and jury of its own probity and administers slaps over the wrist for sharp practices, morally dubious or discreditable even where not outright illegal.

Cynicism and sophistication confused

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 09.03.23Dalrymple writes of what he calls ‘a perpetual temptation for the young‘. He looks back at his own youth:

It was all too easy to make universal egoism true by definition. All you had to do was take any apparently altruistic act and claim that it was performed really to win applause or to avoid the discomfort of guilt. The liberating consequences of this doctrine were evident: If all actions whatsoever were egoistic, then they were all equal and it did not matter what we did.