Category Archives: patriotism

Trump’s finest hour

Donald Trump: patriotism, generosity and good sense

Reading in his morning newspaper that the General Assembly of the United Nations had greeted a short section of Donald Trump’s speech with laughter, Dalrymple’s esteem for the US president grows. The laughter, Dalrymple writes,

gave rise to Mr Trump’s finest moment. He took it in good part, admitted that he had not expected it, and said it was perfectly all right.

The moment

revealed something about world opposition to Mr Trump: that it is bogus or not deeply felt, and is pro forma.

Dalrymple asks:

  • Would the General Assembly have laughed disrespectfully at Mr Putin or Mr Xi, and would either of them have reacted in the same good-natured way if it had?
  • Did anyone laugh at Mr Obama’s fatuously grandiose claim that his election marked the beginning of healthcare in the United States and the healing of the planet, at least the equal in absurdity of anything said by Mr Trump?
  • Is Mr Trump’s slogan Make America great again any shallower than Mr Obama’s Yes we can?

Barack Obama: absurdity, grandiosity and fatuity

Dalrymple points out that Trump is held to a different standard; and anyone really believing the president was an incipient totalitarian dictator wouldn’t have laughed.

Trump’s speech offered

a more generous view of the world than that of most of his opponents. He called on the people of all countries to be patriotic, acknowledging that people of all countries had something to be patriotic about.

Trump’s was a vision of the world that was

far more genuinely multicultural and multipolar than those who believe in, or call for, a kind of European Union on a global scale, in which all cultures are ground into a food mixer from which a health-giving culture juice of universal rights (to healthcare, social security, etc.) will emerge.

The European Union monstrosity: an emergent bureaucratic tyranny

Trump’s view of patriotism certainly did not entail

the hatred of or disdain for, let alone enmity towards, other countries. What he said in essence was that he wanted a world of live and let live. He appeared to understand that a world government without borders would necessarily be a monstrous bureaucratic tyranny with no possible legitimacy.

To be sure, he simplified problems, but

to look to political speeches for subtle elucidation of knotty problems is like looking to tabloid newspapers for metaphysical insight.

Repressed fascist longings of today’s Germans

Only Habermas can save them

Dalrymple writes that one of the justifications for the European Union’s drive towards what it calls ‘ever closer union’ is

the denial or reduction of national feeling.

On this view,

expression of any national patriotism leads inevitably to xenophobia, conflict, and war. Love of one’s nation is inseparable from hatred of others.

A praise-singer of this attitude is Jürgen Habermas, who,

no doubt through fear of his, or his compatriots’, inner Nazism, wants to replace attachment to nation with attachment to supranational constitutional arrangements that will presumably have to cover the entire earth, if conflict between blocs is to be avoided.

To bring this about

would require the suppression for many years of the kind of emotional loyalty displayed during the World Cup. The suppression of such loyalty except in the context of sporting competitions might, however, be very dangerous: indeed, might bring about the very dangers that it was supposed to avoid.

Dalrymple notes that the rules of the competition governing the nationality of players provide that

no player having once played for a national team may change to another, for fear that he might change for the sake of mere economic advantage, rather than from any genuine attachment to his new nationality.

Thus, says Dalrymple,

football authorities take nationality more seriously than do national authorities.

The prideful Germans beat their breasts

The doctor-writer’s diagnosis of the deep German psychopathology — and why the rest of us always end up paying a heavy price for it

Dalrymple writes that a healthy patriotism

seems to be denied to Germany. The historical reasons for this are perfectly obvious, of course. But it is more difficult to rid oneself of pride than one might think: one can become proud of one’s lack of pride.

Moral exhibitionism

When Angela Merkel agreed to take more than a million migrants,

it was easy in her gesture to see her desire to restore the moral reputation of her nation.

One motive touted,

that with its ageing and declining population, Germany needed more young labour, is absurd: there are millions of unemployed young Spaniards, Italians and Greeks on its doorstep who could have been absorbed with much less difficulty.

Still the bully

The problem arises when Germany,

newly proud of its openness to refugees, tries to make other countries suffer the consequences of its policy, in the name of some kind of abstract principle. Thus other countries, such as Hungary, are to be bullied into taking refugees or face hostility and ostracism. (No one asks the refugees themselves whether they want to be resettled in Hungary. They are abstractions in the European psychodrama, not people of flesh and blood, with desires and ambitions of their own.)

Uriah Heep

The desire of the Germans

to overcome or dissolve their German-ness in the tepid bath of European Union-ness is the consequence of a certain historiography in which all of German history is but a run-up to Nazism: in other words that Nazism is immanent in the German soul, and the only way to control it is to tie it down as Gulliver was. But this supposed need does not exist to anything like the same extent in other countries, which may nevertheless be constrained by German power, influence and financial might to follow suit. The key to contemporary Europe may perhaps be found in the character of Uriah Heep.

