Category Archives: State, the

Neo-liberalism, bête noire of French intellectuals

Dalrymple writes that there are no doubt many things to be said against the economic policies that have been followed (with variations) by all Western countries in the last few decades, for example,

their propensity to produce bubbles with seemingly accelerating frequency — the result of the desire to reconcile spending more than we earn with keeping visible inflation down.

It requires

the issuing of money and debt on the one hand and the outsourcing of production on the other, ordinary goods remaining cheap while asset values increase out of all proportion to their returns.

Dalrymple points out that

one of the greatest spenders of more than it earns is the State for — among other things — the maintenance of the Welfare State.

There is a liberal aspect of this policy, it is true, namely the free movement of capital, but

in its aspect of the public provision of services such as healthcare, pensions, education, etc., it would be as accurate to call it neo-socialist as to call it neo-liberal.

Perhaps the best term, he says, is

neo-corporatist, in so far as it is large corporations and government bureaucracies that most benefit from the policy, a tendency that the shutdown of small businesses during the epidemic can only reinforce.

 

The British Zeitgeist

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 08.56.56It is one, writes Dalrymple, of

sentimental moralising combined with the utmost cynicism, where the government’s pretended concern for the public welfare coexists with the most elementary dereliction. There is an absence of any kind of idealism that is a necessary precondition of probity, so that bad faith prevails almost everywhere.

The British State

sees itself as an engineer of souls, concerning itself with what people think, feel, and say—as well as with trying to change their freely chosen habits—rather than with performing its inescapable duty: that of preserving the peace and ensuring that citizens may go about their lawful business in confidence and safety. It is more concerned that young men should not smoke cigarettes in prison or make silly jokes to policemen than that they should not attack and permanently maim their elders and betters.

One definition of decadence, he writes, is

the concentration on the gratifyingly imaginary to the disregard of the disconcertingly real.

No one who knows Britain, says Dalrymple, could doubt that it has very serious problems.

  • Its public services—which consume a vast proportion of the national wealth—are not only inefficient but beyond amelioration by the expenditure of yet more money
  • Its population is abysmally educated, to the extent that that there is not even a well-educated élite
  • An often criminally minded population has been indoctrinated with shallow and gimcrack notions—for example, about social justice—that render it unfit to compete in an increasingly competitive world

Dalrymple warns that such

unpleasant realities cannot be indefinitely disguised.

The collectivist rot in Britain

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 07.54.19An infantilised people

Its sense of irony, writes Dalrymple, once protected the British population

from infatuation with utopian dreams and unrealistic expectations.

But the English are sadly changed.

A sense of irony is the first victim of utopian dreams. The British tolerance of eccentricity has also evaporated; uniformity is what they want now, and are prepared informally to impose. They tolerate no deviation in taste or appearance from themselves.

The pressure to conform

to the canons of (lack of) popular taste has never been stronger. Those without interest in soccer hardly dare mention it in public. A dispiriting uniformity of character, deeply shallow, has settled over a land once richer in eccentrics than any other. No more Edward Lears for us: we prefer notoriety to oddity now.

The English are no longer sturdily independent as individuals, either. They now

feel no shame or even unease at accepting government handouts. (40% of them receive such handouts.)

Many Britons

see no difference between work and parasitism.

They are left with

very little of importance to decide for themselves, even in their private spheres.

The State

  • educates them (at least nominally)
  • provides for them in old age
  • frees them of the need to save money (doing so is in many cases made uneconomic)
  • treats them when they are ill
  • houses them if they cannot afford housing

Their choices

concern only sex and shopping.

No wonder, says Dalrymple, that the British

have changed in character, their sturdy independence replaced with passivity, querulousness, or even, at the lower reaches of society, a sullen resentment that not enough has been or is being done for them. For those at the bottom, such money as they receive is pocket money, reserved for the satisfaction of whims. They are infantilised. If they behave irresponsibly it is because both the rewards for behaving responsibly and the penalties for behaving irresponsibly have vanished.

Such people

come to live in a limbo in which there is nothing much to hope or strive for and nothing much to fear or lose. Private property and consumerism coexist with collectivism, and freedom for many people means little more than choice among goods. The free market, as Hayek did not foresee, has flourished alongside collectivism.

What the jeune-de-banlieue wants

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 21.53.30He desires, writes Dalrymple,

a good time.

Bakunin’s aphorism about the destructive urge being a constructive one

would have been nearer the mark if he had mentioned that it was, above all, a highly enjoyable one.

Destruction

is fun; but to destroy in the name of a supposed cause, that is bliss. Impunity helps, of course.

