Category Archives: sentimentalism

👏🏻Clap for the NHS👏🏻 is to gestures what Jeff Koons is to art

Every Thursday at 8pm, Britishers are required to come to their windows and hail 🙏🏻the NHS bureaucracy🙏🏻. Applause must be long, loud, and accompanied, Dalrymple notes,

with ululations.

He dislikes such actions,

which seem to me empty and shallow. They are supposed to be gestures of gratitude and encouragement, but all that I have seen suggests that doctors and nurses are more irritated than pleased by them. Often they have to work in poor conditions, with essential equipment lacking despite the vast expenditure on the health service.

He points out that thus to genuflect is cheap.

It costs nothing, financially or in any other way.

The Danube of Thought: cheer him to the rafters

There is also

something unpleasant about it. When lots of people make a gesture collectively, there is often the implication that if you refrain from making it—and even worse if you actively refuse to make it—you are in some sense an enemy, in this case, of the people. Whatever your inner conviction, it is safest to join in. By doing so you avoid drawing attention to yourself and you are assumed to think and feel like everyone else, which is always safest.

It reminds Dalrymple, in its tendency to get longer and louder and almost more hysterical,

of the applause after a speech by Nicolae Ceaușescu or any other communist despot, in which everyone in the audience had to show himself to be as enthusiastic as the most enthusiastic applauder, and to continue applauding as long as someone else was applauding, for to be the first to stop might be taken as a sign of disloyalty and dissent from the official line.

His objection is also æsthetic:

I find it to be emotionally kitsch.

The sort of ‘art’ excreted by Jeff Koons: Play-Doh (five versions, 1994-2014)

The long march of sentimentality

Screenshot 2020-02-11 at 08.28.46

Sudesh Amman

The absurdity of British criminal-justice policy over several decades at the behest of penological liberals

The British criminal-justice system, writes Dalrymple, is one of

elaborate and ceremonious frivolity.

The frivolity

is serious in its effects, not only for its immediate consequences on Britain’s crime rate but also because it undermines the legitimacy of the State, whose first and inescapable duty is to maintain enough order to secure the safety of citizens as they go about their lawful business.

Remission of prison sentences is automatic,

turning all judges into liars. When a judge says, ‘I sentence you to three years’ imprisonment,’ what he means is: ‘I sentence you to 18 months’ imprisonment.’

Appalling as terrorist violence is, the average person in Britain is many times more likely to be the victim of violent common crime than of terrorism, so that Boris Johnson’s announcement that the laws governing the sentencing of terrorists will be made more severe,

by fixing attention on what remains an uncommon problem and ignoring a far more prevalent one, may be doing a disservice.

Dalrymple says that good sense on criminal justice in Britain

will be difficult to put into practice, for a long march of sentimentality has occurred through the minds of the intelligentsia and élites in general. The father of the last man to be murdered by a terrorist recently released from prison said that he hoped his son’s death would not be used as an argument for more drastic sentencing of terrorists.

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Does one laugh or cry?

Mashed potato

Asked whether Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy premier and interior minister, was right to arrest non-governmental organisations that rescued migrants in the Mediterranean and brought them to Italy, Ursula von der Leyen, president-elect of the European Commission, is reported as saying:

It is an obligation for people to rescue the drowning. What Italy wants above all is the reform of the dysfunctional system. I understand that the countries of the European Union with external frontiers do not want to be left to face the challenge of migration alone. They deserve our solidarity.

Dalrymple comments:

This is what a friend of mine calls a mashed-potato answer, one that does not address the question but succeeds in conveying a vague and non-committal aura of benevolence. Our solidarity: who could be against it? But what would it mean in practice, our solidarity? It would mean spreading out all the illegal migrants who have arrived in Italy among the other countries of Europe, whether those other countries wanted them or not (and whether or not the migrants wanted to go to the countries allocated to them). Solidarity might not last very long, and might turn into its opposite: extreme hostility. The word solidarity suggests something that those in favour of mass migration are at pains to deny: that the migrants, far from being an asset to the countries they have migrated to, are a burden on them.

