Category Archives: humiliation

Maria-Antonietta the shepherdess torn to pieces

Leys turns wolf and eats Macchiocchi for breakfast

Sometimes Marxist baloney requires to be countered — and vigorously

Simon Leys, writes Dalrymple,

conveyed his authority—moral and literary—from the first sentence of everything he wrote. He never descended into obscurity and could say the most serious things with a light touch and in the simplest language.

He was a mild-mannered, restrained and courteous man,

as remote from self-advertisement or self-promotion

as it is possible to be, yet he once unaccountably found himself on television, on a talk show called Apostrophes. He was pitted against a conceited Maoist by the name of Maria-Antonietta Macchiocchi, a journalist-politician who had briefly visited China for the Gramsci-founded newspaper L’Unità. Speaking not a word of the language and knowing almost nothing about the country, she had been led by the nose by her guides. Her ignorance did not prevent her from publishing Dalla Cina (1971; 433 pages), which on the subject of the Cultural Revolution was, Dalrymple notes,

full of gushing sentiment. Because of the ideology she espoused, she was utterly credulous and foolish. She believed she was witnessing a dream come true — when she was in the midst of a nightmare involving scores of millions of people and the total destruction of much that was precious. In terms of deaths, the Cultural Revolution was not as bad as the Great Leap Forward, but it was bad enough.

The immensely learned China scholar Leys — who among many other things, produced an outstanding translation of the Confucian Analects — was outraged by people like Macchiocchi and their abominable ideas

because he loved the people and civilisation of China.

Leys rightly regarded Macchiocchi and her kind as

frivolous and ignorant, fundamentally uninterested in that of which they wrote, and using China as a tool in the resolution of their trivial personal psychodramas.

Macchiocchi: mammouth de la bêtise

On the TV show, the presenter asked Macchiocchi to speak first. She prattled about her life having been one of chastity and of devotion: the saints were wedded to God, she to the People. And she would redeem the People; she positively immolated herself day and night for the People.

Rot of such egregiousness, says Dalrymple, was too much for Leys, who remarked:

Je pense que les idiots disent des idioties, c’est comme les pommiers produisent des pommes. C’est dans la nature, c’est normal.

Une certaine idée de la Chine

Leys made clear that what he was saying was nothing personal, it was just that he had to take a stand against all the frivolous idiocies that had been written about Mao and Maoism by Western intellectuals. He had this to say about Macchiocchi’s 433 pages of drivel:

Le problème c’est qu’il y ait des lecteurs pour les prendre au sérieux et là évidemment se trouve le problème qui mériterait d’être analysé. Prenons le cas de Mme Macciocchi par exemple. Je n’ai rien contre Mme Macciocchi personnellement, je n’ai jamais eu le plaisir de faire sa connaissance. Quand je parle de Mme Macciocchi, je parle d’une certaine idée de la Chine, je parle de son œuvre, pas de sa personne. Son ouvrage De la Chine, c’est — ce qu’on peut dire de plus charitable, c’est que c’est d’une stupidité totale, parce que si on ne l’accusait pas d’être stupide, il faudrait dire que c’est une escroquerie.

It was as devastating as Leys’ comment on Malraux, Barthes and and all the other frauds who thought they had grasped the essence of China:

Ces mammouths de la bêtise qui n’en finissent pas, depuis un quart de siècle, d’étirer leurs pondéreuses caravanes sur les rayons des librairies.

Leys’ ferocious television onslaught on Macchiocchi was, of course, richly earned and necessary, for as Dalrymple observes,

any Chinese who had lived and suffered through those terrible years would suffer a second time if he read the praise lavished on his tormentors by those who were so easily duped by the régime’s flattery machine. Macchiocchi deserved what she got.

A sad fate

Macchiocchi, Dalrymple explains,

never fully recovered from the humiliation that she suffered on that night because Leys was so obviously a man of integrity, intellectual quality, and attachment to the truth that she must have known that what he said was both true and justified.

She lived with this knowledge for another 24 years, dying at the age of 85. You can, Dalrymple supposes,

endure such a humiliation when you are young (though it might deform your character if you are inclined to be so deformed), but you still have time to overcome it by later success. But to live the last quarter of a long life in the shadow of such a humiliation, one that nothing will now erase, is a sad fate indeed.

Barthes in Beijing

By a Western expert

Malraux and friends

Leys delivers the coup de grâce

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জন অরণ্য

Dalrymple enjoys a viewing of The Middleman (1976), the third part of Satyajit Ray’s Calcutta trilogy, which among other things dramatises (from 4:09)

the way in which the world is more than ever full of absurd and pointless questioning, the object being the humiliation of the respondent.

An applicant, one of 10,000, for a clerk’s job is asked, ‘What is the weight of the moon?’* The question reveals the desperation of the young man’s situation,

as well as that of all the other applicants and by extension of the whole of society.

The respondent

must take part in this charade,

and his

powerlessness could hardly be made clearer to him.

The question

is not asked for any purpose, other than to let the respondent know that he is a worm.

* The answer to the lunatic question is: zero.

The many hang-ups of Moslems in the West

Some observers, Dalrymple notes, see Islamisation

as the most fundamental threat to the continuation of Europe as a civilisation.

These people assume that Europe

does nothing to change the Moslems themselves, and that their religious affiliation is of such overwhelming importance to them that nothing else goes into forming and maintaining their identity.

Dalrymple believes this is too crude a view. Rather, he says,

it seems to me likely that Islamism in Europe is a reaction to cultural dislocation caused by the very power of the dislocating attractions (many of which seem to me to be, in truth, sub specie aeternitatis, not very attractive) that Moslem youth experience merely by living in Europe.

