Category Archives: utopianism

American justice

Joe Jones, 1933. Columbus Museum of Art. Dalrymple writes: ‘There were Communists among the American artists in the 1930s who probably would have become socialist realists à la Stalin, if (as was, in reality, impossible) the US had turned Communist; but in the US political context, theirs was an art of protest, not unjustified in itself but ill-assorted with their blindness to the incomparably worse horrors of Soviet Russia. The working-class, self-taught Jones painted his powerful work to protest lynchings and the continued existence of the Klu Klux Klan. This was perfectly justified; lynchings, though not numerous given the size of the US population, must have exerted an influence far beyond their statistical importance, not unlike Islamist terrorism today; yet even lynchings were a minor phenomenon compared with the mass executions and starvation synonymous with Communism from its inception. Despite his obvious and sincere sympathy for the impoverished and downtrodden, Jones could not imagine that anything was worse elsewhere—least of all in his imagined utopia-on-earth.’

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How socialism works

The Left, writes Dalrymple,

is forward-looking and judges the present not by what has existed in an imperfect past, or by what is possible for human beings given their essential and abiding nature, let alone by any deontological precepts, but by a future state of perfection that will allegedly be called into existence.

Communism was supposed to

usher in an era of such material plenty, spread not equally but according to what each man needed (as judged by himself), that Man would be all but freed from labour, and the full beauty and potential of his personality would thereafter blossom. Government would wither away; and when it did, let a thousand Mozarts bloom!

What actually happened

was so preposterously different from this adolescent Marxian nonsense that the ideology could not long survive in the hearts and minds of millions its encounter with reality.

As time went on, with no utopia (or even adequate levels of material prosperity) in the offing, propaganda

was no longer an attempt to persuade the population, but became an attempt to humiliate and thus render it docile. Perpetual shortage was represented as unprecedented abundance, either present or to come. Constant intrusion and surveillance was represented as the highest form of freedom.

The error

was to be relatively specific about what utopia would look like. Whatever material abundance meant, it could not possibly mean queueing for five hours for a few measly potatoes.

Olympic vice

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 17.06.35If, writes Dalrymple, the games

were amateur, if the competitors were schoolteachers or dustmen who, after work, went down to some dingy sports field to practise their putting-the-shot or other fatuous activity, I would be in favour of rather than against them. The standard of performance would be incomparably lower, but the level of humanity would be correspondingly higher.

But this, Dalrymple points out, is a silly utopian dream.

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 17.11.29Even before the Berlin Olympics, the games were a window on political pathology. Dalrymple’s mother

saw Hitler at the Olympic stadium,

and Dalrymple remembers

seeing the Olympic flame borne aloft past me in Amalfi in 1960, by which time the games had long been a deeply vicious spectacle.

Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 17.09.36Screen Shot 2016-08-20 at 17.10.29

How do I appear concerned and compassionate to my friends, colleagues, and peers?

Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 23.03.21

More humanitarian than thou, not to mention a great deal richer

This, says Dalrymple, is for the pols, the polly-toynbees, the pundits and the pampered celebs of the West the real and most pressing question raised by any social problem.

The rules are:

  • Never give the appearance of blaming the victim of any social problem, or anyone whose life is poor or unenviable, by examining the bad choices he makes
  • Refrain always from looking at the reasons for those choices, since victims are victims and not responsible for their acts, unlike the small class of human beings who are not victims
  • Do not stare at a social problem for very long. Turn to abstractions, to structures over which the victim has no control

The rawness of reality must be avoided, says Dalrymple, so that

utopian schemes of social engineering can be spun.

The bien-pensants view people as

in the grip of forces that they cannot influence, let alone control—and therefore as not full members of the human race.

That people are reduced to automata suits the élite, for it

increases the importance of its providential role in society.

The collectivist rot in Britain

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 07.54.19An infantilised people

Its sense of irony, writes Dalrymple, once protected the British population

from infatuation with utopian dreams and unrealistic expectations.

But the English are sadly changed.

A sense of irony is the first victim of utopian dreams. The British tolerance of eccentricity has also evaporated; uniformity is what they want now, and are prepared informally to impose. They tolerate no deviation in taste or appearance from themselves.

The pressure to conform

to the canons of (lack of) popular taste has never been stronger. Those without interest in soccer hardly dare mention it in public. A dispiriting uniformity of character, deeply shallow, has settled over a land once richer in eccentrics than any other. No more Edward Lears for us: we prefer notoriety to oddity now.

