Category Archives: self-praise

Fraudulence and adolescent vacuity

Malodorous mass murderer

Effrontery, writes Dalrymple,

has made strides as a key to success in life. Ordinary people employ it routinely. There are consultants in effrontery training who not only commit it but teach others how to commit it, and charge large sums.

There was a time when

self-praise was regarded as no praise, rather the reverse; now it is a prerequisite for advancement.

The consultants in effrontery, Dalrymple notes, speak in pure cliché, practically contentless, but with a force of conviction that, if you discounted what they say, you might think they were people

of profound insight with a vocation for imparting it to others.

When he catches glimpses of US television evangelists, Dalrymple is full of wonder as to how

anyone could look at or listen to them without immediately perceiving their fraudulence.

The fraudulence is so obvious that it is like

a physical characteristic, such as height or weight or colour of hair, or an emanation,

like body malodour, such as that of Che Guevara. How, asks Dalrymple,

could people fail to perceive it?

Hide a bushel under your light

screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-17-20-51Dalrymple writes that there was a time in his life, many, many years ago, when

people were not expected to boast about their accomplishments: they were expected not to boast about their accomplishments. Self-praise was regarded as no praise: someone who praised himself was thought to be a bad character.

These days,

boasting and the expression of self-satisfaction are essential to getting on in life, to climbing a hierarchy. You have to recommend yourself, not wait to be recommended by others (which might never happen).

screen-shot-2017-03-05-at-17-17-46Dalrymple reads an article in which an interviewee is asked to summarise his or her personality in three words.

This is a question that should not have been asked, that is almost obscene, being an invitation either to self-congratulation or to arch self-deprecation, the higher and slightly more acceptable form of self-congratulation. To adapt slightly the final sentence of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, whereof one ought not to speak, thereof one ought to be silent.


The vice of self-congratulation


To give a child lessons in moral narcissism is a dismal thing to do

Dalrymple explains that he is

allergic to the use of children for the dissemination of political messages. I think it is a form of child abuse. Poor old Kant would turn in his grave.

Dalrymple notices a newspaper photo of a girl of about 8 holding up a banner at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., with I am kind, smart and important on it. The words, he says, are

thoroughly odious.

We teach self-congratulation early, he notes,

and far from learning that self-praise is no praise, children are taught that self-praise is the highest form. The object is to prevent that most frightful and damaging of psychological conditions, lack of self-esteem. From being insufficiently puffed-up about oneself all kinds of dire consequences flow, from repeatedly choosing the wrong mate to failure to progress in one’s career.

But Dalrymple points out that self-esteem is

an unpleasant quality, akin to conceit. Some of the most unpleasant people I have known were full of it, and it is perfectly possible for people to behave like monsters and have a very high conception of themselves. Self-esteem is dangerous as a positive invitation to appalling behavior, insofar as it is not derived from any effort, achievement, or good conduct, but is self-awarded as an inalienable right.

screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-20-24-27Does anyone, he asks,

who is kind and clever hold up a banner to the effect that he is kind and clever? A person who went round proclaiming, ‘I am important, I am important’ would seem to us either pathetic, as if he were whistling in the wind of his insignificance, or, if he used his supposed importance to push his way to the front of a queue, say, in order to be served before everyone else, very unpleasant indeed.


On 30 March, 1933, Victor Klemperer noticed a children’s ball in a toyshop inscribed with a swastika


Dalrymple is allergic to the use of children for the dissemination of political messages


It is a form of child abuse. Kant would turn in his grave