Category Archives: prudence

Fuck off

These words, writes Dalrymple, are

the chief motto of British service industries.

They are also chosen, he points out, by

a surprisingly large number of auto-tattooists for the exercise of their dermatographical art.

He recalls a patient who

had the two words tattooed in mirror writing upon his forehead, no doubt that he might read them in the bathroom mirror every morning and be reminded of the vanity of earthly concerns.

Suitable applicant for a post in the British service industries

The seemingly minor social phænomenon of tattooing affords us, says Dalrymple,

a little glimpse into the Hobbesian moral world inhabited by a section of the population with whom we normally have little contact: they actually want to be considered psychopathic.

Moreover, we must not discriminate against someone who has Fuck off tattooed on his forehead. Dalrymple notes that

prudence is a virtue and used to be considered one of the cardinal virtues. No longer.

We have become so individualistic that

we claim the right to behave any way we like without any consequences for ourselves. A man may tattoo Fuck off on his forehead and then claim to have been discriminated against when he is refused a job serving the public.

Cradle of democratic corruption

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Popular dishonesty, writes Dalrymple, is ‘an inherent problem wherever the universal franchise is unaccompanied by widespread virtues such as honesty, self-control, providence, prudence, and self-respect’.

Grave errors of the Greeks

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Time for many Greeks to look in the mirror

Political and popular dishonesty

Greek politicians, writes Dalrymple, erred in

offering a substantial proportion of the Greek population a standard of living that was economically unjustified, maintained for a time by borrowing, and in the long run unsustainable, in return for votes. They borrowed the money and then dispensed largesse, like monarchs throwing coins to the multitudes.

The Greek people erred in

accepting the bribe that the politicians offered; they were only too prepared to live well at someone else’s expense.

Cradle of democratic corruption

Popular dishonesty is a problem

wherever the universal franchise is unaccompanied by widespread virtues such as honesty, self-control, providence, prudence, and self-respect.

A reduction in their salaries and perquisites of many Greeks

is not only economically necessary but just.

Dalrymple’s money personality

Giovanni Bellini, Four Allegories: Prudence, c. 1490. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Giovanni Bellini, Four Allegories: Prudence, c. 1490. Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

High finance, writes Dalrymple,

has never really been my forte or my interest. My attitude to finance is primitive: I spend less than I earn.

When, during the boom, Dalrymple’s bank asked if he wanted a loan,

I naïvely told it that I did not need a loan. The bank’s reaction reminded me of that of a newspaper for which I used sometimes to write when I refused to do an article for it on the basis of information that was self-evidently false. What, they asked, had that got to do with it? And for the bank (at the time), what had not taking a loan got to do with not needing one?

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The Dalrympian attitude

  • Screen Shot 2015-05-30 at 09.13.54There is no fixed doctrine to which one must subscribe
  • Man is fallible
  • Regress is as much to be feared as progress is to be hoped
  • Human action always has unforeseen consequences
  • Prudence is a virtue
  • Ignorance is always greater than knowledge
  • Those who came before us were as intelligent as we
  • Tradition contains wisdom as well as irrationality
  • Life cannot be lived according to a preconceived plan
  • Wickedness lies in wait for all of us
  • Man is imperfectible

The men of brains shall be slaves — slaves to the men of character

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 01.14.21This was the credo of those tasked with recruiting for the Colonial Service. It is the theme of the 1931 Maugham tale ‘The Door of Opportunity’ (to be found in the 1933 collection Ah King).

Dalrymple touches on the theme in a discussion of a newspaper headline he came across that read: ‘Young people’s money woes are down to lack of education.’

He points out:

The problem is not one of education but of character.

The indebted

know that nothing much will happen to them as a result of their default, nor is there any shame or social stigma attached to living above one’s means. Certainly no government, or no public employee, feels such shame.

The article, he says, was

an example of the overestimate of the importance of formal education by the overeducated. They assume that everyone can be taught to behave in the same way that everyone, more or less, can be taught to read. Prudence, providence and probity, however, are character and cultural traits more than they are intellectual accomplishments. It is not that people don’t know; it is that they don’t care.

Asset inflation as the principal source of wealth corrodes character

Screen Shot 2014-04-02 at 00.05.06It not only undermines the traditional bourgeois virtues, writes Dalrymple. It

makes them ridiculous and even reverses them. Prudence becomes imprudence, thrift becomes improvidence, sobriety becomes meanspiritedness, modesty becomes lack of ambition, self-control becomes betrayal of the inner self, patience becomes lack of foresight, steadiness becomes inflexibility: all that was wisdom becomes foolishness. And circumstances force almost everyone to join in the dance….[It] is not an economic problem only, or even mainly, but one that afflicts the human soul.

(2009)

Epic vulgarity: the imprudence of the Financial Times

Screen Shot 2013-05-02 at 02.56.30The Financial Times, slave to political and economic fashion, voice of the effete Western European and North American establishment, house journal of the plutocrats, is taken to task by Dalrymple over its How To Spend It supplement:

Lack of temperance calls forth vulgarity on an epic scale. How To Spend It is a magazine for people whose main difficulty is finding things expensive and luxurious enough. There seems no sense of limitation, of temperance, in its pages; nor, for that matter, of prudence.

In a situation in which

millions of people find it difficult to meet everyday expenses, it is surely not prudent to make it appear that the most important decision in life for a whole class of people already not supremely popular is which wristwatch costing €100,000 to buy: whether it should be the one that automatically tells you what the time is in Reykjavík to the nearest hundredth of a second when you are in Bujumbura, or the one that tells you what the time is to within a thousandth of a second when you are diving in the Caribbean.

Dalrymple adds:

I understand the anger when people see such things.