Category Archives: equality

Equality of outcome is a chimera

Ugandan Asians

Dalrymple writes that

there is no possible way, short of extreme force, in which outcomes between different groups of people can be equalised or smoothed out; and therefore, in liberal economies, and probably even in illiberal ones (for egalitarianism is rarely carried out equally), differences between groups, often very large, will persist. This has been so throughout history and will remain so, short of genocide.

He notes that

superficial or demagogic egalitarian objections to spontaneously-generated differences have brought us such delights as

  • Nazism
  • the slaughter of Chinese in Indonesia
  • the expulsion of Asians from East Africa

Indonesia pogrom

German fascism

The hate-filled egalitarians

Count your curses

The concept of equality of opportunity, writes Dalrymple,

is deeply vicious.

People who promote it

do not want to serve humanity but to torture it.

They know that their ideal

is not reachable or even approachable. It is barely conceivable.

They do not want their ideal to be realised,

for then they would have no providential role, and would have to sink back into the mass of humanity, their work done.

They criticise the world from the standpoint of an impossible ideal

not to improve the world, but to stir resentment. The resentful are easy to manipulate and willing to confer power on those who offer to liberate them from the supposed causes of their distress. It is important to keep inequalities of opportunity firmly before men’s minds.

We are enjoined to

count our curses. It accords with our desire to explain away our failure. There are whole university departments set up to train students to do nothing else.

Disgusted of Bridgnorth

screen-shot-2016-12-24-at-09-30-40Everywhere must be Streatham

The problem with freedom in Britain, writes Dalrymple, is that

once people exercise it, execrable taste becomes predominant and civilisation suffers.

Strolling outside the National Gallery, Dalrymple has to

run the gauntlet of the English at play. Not a single one dressed with self-respect. They chewed the gum with which the paving stones were mottled. Several had set up loudspeakers, down which they relayed their attempt at rock music. They obviously dreamed of celebrity, that ambition of the talentless. Most looked unwashed, raddled by drugs and malnutrition. What a cacophony, a descent into a circle of Hell!

Must, he asks,

freedom and equality mean that everywhere is reduced to the aesthetic level of Streatham? Is it fascist not to want to be aesthetically and auditorily disgusted everywhere?

How the Left destroyed many of England’s finest schools

St Marylebone Grammar School, where Eric Hobsbawm was a pupil (though he rarely alluded to his time there, and it was never mentioned in brief biographical accounts in, say, blurbs for his books). The school was closed in 1981 under the government of Margaret Thatcher who, Dalrymple points out,

St Marylebone Grammar School, where the Marxist historian and Stalin apologist Eric Hobsbawm CH was a pupil (though he rarely alluded to his time there, and it was never mentioned in brief biographical accounts in, say, blurbs for his books). The school was closed down in 1981 under the government of Margaret Thatcher who, Dalrymple points out, did much—perhaps more than anyone else—to forward the destruction of the grammar schools

Modern political thought fails, writes Dalrymple,

to distinguish between élitism and social exclusivity. From this failure stems an enormous, costly, and increasingly intolerant attempt to rectify what is not wrong in the first place. One fights chimeras the better to avoid confrontation with real enemies.

In Britain,

the fanatics of formal equality of opportunity have triumphed over the moderates of at least some real opportunity for all, because in the world of modern democratic politics, a declared aim is more important than an actual effect.

In the pre-reform British state educational system,

attendance at a grammar school in a poor area was a virtual guarantee of its pupils’ social ascent into the middle class. In these schools, the education given was self-consciously not ‘relevant’ to the pupil’s experience. It was often precisely his experience that held him back, that forged the man-made manacles. The learning of French, say, might not be of much use in the slums, but it was not supposed that the pupil would stay in the slums forever; at the very least, learning it would broaden his outlook on the world.

This education

reflected, and required, a cultural and even a mildly ideological confidence on the part of those who transmitted it. The preceptors believed that there were higher intellectual attainments that were worthwhile in themselves, and that assisting the low-born to ascend the social ladder was a worthy and even a noble end.

The system came under attack for two reasons.

(1) The practical reason was

the correct observation that the education offered in the non-grammar schools was often, or usually, of a wretched standard, neither academic nor even properly technical. A large part of the population was left semi-literate and semi-numerate. This left them difficult to train to become skilled workers. A large and increasing bureaucracy such as that which ran and runs the British educational system, faced with a part that functions well and a part that functions badly, will always choose the destruction of the part that functions well as the solution to supposedly improving the whole. It is their equivalent of  Schumpeter’s creative destruction, except that it is destructive destruction. It is easy to destroy (success is almost certain) but difficult to improve. Moreover, all judgment being comparative, the good always throws a lurid light on the bad. Equality of mediocrity assures the peaceful existence of the bureaucrat.

