Category Archives: witchcraft

The European Court of Justice makes an ass of itself

Judicial populism

Dalrymple points out that

evidence based on post hoc ergo propter hoc, the fallacy employed by a thousand bar-room experts on every subject under the sun,

is now admissible in European courts. We are, he notes,

not far from the Azande belief that no death is natural, each death is caused by witchcraft.

Powerful idiocy

Dalrymple says that

an instinct of sympathy for the underdog is an admirable personal quality, no doubt,

but

it must be tempered by a regard for truth and justice, above all in courts of law.

The European Court of Justice

is certainly not the first to make an ass of itself, and it will not be the last. But idiocy is sinister when it is powerful idiocy.

The case of Vester Lee Flanagan

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 11.07.59Dalrymple identifies three principal features: bitter paranoia, craving for celebrity, and self-righteous anger.

1. The paranoid stance

The belief, writes Dalrymple, is that

the world is so constituted as to do one down.

This has

sour compensations, chief among which is that it explains in advance all our possible failures. We fail, but never deserve to do so. We are absolved from even trying to succeed, since the forces arrayed against us are too strong; bitterness therefore increases in proportion to the alleged, or self-described, meritocracy of a society.

The advance of sociology

has given us a menu of impersonal forces from which to choose to explain away our failings and discontents. It is co-opted to become the omnium gatherum of self-exculpation.

There is grandiosity,

in so far as the paranoid person believes that much that goes on around him is directed at himself.

There have always been people of paranoid disposition, Dalrymple points out, and he cites the Azande of the Sudan, who used to believe that no one died except by the witchcraft of enemies,

Azande sorcerer

Azande sorcerer

so that it is hardly surprising that they developed a wary attitude to their neighbours and the people around them.

Where there is a cultural emphasis on racism,

an increased number of people, with a relatively high propensity as individuals to paranoia, will interpret the world in its light.

2. The apparent desire for fame

Flanagan appears to have felt an inner compulsion to be famous. Dalrymple comments:

Provided the fame sought is for valuable achievement which is a precondition of becoming famous, the desire is constructive and perhaps even necessary. But where fame is desired for its own sake, detached from any worthwhile achievement, it is malignant and loosens or dissolves moral restraint on behaviour.

Worthwhile achievement is as difficult as ever, but

self-publicity is increasingly commonplace and fame the desire of more and more people who would once have been contented with obscurity. Those with an extreme desire for fame — unaccompanied by any particular qualification for it — resort to ever more bizarre behaviour in order to reach it.

3. The claimed sense of moral outrage

Dalrymple writes that we do not think of anger as a sin any longer

but as the sign of a generous heart, at least when felt and expressed on behalf of others. To live your life without anger is to be complacent and self-satisfied. Since the state of the world gives plenty of scope for those seeking an occasion for anger, we may be angry on behalf of others all the time. The greater our anger, the greater our generosity of spirit. Since our anger is noble and generous, when we act out of such anger, we suppose that we are acting generously.

Anger

makes us love injustice, provided that it is we who are committing it. An atmosphere of rage is concomitantly one of self-righteous cruelty.

Dissatisfaction is the permanent condition of mankind

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 08.56.39Witch-doctoring, says Dalrymple (from 16:15),

can work for those who believe in witches and spirits.

However,

there is no total explanation of the human condition. There is no theory that will release us from dissatisfaction.

Get a hold of yourself!

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 10.28.10Dalrymple argues that psychology

doesn’t help us understand ourselves. In the last 100 years we haven’t found anything of any value. We haven’t moved beyond Shakespeare.

On psychoanalysis, he remarks:

I daresay some people will have benefited from it, but they will have benefited from witch-doctors. It doesn’t help us to understand the human condition. I’m not sure anything will ever do better than literature, and even literature doesn’t help that much.

The institutionally racist Guardian

Screen Shot 2015-05-03 at 18.56.04Dalrymple discusses the editorial policies of what he calls ‘the best newspaper in Britain’, the London (formerly Manchester) Guardian.

He has long had the impression

that blacks were over-represented in photographs in the newspaper by comparison with people from the Indian subcontinent or with Chinese, and I tested my impression by counting the photographs in the edition of 19th September. There was only one photograph of an Indian, and that was in an advertisement. There were 26 photographs of blacks. This is systematic bias amounting to racism. There are more people of South Asian descent in Britain than of African and West Indian descent, yet Indians were the subjects of fewer than 4 per cent of the photographs of ethnic minorities to appear.

Dalrymple explains why.

The people who run and write the Guardian have deep, suppressed and subliminal doubts about the equality of human races. To prove to themselves that they do not have such doubts, they overcompensate by publishing as many photographs of blacks as possible. They don’t have any such doubts with regard to Indians and Chinese. These two groups have a fatal vice: grosso modo, they can shift for themselves, and require no help from the coalition of intellectuals, moral entrepreneurs and bureaucrats. They are well on the way to outstripping the white population in achievement, demonstrating the redundancy of that coalition. By contrast, blacks are regarded in the pages of the Guardian much as conservationists regard endangered species.

The idea that differentials in achievement

are attributable only to bias, illicit discrimination and prejudice is a primitive one, like the Azande idea that everyone dies of malevolent witchcraft, but it serves the ends of those who want to politicise the whole of life and control all social developments. Such people do not believe societies can reach accommodations and equilibria spontaneously and piecemeal, without central direction and an overall plan, usually their own, of course.