The English are no longer sturdily independent as individuals, either. They now

feel no shame or even unease at accepting government handouts. (40% of them receive such handouts.)

Many Britons

see no difference between work and parasitism.

They are left with

very little of importance to decide for themselves, even in their private spheres.

The State

  • educates them (at least nominally)
  • provides for them in old age
  • frees them of the need to save money (doing so is in many cases made uneconomic)
  • treats them when they are ill
  • houses them if they cannot afford housing

Their choices

concern only sex and shopping.

No wonder, says Dalrymple, that the British

have changed in character, their sturdy independence replaced with passivity, querulousness, or even, at the lower reaches of society, a sullen resentment that not enough has been or is being done for them. For those at the bottom, such money as they receive is pocket money, reserved for the satisfaction of whims. They are infantilised. If they behave irresponsibly it is because both the rewards for behaving responsibly and the penalties for behaving irresponsibly have vanished.

Such people

come to live in a limbo in which there is nothing much to hope or strive for and nothing much to fear or lose. Private property and consumerism coexist with collectivism, and freedom for many people means little more than choice among goods. The free market, as Hayek did not foresee, has flourished alongside collectivism.

Multiculturalism breeds terrorists

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 21.32.25And patriotism is left to the savages

In Britain, writes Dalrymple,

patriotism has been left to the brutes: the kind of ignorant savages who tattoo a bulldog on their biceps and Made in England round their nipples, and who in equal measure revolt and terrorise the cheaper resorts of the Mediterranean.

The intellectual’s

equation of patriotism with xenophobia, and pride in past achievement with an arrogant superiority complex, has left a population demoralised and without any belief in its own nation. Orwell saw this happening. It has created a vacuum for the English Defence League to fill.

Many of Britain’s homebred terrorists

are not culturally isolated and alienated figures, cut off from mainstream British life by ghettoes and the multicultural nonsense that leaves them unable to speak English. Nor do they derive their suicidal-utopian fantasies from an unalloyed Islamic tradition. Their utopianism is at least as much secular as it is religious, though their religion is one that lends itself well to political violence.

Many of them are educated,

if attendance at a modern British university counts as an education; they have jobs and prospects. No, they have seen British values and culture close up, or at least what British values and culture have become, and they don’t like them.

They are quite right not to do so.

The fact that their response is grotesquely disproportionate and even more stupid than the culture they despise does not alter the correctness of their apprehension. Better a live slut than a dead pedestrian, say I; that does not make me pro-slut. It means only that I detest terrorism and its works as among the worst of evils.

In reacting as terrorists,

the young Muslims are following Bakunin and the Baader-Meinhof gang as much as the Koran. It is not for nothing that they go to Western universities.

Just because multiculturalism is not a major direct contributor to home-grown terrorism

does not make it right. On the contrary, it is a sentimental and harmful doctrine that turns the mind to mush, is evidence of an underlying indifference to real lives, and is a provider of pseudo-work for lots of people such as community organisers.

Multiculturalists, with their doctrinal sentimentalism,

are seldom interested in the culture of others. Very few of them read books in foreign languages, for example, let alone immerse themselves in the Pali scriptures or the writings of the Sufi. I don’t blame them: it is the work of a lifetime to be able to do so, and we each have only one lifetime, to say nothing of limitations of ability and inclination. But let us at least not pretend that our interest in other cultures extends much beyond their cuisine.

Multiculturalists rejoice at mass, and indiscriminate, immigration,

not because they are admirers of, say, Somali political philosophy, but because they want the culture of their own country to be diluted as much as possible, for only by rejecting what they have inherited do they think they can show their independence of mind and generosity of spirit. Let the heavens fall, so long as I am thought (by my peers) to be a free thinker.

The multicultural mindset or emotionset, characterised as it is by extreme sentimentality,

seems to destroy the critical faculties, if not the brain itself.

Almost by definition, multiculturalists

are not interested in the national interest. The world is their oyster, and they demand that we all swallow it.

The Gramscian Islamists

Allahu akbar!

Allahu akbar!

It would be simplistic, writes Dalrymple, to ascribe the violence of Muslim fundamentalists

to Islam itself, by citing those verses from the Koran that seem to justify or even require it. Selective quotation does not explain why extremism is the province of the young, and why, for example, the first generation of Muslim immigrants to Britain (and elsewhere) were not at all attracted to it.

Even in Islamic countries, fundamentalists

are not medieval throwbacks, however they may see themselves. They derive their ideas, even if they do not acknowledge it, at least as much from Lenin, Gramsci, and Mao as from Mohammed. They claim to want to return to seventh-century Arabia, but this is no more realistic or sincere than the wish of Victorian admirers of the Gothic to return to the Middle Ages.

