Category Archives: socialists

The socialist wasteland

Marxism, Dalrymple explains, answers several needs.

  • It has its arcana, which persuade believers that they have penetrated to secrets veiled from others, who are possessed of false consciousness.
  • It appeals to the strongest of all political passions, hatred, and justifies it.
  • It provides a highly intellectualised rationalisation of a discreditable but almost universal and ineradicable emotion: envy.
  • It forever puts the blame elsewhere, making self-examination unnecessary and self-knowledge impossible.
  • It explains everything.
  • It persuades believers that they have a special destiny in the world. For disgruntled intellectuals, nothing could be more gratifying.

Yet the socialist reality is

  • lies
  • enforced ignorance
  • characters formed in an atmosphere of suspicion
  • compromise with evil
  • toadying
  • self-abasement

Dalrymple once met a Marxist who told him that the level of dialectical debate in Moscow was so much higher, and so much wider in scope, than in Western Europe or North America. Dalrymple’s reply was:

If only you could fix your mind on something important, like selling cosmetics or life insurance.

He notes that communist ideas, or prejudices,

live on in those countries where Really Existing Socialism, as the dialecticians used so elegantly to put it, has never been experienced.

In Britain,

the Marxist hatred of profit subsists happily with a Jane Austen-like coyness about where one’s money actually comes from. In Jane Austen, Trade is ungentlemanly; in Marx, it is wicked; in British literary circles, it is both. Given the nature of the output of British literary circles, this wouldn’t matter very much, except for the fact that the attitude has filtered down into the rest of the intelligentsia, and is nearly universal in the public service.

Unlettered whizzkids earning a fortune in the City

particularly excite ire (and envy); I have had many arguments in the doctors’ common room about the necessary and constructive part banking and trade play in any modern economy, irrespective of the existence of dishonest bankers and traders.

But the attitude persists,

the disdainful — and essentially snobbish — attitude that unites them with Castro and Guevara, Ho Chi Minh and Ulbricht, Lenin and Kim Il-sung. Any activity that is neither directly productive nor concerned with the welfare of ‘the people’ is parasitic.

The consequence of the philosophy

may be seen on the shelves of any communist supermarket or in any East European field piled with rotting potatoes.

A semi-literate Marxism is

the unchallengeable orthodoxy in British teacher-training colleges and colleges of further education. Here the politics of grievance are assiduously fostered, with ‘analyses’ of the exploitative nature of capitalist society, which causes the oppression of almost everyone except men in top hats. It is difficult to believe that something of this ideology is not communicated to children, and in my daily work I am often ‘accused’ by young patients of having a good job, as if personal activity had nothing to do with it and my privilege and their deprivation explained all.

Socialism continues to exert a strong influence in poor countries. Liberation theology, for example, is

Pravda with the word God thrown in.

There is a stifling orthodoxy among intellectuals about the origins of poverty. Poverty for them

is the dialectical opposite of wealth: we are poor because you are rich, and you are rich because we are poor. It is a destructive idea. Poverty is the result of exploitation and nothing else: the world is Marx’s Victorian England writ large. The global economy is a cake, and if Europe (the bourgeoisie) has a large slice, Africa (the proletariat) must have a small one. The immiseration of the workers in Marx is paralleled by the immiseration of continents, and has the same causes.

That poverty is the natural state of Man, and that

it is the ascent to wealth that needs explanation (Adam Smith asked the right question), never occurs to the embittered intellectuals.

Really Existing Socialism

Corbyn is eminently electable

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 08.59.16If the rumours are true, writes Dalrymple, that certain Tories (i.e. adherents of the British centre-Right ruling party the Conservatives) have

signed up to vote for Mr Corbyn because, if chosen, he would make Labour unelectable, nothing would better illustrate the idiocy to which certain Tories are prone.

In Europe’s

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 08.48.59present precarious circumstances, no one is unelectable. A crisis, not necessarily of the government’s making, could easily swell popular discontent so that it would prefer any alternative; and that is without counting the fact that all governments tend to become very unpopular with time, whether they deserve it or not. Time for a change: and Mr Corbyn would certainly be a change.

Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 08.54.01Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 08.45.56Screen Shot 2015-08-16 at 09.12.25

 

The Greeks blame the Germans to avoid self-examination

The Greeks are about the learn the meaning of socialist penury The self-deluding Greeks are about the learn the meaning of socialist penury

Dalrymple writes that the Athens government, relying on euro-based credit, borrowed to bolster its public sector, and when the pyramid collapsed,

the population’s chief object became warding off change — ensuring that it continued to receive more than it earned and consume more than it produced. The Nazi stereotype emerged quickly, once European subsidies were reduced.

Did the Greeks really not know, asks Dalrymple,

  • that tax evasion was standard practice in Greece, and by no means only among the elite?
  • that much of the employment in the public sector was makework?
  • that retirement conditions superior to those in Germany were unearned and unsustainable?
  • that their political and administrative class was composed of liars and cheats?

The Caledonian Chávez

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 14.01.46How Scottish nationalism is an attempt to reproduce — and even deepen — British government idiocies

The leader of the Scottish National Party, writes Dalrymple,

does not so much promise to solve problems as arouse hope, a hope that is vague, general, and unfocused.

Alex Salmond’s arguments and promises, and the hopes he inspires,

are not encouraging for those who value freedom or prosperity….he would increase government interference in and direction of the economy. He is a dirigiste who far outflanks the Labour Party on the Left.

In Salmond’s imagination,

the oil in the North Sea plays the role of the fairy godmother who brings what everyone wishes, namely life at a higher material standard of living than that which is justified by his own efforts and economic activity.

He wants to make himself the Hugo Chávez of the North Sea.

The Venezuelan, recall, managed the feat of producing fuel shortages while sitting on the largest oil reserves in the world. Lost in the debate, too, is that countries that rely entirely on oil revenue to sustain themselves (except where they are so vast in relation to the population that everyone can live as a rentier) are generally destined for a special kind of economic and social woe.

Scotezuela is Salmond’s dream.

And like the Bolívarist revolutionary, he has his supporters. If the voting gives him 50 per cent plus one, he will try to eternalise his power, with a fair chance of bringing all the levers of state power under his control. But even if he falls short, his policies will continue, for Labour’s social attitudes and policies are all but indistinguishable from his. Scotland, then, will not be a one-party state but a one-policy state.

The socialism will not of course be Soviet-style, even though

a not inconsiderable proportion of the population would probably like it in order to punish the rich. (I have never forgotten the reception in the 1970s given to Soviet premier Alexei Kosygin in the Scottish football stadium. The crowd chanted ‘Kosygin! Kosygin!’)

Rather, a corporatist state will emerge,

with large companies, acting more or less as licensed traders, maintaining a cosy and corrupt relationship with the political class, whose standard of living the licensees will happily subsidise.

If Scottish nationalism

were an attempt to escape the successive idiocies of the British government that have had such disastrous consequences, I would be more than sympathetic to it. Alas, it is quite the reverse. It is an attempt to repeat and even magnify those idiocies.

Blair the Fabian gradualist (except in the matter of getting money)

Where moneymaking is concerned, writes Dalrymple, this distinguished former British prime minister has demonstrated a preference for a less gradualist approach.

Where moneymaking is concerned, writes Dalrymple, the distinguished former prime minister has shown a preference for a rather less gradualist approach