Category Archives: idiocy

Fatuity can go no further

Twenty thousand cretins

Many decent people, writes Dalrymple, are

viscerally disgusted by the vast salaries paid to star footballers.

What also appalls is

the general culture of which football is now so large a part. (Such British newspapers as the Times and the Guardian devote more space to football than to all foreign affairs.)

There is

the sheer idiocy and bad taste of 20,000 morons who are prepared to shell out good money for shirts with Neymar’s name printed on it, and who find Neymar himself so fascinating — though it is unlikely that he is exceptional in anything other than his ability to kick a football — that they are prepared to spend their spare time reading about him.

British social policy defined

An idiocy wrapped in a lunacy wrapped in an absurdity, to produce misery and squalor

Dalrymple writes:

A tax on knowledge is a terrible thing, but a tax on ignorance, prejudice, evasion and half-truth is worse. That is what every British household with a television must pay, for the privilege of having the earnest but frivolous lucubrations of the BBC purveyed to it, whether it wants them or not.

This poll tax — or licence fee, as it is known — is the equivalent of nearly $200 per household a year, and is thus worth evading. Unfortunately, it costs nearly three times as much to catch evaders as the licence fees would have raised if paid. One proposal is to halve the licence fee for single mothers. Dalrymple comments:

In other words, we should subsidise a subsidy, in the name of a universal right to misinformation and trashy entertainment (and at the same time confer yet another incentive for single parenthood).

The European Court of Justice makes an ass of itself

Judicial populism

Dalrymple points out that

evidence based on post hoc ergo propter hoc, the fallacy employed by a thousand bar-room experts on every subject under the sun,

is now admissible in European courts. We are, he notes,

not far from the Azande belief that no death is natural, each death is caused by witchcraft.

Powerful idiocy

Dalrymple says that

an instinct of sympathy for the underdog is an admirable personal quality, no doubt,

but

it must be tempered by a regard for truth and justice, above all in courts of law.

The European Court of Justice

is certainly not the first to make an ass of itself, and it will not be the last. But idiocy is sinister when it is powerful idiocy.

Eviscerator of the idiocy of the age

If fame were the reward of merit alone, writes Dalrymple, Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans)

would have been one of the most famous men. Not that he would have greatly enjoyed such fame: his probity and attachment to higher values was too great for that. He combined in his person qualities that are rarely so closely associated: erudition and scholarship, taste, intellectual honesty, wit, literary gifts. I admired Leys more than any other contemporary writer.

Leys was a connoisseur of Chinese culture

and viewed its barbarous destruction with horror; he abominated Maoism at least two decades before it became obligatory for right-thinking persons to do so.

The Cultural Revolution, Dalrymple notes,

was not a very funny subject, since it was one of the greatest episodes of vandalism in history and caused the death of a million people; but Leys wrote so as to make you laugh. He was contemptuous of Western Mao-fanciers.

Dalrymple explains that

Leys’ guiding star was cultivation (in a broad sense) and his bêtes noires barbarism, stupidity and humbug. There was no better sniffer-out of humbug, the besetting sin of intellectuals.

Leys, Dalrymple points out,

could eviscerate the idiocy of an age in a few lines.

For example:

If one thinks of the great teachers of humanity — the Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Jesus — one is struck by a curious paradox: today, not a single one of them would be able to obtain even the most modest teaching post in one of our universities.

Corbyn is eminently electable

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 08.59.16If the rumours are true, writes Dalrymple, that certain Tories (i.e. adherents of the British centre-Right ruling party the Conservatives) have

signed up to vote for Mr Corbyn because, if chosen, he would make Labour unelectable, nothing would better illustrate the idiocy to which certain Tories are prone.

In Europe’s

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 08.48.59present precarious circumstances, no one is unelectable. A crisis, not necessarily of the government’s making, could easily swell popular discontent so that it would prefer any alternative; and that is without counting the fact that all governments tend to become very unpopular with time, whether they deserve it or not. Time for a change: and Mr Corbyn would certainly be a change.

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 08.54.01Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 08.45.56Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 09.12.25

 

The Caledonian Chávez

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 14.01.46How Scottish nationalism is an attempt to reproduce — and even deepen — British government idiocies

The leader of the Scottish National Party, writes Dalrymple,

does not so much promise to solve problems as arouse hope, a hope that is vague, general, and unfocused.

Alex Salmond’s arguments and promises, and the hopes he inspires,

are not encouraging for those who value freedom or prosperity….he would increase government interference in and direction of the economy. He is a dirigiste who far outflanks the Labour Party on the Left.

In Salmond’s imagination,

the oil in the North Sea plays the role of the fairy godmother who brings what everyone wishes, namely life at a higher material standard of living than that which is justified by his own efforts and economic activity.

He wants to make himself the Hugo Chávez of the North Sea.

The Venezuelan, recall, managed the feat of producing fuel shortages while sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world. Lost in the debate, too, is that countries that rely entirely on oil revenue to sustain themselves (except where they are so vast in relation to the population that everyone can live as a rentier) are generally destined for a special kind of economic and social woe.

Scotezuela is Salmond’s dream.

And like the Bolívarist revolutionary, he has his supporters. If the voting gives him 50 per cent plus one, he will try to eternalise his power, with a fair chance of bringing all the levers of state power under his control. But even if he falls short, his policies will continue, for Labour’s social attitudes and policies are all but indistinguishable from his. Scotland, then, will not be a one-party state but a one-policy state.

The socialism will not of course be Soviet-style, even though

a not inconsiderable proportion of the population would probably like it in order to punish the rich. (I have never forgotten the reception in the 1970s given to Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin in the Scottish football stadium. The crowd chanted ‘Kosygin! Kosygin!’)

Rather, a corporatist state will emerge,

with large companies, acting more or less as licensed traders, maintaining a cosy and corrupt relationship with the political class, whose standard of living the licensees will happily subsidise.

If Scottish nationalism

were an attempt to escape the successive idiocies of the British government that have had such disastrous consequences, I would be more than sympathetic to it. Alas, it is quite the reverse. It is an attempt to repeat and even magnify those idiocies.

The idiocies of journalism

G.E.R. Gedye

G.E.R. Gedye

Don’t worry, Tony Barber, all will be forgotten. And rapidly. Journalistic Barber-isms and fatuities receive, writes Dalrymple,

a swift and decent burial, never to be disinterred: nothing ever comes back to haunt a journalist and oblivion overcomes all. That is why journalists can afford to be fearlessly outspoken; no one will ever remember, except in the vaguest term, what they wrote. Fairness, accuracy, consistency: these are qualities with which the journalist can easily, and in some publications must, dispense.

Private Eye No. 1384, 23 Jan - 5 Feb 2015

Private Eye No. 1384, 23 Jan – 5 Feb 2015

The idiot’s lantern

Dalrymple has not had one since 1973

Dalrymple hasn’t had one since 1973, though he is occasionally able to ‘catch a glimpse’ of cable TV in, for instance, German hotel rooms