Category Archives: intellectualism

On the myopia of the learned

Intellectuals, writes Dalrymple, often

fail to see what is before their noses.

Their object

is to obscure the obvious and to make complex the simple, so that they are then needed to lead humanity away from its ignorance and stupidity.

With the inexorable rise of tertiary education, we have more intellectuals than ever before,

yet final enlightenment seems as elusive as ever. Man remains a problem-creating animal.

The unlucky country for intellectuals

Unforgivable historian

The unforgiven: Keith Windschuttle

If you are unhappy in Australia, writes Dalrymple,

you have to consider the possibility that the problem lies with you rather than with the conditions that surround you.

This

is a disagreeable thing, particularly for an intelligentsia, which is deprived by it of a providential role for itself. What does an intelligentsia do when a country is already as satisfactory in its political arrangements and social institutions as any country has ever been? Intelligentsias do not like the kind of small problems that day to day existence inevitably throws up, such as termites in the woodwork: they like to get their intellectual teeth into weightier, meatier problems.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 09.05.36What could be a weightier problem

than a prosperous, fortunate country that was founded upon genocide? Clearly, if it was so founded, an intelligentsia is urgently needed to help it emerge from the dark moral labyrinth in which it exists, hitherto blindly. For only an intelligentsia is sufficiently used to thinking in abstractions to be qualified to act as guide to the nation.

Yet Australia

has not cherished its intellectuals. It has not accorded them the respect to which they think they are naturally entitled. Indeed, until a couple of decades ago it was common practice for Australian intellectuals to flee their country and live elsewhere, so strong was the anti-intellectual atmosphere of their county. Australia was not a lucky country as far as intellectuals were concerned. Intellectuals in Australia are not taken as seriously by the public as they take themselves. Besides, there are now more of them, and competition for attention is therefore greater.

Some members of the philosophy faculty of the University of Woolloomooloo

Michael Baldwin, left, and the Bruces, philosophy faculty, Woolloomooloo University

Then Keith Windschuttle published The Fabrication of Aboriginal History, which destroyed the idea that there had been a genocide of Tasmanian aborigines carried out by the early European settlers of the island. The debate that followed publication proved that Windschuttle was right.

This was quite unforgivable of him.

There is nothing much more attention-grabbing

than the claim that your current happiness and good fortune is founded on a pile of bones. With a bit of luck, this claim will even turn people neurotic and increase the need for therapists. It is hardly surprising, then, that when someone came along and challenged the version of history on which intellectuals’ newfound importance in society was to be based, they threw their dolly out of the pram, as the prison wardens in the prison in which I worked used to put it to describe the actions of a prisoner who had lost his temper. The dispute was not just a matter of the interpretation of the contents of old newspapers in Hobart libraries: it went to the very heart of the intelligentsia’s self-conception as society’s conscience and natural leaders.

A society in decomposition

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.07.37England has neither leaders nor followers but is composed only of egotists

The

intellectual torpor, moral cowardice, incompetence and careerist opportunism of the British political and intellectual class

A careerist, intellectually torpid, incompetent coward

A careerist, intellectually torpid, incompetent coward

is now very evident, writes Dalrymple. Despite everything that has happened in recent years, the corrupt mandarins continue to contrive

not to notice what has long been apparent to anyone who has taken a short walk with his eyes open down any frequented British street: that a considerable proportion of the country’s young population (a proportion that is declining) is ugly, aggressive, vicious, badly educated, uncouth and criminally inclined.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.08.41Lavish self-esteem

While British youth is utterly lacking in self-respect,

it is full of self-esteem: that is to say, it believes itself entitled to a high standard of living, and other things, without any effort on its own part.

Although youth unemployment in Britain is very high, that is to say about 20 per cent of those aged under 25,

the country has had to import young foreign labour for a long time, even for unskilled work in the service sector.

The British, idlest workers in Europe

No rational employer in a service industry would choose a young Briton

if he could have a young Pole; the young Pole is not only likely to have a good work ethic and refined manners, he is likely to be able to add up and — most humiliating of all — to speak better English than the Briton, at least if by that we mean the standard variety of the language. He may not be more fluent but his English will be more correct and his accent easier to understand.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.11.24Travesty of an educational system

After compulsory education,

or perhaps I should say intermittent attendance at school, up to the age of 16 costing $80,000 a head, about one-quarter of British children cannot read with facility or do simple arithmetic. It makes you proud to be a British taxpayer.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.15.37State-subsidised criminality

British youth

leads the Western world in almost all aspects of social pathology, from teenage pregnancy to drug taking, from drunkenness to violent criminality. There is no form of bad behaviour that our version of the welfare state has not sought out and subsidised.

British children

are radically unsocialised and deeply egotistical, viewing relations with other human beings in the same way as Lenin: Who whom, who does what to whom. By the time they grow up, they are destined not only for unemployment but unemployability.

Long bath in vomitus

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.17.38All the necessary electronic equipment is available for the prosecution of the main business of life, viz

entertainment by popular culture. And what a culture British popular culture is! Perhaps Amy Winehouse was its finest flower and its truest representative in her militant and ideological vulgarity, her stupid taste, her vile personal conduct and preposterous self-pity.

Sordor

Winehouse’s sordid life

was a long bath in vomitus, literal and metaphorical, for which the exercise of her very minor talent was no excuse or explanation. Yet not a peep of dissent from our intellectual class was heard after her near canonisation after her death, that class having long had the backbone of a mollusc.

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 23.19.10Thugs in uniform

What of the police? They are

simultaneously bullying but ineffectual and incompetent, increasingly dressed in paraphernalia that makes them look more like the occupiers of Afghanistan than the force imagined by Robert Peel. The people who most fear our police are the innocent.

(2011)

The white intellectual middle class

Islington (left) and Hampstead

Islington (left) and Hampstead

They seem to want to abolish the country they inherited. But do they really? asks Dalrymple.

Of course they want, he writes,

to appear more liberal than thou, in the way that Islamists want to appear more Islamic than thou.

But

I am not sure that, in their hearts, they really want the changes they push with such assiduity.

Rather,

it is that they live in so solidly privileged a world, so removed from the world of the changes they have promoted, that they cannot really envisage any real change in their own conditions of life.

Deeply meaningful drivel

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Dalrymple draws attention to the slogan ‘I would prefer not to’ on a T-shirt worn by Slavoj Žižek as the Slovenian charlatan-philosopher delivers what is, to put it most kindly, a rambling and daft speech on the subject of ‘freedom’. The T-shirt, writes Dalrymple, covers Žižek’s

capacious trunk, the bulk of which indicates that if he is opposed to the consumer society on ideological grounds he is nevertheless no ascetic.

The slogan sported by Žižek is of the same genre as the 1970s London railway-line graffito ‘Far away is close at hand in images of elsewhere’, which Michael Wharton used as the title of one of his collections of ‘Peter Simple’ columns.

Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 15.20.34Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 15.23.54

 

 

If Žižek did not exist, says Dalrymple,

it would be necessary to invent him. He is deliciously, archetypally intellectual; he incarnates the satirist’s idea of what an intellectual should be. His Central European accent is perfect: it would be impossible to say anything in it that was superficial. He understands the workings of the universe so well that he has no time or energy left over to look other than a mess.