Category Archives: self-righteousness

Grim smug Leftist performing animal

Self-righteous guru: hell is being preached at eternally by this humourless puritan

Greta Thunberg, writes Dalrymple,

is to self-righteousness and self-satisfaction what Mozart was to music — a prodigy.

But unlike Mozart,

she is an unattractive child, the grimness of her humourless puritanism being inscribed on her face. She has added a vision of hell: being preached at by her for eternity.

Thunberg’s

awfulness (of which she is unaware) is not really her fault. Her transformation into a celebrity is the work of adults.

The exaggerated respect with which her pronouncements have been received

will be a matter of wonder to future generations. She has addressed not only crowds but parliaments, where she has been accorded a mixed status:

  • guru because she has uttered the tenets of a powerful doxa that so many thirst to believe
  • performing animal because she is so young to perform so unexpectedly well

Thunberg’s humourlessness

is a great asset in the modern world, for when earnestness is mistaken for seriousness and gaiety for frivolity, a sense of humour is not only unlikely to flourish, it is likely to be reprehended. Literal-mindedness has become so general a psychological phenomenon that jokes, most of which are directed against someone, are sure to be taken in their most literal meaning.

Humour has become dangerous. But Thunberg is safe; Dalrymple notes that

the very idea of a joke seems alien to her. I suspect that she is one of those persons who is puzzled when people laugh.

The pleasures of denunciation

Young people, Dalrymple writes, are creating

a totalitarian environment in which they denounce one another.

Thus

the social media that were going to set opinion free and give voice to everyone end by stifling expression and creating fear.

The world is full of people like Madame Defarge. Denunciation, Dalrymple notes,

combines the delights of self-righteousness with those of revenge and the contemplation of the discomfort or worse of other people. It requires no courage and is within the capacity of all. In Nazi Germany and occupied France people wrote denunciations of their neighbours and others by the millions, often for the sheer pleasure of doing so and usually in the hope that they would have serious consequences for the persons denounced.

The day cannot be far off

when people will viscerally understand the danger to themselves of saying certain things on social media and will censor themselves automatically. If this continues long enough, certain things will not only become unsayable but unthinkable, for habit eventually is transformed into character. This is the point of political correctness: it aims at the most radical of dictatorships, that which requires the enforcement of no police because everyone is incapable of breaking the rules.

Meanwhile the appetite for public expressions of contrition is insatiable. Dalrymple points out that

it is not contrition that is wanted, but the humiliation inflicted on those who are forced to express it. The enjoyment is in the spectacle of the squirming of the wrongdoer.

The logic of the combination of social media and a taste for burning witches at the stake

will reduce us to a strange state of malice and blandness. The ambitious will refrain from saying anything that could offend anyone; the bland will lead the bland. Any deviation from current orthodoxy will be punished with vengeful vituperation or worse.

The orthodoxy to be adhered to

will change — as the enemy changed during the two-minute hate sessions in Nineteen Eighty-Four — as a test of the obedience and loyalty of the population. The politically correct will find new orthodoxies to enforce, new locutions to prescribe or proscribe, to keep decent society in a state of subliminal fear.

Notre Dame de Belzébuth

It might, writes Dalrymple, be worth conducting a survey

to establish how people imagine the demographic profile of the median American witch. For myself, I can only say that the image of Hillary Clinton comes to mind: a million Hillary Clintons flying about on broomsticks.

He imagines witches to have

that facial expression of ruthless self-righteousness, or self-righteous ruthlessness, that la Clinton wears like a mask in the Noh drama. It would also be interesting to know the voting pattern of modern American witches; my guess is that they are at least 90% Democrat. It is easy to imagine a ‘Witches for Hillary’ committee, but rather harder to imagine a ‘Witches for Donald’ one.

People feel responsible for everything except for what they do

Thomas Hamilton: perpetrator of the Dunblane massacre

Dalrymple writes that

querulous self-righteousness, combined with a refusal to look inward or to examine one’s own conduct and motives, is characteristic of our age.

He notes that

a curious reversal in the locus of moral concern has taken place: people feel responsible for everything except for what they do.

The querulousness which lies at the heart of such events as the Dunblane massacre,

and of which it is an extreme manifestation, is fostered daily, hourly, in almost all our newspapers and on radio and television. Our belief in a constantly expanding number of rights, and that everyone except for a tiny gilded minority is a victim of circumstance, favours a frame of mind in which revenge upon the world is justified.

