Category Archives: vulgarity

The populist appeal to envy, spite, and resentment

Dalrymple reports that

Mr McDonnell, deputy leader of the Labour party, which for the time being is in opposition, recently objected to the presence of hereditary peers in the upper house, using the crude and vulgar language typical of populist politicians anxious to demonstrate their identity with the people or the masses.

It is strange, Dalrymple adds,

how rarely Leftists who are in favour of confiscatory economic policies are condemned as populist.

Corbyn panders to the instincts of the mob

Britain, writes Dalrymple

is on a knife edge, and anti-rich demagoguery is on the upsurge.

Jeremy Corbyn

has suggested requisitioning property by fiat for reasons of social justice. Following the disastrous fire in Grenfell Tower, Corbyn proposed seizing the houses of wealthy foreigners (mostly Arabs and Russians).

Dalrymple points out that Corbyn’s policy

is to increase government spending enormously, while balancing the budget: this can only mean much higher taxation, and given his social views, this in turn can only mean taxation on the rich and even the modestly prosperous, both of whom he regards as milch cows. But unless he exercises explicit power to keep them where they are (which he would not be above attempting), they will flee, and take their capital. French exports of their rich will seem a trickle by comparison.

In Britain, says Dalrymple,

the degradation of the population has gone much further than in France. British culture, which has become one of crude and vulgar self-indulgence, is inimical to rapid improvement; and now, in addition, there has been a recrudescence of the notion that wealth derives from redistribution rather than from creation.

Trump’s coarseness and vulgarity

Dalrymple is no admirer of Trump. Far from it. The taste of this casino magnate, he writes, is that of your average oil sheikh: lots of money but no style. Dalrymple differs with some of his US friends on this, arguing that Trump’s vulgarity and coarseness really do matter.

Ik ben geen bewonderaar van Donald Trump: ik kan me er niet toe brengen een bewonderaar te zijn van een casinobouwer wiens persoonlijke smaak doet denken aan dat van de gemiddelde oliesjeik. Veel geld, weinig stijl. Anders dan sommigen van mijn Amerikaanse vrienden die voor hem hebben gestemd, denk ik dat zijn grofheid en vulgariteit er wél toe doen. Ik denk ook dat het waarschijnlijk is dat het nettoresultaat van zijn politieke carrière de grip van politieke correctheid zal versterken op de harten en geesten van de jongeren. Laat dat nu net de groep zijn op wie die grip nu al meer dan sterk genoeg is.

The tabloids’ attitude to vulgarity

It is, writes Dalrymple,

ambiguous, to put it mildly. They excoriate what they assiduously promote, thus simultaneously profiting from vice and the condemnation of vice.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-23-27-10

Hopeless, stagnant Britain

screen-shot-2016-09-07-at-23-14-04On the train to the airport in England, and at the airport itself, Dalrymple sees a population that strikes him as

more militantly ugly and unintelligent than any other known to me, one that consumes without discrimination and enjoys without taste.

With regard to ugliness, he writes,

it added to whatever ugliness nature had bestowed upon it by refusing to wear any clothes that might lend it any dignity, choosing apparel that accentuated its natural unattractiveness. Grossly fat slobs insisted on wearing figure-hugging T-shirts that did not quite meet the tops of the shorts that exposed their fat white tattooed calves, exposing their repellent midriffs to the appalled gaze of the minimally sensitive.

Of the women, he says,

it would be kinder not to speak; suffice it to say that they made the men look like Beau Nash or Beau Brummel.

The taste of the British in everything from food to music and clothes

is base, vulgar, stupid, and crude.

Dalrymple notes that it is not that they know no better—innocent vulgarity can be amusing and even refreshing—but that

they know better and reject and hate it.

They refuse to aspire to what is better,

and try to intimidate others into abandoning it, with some success.

The productivity of such a nation, Dalrymple points out,

is unlikely to rise very fast or far. It will be lucky if in the modern world, with so much competition, it achieves stagnation.

Egotistical malignity of British youth

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 23.34.31Returning from a holiday in Spain, Dalrymple writes:

I saw more litter in a hundred yards on my return to Britain than I had seen in a thousand miles in Spain.

Britain, Dalrymple points out, is

the dirty man of Europe.

Spanish youth, he says,

while disagreeably noisy, certainly does not behave with the hideous, determined vulgarity of British youth. It does not eat in the street, is not menacing in appearance, nor does it display the egotistical malignity of its British counterpart, which turns almost any social interaction into a potentially violent confrontation.

What Blair says about the British people

A modern Briton

A modern Briton

One of Blair’s motives for going to war might have been

an eye to his post-retirement value on the very lucrative American lecture circuit.

Blair, Dalrymple notes,

shows a greater avidity for vulgar high living than any recent holder of his office.

Dalrymple says Blair

presents us with a special puzzle. Although by no means an interesting man, in the sense that Doctor Johnson was an interesting man, we all find ourselves thinking about him at frustrating length. He is like a tune, neither loved nor lovely, that one cannot get out of one’s head.

In some ways

he appears to resemble that product of the diseased communist imagination, particularly beloved of Che Guevara, the New Man, at least in the sense that he does not resemble previous generations.

Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 11.06.14Blair

is neither honest nor dishonest: he escapes entirely the criteria by which such a judgment of him could be made. To argue with him that what he says or does now is incompatible with what he said or did yesterday is about as fruitful as arguing a paranoid man out of his belief that the secret services of many countries are after him, or that his neighbours are listening to his thoughts through a screening device that they have invented. In short, Blair, having been born with Original Virtue, suffers from delusions of honesty.

Leaders, Dalrymple notes,

grow out of societies and a social context: they do not fall like bolts from the blue. Blair both represents, and is a cause of an acceleration in, a change in character of the British people. He is far from unique in his ability to find the happy coincidence between his thirst for money and power and the highest moral principles.

Anyone who has had dealings with the British public service, Dalrymple points out, will know that the principal qualities required for advancement within it are

  • unceasing sanctimony
  • brazenness
  • a craven dedication to orders from on high
  • an ability to justify a complete change of direction at a moment’s notice
  • a capacity for bullying those lower down the feeding chain, or those jostling for a place at the trough
  • a rigid self-control, to suppress any independence of mind or a tendency to consider the ethics of orders to be implemented

What is required in the civil servant is the ability, for example,

to present cancelled operations as an inestimable benefit to the patients concerned, while at the same time spotting niches for a little commercial activity of his own, whether it be by using the rules of employment to his own financial benefit or setting up a consultancy to advise his former employers.

Dalrymple recently met a public servant

who had risen up the ranks and had about him the air of a successful revolutionary. He travelled to London on the train first class every week (a ticket costs the equivalent of an annual working-class holiday in the sun), and attended sumptuous functions there attended by others such as himself, under the impression that by so doing he was working.

Here was the voice

of militant mediocrity, who expressed himself even in private in the language of Health Service meetings, believing that his large salary and high living at public expense were all for the good of those who paid for them. Just as the countries of Eastern Europe once had their little Stalins, so every department of every branch of the British public service has its little Blairs.

Today the ruling characteristics of the British are

  • deviousness
  • ruthlessness
  • an eye fixed on the main chance
  • sanctimony in the midst of obvious wrongdoing
  • toadying
  • bullying

As late as 1979, the British people, including administrators in hospitals, were largely upright. Some of the old virtues were seen, such as

  • stoicism
  • honesty
  • fortitude
  • irony
  • good humour

These can still be found,

but only in people who are of no importance,

for in Britain, good people

are like a defeated class.

Dalrymple says that

when words become the test of virtue, they also become the masks of vice. That is why sanctimony and ruthless self-interest are such powerful allies.

The crude and corrupt British state broadcaster

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 17.15.49For the right to receive television broadcasts in their homes, British households must pay a poll tax equivalent to about $210, which subsidises the British Broadcasting Corporation. 

This broadcasting system, writes Dalrymple, exemplifies two of the guiding principles of contemporary British public life:

  • the active promotion of adolescent vulgarity and sniggering crudity
  • the shameless looting of the public purse

Needless to say, the BBC

is losing viewers and listeners all the time; a growing proportion of the population never tunes in to any of its programmes.

The BBC certainly cannot claim any longer

that it produces, as it once did, the kind of intelligent programmes that commercial broadcasters shun.

Dalrymple points to vast payments made to the BBC’s fifth-rate ‘comedians’. These payments, he notes,

represent a gift from state functionaries (who themselves have also looted the public purse unmercifully)

on condition that the ‘comedians’

keep contributing to the ideologically-driven vulgarisation of the culture.

There has been a return, says Dalrymple,

to the 18th-century days of state patronage, with this difference: that the men who exercised it back then were men of taste and discrimination. They knew a Dr Johnson when they saw one.

The grossly sordid British

How they acquired a taste for the trashy, the vulgar, the stupid and the worthless

The toffs of Auntie hired Jimmy Savile, says Dalrymple, for his cunning and ability to take advantage of changing times. He was knighted, for services to downward cultural drift.

Dalrymple writes:

Official endorsement of execrable taste was a boon to those who had to fill several channels a day for 24 hours, because stupid programmes of execrable taste are so easy to produce by comparison with those of intellectual or artistic value, which can be produced only in limited quantity.

Savile was a militant vulgarian to the last,

as his gravestone demonstrated. But it is only the vulgarity of modern British gravestones to a slightly higher degree.

Savile was

both a beneficiary and shaper of contemporary British taste: he found it bad and left it worse. If his field had been art instead of prolefeed, the critics would have praised him for being avant-garde and transgressive.

Savile was a product

not just of the BBC, but of the British people, of whose taste he was a true reflection.


How the British are manumitted

Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 23.17.38The attitude of mass-circulation British newspapers to vulgarity tends to be ambivalent, writes Dalrymple.

In theory, they are against it. In practice, they do much to advance vulgarity’s cause.

As vulgarity correspondent for one of these papers, Dalrymple is sent to the Spanish island of Ibiza, where he witnesses

nightly drunken Saturnalias on the beaches and in the streets.

The British holidaymakers there are

proud of their disgusting behaviour, exhibitionistic of it.

He notes that one of the nightclubs is called Manumission, and asks what kind of slavery it is from which those who enter seek release. Perhaps it is

  • the slavery of having to earn a living, often in a capacity below that which their education had led them to expect or hope for
  • the slavery of social convention (though, acting in crowds, they are deeply conventional people)
  • the slavery of consciousness, the sheer inescapability of thought

Another nightclub is called Amnesia. Dalrymple says:

If I were opening a new nightclub in Ibiza in competition with Amnesia, I would call it Anæsthesia.