Category Archives: inhumanity

What British fascism looks like

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 07.55.55Timeservers led by scoundrels

Dalrymple grew up believing

that it couldn’t happen here; that the intrinsic decency, good sense and ironical detachment of the British would have precluded Nazism or anything like it from taking root. Now I am not so sure.

Utter vileness

does not need a numerical majority to become predominant in a society. The Nazis never had an electoral majority in Germany, yet Germany offered very little resistance to their barbarism. Evil, unlike good, is multiform. We can invent our own totalitarian evil. We have prepared the ground very well.

Hedonistic egotism, fear and resentment

form the character of a large proportion of our population, and it is a character that is ripe for exploitation. They have made themselves natural slaves.

Dalrymple recently received a circular headed New ethnic categories that began with the words,

As you may know, we are required to monitor the ethnic origins of our staff.

Who, he asks,

was this ‘we’ of whom the circular spoke: no names, only ‘the human resources unit’ (Orwell could have done no better). No decent reason for this fascistic practice was given; the ‘we are required’ being the final and irrefutable argument. It is a fair bet that not a peep of protest was uttered in the office of the ‘human resources unit’ when this circular was sent round. Would anyone have mentioned the fact that the Dutch bureaucracy’s refusal to destroy census data on the religious affiliations of the Dutch population on the eve of the German occupation greatly aided the subsequent elimination of Dutch Jewry?

Septic isle

Every public service

has been weakened by the ethos of obeying centralised orders. Doctors, teachers, the police, social workers, prison officers, crown prosecutors, university dons have all been emasculated by the ‘need’ to obey orders that they know are fatuous at best, and positively destructive or wicked at worst.

The organised lying

not only blunts critical faculties and makes it impossible to distinguish true information from false, but morally compromises those who participate in the process. The more state employees conform to the rules laid down, the more helpless and degraded they become, which is the ultimate purpose of these rules.

The public,

gorged with bread and benumbed by circuses, is indifferent. I can’t help thinking of the murder of psychiatric patients and the mentally disabled in Nazi Germany. Neither the public nor the medical profession protested to any great extent (though, instructively, those few doctors who did protest were not punished for it). This terrible crime was made possible, though not inevitable, by an entire cultural context. We, too, are creating a cultural context in which great state crimes are possible.

It could happen here

When Dalrymple sees

the routine inhumanity with which my patients are treated by the state and its various bureaucracies, often in the name of obedience to rules, I think that anything is possible in this country.

When he sees

the mobs of drunken young people who pullulate in our city centres every weekend, awaiting their evil genius to organise them into some kind of pseudo-community, and think of our offices full of potential Eichmanns, I shudder.

British fascism

will no doubt be touchy-feely rather than a boot in the face – more Kafka than Hitler – but it will be ruthless nonetheless.

Postcards from Brasília

'Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer were both admiring followers of Le Corbusier and communists, hence their inhuman aesthetic. Niemeyer is by all accounts a financially disinterested man, though no one ever suggested that Lenin, Stalin, or even Hitler were in it for the money—they were disinterested monsters. One pronouncement of Niemeyer captures not only this egotism, but encapsulates much of the egotistical sickness of many modern artists and architects: “Whoever goes to Brasilia may like its palaces or not, but he cannot say that he has seen anything like it before.” The same would be true, of course, if Brasilia had been built of refrigerated butter, but the originality of Brasilia is not the question.'

‘Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer were both admiring followers of Le Corbusier and communists, hence their inhuman æsthetic. Niemeyer is by all accounts a financially disinterested man, though no one ever suggested that Lenin, Stalin, or even Hitler were in it for the money—they were disinterested monsters. One pronouncement of Niemeyer captures not only this egotism, but encapsulates much of the egotistical sickness of many modern artists and architects: “Whoever goes to Brasília may like its palaces or not, but he cannot say that he has seen anything like it before.” The same would be true, of course, if Brasília had been built of refrigerated butter, but the originality of Brasília is not the question.’

Lúcio Costa laid out a city according to the conceptions of Le Corbusier: embassies here, hotels there, entertainment facilities yet somewhere else—every quarter functionalised, disconnected by large open spaces, and not one within reach of the others except by motorised transport. Nor was shade provided for such eccentrics as might nevertheless like to walk or cycle: they were to be discouraged by the prospect of sunstroke and heat exhaustion. The few concrete seats available should be such as to give potential loiterers backache within five minutes or sores on the buttocks, and one cannot help but recall Custine’s remark about the open spaces of St Petersburg, that a crowd that gathered in them would be a revolution. Brasilia is a city for coups rather than for revolutions. Perhaps this was one of the underlying reasons for its design. Man in Brasilia is essentially an insect, a kind of ant, or perhaps a noxious bacterium.'

‘Costa laid out a city according to the conceptions of Le Corbusier: embassies here, hotels there, entertainment facilities yet somewhere else—every quarter functionalised, disconnected by large open spaces, and not one within reach of the others except by motorised transport. Nor was shade provided for such eccentrics as might nevertheless like to walk or cycle: they were to be discouraged by the prospect of sunstroke and heat exhaustion. The few concrete seats available should be such as to give potential loiterers backache within five minutes or sores on the buttocks, and one cannot help but recall Custine’s remark about the open spaces of St Petersburg, that a crowd that gathered in them would be a revolution. Brasília is a city for coups rather than for revolutions. Perhaps this was one of the underlying reasons for its design. Man in Brasília is essentially an insect, a kind of ant, or perhaps a noxious bacterium.’

'The sheer incompetence of Lúcio Costa as a city planner, at least from the point of view of all previously existent urbanized humanity, staggers belief. But of course, one’s assessment of a man’s competence depends upon what one believes him to be trying to do. I learned this hard lesson in Tanzania, where the president, Julius Nyerere (currently undergoing preparations for canonisation) had reduced the country by his policies to unprecedented levels of beggary, while speaking continually of the need for economic development. From this, I naïvely concluded that he was grossly incompetent, but once I assumed that his goal was to remain in supreme power for 25 years without much in the way of opposition, the scales fell from my eyes. He was, indeed, supremely competent.'

‘The sheer incompetence of Costa as a city planner, at least from the point of view of all previously existent urbanised humanity, staggers belief. But of course, one’s assessment of a man’s competence depends upon what one believes him to be trying to do. I learned this hard lesson in Tanzania, where the president, Julius Nyerere (currently undergoing preparations for canonisation) had reduced the country by his policies to unprecedented levels of beggary, while speaking continually of the need for economic development. From this, I naïvely concluded that he was grossly incompetent, but once I assumed that his goal was to remain in supreme power for 25 years without much in the way of opposition, the scales fell from my eyes. He was, indeed, supremely competent.’