Of course,

self-exculpation, self-justification and special pleading are nothing new in human psychology. But never have these rather unattractive human traits had so much material upon which to work.

Error and even malice are the price of freedom

In the realm of intellectual freedom, writes Dalrymple,

it is not truth that sets you free, but error, or rather the permissibility of error.

The freedom to tell lies

is one of the most basic freedoms. There can be no freedom without it.

Dalrymple points out that at Western universities, young people

encounter a narrow, powerfully self-reinforcing view of the world.

The pressure to conform

adds to the natural self-righteousness of youth, which is often mistaken for idealism, and young people’s impulse to censor in the name of their irreproachable virtue is strengthened and entrenched.

The long-term prospects for freedom of speech, Dalrymple notes,

are not altogether rosy. Those who value it are less vehement in their defence of it than are the self-righteous in their assault on it.

The Donald’s clownish rodomontade vs Hillary’s ruthless self-righteousness

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-08-47-07Dalrymple notes that Donald Trump is regarded,

somewhat melodramatically, as a proto- or sub-Mussolini. Private Eye, the satirical weekly, published photos of Musso and Trump taken from the same angle, and the physical resemblance was remarkable.

Hillary Clinton, he says,

would be the choice of most Europeans. They believe, by no means justifiably, that she would be less dangerous for the rest of the world than the volatile and unpredictable Trump.

screen-shot-2016-11-17-at-09-04-14There is, Dalrymple points out,

a smugness about the European attitude to the American election. It couldn’t happen here: no serious politician of Trump’s crassness would reach his exalted level. Not only does such assurance forget our history, it disregards the discontents under the surface that could one day erupt into something far worse than Trump’s clownish rodomontade.

And Europe’s political class

already shares Clinton’s invincible and ruthless self-righteousness. Being Clinton is never having to say you’re sorry.

Europe faces

a similar choice as that between Trump and Clinton: inchoate and resentful protest (Trump), and self-anointment and entitlement to rule (Clinton) — with an admixture of suspected financial impropriety, past and to come, in both.

The hour of defeat

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-13-37-13Not long after the US presidential election, Dalrymple picks up a newspaper. Leafing through it, he comes across, amid all the Trumpery, a picture of Hillary Clinton in the hour of her defeat.

The photograph did something that I previously should not have thought possible: it made me feel sorry for her, for it was the photograph of an old woman. The skin round her neck had become wrinkled as a turkey’s; her face was no longer as smooth as a plastic surgeon’s dream; she exuded no longer a false youth, as if the years had taken no toll of her; and defeat, sorrow, and grief, perhaps even a kind of senile incomprehension, were in her eyes.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-13-41-46It is, says Dalrymple,

one thing to experience a hopeful ambition ignominiously shattered at a time in life when there is still time for another, but it is quite another thing when it is too late for any comparable ambition to be realised.

He is surprised by his feeling of sympathy,

I who had previously detested her for her ruthless self-righteousness and self-righteous ruthlessness, with one eye always fixed on high moral principle and the other on the main chance, the latter always seeming to triumph over the former.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-21-36-05But Dalrymple’s sympathy does not go very deep or last very long. Those who live by ambition die by ambition.

If you make the achievement of power the meaning of your life and you are thwarted in it, some kind of collapse is only to be expected.

screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-21-37-16screen-shot-2016-11-13-at-21-36-42

UK physicians are no different from auto assembly workers

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 07.55.09Junior doctors in England, writes Dalrymple,

and increasingly senior ones, are now shift workers.

This means

there is no continuity of care, or very little, in British hospitals.

There is, of course,

no better way to ensure that young doctors do not believe themselves to be members of a profession with a glorious tradition than to turn them into clock-watchers, and patients into parcels to be handed on to the next person once the music stops.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 07.28.57Doctors have become

production line workers, no different from people who work in car factories.

Doctors turned spin doctors

Young doctors in training are aware of

the importance of spin-doctoring, for they have prepared ‘personal statements’ to get into medical school. It is an exercise in unctuous insincerity.

A lifetime of this kind of thing

will warp any character, and render it simultaneously self-righteous, politically correct in expressed views, unprincipled and ruthlessly focused on personal advancement. People with such character will be easy to herd and control.

Why is the urge to herd and control so strong in the political class? Perhaps, says Dalrymple,

it is the result of an inner emptiness and lack of deeper culture.

