Category Archives: parasitism

WeWork’s guru-led business model

Dalrymple writes that Adam Neumann, with his long hair, T-shirt, and microphone, indulged, like any guru worthy of the name, in

malversation of funds, morally if not legally, on a large scale.

Neumann claimed — without being laughed down — that his business was worth $47bn, yet it was

nothing but renting out office space to people who could not afford permanent offices. This is a good idea, no doubt, though it was not his, but to have parlayed it into a business allegedly worth many billions while making heavy losses takes genius of a kind.

WeWork, Dalrymple notes,

had a private jet while losing more money than it turned over ($1.9bn against $1.8bn). I don’t know whether this is a first in history.

The company could survive

only by finding someone to throw good money after bad. As Macbeth might have said if he had lent money to it, ‘I am in loan stepp’d in so far that, should I lend no more, returning were as tedious as go o’er‘ — indeed more tedious, in so far as it would imply that the original loans were not performing and might give rise to awkward questions about the wisdom and competence of those who made them. Meanwhile, my bank tells me every month that it is prepared to lend my tiny company up to 4% of the amount of money I already have in the bank. Thanks very much. Such is the wisdom of bankers.

Dalrymple says he finds it difficult to think of the WeWork story without recourse to metaphors of parasitism. He notes that in the modern world, the path to fantastic personal success is not that of inventing something that people want and that can be developed and sold at a profit, but of persuading investors to part with their — or more often, other people’s — money to finance a bubble. For that you need the skills and confidence of gurus, who

fleece by promising new meaning to the gullible. Their eyes shine, they gesture, they are alternately passionate and calm. They don’t believe, they know. If you are lucky, you have never met such a person, for we are all, to varying degrees, susceptible to him. One might have thought, though, that bankers of all people would not fall easily for their wiles.

The most successful gurus, Dalrymple observes,

are not straightforward crooks, at least not to begin with. If they deceive, they are also to a large extent self-deceived. But with repetition and success comes more straightforward skulduggery, swindling, misappropriation of funds, sexual predation, and so forth, all because they believe themselves to have been granted impunity, as with a diplomatic passport.

Many gurus

mark themselves out by their dress — in this case, T-shirt — despite immense wealth. How can such a man not have seen through the triviality of mere appearance to a deeper reality?

Dalrymple asks how

companies that have never made a profit, however long they have been in existence, can be valued so much more highly than those that make profits almost without fail.

No doubt the companies in question

promise at some time in the future to make eye-watering profits once they have cornered the market and can charge monopoly prices, having driven everyone else from the field. But this glorious future (glorious for holders of the stock, not for the average or below-average customer) seems rarely to arrive. Meanwhile, financiers finance, at least until, like socialists, they run out of other people’s money. Then they can ask the government to create more money, so that they never run out of other people’s money.

The acme of Nature’s redness in tooth and claw

Dalrymple writes that many cuckoos are

  • sly
  • ruthless
  • exploitative
  • parasitic
  • wicked

Save the whale and the worm

Dalrymple observes that the many children at the Marche pour le climat

looked almost as pleased with themselves as their parents, who were very pleased indeed. I daresay that had I asked the children why they were at the demonstration, they would have been able, like performing monkeys, to say something about saving the planet, making it safe for the whales, dolphins, and pandas.

Dalrymple himself has nothing against the whales, dolphins, and pandas,

in fact I much prefer a world in which there are such creatures.

He confesses, however, that he is not so sure about Ascaris lumbricoides,

the absolutely disgusting, large white roundworm that parasitises the human intestine, sometimes in large numbers, and emerges through various orifices.

On Feigned and Factitious Diseases

England, land of malingerers

Dalrymple enjoys Hector Gavin’s 1843 work, which, he notes,

says something that has resonance in a land such as ours in which the numbers of sick people have so overtaken the numbers of the unemployed, to the delight of government statisticians, doctors, and the unemployed themselves.

Gavin writes:

Medical certificates must not be compared as a practice (as they have been) to that of alms-giving; in the best hands they are liable to great abuse; and however pure and disinterested the motives, much evil not infrequently results from them—none more than the inevitable depreciation of the medical character, which cannot fail to follow from their being given in a careless or lax manner.

Dalrymple comments:

This is enough to make one blush.

How many of the English are pretending to be ill in order to be able to live on handouts? In Britain, Dalrymple points out,

we have the remarkable situation where we have more invalids than after the First World War: 3m, of whom 2m could probably work.

