Category Archives: dishonesty

‘None of the news that disturbs our smugness’ is the Guardian’s motto

Not only, writes Dalrymple, is the Guardian

the sole remaining daily newspaper in Britain whose content is mostly devoted to serious matters, it is the only one that the unacknowledged legislators of the world, the intelligentsia, take seriously.

This, he explains,

is a disaster for the country. Though it occasionally allows a dissenting voice, the Guardian has consistently advocated a demoralisation of the population, followed by increased state intervention and, of course, public spending to alleviate the consequences of that demoralisation. No wonder the BBC [the British state broadcaster] advertises for personnel exclusively in its pages.

Surrounding the newspaper’s content is

an aura of dishonesty and evasiveness.

Its writers aim to avoid

something they had rather not acknowledge: the need to think, in particular about the unrealistic presuppositions of their worldview. Not ‘All the news that’s fit to print’ but ‘None of the news that disturbs our liberal smugness and sense of moral superiority’ is the motto of the Guardian.

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Jewelled prose disguising narcissistic rage

Dalrymple asks of Virginia Woolf:

Might the revelation by the war of the utter frivolity of her attitudinising have contributed to her decision to commit suicide? If the good life is a matter of judgment, the war proved that all her adult life she had none.

Yet he notes that had she survived to our time,

she would have had the satisfaction of observing that her cast of mind — shallow, dishonest, resentful, envious, snobbish, self-absorbed, trivial, philistine, brutal — had triumphed among the élites of the Western world.

The part played by the public sector in this tragedy

Before and after the ‘refurbishment’, with its deadly flammable cladding

Grenfell Tower was built, Dalrymple notes,

as public housing in 1974. Like all such towers (4,000 of them in Britain) erected at the time, it was an aesthetic blot on the townscape, irredeemably hideous, and destructive of the possibility of civilised sociability.

One reason, Dalrymple explains, that the block of flats was ‘refurbished’ at a cost of more than $10m shortly before the fire

was to improve its appearance slightly, to make it look less Soviet. There was, of course, only so much that could be done in this direction.

Unfortunately, the cladding used to insulate the building, protect it from rain, and improve its appearance

was highly flammable, and it was attached to the building in such a way that it acted as a kind of chimney once the fire began.

Under construction

The local borough council

owned the building but had devolved its management to a non-profit-making management quasi-company that was, in essence, in the public sector, though it paid its senior staff, in effect local-government civil servants, private-sector-sized salaries.

This effectively public-sector management firm

was responsible for choosing the refurbishment and for guaranteeing and certifying that the work done was safe, though similar such work had previously caused fires in buildings like Grenfell Tower. It hired a private contractor, the successor to a company that had previously gone bankrupt after a large claim had been made against it for defective work.

The quasi-public-sector management company

disregarded the tenants’ repeatedly voiced concerns about the lack of proper fire precautions in the building.

An aesthetic blot on the townscape

Dalrymple’s experience of public-sector housing authorities, when he was a doctor with many patients who lived in public housing, was that

they were stone deaf to all justified tenant complaints, unless someone like me made firm representations on the tenants’ behalf.

These authorities, he relates,

were unutterably heartless and dishonest, as well as incompetent. They had to be protected from their clients by bulletproof glass.

Yet

the horrible fire, which is among the most terrifying anyone has witnessed, is being used to demand more public expenditure, raised and administered by the same kind of people who brought such joy to the residents of Grenfell Tower.

The design alone was always destructive of the possibility of civilised sociability

Before and after ‘refurbishment’, aimed at making the building less Soviet

Irredeemably hideous

Under construction

Britain’s bogus charities

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 08.53.05When you give money to a large charity, writes Dalrymple,

you are not so much being generous as voluntarily paying more tax, for many charities are de facto subcontractors to the State. The government is usually by far the largest single donor.

Therefore you should remember that

he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Such charities, Dalrymple points out, are

misrepresenting themselves to the public.

