Category Archives: Theodore Dalrymple

The putrescence of England

The terrible deterioration in the character of the English

The decay of religious belief, writes Dalrymple,

which provided a basis for personal responsibility, occurred at the same time as a decline in Britain’s world power. Intellectuals, impotently enraged by this, mocked at every value and belief, without providing alternatives. Unlike France, which remained the standard-bearer of a language and a culture, Britain was turned into a province, a deep humiliation for a country which had been metropolitan for two centuries.

Young Britishers

have been deliberately deprived of any knowledge of British achievement: they know nothing of Shakespeare and Dickens, Newton and Darwin, Brunel and Lister. They know of nothing of which they can feel proud.

In the absence of a system of values, says Dalrymple, adolescent revolt

has become a permanent state of mind.

The lack of belief in anything

is compensated for by shrillness, as if noise could fill the void.

The trouble with Britain is not the government. It’s the people

The rot, Dalrymple points out, is not confined to an underclass.

Every week I meet members of the middle classes who consider themselves victims of some injustice or other in order to lend significance to their lives. They are only victims in the sense that Marie Antoinette was a shepherdess.

The attempt to find transcendent meaning in social justice

destroys or perverts aesthetic appreciation: for how, it is asked, can beauty and injustice subsist in the same world? The aggressive ugliness (not mere lack of taste) of the mode of dress of many of my younger patients, especially those with intellectual pretensions, is intended to provoke the very rejection that will then be used to justify the resentment that gives meaning to otherwise meaningless life.

Essentially personal dissatisfactions (of the kind attendant upon life) are projected on to society as a whole. This

has its advantages: it absolves one of the often painful necessity of self-examination. But it breeds the angry passivity that is now almost a national characteristic.

The sullenness of many of Dalrymple’s young patients

is not mere adolescent rebellion, it is a permanent condition: they will not grow to courtesy. They do not have the dignity or self-respect of previous generations which have known suffering that is not self-inflicted.

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Oxfam is as economically illiterate as it is morally purblind

We know a little — and it is not very edifying — of Oxfam’s ethics. What of its economics? The ‘charity’ states in its propaganda that the eight richest men in the world own as much as the poorer half of the whole of humanity combined:

As growth benefits the richest, the rest of society – especially the poorest – suffers. The very design of our economies and the principles of our economics have taken us to this extreme, unsustainable and unjust point. 

Dalrymple examines this incitement to envy — incitement of the type also practised, of course, by the likes of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn — in the 2017 essay The Wealth Gap, animated and read for us here by Weg Zorn:

On Weg Zorn’s YouTube channel: Dalrymple’s exposition of how Oxfam’s propaganda is an incitement to envy

‘Religion spoils everything’

So say the neo-atheists.

‘What?’ says Dalrymple. ‘The St Matthew Passion?’

A spot of (paying) conflict tourism

Bang bang! That’s what they like

Happy escapades of the war-snaps profiteers

Some photographers, writes Dalrymple,

go from war to war as bees go from flower to flower.

Many of them have

a sense of purpose, perhaps the greatest gift to any human life.

Islam’s omnisufficiency

Dalrymple writes that for young Muslims,

an ideological and religious solution that is flattering to self-esteem and allegedly all-sufficient

is ready to hand. The problem is that this religio-ideological solution

is in unavoidable conflict with a large element of each individual’s identity.

Sad news

Western Defence has reported the death of Clint Conatser, co-founder of that treasury of Dalrymple material, The Skeptical Doctor.

R.I.P.

Dalrymple books a flight

Attempting to purchase an airline ticket online, Dalrymple finds that with each click of the mouse, the cost rises, until it reaches 25 times the advertised fare. He is

angered in a way that I should not have been if the final cost had been asked of me in the first place. I suppose that by now, having bought many such tickets, I should be used to the sharp practice, but I am not. It irritates me.

Dalrymple is aware that he will be charged a card fee even if he uses his debit card. But the airline finds a wheeze to misrepresent its fare. It charges £6 for a seat.

Could I have avoided this charge if I had volunteered to stand rather than sit? I could not: I had to have a seat. In what sense, then, could the original fare properly have been advertised at £X rather than at £X+£6?  In none that I could fathom. I have known British government ministers more honest and straightforward than this.

The website gives Dalrymple what it calls the ‘total cost’ and asks him to press the ‘continue’ button if he agrees to it. He does so, only to discover that the next page has added a further £6 — for reasons that he is unable to determine.

He comments:

Sharp practice, if not outright dishonesty, is bound to grow in a society in which personal trust and honour are replaced by law and the legal adjudication of obligations. Everyone then does what he can get away with, for a reliance on the law as the sole determinant of the permissible destroys all sense of shame. Small wonder that ‘Cheat, that ye be not cheated’ seems increasingly to be the rule by which we live.

Nihilistic alienation in America

The folly of welfarism and affirmative action

Dalrymple ventures to indict

all the efforts undertaken in recent years by government welfare programmes and institutions that practice affirmative action, such as universities, to ameliorate the condition of underclass blacks.

He points out that,

far from ameliorating the situation, the billions spent on welfare programmes, and the intellectual ingenuity expended on justifying the unjustifiable in the form of affirmative action, have resulted in a hatred that is bitter and widespread among those condescended to in this manner.

‘That glib and oily art’

Dalrymple notes that the increasing tendency in the West to express emotion in public

undermines the ability to distinguish genuine from bogus feeling.

He describes the modern age as one of

reverberating hollowness. We no longer accept the implicit.

It makes people

exhibitionistic. It sets up an arms race in which people have to express themselves more and more extravagantly in order to persuade others, and perhaps themselves, that they feel anything.

King Lear, Dalrymple reminds us,

is about the difference between real and bogus emotion. The two wicked daughters are able easily to deceive the king with extravagant expressions of love that they do not feel, but Cordelia refuses to ‘use that glib and oily art’.

Lear learns too late that

words and emotion are not necessarily connected in simple fashion.

Bone-idle Britishers

Why is it, asks Dalrymple, that England has had such high levels of youth unemployment for so many years while simultaneously importing very large numbers of young people from abroad to perform unskilled work? It is, he says,

an awkward question to ask because it can so easily inflame insensate xenophobia, but it is nevertheless an important one that I have never seen asked in the public prints. By not asking it, we avoid the corollary questions of what social and economic policies have led to this anomaly.

These questions

in turn might undermine our confidence in the presumptions of our social and economic policies of the last three-quarters of a century.

Better, then,

not to notice the anomaly, let alone try to think about how it has arisen, and to pretend, rather, that more of the same, perhaps slightly better-refined or targeted (more training for youth workers in Toxteth, for example), will solve our problems.