(2) The political attack was from two directions.

(a) It was increasingly denied by intellectuals that there were any higher intellectual attainments that were worthwhile in themselves. The hierarchy of such attainments was based upon a foundation that, being metaphysically assailable, was deemed not to exist. This affected pædagogy profoundly, once the attitude had made its long march through the institutions.

(b) The point was made by the ‘reformers’ that social ascent was undesirable, and positively harmful in so far as it reinforced the structure of an unjust society that was in need of destruction, not amelioration. Offering poor children the opportunity for social ascent was like treating cancer with an anti-depressant. Aspiration in an unfair society preserved the unfairness.

Kesteven and Grantham Girls' School, where Margaret Thatcher was a pupil. Needless to say, her government decided not to close it

Kesteven and Grantham Girls’ School, where Margaret Thatcher was a pupil. Needless to say, her government decided not to close it

There was, Dalrymple points out,

no demand from below for the amalgamation of good and bad schools. The demand came almost entirely from the intellectual wing of the political class.

The meritocratic system was destroyed

in the name of undermining social exclusivity, the theory of it being so much more important than the practice.

Once the destruction started, resistance crumbled. Margaret Thatcher,

herself a product of the system, did much—perhaps more than anyone else—to forward the destruction.

The result was that

a class society came to look more like a caste society. If the teaching of grammar, for example, were abandoned on the theory that no form of language was superior to any other, an enormous additional advantage was handed, ex officio, to middle-class children for whom Standard English was their native tongue. In addition, the middle classes were able to avoid or evade prevailing low standards.

The British socialist politician Anthony Crosland (Highgate and Trinity College, Oxford) served as education secretary and was one of the architects of the destruction of the grammar schools. He once said: 'If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every fucking grammar school in England. And Wales. And Northern Ireland.'

The British socialist politician Anthony Crosland (Highgate and Trinity College, Oxford) served as education secretary and was one of the architects of the destruction of the grammar schools. He once said: ‘If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every fucking grammar school in England. And Wales. And Northern Ireland.’

The grammar schools had cultural as well as educational effects.

They kept aspiration alive where it was so easily lost (all the more so as jobs for an unskilled working class evaporated). They suggested a hierarchy of achievement, in which celebrity and football had little place, let alone the hegemony in the minds of the poor that they now have. (Surveys of British children show that the word ‘talent’ is associated by them with pop music or football, and nothing else.)

Élites tend to reproduce themselves,

which is as it should be when you stop to think about it by comparing it with the alternative: a society in which parents do not care specially about their children and make no efforts to secure them the advantages that they themselves have had or achieved.

But

a class society is not a closed society.

A closed society

is what attempts to bring about a type of equality other than equality under the law eventuate in.

Dalrymple bashes bank bunkum

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Unctuous cant

An advertisement for a big bank pretends that it is

working for the creation of a more equal world.

This

cannot possibly be the case and is, in effect, a lie. At least, one hopes it is a lie, for that is the most charitable interpretation of the slogan.

It is obvious, writes Dalrymple, that

the aim of a commercial bank cannot be a more equal world, if only because it has financial obligations to its shareholders that it does not have to the rest of humanity.

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Bank poppycock

The bank’s shareholders

have not invested to provide everyone in the world with paid dividends; and while they might hope that the bank’s activities are honest and contribute to the growth of the economy, this is not at all the same thing as equalising the world.

A world in which everyone were starving

might be a more equal world, indeed a perfectly equal one. Equality of misery is equality all right, but is not therefore either a just or desirable goal that the bank might pride itself on having brought about.

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Bank balderdash

What the bank really meant — if it meant anything at all — was that

it was working towards a richer, more prosperous world. But working for wealth does not have the same moral cachet as working for equality.

In short,

the bank was indulging in humbug; unctuously proclaiming ideals that it cannot, will never and ought not to have.

Humbug, Dalrymple points out, is

an insidious pollutant of the mind, which not only distorts but perverts. It clears the primrose path to earthly damnation.

