Category Archives: generosity

Trump’s finest hour

Donald Trump: patriotism, generosity and good sense

Reading in his morning newspaper that the General Assembly of the United Nations had greeted a short section of Donald Trump’s speech with laughter, Dalrymple’s esteem for the US president grows. The laughter, Dalrymple writes,

gave rise to Mr Trump’s finest moment. He took it in good part, admitted that he had not expected it, and said it was perfectly all right.

The moment

revealed something about world opposition to Mr Trump: that it is bogus or not deeply felt, and is pro forma.

Dalrymple asks:

  • Would the General Assembly have laughed disrespectfully at Mr Putin or Mr Xi, and would either of them have reacted in the same good-natured way if it had?
  • Did anyone laugh at Mr Obama’s fatuously grandiose claim that his election marked the beginning of healthcare in the United States and the healing of the planet, at least the equal in absurdity of anything said by Mr Trump?
  • Is Mr Trump’s slogan Make America great again any shallower than Mr Obama’s Yes we can?

Barack Obama: absurdity, grandiosity and fatuity

Dalrymple points out that Trump is held to a different standard; and anyone really believing the president was an incipient totalitarian dictator wouldn’t have laughed.

Trump’s speech offered

a more generous view of the world than that of most of his opponents. He called on the people of all countries to be patriotic, acknowledging that people of all countries had something to be patriotic about.

Trump’s was a vision of the world that was

far more genuinely multicultural and multipolar than those who believe in, or call for, a kind of European Union on a global scale, in which all cultures are ground into a food mixer from which a health-giving culture juice of universal rights (to healthcare, social security, etc.) will emerge.

The European Union monstrosity: an emergent bureaucratic tyranny

Trump’s view of patriotism certainly did not entail

the hatred of or disdain for, let alone enmity towards, other countries. What he said in essence was that he wanted a world of live and let live. He appeared to understand that a world government without borders would necessarily be a monstrous bureaucratic tyranny with no possible legitimacy.

To be sure, he simplified problems, but

to look to political speeches for subtle elucidation of knotty problems is like looking to tabloid newspapers for metaphysical insight.

Grisly heartlessness of Eric Hobsbawm

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Companion of Honour

In his videolettera to Antonio Gramsci, Eric Hobsbawm CH says in part:

Anche se sei morto da più di settant’anni, sei vivo per tutti coloro che vogliono un mondo dove i poveri hanno la possibilità di diventare dei veri esseri umani.

Dalrymple comments:

These words to me are chilling, all the more so when you realise that they were uttered by a man who, towards the end of his very long life, said that if the deaths of the 20m people who died in the Soviet Union (it was probably many more) had brought about true socialism, then they would have been worth it.

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Please address all videoletters to A. Gramsci, c/o The Protestant Cemetery, Rome

Dalrymple has spent much of his life

among the poor or relatively poor. I can honestly say that it never occurred to me for a single moment that any one of them was not a true human being. Indeed, if they were not true human beings, their poverty would be nothing to worry about. I neither romanticised them as the fount of all goodness and wisdom nor saw them as mere objects.

Hobsbawm’s remark,

supposedly so generous but in fact utterly heartless, was of a piece with Mao’s chilling remark about the Chinese people being a blank sheet of paper on which the most beautiful characters (ideographs) could be written. For people like Mao and Hobsbawm, it is for other people not to be truly human, never themselves.

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A colourful character

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Why do you hate me? I’ve never helped you

Screen Shot 2016-02-07 at 13.13.20Dalrymple is reminded of the old Hindustan proverb when a patient makes a claim against him (later thrown out by the court as vexatious).

I had, from kindness, prepared a medical report for him free of charge, only to be presented by him with a claim of $375,000 for negligence a few months later.

The proverb might also be understood by some Swedes. Dalrymple writes:

Not without a certain moral grandiosity, and probably from a sense of guilt at its good fortune, Sweden—or at least its political élite and its large social-democratic middle class—decided to start accepting refugees from countries such as Iraq and Somalia, beginning in the 1990s. A gulf soon opened between the pays légal and the pays réel. Officially, all was welcoming, generous, and equal; in reality, urban ghettoes were springing up, with all their attendant problems.

Perhaps Sweden

has been generous towards its newcomers; by most European standards, the unemployment rate among the children of immigrants is low, though it is twice that of the general population and reaches 40 percent in some places.

But

generosity does not necessarily produce gratitude,

and some youths of the housing projects turned to

looting and burning the People’s Home, as the Swedes like to call their country.

There has been much rioting in recent years, greeted in the rest of Europe with a certain quiet satisfaction.

No one likes to have a moral exemplar held up constantly before him, and the riots suggested that the exemplar was not so exemplary.

Dalrymple points out, inter alia, that subsidies and spending on social programmes

have made it possible for many immigrants to avoid integrating or learning Swedish. The combination of social security and vast cultural difference is dangerous.

