Category Archives: realism

Singapore cabbies outclass FT in intelligence and realism

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-15-49-02A lot of Dalrymple’s information about humanity and the world comes from taxi-drivers. He writes:

On the whole I have found them more reliable, accurate, intelligent, and realistic than, say, the commentators in the Financial Times. They are generally much more interesting, too, and express themselves more vividly, even if English is their seventh language.

Dalrymple notes that an imperfect command of the English language sometimes confers an expressive eloquence. Finding himself in Singapore, he attempts to hail a taxi. You cannot do this on the street in the city-state, you have to go to a taxi-stand.

This I did, but still no taxi would stop for me. The taxis swept past me as if I did not exist. Then someone came and hailed a taxi about two feet to my right. A taxi stopped immediately and took him. When I stood two feet to the right of where I had been standing, a taxi stopped for me immediately. I told the driver of my experience and he, Chinese without a great deal of English, replied, ‘Singapore velly, velly law.

Dalrymple asks:

Have you read anything in the Financial Times, or any other serious newspaper, that so succinctly and accurately sums up a country or society?


Unreliable, inaccurate and very far from succinct


Singapore velly, velly law

screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-15-56-42screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-15-58-33screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-15-59-39screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-16-02-34 screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-16-01-59 screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-16-02-56 screen-shot-2017-01-15-at-16-05-53

Financial Times very, very wrong

Financial Times very, very wrong: the plutocrats’ paper on the horrors of Brexit

The moral grandeur of Western leaders

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 08.07.27The honour of being governed by the likes of these

Thank heaven, writes Dalrymple, for our enlightened Western leaders, with their

profound — and profoundly humane — views

on the matter of, for instance, criminal justice.

They see things all so clearly.

Finding himself in the West Country, Dalrymple picks up a local paper, the Western Daily Press, and lights on the following report:

A Chard [near Yeovil] teenager has been jailed for his part in what a judge called ‘an horrendous attack’ on a vulnerable and defenceless man with autism. Daniel Rodrigues, 18, of Beckington Crescent, and two co-defendants subjected their victim to a ‘brutal’ attack after a bout of heavy drinking. A police officer who attended the blood-spattered scene in a flat said it was ‘like something out of a horror movie’, Taunton Crown Court was told. All three attackers had blood on them and at one time they were all hitting their 20-year-old victim, Robert Macdonald, at the same time.

Macdonald was struck over the head a number of times with an iron bar and was taken to hospital with multiple cuts to his forehead, face and scalp, said Fiona Elder, prosecuting. Forensic scientists found he had been hit while already bleeding. He needed surgery with a general anaesthetic and a blood transfusion. In a victim impact statement, he said the vision in one eye was affected, he had scars to his face and head and had to move away from Taunton because he felt so scared.

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 08.08.51Rodrigues, the paper reports,

was jailed for 15 months for inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Dalrymple explains that in other words, Rodrigues will serve

at most 7½ months in prison (remission of 50% is an inalienable right) and quite possibly fewer, if he is granted early release.

Dalrymple asks:

If he gets 7½ months for a crime like his, which sentence must lesser criminals, such as mere burglars, get?

Screen Shot 2015-05-25 at 08.19.23Punishment, he says,

must be proportionate to the seriousness of the offence; and surely anyone can see that to send a burglar to prison for (say) six weeks is utterly futile. It follows from this that to send Rodrigues to prison is itself totally pointless; Rodrigues ought to be released at once, to prevent the terrible absurdity, the mockery, of it all.

Primitive punishment impulse is overcome

Thank heaven, writes Dalrymple, that

we have a justice secretary who sees this all clearly. Really it is an honour for a population to be ruled by people of so deep an insight, so sincere a compassion and so uncompromising a realism. We may be proud of our state that it has at last overcome the primitive impulse to punish, incarcerate and incapacitate young men like Rodrigues, who so badly need help. Pity about Robert Macdonald, the victim of the attack, but the question we must surely all ask ourselves is, Did he have a triple lock on his front door? And if not, why not?


Brutal institutionalised sentimentality

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 09.12.52Dalrymple points out that

sentimentality and hardness of heart are two sides of the same coin.

Ersatz feeling and indifference

Dalrymple explains how when sentimentality

Hollywoodian ersatz feeling elevated over appreciation of reality, masking utter indifference

Hollywoodian ersatz feeling elevated over appreciation of reality, masking utter indifference

is made the basis of policy, its denial of reality and its elevation of ersatz feeling over appreciation of reality leads straight to bureaucratic indifference.

The ideology of assistance allocated by need irrespective of desert

This orthodoxy, writes Dalrymple, is a sentimental one that

empties life of meaning and is a pretext for hard-heartedness of pharaonic proportions.

The elimination of desert as a criterion of allocation of resources

Ani's heart weighed against a feather: judgment of the dead in the presence of Osiris, papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Ani. From Thebes, 19th Dynasty, c. 1275 BC

Ani’s heart weighed against a feather: judgment of the dead in the presence of Osiris, papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Ani. From Thebes, 19th Dynasty, c. 1275 BC. British Museum

destroys both compassion and empathy. Need can be measured by checklist, but the assessment of desert cannot. It requires judgment, moral and practical.

The demand for no compassion at all

To regard everyone as equally in need of compassion

is the same as regarding no one as in need of compassion, for it is not humanly possible to sympathise equally with the unfortunate and the villainous. The demand for equal compassion is the demand for no compassion.

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 09.54.50At the heart of the sentimental doctrine lies

hardness of heart, as well as lack of realism.


The sentimental

dehumanise the objects of their supposed compassion by denying them agency or full membership of the human race.

Baroque age of self-harm

We live in

Leonardo da Vinci, Le proporzioni del corpo umano secondo Vitruvio, c. 1490. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Leonardo da Vinci, Le proporzioni del corpo umano secondo Vitruvio, c. 1490. Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

the baroque or rococo age of self-infliction. One of the reasons for the growth of self-infliction is the failure to recognize its existence even as a possibility.

In the outlook that refuses in the name of compassion to make a judgment,

the villainous are victims of upbringing, social injustice, neurochemistry. Self-infliction cannot exist.

But Man is

not only a political animal, he is a judging animal. To pretend to make no judgments is to make a judgment, and one with bad consequences.

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