Category Archives: totalitarianism

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.

Champlain College is hiring!

Situation vacant: assistant professor of interdisciplinary studies

The institution of higher education in Burlington, Vermont, USA, states in its advertisement:

We specifically welcome candidates with interdisciplinary teaching expertise in one or more of the following areas:

  • postcolonial studies
  • decoloniality
  • critical race theory
  • queer of color critique
  • ethnic studies
  • indigenous and/or settler colonialism studies
  • disability studies
  • feminist theories
  • gender and sexuality studies
  • transnational studies
  • composition and rhetoric with a specialization in any of the above areas

As we strive to create the most intellectually diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution that we can, we especially encourage candidates from historically underrepresented groups to apply.

The pleasures of denunciation

Young people, Dalrymple writes, are creating

a totalitarian environment in which they denounce one another.

Thus

the social media that were going to set opinion free and give voice to everyone end by stifling expression and creating fear.

The world is full of people like Madame Defarge. Denunciation, Dalrymple notes,

combines the delights of self-righteousness with those of revenge and the contemplation of the discomfort or worse of other people. It requires no courage and is within the capacity of all. In Nazi Germany and occupied France people wrote denunciations of their neighbours and others by the millions, often for the sheer pleasure of doing so and usually in the hope that they would have serious consequences for the persons denounced.

The day cannot be far off

when people will viscerally understand the danger to themselves of saying certain things on social media and will censor themselves automatically. If this continues long enough, certain things will not only become unsayable but unthinkable, for habit eventually is transformed into character. This is the point of political correctness: it aims at the most radical of dictatorships, that which requires the enforcement of no police because everyone is incapable of breaking the rules.

Meanwhile the appetite for public expressions of contrition is insatiable. Dalrymple points out that

it is not contrition that is wanted, but the humiliation inflicted on those who are forced to express it. The enjoyment is in the spectacle of the squirming of the wrongdoer.

The logic of the combination of social media and a taste for burning witches at the stake

will reduce us to a strange state of malice and blandness. The ambitious will refrain from saying anything that could offend anyone; the bland will lead the bland. Any deviation from current orthodoxy will be punished with vengeful vituperation or worse.

The orthodoxy to be adhered to

will change — as the enemy changed during the two-minute hate sessions in Nineteen Eighty-Four — as a test of the obedience and loyalty of the population. The politically correct will find new orthodoxies to enforce, new locutions to prescribe or proscribe, to keep decent society in a state of subliminal fear.

The sort of thing one would expect in a dictatorship

Out come the candles: women must be believed qua women

Femaoism on the rise

Dalrymple writes that Brett Kavanaugh’s statement to the committee after Christine Blasey Ford had given her evidence

was a very bad one. As he was soon to recognise, he spoke in a way in which he should not have spoken and said things that he should not have said. To me he sounded more like a politician than a judge.

However, Dalrymple points out that those who demonstrated to the effect that the women who accused Kavanaugh of misconduct were to be believed qua women

are guilty of flagrant sex stereotyping. They degrade their sex and render it less than human.

Dalrymple does not say that Christine Blasey Ford lied, only that

to claim that she did not do so because women ex officio do not tell lies is to diminish women as human beings.

What Ford said

was not substantiated, and insofar as there is evidence other than what she said, the evidence is against her. This is not the same as saying that her testimony was untrue; but no criminal prosecution could be brought on the basis of what she said, and even a civil case would fail. What we are left with is a mere possibility, and it seems to me unlikely that, in the absence of startling new evidence, it will ever amount to more than that.

The protesters showed

how little they respected due and established process and how fragile was their belief in the rule of law. They would let unsubstantiated allegations—provided they were of the right sort—wreck a man’s career and perhaps deprive him of a living, certainly stain his reputation for the rest of his life if not longer, principally because they didn’t like his views. This is the kind of thing one would expect in a totalitarian dictatorship, complete with staged outrage and accusations against which there can be no complete defence.

The effect of the episode is the advance of the cause of what Dalrymple calls

femaoism, an amalgam of feminism and Maoism. For some people, there is a lot of pleasure to be had in hatred, especially when it is made the meaning of life.

