Category Archives: fools

Hoist with his own petard

Dalrymple rejoices in the abject spectacle of Justin Trudeau, who, he writes,

has a face as characterless as that of David Cameron. They are of the same ilk. You look at them and think, ‘What nullities!’

The main character discernible in their faces is

lack of character.

Trudeau’s apology for his blackface behaviour when he was a young man does nothing to increase Dalrymple’s liking for him. It is, Dalrymple says,

a difficult question of moral philosophy as to whether it would be worse if Mr Trudeau believed his political correctness or if he made use of it as a means to power. If the former, he is a fool; if the latter, a knave.

Political correctness, Dalrymple points out,

is dangerous because when fools or knaves get into power, they may try to implement its dictates. Since many people are much more concerned to appear good than to do good, and since they are unlikely to suffer the consequences of their actions, the implementation may continue for a long time after the negative effects of its dictates have become clear. When implemented, those dictates create a clientèle dependent upon their continuation, which turns any attempt to undo the harm into a nasty social conflict.

Imbecility of Isaac Deutscher

A learned, intelligent and gifted fool

Dalrymple writes that

it is curious, but significant, that a moral imbecile such as Isaac Deutscher should ever have commanded such respect and rapt attention (though not from George Orwell, who included him on his list of communist sympathisers, or from Isaiah Berlin, who did everything he could to stand in the way of any academic appointment for Deutscher).

Deutscher’s prose

is that of the romantic revolutionary bureaucratic mass-murderer,

and when one reads it,

one can only wonder whether the words correspond to any actual thoughts running through the head of the man who wrote them, and if so how terrible it must have been to be such a man.

Deutscher’s judgments

might have been laughable if they had not been so horribly detached from any vestige of human feeling.

He also

had the gift of unfailing negative foresight, possible only for someone as learned as he in the dialectic. To be always wrong implied knowledge of a kind.

Deutscher demonstrates, Dalrymple observes, that

it is possible to study something all one’s life and understand nothing whatever about it, despite an immense accumulation of learning.

It would have been difficult

not to convict Deutscher of outright lying had his mind not been so warped by the dialectic: the denial of the principle of non-contradiction rendering truth-telling impossible for him, and therefore also lying.

Dalrymple points out that it is easier to perceive moral imbecility in retrospect than contemporaneously, and asks:

Who is the Isaac Deutscher de nos jours? There must be one—or many.

Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 14.46.33Dalrymple explains (from 37:05) that a book was recently sent to him through the post by its publishers

in the hope that I would make some reference to it or even review it.

In 360 pages, the book

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 14.40.02sought to prove, with an immense machinery of academic references, that human beings, on the whole, are happier if they have some face-to-face and person-to-person contact.

Dalrymple’s comment:

Imagine someone going to Shakespeare and earnestly explaining to him the content of this book.

‘Well, William. Did you know that human beings need one another to be happy? I bet you didn’t, because, poor chap, you lived in the 16th century.’

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 14.31.50I don’t think the Bard would have been bemused, because nothing human bemused him, but he might have been amused.

Two lines of his might have run through his head: Lord, what fools these mortals be!* and O brave new world, That has such people in’t!

*A Midsummer Nights Dream, Act 3, scene 2, 110–115; †The Tempest, Act 5, scene 1, 181–184