Category Archives: dictators

Compared with this parliament of fools, Pinochet was a democrat

The British parliament, writes Dalrymple,

voluntarily called for a referendum on the issue of Britain’s EU membership, on the understanding that the government would abide by the result.

Since then, the parliament

has done everything possible to oppose, obstruct, delay, dilute, or straightforwardly annul the implementation of the result, which was unexpected.

Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats,

has said that if a second referendum were to take place, she would accept the result only if it were in the direction that she favoured—that of remaining in the EU. War is peace, freedom is slavery, liberal democracy is the unopposed rule of the leader.

Guy Verhofstadt, one of the leaders of EU-loyalist members of the European rubber-stamp parliament,

has sided with those who have striven might and main to overturn the result of a vote that no one can deny was democratic while simultaneously trying to cover themselves in the mantle of democracy.

In other words, says Dalrymple,

true democracy is the rule of the right-thinking, and the purpose of a referendum anywhere in Europe is—as under Napoleon III—to provide legitimation for a decision that has already been taken.

He adds:

By comparison with those who have attempted, and are still attempting, to obstruct Brexit in Britain, Augusto Pinochet was a democrat. When he lost a plebiscite, he stood down.

Verhofstadt

prefers as democrats those who, like the British MPs in the middle of a political impasse, refuse to hold elections in case the electorate gets the answer wrong again.

 

Olof Palme with political prisoners

Dalrymple writes that the Scandinavian governments

‘invested’ heavily in Tanzania because its dictator was a cuddly Christian socialist.

In so far as their ‘investment’ had any effect,

it was to reduce (an already very low) output per head, and to keep Julius Nyerere in power without having to change his policies.

The Scandinavians

belatedly admitted this, but it took two decades for the penny to drop.

Liberal supranationalism is dangerously dictatorial

Dalrymple notes that José Manuel Barroso, while head of the European Commission, on one occasion

let fall the true nature of the European Union. It was, he said, an empire, albeit an empire of an entirely new type. He said that for the first time in history nations had agreed to pool their sovereignty.

To what end, Barroso did not say.

The Juche idea

Dalrymple writes that when it comes to dictator literature,

the nadir of nadirs is reached by Kim Jong-il, by comparison with whom his father, Kim Il-sung, was P.G. Wodehouse.

Here is an extract:

The Juche idea has established the viewpoint and attitude of dealing with everything in man’s interests and approaching all changes and developments on the basis of man’s activities.

Dalrymple comments:

Imagine having this stuff inescapably beamed at you for years on end and having to read, learn, and regurgitate it as if it were the acme of human thought and reflection! North Korea is not so much a country as a vast torture chamber, in which the torture ranges from the acutely murderous to the lifelong.

 

Tyrants are their heroes

The list, writes Dalrymple,

of influential intellectuals who have given their blessing to the most obviously terrible régimes is impressive.

Artful Albanian mass murderer

Dalrymple explains that the works of Enver Hoxha are

worth reading.

The late first secretary of the Party of Labour, chairman of the Democratic Front and commander-in-chief of the Albanian armed forces has in his writing, says Dalrymple,

a wonderful natural gift for poisonous invective and insult. As by the end of his life he had fallen out with everyone, he also had a lot of practice at it.

Dalrymple explains that Hoxha’s principle was

never to speak well of the dead, especially if he had killed them himself.

Fidel’s fantasy of making the world anew — violently

Dictador Supremo: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia

Dictador Supremo: José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia

Fidel Castro, writes Dalrymple,

was the José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia de nos jours. Yet Francia had one great merit by comparison with Castro and his admirers: he made no pretence that the régime represented democracy of a higher or better kind than the parliamentary variety. Francia did not pretend that it was a democracy of any kind, and came right out with it: his self-chosen title was Dictator.

Castro was the darling of the intellectuals

partly because, like them, he was so slovenly in appearance, partly because he represented their wish fulfilment (inside every rebel there’s a dictator trying to get out). To rant for hours in front of a captive audience unable to answer or object: what greater bliss for an intellectual?

Admiration for Castro in the West was, of course, from afar. Dalrymple points out that Castro’s admirers

would not have found the régime they affected to admire supportable for a single day.