Dalrymple points out that von der Leyen

disregards the evidence that Salvini’s policy has been a great success, at least from the point of view of preventing illegal immigration into Italy and deaths by drowning of those trying to reach it. He has saved incomparably more lives by his firmness than have all the NGOs put together who try to save the drowning.

The self-righteous NGOs, who make a mockery of national laws, have by encouraging people to try to reach Italy

underwritten thousands of deaths. It is one thing to save the drowning whenever you find them, but another to go looking for them. The NGOs are an illustration of Wilde’s definition of the sentimentalist: one who desires to have the luxury of an emotion without paying for it. The costs are imposed on others.

There is in von der Leyen, Dalrymple observes,

very little other than slogan, cliché and evasion, with a leavening of humbug.

Godless people in the grip of sentimentality hold up their ikon

Dalrymple writes:

In a country in which sentimentality has so powerful a grip, no one could criticise the late Jo Cox’s ‘commission on loneliness’ without appearing heartless.


was already a secular saint: she had spent much of her career in a senior position in Oxfam, the antipoverty ‘charity’ whose largest contributor by far is the British government and which derives by far the greater part of its funds from public bodies. Her husband worked in another such ‘charity’ whose largest donor by far was also the British government.

Cómo el culto a la emoción pública está corroyendo nuestra sociedad

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 08.44.01Dalrymple escribe:

El sentimentalismo es una de esas cualidades que son más fáciles de identificar que de definir. Obviamente todos los diccionarios emplean las mismas características definitorias: un exceso de emociones falsas, sensibleras y sobrevaloradas si se las compara con la razón. Los grandes diccionarios, por ejemplo, el Oxford English Dictionary, son etimológicamente, aunque no psicológicamente, más exhaustivos que los pequeños. El OED señala que originalmente la palabra sentimental tenía connotaciones positivas: al hombre considerado sentimental desde mediados hasta finales del siglo XVIII, hoy en día se le hubiera llamado sensible y compasivo, lo contrario de un hombre bruto e insensible. El cambio de la connotación se inicia a comienzos del siglo siguiente, con los escritos de un poeta romántico y revolucionario, posteriormente convertido en conservador, llamado Robert Southey, en los que se pronunciaba despectivamente sobre Rousseau, y se completa a comienzos del siglo XX.

La definición anterior

omite una característica importante de la clase de sentimentalismo sobre la que quiero llamar la atención, a saber, su carácter público. Ya no basta con derramar una furtiva lágrima en privado por la muerte de la pequeña Nell; ahora es necesario hacerlo (eso o su equivalente moderno) a la vista del público. Sospecho, aunque no puedo demostrarlo, que en parte es consecuencia de vivir en un mundo, incluyendo el mundo mental, completamente saturado por productos de los medios de comunicación de masas. En un mundo así, todo lo que se hace o sucede en privado, en realidad no sucede, al menos en el sentido más completo. No es real en el sentido en que lo son los reality de la televisión.

La expresión pública de los sentimientos

tiene importantes consecuencias. En primer lugar exige una respuesta por parte de los que lo están presenciando. Esta respuesta debe ser de simpatía y apoyo, a menos que el testigo esté dispuesto a correr el riesgo de una confrontación con la persona sentimental y ser techado de insensible o incluso cruel. Por eso hay algo coercitivo o intimidatorio en la expresión pública del sentimentalismo. Debes unirte a él, al menos, abstenerte de criticarlo. Se ha creado una presión inflacionaria sobre este tipo de exhibiciones. No tiene mucho sentido hacer algo en público si nadie lo nota. Eso implica que se requieren unas demostraciones de sentimientos cada vez más extravagantes y se pretende competir con los demás y no pasar desapercibido. Las ofrendas florales son cada vez más grandes, la profundidad de los sentimientos se mide por el tamaño del ramo. Lo que cuenta es la vehemencia y la sonoridad de la demostración.

