Category Archives: Enlightenment, the

How the West invites terror

Riaz Khan Ahmadzai

Riaz Khan Ahmadzai

Muslims, writes Dalrymple,

are not deceived by pusillanimous, odious, unctuous, and fatuous expressions of understanding for their feelings that have emerged from official circles, in a vain and cowardly attempt to defuse the situation by a precipitate though insincere abandonment of the best values of the Enlightenment.

Islamic fundamentalists

know perfectly well that the West does not respect them, and that the only way they can cut a figure is by terror. Technologically, scientifically, artistically, philosophically, economically they are nullities: but they know how to be vicious, and that makes up for every other defect. If the world will not listen to their tedious religiose lucubrations, it will at least pay heed to their bloodcurdling threats. Each expression of pseudo-understanding is music to their ears: they know that threats of mass decapitation and killing in the streets have worked. It is an open invitation for more of the same.

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel

The Western democracies, says Dalrymple,

have demonstrated a lack of resolve comparable only to that of Chamberlain and Daladier in the face of Hitler.

When, he says,

we see the freedom that the Enlightenment wrought challenged in so intellectually primitive and thuggish a way, we realise how very much we owe the Enlightenment. You don’t really appreciate something until you have lost it.

The problem of the Muslim world is that

it wants the material fruits or benefits of the Enlightenment without the Enlightenment. A considerable proportion of the large migrant population from Islamic countries to Europe has wanted this too, which is why many such migrants are notably less successful in their adopted countries than their Hindu, Sikh, and Chinese counterparts. Muslims have been trying to square this circle for well over a century, since they first became aware of how retarded they were by comparison with a civilisation that theirs once more than equalled. Like the inhabitants of the ghetto, they want the respect of the rest of the world without wishing to do the things necessary to obtain it.

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The gentle Sikh woman

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 20.32.12She waited outside without demur, reading a book of prayers

In the ward, writes Dalrymple, was a young Englishwoman

of the slut-babymother class, whose jaw was clenched in a habitual expression of world-destroying hatred. Her glittering saurian eyes swivelled mistrustingly, on the qui vive for infringements of her rights. She exuded grievance as a skunk exudes its odour.

She had been admitted to hospital because

she had been out celebrating the night before.

Enlightenment reason turned into psychopathic unreason

In England,

celebration is synonymous with aggression and public nuisance, and she had conformed to type. The police dumped her in the hospital rather than in the slammer, where she belonged.

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 20.34.20She

turned the attention of her lip to the admitting doctor, who took down verbatim some of what she said to him.

Her recorded remarks were littered with the word ‘fuck’, which the doctor rendered ‘f***’ in neat handwriting, showing that

in India, at least (where the doctor came from), there is still some sense of dignity, decorum and self-respect.

Putrid fruit borne of the doctrine of rights

The following morning a friend of the patient arrived in the ward before visiting time.

Both patient and friend were what is called in the prison ‘very verbal’. A nurse, acting on the biblical observation that a soft answer turns away wrath, asked them to keep their voices down, only to discover that the Bible has been superseded in modern Britain and that wrath turns away a soft answer.

Superseded: the book of Proverbs

Superseded: the Book of Proverbs

The nurse then told the visitor that she had to leave. Shortly after her departure under foul-mouthed protest,

the wife of another patient came. She was a respectable Sikh woman with a gentle manner, but it was not yet visiting time, and the nurses feared to provoke the slut-babymother by allowing her to stay, when they had told the slut-babymother’s visitor to leave. The nurses could all too well imagine the scene: Why am I not allowed a fucking visitor when that person over there is? In vain would the nurses point out the difference in the conduct of the two visitors; if anyone had a right to a visitor, everyone did, irrespective of the conduct of the visitor.

To avoid a conflict over rights,

the Sikh woman was asked to wait outside, which she did without demur, reading a book of prayers.

Hirsi Ali versus Islamism’s fellow travellers

Screen Shot 2015-07-04 at 22.41.33Proselytiser for the European Enlightenment view of the world

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, says Dalrymple, is right to insist

that a profound change in the relations between the sexes is the key to Muslim integration into Western society.

For many young Muslim men in the West, Dalrymple points out,

a powerful appeal of Islam is the sanction that it gives to their domination of women. This domination provides them an ex officio source of self-satisfaction that discourages further effort, and simultaneously deprives their society of the talents of women. The natural result is material and intellectual failure by comparison with other religious groups; and disappointment leads to morbid hypersensitivity to criticism, insensate rage and the blaming of others.

Many in the West,

from a combination of fear and self-hatred, are unwilling to make the distinction between a respect for the right of people to practise a religion within the law, and an exaggerated respect for the religion itself. Hirsi Ali rightfully pours scorn on the fellow travellers of obscurantism.

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.

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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.