Most Muslims in Britain, Dalrymple points out, are of Pakistani origin.

They were encouraged to come to Britain largely as a source of cheap labour, to prop up declining industries that had not adapted to the modern economy. But no labour in Britain could ever be cheap enough, without technological superiority, to compete successfully with labour in much poorer and cheaper countries. Originally, the idea was that the imported labour would be shipped back home if ever it became surplus to requirements. The opposite happened: each immigrant established a beachhead for others.

The immigrants

tended to congregate in certain areas, and they often met with hostility. Their children, growing up in virtual ghettoes, were neither fully of the host country nor fully of their parents’ culture. They were betwixt and between, in effect left to develop their own culture. Insofar as they encountered the hostility of the surrounding society, they developed resentments.

The Muslims were not the only immigrants to Britain.

There were Sikhs and Hindus as well, who fared much better, on the whole: their rates of unemployment are much lower than Muslims’ (indeed, lower than their white contemporaries’); they are underrepresented in prison, unlike Muslims, who are increasingly overrepresented; and they never developed any propensity to violence.

Islamism

provides a utopian and violent ideology of the kind that appeals to disgruntled young men facing all of the existential difficulties of youth. Moreover, Islamic society provides young men with another incentive for Islamism: the maintenance of the domination of women.

The British government

promoted ‘leaders’ of the Muslims, thus giving a golden opportunity to fundamentalists to establish themselves as controllers of government funds and to establish networks of patronage. Not knowing what it was doing, the British government spread Islamic fundamentalism.

Multiculturalism

has been another unwitting ally of Muslim extremism. Multiculturalism has created an informal system, like the late Ottoman empire’s millet system, in which various groups receive their privileges but are expected to live separately and distinctly from everyone else. This serves to prevent the various groups from developing any common identity and stimulates the ascent of political entrepreneurs whose power depends on the maintenance, aggravation, and inflammation of supposed grievances. Islamists are political entrepreneurs with a plausible doctrinal reason for violence. They are now able to extract from society the kind of respect that street muggers demand, and multiculturalism has become the ideological wing of sheer cowardice.

Islamism’s intellectual content is nugatory and contemptible

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 13.23.31Mohammedanism rushes in where Marxism can no longer tread

The downfall of the Soviet Union, writes Dalrymple, resulted in

an ideological vacuum for people seeking a total explanation of their discontents, people who—thanks to the spread of semi-education—were probably more numerous, and therefore more desperate, than ever. The only alternative on hand, and one with much deeper roots than Marxism, was fundamentalist Islam.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 13.19.44Islamism’s

intellectual content—the idea that a return to Islamic practices of the past (apart from the use of Kalashnikovs, etc.) is the solution to life’s woes everywhere—is so nugatory and contemptible that it is not worth an intelligent person’s efforts to refute it, any more than it is worth trying to refute the idea that the moon is made of blue cheese.

Alas, says Dalrymple,

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 13.19.21nothing is so foolish that some philosopher has not said it, and no utopia is so absurd that people cannot be found to believe in it and, worse still, fight for it.

Islamism

would form yet another chapter in Walter B. Pitkin’s A Short Introduction to the History of Human Stupidity (nearly 600 pages long) had the author not died in 1953.

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Muslim men bent on evil

Screen Shot 2015-11-15 at 09.09.26Those who become terrorist murderers cannot, of course, be satisfied with what Western society offers them, for they are, Dalrymple points out,

in the grip of a utopian ideology.

So were many successful people in the West once attracted to communism,

another ideology that would have destroyed their own freedom.

Imbecile militants of libertinism

Havelock Ellis

Havelock Ellis

Dalrymple writes that the shallow, twisted and dishonest sexual revolutionists’ ideas

about the relations between men and women—entailing ever greater sexual liberty, ever less mastery of the appetite—were so absurd and utopian that it is hard to understand how anyone could have taken them seriously. But mere absurdity has never prevented the triumph of bad ideas.

Their sensibilities

have permeated our society. The Dionysian has triumphed over the Apollonian. No grace, no reticence, no measure, no dignity, no secrecy, no depth, no limitation of desire is accepted.

There is, writes Dalrymple,

denial that sexual relations are a proper subject of moral reflection or that they need to be governed by moral restrictions. The result is soaring divorce rates and mass illegitimacy.

He points to the profound

change in moral sensibility, in the direction of a thorough coarsening of feeling, thought, and behaviour.