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Bank baloney

Modest proposal for addressing a grotesque disparity

Deaths from leukæmia in children have fallen by 38 per cent in boys but only by 20 per cent in girls, it is reported, underlining patriarchy’s utter callousness. How to tackle this intolerable situation? The answer, writes Dalrymple, is to

withhold treatment from a proportion of the boys with leukæmia, since the disease is now often curable. This will restore the balance, the status quo ante. Letting more boys die of leukæmia will serve the cause of equality and therefore of justice.

How to carry it out? Dalrymple says:

The most economical way, especially in these times of financial stringency, is to deny life-prolonging medicine and procedures to a proportion. This is obviously preferable to the alternative — compulsory euthanasia.

Léon Cogniet, Scène du massacre des Innocents, 1824. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes

Equality, social justice and public health: Léon Cogniet, Scène du massacre des innocents, 1824. Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes

Until all can live in beauty, none shall

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 08.57.13Finding himself in

one of those ugly cities, formerly industrial, in which England abounds to an extent unknown in any other Western country,

Dalrymple discovers that one of the town’s gracious quarters, full of early-19th-century houses built for the nascent industrial bourgeoisie, has been ruined by the construction of ‘social housing’ in the midst of it. The purpose of the construction is plainly

to destroy the beauty in which so small a proportion of the population lived, since there were many other places in which the social housing, a battery farm for social pathology, could have been built.

Justice,

by which is meant equality of outcome, demands the universal spread of grunginess, the destruction of all outward forms of distinction.

We dare not protest at ugliness

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 09.51.33Social democracy has been disastrous for art and architecture

Dalrymple points to a fact that only an adolescent, a fool or a madman would contest, that the artistic production of

mediæval and renaissance Florence (with a population a seventh of that of Akron or a quarter of that of Croydon) is of greater value than that of the whole of the western world (with a population 7,000 times greater) for the last seventy years.

We social democrats, Dalrymple writes,

fear beauty and scarcely dare protest at ugliness. Since beauty is often and so obviously the product of unjust societies, we are afraid of it. Beauty is tainted by injustice; and since nowadays we value justice, fairness and equality above all things, and make them the touchstone of value, beauty makes us uneasy.

Replying in a public forum to an art critic of a British newspaper who extolled London as an art capital, Dalrymple gently pointed out that London’s entire contemporary output

was not worth one picture by Memling, and what’s more was never going to be.

Dalrymple told this critic that if London was really (which it is plainly not) an art capital city compared with all the others,

that only went to show how artistically impoverished the world had become.

In such an environment, one of near-circumambient modern ugliness, what is our artistic task? It is, writes Dalrymple, as far as we can

to preserve remnants.

Das Jüngste Gericht (detail), attr. Hans Memling, 1467-71, Muzeum Narodowe w Gdańsku

Attr. Hans Memling, Das Jüngste Gericht (detail), 1467-71, Muzeum Narodowe w Gdańsku

Il Duomo di Firenze: Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, 1296-1436, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, dome by Filippo Brunelleschi

Il Duomo di Firenze: Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, 1296-1436, designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, dome by Filippo Brunelleschi

Dalrymple père

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 09.09.43Dalrymple tells an interviewer that his father

era um comunista embora também fosse um homem de negócios. Sempre foi claro que a preocupação de meu pai para com a humanidade não era sempre acompanhada por sua preocupação para com os homens, para dizer o mínimo, para quem (como indivíduos), ele muitas vezes expressava desprezo. Ele tinha dificuldade para entrar numa relação em igualdade com qualquer um, e preferia ser o Stalin do Molotov deles.

Petite touche philosophico-entomologique

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 13.32.04Equality before God, equality before the maggot

Dalrymple draws attention to this passage from Jean-Henri Fabre (at the end of Chapter 16, Book 10, Souvenirs entomologiques):

À la surface du sol, en plein air, oui, l’affreuse invasion est possible; elle est même la règle absolue. Dans la remise en fusion de la matière pour d’autres ouvrages, cadavre pour cadavre l’homme ne vaut pas mieux que la dernière des brutes. Alors le diptère use de ses droits; il nous traite comme il le fait à l’égard d’une vulgaire loque animale. Dans ses ateliers de rénovation, la Nature est pour nous d’une superbe indifférence; au fond de ses creusets, bêtes et gens, gueux et monarques sont absolument même chose. Voilà vraiment l’égalité, la seule de ce monde, l’égalité devant l’asticot.

Shakespeare agreed, says Dalrymple. Maggots and flies teach Man ‘a lesson in existential or transcendental equality’.

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