A rapists’ charter

Ann M. Starrs

Ann M. Starrs: flatulent and at the same time chilling

Starry night

Dalrymple points out that some of the quotations (from articles inside the journal) found on the cover of the Lancet are

of such an unctuous sententiousness that they make Mr Podsnap seem like a neurotic self-doubter. They are usually inexact, flatulent, self-important, and frequently stupid.

He cites a passage taken from the article A Lancet Commission on sexual and reproductive health and rights: going beyond the Sustainable Development Goals. It is the work of Ann M. Starrs, described as president and chief executive officer of something called the Guttmacher Institute, which appears to be devoted to advancing the cause of abortion. Starrs’ words are considered so luminous that the Lancet’s editor reproduces them in large type on the front page:

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The Lancet: self-important and frequently stupid

Ann M. Starrs’ Declaration of Sexual Rights

Sexuality and reproduction are universal concerns that affect every human being. Although there has been great progress in recent decades, the global community must now expedite and expand that progress to be more inclusive and comprehensive. A new agenda for sexual and reproductive health and rights is needed that recognises the full scope of people’s sexual and reproductive health needs, and enables all people to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the means to do so in good health.

The emotion in the reader of this, writes Dalrymple,

is similar to that aroused by a badly scratched record or a whining child.

The purpose of Starrs’ words, he points out,

is to create in the reader the impression of the writer as generous and broad-minded, denial of whose principles establishes him who would deny them as a bigot.

Yet Starrs’ words are

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No perversion is too perverse for Ann M. Starrs

a rapists’ charter; no perversion is too perverse to fall under their permissive rubric.

Dalrymple notes that there have been men who have been able to achieve orgasm only by

  • derailing trains, or
  • paddling their hands in the entrails of the people they have killed

He asks:

Ought the full scope of their sexual needs have been met?

Dalrymple says:

That people ought to be able to have sex when they choose, with whom they choose, entails that they should be able to force themselves on others even in public. There can be no when without a corresponding where, for sexual desire (impossible to distinguish from need) does not always arise at moments hitherto considered appropriate.

He concludes:

From the fate of children under this regime of inalienable rights to be included in the proposed Declaration of Sexual Rights, it is best to avert one’s mind.

Mosaics, kaleidoscopes, salad bowls

Pan with hamadryad, from Pompeii, Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

No: Pan with hamadryad, from Pompeii. Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli

Bring back the melting pot

Doctrinal multiculturalism furnishes, writes Dalrymple,

  • a portion of the intelligentsia with an opportunity to exhibit its virtue and generosity for all the world to see
  • cultural bureaucrats with a minor if lucrative source of employment

He points out that understanding another culture

is a Herculean labour.

What chance

No!

No

is there for people to understand, in any but the most superficial way, the hundreds of extremely diverse cultures from which immigrants come to our shores? To understand Amhara culture in any detail is the work of a lifetime for a highly intelligent person of American or European background who is determined and motivated to do so; for one person to understand Bengali, Somali, Yemeni and Vietnamese cultures as well is impossible.

No!

No

It follows

that is it for immigrants who do us the honour of coming to our country to understand us, not for us to understand them — which is impossible in any case. It is for them to make the mental, intellectual and cultural adjustments, not us.

In special circumstances,

it is well that certain people should try to learn something of the culture of immigrants. But it is humanity that should demand it, not bureaucratic multiculturalism.

Yes: Israel Zangwill's 1908 play

Yes: Israel Zangwill’s 1908 play

For instance, it was very necessary in Dalrymple’s work as a physician in an area with many immigrants that he should understand

the situation of Muslim girls brought up in Britain and forced into unwanted, indeed repellent, marriages to a first cousin in a village in Pakistan.

But

understanding and sympathy cannot be decreed.

The answer to the problems of the multi-ethnic, multilingual society remains

the melting pot.

或曰:“以德报怨,何如?”子曰:“何以报德?以直报怨,以德报德。”

Emmanuel Jaffelin: criminals deserve a bit of gentillesse

The moral exhibitionist Emmanuel Jaffelin: criminals such as murderers and rapists have difficulty in their relations with society, and are crying out for a soupçon of understanding and gentillesse

The cult of insincerity

Confucian Analects (from chapter 14):

Someone asked, ‘What about the notion that we should requite injury with kindness?’

The Master said, ‘With what then will you requite kindness? Requite kindness with kindness: requite injury with justice.’

Dalrymple writes that many intellectuals who advocate soft criminal justice and holiday-camp jails

in their heart of hearts do not believe a word of what they say.

They are just moral exhibitionists, wishing to advertise their

generosity of spirit at other people’s expense.

It is

Personally sado-masochistic, the profoundly malign Michel Foucault 'tried — using an entirely bogus historiography — to demonstrate that humanitarian reform was actually nothing of the kind, but the replacement of one kind of raw power by another, more hidden and therefore dangerous and sadistic power'

Personally sado-masochistic, the profoundly malign Michel Foucault ‘tried — using an entirely bogus historiography — to demonstrate that humanitarian reform was actually nothing of the kind, but the replacement of one kind of raw power by another, more hidden and therefore dangerous and sadistic power’

one of the sicknesses of our age, this desire to appear more compassionate than thou.

