Category Archives: English language

Courage in an evil cause

Dalrymple writes that English

is said to have the largest vocabulary of any language.

So in a way

it was an achievement on the part of Theresa May to have found exactly the wrong word to describe the Parsons Green bombing (2017), namely, to say that it was ‘cowardly’.

The attack, Dalrymple notes,

was not a cowardly action: it was evil as well as stupid, and many other things no doubt, but it was not cowardly. Planting a crude bomb does not require, perhaps, quite so much bravery as it does to blow yourself up, but no one with any imagination can suppose that placing a bomb in a public place is an undertaking for a coward, or that it requires no courage. On the contrary, it requires considerable courage to do such a thing; if it did not, it is probable that there would be many more bombs and terrorist attacks than there already are. To place a bomb like this, one must face the risk of premature explosion and mutilation, the risk of being set upon by witnesses, and the likelihood of being caught and spending years in prison. These are not risks that most of us would care to take.

Does it matter, Dalrymple asks,

if a word, uttered in the heat, or nearly in the heat, of the moment (though surely by now, May must have rehearsed in her mind what to say in the event of a terrorist outrage) is wrong? It would be impossible to estimate with certainty or exactitude the harm done by the misuse of words in these circumstances. But nevertheless there is an unpleasant corollary to May’s statement: if even part of what is wrong about leaving a bomb in Parsons Green station is that it is a cowardly thing to do, then a terrorist attack that is more direct, and hence less cowardly, must be better, from a moral perspective. Are we to admire terrorists who stare their victims in the face, or put themselves directly in self-harm’s way? Bravery in the promotion or defence of a bad cause does not make the cause better, or a heinous act any more praiseworthy.

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An archaic dialect

Dalrymple begins to wonder whether

I still speak modern English, or whether, approaching middle age, the language of my youth and education has become an archaic and somewhat quaint dialect.

Dalrymple’s quaint and archaic dialect

Compared to the prose of NHS managers, that of the British Medical Journal is as Edward Gibbon

From Fowler's Dictionary of Modern English Usage, ed. Jeremy Butterfield, 2015

From Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage, ed. Jeremy Butterfield, 2015

The Calais migrants are brave, determined and enterprising

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.21.13France, writes Dalrymple, is a more attractive country than Britain. It is

better organised and preserved, cleaner, more efficient and less corrupt (in the sense that people are likelier to do what they are paid to do, both in the private and public sectors). It is far less crowded and has fewer dreary and hellishly ugly towns. Its medical services are better and its population much healthier, in large part because people ­indulge less in gross and self-­destructive habits. Its poverty is better hidden, and probably less in fact. Its crime rate is much lower. Its economy produces as much as Britain’s in three-quarters the number of hours worked, indicating a considerably higher quality of life.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.06.13Why then, would anyone seek to quit France for Britain? Why do migrants from the Middle East, the Maghreb, Sudan, the Horn of Africa, Iran, Pakistan etc. see Britain as an El Dorado worth risking their lives to reach via Calais and through the Channel Tunnel?

There are three main reasons, says Dalrymple — the third being by far the most important.

Language. Most of the migrants probably speak a few words of English, and are more anxious to learn the world language than one which is much less important than it was.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.09.41Papers. In Britain there is no legal requirement to carry any form of identification. You cannot be asked for your papers. This is the tiny residue of the tradition of the free-born Englishman, who does not have to justify his existence, or his presence, to authority. (France has countless sans-papiers, who subsist in marginality and fear of official clampdown, though their chances of being expelled are tiny; for the liberal Left in France, the sans-papiers are heroic victims almost by definition.)