The admiration in the West

for Castro and his appalling sidekick and potential rival, Ernesto Guevara, was essentially frivolous, more a question of style than of substance. It was the promise of eternal adolescence that the two revolutionary egotists held out that rendered them so attractive at a time when adolescence was regarded as the finest of the seven ages of man.

Alberto Korda with his photograph

Alberto Korda with his photograph

Dalrymple notes that

if the photographer Alberto Korda had not snapped Guevara in an uncharacteristically romantic pose (usually he looked dishevelled and unwashed), the cult would not have existed. This was the face that launched a thousand T-shirts, not to say berets, badges, posters, coffee mugs, car stickers, and other items of kitsch.

Dictador Dalrymple would force

anyone guilty of wearing a Guevara T-shirt to read 20 pages of his writings, which make those of Leonid Brezhnev seem like P.G. Wodehouse.

When Dalrymple contemplates

the printed acreage of praise of Castro by Western intellectuals, I recall the words of Thomas Carlyle with regard to what he calls the gauchos of Paraguay:

These men are fit to be drilled into something! Their lives stand there like empty capacious bottles, calling to the heavens and the earth. ‘Is there nothing to put into us, then?’

Dalrymple:

Yes, there is: fantasies of omnipotence, fantasies of making the world anew, with us in charge.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-19-43-52

Revolutionary egotists

Castro’s crude, dim-witted economics

screen-shot-2016-11-27-at-21-56-22Fidel Castro, Dalrymple notes,

was born the illegitimate son of an impoverished Galician immigrant who became a landowning millionaire. No doubt his father’s great wealth had something to do with Fidel’s lifelong contempt for money: like a hidalgo, he despised it not only for himself but on behalf of everyone else as well.

It is probable that

his ambiguous social status as the illegitimate son of a very rich man caused him to be less attached to Cuban society than were others born with similar chances of prospering in it. Such an ambiguous position easily breeds both the confidence and the inclination to rebel.

But Castro’s life is also

an illustration of the maxim that inside every rebel there is a dictator trying to get out. From the very earliest age, Castro was endowed with a huge and ungovernable ego. Constantly, often violently, rebellious from his infancy on, he brooked no opposition from others from the moment he reached a position of power. At university, he took part in violent political feuds, and may have been a killer. Top dog was and is the only position he could ever accept.

He never learned to know how much he did not know. This gave him

the feeling of omnicompetence: a failing that is minor, though no doubt irritating, in a pub bore, but disastrous in a dictator whose whim is law.

From the outset he

pursued policies that were economically disastrous because founded on an erroneous premise: that wealth is the mirror image of poverty, that the rich are rich because the poor are poor.

But as the Cubans

have discovered at their leisure, if you confiscate luxury cars, it does not mean everyone gets shoes.

Castro’s legacy is

a mess of gargantuan proportions which will take years and the wisdom of Solomon to sort out.

A paranoid-schizophrenic African dictator

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 08.54.18The worst dictatorships, writes Dalrymple,

try to destroy not only people but memory itself.

Among the worst dictatorships in a century full of dictatorships

was that of Ahmed Sékou Touré, president of the West African state of Guinea for more than a quarter of the 20th century. A third of a population fled his rule, and many thousands were tortured and killed, victims of the dictator’s paranoia.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 08.59.23Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 09.02.40Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 09.00.00

A religion of peace

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 08.21.04It’s just that Muslims choose strange ways of showing it

At Sousse, 38 people — 25 of them British — were murdered by a Mohammedan fundamentalist gunman at an hotel (in an atrocity prefigured in the 2001 Michel Houellebecq novel Plateforme).

The attack possessed, writes Dalrymple, logic from the Islamo-Leninist ‘the worse the better’ point of view. Tourists

like sun, sea and sites, but not at the cost of their lives. Tourism can survive a dictatorship such as that of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, but not a democratically elected government that cannot guarantee security.

After the attacks, David Cameron

made a statement in which he reiterated, among other things, that Islam was a religion of peace. He was under no pressure, except that of his own pusillanimity, to say any such thing, which is in flat contradiction both to history and to the state of the world today. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt would not have said anything as stupid or as cowardly.

Leadership, says Dalrymple, should not

propound blatant untruths. It is true that most Muslims are peaceful and want to get on with their lives; the same is true of almost everyone, including Marxists. It is blatantly obvious that not all terrorists are Muslim; but when they are Muslim, their religious ideas are a necessary precondition of their acts.