It is, he says,

a fraud on a large scale: deeply corrupting of the recipients, who wrongly believe they are sick; the government, which shifts people out of the unemployment statistics; and the medical profession.

The entrepreneurial parasitism of benefit recipients is, he explains,

not recognised by naïve bureaucrats. The recipients know how to manipulate things to get the maximum benefit; they are reacting to incentives.

In praise of Rhodesia

The anti-colonial struggle in Africa, writes Dalrymple,

was not about freedom but about power and loot.

The sense in which it represented a political advance

was that it accorded with people’s natural preference for being ruled by a local rather than a foreign dictator, even if the latter were the better ruler by far. Many of the progressive pieties of the 20th century thus had within them a strong core of xenophobia and racism.

Dalrymple avers that Robert Mugabe

is a fine example of his genre: the liberator-turned-despot.

Compared to that of Mugabe, the régime of Ian Smith was infinitely preferable, being

  • considerably less ruthless
  • more willing to place limits upon its exercise of power
  • administratively vastly more competent

Mugabe, Dalrymple notes,

inherited a flourishing country, despite years of international sanctions, one that even Nyerere (no friend of Smith) called a jewel. Whoever takes over from Mugabe will most certainly not inherit a flourishing country.

Rhodesian whites are characterised by the ignorant as

  • lazy
  • spoilt
  • frivolous
  • anti-intellectual
  • beer-swilling
  • rugby-playing
  • thoroughly exploitative

The destroyers

Yet it is difficult, says Dalrymple,

to see how such a people could have left a bejewelled legacy.

A plague of locusts

Mugabe’s force and fraud

have had the opposite consequence of that of the whites: the bread-basket has become the basket case.

The whites

constructed something worthwhile.

Mugabe and his cronies have been

entirely parasitic.

The sport of banker-bashing

Nothing is more tempting, writes Dalrymple,

than to blame the financier, merchant, or banker—in short, the scheming middlemen—for the woes of the world. They are parasites, goes the cry, mere bloodsuckers; they create nothing, but take advantage of everything and everybody. They make profits on the way up as well as on the way down, in abundance and in scarcity, no matter how others suffer in the process.

Such ideas, he points out,

are the stuff of propaganda, both Bolshevik and Nazi. For such propaganda, only the producers of simple tangible goods—the shirtsleeved proletarian in his forge pouring pig iron, say, or the happy flaxen-haired peasant hoeing the land to produce turnips—make a real contribution to wealth, everything else being but a form of hidden confiscation of what the sweat of their brow has produced.

Those who have believed this,

or at any rate acted as if they believed this, have been responsible for a great deal of misery in the world.

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The collectivist rot in Britain

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 07.54.19An infantilised people

Its sense of irony, writes Dalrymple, once protected the British population

from infatuation with utopian dreams and unrealistic expectations.

But the English are sadly changed.

A sense of irony is the first victim of utopian dreams. The British tolerance of eccentricity has also evaporated; uniformity is what they want now, and are prepared informally to impose. They tolerate no deviation in taste or appearance from themselves.

The pressure to conform

to the canons of (lack of) popular taste has never been stronger. Those without interest in soccer hardly dare mention it in public. A dispiriting uniformity of character, deeply shallow, has settled over a land once richer in eccentrics than any other. No more Edward Lears for us: we prefer notoriety to oddity now.

The English are no longer sturdily independent as individuals, either. They now

feel no shame or even unease at accepting government handouts. (40% of them receive such handouts.)

Many Britons

see no difference between work and parasitism.

They are left with

very little of importance to decide for themselves, even in their private spheres.

The State

  • educates them (at least nominally)
  • provides for them in old age
  • frees them of the need to save money (doing so is in many cases made uneconomic)
  • treats them when they are ill
  • houses them if they cannot afford housing

Their choices

concern only sex and shopping.

No wonder, says Dalrymple, that the British

have changed in character, their sturdy independence replaced with passivity, querulousness, or even, at the lower reaches of society, a sullen resentment that not enough has been or is being done for them. For those at the bottom, such money as they receive is pocket money, reserved for the satisfaction of whims. They are infantilised. If they behave irresponsibly it is because both the rewards for behaving responsibly and the penalties for behaving irresponsibly have vanished.

