Category Archives: grandiosity

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.

Dean Swift turns in his grave

Michael Foot, Dalrymple explains, was the scion of an upper-middle-class English family who became a left-wing leader of the UK’s Labour party. He was a decent man, though naïve and misguided, and

unlike most of the politicians of today he was cultivated, being a literary scholar.

He published a study of a year in Swift’s life, called The Pen and the Sword (1957). After his death, his large collection of books by or about Swift was sold. Dalrymple intended to buy a few of the items that he could (barely) afford from the bookseller’s catalogue,

but the whole collection was suddenly bought by an American university library. It was worth more than the total wealth of all but a tiny minority of his countrymen, but Foot devoted his life to bringing about the economic conditions to ensure that no one would ever again be able to assemble such a collection.

In Dr Strangelove, I Presume (1999), Foot argues for total nuclear disarmament,

a cause long dear to his heart, or mind, or some combination of the two.

The first words of the author’s preface are:

Every day when I tried to complete this book with a proper review of the latest evidence, I was interrupted by new discoveries. One of the most moving and instructive was the letter printed opposite.

The letter printed opposite was an open one from ‘Naveena’, a 12-year-old schoolgirl, to the Indian prime minister. It starts:

I am writing on behalf of all children.

Michael Foot

Dalrymple finds this

grandiose, self-important, arrogant and presumptuous, in the manner of youth of a certain kind. It irritates me.

‘Naveena’ goes on to lecture, or hector, the prime minister:

I don’t think bombs protect anybody. You don’t get power by possessing arsenals.

These statements

are highly disputable. Naveena is no little boy crying out that the emperor is naked; she reveals nothing and speaks and writes in clichés that have been uttered hundreds of millions of times, daily and for years.

What is significant, says Dalrymple,

is that a man like Foot — who had spent a lifetime studying and appreciating Swift, of all people — should have claimed to be moved by such claptrap. I suspect that he was not so much moved by ‘Naveena’ as moved by the goodness of his payment of attention to her, and anxious to demonstrate it to the world. Therein lies a sickness of our time.

Trash-turned-terrorist

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-09-52-10Fethi Benslama practises, Dalrymple explains,

in one of the areas of Paris most notorious for raising Muslim terrorists, and offers various explanatory factors that operate on the would-be bomber or jihadist, particularly those brought up in the West.

For Benslama,

adolescence (and young adulthood) is not so much the age of idealism as of narcissism, self-importance and grandiosity.

Benslama writes:

To the young who lack self-esteem, who have the feeling of worthlessness, of ‘being a piece of rubbish’, as one of them put it to me, [jihadism] gives not only the recognition of having suffered a prejudice, but of being an elect of God, unbeknown to himself and others. To comply with this destiny, he must inspire respect and fear, become a missionary for the cause, a hero before whom the gates of glory are opened. He can make his own justice, he is authorised to be above the law in the name of God’s superior law. The ‘piece of rubbish’ becomes formidable. He must make himself fearsome and feared in his own family. A father said to me, ‘My son has become my father, he lays down the Islamic moral law for me.’

Islamism is for the feeble-minded and vicious

Screen Shot 2015-11-20 at 09.23.38The continuation of criminality by other means

The story of Omar Ismail Mostefai, the first of the perpetrators of the Paris attacks to be named, is, writes Dalrymple,

depressingly familiar. One could almost have written his biography before knowing anything about him.

A petty criminal of Algerian parentage from the banlieue, he was sustained largely by the social security system, an erstwhile fan of rap music, and

a votary of what might be called the continuation of criminality by other means, which is to say Islamism and the grandiose purpose in life that it gives to its adherents. For feeble minds, the extremity of the consequences for self and others serves as some kind of guarantee that their cause is just.

The quintessential apparatchik

Punchy: Paul Hunt

Paul Podsnap-Hunt: keeping on the right side of the rules of correctness

What is the secret of being a successful, well-paid administrator-at-large in the global health and aid-and-development apparat, with all the opportunities that this affords for international travel, for avoiding dull routine, for feeling very good indeed about oneself, and for transnational or nether-world approbation?

The secret, Dalrymple explains, is to follow the recommendation of Paul Hunt, the former Special Rapporteur of the United Nations on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, to give him his full title. Hunt makes it a point in his speech and writing to be

as punchy as I can be within the rules, both spoken and unspoken.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.13.47At the same time Hunt believes that, as a human rights lawyer, he must

expand the traditional boundaries

of his

calling,

more or less to include everything. There is, says Dalrymple,

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.16.09a kind of grandiosity about this that produces in me a similar effect as that my teachers used to produce when they had a piece of defective chalk that squeaked on the blackboard. Here is a man so perfect, so moral, so well-intentioned, so benevolent towards humanity, that he feels he has the right—no, the duty, the calling—to lay down the world’s agenda.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 10.27.47

Antonio de Mendoza y Pacheco, primer virrey de la Nueva España (1535-50) y del Perú (1550-52)

Hunt finds that he gains an appreciation of his worth as a humanitarian UN leader of considerable ability and far-sightedness when he hears that

some country or other has passed a law because of his

intervention,

and he feels as if he has achieved something, as if all laws in the world were obeyed and achieved their end.

Alas,

Obedezco pero no cumplo.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 09.05.24

Paul Hunt: grandeur

Coiffure of a globa; healthcare visionary

Coiffure of a global healthcare visionary

How enlightened we are!

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 09.06.13The eternal truths of multiculturalism

The policy of multiculturalism and mass immigration is one of

admitting large numbers of people, a proportion of whom at least may be, or become, the bearers of a deeply hostile and dangerous ideology.

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 09.07.06What drives this policy is not

national interest, but moral vanity, exhibitionism, grandiosity and hubris. Aren’t we good people!

Moral exhibitionism

The fact of the 2011 Norway attacks does not mean that the policy of multiculturalism and mass immigration

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 09.10.30is wise, prudent or even moral. Events in Europe and elsewhere do not ineluctably lead to the conclusion that, for example, Sweden’s determination to take in more refugees from Syria is in that country’s long-term interest, or even conduces to the peace of the world.

Vote bank

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 09.14.08The 69 young people on the island of Utøya whom Anders Breivik killed

might well have been the future leaders of the party most militantly attached to multiculturalism, for among other reasons as a vote bank.

Multiculturalists triumphant

Breivik’s action made

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 09.17.58discussion of the whole question difficult to the point of impossibility. If you do not subscribe to the eternal truths of multiculturalism — discovered, it must be confessed, rather late in human history — you must be an apologist for Breivik.

It is a false dichotomy,

false in logic, though not necessarily in political psychology, and it is the latter which counts. What Breivik did, who preposterously believed himself to be some kind of Knight Templar, was immensely to strengthen the multiculturalists.