Las demostraciones públicas de sentimentalismo

no sólo coaccionan a los observadores casuales arrastrándolos a un fétido pantano emocional, sino que, cuando son suficientemente fuertes o generalizadas, empiezan a a afectar a las políticas públicas. Como veremos, el sentimentalismo permite a los gobiernos hacer concesiones al público en vez de afrontar los problemas de una manera racional aunque impopular o controvertida.

Multiculturalism breeds terrorists

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 21.32.25And patriotism is left to the savages

In Britain, writes Dalrymple,

patriotism has been left to the brutes: the kind of ignorant savages who tattoo a bulldog on their biceps and Made in England round their nipples, and who in equal measure revolt and terrorise the cheaper resorts of the Mediterranean.

The intellectual’s

equation of patriotism with xenophobia, and pride in past achievement with an arrogant superiority complex, has left a population demoralised and without any belief in its own nation. Orwell saw this happening. It has created a vacuum for the English Defence League to fill.

Many of Britain’s homebred terrorists

are not culturally isolated and alienated figures, cut off from mainstream British life by ghettoes and the multicultural nonsense that leaves them unable to speak English. Nor do they derive their suicidal-utopian fantasies from an unalloyed Islamic tradition. Their utopianism is at least as much secular as it is religious, though their religion is one that lends itself well to political violence.

Many of them are educated,

if attendance at a modern British university counts as an education; they have jobs and prospects. No, they have seen British values and culture close up, or at least what British values and culture have become, and they don’t like them.

They are quite right not to do so.

The fact that their response is grotesquely disproportionate and even more stupid than the culture they despise does not alter the correctness of their apprehension. Better a live slut than a dead pedestrian, say I; that does not make me pro-slut. It means only that I detest terrorism and its works as among the worst of evils.

In reacting as terrorists,

the young Muslims are following Bakunin and the Baader-Meinhof gang as much as the Koran. It is not for nothing that they go to Western universities.

Just because multiculturalism is not a major direct contributor to home-grown terrorism

does not make it right. On the contrary, it is a sentimental and harmful doctrine that turns the mind to mush, is evidence of an underlying indifference to real lives, and is a provider of pseudo-work for lots of people such as community organisers.

Multiculturalists, with their doctrinal sentimentalism,

are seldom interested in the culture of others. Very few of them read books in foreign languages, for example, let alone immerse themselves in the Pali scriptures or the writings of the Sufi. I don’t blame them: it is the work of a lifetime to be able to do so, and we each have only one lifetime, to say nothing of limitations of ability and inclination. But let us at least not pretend that our interest in other cultures extends much beyond their cuisine.

Multiculturalists rejoice at mass, and indiscriminate, immigration,

not because they are admirers of, say, Somali political philosophy, but because they want the culture of their own country to be diluted as much as possible, for only by rejecting what they have inherited do they think they can show their independence of mind and generosity of spirit. Let the heavens fall, so long as I am thought (by my peers) to be a free thinker.

The multicultural mindset or emotionset, characterised as it is by extreme sentimentality,

seems to destroy the critical faculties, if not the brain itself.

Almost by definition, multiculturalists

are not interested in the national interest. The world is their oyster, and they demand that we all swallow it.

Brutal institutionalised sentimentality

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 09.12.52Dalrymple points out that

sentimentality and hardness of heart are two sides of the same coin.

Ersatz feeling and indifference

Dalrymple explains how when sentimentality

Hollywoodian ersatz feeling elevated over appreciation of reality, masking utter indifference

Hollywoodian ersatz feeling elevated over appreciation of reality, masking utter indifference

is made the basis of policy, its denial of reality and its elevation of ersatz feeling over appreciation of reality leads straight to bureaucratic indifference.

The ideology of assistance allocated by need irrespective of desert

This orthodoxy, writes Dalrymple, is a sentimental one that

empties life of meaning and is a pretext for hard-heartedness of pharaonic proportions.

