Category Archives: liberal democracy

Compared with this parliament of fools, Pinochet was a democrat

The British parliament, writes Dalrymple,

voluntarily called for a referendum on the issue of Britain’s EU membership, on the understanding that the government would abide by the result.

Since then, the parliament

has done everything possible to oppose, obstruct, delay, dilute, or straightforwardly annul the implementation of the result, which was unexpected.

Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats,

has said that if a second referendum were to take place, she would accept the result only if it were in the direction that she favoured—that of remaining in the EU. War is peace, freedom is slavery, liberal democracy is the unopposed rule of the leader.

Guy Verhofstadt, one of the leaders of EU-loyalist members of the European rubber-stamp parliament,

has sided with those who have striven might and main to overturn the result of a vote that no one can deny was democratic while simultaneously trying to cover themselves in the mantle of democracy.

In other words, says Dalrymple,

true democracy is the rule of the right-thinking, and the purpose of a referendum anywhere in Europe is—as under Napoleon III—to provide legitimation for a decision that has already been taken.

He adds:

By comparison with those who have attempted, and are still attempting, to obstruct Brexit in Britain, Augusto Pinochet was a democrat. When he lost a plebiscite, he stood down.

Verhofstadt

prefers as democrats those who, like the British MPs in the middle of a political impasse, refuse to hold elections in case the electorate gets the answer wrong again.

 

Islam: global force for a new totalitarianism

Emblem of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

Emblem of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood

Dalrymple wonders whether Islam is

an intrinsically totalitarian religion.

It is worth remembering, he says,

how few of us gave any attention to it as a serious political force only twenty years ago.

He suspects that

the downfall of the Soviet Union and the consequent destruction of the possibility of socialistic nationalism as a means for poor or desperate countries (poverty and desperation not being the same thing) to escape their predicament, stimulated the rise of Islam to the position of latest utopian pretender.

There had been Islamists before the downfall of the Soviet Union,

but they offered only one bogus solution among other bogus solutions. After the downfall, Islam had the field to itself, apart from liberal democracy, which is inherently messy and unsatisfying for the lazy and impatient.

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 08.03.02Islamism, Dalrymple points out,

is a real threat, made far worse by the cowardly response to it by most Western governments, including that of the United States.

Take the Danish cartoon crisis, which, Dalrymple notes, was highly

significant for our civilisation and way of life in the long run. There the British and American governments failed the test miserably; de facto, they gave aid and succour to the Islamists.

As for the neo-atheists, they are right to see the threat of theocracy in Islamism, but

in attacking all religion, they are like the French government which banned not only the wearing of the headscarf in schools, but the wearing of all religious insignia, despite the fact that wearing a Star of David or a crucifix has and had a completely different social signification from wearing a headscarf. In the name of non-discrimination, the French government failed to discriminate properly: and proper discrimination is practically the whole business of life. If there were large numbers of Christians or Jews who were in favour of establishing a theocracy in France, who had a recent record of terrorism, and who terrorised each other into the wearing of crucifixes and Stars of David, then the banning of those insignia would have been justified too.

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 08.06.20The wearing of the headscarf should be permitted again

when Islam has become merely one personal confession among others, without the political significance that it has now.

In attacking all religion so indiscriminately, the atheist authors are

strengthening the hand of the Islamists. In arguing that for parents to bring up a child in any religious tradition, even the mildest of Anglicanism, is to abuse a child, with the corollary that the law should forbid it, they are giving ammunition to the Islamists, who will be able with justice to say to their fellow-religionists, ‘See, it is all or nothing. If you give the secularists an inch, they will take a mile. No compromise with secularism is possible, therefore; cleave unto us.’

To suggest

that all forms of religion are equal, that they are all murderous and dangerous, is not to serve the cause of freedom and tolerance. It is to play into the hands of the very people we should most detest; it is to hand them the rhetorical tools with which they can tell the gullible that our freedoms are not genuine and that our tolerance is a masquerade. It is to do what I should previously have thought was impossible, namely in this respect to put them in the right.

Islam has nothing to say to the modern world

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 14.25.23For the second time in living memory, writes Dalrymple,

we find ourselves obliged by historical circumstances to examine doctrinal philosophies that, from the abstract intellectual point of view, are not worth examining. They belong, rather, to the history of human folly and credulity: which is itself, of course, an inexhaustibly interesting and important subject.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 14.43.06The first was Marxism; the second Islamism. Which of us, Dalrymple asks,

would have guessed thirty years ago that an inflamed and inflammatory Islamic doctrine would soon replace Marxism as the greatest challenger to liberal democracy? The vacuum left by the collapse of one totalitarian doctrine is soon filled by another.

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 14.44.55Dalrymple hopes that Islamism

will pass from the world stage as quickly as it arrived on it. In the meantime, however, it can cause a great deal of havoc, and will not disappear spontaneously, without opposition, much of which must be conducted on the intellectual plane.

Yet

Western intellectuals have failed to examine Islam and its founder in the same light as they would examine any other religious doctrine of comparable importance.

Dalrymple believes that all forms of Islam are

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 14.47.53very vulnerable in the modern world to rational criticism, which is why the Islamists are so ferocious in trying to suppress such criticism. They have instinctively understood that Islam itself, while strong, is exceedingly brittle, as communism once was. They understand that, at the present time in human history, it is all or nothing. They are thus more clear-sighted than moderate Moslems.

The problem with Islam may be rooted

Image (latterly effaced) of Mohammed on frieze, Birch Memorial Clocktower (1917), Ipoh, Perak

Image (latterly effaced) of Mohammed on frieze, Birch Memorial Clocktower (1917), Ipoh, Perak

in its doctrines, its history and its founder.

Mohammed

connived at armed robbery, mass murder and the abduction of women. Of course, autres temps, autres mœurs, and it may be that, on the whole, he sometimes behaved better than his peers.

He was

a political genius: he understood what motivated men, and he developed a system of belief and practice, of social pressure and ideological terror, that meant that Islamisation once established was irreversible, at least until the present day. Leonid Brezhnev’s doctrine was that a country, once communist, could not become non-communist; how puny, historically, was the communist achievement beside that of Islam!

Part of private quarters (1578) of Sultan Murad III

Part of private quarters (1578) of Sultan Murad III

Islamic civilisation has many attractive qualities . At least at its summit, the Ottoman civilisation was

exquisite, and in the decorative arts was Western Europe’s superior for centuries.

But the quality of a civilisation

does not establish the truth of the doctrines current in it, nor the suitability of those doctrines for living in the modern world.

Judged by the abysmal standards of fifteenth century Europe, Islam

looks quite tolerant; but judged from the modern, post-Enlightenment perspective, it looks primitive.

Its attitude towards polytheists and atheists is

doctrinally abominable.

Islam

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 14.46.00has nothing whatever to say to the modern world, and as yet has no doctrinal means of dealing constructively with the inevitable diversity of human religion and philosophy, beyond the violent imposition of uniformity or second-class citizenship.

Can Moslems of moderate temperament find some way of reconciling their faith with the exigencies of the modern world?

The problem is that this reconciliation cannot be a mere modus vivendi; it has to be intellectually coherent and satisfying to last. Personally, I am not optimistic. Islamism is a last gasp, not a renaissance, of the religion. But last gasps can last a surprisingly long time.