Category Archives: decadence

The ‘potential space’ of Islamism

With its ready-made diagnosis and prescriptions, writes Dalrymple, it

opens up and fills with the pus of implacable hatred for many in search of a reason for and a solution to their discontents.

According to Islamism, Dalrymple notes, the West can never meet the demands of justice, because it is

  • decadent
  • materialistic
  • individualistic
  • heathen
  • democratic rather than theocratic

Only

a return to the principles and practices of 7th-century Arabia will resolve all personal and political problems at the same time.

This notion, he points out, is

no more (and no less) bizarre or stupid than the Marxist notion that captivated so many Western intellectuals throughout the 20th century: that the abolition of private property would lead to final and lasting harmony among men.

Call this a mass execution? Don’t make me laugh

The London newspaper the Guardian, which Dalrymple points out is

the left-liberal mouthpiece of the pensée unique,

recently ran the headline ‘The Arkansas mass executions on Easter Monday must be stopped.’ Dalrymple comments:

The emotive words ‘mass execution’ conjure up in my mind considerably more than the eight executions the state planned to perform over the course of 11 days, two of which, as far as I am aware, had been carried out at the time the headline appeared. Che Guevara would have laughed at the idea that a mere eight people put to death, let alone two, constituted a mass execution. He would have taken the use of the word as further proof of the decadence of late capitalist society and its ripeness for overthrow.

We drive lorries into them: they light candles

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-09-08-50A moment, writes Dalrymple, used to be defined as the period between

a Mexico City traffic light turning green and the sound of the first car horn.

Now it might be defined as the period between

a terrorist attack in a Western city and the first public appearance of a candle.

screen-shot-2016-12-23-at-09-10-14Every terrorist attack

is immediately followed by the public exhibition of lighted candles. It is as if the population keeps a store of them ready to hand for the purpose.

Dalrymple imagines that all the candles

are an encouragement to the very kind of people who commit the massacres that are the occasion for the exhibition. We cut their throats, or drive lorries into them: they light candles. They are not morally superior, as they like to think they are; on the contrary, they are feeble, weak, soft, enervated, vulnerable, defenceless, cowardly, whimpering, decadent. Against such people, we are bound to win, and it won’t even take long.

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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.

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.

Dread of the Muslims

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 07.37.29The West is running scared of the Mohammedans

Muslims know that Europe is running scared of them. They feel no gratitude whatsoever for the tolerance they may encounter in, for example, Britain, says Dalrymple, but rather

contempt for the spinelessness and decadence of a country whose tolerance can so easily be turned against it, and whose liberties might without difficulty be used to propagate and eventually impose tyranny.

Their contempt is not lessened by the knowledge that British society

does not have the will to impose upon them some of its own laws, notably those with regard to the education of their children.

Oppression of women

Dalrymple writes:

I have heard in my medical practice from innumerable young Muslim women that they were removed from school by their parents at an early age, several years before the law allowed, but I have yet to hear of even a single case in which a school or the school inspectors took effective action to return such a child to the school. I concede that the white girls who remain in the schools from which the Muslim parents illegally withdraw their daughters learn little after a certain age except how to be a lumpen slut, of the kind with which this country is so exceedingly well endowed: but the law is the law, and the subsequent fate of so many Muslim daughters is far from enviable.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 07.34.21Needless to say, Muslim men in Europe have it much easier than their womenfolk. A man, Dalrymple points out, can

have an arranged marriage to a woman he would not have selected for himself (but who is nonetheless useful to him as a provider of domestic comfort), and lead a happy life elsewhere; a life that often includes the possession of a concubine or two, more often than not of the lumpen white-slut class. It will not come as a surprise to learn that he treats his concubine or concubines with contempt and often violence, and the fact that they are willing to put up with it confirms him in his opinion of the decadence of the West.

Extraterritorial rights

You might have thought

that the girls who have been subjected to this culture that is now so much at variance with our own would have received loud, consistent and vociferous support from feminists. On the contrary, the feminists are the dog that did not bark, because feminism has appealed to the same kind of mind as multiculturalism has appealed to. And the only way the two isms can be held in the mind simultaneously is to ignore actual real-life evidence of their incompatibility.

Dalrymple explains that the fact that no one has consistently raised a voice in defence of these girls

has played its part in persuading certain Muslims that they are extraterritorial. They know that when the government talks of women’s rights, they — the Muslims — are excluded from its rhetoric, because it would take conviction and guts to include them. They draw the conclusion that our society is running scared of them.

1Multiculturalism is not couscous; it is the stoning of adulterers

Muslims have become all too aware that Western society is, says Dalrymple,

but a rotting fruit waiting to fall from the tree.