The result is

a soft and creeping totalitarianism.

Ghettoised Sweden

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 09.06.25Dalrymple points out that last year, Sweden took in 100,000 migrants and this year it is estimated that it will have taken in 190,000, equivalent to 3 per cent of the population. He says:

If this rate were to continue for very long, Sweden would be irreversibly changed for ever.

On the London Guardian newspaper’s website, Dalrymple comes across a video about the Sverigedemokraterna or Sweden Democrats, a political party opposed to mass immigration. Dalrymple writes:

The Guardian journalist interviewed young members and made them appear arrogant and unattractive. Whether this was the result of editing or a true representation of them, or both, I cannot say. She herself appeared intolerably smug and self-righteous, arrogant in a different way. She asked the young Swedes what was wrong with vibrant multicultural societies such as Britain and France.

Even from the video,

what was shown, no doubt unintentionally, was that Sweden was not multicultural, it was ghettoised, with practically no contact whatever between the refugees and natives.

The Swedes, says Dalrymple,

throw social security to the refugees as zookeepers throw meat to the lions.

One of the questions of the Guardian journalist to the young Swedes was

Why do you dress so smartly?

The question was asked, says Dalrymple,

in an accusatory tone, as if dressing smartly was yet another of their bad qualities, a derogation of their duty to appear casually or scruffily dressed like almost everyone else in modern society.

For the person who asked it,

any kind of formality in dress was symbolic of élitist or exclusivist political sympathies, whereas casual dress, the prevailing any-old-howism of the majority of the population, was symbolic of democratic and egalitarian sympathies, a demonstration of solidarity with the poor of the world. Whether poor people in Africa actually benefit from rich people dressing in expensively-torn jeans and T-shirts is not important: as with presents, it is the thought that counts.

There is another way of looking at it, Dalrymple says.

To dress well is a sign of respect for other people and society, to dress scruffily is a sign of disrespect for them, a sign of the purest egoism. Perhaps it is even possible to express élitism and respect at the same time.

The case of Vester Lee Flanagan

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 11.07.59Dalrymple identifies three principal features: bitter paranoia, craving for celebrity, and self-righteous anger.

1. The paranoid stance

The belief, writes Dalrymple, is that

the world is so constituted as to do one down.

This has

sour compensations, chief among which is that it explains in advance all our possible failures. We fail, but never deserve to do so. We are absolved from even trying to succeed, since the forces arrayed against us are too strong; bitterness therefore increases in proportion to the alleged, or self-described, meritocracy of a society.

The advance of sociology

has given us a menu of impersonal forces from which to choose to explain away our failings and discontents. It is co-opted to become the omnium gatherum of self-exculpation.

There is grandiosity,

in so far as the paranoid person believes that much that goes on around him is directed at himself.

There have always been people of paranoid disposition, Dalrymple points out, and he cites the Azande of the Sudan, who used to believe that no one died except by the witchcraft of enemies,

Azande sorcerer

Azande sorcerer

so that it is hardly surprising that they developed a wary attitude to their neighbours and the people around them.

Where there is a cultural emphasis on racism,

an increased number of people, with a relatively high propensity as individuals to paranoia, will interpret the world in its light.

2. The apparent desire for fame

Flanagan appears to have felt an inner compulsion to be famous. Dalrymple comments:

Provided the fame sought is for valuable achievement which is a precondition of becoming famous, the desire is constructive and perhaps even necessary. But where fame is desired for its own sake, detached from any worthwhile achievement, it is malignant and loosens or dissolves moral restraint on behaviour.

Worthwhile achievement is as difficult as ever, but

self-publicity is increasingly commonplace and fame the desire of more and more people who would once have been contented with obscurity. Those with an extreme desire for fame — unaccompanied by any particular qualification for it — resort to ever more bizarre behaviour in order to reach it.

3. The claimed sense of moral outrage

Dalrymple writes that we do not think of anger as a sin any longer

but as the sign of a generous heart, at least when felt and expressed on behalf of others. To live your life without anger is to be complacent and self-satisfied. Since the state of the world gives plenty of scope for those seeking an occasion for anger, we may be angry on behalf of others all the time. The greater our anger, the greater our generosity of spirit. Since our anger is noble and generous, when we act out of such anger, we suppose that we are acting generously.

Anger

makes us love injustice, provided that it is we who are committing it. An atmosphere of rage is concomitantly one of self-righteous cruelty.