Femaoism

Dear man held out hope of humanistic totalitarianism

Dalrymple finds that a century after the great October putsch, it is interesting to return to what was written 50 rather than 100 years afterwards, so he digs out Ironies of History. He notes that at the time of publication (1966) of Isaac Deutscher’s collection of essays,

the Soviet Union seemed as permanent a feature of the modern world as, say, global warming.

Deutscher had entered his phase as superstar of the New Left, on account of

  • his three-volume biography of his hero Trotsky, which offered willing dupes the hope of a humanistic totalitarianism
  • his opposition to the Vietnam War, during which he formed a tactical alliance with draft-avoiding students, the offspring of what, in other circumstances, he would no doubt have called the petty-bourgeois and kulak class

Such books as Deutscher’s Ironies, Dalrymple points out,

have gone the way of antimacassars and whalebone corsets.

Unctuous drivelling bilge from the UN

The United Nations parasites and their poppycock

In Geneva, Dalrymple is handed a pamphlet with the title 170 Daily Actions to Transform Our World, produced by the so-called Perception Change Project of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG).

On the rear of the pamphlet are the words

The Sustainable Development Goals are humanity’s to-do list for a sustainable planet, a clear roadmap for a better future.

Dalrymple comments:

Are there people in the world who think in words such as these, or who have thoughts that correspond to them? If so, they are much to be commiserated with; it must be an affliction. Compared with UNOG’s totalitarianism, all other totalitarianisms—the totalitarianism of Stalin and his gulag, the totalitarianism of Hitler and his extermination camps, the totalitarianism of Pol Pot and his relocation of city dwellers to the rice paddies—were but local solutions to local problems. According to UNOG, about 6bn human beings have a uniform list of things to do that, presumably, they must all stick with a magnet to the door of their fridge.

To-do list for humanity

Here is one of the 170 things for humanity to do:

Conserve, conserve, conserve. When ice cubes are left over from a drink, don’t throw them away. Put them into plants.

Here another:

Once a month, have a coffee with a person who is different from you, whether in race, beliefs, culture or age.

Dalrymple overfulfils the target:

When it comes to having a coffee with a person who is different from me, I overfulfil practically every day of my life. I have more than one coffee a day with my wife, who is different in gender (as we must now put it), culture, and beliefs from me. I do not wish unduly to boast, but everyone I meet seems to be different from me; in fact, I never meet my clones. And I leave it to readers to decide how easy it is for nomads of the Ogaden to meet their Swiss bankers or some Canadian lumberjacks for their monthly coffee.

Dalrymple asks:

What to do about the unscrupulous hypocrites of UNOG and its Perception Change Project, who imagine that when they are producing this unctuous drivelling bilge they are working rather than parasitising the humanity to whom they give to-do lists?

Corbusians versus the cockroaches

Dalrymple writes that Le Corbusier’s

casual but vicious totalitarianism, his inhumanity, his rage against humans, is evident. He felt the affection and concern for humans that most people feel for cockroaches.

Like Hitler, Le Corbusier

wanted to be an artist, and, as with Hitler, the world would have been a better place if he had achieved his ambition — one could have avoided his productions. The buildings that he and myriad acolytes have built scour the retina of the viewer.

The Corbusians are original in nothing but the new outrages they commit

A single Corbusian building

can devastate a landscape or destroy an ancient townscape, with a finality quite without appeal.

As for Le Corbusier’s city planning,

it was of a childish inhumanity and rank amateurism that would have been mildly amusing had it remained theoretical.

Dalrymple’s æsthetic detestation of Charles-Édouard Jeanneret

Le Corbusier, Dalrymple points out, was

  • personally unpleasant
  • a plagiarist
  • a liar
  • a cheat
  • a thief

His ideas were

gimcrack at best, and often far worse than merely bad.

A criminally bad architect

To commission a building from Le Corbusier

was to tie a ball and chain around one’s ankle, committing to Sisyphean bills for maintenance, as well as to a dishonest estimate of what the building would cost to build. He was technically ignorant and incompetent, laughably so. His roofs leaked, his materials deteriorated. He never grasped elementary principles of engineering.

A house by Le Corbusier

was not so much a machine for living in (one of his fatuous dicta) as a machine for generating costs and for moving out of. In the name of functionality, Le Corbusier built what did not work; in the name of mass production, everything he used had to be individually fashioned.