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.22.59Work. It is easy to find work in Britain, albeit at a lowly paid level, sometimes considerably below the ability of the migrants. The populist notion that the migrants (overwhelmingly young men) want simply to parasitise the welfare state is mistaken. They are mainly people desperate to improve their lot and, thanks to its relatively liberal labour laws and its lack of serious effort to control the informal sector of the economy, their chances of doing so are better in Britain. The prospect of work, and even of starting a business, is far more important to them than healthcare or the beauty of city centres. The truly poor want to work their way out of poverty.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.17.43The Channel migrants, Dalrymple affirms,

are brave, determined and enterprising. No one does lightly what they do. Does this in itself mean that the native population that wants to keep them out is wrongheaded, mean-spirited or even vicious? Some economists argue that migrants bring economic growth ex officio: but it is economic product per head that is important, not the total product, and here economists are far from unanimous. In addition, much of the population fears that we are creating not a melting-pot but a stir-fry of incompatible ingredients. Britain, after all, is a very small wok.

Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 23.20.19

 

A society in decomposition

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.07.37England has neither leaders nor followers but is composed only of egotists

The

intellectual torpor, moral cowardice, incompetence and careerist opportunism of the British political and intellectual class

A careerist, intellectually torpid, incompetent coward

A careerist, intellectually torpid, incompetent coward

is now very evident, writes Dalrymple. Despite everything that has happened in recent years, the corrupt mandarins continue to contrive

not to notice what has long been apparent to anyone who has taken a short walk with his eyes open down any frequented British street: that a considerable proportion of the country’s young population (a proportion that is declining) is ugly, aggressive, vicious, badly educated, uncouth and criminally inclined.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.08.41Lavish self-esteem

While British youth is utterly lacking in self-respect,

it is full of self-esteem: that is to say, it believes itself entitled to a high standard of living, and other things, without any effort on its own part.

Although youth unemployment in Britain is very high, that is to say about 20 per cent of those aged under 25,

the country has had to import young foreign labour for a long time, even for unskilled work in the service sector.

The British, idlest workers in Europe

No rational employer in a service industry would choose a young Briton

if he could have a young Pole; the young Pole is not only likely to have a good work ethic and refined manners, he is likely to be able to add up and — most humiliating of all — to speak better English than the Briton, at least if by that we mean the standard variety of the language. He may not be more fluent but his English will be more correct and his accent easier to understand.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.11.24Travesty of an educational system

After compulsory education,

or perhaps I should say intermittent attendance at school, up to the age of 16 costing $80,000 a head, about one-quarter of British children cannot read with facility or do simple arithmetic. It makes you proud to be a British taxpayer.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.15.37State-subsidised criminality

British youth

leads the Western world in almost all aspects of social pathology, from teenage pregnancy to drug taking, from drunkenness to violent criminality. There is no form of bad behaviour that our version of the welfare state has not sought out and subsidised.

British children

are radically unsocialised and deeply egotistical, viewing relations with other human beings in the same way as Lenin: Who whom, who does what to whom. By the time they grow up, they are destined not only for unemployment but unemployability.

Long bath in vomitus

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.17.38All the necessary electronic equipment is available for the prosecution of the main business of life, viz

entertainment by popular culture. And what a culture British popular culture is! Perhaps Amy Winehouse was its finest flower and its truest representative in her militant and ideological vulgarity, her stupid taste, her vile personal conduct and preposterous self-pity.

Sordor

Winehouse’s sordid life

was a long bath in vomitus, literal and metaphorical, for which the exercise of her very minor talent was no excuse or explanation. Yet not a peep of dissent from our intellectual class was heard after her near canonisation after her death, that class having long had the backbone of a mollusc.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.19.10Thugs in uniform

What of the police? They are

simultaneously bullying but ineffectual and incompetent, increasingly dressed in paraphernalia that makes them look more like the occupiers of Afghanistan than the force imagined by Robert Peel. The people who most fear our police are the innocent.

(2011)

The harridan-and-harpy wing of British politics

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 15.02.04 An article reflecting the views of such people is read, or endured, by Dalrymple. It is about ‘gender inequality’ in politics and society, and is both

dull, as all such articles are bound to be,

and impoverishing of the English language. However, the virtue of the article, to be found in the London newspaper the Observer, is that it lavishly furnishes Dalrymple with opportunities to indulge what he describes as

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 14.59.45one of the most delightful of emotions,

viz., righteous indignation.

The article irritates our man intensely, finally reducing him to

impotent rage.