It is not only financial corruption that you should fear, he says,

but even more the moral corruption of which this dishonesty is an example.

What Blair says about the British people

A modern Briton

A modern Briton

One of Blair’s motives for going to war might have been

an eye to his post-retirement value on the very lucrative American lecture circuit.

Blair, Dalrymple notes,

shows a greater avidity for vulgar high living than any recent holder of his office.

Dalrymple says Blair

presents us with a special puzzle. Although by no means an interesting man, in the sense that Doctor Johnson was an interesting man, we all find ourselves thinking about him at frustrating length. He is like a tune, neither loved nor lovely, that one cannot get out of one’s head.

In some ways

he appears to resemble that product of the diseased communist imagination, particularly beloved of Che Guevara, the New Man, at least in the sense that he does not resemble previous generations.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.06.14Blair

is neither honest nor dishonest: he escapes entirely the criteria by which such a judgment of him could be made. To argue with him that what he says or does now is incompatible with what he said or did yesterday is about as fruitful as arguing a paranoid man out of his belief that the secret services of many countries are after him, or that his neighbours are listening to his thoughts through a screening device that they have invented. In short, Blair, having been born with Original Virtue, suffers from delusions of honesty.

Leaders, Dalrymple notes,

grow out of societies and a social context: they do not fall like bolts from the blue. Blair both represents, and is a cause of an acceleration in, a change in character of the British people. He is far from unique in his ability to find the happy coincidence between his thirst for money and power and the highest moral principles.

Anyone who has had dealings with the British public service, Dalrymple points out, will know that the principal qualities required for advancement within it are

  • unceasing sanctimony
  • brazenness
  • a craven dedication to orders from on high
  • an ability to justify a complete change of direction at a moment’s notice
  • a capacity for bullying those lower down the feeding chain, or those jostling for a place at the trough
  • a rigid self-control, to suppress any independence of mind or a tendency to consider the ethics of orders to be implemented

What is required in the civil servant is the ability, for example,

to present cancelled operations as an inestimable benefit to the patients concerned, while at the same time spotting niches for a little commercial activity of his own, whether it be by using the rules of employment to his own financial benefit or setting up a consultancy to advise his former employers.

Dalrymple recently met a public servant

who had risen up the ranks and had about him the air of a successful revolutionary. He travelled to London on the train first class every week (a ticket costs the equivalent of an annual working-class holiday in the sun), and attended sumptuous functions there attended by others such as himself, under the impression that by so doing he was working.

Here was the voice

of militant mediocrity, who expressed himself even in private in the language of Health Service meetings, believing that his large salary and high living at public expense were all for the good of those who paid for them. Just as the countries of Eastern Europe once had their little Stalins, so every department of every branch of the British public service has its little Blairs.

Today the ruling characteristics of the British are

  • deviousness
  • ruthlessness
  • an eye fixed on the main chance
  • sanctimony in the midst of obvious wrongdoing
  • toadying
  • bullying

As late as 1979, the British people, including administrators in hospitals, were largely upright. Some of the old virtues were seen, such as

  • stoicism
  • honesty
  • fortitude
  • irony
  • good humour

These can still be found,

but only in people who are of no importance,

for in Britain, good people

are like a defeated class.

Dalrymple says that

when words become the test of virtue, they also become the masks of vice. That is why sanctimony and ruthless self-interest are such powerful allies.

A weed in the garden

Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 08.19.30The soil that allows bogus peer review — a relatively new form of fraud — to flourish, writes Dalrymple, is

the pressure on academics to publish, irrespective of whether they have anything to say, either for the sake of promotion or even of mere continuance in post.

It is, he notes,

a modern variant on Gogol’s Dead Souls.

Evil tenants

G.J. Pinwell, Landlord and Tenant, 1871

G.J. Pinwell, Landlord and Tenant, 1871

Recently one of the tenants of Dalrymple’s next-door neighbour

did a bunk, owing him £3,000 in rent.