The loss of a sense of a hierarchy of value

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-22-58-44There is in Britain, says Dalrymple (from 1:01:03),

a very crude materialism, and skewed values. Parents used to ask me why their child was so horrible when they did ‘everything’ for it. I asked what they meant by ‘everything’. The answer was: providing it with the latest tennis shoes, things of no value, rubbish. I’ve known a case of murder over the brand of tennis shoes.

Why is this?

Probably because there’s nothing else. There’s no cultural continuum, no pride in country, no political project, no religion.

There is, Dalrymple points out,

a loss of a sense of a hierarchy of value, as well as of a social hierarchy.

Dalrymple remembers his father, who was born in a poor quarter of London. The education he received there

was better than 99.9% of children today. His teachers — to whom he was always grateful — never took the view that he was poor and couldn’t be expected to learn Latin or appreciate science or art. They aimed to open his eyes to science and art. He told me that they would take children to museums in their spare time.

There is very little sense of that now because

the idea that one thing is higher than another has disappeared, especially from the intellectual class, who are all playing the shepherdess like Marie Antoinette. They don’t really like their own children not to have any sense of hierarchy, but they will propound the theory that there is no higher and lower, and unfortunately this affects everyone.

Man and meaninglessness

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-10-27-27Lack of meaning is a serious problem in modern Man, says Dalrymple. This is so particularly in Europe.

Dalrymple asks us to consider the possible sources of meaning in people’s lives:

  • the struggle for existence. This no longer applies. It is impossible to starve in the West.
  • religion. In England, and certainly in France, it is nearly dead. England is a very irreligious country, and France is an anti-religious country. (The English are too lazy to be anti-religious; they’re just not religious.)
  • politics. Whatever you say about Marxism, it provided people with a transcendent purpose. They thought they were taking part in something bigger than themselves. They were. Unfortunately, it was something very bad.
  • Participating in or contributing to culture. There has been an almost deliberate cutting-off of people from any sense of continuation of a culture. It’s not as bad in France as in Britain.
  • patriotism. In Europe this is shunned. It is equated with the worst of excesses.

What is left? Advocates of the unitary European State try, says Dalrymple,

to make the European Project (as they call it — they never tell you what it actually is) a source of meaning, but it is no source of meaning.

‘Voor bralnationalisme voel ik niets’

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 23.02.48De conservatieve cultuurcriticus Theodore Dalrymple over nationalisme, zelfbeheersing en fatsoen. ‘Wij zijn beter dan jullie, en als jullie dat niet bevalt, hoepel dan vooral een end op’, daar voel ik niets voor.

Door het boekje dat u samen met Bart De Wever hebt gepubliceerd (Vrijheid en oprechtheid, 2011), wordt u in Vlaanderen sterk met de N-VA vereenzelvigd. Maar wat vindt u eigenlijk van nationalistische partijen?

Laat me eerst zeggen dat ik De Wever een van die zeldzame politici vind die althans gevoel voor humor hebben. Hij is ook erudieter dan ik van politici gewend ben, spreekt vier talen – dat verdient respect. Maar wat het nationalisme betreft: het hangt er helemaal van af wat men er precies onder verstaat. Het soort uitsluitende bralnationalisme à la ‘Wij hebben de bliksemafleider en de eierkoker en de sokophouder uitgevonden (lacht), wij zijn dus beter dan jullie, en als jullie dat niet bevalt, hoepel dan vooral een end op’, daar voel ik niets voor. Maar met patriottisme lijkt me niets mis.

Bart De Wever is een bewonderaar van de achttiende-eeuwse Ierse conservatief Edmund Burke. Schept dat een band?

Dat doet het inderdaad. Ik vind bij Burke met name het volgende zeer waardevol: het inzicht dat er niet zoiets bestaat als een bepaalde blauwdruk voor problemen die van tevoren kant en klaar gereedligt en die je maar hoeft toe te passen. En verder het besef dat wij onderdeel zijn van een stroom die het verleden met de toekomst verbindt, en dat we dus verantwoordelijkheden hebben tegenover zowel onze voorgangers als de mensen die na ons zullen komen. Dat besef van culturele continuïteit, en van het feit dat je als individu daar maar een heel klein deeltje van bent, dat je het meeste geërfd hebt, betekent anderzijds natuurlijk ook weer niet dat je het verleden slaafs moet navolgen. Burke was niet de soort conservatief die zei: alle verandering is uit den boze. Dat zou evident belachelijk zijn – en hoe zou ik, als arts, kunnen ontkennen dat er vooruitgang is, ik hoef alleen maar terug te denken aan de tijd dat we nog geen behoorlijke anesthetica hadden. Maar dat er ook zoiets bestaat als verandering ten kwade, of op zijn allerminst dat verandering behalve goede ook nadelige gevolgen kan hebben – ik vraag me weleens af of al die eeuwig enthousiaste hervormers van alles daar ooit bij stilstaan.

