Category Archives: slogans

Needed: soft hearts, hard heads

Blaise Pascal

In an age of exhibitionism, writes Dalrymple,

a soft head often passes for a good heart.

He says that fuzzy thought, or the substitution of supposedly generous ideas for real reflection,

is to be combatted not by equal and opposite sloganeering, but by rational argument. It is not only liberty the preservation of which imposes the duty of eternal vigilance: the preservation of reason imposes it as well.

Silence is violence

Dalrymple notes that the slogan reflects the demand that

everyone join in a chorus, failure to do so being a crime.

This, he points out,

goes further than authoritarianism, under which dissent is a crime. As under the totalitarians, positive and public assent to and enthusiasm for certain propositions are required.

Failure in this regard

is a symptom or sign of being an enemy of the people. If you do not join in the chorus, but are silent, you are a racist, complicit in the killing of George Floyd and other crimes.

The NHS teddy-bear

Health service agitprop

No good crisis should go to waste, writes Dalrymple, and

the priests of Britain’s secular religion, its highly centralised National Health Service, have not been sitting on their hands.

There has been so much NHS propaganda during the Chinese flu crisis that one might have believed that the propaganda

was under central direction.

The NHS evangelicals deliberately confound the health service bureaucracy with the devotion and skill of doctors and nurses, but of course

they are not the same thing — very far from it.

Emotional kitsch

Our NHS

Dalrymple points out that the propaganda in favour of Britain’s sovietised health service

has been more or less continuous since its foundation in 1948, though it has become shriller as it departs further from reality. The purpose of propaganda is to forestall any examination of reality in favour of simplistic slogans convenient to power.

There is a striking willingness in many of the people who are the objects of the propaganda

to repeat and believe a slogan without any compulsion to do so, and without the slightest inclination to examine its truth — indeed, without any awareness of the need for such an examination.

There was no oppressive force to deter these people from inquiry,

but they preferred the comfort the slogan offered to the effort and possible discomfort of finding the truth. The idea of the NHS played the role of teddy-bear to a population with many anxieties.

People will have experienced deficiencies in the failing service — long waiting times, offhand or disagreeable interactions with the bureaucracy, etc. But

like Russian peasants who believed that the Czar knew nothing of the oppression which they suffered, and would have put an end to it if he had known, the British continued to believe that the NHS had been born with original virtue and that the defects they experienced were exceptions. Repeated scandals of gross neglect or sub-standard treatment were shrugged off.

Dog in the manger

The British, Dalrymple notes,

were inclined to believe that if the NHS was unpleasant to negotiate, at least (being more or less a monopoly) it was equally unpleasant for everyone. Fairness and justice were equated with equal misery.

He explains that

the uncritical national admiration, approaching worship, of the NHS has required the subliminal acceptance of a certain historiography: before the NHS, nothing; after it, everything. Before 1948, the poor received no treatment but were left to fend for themselves when they were sick, and more or less, to die. After 1948, the ever-solicitous state system looked tenderly after the health of the population from cradle to grave.

The NHS has had no egalitarian outcome, rather the opposite,

yet the belief in its levelling effect persists.

The NHS propaganda

has been so successful that it now accords with the sentiments of the population, a triumph that no communist regime achieved despite Herculean efforts at indoctrination. The triumph has been achieved without compulsion or violence, and ought to be an interesting case for political scientists who study the successful inculcation of political mythology.

Notes on the indoctrination of children

Dalrymple is in favour of indoctrinating children so that they are

  • polite and respectful to their elders
  • eschew pop music
  • do not chew gum
  • resist the temptation to drop litter
  • refrain from sending text messages to their friends in restaurants

But he is against indoctrinating children

on contentious political matters, where their minds are filled with ill-digested slogans from which they never recover the ability to think independently.

Dalrymple’s impression is that children

have become increasingly like those who have been to madrassas, except that what they have been taught is not the Koran but a vulgate of political correctness.

When he talks to young people, he senses that they have been

brainwashed, and that some thoughts are beyond the range of their neuronal possibilities. When I say that I am uncertain about global warming, they react as I presume people would if, in Mecca, I denied the existence of God and alluded to the less attractive characteristics of Mohammed even as depicted by early Moslems.

‘I don’t care what you all say: there is no Allah and Mohammed is not his prophet’

Terre + erreur = terreur

So read one of the idiotic banners at the Marche pour le climat. Dalrymple comments:

Only people who had lived all their lives in a state of the utmost comfort and security (try that slogan in Rwanda or Cambodia) and who had hardly ever suffered fright, let alone terror, could have held up such a banner and believed that it really meant what it said.

Terror for these pampered nitwits

was a distant prospect enjoyable to contemplate, as in a disaster movie, rather than something that was within their own experience.

