Category Archives: totalitarians

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.

Corbyn: cause for alarm

A damned fool — and dangerous

Dalrymple points out that the populist-Leftist leader of the opposition in Britain, Jeremy Corbyn, is

an admirer of the Hugo Chávez school of solution to poverty and social problems.

Corbyn’s thought,

if such it can be called, is stuck in a primitive, almost pre-Bastiat stage.

This lifelong Castro devotee thinks that

expropriation and redistribution according to his view of what is right is the route to justice and prosperity. One might have hoped that the world had had sufficient experience of such notions to extinguish them from the human mind forever, but foolishness springs eternal.

In order to appeal

to the sentimentality of the electorate and to the xenophobic resentment of rich foreigners who can afford to speculate in London property, Corbyn is prepared to destroy his country’s reputation for probity and predictability in its laws of private property, a reputation that can be destroyed in a week but not restored in a decade, and which is vital to its prospects.

Corbyn

is dazzled by his virtuous vision, his mirage or hallucination of social justice.

There is, says Dalrymple,

no totalitarian as dangerous as he who does not realise he is one.