Category Archives: stupidity

Britishers’ abysmal cultural and educational level

Dalrymple points in a speech (from 6:11) to Great Britain’s

obviously low general level of education, which you can see just by walking in the street.

It is very glaring from the moment he arrives in England (he lives much of the time in France). There is

a determined, ideological quality to the evident low cultural and educational level.

One finds in Britain

  • deliberate crudity, vulgarity and stupidity
  • lack of refinement of any kind
  • inability or unwillingness to learn even so simple a matter as how to address strangers with reasonable civility (all the more devastating in an economy that is highly dependent on the provision of services)

For this reason, Dalrymple explains, England will, whatever its level of unemployment,

continue to have to import labour if it wants to have simple services that work with tolerable efficiency. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you go to a large hotel with only a British staff. It’s amusing in a way.

England will continue to have to import labour if it wants to have simple services that work with tolerable efficiency

 

Courage in an evil cause

Dalrymple writes that English

is said to have the largest vocabulary of any language.

So in a way

it was an achievement on the part of Theresa May to have found exactly the wrong word to describe the Parsons Green bombing (2017), namely, to say that it was ‘cowardly’.

The attack, Dalrymple notes,

was not a cowardly action: it was evil as well as stupid, and many other things no doubt, but it was not cowardly. Planting a crude bomb does not require, perhaps, quite so much bravery as it does to blow yourself up, but no one with any imagination can suppose that placing a bomb in a public place is an undertaking for a coward, or that it requires no courage. On the contrary, it requires considerable courage to do such a thing; if it did not, it is probable that there would be many more bombs and terrorist attacks than there already are. To place a bomb like this, one must face the risk of premature explosion and mutilation, the risk of being set upon by witnesses, and the likelihood of being caught and spending years in prison. These are not risks that most of us would care to take.

Does it matter, Dalrymple asks,

if a word, uttered in the heat, or nearly in the heat, of the moment (though surely by now, May must have rehearsed in her mind what to say in the event of a terrorist outrage) is wrong? It would be impossible to estimate with certainty or exactitude the harm done by the misuse of words in these circumstances. But nevertheless there is an unpleasant corollary to May’s statement: if even part of what is wrong about leaving a bomb in Parsons Green station is that it is a cowardly thing to do, then a terrorist attack that is more direct, and hence less cowardly, must be better, from a moral perspective. Are we to admire terrorists who stare their victims in the face, or put themselves directly in self-harm’s way? Bravery in the promotion or defence of a bad cause does not make the cause better, or a heinous act any more praiseworthy.

Eviscerator of the idiocy of the age

If fame were the reward of merit alone, writes Dalrymple, Simon Leys (Pierre Ryckmans)

would have been one of the most famous men. Not that he would have greatly enjoyed such fame: his probity and attachment to higher values was too great for that. He combined in his person qualities that are rarely so closely associated: erudition and scholarship, taste, intellectual honesty, wit, literary gifts. I admired Leys more than any other contemporary writer.

Leys was a connoisseur of Chinese culture

and viewed its barbarous destruction with horror; he abominated Maoism at least two decades before it became obligatory for right-thinking persons to do so.

The Cultural Revolution, Dalrymple notes,

was not a very funny subject, since it was one of the greatest episodes of vandalism in history and caused the death of a million people; but Leys wrote so as to make you laugh. He was contemptuous of Western Mao-fanciers.

Dalrymple explains that

Leys’ guiding star was cultivation (in a broad sense) and his bête noires barbarism, stupidity and humbug. There was no better sniffer-out of humbug, the besetting sin of intellectuals.

Leys, Dalrymple points out,

could eviscerate the idiocy of an age in a few lines.

For example:

If one thinks of the great teachers of humanity — the Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Jesus — one is struck by a curious paradox: today, not a single one of them would be able to obtain even the most modest teaching post in one of our universities.

Hopeless, stagnant Britain

screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-23-14-04On the train to the airport in England, and at the airport itself, Dalrymple sees a population that strikes him as

more militantly ugly and unintelligent than any other known to me, one that consumes without discrimination and enjoys without taste.

With regard to ugliness, he writes,

it added to whatever ugliness nature had bestowed upon it by refusing to wear any clothes that might lend it any dignity, choosing apparel that accentuated its natural unattractiveness. Grossly fat slobs insisted on wearing figure-hugging T-shirts that did not quite meet the tops of the shorts that exposed their fat white tattooed calves, exposing their repellent midriffs to the appalled gaze of the minimally sensitive.

