Category Archives: intellectual dishonesty

The European débâcle

Waarom Dalrymple meewerkt aan SCEPTR

The continent’s problems, says Dalrymple, are

largely the result of intellectual error, and frequently of dishonesty as well.

This is combined, he points out, with

a totalitarian impulse to suppress free discussion. Many subjects cannot be freely discussed, with the result that the only way of expressing disagreement with the prevailing orthodoxies and pieties is by an inchoate and destructive rage.

But let us control our rage and instead attempt to overcome political correctness

using the tools of rationality.

Hitch is not great

Lying not far beneath the surface of neo-atheist books, writes Dalrymple,

is the kind of historiography that many of us adopted in our hormone-disturbed adolescence, furious at the discovery that our parents sometimes told lies and violated their own precepts and rules. It can be summed up in Christopher Hitchens’s drumbeat in God Is Not Great: ‘Religion spoils everything.’ What? The St Matthew Passion? The cathedral of Chartres?

The emblematic religious person in the neo-atheist books

seems to be a Glasgow Airport bomber—a type unrepresentative of Muslims, let alone communicants of the poor old Church of England.

It is

surely not news, except to someone so ignorant that he probably wouldn’t be interested in these books in the first place, that religious conflict has often been murderous and that religious people have committed hideous atrocities.

So have secularists and atheists, and

though they have had less time to prove their mettle in this area, they have proved it amply. If religious belief is not synonymous with good behaviour, neither is absence of belief, to put it mildly.

In fact, says Dalrymple,

one can write the history of anything as a chronicle of crime and folly. Science and technology spoil everything: without trains and I.G. Farben, no Auschwitz; without transistor radios and mass-produced machetes, no Rwandan genocide.

Hitchens, Dalrymple notes, fell prey to the illusion that the striking of trivial attitudes was generosity enough for a lifetime. He

commodified his dissent, albeit in a niche market (though niches in America are larger than entire markets elsewhere).

While his brother has thoroughly repented, Hitchens retained

an emotional sympathy for his former views. In others, he would no doubt espy in this intellectual dishonesty and historical distortion; in himself, he sees truth to his own generous principles.

Hitchens’s review of a reissue of Deutscher’s three-volume biography of Trotsky, for example,

presents Trotsky principally as a gifted journalist and sage — a little like Hitchens himself, in fact — the force of whose ideas, or phrases, made the unjustly powerful tremble everywhere.

Why Hitchens’s unusual delicacy over this moral monster? Because, says Dalrymple, he

was himself once a follower of Trotsky and does not want to admit that he was, by implication, a supporter of mass murder, the ruthless suppression of opponents and the kind of tyranny that made all previous tyrannies appear bumbling and amateurish.

It was not that Hitchens wanted

to bring about such a tyranny, let alone live under one (anyone who did would hardly decamp to the US). Rather, he fell prey to the adolescent illusion that the striking of attitudes is generosity enough.

Gifted journalist and sage

Other people had only

walk-on parts

when Hitchens was striking attitudes, which was most of the time, and his hatred of religion

strikes me as adolescent. We most of us know by now that religious bigotry is a bad thing — though the record of hardline secularists in the 20th century is not exactly spotless — but only an adolescent sees in the religious history of mankind nothing but intolerance. Compulsory attendance at school chapel must have been a traumatic experience for Hitchens.

Gifted journalist and sage

Fashionable Leftism of the kind espoused by Hitchens is not, says Dalrymple, a case of Lenin’s ‘infantile disorder’ or like a childhood illness such as mumps, but rather

a chronic condition with lingering after-effects and flare-ups. Those who suffer it only very rarely get over it, Hitchens being a good example of one who did not. He could never bring himself to admit that he had for all his life admired and extolled a man who was at least as bad as Stalin, namely Trotsky; and his failure to renounce his choice of maître à penser became in time not just a youthful peccadillo of a clever adolescent who wanted to shock the adults but a symptom of a deep character flaw, a fundamental indifference to important truth.

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.

Hitch’s smug, adolescent exhibitionism

A spotty record, to put it most kindly

Self-satisfaction seeping from every pore: the slightly sickening forms of cheap dissent exhibited by Hitchens went down well with certain sections of the US public. Rather than following Brecht and making one of the people’s paradises, such as the GDR, his home, he preferred the capitalist hell that is America, where as it happens he lived very comfortably indeed

Christopher Hitchens, writes Dalrymple, fell prey to the illusion that the striking of trivial attitudes was generosity enough for a lifetime. He

commodified his dissent, albeit in a niche market (though niches in America are larger than entire markets elsewhere).

While his brother Peter has thoroughly repented, Christopher retained

an emotional sympathy for his former views. In others, he would no doubt espy in this intellectual dishonesty and historical distortion; in himself, he sees truth to his own generous principles.

His review of a reissue of Isaac Deutscher’s three-volume biography of Trotsky, for example,

presents Trotsky principally as a gifted journalist and sage — a little like Hitchens himself, in fact — the force of whose ideas, or phrases, made the unjustly powerful tremble everywhere.

Why Hitchens’s unusual delicacy over this moral monster? Because, says Dalrymple, he

Guaranteed gentle handling: Hitchens knew the pleasures and glories of ultra-low-risk Western protest

Guaranteed gentle handling: Hitchens knew the pleasures and glories of ultra-low-risk Western protest

was himself once a follower of Trotsky and does not want to admit that he was, by implication, a supporter of mass murder, the ruthless suppression of opponents and the kind of tyranny that made all previous tyrannies appear bumbling and amateurish.