It is especially common when approaching the matter of crime, and the effects of crime

both on individual victims and on society as a whole.

Dalrymple, who avers with Orwell that ‘restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men’, points out — because however self-evident, it needs to be pointed out, often and loudly — that crime

causes fear and alters the mentality and behaviour of almost everyone in the direction of mistrust, caution and loss of freedom.

The more perverted and morally cretinous of intellectuals view crime as

an arbitrary social construction, and a criminal as someone who merely has difficulty in his relations with society as some men have difficulties in their relations with their wives.

What of prisons? Should they be therapeutic institutions, salubrious ‘places of social reintegration’, day care centres where convicts are treated no differently from other people with difficulties of one sort or another — winos, schizophrenics and the like? Or should murderers, rapists, and torturers, for instance, be made to suffer a small degree of disgrace? Is abasement, where it is called for, a bad thing? Dalrymple writes:

A cane maintains this bush in an upright position

A cane maintains this bush in the upright position

The prospect of humiliation is one of the things that keeps us upright, as a cane keeps many a rosebush upright. We are social beings because we have a capacity to feel humiliated – or it might be the other way round. There could be no prospect of humiliation if there were no actual means by which we might be humiliated.

It is

condescending to suggest that criminals do not know what they are doing, and that what they need is some kind of help to know it.

It

Inscription at the Old Bailey, above the main entrance to the building opened in 1907. 'He shall keep the simple folk by their right: defend the children of the poor, and punish the wrong-doer.' From the Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 72

Inscription above the main entrance to the rebuilt Old Bailey (opened 1907): ‘He shall keep the simple folk by their right: defend the children of the poor, and punish the wrong-doer.’ From the Book of Common Prayer, Psalm 72

empties the world of moral meaning

to call crimes mistakes, minor follies, peccadilloes,

equivalent to putting the wrong postage on a letter or forgetting to put salt in the soup. Criminal justice is not group therapy.

The purpose of the criminal law, Dalrymple asserts,

is to protect the population from criminals, not to make criminals better people.

How to run a business

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 19.26.09Dalrymple recalls this scene, of some time past, at his local fishmonger’s:

An old lady, a pensioner, wanted a piece of fish for her dinner. He wrapped it, gave it her, and told her the price. She handed over her purse to him and he, seeing that she had little money, deliberately took far less than the price he had named. “Thank you, madam,” he said on handing back the purse, exactly as if she had been his most valued customer. It was all done with the greatest delicacy, and obviously with a generous heart. His business was a successful one, and its success was a precondition of his being able to act on his generous impulse.

Daumier’s generous vision

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Parade de Saltimbanques, c. 1865-67

Dalrymple writes that although conditions of life have softened ‘immeasurably’ since Honoré Daumier’s day,

his generosity of spirit is not easy to find today. Perhaps this is because we demand so much more of life than anyone demanded in his day, when even the lives of the richest hung by the narrowest of threads. Our criticisms of life are correspondingly harsher, less tolerant and forgiving of human weakness, and less fatalistic than Daumier’s. Though we are unprecedentedly fortunate, we are filled with bitterness and hate; our kindness, such as it is, has correspondingly become brittle, impersonal, theoretical, abstract, bureaucratic, and ideological, reflective of no genuine feeling.

We are all guilty! All we are saying, is give Heinrich a chance

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Der treue Heinrich: by all accounts a polite, refined, softly spoken and considerate person, Heinrich Himmler suffered severe abdominal pains and fell in with the wrong crowd early in life. Let us be broad-minded and compassionate and give him a second chance, for as Dr Heinz Kiosk has pointed out (as chronicled by Michael Wharton), we are all guilty!

Ludicrous, isn’t it? The idea is insane. We were certainly right to deny the Reichsführer-SS a second chance, writes Dalrymple, and we should also deny a second chance to, for example, the man who, in a recent English case, drugged his girlfriend and, while she was drugged, gouged out her eyes.

If you cannot imagine, after the Holocaust, Pol Pot and Rwanda, a crime so terrible that people who commit it forfeit their right to live as free persons in society, then your imagination has been brutalised.

Screen Shot 2014-01-12 at 19.58.52To say that a man who gouges out someone’s eyes should never be freed

is not the same as saying that he should be treated with cruelty inside prison (as, in strict justice, he would deserve to be treated, a proof that justice is not the only value that we hold dear). On the contrary, to say that he should have a second chance because everyone deserves a second chance is to say that there is nothing we find intolerable.

A society in which nothing was beyond the pale

would be extraordinarily vicious.

Does everyone deserve a second, a third, a fourth, a fifth chance?

Who is to pay for these chances? Generosity at the expense of others, financial or moral, is not generosity, it is moral exhibitionism.