The factors the West faces, and which it declines to tackle in any meaningful way, are listed by Dalrymple as follows:

  • a highly secularised Moslem population whose men nevertheless wish to maintain their dominance over women and need a justification for doing so
  • the hurtful experience of disdain or rejection from the surrounding society
  • the bitter disappointment of a frustrated materialism and a seemingly perpetual inferior status in the economic hierarchy
  • the extreme insufficiency and unattractiveness of modern popular culture that is without value
  • the readiness to hand of an ideological and religious solution that is flattering to self-esteem and allegedly all-sufficient, and yet in unavoidable conflict with a large element of each individual’s identity
  • an oscillation between feelings of inferiority and superiority, between humiliation about that which is Western and that which is non-Western in the self
  • the grotesque inflation of the importance of personal existential problems that is typical of modern individualism

England fans should be turned back at the border

England 1 Iceland 2

England 1 Iceland 2

Dalrymple was pleased when Portugal won the European Cup. He writes:

I would have preferred it to be Liechtenstein or San Marino, or best of all Vatican City. But at least Portugal is not a large country.

He says that as a patriotic Englishman, he was

delighted when Iceland defeated England. Everyone likes an underdog.

Moreover,

anything that humiliates, crushes mentally, and causes misery to the beer-bellied, shaven-headed, and tattooed English football supporters is a blow for civilisation. If there are more unattractive people in the world than these supporters I do not know them. If we lived in a sensible world, such people would be on sight automatically denied entry to all foreign countries.

A disgusting American ritual

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 07.58.21The French public, writes Dalrymple,

was rightly appalled

by the way in which the US criminal justice system treated Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The case against him was dropped, but not before he was made to undertake the perpetrator or ‘perp’ walk, which was

not only humiliating but prejudicial, for the very name of this disgusting but now commonplace ritual is contrary to the presumption of innocence.

The judge

presumed DSK’s guilt when she said that his rushed attempt to catch the flight, which he had long booked in advance, indicated a risk of absconding. Although to this day he has not been found guilty of any crime, his life has been, if not ruined exactly, at least profoundly affected by the way in which he was treated.

The specialists who aspire to heartless elegance

Screen Shot 2015-08-21 at 08.02.04A light little well-bred laugh

Denton Welch’s A Voice Through a Cloud (1950) ought, writes Dalrymple,

to be given to every medical student to read.

Dalrymple draws attention to this passage in the (unfinished, posthumously published) novel:

One day a specialist was in the ward, examining a patient, when the patient fell down in front of him in a fit. The patient was a fat middle-aged man; he shrieked and trembled and rolled on the floor, as if he were wallowing in mud. It was a terrifying and grotesque sight, but the specialist watched it with a smile on his face. He neither raised the patient up nor prevented him from cutting his head on the corner of the bedside locker.

Denton Welch

Denton Welch

When at last the convulsions had subsided and the patient, with blood on his face, looked up bewildered, the specialist’s smile grew even more Buddhistic and bland and he said in a fluting voice, so that other people should hear, ‘Well, I must say there’s one improvement this week — you’re falling so much more gracefully!’

He gave a light little well-bred laugh, which at once raised up in my mind a picture of some woman with enormous bust measurement, swathed in strainingly tight red velvet. He seemed delighted with his own urbane, unsentimental wit, and I felt that at that moment he would have used the words heartless elegance about himself. He seemed really to be living for a moment in his own conception of an 18th-century French marquise in her brilliant salon.

I suddenly began to hate the specialist for his clownish show of vanity and facetiousness. I hated him so much that my face began to burn. I felt insulted and outraged; I wanted to have the specialist publicly beaten in front of all the staring patients. I imagined his black pin-striped trousers being taken down, and his squeals of shame and pain ringing through the ward.

Welch, Dalrymple explains, also describes in the novel

the petty cruelties and humiliations visited upon him by the nurses.

Welch suffered chronic, painful illness caused by a road accident in which his spine was fractured. Dalrymple writes that he

was 33 when he died. He suffered from Pott’s disease of the spine as well as the injury. His heroic efforts to remain productive make one ashamed — at least temporarily, while one recalls them — to carp about trivial inconveniences.

Revenge of the nightclub-queue slaves

Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 07.49.29Observe, writes Dalrymple, a queue of people waiting to get into a nightclub,

how meekly they allow themselves to be searched by the thuggish-looking bouncer-greeters (who incidentally have a very high rate of violence towards women). How the bouncer-greeters lord it over them! What power, moral and physical, they wield!

The bouncers have a star-like quality:

I have seen a greeter-bouncer drive by (in a pastel-shaded BMW), and have heard the admiring comments of those he and his type have humiliated a hundred times.

The people in the queue,

supposedly so rebellious and anti-authority, are willing to endure almost any humiliation so long as they gain entry into one of the circles of hell, where the noise is so great that they enter a trance-like state almost at once. Slaves could hardly be more abject.

It is an illusion that everyone wants to be free,

but everyone wants to assert himself, and no one likes to be humiliated.

How do the abject slaves of the nightclub queues revenge themselves for their humiliation at the hands of the greeter-bouncers?

By being insolent towards those in authority who nevertheless have an infinite duty of care towards them, such as doctors, who cannot answer back. A young man who grovels to a greeter-bouncer in a night club queue will have no hesitation in cheeking a doctor and letting him know who is boss.

The doctor

cannot refuse to cure a patient merely because the patient shows him scant respect, and for the first time the patient knows it. Thus we see the dialectic of dependence and resentment in a population that is no longer expected to regulate itself, but expects always to be protected from the consequences of its own tastes and conduct.

 

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.