A quick investigation

established that she had done this all her life: she had cheated and swindled landlords for decades. She had many court judgments against her; not one had been executed. Obtaining such a judgment only added to the losses incurred by her successive landlords.

Tenants have a tendency to

turn their rented properties into sties, make unreasonable demands, withhold payment and regard any ill-conduct towards their landlord as justified ipso facto.

Landlords

have little redress against the ruthless or dishonest.

The characteristic deformation of the liberal conscience

'I have learned to be polite to the people who make these calls. I imagine that for them it is just a job like any other. Some of their contemporaries went into sales, others into the bank, yet others into insurance; they went into fraud (only a relative, not an absolute, distinction).'

‘I have learned to be polite to the people who make these calls. I imagine that for them it is just a job like any other. Some of their contemporaries went into sales, others into the bank, yet others into insurance; they went into fraud (only a relative, not an absolute, distinction).’

We are enjoined to put ourselves in other people’s shoes before judging them too harshly, but…

When (doubtless ill-paid) telephone fraudsters ring up from India, Dalrymple asks whether showing them politeness is humanity or pusillanimity. He writes:

We often think that to make excuses for others is kindness, to make excuses for ourselves dishonesty.

Therefore should we show a bit of kindness, a bit of consideration, to members of the telephone fraudster community?

After all, perhaps not. Dalrymple says:

To make excuses for others but not for ourselves easily becomes condescension or a sense of superiority moral and even existential. We are responsible for what we do, they are not. We act, they only react.

Britain’s profound corruption

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 08.10.00The British State, writes Dalrymple, is

rotten.

Its rottenness is its

raison d’être.

The highest ranks

have been encouraged to arrogate to themselves large rewards from the public purse.

The nomenklatura’s

ostensible purposes — health, education, even defence — are the most feeble or transparent of pretexts; its real purpose is personal enrichment and institutional aggrandisement.

The level

of honesty — moral, intellectual and financial — of the population in Britain has declined drastically. We are now a nation of special pleaders on the take.

Equality of opportunity is

the politico-bureaucratic pretext for perpetuating inequality while destroying opportunity.

The well-merited result of this is and will be

impoverishment.

Is the crisis faced by the Greeks their own fault?

Feeble-minded: Martin Wolf

Wolf: feeble-minded

NO, says Martin Wolf. Stupid lenders lose money

This somewhat overvalued (and rather conceited) journalist writes about high finance. He can be read in the Financial Times, the Irish Times and other prints. He argues:

Nobody was forced to lend to Greece. Initially, private lenders were happy to lend to the Greek government on much the same terms as to the German government. Yet the nature of Greek politics, tellingly described in The 13th Labour of Hercules: Inside the Greek Crisis by Yannis Palaiologos, was no secret. Then, in 2010, it became clear the money would not be repaid. Rather than agree to the write-off that was needed, governments (and the International Monetary Fund) decided to bail out the private creditors by refinancing Greece. Thus began the game of ‘extend and pretend’. Stupid lenders lose money. That has always been the case. It is still the case today.

Dalrymple: incisive and gutsy

Dalrymple: incisive

YES, says Theodore Dalrymple. Stupid borrowers lose assets

This somewhat undervalued (and rather self-effacing) essayist writes about the human condition. He can be read in City Journal, the Salisbury Review and other prints. He argues:

The lenders were foolish, or worse than foolish, relying as they did on Greece’s fraudulent membership of the common currency to forestall any possibility of default. But the Greeks, or rather the Greek government, can hardly be absolved of all blame for the situation. The latter borrowed huge sums of money to fund current consumption, having previously falsified its public accounts in order to meet the criteria to join the common currency. If nobody had to lend to Greece, Greece did not have to borrow, at least not like it did and for the purposes that it did. And if it is true that stupid lenders lose money, stupid borrowers lose their assets. If this is a tale of stupidity, it is of stupidity – or dishonesty – all round.