Of the women, he says,

it would be kinder not to speak; suffice it to say that they made the men look like Beau Nash or Beau Brummel.

The taste of the British in everything from food to music and clothes

is base, vulgar, stupid, and crude.

Dalrymple notes that it is not that they know no better—innocent vulgarity can be amusing and even refreshing—but that

they know better and reject and hate it.

They refuse to aspire to what is better,

and try to intimidate others into abandoning it, with some success.

The productivity of such a nation, Dalrymple points out,

is unlikely to rise very fast or far. It will be lucky if in the modern world, with so much competition, it achieves stagnation.

Islamism is as nonsensical and malevolent as Marxism

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 21.13.10Islamism, writes Dalrymple,

is so stupid, preposterous, intellectually nugatory and appallingly catastrophic in its effects that it makes one almost nostalgic for the days of Marxism.

Almost.

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 21.36.28

The classless society: of this earth only

At least Marxism

had a patina of rationality, and most of its adherents (in the West at any rate), while not averse to violence in the abstract, were willing to postpone the final, extremely violent apocalypse to some future date and did not believe that by blowing themselves up or cutting people’s throats they would ascend directly to the classless society or meet Marx in his pantheon.

You could be a martyr in the Marxist cause,

Richard Sorge was hanged in Japan in 1944. He became a Hero of the Soviet Union in 1964

Richard Sorge was hanged in Japan in 1944. He became a Hero of the Soviet Union in 1964

but only on the understanding that death was final. The best you could hope for was that, after the final victory of the proletarian revolution, you would have a postage stamp issued in your memory.

This does not have quite the same attraction as

an everlasting orgy in a cool desert oasis while everyone else is roasting eternally in Gehenna. (No bliss is quite complete without someone else’s agony.)

Screen Shot 2016-03-20 at 21.39.41

People ground to dust

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 15.59.25Dalrymple writes that in the broad, almost deserted boulevards of today’s Pyongyang as much as in the St Petersburg of 1839, a crowd, in the words of Astolphe de Custine,

would be a revolution.

Tyrannies

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 15.53.44demand immense efforts to bring forth trifles, one of the differences between the tsarist autocracy and the totalitarian dictatorship being the absence of aesthetic judgment and taste of the latter.

Dalrymple points out that the purpose of North Korean ceremonies

is to humiliate, to force people to acknowledge their enslavement with simulated joy. Spontaneity is not the only thing abolished; sincerity follows into the dustbin of history.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 15.52.21There was a time when Dalrymple regarded North Korea as

the ne plus ultra of contemporary political deformity. In those days, Islamism was hardly a speck on the horizon.

He should have known better, for as he says,

when it comes to the forms of self-evident stupidity and self-destruction, man’s inventiveness is infinite.

Screen Shot 2016-01-09 at 15.54.32

 

My hand shakes; I want to interrupt, to shout

Zeven Hoofdzonden (detail), attr. Jheronimus Bosch, c. 1485 or after. Museo del Prado

Zeven Hoofdzonden (detail), attr. Jheronimus Bosch, c. 1485 or after. Museo del Prado

Dogmatism, writes Dalrymple,

is the reaction of those who want to know best but suspect that the metaphysical foundations of their supposed knowledge are shaky. Ambiguity disturbs them: how can there be rational criticism founded on argument and evidence, when at the same time there is no disputing taste? The solution to the tension is to stand behind a stockade of indubitable truth.

The search for certainty

is much more important than the search for truth. I know a man, an eminent writer, who has changed his opinion many times in his long life, often by 180°, but never admits to having done so. He has held every successive opinion with angry intransigence. Challenges by people of another opinion make him turn red with rage: they do not merely differ from him in opinion, they are attacking him personally. It is not true that bigotry is the exclusive province of the ignorant and stupid; there is the clever and well-informed variety, the more dangerous because the less easily recognised.

Dalrymple does not exclude himself.

When someone expresses an opinion that is very different from my own, I often feel a mounting tension, though the subject may be one that, if I am honest with myself, is of little importance or consequence to me. Certainly it cannot harm me that someone thinks differently from me about it; yet my heart begins to beat wildly, and I am sure that my blood pressure has risen. I feel an excitation, I tell myself to keep calm but I don’t succeed; my hand shakes; I want to interrupt, to shout. I am not defending truth, but my opinion. Generally I succeed in controlling myself, but occasionally I do not, especially when my interlocutor is young. I immediately feel ashamed of myself afterwards; I even feel ashamed that, at my age, I am still so little capable of detachment.

