Category Archives: resentment

The pleasures of resentment

Dalrymple writes:

That the world is unequal, unfair, and often unjust is true, but resentment is, of all human emotions, among the least constructive and most incompatible with real happiness, though it may bring with it certain sour satisfactions, including the elimination of personal responsibility for one’s situation.

Unfortunately, also,

it is one of the few emotions that can last a lifetime, for it is protean in its ability to find justifications for itself.

Dalrymple points out that Nelson Mandela’s achievement was the avoidance of the interracial violence that had long been predicted as inevitable in South Africa and the only way things would ever change there. He did this by his dignity and lack of rancour after his release from prison and during his presidency.

The West is soaked in academic drivel

The fatuous ideology of diversity

People in the West live, writes Dalrymple,

in a totalitarian condition in which they are afraid to say some things and—what is worse—are required to say others. They are obliged to deny what they believe and assent to what they do not believe. There is no better way to destroy the personality. People become cynical, time-serving, increasingly self-absorbed. Their impotence breeds apathy. Once they start to utter things for the sake of their careers or their peace and quiet that they do not believe, they lose self-respect and probity and thus their standing to resist anything. People without probity are easy to control and manipulate; the purpose of political correctness is not to enunciate truth but to exercise power.

The threat comes not from government

but from the universities and the semi-intellectuals that they turn out. The governments of once-liberal democracies lamely follow the fashions and obsessions that emerge from universities, and few politicians have the courage or stamina to resist. To do so would require a willingness to present an intellectual case against them, not once but repeatedly, as well as a rhinoceros hide to be unaffected by the opprobrium and insult to which they would be subjected (insult these days being the highest form of argument). We do not live in times propitious to patient argumentation by politicians about matters of principle. What cannot be said in three words will not be heard, so that surrender is the default setting.

A dictatorship of virtue

Dalrymple notes that even applying for a job, particularly in US universities,

is a kind of Calvary for the person who does not share modern academic-bureaucratic obsession with race and sexual proclivities. The applicant must fill in forms about his attitude towards diversity—there being no permissible diversity in attitudes towards diversity.

Many universities demand a personal ‘diversity statement’ from the applicant. It requires of the successful candidate a full commitment to modern orthodoxies.

To admit that all you want to do is study the life and times of, say, William the Silent, the Khedive Ismail or José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, and convey your enthusiasm for this subject to others, would be fatal to your chances. You must want, in the cant phrase of our times, to make a difference. You must bring your straw to the fires of resentment, so that the diversity bureaucracy will never extinguish them and never be out of a job.

Anthony Burgess drank deep…

…at the well of resentment as well as of spirituous liquors

Dalrymple points out that the great novelist had been a schoolteacher and

evidently sensed a stirring of revolt among the youth of his country and elsewhere in the West, a revolt with which—as a deeply unconventional man who felt himself to be an outsider however wealthy or famous he became—he felt some sympathy and might even have helped in a small way to foment.

Yet, as one who

was steeped in literary culture and tradition, he understood the importance of the shift of cultural authority from the old to the young, and was very far from sanguine about its effects. He thought that the shift would lead to a hell on earth and the destruction of all that he valued.

A demagogue and a terminal bore

Chávez bestrode his country like a colossus inflated with gas

Resentment, notes Dalrymple,

is the nourishing broth in which demagogues like Castro and Chávez grow and thrive. The worse they make the situation, the better their explanation for it. We were right all along! See what they are doing to us! Since resentment is self-reinforcing, the demagogues are always sure of at least some support, however obvious the disaster they have wrought.

Dalrymple says that he is not prescient, far from it, but

I knew from the moment that Chávez took power that his rule would end disastrously. Whatever the parlous state of the country at the time he took power, he could only make it worse. (I reviewed a book by one of those fools whose wishful thinking flits like a butterfly from revolution to revolution and from radical to radical, and who took Chávez at his own estimate.)

A disaster from which Venezuela will take generations to recover

Chávez

was the kind of leader who could produce a shortage of saltwater in the Pacific. It was only appropriate that he should so have admired Bolívar that he named his ‘revolution’ after him, for Bolívar’s life ended miserably and his plans were utterly set at naught. ‘He who serves the revolution,’ said Bolívar at the end of his life, ‘ploughs the sea.’