It was not that Hitchens wanted

to bring about such a tyranny, let alone live under one (anyone who did would hardly decamp to the US). Rather, he fell prey to the adolescent illusion that the striking of attitudes is generosity enough.

Other people had only

Self-regarding to the end

Self-regarding to the end

walk-on parts

when Hitchens was striking attitudes, which was most of the time, and his hatred of religion

strikes me as adolescent. We most of us know by now that religious bigotry is a bad thing — though the record of hardline secularists in the 20th century is not exactly spotless — but only an adolescent sees in the religious history of mankind nothing but intolerance. Compulsory attendance at school chapel must have been a traumatic experience for Hitchens.

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 11.31.20

Who becomes a communist?

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 23.07.53What sort of American or Western European is drawn to such depravity and horror?

By about 1936, writes Dalrymple, communism in Russia had brought

  • two massive famines causing the deaths of millions
  • routinely more executions in a day than Tsarism performed in a century (and this from the very first moment of Bolshevik power)
  • the establishment of vast forced labour camps in which hundreds of thousands had already died
  • the utter decimation of intellectual life
Alger Hiss Alger Hiss

It is, he points out,

a myth that none of this was known or knowable at the time: on the contrary, it was all perfectly well known, if widely ignored.

What sort of moral idiot embraced communist dogmas? It is intrinsically unlikely, Dalrymple points out,

that a man espouses a totalitarian doctrine of proved and indisputable viciousness and violence from a love of peace and a dislike of poverty.

Kim Philby and George Blake Kim Philby and George Blake

Attention is often drawn to the economic and political context in which Western European and American communists and fellow travellers operated, suggesting that in the context,

any generous-minded and generous-hearted man concerned about the fate of the world might have made the same decision.

J. Robert Oppenheimer J. Robert Oppenheimer

This, says Dalrymple, is false. Communists in the West swallowed many things without any of them impinging on them in the slightest, such as, to name but a few:

  • the famines
  • the show trials
  • the Gulag
  • the Great Terror
  • the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact
  • the ludicrous cult of Stalin’s personality
  • the removal of entire populations
  • the Doctor’s Plot
  • the show trials in Czechoslovakia, Romania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe
  • the Berlin and Hungarian uprisings

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 23.22.24The fact is, says Dalrymple, that those who became communists were attracted by precisely those aspects of communism that would repel most decent people, namely,

  • its violence and ruthlessness
  • its suppression of all views inimical to it
  • its cruel wholesale restructuring of society according to the crude and gimcrack ideas of arrogant, ambitious but profoundly mediocre intellectuals

Screen Shot 2015-04-13 at 23.33.05What many communist utopians dreamed of was

  • mass murder
  • deportations
  • suppression of people who differed from them
  • complete control over the lives of everyone

The cock-eyed priorities of the intellectual élite

Screen Shot 2014-05-18 at 23.14.20The purpose of the Western intelligentsia is

to find theoretical reasons for ignoring what is in front of their face.

A large part of intellectual life in Western society, says Dalrymple,

consists of finding bad arguments for avoiding evident but painful realities.

(at the 12 mins 0 secs point)

The repellent American Left

Screen Shot 2013-12-18 at 17.05.02 Alger Hiss: their lion

Alleged ignorance of the reality of Russian communism in no way excuses the US Left, writes Dalrymple, since

the horrors were known and documented from the very first. For decades the Left preferred to ignore the facts than abandon its fantasies. There was hardly any revolutionary violence to which the American Left did not provide aid and comfort, repeating its original sin ad nauseam. It rewrote its own history as assiduously and dishonestly as Stalin wrote his.

As for the so-called New Left,

the internal logic of its socialist beliefs led it to support or make excuses for totalitarian regimes such as Castro’s, just as the previous generation of orthodox communists had done. It also indulged in what would have been comic-operetta revolutionism had it not been for the extreme criminal nastiness of the acts which it excused, condoned, concealed or perpetrated.

Hobsbawm the hypocrite and moral monster

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 19.55.21

Companion of Honour (‘In action faithful and in honour clear’)

Both Dalrymple and Ed Miliband, leader of the British Socialists, had Marxist fathers, but in Dalrymple’s case

it turned me against all that my father stood, or pretended to stand, for. I saw that his concern for the fate of humanity in general was inconsistent with his contempt for the actual people by whom he was surrounded, and his inability to support relations of equality with others. I concluded that the humanitarian protestations of Marxists were a mask for an urge to domination.

In addition to the ’emotional dishonesty’ of Marxism, Dalrymple was impressed by

its limitless resources of intellectual dishonesty….I quickly grasped that the dialectic could prove anything you wanted it to prove, for example, that killing whole categories of people was a requirement of elementary decency.

Dalrymple lists Stalin’s countless useful idiots, prominent among them Eric Hobsbawm CH:

Being an intellectual is never having to say that you are wrong. To the end of his days the historian Eric Hobsbawm, whose twisted mouth was…an appropriate physical characteristic for so dialectical a materialist, and who never refused any honour offered him by the system he affected to despise, could not admit that supporting an ideology responsible for the deaths of scores of millions was an error of judgment so colossal that it amounted to moral blindness at best and moral monstrosity at worst.