The Islamists’ cyclopean view of life

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Luckily, says Dalrymple, Western countries

are not given to lasting expressions of unanimity, the deliberate preservation of our peaceful divisions being what the struggle with Muslim fundamentalism is all about.

Dalrymple writes that the Muslim fundamentalists,

like other would-be dictators, have a cyclopean view of life, and believe that everyone else is blind. Their stupidity is matched only by their arrogance.

However,

it does not follow that our governments’ policies should be incoherent and vacillating.

François Hollande, who had not previously

seemed à la hauteur of his position, appearing more like the deputy head of a lycée in Limoges than a head of state,

promised that French nationality would be withdrawn from convicted terrorists with dual nationality, French and other, even if they were born in France. The problem is that

there is always the possibility of a miscarriage of justice.

Dalrymple says of Muslim terrorism:

I do not pretend to have the answer to the problem. I suspect that it will require long attrition rather than a final showdown. I am optimistic about the long run because of the extreme intellectual weakness of Islam in the modern world (far greater than that of Marxism, which at least produced some interesting historians), but pessimistic about the short.

Islamism’s intellectual content is nugatory and contemptible

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 13.23.31Mohammedanism rushes in where Marxism can no longer tread

The downfall of the Soviet Union, writes Dalrymple, resulted in

an ideological vacuum for people seeking a total explanation of their discontents, people who—thanks to the spread of semi-education—were probably more numerous, and therefore more desperate, than ever. The only alternative on hand, and one with much deeper roots than Marxism, was fundamentalist Islam.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 13.19.44Islamism’s

intellectual content—the idea that a return to Islamic practices of the past (apart from the use of Kalashnikovs, etc.) is the solution to life’s woes everywhere—is so nugatory and contemptible that it is not worth an intelligent person’s efforts to refute it, any more than it is worth trying to refute the idea that the moon is made of blue cheese.

Alas, says Dalrymple,

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 13.19.21nothing is so foolish that some philosopher has not said it, and no utopia is so absurd that people cannot be found to believe in it and, worse still, fight for it.

Islamism

would form yet another chapter in Walter B. Pitkin’s A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity (nearly 600 pages long) had the author not died in 1953.

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A rapists’ charter

Ann M. Starrs

Ann M. Starrs: flatulent and at the same time chilling

Starry night

Dalrymple points out that some of the quotations (from articles inside the journal) found on the cover of the Lancet are

of such an unctuous sententiousness that they make Mr Podsnap seem like a neurotic self-doubter. They are usually inexact, flatulent, self-important, and frequently stupid.

He cites a passage taken from the article A Lancet Commission on sexual and reproductive health and rights: going beyond the Sustainable Development Goals. It is the work of Ann M. Starrs, described as president and chief executive officer of something called the Guttmacher Institute, which appears to be devoted to advancing the cause of abortion. Starrs’ words are considered so luminous that the Lancet’s editor reproduces them in large type on the front page:

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 09.10.37

The Lancet: self-important and frequently stupid

Ann M. Starrs’ Declaration of Sexual Rights

Sexuality and reproduction are universal concerns that affect every human being. Although there has been great progress in recent decades, the global community must now expedite and expand that progress to be more inclusive and comprehensive. A new agenda for sexual and reproductive health and rights is needed that recognises the full scope of people’s sexual and reproductive health needs, and enables all people to choose whether, when, and with whom to engage in sexual activity; to choose whether and when to have children; and to access the means to do so in good health.

The emotion in the reader of this, writes Dalrymple,

is similar to that aroused by a badly scratched record or a whining child.

The purpose of Starrs’ words, he points out,

is to create in the reader the impression of the writer as generous and broad-minded, denial of whose principles establishes him who would deny them as a bigot.

Yet Starrs’ words are

Screen Shot 2015-09-26 at 09.20.16

No perversion is too perverse for Ann M. Starrs

a rapists’ charter; no perversion is too perverse to fall under their permissive rubric.

Dalrymple notes that there have been men who have been able to achieve orgasm only by

  • derailing trains, or
  • paddling their hands in the entrails of the people they have killed

He asks:

Ought the full scope of their sexual needs have been met?

Dalrymple says:

That people ought to be able to have sex when they choose, with whom they choose, entails that they should be able to force themselves on others even in public. There can be no when without a corresponding where, for sexual desire (impossible to distinguish from need) does not always arise at moments hitherto considered appropriate.

He concludes:

From the fate of children under this regime of inalienable rights to be included in the proposed Declaration of Sexual Rights, it is best to avert one’s mind.