Loosing off — from a long way away — a few missiles at, for instance, Syria

will not have changed their impression; rather, it will have confirmed it, and their opinion of the West’s cowardice.

Every multiculturalist, says Dalrymple,

believes — whether he knows it or not — that it is right to force young girls into marriages they don’t want, to deprive them of the schooling and careers that they do want, to regard them as prostitutes if they leave their abusive husbands, and to punish, even to kill, those who cross cultural and religious boundaries. As an Italian commentator once put it, multiculturalism is not couscous; it is the stoning of adulterers.

Ugliness, be thou my beauty

Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 09.05.43The squalor and degradation that is Western popular culture

Two windows on the sordor:

  • obituaries of pop stars in the newspaper
  • a walk in the street

Pop stars, writes Dalrymple, fall into two groups:

  1. those who retire into the life of the squirearchy, the pleasures of whose kind of life they have done so much to destroy for others
  2. those who die young

There is nothing like the sordid for getting ahead

Romantics view self-destructive behaviour

as the sign of a great soul.

De Quincey wrote:

Pain driven to agony, or grief driven to frenzy, is essential to the ventilation of profound natures.

But, Dalrymple points out,

it is an elementary error of logic to suppose that, because profound natures ventilate agonised frenzy, those who ventilate agonised frenzy have profound natures.

Take punk. Its ‘ethic’ consists, explains Dalrymple, of

an utterly conformist non-conformity and an insensate individualism without individuality, allied to brutal and deliberate bad taste.

Self-harm

For instance,

to inflict a serious injury on yourself (which you then require others to repair for you, at their expense) in order to prove that you are genuinely committed to bad taste, ugliness, a rejection of everything that could possibly make life worth living, and to a celebration of ‘alienation, boredom and despair’ does not seem to me to be meritorious in any way. The alienation, boredom and despair are the consequence of a combination of laziness and impatient ambition, rather than the consequence of an ‘objective’ situation, and represent an impossible demand for achievement without concomitant effort.

Rage

Dalrymple says:

I feel a certain rage at the culture that we have created, and a certain guilt that I have not fought against it with all my heart and soul, to the best of my ability. It is a culture that can produce lines — and mean them, that is what is terrible — such as the following from one of Richey Edwards‘ songs (as Mozart took dictation from God, so he took dictation from the Zeitgeist):

I hate purity. Hate goodness. I don’t want virtue to exist anywhere. I want everyone corrupt.

Lee was not universally loved

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 21.56.04The most intelligent and capable world leader of the past half-century

He was not, writes Dalrymple with gentle understatement,

universally loved.

But

universal approbation is not an appropriate goal for a politician.

His authoritarianism

fell far short of despotism.

Lee brought order

Lee brought order

Like many politicians brought up

in the twilight of empire, he both admired and disliked the colonial power.

Lee recalled admiringly

the way evening newspapers were piled in the street in London and people paid for them by leaving their money without any compulsion to do so and without ever stealing what others had left. This, he thought, was a well-ordered and disciplined society.

The achievements of Singapore under Lee Kwan Yew are incontestable

He had the pleasure

of being able to reverse the flow of moral example, and of seeing the former colonial power, which had always prided itself on its moral, intellectual and political superiority, sunk in terminal decline and decadence.

Unlike the good order and discipline that he thought he saw in England,Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 21.49.39

which had grown more or less organically from the country’s history, Singapore’s had to be brought about by stern and some would say oppressive legislation.

The efficiency with which the city-state is now administered

is one of the reproaches against Lee; it now seems almost intimidatingly tidy and well-organised, with little scope for the free expression or the crookedness of the timber from which Kant thought that mankind is made, and in which he delighted.

'Jeder derselben will immer seine Freiheit mißbrauchen, wenn er Keinen über sich hat, der nach den Gesetzen über ihn Gewalt ausübt. Das höchste Oberhaupt soll aber gerecht für sich selbst, und doch ein Mensch sein. Diese Aufgabe ist daher die schwerste unter allen; ja ihre vollkommene Auflösung ist unmöglich; aus so krummen Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts ganz Gerades gezimmert werden'

‘Jeder derselben will immer seine Freiheit mißbrauchen, wenn er Keinen über sich hat, der nach den Gesetzen über ihn Gewalt ausübt. Das höchste Oberhaupt soll aber gerecht für sich selbst, und doch ein Mensch sein. Diese Aufgabe ist daher die schwerste unter allen; ja ihre vollkommene Auflösung ist unmöglich; aus so krummen Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts ganz Gerades gezimmert werden.’

