Category Archives: drug-taking

The free-born Englishman

The person, writes Dalrymple,

who is supposed to be viscerally and hereditarily attached to his freedom in a way that distinguishes him from his continental opposite number, thanks to the common-law tradition, conceives of it mostly as the freedom to

  • be drunk in public
  • take whatever drugs he likes
  • be sexually promiscuous

Meanwhile the more intellectual portion of the population

increasingly sees freedom as the right to suppress the opinions of those of whom they strongly disapprove.

And the greatest freedom, the one most ardently desired, is the freedom

to be protected from the consequences of one’s improvidence and foolishness.

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Moral weakness par excellence

Close down the drug addiction clinics!

Addicts, writes Dalrymple,

would then have to face the truth, that they are as responsible for their actions as anyone else.

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Why drug-takers are such crashing bores

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 06.46.55Dalrymple points out that drugs,

far from being expanders of consciousness, severely limit it. One of the characteristics of drug-takers is their intense and tedious self-absorption; their journeys into inner space are forays into inner vacuums. Drug-taking is a lazy man’s way of pursuing happiness and wisdom, and the shortcut turns out to be the deadest of dead ends.

Use of narcotics

has the effect of reducing men’s freedom by circumscribing the range of their interests. It impairs their ability to pursue more important human aims, such as raising a family and fulfilling civic obligations. Very often it impairs their ability to pursue gainful employment and promotes parasitism.

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Inside the mind of a Belgian suicide bomber

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 09.11.50Watching some Swiss television

for the first and possibly last time,

Dalrymple views a report on Muriel Degauque, the first white European suicide bomber. Born and raised in Charleroi, she was a child of ordinary working-class parents.

The television underlined this with lengthy shots of her dreary childhood neighbourhood. Even a few seconds looking at it on a screen was almost enough to provoke an existential crisis.

Her life was unremarkable, said the television report.

She was average at school, then worked in a bakery. People who knew her emphasised that she was an ordinary person—the last kind of person to act in such an outrageous way. There was nothing in her life out of the usual. True, she went through a period of sexual promiscuity and drug-taking, but when she converted to Islam—cut to a Muslim area of Brussels—she gave up drugs and was faithful to her Moroccan husband. So really, the commentary concluded, the whole episode was mysterious and inexplicable.

But only, writes Dalrymple,

in the sense that all human conduct is, in the last analysis, mysterious. Actually, the suicide bomber reminded me of the lost and bewildered young whom various Christian sects would look for as they scoured our streets, trawling for recruits into their all-embracing communities. These communities happened to make lots of money for their founders but really did rescue some young people from the gutter.

The television commentary

made no connection between Degauque’s promiscuity and drug abuse on the one hand and her subsequent conversion to a murderously puritanical form of Islam on the other (she wore the most extreme of veils).

Yet it requires little imagination, says Dalrymple, to make such a connection,

for one interpretation of her former life was that she sought to fill a void, a lack of purpose or interest, with sensation. Once the self-defeating nature of this was obvious to her—and nothing suggests that she lacked intelligence, despite her mediocre academic background—she became vulnerable to a ‘complete’ answer to life’s problems. Her death demonstrated, to herself and to others, how deeply (or desperately) she believed in it.

Her problem—a lack of meaning in her life—is

far from unique. Millions of people are in the same or similar position. That is why Europe cannot afford to be complacent about it.