Category Archives: utopian nonsense

A crashing bore actuated by burning hatred

Dalrymple writes that on the whole, the commentary evoked by the bicentenary of Karl Marx’s birth

obeyed the injunction not to speak ill of the dead, as if the passage of time and the deaths of millions in the name of the birthday boy did not somewhat attenuate the social imperative to mute one’s words.

Marx

believed that crises were inevitable until the advent of his utopia, in which such phenomena as private property, banks, and the bourgeoisie would cease to exist. In Marx’s vision, the ant would lie down with the anteater.

The combination, says Dalrymple,

of scathing criticism of the present and adolescent daydreaming is irresistible to quite a lot of people.

Dalrymple notes that Marx

was one of those people who love humanity and hate men. He was in most respects an unattractive figure, cocksure, domineering, intolerant, and hypocritical—though he had an undoubted charm in the domestic circle and was both very clever and intensely cultivated.

In his writing he was

a crashing bore with a brilliant turn of phrase. Burning hatred is never far from his prose, and gives it its spice. Nowhere is it clearer that hatred is by far the strongest of political emotions.

The anteater shall lie down with the ant

A reliable and trustworthy police force is not a denial of freedom but a precondition of its exercise

This ‘all coppers are bastards’ view of the police has spread, Dalrymple observes,

to a large section of the bourgeois intellectual class. Not long ago a journalist told me, en passant, that he hated the police. I asked why: had they falsely arrested, unjustifiably manhandled, brutally interrogated him? No, he replied: he had no personal reason; he just hated them for what they were. Well, as Lear said, nothing comes of nothing: and the journalist’s hatred of the police was unlikely to have sprung completely at random and fully formed from his consciousness. I suspected, as is so often the case with opinions lightly adopted but firmly held, that this one was forged from a combination of ignorance, dishonesty, and fashion. By expressing a dislike of the police, a bourgeois intellectual is establishing his solidarity with the poor.

But the bourgeois intellectual

needs to find reasons for his opinions: rationalisation is his métier. And it isn’t difficult for him to think up such reasons with regard to the police. Their function is to defend the social order: and since the social order is widely held to be responsible for the poverty of the poor, it follows that the police are in part responsible for that poverty. They are a part of the social injustice system.

This pretence, that the police are

but the executive arm of a hypocritical bourgeoisie determined to preserve its ill-gotten gains at the expense of the poor,

is

terrifyingly shallow when tested against the experience of people who suffer weak policing.

Dalrymple points out that the idea that a juster social order would render the police redundant is

utopian nonsense.