Category Archives: Original Virtue

The moral and intellectual idiocy of Jeremy Corbyn

England faces another civil war

Dalrymple points out that the next British government might easily be formed by an admirer of Hugo Chávez, on the occasion of whose death Jeremy Corbyn stated: ‘Thanks Hugo for showing that the poor matter and wealth can be shared. He made massive contributions to Venezuela & a very wide world.’

Anyone who considers a man like Chávez worthy of admiration will not, says Dalrymple,

be alarmed—rather, the reverse—by any gulf in society that his ignorant economic policies will produce, a gulf far exceeding any within living memory.

Moreover,

his most fervent support comes from people so wedded to their own Original Virtue that they feel they are properly the arbiters of what may and may not be said and are therefore justified in resorting to violence to enforce their prohibitions.

Dalrymple warns:

One of the problems of this, apart from its sheer moral and intellectual idiocy, is that it will eventually call forth equal and opposite violence.

Caterwauling from across the pond about Trump

Commenting on Dalrymple’s ambivalent attitude towards Donald Trump, a reader writes:

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screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-11-20-38But when we go north of the border, Dalrymple equivocates not at all. Justin Trudeau, he says, is a man born to Original Virtue, and just to look at pictures of his face, which radiates self-proclaimed goodness and Leftist smugness, is to experience disgust — the sensation you get when you’ve had too many marrons glacés: mild nausea accompanied by a general feeling of stickiness.

Maar het is niet president Duterte waar ik de grootste afkeuring voor heb op het wereldtoneel, zoals het in feite zou horen. Nee, het is iemand die in mijn ogen vele malen hatelijker is, namelijk Justin Trudeau (of moet ik zeggen Sint Justin Trudeau?), de premier van Canada. Ik moet al walgen enkel van naar foto’s te kijken van zijn ongelofelijk zelfvoldaan gezicht, dat straalt van de zelfverklaarde goedheid. Een goedheid die in schril contrast staat met de rest van de menselijkheid, zeker ten zuiden van de Canadese grens. Het veroorzaakt dezelfde sensatie als het eten van te veel marrons glacés: lichte misselijkheid vergezeld van een algemeen plakkerig gevoel.

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Blair: dishonesty and dishonour

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Lack of character plus moral grandiosity, a lethal combination

The grandiose are found out by reality, and left squirming

Tony Blair, writes Dalrymple, exhibits

the most frivolous earnestness. He is given to gushes of cheap moral enthusiasm — cheap, that is, for him, not for others who have to pay for it.

Blair has been

exposed as the frog in Æsop’s fable that puffs and puffs himself up in an attempt to prove himself as big as the cow, until he explodes. But we cannot blame him entirely. He is one of us, the new Britons. The least we can do is to put some teddy-bears by the railings outside his home to help him come to terms with his humiliation.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 09.50.34Britain, Dalrymple reminds us, is

of very slight account, with a population increasingly unable to distinguish the trivial from the important and the virtual from the real. It has over several decades undergone profound social and psychological changes, of which Blair is both a symptom and an accelerating cause.

When moral grandiosity meets lack of character,

no good can result. Grandiosity and lack of character are two sides of the same coin. When someone believes that he is born with Original Virtue, he comes to believe that all his opinions, all his ends and all his actions are pure, moral and right. He is able to change from moment to moment, and to act in a completely unscrupulous manner. He may act in contradictory ways and change his opinions to their very opposites, but the purity of motive remains when everything else has disappeared.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 09.19.39Such a person

can have no honour, for honour implies a loyalty to a fixed standard, even or especially when it is not in that person’s immediate or instrumental interest to uphold it.

The lack of character

derives also from the elevation of sensibility over sense and of personal opinion over personal probity. Purity of sentiment and opinion become the whole of virtue, and the louder one expresses it the better the person is; morality is not a discipline and an abjuration but an opportunity to shine in front of one’s peers.

Screen Shot 2016-07-09 at 10.23.23Needless to say,

purity of sentiment and opinion are not incompatible with our old and trusted friend, the thirst for power, a combination which naturally enough results in a bullying sentimentality and a self-righteous lack of scruple.

The desire to be

both policeman and lady almoner, General Patton and Gandhi, Rambo and Elizabeth Fry, is not conducive to clear thinking or clear policy.

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What Blair says about the British people

A modern Briton

A modern Briton

One of Blair’s motives for going to war might have been

an eye to his post-retirement value on the very lucrative American lecture circuit.

Blair, Dalrymple notes,

shows a greater avidity for vulgar high living than any recent holder of his office.

Dalrymple says Blair

presents us with a special puzzle. Although by no means an interesting man, in the sense that Doctor Johnson was an interesting man, we all find ourselves thinking about him at frustrating length. He is like a tune, neither loved nor lovely, that one cannot get out of one’s head.

In some ways

he appears to resemble that product of the diseased communist imagination, particularly beloved of Che Guevara, the New Man, at least in the sense that he does not resemble previous generations.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.06.14Blair

is neither honest nor dishonest: he escapes entirely the criteria by which such a judgment of him could be made. To argue with him that what he says or does now is incompatible with what he said or did yesterday is about as fruitful as arguing a paranoid man out of his belief that the secret services of many countries are after him, or that his neighbours are listening to his thoughts through a screening device that they have invented. In short, Blair, having been born with Original Virtue, suffers from delusions of honesty.