Dalrymple points out that Chávez was

a charismatic nonentity, a terminal bore whose mind was stuffed with cliché, verbiage, and resentment. He bestrode his country like a colossus inflated with gas. He never said in a minute what he could say in an hour; if he had a fundamental belief, it was ‘I speak to an audience, therefore I am.’

His constant appeal

was to resentment, the most sustainable of all emotions. (It can last a lifetime and, being easily transferred, is heritable).

Chávez’s

resentful charlatanry, his patent-medicine-salesmanship of quick political and economic solutions, was a disaster for his country from which it will take generations to recover.

On bastardy

In the wasteland, rights multiply but duties wither away

Dalrymple writes that he meets in his patients almost daily

a combination of aggressive irresponsibility and self-righteous resentment.

Mothers with four children by three different fathers

complain accusingly that their lives are difficult, as though something else were to be expected. The deficiency is not a cognitive one: they know where babies come from and they know about contraception. Our hospital serves a quarter of the city, and 70% of the children born here are illegitimate. Either bastardy is not confined to the underclass, or the underclass is much larger than commonly supposed.

There is no intrinsic reason why unmarried parents should not look after their children perfectly well, though

many surgical operations can be performed on the kitchen table, but that is no reason why they should not be performed in hospital.

Dalrymple lives in

a world so liberal that no stigma attaches to anything (with the exception of constructive effort at school).

This world without penalties,

where anything and everything is both understood and forgiven, and where everyone expects rewards irrespective of his or her own behaviour, is a nightmare world without meaning.

The hate-filled egalitarians

Count your curses

The concept of equality of opportunity, writes Dalrymple,

is deeply vicious.

People who promote it

do not want to serve humanity but to torture it.

They know that their ideal

is not reachable or even approachable. It is barely conceivable.

They do not want their ideal to be realised,

for then they would have no providential role, and would have to sink back into the mass of humanity, their work done.

They criticise the world from the standpoint of an impossible ideal

not to improve the world, but to stir resentment. The resentful are easy to manipulate and willing to confer power on those who offer to liberate them from the supposed causes of their distress. It is important to keep inequalities of opportunity firmly before men’s minds.

We are enjoined to

count our curses. It accords with our desire to explain away our failure. There are whole university departments set up to train students to do nothing else.

The populist appeal to envy, spite, and resentment

Dalrymple reports that

Mr McDonnell, deputy leader of the Labour party, which for the time being is in opposition, recently objected to the presence of hereditary peers in the upper house, using the crude and vulgar language typical of populist politicians anxious to demonstrate their identity with the people or the masses.

It is strange, Dalrymple adds,

how rarely Leftists who are in favour of confiscatory economic policies are condemned as populist.

Jewelled prose disguising narcissistic rage

Dalrymple asks of Virginia Woolf:

Might the revelation by the war of the utter frivolity of her attitudinising have contributed to her decision to commit suicide? If the good life is a matter of judgment, the war proved that all her adult life she had none.

Yet he notes that had she survived to our time,

she would have had the satisfaction of observing that her cast of mind — shallow, dishonest, resentful, envious, snobbish, self-absorbed, trivial, philistine, brutal — had triumphed among the élites of the Western world.

How to make a man go berserk

It is, writes Dalrymple,

the small acts of personal disdain rather than the large but abstract and distant injustices that infuriate people and drive them to violence.

No better way exists

of enraging someone than to express obvious contempt for him, especially for something over which he has little control.

This is one of the reasons manners are so important:

the mannerly may disdain, but not show it.

Snobbery

breeds a resentment that causes people to seek revenge even at great personal cost to themselves. It renders men insensate.

Warped values of certain Western Muslims

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 08.58.13The young Islamists of western Europe, writes Dalrymple,

  • resent strongly but incoherently
  • blame their conduct on others
  • use their frustrations to justify outrageous and vicious acts
  • pity themselves to the exclusion of all others
  • use their minds as echo chambers for the wrongs, real or imagined, that they have suffered
  • have a grossly inflated sense of their importance
  • have an ideology at hand to make them dangerous on a big scale