Category Archives: Mussolini, Benito

A Mussolinian end for Erdoğan

That is what a friend of Dalrymple’s foresees. But Dalrymple points out that

a bad end is often also a bad beginning.

At Istanbul Atatürk Airport, Dalrymple finds the crowd

very interesting to observe.

On the one hand

are the women who are dressed in a strange fashion that I have not noticed anywhere else in the Muslim world: a kind of long and shapeless gabardine sack of the most negative possible allure in the dullest of shades, that of concrete in the rain, that makes women look like a harvest of potatoes. By comparison with this, the burqa is attractive and elegant.

On the other hand

are the young men and women bearing tattoos. There has been a sudden explosion in their numbers: I noticed an increase in the last year alone since I was last there.

What is happening? Dalrymple says:

It looks as if people are digging themselves into one of two incompatible identities, rather as they seem to be doing in many other countries. I sense that it will end badly.

The electric breakfast

Patients’ slang — noted by Dalrymple in a memoir — for electroconvulsive therapy. He explains that it is so described because patients are not allowed to eat or drink before the procedure, which was discovered in an Italian slaughterhouse in the time of Mussolini. In the early days ECT was given without anaesthetic and without muscle relaxants to reduce the vigour of the epileptic convulsions induced by the electric current. Not infrequently patients broke their legs or backs as they thrashed about.

The Donald’s clownish rodomontade vs Hillary’s ruthless self-righteousness

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-08-47-07Dalrymple notes that Donald Trump is regarded,

somewhat melodramatically, as a proto- or sub-Mussolini. Private Eye, the satirical weekly, published photos of Musso and Trump taken from the same angle, and the physical resemblance was remarkable.

Hillary Clinton, he says,

would be the choice of most Europeans. They believe, by no means justifiably, that she would be less dangerous for the rest of the world than the volatile and unpredictable Trump.

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-09-04-14There is, Dalrymple points out,

a smugness about the European attitude to the American election. It couldn’t happen here: no serious politician of Trump’s crassness would reach his exalted level. Not only does such assurance forget our history, it disregards the discontents under the surface that could one day erupt into something far worse than Trump’s clownish rodomontade.

And Europe’s political class

already shares Clinton’s invincible and ruthless self-righteousness. Being Clinton is never having to say you’re sorry.

Europe faces

a similar choice as that between Trump and Clinton: inchoate and resentful protest (Trump), and self-anointment and entitlement to rule (Clinton) — with an admixture of suspected financial impropriety, past and to come, in both.

The English Perón

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 22.09.02

Always on the lookout for new worlds to ruin

A merciless enemy of liberty

The British repeatedly elect, writes Dalrymple,

nonentities distinguished only for their ambition and relentless pursuit of office. Mediocrity and ambition often combine with vast self-regard.

An example is Tony Blair. In the US it is not appreciated

how ferocious and inveterate an enemy of freedom Mr Blair is. Perhaps the most dangerous thing about him is that he doesn’t know it: he thinks of himself as a guardian of freedom, perhaps the greatest such guardian.

It would be almost correct to call Blair

a fascist, were it not for the fact that he is unaware of it.

Blair’s emphasis on youth as the source of all wisdom and strength

is reminiscent of Mussolini.

His notion of the Third Way

has fascistic overtones, and reminds one of Juan Perón.

Blair is

always on the lookout, not for new worlds to conquer, but for new worlds to poke his nose into and to ruin, or ruin further.

In Britain once, most people

had an idea of virtue that was intensely focused on their individual conduct, irrespective of whether they were rich or poor. People did not believe that poverty excused very much. One of the destructive consequences of the spread of sociological modes of thought is that it has transferred the notion of virtue from individuals to social structures, and in so doing has made personal striving for virtue (as against happiness) not merely unnecessary but ridiculous and even bad, insofar as it diverted attention from the real task at hand, that of creating the perfect society: the society so perfect, as T.S. Eliot put it, that no one will have to be good. It is that kind of society in which Mr Blair believes.

Fate of the Ferrarese Jews

Screen Shot 2015-05-06 at 22.03.22Dalrymple points out that Mussolini,

whom some of the Jewish bourgeoisie had strongly supported in the early days of his regime, opportunistically enacted antisemitic laws to curry favour with Hitler.

Some 96 of the 300 Jews of the city of Ferrara, in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, were deported to Poland, and only five of these survived.

Bassani and his wife Valeria in 1943

Bassani and his wife Valeria in 1943

Dalrymple writes that the novelist Giorgio Bassani intends the reader of his Gli occhiali d’oro (1958)

to draw a parallel between the way in which [the homosexual protagonist] Dr Fadigati is treated and the increasing persecution of the narrator [a Jewish student].

Cimitero Ebraico di Ferrara: the entrance, and Bassani's grave

Cimitero ebraico di Ferrara: the entrance, and Bassani’s grave