Leaders, Dalrymple notes,

grow out of societies and a social context: they do not fall like bolts from the blue. Blair both represents, and is a cause of an acceleration in, a change in character of the British people. He is far from unique in his ability to find the happy coincidence between his thirst for money and power and the highest moral principles.

Anyone who has had dealings with the British public service, Dalrymple points out, will know that the principal qualities required for advancement within it are

  • unceasing sanctimony
  • brazenness
  • a craven dedication to orders from on high
  • an ability to justify a complete change of direction at a moment’s notice
  • a capacity for bullying those lower down the feeding chain, or those jostling for a place at the trough
  • a rigid self-control, to suppress any independence of mind or a tendency to consider the ethics of orders to be implemented

What is required in the civil servant is the ability, for example,

to present cancelled operations as an inestimable benefit to the patients concerned, while at the same time spotting niches for a little commercial activity of his own, whether it be by using the rules of employment to his own financial benefit or setting up a consultancy to advise his former employers.

Dalrymple recently met a public servant

who had risen up the ranks and had about him the air of a successful revolutionary. He travelled to London on the train first class every week (a ticket costs the equivalent of an annual working-class holiday in the sun), and attended sumptuous functions there attended by others such as himself, under the impression that by so doing he was working.

Here was the voice

of militant mediocrity, who expressed himself even in private in the language of Health Service meetings, believing that his large salary and high living at public expense were all for the good of those who paid for them. Just as the countries of Eastern Europe once had their little Stalins, so every department of every branch of the British public service has its little Blairs.

Today the ruling characteristics of the British are

  • deviousness
  • ruthlessness
  • an eye fixed on the main chance
  • sanctimony in the midst of obvious wrongdoing
  • toadying
  • bullying

As late as 1979, the British people, including administrators in hospitals, were largely upright. Some of the old virtues were seen, such as

  • stoicism
  • honesty
  • fortitude
  • irony
  • good humour

These can still be found,

but only in people who are of no importance,

for in Britain, good people

are like a defeated class.

Dalrymple says that

when words become the test of virtue, they also become the masks of vice. That is why sanctimony and ruthless self-interest are such powerful allies.

Blair’s psychodramatics

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.32.03The words good and bad faith, writes Dalrymple, have no application in the case of Tony Blair,

for just as a man who has no concept of the truth cannot be a liar, so Mr Blair, whose mind resembles the Goodwin Sands, is incapable of bad faith because he is incapable of good.

Dalrymple has long puzzled over Blair’s

particular psychopathology, which has irritated me because, while Blair is important, he is uninteresting – apart, that is, from his psychopathology.

Blair’s

cardinal symptom is a delusion of honesty.

He

believes himself to be an honest man, all evidence to the contrary.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.50.04Along with his

peculiar truth-blindness

goes

an invincible sense of Original Virtue. No action by someone possessed of Original Virtue can besmirch him. He will always be able to reply to his accuser: ‘Surely you cannot believe that I acted from discreditable motives? Even if I was in the wrong, I was, in a deeper sense, in the right.’

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Another great performance — this was pure Blair

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‘I feel deeply and sincerely — in a way that no words can properly convey — the grief and suffering of those who lost ones they loved’

Masterly self-exculpation over Chilcot

Tony Blair, writes Dalrymple,

plays upon the sensibilities of people as upon a pipe.

He suffers, however, Dalrymple points out, from

delusions of honesty.

Blair

keeps inviolable his belief in the existence of a purely beneficent essence of himself, a belief so strong that no quantity of untruthfulness, shady dealings, unscrupulousness, or impropriety can undermine or destroy it. He came into the world marked by Original Virtue.

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Honest as the day is long, with the straightforward truthfulness of a child, and authentic piety. He is, yes, pure, righteous and infinitely beneficent

Starting with an assumption of his infinite beneficence,

he assumes infinite responsibility.

It might be argued, Dalrymple says, that in a demotic age politicians must consent to indignities if they are to be elected.

If so, it is hardly surprising that we repeatedly elect nonentities distinguished only for their ambition and relentless pursuit of office. Unfortunately, mediocrity and ambition often combine with vast self-regard; and there is no better example of it than Blair.

The sorrowing penitent: 'I express more regret and apology than you may ever know or can believe'

The sorrowing and tormented great leader, close to tears: ‘I express more regret and apology than you may ever know or can believe’

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Pure genius: he came into the world marked by Original Virtue. To those who died in Iraq, and to their families, he says: ‘I will be with you, whatever.’ Or he may have said that to George W. Bush. No matter — such words are a comfort

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A saintly kind of essence: he is full of pity and understanding for the victims of infelicitous wars for which he cannot, in all reasonableness, be personally blamed but for which he is prepared to take responsibility out of largeness of spirit

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Manly, and at the same time unafraid to give voice to an almost feminine compassion for the wretched of the earth, such as those who, most unfortunately, may have found themselves in the path of his bombs: ‘I take full responsibility for any mistakes without exception or excuse. I express my profound regret at the loss of life and the grief it has caused the families, and I will set out the lessons I believe future leaders can learn from my experience’