Having no human qualities himself,

and lacking all imagination, he did not even understand that shade in a hot climate was desirable, indeed essential.

Foulest of the fascist architects

Le Corbusier’s writing is

exhortatory and often ungrammatical, full of non-sequiturs and dubious assertions. He raves rather than argues; everything is written in an imperious take-it-or-leave-it mode.

Le Corbusier’s pronouncements, and the belief in them,

led to the construction of a thousand urban hells, worse in some ways than traditional slums because they were designed to eliminate spontaneous human contact. He hated the street, because it was messy, unofficial and unofficiated. He hated it as an obsessively houseproud woman hates dust.

Despite his horrible failings, Le Corbusier exerts

an unaccountable hold over architects and intellectuals. In France (but not only in France), to criticise him is to put oneself beyond the pale, and careers have been obstructed if not ruined by doing so. He seems to have a grip over minds, and those who are attracted to him are attracted also to totalitarian methods of keeping control over opinion. While hundreds of fawning books have been published about him, only a relative handful have taken a critical stance, and even those that provide ample evidence of his manifold defects and crimes refrain from drawing the obvious conclusion.

The fanatically puritanical WikiLeaks Weltanschauung

It is scarcely worth arguing against such a childish view of life

We hardly needed WikiLeaks to tell us, writes Dalrymple,

that Nicolas Sarkozy is a vulgar man with authoritarian inclinations, or that Silvio Berlusconi is interested in sex. It isn’t even particularly reassuring to have our judgments confirmed for us by US diplomatic messages, for if they had said anything different we shouldn’t have believed them.

At first there is a

slight frisson of pleasure at the discomfiture of powerful people and those in authority , a pleasure akin to that of seeing a pompously dignified man slip on a banana skin.

Censor to the world

But when this wears off,

the significance of the greatest disclosure of official documents in history—without, that is, the military downfall of a great city—becomes apparent. It is not that revelations of secrets are always unwelcome or ethically unjustified. It is not a new insight that power is likely to be abused and can only be held in check by a countervailing power, often that of public exposure.

Totalitarianism

WikiLeaks, says Dalrymple,

goes far beyond the need to expose wrongdoing, or supposed wrongdoing: it is unwittingly doing the work of totalitarianism.

The idea behind WikiLeaks

is that life should be an open book, that everything that is said and done should be immediately revealed to everybody, that there should be no secret agreements, deeds, or conversations. In the view of WikiLeaks, no one and no organisation should have anything to hide.

The effect of WikiLeaks

is likely to be profound and the opposite of what it sets out to achieve. Far from making for a more open world, it could make for a much more closed one.

The possibility of secrecy is not the enemy but the precondition of frankness

WikiLeaks

will sow distrust and fear, indeed paranoia; people will be unwilling to express themselves openly in case what they say is taken down by their interlocutor and used in evidence against them, not necessarily by the interlocutor himself. This could happen not in the official sphere alone, but in the private sphere, which it works to destroy. An Iron Curtain could descend. A reign of assumed virtue would be imposed, in which people say only what they do not think and think only what they do not say.

The dissolution of the distinction between the private and public spheres, Dalrymple points out, is

one of the aims of totalitarianism. Opening and reading other people’s e-mails is no different from opening and reading other people’s letters.

WikiLeaks plays a role

that requires an astonishing moral grandiosity and arrogance to have assumed. Even if some evils are exposed, or some necessary truths aired, the end does not justify the means.

Architectural totalitarianism

Modernist architecture, writes Dalrymple,

is inherently totalitarian: it brooks no other, and indeed delights to overwhelm and humiliate what went before it by size and prepotency, or by garishness and the preposterousness which it takes for originality, and which turns every townscape into the architectural equivalent of a Mickey Finn.

Puritanical vigilance of the politically correct

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Николай I

Dalrymple notes that in La Russie en 1839, the Marquis de Custine wrote that Nicholas I

was both eagle and insect: eagle because he soared over society, surveying it with a sharp raptor’s eye from above, and insect because he bored himself into every crack and crevice of society from below. Nothing was too large or too small for his attention.

Political correctness is rather like that, says Dalrymple.

For the politically correct, nothing is too large or too small to escape their puritanical attention. As a consequence, we suspect that we are living an authoritarian prelude to a totalitarian future.