Category Archives: self-deception

Friends of Uncle Ho

It was one thing, writes Dalrymple, to oppose the Vietnam War

because you thought it was futile and ethically worse than not fighting it (not necessarily true, but at least an honest opinion),

quite another

because you thought that Uncle Ho was a good man who was leading his people to freedom and prosperity.

The latter is something that you could believe

only by employing all the human mind’s capacity for special pleading and self-deception.

Failure and feeble-mindedness of the Left

screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-22-57-00Dalrymple writes that whenever the Left see

a foreign enemy of their own country whom they can usefully co-opt as an ally in their disputes with their own domestic enemies, they resort to nihilistic relativism and multiculturalism, thus explaining away the vileness of their new ally’s atrocities as being the expression of his sacrosanct cultural tradition.

The Left

has comprehensively lost the economic argument that was once its raison d’être, and is reduced to the work of cultural destruction and the balkanisation of society into little communities of ideological monomaniacs—the feminists, homosexual and animal liberationists, and so forth. The Left lost its soul when it lost the economic argument.

So complete has been the defeat of socialism

that anyone who now avowed a belief in the superior efficiency of state-run industry would be more a candidate for the lunatic asylum (supposing that any remained open) than for high political office.

All that the Left can nowadays propose is

social policy so destructive that it allegedly necessitates a vast state apparatus to repair the damage it does.

Of the domestic policy prescriptions of the Left,

multiculturalism is among the most destructive. It was once the honourable goal of the Left, at least in Britain, to spread higher culture to the working class, and to immigrants, so that every person capable by inclination and natural endowment of enjoying, participating in, or contributing to that higher culture would do so. More recently, however, the Left has devoted its energies to denying that there is any higher or lower, better or worse in cultural matters. Not coincidentally, this betrayal allows Leftist intellectuals to preen themselves on the broadness of their minds while they maintain their membership of a social élite. They rarely educate their own children as if their theoretical pronouncements were true.

With regard to the Vietnam War,

it was one thing to oppose it because you thought it was futile and ethically worse than not fighting it (not necessarily true, but at least an honest opinion); quite another because you thought that Uncle Ho was a good man who was leading his people to freedom and prosperity, something that you could believe only by employing all the human mind’s capacity for special pleading and self-deception.

A whining pretension to goodness

Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 15.44.03

From Johnson’s 1755 dictionary

Dalrymple says his father

was always espousing great and grand principles expressive of his love for humanity, but had difficulty in expressing love for anyone in particular.

Dalrymple points out that cant, or humbug,

stands in the way of achieving an authentic relationship with the world. To be a humbug is to wear distorting lenses.

He confesses that

I am a humbug on occasion, and in my youth was a humbug practically all the time. Youth is the golden age of humbug — the expression of supposedly generous emotions that it has to a much lesser extent than claimed.

Dalrymple explains the difference between hypocrisy and cant.

  • Johnson

    Ibid.

    hypocrisy is, or can be, a social virtue. To express a sympathy or an interest that you do not in the slightest feel can be almost heroic when it is done for humane reasons, and is often socially necessary. Hypocrisy is to social life what oil is to axles

  • cant is always poisonous, among other reasons because it is designed to deceive not only others but ourselves. It doesn’t entirely succeed in this latter task because a still, small voice tells us that we are canting, to which our preferred solution is often to cant harder, like drowning out something we don’t want to hear by turning up the wireless. That is why there is so much shrillness: people are defending themselves against the horrible thought that they don’t really believe what they are saying

There is no subject, says Dalrymple, to which cant attaches more than humanity.

Who will admit that he doesn’t love humanity, that it wouldn’t matter to him in the slightest if half of it disappeared, that he can sit through the news of the worst disaster imaginable (provided far away) and eat his dinner with good appetite?

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José de Páez, Sacred Heart of Jesus with St Ignatius of Loyola and St Aloysius Gonzaga, Mexico, c. 1770

No,

in order to be a good person you have to pretend to be lacerated by awareness of suffering anywhere and show your wounds like Christ showing his heart in one of the Baroque Spanish colonial paintings.

But in fact

most people do not love humanity; misanthropy is far more widespread than love of humanity.

As soon as we are in the public arena,

we must start to mouth sentiments that are not ours in words that mean nothing. We start to cant. We must display the wounds we feel at the imperfections of the world. We must award ourselves, and pronounce, creditable motives that we know are not ours.

Commercial concerns

are in the canting game. They claim to be working to bring about greater equality, survival of rainforests, amelioration of climate change, participation of fat children in sport, and anything other than their true aim, which is mostly to sell products that are superfluous to people who don’t need them. (I accept that this is the necessary force that makes our economic world go round.)

We are now

chronically humanitarian.

If Ofsted is the only guardian of educational standards in Britain, the country faces a grim future

Trojan horse

Trojan horse

The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills should be abolished, Dalrymple argues. The revelation that schools regularly deceive Ofsted inspectors is

emblematic of what the British State now is: a hall of distorting mirrors. Schools resort to all manner of subterfuges on the day of inspections in order to appear better than they are. And this corruption is not a malfunction of Ofsted; it is its main purpose. It is instituted to deceive the public into thinking that the government cares about educational standards. How else can one explain the fact that Ofsted warns schools of its impending inspections? Such a warning is a virtual incitement to deception; at the very least, it is a indication that the inspectors want to be deceived. It is by such means that standards can fall in reality while they rise in the virtual world of the government statement.

(2012)