Category Archives: self-importance

Society for the Suppression of Self-Esteem

Dalrymple has inaugurated the association because he perceives that

of the many possible human qualities, self-esteem is one of the most odious. It is much more closely related to conceit and self-importance than it is to self-respect or even self-confidence.

The doctor-writer has met many persons bursting with self-esteem who are

without discernible virtues.

Indeed, one of the sources of their bad character is self-esteem,

insofar as nothing could dent it, not even the hatred or contempt of everyone around them.

Dean Swift turns in his grave

Michael Foot, Dalrymple explains, was the scion of an upper-middle-class English family who became a left-wing leader of the UK’s Labour party. He was a decent man, though naïve and misguided, and

unlike most of the politicians of today he was cultivated, being a literary scholar.

He published a study of a year in Swift’s life, called The Pen and the Sword (1957). After his death, his large collection of books by or about Swift was sold. Dalrymple intended to buy a few of the items that he could (barely) afford from the bookseller’s catalogue,

but the whole collection was suddenly bought by an American university library. It was worth more than the total wealth of all but a tiny minority of his countrymen, but Foot devoted his life to bringing about the economic conditions to ensure that no one would ever again be able to assemble such a collection.

In Dr Strangelove, I Presume (1999), Foot argues for total nuclear disarmament,

a cause long dear to his heart, or mind, or some combination of the two.

The first words of the author’s preface are:

Every day when I tried to complete this book with a proper review of the latest evidence, I was interrupted by new discoveries. One of the most moving and instructive was the letter printed opposite.

The letter printed opposite was an open one from ‘Naveena’, a 12-year-old schoolgirl, to the Indian prime minister. It starts:

I am writing on behalf of all children.

Michael Foot

Dalrymple finds this

grandiose, self-important, arrogant and presumptuous, in the manner of youth of a certain kind. It irritates me.

‘Naveena’ goes on to lecture, or hector, the prime minister:

I don’t think bombs protect anybody. You don’t get power by possessing arsenals.

These statements

are highly disputable. Naveena is no little boy crying out that the emperor is naked; she reveals nothing and speaks and writes in clichés that have been uttered hundreds of millions of times, daily and for years.

What is significant, says Dalrymple,

is that a man like Foot — who had spent a lifetime studying and appreciating Swift, of all people — should have claimed to be moved by such claptrap. I suspect that he was not so much moved by ‘Naveena’ as moved by the goodness of his payment of attention to her, and anxious to demonstrate it to the world. Therein lies a sickness of our time.

The manifold dissatisfactions of young Muslim men in Britain

Most, Dalrymple notes, will experience at some time

slighting or insulting remarks about them or their group, and these experiences tend to grow in severity and significance with constant rehearsal in the mind as it seeks an external explanation for its woes. Minor tribulations swell into major injustices, which in turn explain the evident failure of Muslims to rise in their adopted land.

Some are said to have been converted to the terrorist outlook by a single insulting remark. Such, says Dalrymple,

is the fragility of the modern ego—not of Muslims alone, but of countless people brought up in our modern culture of ineffable self-importance, in which an insult is understood not as an inevitable human annoyance, but as a wound that outweighs all the rest of one’s experience.

Trash-turned-terrorist

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-09-52-10Fethi Benslama practises, Dalrymple explains,

in one of the areas of Paris most notorious for raising Muslim terrorists, and offers various explanatory factors that operate on the would-be bomber or jihadist, particularly those brought up in the West.

For Benslama,

adolescence (and young adulthood) is not so much the age of idealism as of narcissism, self-importance and grandiosity.

Benslama writes:

To the young who lack self-esteem, who have the feeling of worthlessness, of ‘being a piece of rubbish’, as one of them put it to me, [jihadism] gives not only the recognition of having suffered a prejudice, but of being an elect of God, unbeknown to himself and others. To comply with this destiny, he must inspire respect and fear, become a missionary for the cause, a hero before whom the gates of glory are opened. He can make his own justice, he is authorised to be above the law in the name of God’s superior law. The ‘piece of rubbish’ becomes formidable. He must make himself fearsome and feared in his own family. A father said to me, ‘My son has become my father, he lays down the Islamic moral law for me.’

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

The world is rotten but I am not

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The student prig’s moral grandiosity has a coercive quality, for he has liberated his inner totalitarian

Such, writes Dalrymple, is what the student prig, in his self-importance and complacency, wishes to communicate.

The student prig’s chief aim is to convey

the militant purity of his heart and soul. The world is rotten, he is saying—but I am not. I am pure. If the rottenness continues, it won’t be because of me.

Awareness of his virtue shines from the student prig’s face.

He glows with it, virtue for him consisting of the public expression of the correct sentiments. Virtue requires no discipline, no sacrifice other than of a little time and energy, instantly rewarded by the exhibition of his goodness.

The painlessness of virtue as the expression of correct sentiment is its chief attraction for the student prig.