Insofar as the jeune-de-banlieue

has a discernible if unexpressed demand, it is for extraterritorial status. He wants to be left alone. He does not want the State to interfere in his affairs — theft, drug-dealing, the abuse of women — in any way.

The curse of welfarism

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.42.01

Young British mothers

Dalrymple writes that there is in the West, and especially in Britain,

a rising tide of neglect, cruelty, Sadism, and joyous malignity.

Where does the evil come from? Dalrymple points out that

a necessary, though not sufficient, condition is the welfare state, which makes it possible, and sometimes advantageous, to behave like this.

Fatherhood

Young British fathers

The State

is the parent of last resort—or of first resort. The State gives assistance to the mother of any child, once it has come into being. In matters of public housing, it is advantageous for a mother to put herself at a disadvantage, to be a single mother, without support from the fathers of the children and dependent on the State for income. She is then a priority; she won’t pay local taxes, rent, or utility bills.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.39.30As for the men, the State

absolves them of all responsibility for their children. The State is father to the child. The biological father is free to use whatever income he has as pocket money, for entertainment and little treats. He is reduced to the status of a child, though a spoilt child with the physical capabilities of a man: petulant, demanding, querulous, self-centred, and violent. The violence escalates and becomes a habit. A spoilt brat becomes an evil tyrant.

How to join the 1%

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 12.33.35Theodore Dalrymple answers your questions

Should we wish to be of the 1%?

Wealth as such is not a very elevated aim in life.

What about you, Doctor?

I have never made it my principal aim or goal.

To have a sufficiency, though, is both necessary and gratifying, is it not?

A degree of prosperity is at least some evidence of worldly success — an imprimatur as it were, to which I have never been quite as indifferent as perhaps I ought to have been.

Do you feel wealthy?

Not enough to feel that a new car would not be an unwise extravagance if it were unnecessary.

What do you look for when buying a car?

My main desideratum is that it should start first time in the depths of winter. For many years I owned cars that could not be relied upon to do so.

How did you get into the 1%?

My wife and I lived well below our income for more than 20 years and invested the rest under the guidance of an adviser.

What criteria did you apply in selecting this adviser?

I had no real evidence of his superior financial wisdom, other than that I liked him.

Does such wisdom exist?

I am not convinced that it does.

How would you rate your own judgment in financial matters?

Let me admit that if I had had the misfortune to meet Mr Madoff before his scheme was exposed, I should have trusted him implicitly. He had such a trustworthy face.

What is your pattern of consumption and mode of life?

It does not differ conspicuously from those of many of my peers, except in so far as I have no television and buy many more books than most.

What do you fear?

To be poor — and to end up in the hands of the State, whose charity is simultaneously patronising and heartless, rule-ridden and capricious.

 

Lust

Jheronimus Bosch, Tuin der lusten (detail), between 1490 and 1510. Museo del Prado, Madrid

Jheronimus Bosch, Tuin der lusten (detail). Between 1490 and 1510. Museo del Prado, Madrid

Lust is a nearly universal human experience, Dalrymple points out. What is new, he notes, is

the loss of awareness of its status as a cardinal sin and of the disastrous consequences likely to follow when it becomes the principal guide of action.

Some must live in a world

in which, thanks to state support, there is little other guide in this important area of life—or none more important.

An enormous vote bank in favour of ever-expanding government

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 20.17.09How is such a vote bank produced?

By a combination of immigration and emigration, Dalrymple points out.

And the means for that?

A longstanding state population replacement scheme.

An efflorescence of violence in France

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 09.13.07Violent thug? Let him plant daisies

When the State abdicates from the one undoubted task that could justify its existence, namely securing public order and keeping the peace, the result, writes Dalrymple,

is not freedom, but fear. This is the fear with which millions have to live continually.

The sentimentalists who advocate leniency towards murderers, rapists and violent thugs

confuse law with therapy, [believing] that firmness and cruelty are the same. This unwillingness or inability to make proper distinctions is a symptom of our time. It is a form of moral cowardice.

Afraid to discharge its most important duty, faced with acts of cruel violence the State in France, England and elsewhere in the West thinks not of retribution but of

psychoanalysis, perhaps mixed with a little compulsory social work or planting flowers in municipal flowerbeds.

Looking-glass world

Screen Shot 2013-11-10 at 22.11.40Modern state authorities, Dalrymple writes,

live in a looking-glass world. What normal people regard as important is for them of no importance, while what they regard as of supreme importance normal people regard as of no importance. For them the respectable are suspect and the suspect respectable. A tweed jacket is a sign of menace, while a broken bottle is a sign of harmless intent.