Such people

come to live in a limbo in which there is nothing much to hope or strive for and nothing much to fear or lose. Private property and consumerism coexist with collectivism, and freedom for many people means little more than choice among goods. The free market, as Hayek did not foresee, has flourished alongside collectivism.

The qualities needed in a young doctor

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 17.32.03Dalrymple receives an application for a clinical attachment by an Indian doctor newly arrived in England, a country which, Dalrymple points out, is entirely parasitic on the rest of the world for its medical and nursing staff. The application is written, Dalrymple recounts,

in old-fashioned English, greatly the superior in charm to anything written by young British doctors. There is a touching naivety: despite all the applicant must have seen in his homeland, far grimmer physically than anything to be found in the UK, he is not street-smart in the modern sense, and is much the better for it. He sounds as if he has character rather than its debased and shallow modern equivalent, personality.

The applicant tells Dalrymple that

I have learnt from experience that honesty and diligence always pay off. Reliability, teamwork and love for my fellow beings has been my motto.

Dalrymple comments:

I doubt that this is boasting or mere vanity, of the kind that is now officially encouraged among, indeed required of, medical staff in compulsory self-appraisals, in the government’s plan to reduce the medical profession to its own ethical level.

The applicant writes:

Parents and teachers are my inspirers.

Dalrymple asks:

What young Briton would dare to write such a thing nowadays, even in the unlikely event that he felt it? Yet what civilisation can survive without such modest respect for elders and for the accumulated wisdom and experience of the past?

The applicant is

aware of my limitations but have a strong belief and faith in my capabilities.

That, says Dalrymple,

is just what one wants of a young doctor.

If this is naivety, says Dalrymple,

it is naivety that will lead in the end to far greater mental, cultural, emotional and spiritual sophistication than the trivial, smart-alec culture of modern Britain.

Indian doctors, says Dalrymple, have

  • better manners than their young British counterparts
  • a truer appreciation of life
  • a subtler and deeper sense of humour
  • an attractive sense of irony born of an instinctive understanding of the inherent limitations of human existence, which is now almost completely lost in the British population

Rotten, skiving Britain

img_3044Dalrymple answers your questions on the land of scroungers

How many of the English are pretending to be ill in order to be able to live on handouts?

In Britain we have the remarkable situation where we have more invalids than after the First World War: 3m, of whom 2m could probably work.

Rewards for, to put it most kindly, the workshy. Is that not a scandal?

It is a fraud on a large scale: deeply corrupting of the recipients, who wrongly believe they are sick; the government, which shifts people out of the unemployment statistics; and the medical profession.

Aren’t the UK Tories capping working-age welfare payments at £500 per family regardless of the number of children?

It won’t work. A little bit of drug-trafficking here and illegal activity there will make up for the cuts.

Incentives to be a cheat and a slob

Why is nothing done about it? Is this wilful blindness?

The entrepreneurial parasitism of benefit recipients is not recognised by naïve bureaucrats. The recipients know how to manipulate things to get the maximum benefit; they are reacting to incentives.

Why are there so few White Britons in basic service jobs?

Culture, the welfare system and rigidities in the housing market are to blame.

Employers greatly prefer, for example, Poles, do they not?

Poles are better than the English in a work ethic sense, and they often speak better English.

Drug addicts

Do you have any time for libertarian arguments on drug legalisation?

John Stuart Mill (who ­argued that individuals should be free to harm themselves but not others) thought that fathers who abandoned their children should be put to forced labour. You don’t hear that bit quoted much by legalisation advocates.

Fifth-rate intellectuals

Who is responsible for the British mess?

Most of the blame for the social dysfunction lies with our intellectual class, who revel in this behaviour.

Familial disintegration 

To what extent do women bear some of the blame for domestic violence?

Men who commit violence against women should, of course, be put in prison, but the idea that women are playing no part in this is wrong.

Why drug-takers are such crashing bores

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 06.46.55Dalrymple points out that drugs,

far from being expanders of consciousness, severely limit it. One of the characteristics of drug-takers is their intense and tedious self-absorption; their journeys into inner space are forays into inner vacuums. Drug-taking is a lazy man’s way of pursuing happiness and wisdom, and the shortcut turns out to be the deadest of dead ends.

Use of narcotics

has the effect of reducing men’s freedom by circumscribing the range of their interests. It impairs their ability to pursue more important human aims, such as raising a family and fulfilling civic obligations. Very often it impairs their ability to pursue gainful employment and promotes parasitism.

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