The elimination of desert as a criterion of allocation of resources

Ani's heart weighed against a feather: judgment of the dead in the presence of Osiris, papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Ani. From Thebes, 19th Dynasty, c. 1275 BC

Ani’s heart weighed against a feather: judgment of the dead in the presence of Osiris, papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Ani. From Thebes, 19th Dynasty, c. 1275 BC. British Museum

destroys both compassion and empathy. Need can be measured by checklist, but the assessment of desert cannot. It requires judgment, moral and practical.

The demand for no compassion at all

To regard everyone as equally in need of compassion

is the same as regarding no one as in need of compassion, for it is not humanly possible to sympathise equally with the unfortunate and the villainous. The demand for equal compassion is the demand for no compassion.

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 09.54.50At the heart of the sentimental doctrine lies

hardness of heart, as well as lack of realism.


The sentimental

dehumanise the objects of their supposed compassion by denying them agency or full membership of the human race.

Baroque age of self-harm

We live in

Leonardo da Vinci, Le proporzioni del corpo umano secondo Vitruvio, c. 1490. Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice

Leonardo da Vinci, Le proporzioni del corpo umano secondo Vitruvio, c. 1490. Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice

the baroque or rococo age of self-infliction. One of the reasons for the growth of self-infliction is the failure to recognize its existence even as a possibility.

In the outlook that refuses in the name of compassion to make a judgment,

the villainous are victims of upbringing, social injustice, neurochemistry. Self-infliction cannot exist.

But Man is

not only a political animal, he is a judging animal. To pretend to make no judgments is to make a judgment, and one with bad consequences.

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What is it about Cameron that repels?

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 23.26.34The British prime minister: a repulsive, ruthless sentimentalist who contemns his own countrymen

The language David Cameron uses, writes Dalrymple, is

a mixture of undignified and condescending demotic and mid-Atlantic psychobabble.

Especially repellent is

the sentimentality of what he has to say, closely allied as it is, to its utter complacency and ruthlessness, both express and implied.

Cameron’s actions, says Dalrymple,

cause me to shudder in the way I shudder when a singer misses a note. There is something wrong, kitsch or ersatz about it. An office-seeker who is prepared to parade his sentiments in public is ruthless, not sensitive. Sentimentality is frequently the reverse side of the coin of cruelty.

Implied in everything Cameron does is

contempt for the people of his own country,

whom he deems

incapable of grasping an argument about the desirability of fatherhood for children without the aid of Hello! magazine-type illustrations. This is to reduce our politics to the intellectual level of American tele-evangelism.

A powerful reminder of why modernism was an imperative

William C.T. Dobson, Christ as a Child, 1857. 'Garish and sickly,' says Dalrymple. 'The likes of Dobson not only painted bad pictures but did lasting damage to our artistic tradition, making the avoidance of their kitschy sentiment almost the first duty of any artist.'

William C.T. Dobson, Christ as a Child, 1857. ‘Garish and sickly,’ says Dalrymple. ‘The likes of Dobson not only painted bad pictures but did lasting damage to our artistic tradition, making the avoidance of their kitschy sentiment almost the first duty of any artist.’

Europe’s cock-eyed immigration policy

It sentimentally assumes, writes Dalrymple,

that the purpose of immigration is to provide succour for the persecuted rather than opportunity for the enterprising, and that we can truly do good only when we act against our interests, or when it costs us something tangible to do so.

Not surprisingly,

the demand for persecuted people produces a supply, since to claim persecution brings advantages, however small. That there is no infallible way to distinguish the genuine cases from the fraudulent ones causes the liberal sentimentalist no anxiety: he wants to feel generous, not to be generous.

The policy is also mean-minded, with its

dismal, pessimistic view that wealth is static, not dynamic (a view very widespread in Britain), and that immigrants can only consume wealth, not create it. The mean-mindedness also partakes of the racist view that immigration is a cultural threat, because culture is passed on through the blood rather than through the mind. As extreme French nationalists have put it, no Jew can ever truly understand Racine, because his ancestors came from Poland or Russia rather than from Gaul.