Who would not wish to achieve goodness merely by means of a few gestures, verbal or otherwise? In that way, you can avoid genuine self-examination.

The student prig

feels a youthful impatience with the intractability of the world, hence a desire that its problems should be solved by symbolic means. This desire partakes of magical thinking: incantations will bend reality in the desired direction.

The student prig’s

moral grandiosity has a coercive quality. His virtue gives him the locus standi to dictate to others for the good of humanity. The expression he wears is that of someone who has liberated his inner totalitarian.

Well, much may be forgiven youth, says Dalrymple. But what is craven is

for older people in positions of responsibility to surrender to youth, even if the once in their lives that they were young happened to be in the 1960s.

A rapists’ charter

Ann M. Starrs

Ann M. Starrs: flatulent and at the same time chilling

Starry night

Dalrymple points out that some of the quotations (from articles inside the journal) found on the cover of the Lancet are

of such an unctuous sententiousness that they make Mr Podsnap seem like a neurotic self-doubter. They are usually inexact, flatulent, self-important, and frequently stupid.

He cites a passage taken from the article A Lancet Commission on sexual and reproductive health and rights: going beyond the Sustainable Development Goals. It is the work of Ann M. Starrs, described as president and chief executive officer of something called the Guttmacher Institute, which appears to be devoted to advancing the cause of abortion. Starrs’ words are considered so luminous that the Lancet’s editor reproduces them in large type on the front page:

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The Lancet: self-important and frequently stupid

Ann M. Starrs’ Declaration of Sexual Rights

Sexuality and reproduction are universal concerns that affect every human being. Although there has been great progress in recent decades, the global community must now expedite and expand that progress to be more inclusive and comprehensive. A new agenda for sexual and reproductive health and rights is needed that recognises the full scope of people’s sexual and reproductive health needs, and enables all people to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the means to do so in good health.

The emotion in the reader of this, writes Dalrymple,

is similar to that aroused by a badly scratched record or a whining child.

The purpose of Starrs’ words, he points out,

is to create in the reader the impression of the writer as generous and broad-minded, denial of whose principles establishes him who would deny them as a bigot.

Yet Starrs’ words are

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No perversion is too perverse for Ann M. Starrs

a rapists’ charter; no perversion is too perverse to fall under their permissive rubric.

Dalrymple notes that there have been men who have been able to achieve orgasm only by

  • derailing trains, or
  • paddling their hands in the entrails of the people they have killed

He asks:

Ought the full scope of their sexual needs have been met?

Dalrymple says:

That people ought to be able to have sex when they choose, with whom they choose, entails that they should be able to force themselves on others even in public. There can be no when without a corresponding where, for sexual desire (impossible to distinguish from need) does not always arise at moments hitherto considered appropriate.

He concludes:

From the fate of children under this regime of inalienable rights to be included in the proposed Declaration of Sexual Rights, it is best to avert one’s mind.

To gravely go

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 07.53.42Cemeteries: antidote to self-importance

Dalrymple likes to enter graveyards

and linger awhile. I have been like this since my adolescence. Meditation on the transience of life, intermittent rather than continuous and rejuvenating rather than paralysing, is important for achieving equanimity.

When in Paris he always stays within a stone’s throw of Père-Lachaise. He likes to wander there at random among the 65,000 graves, seeking out no-one in particular, including the tombs of the never-heard-of and of the once-heard-of-now-forgotten.

It would almost be a pleasure to reside there permanently, were it not for the rather stringent residence qualifications.

The appeal of Islam

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Richard Dart, a Muslim convert, plotted to attack soldiers

Hormonally disaffected young Western men are drawn to it

With the USSR’s downfall, Dalrymple writes, Marxism lost most of its allure for these youths,

leaving them bereft of significance and purpose. Except for one group among them, they now had only a potpourri of causes (sexism, racism, the environment, etc.), none of which quite met the need or filled the gap. The group excepted, of course, was the Muslims. Islam was waiting in the wings with a ready-made ideology. Nature hates a vacuum, especially in young men’s heads, which are all too easily filled with quarter-baked ideas.

Youth, after all,

is the age not of idealism but of self-importance, uncertainty masked by certitude and moral grandiosity untouched by experience of life — or, of course, the age of total insouciance. It is not surprising that ideology makes young men dangerous, for it is in the nature of ideology to answer all the difficult questions of human existence while giving believers the illusion of special understanding and destiny not available to others.

Help! I’m starved of self-esteem

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 03.55.57Our modern sages teach that this is one of the very gravest of afflictions, leading ineluctably to hidebound dysfunction and very often madness, and to all manner of enormities from torture to fascism to self-harm to uncontrollable habits of self-pollution to warlordism to sexism to unbridled lust to kidnapping to pedantry to pederasty to blood-soaked dreams of conquest to Islamophobia to drug addiction to suicide to violent abuse of minors to rape to murder and even to unconcealed, out-and-out racism.