Category Archives: totalitarian impulse

A grievance-politics entrepreneur’s imbecilic proposal

A man called Dedrick Asante-Muhammad has proposed in the London newspaper the Guardian that every American with an enslaved ancestor be given $20,000 annually for 20 years.

Dalrymple sees in this

a great deal of anxiety and self-contempt, as well as condescension. It is not deemed necessary to assist any other group in the way proposed, not even women. There is in it the suspicion that in an open society, blacks are doomed to end up, on average and as a group, at the bottom of the pile unless they are given special privileges.

Prejudice by itself, Dalrymple notes,

provided it is not universal and there are people who do not share it, does not prevent ascension on the social scale. It is not a lifetime ago that some of the élite educational institutions placed limits on the number of Jews admitted. No one would say that the Jews in America were impeded. Something similar is true of many other groups, some of which started off poorer than American blacks today, and whose members did not require subsidies to advance.

In any unequal society, he says,

life is easier for some people than for others. This is unfair, but as Thomas Sowell has pointed out, the quest for cosmic justice is both totalitarian in implication and can lead only to continual sifting of the entrails of group and individual disparities, a sifting that promotes resentment as well as conflict.

Open societies have a disadvantage.

They force you to look at your part in your situation. Unless you are a rip-roaring success, which few of us are (and those few are often not very attractive), you are forced to confront your ineptitude, lack of talent, bad choices from an early age, etc., etc. It is much easier to deny that your society is an open one, and sink into apathy, politicking, and continuation of immediately gratifying but ultimately self-destructive bad habits.

Wuhan flu and the public health Moloch

Cult of the (failing) state health service

Dalrymple writes that the Chinese virus crisis has in the West reinforced a tendency to authoritarianism and emboldened bureaucrats with totalitarian leanings. He has been surprised by

how meekly the population has accepted, on the say-so of technocrats, regulations so drastic that they might have made Stalin envious. There has been no demand for the evidence that supposedly justifies severe limitations on freedom.

One view is that the authorities

are trusted by the population to do the right thing. Much as we lament the intellectual and moral level of our political class, there are limits to how much we despise it. We believe that our institutions still work, even when guided or controlled by nullities.

A less optimistic interpretation, says Dalrymple, is that the population

is so used to being administered, supposedly for its good, under a régime of bread and circuses that it is no longer capable of independent thought or action. We have become what Tocqueville thought the Americans would become under their democratic régime, a herd of docile animals. Only at the margins — for example, the drug-dealers of the banlieues — do the refractory rebel against the regulations.

Creepy weekly state-sponsored ceremony of compulsory applause

The Wuhan flu has revealed that,

whatever our traditions, we are less proof against authoritarianism than we like to suppose.

Authority, says Dalrymple,

is rarely content to stay within the limits set down for it, but is like an imperial power always seeking the means of its expansion.

He warns:

There is no human activity that has no consequences for health, either individually or in the aggregate; and what is the public but an aggregate? Public health, we have learnt, is the highest good, the precondition of all other goods. A solicitous government has the right — no, the duty — to interfere in our lives to make sure that we stay healthy. And authority once taken rarely retreats of its own accord.

The West is soaked in academic drivel

The fatuous ideology of diversity

People in the West live, writes Dalrymple,

in a totalitarian condition in which they are afraid to say some things and—what is worse—are required to say others. They are obliged to deny what they believe and assent to what they do not believe. There is no better way to destroy the personality. People become cynical, time-serving, increasingly self-absorbed. Their impotence breeds apathy. Once they start to utter things for the sake of their careers or their peace and quiet that they do not believe, they lose self-respect and probity and thus their standing to resist anything. People without probity are easy to control and manipulate; the purpose of political correctness is not to enunciate truth but to exercise power.

The threat comes not from government

but from the universities and the semi-intellectuals that they turn out. The governments of once-liberal democracies lamely follow the fashions and obsessions that emerge from universities, and few politicians have the courage or stamina to resist. To do so would require a willingness to present an intellectual case against them, not once but repeatedly, as well as a rhinoceros hide to be unaffected by the opprobrium and insult to which they would be subjected (insult these days being the highest form of argument). We do not live in times propitious to patient argumentation by politicians about matters of principle. What cannot be said in three words will not be heard, so that surrender is the default setting.

A dictatorship of virtue

Dalrymple notes that even applying for a job, particularly in US universities,

is a kind of Calvary for the person who does not share modern academic-bureaucratic obsession with race and sexual proclivities. The applicant must fill in forms about his attitude towards diversity—there being no permissible diversity in attitudes towards diversity.

Many universities demand a personal ‘diversity statement’ from the applicant. It requires of the successful candidate a full commitment to modern orthodoxies.

To admit that all you want to do is study the life and times of, say, William the Silent, the Khedive Ismail or José Gaspar Rodríguez de Francia, and convey your enthusiasm for this subject to others, would be fatal to your chances. You must want, in the cant phrase of our times, to make a difference. You must bring your straw to the fires of resentment, so that the diversity bureaucracy will never extinguish them and never be out of a job.

The proliferation of perverted sub-ideologies

A picture of hate: anti-hate-speech protester, Lewes literary festival, November 2017, in Dr (Mme) Dalrymple’s classic photograph

A million monomanias now

The totalitarian impulse, writes Dalrymple,

did not die with the Soviet Union.

Rather, it

fractured into many different monomanias.

The desire for ideology, he points out,

did not die with the failure of Marxism.

On the contrary,

the desire found its fulfilment in a variety of strange sub-ideologies. Future historians will surely find one of the strangest of these to be that of strident transsexualism.

The European débâcle

Waarom Dalrymple meewerkt aan SCEPTR

The continent’s problems, says Dalrymple, are

largely the result of intellectual error, and frequently of dishonesty as well.

This is combined, he points out, with

a totalitarian impulse to suppress free discussion. Many subjects cannot be freely discussed, with the result that the only way of expressing disagreement with the prevailing orthodoxies and pieties is by an inchoate and destructive rage.

But let us control our rage and instead attempt to overcome political correctness

using the tools of rationality.

The totalitarian impulse

screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-20-56-23Dalrymple points out that Europe’s problems are associated with

intellectual error and dishonesty — combined with a totalitarian impulse to suppress discussion.

Many subjects cannot freely be broached, with the result that

the only way of expressing disagreement with the prevailing orthodoxies and pieties is by an inchoate and destructive rage.