From Germany, hope for insomniacs

The federal foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Zzz zzz zzz… Verbal anæsthesia: the federal foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, delivers an address that is well-timed (coming shortly after the British voted to leave the European Union), and in duration no longer than about an hour-and-a-half, concerning the glories of the European Union. Zzz zzz zzz…

Zzz zzz zzz zzz…

Picking up a copy of the Paris daily the Monde, which he describes as the French equivalent of the Times of New York, though

still rather more interesting,

Dalrymple comes across an article by the Bundesminister des Auswärtigen, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. To read it, Dalrymple says,

is to enter a world of grey thought, evasive cliché, Soviet-style slogans, verbal anæsthesia. I think you could put almost anyone to sleep by reading it aloud to him.

Steinmeier’s remarks are intended to be

a stirring call to readers, like de Gaulle’s radio broadcast from London.

There are passages such as this:

We are committed to making Europe better. This is the direction taken by the proposals put forward by Jean-Marc Ayrault [the Ministre des Affaires étrangères et du Développement international] and myself. We have ideas on improved internal and external security, an active migration policy and a policy for growth and employment. We look forward to receiving lots of constructive ideas. A better, more flexible EU will respect differing views on the further progress of Europe and will allow for different speeds, without excluding anyone or leaving anyone behind. Instead of arguing about what the ultimate goal of European integration should be, we should work towards tangible results. It is only by working together that we will make progress. That is why it is so important for us to consult each other in the group of 27, to listen carefully to each other, and then take joint action.

Hergestellt in Detmold, Deutschland

Hergestellt in Detmold, Deutschland

Zzzz zzz zzz zzz… Dalrymple comments:

I do not know Mr Steinmeier and have no animus against him. He is probably a perfectly decent man, as politicians go. What intrigues me is whether his article corresponds to any thoughts that actually ran through his head. If they did, one can only pity him: how boring it must be to be Mr Steinmeier.

But Dalrymple does not want to be accused of selective quotation, so he closes his eyes and lets his finger alight at random on part of the article. Here is the passage:

We are looking back on an unprecedented 70 years of peace and stability. More than 25 years have passed since we brought an end to the division of our continent. The process of European unification is an unparalleled success story. At its core is an agreed political framework under which the member states come to Brussels to manage their relations and settle their conflicts — and do not head off to the battlefield. This agreement has lost none of its utility or significance. The European peace project must be passed on intact to the generations who will follow us.

Zzz zzz zzz zzz… Dalrymple says that to combine, in such a way,

soporific banality with cunning evasiveness takes, I suppose, talent of a kind, the kind of talent required to rule without appearing to want to do so. It is a dull talent, and one that I cannot much admire.

Dalrymple bashes bank bunkum

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 12.10.24

Unctuous cant

An advertisement for a big bank pretends that it is

working for the creation of a more equal world.

This

cannot possibly be the case and is, in effect, a lie. At least, one hopes it is a lie, for that is the most charitable interpretation of the slogan.

It is obvious, writes Dalrymple, that

the aim of a commercial bank cannot be a more equal world, if only because it has financial obligations to its shareholders that it does not have to the rest of humanity.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 12.19.56

Bank poppycock

The bank’s shareholders

have not invested to provide everyone in the world with paid dividends; and while they might hope that the bank’s activities are honest and contribute to the growth of the economy, this is not at all the same thing as equalising the world.

A world in which everyone were starving

might be a more equal world, indeed a perfectly equal one. Equality of misery is equality all right, but is not therefore either a just or desirable goal that the bank might pride itself on having brought about.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 12.15.59

Bank balderdash

What the bank really meant — if it meant anything at all — was that

it was working towards a richer, more prosperous world. But working for wealth does not have the same moral cachet as working for equality.

In short,

the bank was indulging in humbug; unctuously proclaiming ideals that it cannot, will never and ought not to have.

Humbug, Dalrymple points out, is

an insidious pollutant of the mind, which not only distorts but perverts. It clears the primrose path to earthly damnation.

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 12.19.20

Bank baloney

The MTV of museums

Exhibits at the Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, Leningrad

Exhibits, Museum of the History of Religion and Atheism, Leningrad

Dalrymple pays a visit to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa,

a giant amusement arcade.

Wording on one of the exhibits invites Dalrymple to

hold a sound-shell to your ear, press the button and hear some freaky, weird stuff about nearby creations.

Exhibits

Exhibits, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington

Here are some of the museum’s hectoring slogans:

  • Everyone has a place at our place
  • Where there are people there is art
  • Is it treasure or junk? Everyone has an opinion
  • Home is where the art is

These, says Dalrymple, are

a little reminiscent of the museums of religion and atheism in the Soviet Union.

If, he writes,

one has the mentality of a child of limited intelligence and curiosity, one might have been amused or kept out of trouble for a while, but nothing more.

Not a museum at all

What sort of person runs such a place?

Certainly not a curator, because no detailed knowledge of any subject is necessary. A casino owner, perhaps.

This travesty of a museum is

the institutional exemplar of the lowest common demoninator turned into official cultural policy.

As a small concession, on the third floor,

in a bare concrete gallery, ill-lit and unadvertised, there are two rows of paintings. There are no signs to say what they are, or who they are by. For a small and young nation, not entirely sure of its cultural identity, New Zealand has a considerable tradition of painting: but the visitors to this gallery are made to feel that, by visiting it, they are doing something almost illicit. There is a dirty-postcard feel to the gallery.