Category Archives: psychopathic ruthlessness

Glamour of ultra-violence

Dalrymple writes that when, as a medical student, he emerged from the cinema having seen the 1971 film of the Anthony Burgess novel A Clockwork Orange (1962),

I was astonished and horrified to see a group of young men outside dressed up as droogs.

He explains that in England, the film’s detractors

wanted it banned, charging that it glamourised and thereby promoted violence.

Anthony Burgess: his A Clockwork Orange (1962) remains a novel of immense power. Linguistically inventive, socially prophetic, and philosophically profound, it comes very close to being a work of genius.

The young men dressed as droogs

seemed to confirm the charge, though of course it is one thing to imitate a form of dress and quite another to imitate behaviour.

Still,

even a merely sartorial identification with psychopathic violence shocked me, for it implied an imaginative sympathy with such violence; and seeing those young men outside the cinema was my first intimation that art, literature, and ideas might have profound—and not necessarily favourable—social consequences.

Dalrymple notes that Burgess came to dislike the novel

because he did not want to go down in literary history as the author of a book made famous, or notorious, by a film.

Looters at the ready

The threat of barbarism and mob rule

In conditions of anarchy, after, for instance, a hurricane,

a crude and violent order, based upon brute force and psychopathic ruthlessness, soon establishes itself, which regards philanthropy not as a friend but as an enemy and a threat.

While Dalrymple acknowledges that

all of us who were born with original sin (or whatever you want to call man’s fundamental natural flaws) are capable of savagery in the right circumstances,

he points out that by no means all of us

immediately lose our veneer of civilisation in conditions of adversity, however great. A veneer may be thin, but this makes it more, not less, precious, and its upkeep more, not less, important.

Looters, Dalrymple notes,

look bitter, angry, resentful, and vengeful as they go about what British burglars are inclined (in all seriousness) to call their ‘work’. The gangs are reported to have used racial taunts during their depredations. In all probability, the looters believe that, in removing as much as they can from stores, they are not so much stealing as performing acts of restitution or compensatory justice for wrongs received. They are not wronging the owners of the stores; on the contrary, the owners of the stores have wronged them over the years by restricting their access to the goods they covet and to which they believe they have a right. The hurricane has thus given them the opportunity to take justice into their own hands and settle old scores.

It is, he says,

a terrible indictment of all the efforts undertaken in recent years by government welfare programmes and institutions that practice affirmative action, such as universities, to ameliorate the condition of underclass blacks. It implies that the nihilistic alienation of the looters and gang members is as great as that to be found in Soweto at the height of the apartheid regime. Far from ameliorating the situation, then, the billions spent on welfare programmes, and the intellectual ingenuity expended on justifying the unjustifiable in the form of affirmative action, have resulted in a hatred that is bitter and widespread among those condescended to in this manner.