Grenzen trekken, en dan specifiek voor jezelf, met andere woorden zelfbeheersing, en zowel de noodzaak als het toenemend verdwijnen ervan in onze samenleving, is misschien wel hét grote thema van uw werk.

Dat zou je misschien zo kunnen zeggen, ja. Op de een of andere manier is het volgende idee overheersend geworden, en dan zeker in Groot-Brittannië: ‘Wie zijn impulsen moet bedwingen, gaat die verdringen, en verdringing is heel slecht, daar word je ziek van. Dus is het beter om je impulsen uit te leven, bij voorkeur onmiddellijk.’ Dat is, uiteraard, pertinent onwaar – het is bijvoorbeeld aangetoond dat mensen die bij relatief kleine ergernissen zichzelf al niet meer in de hand kunnen houden, juist méér last ondervinden van wat hen ergert dan mensen die zich gedragen en niet voor het minste of geringste in woede uitbarsten – wat sowieso ook een stuk prettiger is voor hun omgeving en dus voor de samenleving als geheel. Onmiddellijke driftbevrediging, althans het onvermogen om daar als de omstandigheden dat vereisen van af te zien, is slecht voor een mens. Het hedendaagse losgeslagen consumentisme is daar maar één voorbeeld van, maar ook de verruwing van de omgangsvormen, het verdwijnen van werkelijke empathie ten voordele van sentimentaliteit: het komt allemaal op hetzelfde neer. Ik pleit voor grotere weerbaarheid, en dus – dat vloeit er automatisch uit voort – meer fatsoen.

Multiculturalism breeds terrorists

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 21.32.25And patriotism is left to the savages

In Britain, writes Dalrymple,

patriotism has been left to the brutes: the kind of ignorant savages who tattoo a bulldog on their biceps and Made in England round their nipples, and who in equal measure revolt and terrorise the cheaper resorts of the Mediterranean.

The intellectual’s

equation of patriotism with xenophobia, and pride in past achievement with an arrogant superiority complex, has left a population demoralised and without any belief in its own nation. Orwell saw this happening. It has created a vacuum for the English Defence League to fill.

Many of Britain’s homebred terrorists

are not culturally isolated and alienated figures, cut off from mainstream British life by ghettoes and the multicultural nonsense that leaves them unable to speak English. Nor do they derive their suicidal-utopian fantasies from an unalloyed Islamic tradition. Their utopianism is at least as much secular as it is religious, though their religion is one that lends itself well to political violence.

Many of them are educated,

if attendance at a modern British university counts as an education; they have jobs and prospects. No, they have seen British values and culture close up, or at least what British values and culture have become, and they don’t like them.

They are quite right not to do so.

The fact that their response is grotesquely disproportionate and even more stupid than the culture they despise does not alter the correctness of their apprehension. Better a live slut than a dead pedestrian, say I; that does not make me pro-slut. It means only that I detest terrorism and its works as among the worst of evils.

In reacting as terrorists,

the young Muslims are following Bakunin and the Baader-Meinhof gang as much as the Koran. It is not for nothing that they go to Western universities.

Just because multiculturalism is not a major direct contributor to home-grown terrorism

does not make it right. On the contrary, it is a sentimental and harmful doctrine that turns the mind to mush, is evidence of an underlying indifference to real lives, and is a provider of pseudo-work for lots of people such as community organisers.

Multiculturalists, with their doctrinal sentimentalism,

are seldom interested in the culture of others. Very few of them read books in foreign languages, for example, let alone immerse themselves in the Pali scriptures or the writings of the Sufi. I don’t blame them: it is the work of a lifetime to be able to do so, and we each have only one lifetime, to say nothing of limitations of ability and inclination. But let us at least not pretend that our interest in other cultures extends much beyond their cuisine.

Multiculturalists rejoice at mass, and indiscriminate, immigration,

not because they are admirers of, say, Somali political philosophy, but because they want the culture of their own country to be diluted as much as possible, for only by rejecting what they have inherited do they think they can show their independence of mind and generosity of spirit. Let the heavens fall, so long as I am thought (by my peers) to be a free thinker.

The multicultural mindset or emotionset, characterised as it is by extreme sentimentality,

seems to destroy the critical faculties, if not the brain itself.

Almost by definition, multiculturalists

are not interested in the national interest. The world is their oyster, and they demand that we all swallow it.

Too much national pride, and too little

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 00.00.31Getting the balance right is not easy

Dalrymple writes that absence of officially-held and sponsored nationalism

is welcome, after all the devastation that it caused in the 20th century.

Excessive national pride

dishonestly conceals alike the virtues of others and one’s own vices.

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 00.06.59On the other hand, absence of national pride

dishonestly conceals alike the vices of others and one’s own virtues.

Lack of pride or patriotism

renders a country, and the civilisation it embodies, vulnerable to or defenceless against its enemies.

He so loved his country he owned half of it