Whatever is wrong with us, Islam is not the solution

Michel Houellebecq: 'looks like a man who has crawled out of an ashtray after a prolonged alcoholic binge in clothes that have not been washed for weeks. This does not mean he approves of the world he inhabits: it is that he can conceive of no other, at least for Western man, and if anyone thinks otherwise he is deceiving himself. Grunge is reality; everything else is veneer'

Michel Houellebecq: ‘looks like a man who has crawled out of an ashtray after a prolonged alcoholic binge in clothes that have not been washed for weeks. This does not mean he approves of the world he inhabits: it is that he can conceive of no other, at least for Western man, and if anyone thinks otherwise he is deceiving himself. Grunge is reality; everything else is veneer’

Fundamentalist Mohammedanism has nothing of any value to say to the inhabitants of the 21st century

The novelist Michel Houellebecq’s theme, writes Dalrymple, is

the emptiness of human existence in a consumer society devoid of religious belief, political project, or cultural continuity in which, thanks to material abundance and social security, there is no real struggle for existence that might give meaning.

Arduous vacuity

Such a society

will not allow you to go hungry or to live in the abject poverty that would once have been the reward of idleness, whether voluntary or involuntary. This lends an inspissated pointlessness to all human activity, which becomes nothing more than a scramble for unnecessary consumer goods that confer no happiness or (at best) a distraction from that emptiness.

For Houellebecq,

intellectual or cultural activity becomes soap opera for the more intelligent and educated rather than something of intrinsic importance or value.

The Houellebeckian mood

An economics lecturer character

describes his work as the teaching of obvious untruths to careerist morons, rather than as, say, the awakening of young minds to the fascinating task of reducing the complexity of social interactions to general principles.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 23.19.47

Joris-Karl Huysmans: the novelist of pessimism and decadence became ‘desperate to escape his nihilistic condition’ and ‘returned to Catholicism later in life and became an oblate’

So brilliantly

does Houellebecq describe the arduous vacuity of the life of his protagonists that one suspects (or knows?) that his books are strongly autobiographical.

The very success of the Enlightenment project, says Dalrymple,

is the root of its failure. Having eliminated myth and magic from human life, it has crushed belief even in itself out of society. Bravery and excitement have given way to comfort and convenience; degeneration is the inevitable and unavoidable result.

The protagonist and narrator of Soumission

is a teacher of French literature in a Parisian university, a specialist in the work of Joris-Karl Huysmans. This was a clever choice on the part of Houellebecq, for Huysmans returned to Catholicism later in life and became an oblate, his last book being Les foules de Lourdes. Huysmans followed the path that the protagonist, in desperate need to escape his nihilistic condition, will follow; but Catholicism having lost its faith and becoming, under Pope Francis, little more than transcendental social work to the hosannas of the right-thinking, there is no living faith in France except Islam for him to convert to. It is Islam, faute de mieux. The subtlety of Houellebecq’s book consists of demonstrating that the spiritual need of the protagonist can be made to coincide with his material interest.

Islamism: 'intellectually nugatory'

Islamism: ‘intellectually nugatory’

Houellebecq

does not feel it necessary to point out that the protagonist, having converted, will not be free to apostatise should he subsequently decide that he has made a mistake; Islam is like a vein, it has an built-in mechanism of preventing backflow, so that conversions flow in one direction only. Free enquiry on many subjects will henceforth be denied him, and eventually even the subject of his scholarship is likely to be prohibited.

Soumission is far from a crude anti-Islamic polemic, says Dalrymple.

It is rather a meditation, admittedly using all the author’s habitual tropes which fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, are susceptible to an infinite number of bitterly amusing variations, on the state of Western civilisation and what makes that civilisation vulnerable to attack from so intellectually nugatory a force as Islamism which, by all reasonable standards, has nothing of any value whatever to say to the inhabitants of the 21st century.

Screen Shot 2015-02-07 at 22.42.14Houellebecq’s novel

is an invitation to us to look inwards, to think of what is wrong with us rather than with them. Whether we or they will read it like this, I rather doubt. As to a solution, it is hardly the place of a novel to supply it. But whatever it might be, Islam is certainly not it.

 

Europe, take your medicine

Screenshot 2020-01-26 at 08.01.18

Asclepius

The doctor-writer prescribes the following for the sick continent:

Get the government out of the way. Tackle welfarism, where many people are utterly dependent on the state and robbed of self-respect.

Halt the so-called European project, which is a vast pension fund for politicians who are thrown out of power in their own country. The European Union is fundamentally undemocratic; its policies are obstructive of productive work.

Win people back to civilisation. Intellectuals and politicians have for years incited hatred for Western culture, values and traditions. By destroying Western civilisation, the liberal élite is depriving ordinary people of their sense of belonging to something worthwhile. If we do not persuade people that there is something valuable in our culture and tradition – artistic, scientific, philosophical – it is hard to see how we can preserve ourselves.