Category Archives: oppression

Société pour la prévention de la cruauté envers les mouches de l’Ardèche

A new organisation dedicated to protecting this vulnerable group

We have always, warns Dalrymple,

to keep a hold of ourselves, and temper our inclinations by conscious thought and self-control. The fact is that the Kingdom of Cruelty is within us.

Flypapers cannot be permitted in a civilised society

The misery of these oppressed insects must end

He writes that certain people, when for instance hanging up flypapers, and after the cloying ribbons have been hung,

enjoy watching flies arriving on the flypapers and engaging in a struggle that can lead only to their slow death.

Such people delight in

witnessing the suffering of flies.

Outlaw flyribbons now!

They can

happily watch it for many minutes on end.

Therefore Dalrymple has founded the SPCMA, which will campaign for the outlawing of flyribbons.

He points out that

it is not the fault of a fly that it is a fly and not a kitten.

He notes that

if things had been otherwise, we could all have been born flies. There (that is to say the flypapers) but for the grace of God go we.

It is not the fault of a fly that it is a fly and not a kitten

The communist world of yesterday

Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 23.19.29Και τώρα τι θα γένουμε χωρίς βαρβάρους.
Οι άνθρωποι αυτοί ήσαν μια κάποια λύσις.

Nostalgia has its own laws

Dalrymple is nostalgic for

something that I detested at the time and detest still, namely communism as it was practised in Eastern Europe. I sometimes wished it was still there so that I could experience the thrill of crossing the Iron Curtain.

Berlin Friedrichstraße station

Friedrichstraße

Self-indulgence

He recognises that this is

an entirely self-indulgent wish, for it pits my enjoyment of a relatively fleeting sensation against the prolonged suffering of millions of people.

Communists

were a kind of solution for us; the world they created was something near, bordering and threatening us, that was worse, far worse, than anything that we had, no matter what our dissatisfactions with what we had might have been.

BucharestNakedness

This was

snatched from us by communism’s unexpected collapse. We were left with our dissatisfactions naked and unadorned, without the consolation for them that the existence of communism not very far away offered us. The communists simplified the world for us.

Dalrymple misses the atmosphere of the communist days:

the dim lights, the unanimated streets, the absence of traffic, the smell of bad, adulterated fuel that polluted the air, the hushed voices, the echoing footfall, the grey dilapidation, the feeling of satisfaction if one found anything to eat, above all the frisson of fear that one was being watched and followed.

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 00.12.46Prurience

For a young man

such as I – with an easy escape route, of course, for I do not pretend that my experience had anything to do, or bore any comparison with, that of the people actually living in those countries – the idea that I might be considered dangerous enough to be watched or followed was flattering, for in my own country I was of no account whatsoever.

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 00.15.38Salacity

Then,

on the very brief occasions when one made human contact with someone in those benighted, oppressed lands, that were like flashes of lightning that illuminated for a second a black landscape, one sensed a person with an intensity of experience much deeper than one’s own, a person who lived on a philosophical plane, whose life had been stripped down to the essential: and whom, with foolish romanticism, one almost envied.

Screen Shot 2015-05-31 at 00.21.16What did Dalrymple have

to set against their problems: an unhappy childhood, uncertainty about my career? Mere trifles by comparison with the peine forte et dure that was life in the Peoples’ Republics.

His enjoyment behind the Iron Curtain

was salacious, prurient and self-indulgent, with just enough of a grain of philosophy thrown in to assure myself that I had a higher purpose in thus enjoying myself.

Therefore Dalrymple does not claim for his nostalgia

any superior sensibility, much less a proper role in political thought or philosophy. In fact, I am rather ashamed of it, that I am capable of looking back on what was a terrible period for millions with something like affection.

 

Lee was not universally loved

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 21.56.04The most intelligent and capable world leader of the past half-century

He was not, writes Dalrymple with gentle understatement,

universally loved.

But

universal approbation is not an appropriate goal for a politician.

His authoritarianism

fell far short of despotism.

Lee brought order

Lee brought order

Like many politicians brought up

in the twilight of empire, he both admired and disliked the colonial power.

Lee recalled admiringly

the way evening newspapers were piled in the street in London and people paid for them by leaving their money without any compulsion to do so and without ever stealing what others had left. This, he thought, was a well-ordered and disciplined society.

The achievements of Singapore under Lee Kwan Yew are incontestable

He had the pleasure

of being able to reverse the flow of moral example, and of seeing the former colonial power, which had always prided itself on its moral, intellectual and political superiority, sunk in terminal decline and decadence.

Unlike the good order and discipline that he thought he saw in England,Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 21.49.39

which had grown more or less organically from the country’s history, Singapore’s had to be brought about by stern and some would say oppressive legislation.

The efficiency with which the city-state is now administered

is one of the reproaches against Lee; it now seems almost intimidatingly tidy and well-organised, with little scope for the free expression or the crookedness of the timber from which Kant thought that mankind is made, and in which he delighted.

'Jeder derselben will immer seine Freiheit mißbrauchen, wenn er Keinen über sich hat, der nach den Gesetzen über ihn Gewalt ausübt. Das höchste Oberhaupt soll aber gerecht für sich selbst, und doch ein Mensch sein. Diese Aufgabe ist daher die schwerste unter allen; ja ihre vollkommene Auflösung ist unmöglich; aus so krummen Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts ganz Gerades gezimmert werden'

‘Jeder derselben will immer seine Freiheit mißbrauchen, wenn er Keinen über sich hat, der nach den Gesetzen über ihn Gewalt ausübt. Das höchste Oberhaupt soll aber gerecht für sich selbst, und doch ein Mensch sein. Diese Aufgabe ist daher die schwerste unter allen; ja ihre vollkommene Auflösung ist unmöglich; aus so krummen Holze, als woraus der Mensch gemacht ist, kann nichts ganz Gerades gezimmert werden.’

This priceless privilege

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 09.14.52The right to be oppressed (most mercilessly) by one’s own people

The Algerians would rather forget that not only did they

commit many atrocities, both against the French colonists and tens of thousands of Algerians, but that the Algerian population had not been unanimously supportive of the FLN before the advent of independence.

They claimed that the Algerian War was a struggle against racial injustice and discrimination, yet the result was

ethnic cleansing of the million French residents of Algeria, 11 per cent of the population, including Jews, practically all of whom left in the few months after the signing of the Evian Accords.

The freedom fighters turned out to be power fighters.

Once they were installed in power they instituted nothing that any political philosopher would recognise as a regime of freedom. The only sense in which the new regime was freer than the old had been was freedom from the old oppressor.

The new oppressor, which

immediately killed 15,000 to 30,000 fellow countrymen who had fought on the old oppressor’s side, was, however, of the same ethnic, cultural and religious origin as the population it oppressed. How much of an advance was this, and was it worth the lives of half a million people to make it? If the answer is yes, then it is to admit that it is preferable to be oppressed by one’s own people rather than by people of alien origin, even if the weight of the oppression is objectively similar.

To be oppressed by a foreigner

gives an extra dimension of outrage to the oppression, but on the other hand permits the hope that if only the foreigner can be expelled all will be well.