In Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple reacts to a conversation he overheard on a train, in fluent managerialese and containing these phrases:

That’s all been improved to deliver the capacity to deliver.

When we try to pin people down about what they’re going to deliver, we’re not good at it, it’s necessary to flex it but we don’t have a culture of it.

She’s passive-aggressive because she feels a feeling of being left out.

There was too much emphasis on what wasn’t right, and we’ve managed to shift the narrative.

From a performance management viewpoint, we could articulate a lot more engagement.

Macron Economics

All hell breaks loose in France, as the country – gasp – considers some minor economic reforms.

That so minor a piece of legislation can have brought about a political crisis is symbolic of France’s paralysis (and that of much of Europe also). The law, self-proclaimed as being for “growth and equality of opportunity,” would institute certain small changes. …These amendments are not such as to change the country profoundly, but the Socialist deputies in the National Assembly see them as the thin end of the wedge—as every change is seen in France.

Revolt Against Civilisation

Why are Islamists like ISIS so determined to destroy the ancient monuments and works of other cultures? Writing at Taki’s Magazine, Dalrymple says it’s because they have given in to the all-too-human temptation of barbarity. Better to embrace the attitude exhibited in the words of Lord Curzon, former Viceroy of India, whom he quotes at length:

If there be any one who says to me that there is no duty devolving upon a Christian Government to preserve the monuments of a pagan art or the sanctuaries of an alien faith, I cannot pause to argue with such a man. Art and beauty, and the reverence that is owing to all that has evoked human genius or has inspired human faith, are independent of creeds, and, in so far as they touch the sphere of religion, are embraced by the common religion of all mankind. Viewed from this standpoint, the rock temple of the Brahmans stands on precisely the same footing as the Buddhist Vihara, and the Mohammedan Musjid as the Christian Cathedral. There is no principle of artistic discrimination between the mausoleum of the despot and the sepulchre of the saint. What is beautiful, what is historic, what tears the mask off the face of the past and helps us to read its riddles and to look it in the eyes – these, and not the dogmas of a combative theology, are the principal criteria to which we must look.

Read the full piece here

To Make Men Thin

Dalrymple takes a surprising policy position in a piece for the Library of Law and Liberty, but of course he is also making a point about personal responsibility:

I would have no real objection, then, to regulation of the sugar content of prepared foods, provided it was done on intellectually honest grounds. Those grounds would not be that people are incapable of acting other than as they do, but that they are too idle to cook, their tastes and pleasures are too brutish, their habits too gross, for them to be left free to choose for themselves. Someone who knows better must guide them.

False optimism in the drugs debate

There is no approach to the issue of marijuana legalization that is obviously correct, says Dalrymple, but consider some of the potential harms that many, like Nick Clegg and Richard Branson in their recent public campaign, are ignoring:

…according to the latest research in Britain, the consumption of cannabis early in life is associated with a greatly increased risk of developing schizophrenia, and not even Messrs Clegg and Branson suggest legalising its sale to, and consumption by, such young people. Cheated by legalisation of a black market among older people, it is at least conceivable that dealers then turn their attention even more than they already do to a young population to maintain their sales and profits – and this at a time when levels of consumption are, luckily, falling among youngsters.

Read the piece in the Telegraph

The Rimbaud of Cwmdonkin Drive

After the recent centenary of Dylan Thomas’s birth, Dalrymple considers the life and work of the man he calls “one of the last thoroughgoing bohemians”. Was he a scoundrel, a grifter, a liar and a cheat? Yes to all. But make no mistake: he was truly a literary genius:

…few are the twentieth-century English poets who wrote lines that not only were memorable but that also make the soul vibrate. Thomas was one of them.


Barbarians among the ruins

A recent visit to Cheltenham gave Dalrymple all too many reasons to decry modern Britain, and the humor in his description in The New Criterion does not reduce its seriousness. But his visit to an art museum in the town was also cause for him to celebrate the work of a modern artist over that of the nineteenth-century painter William Charles Thomas Dobson, which I found noteworthy:

..the painting that most moved me was by Craigie Aitchison (1928–2009), painted in the year before his death. It was a crucifixion on a ground of scarlet, the figure of Christ being small, alone, and half-insinuated rather than fully depicted. It achieved an emotional and pictorial intensity that I do not associate with the current age, with its horror of both religious sentiment and genuine self-revelation that so easily invites the mockery of the sophistical. The likes of Dobson (of whom there were many) not only painted bad pictures but also did lasting damage to our artistic tradition, making the avoidance of their kitschy sentiment and sickly “beauty” almost the first duty of any artist, especially the second-rate; there is no trace of this neurosis in Aitchison.

The full piece is in the New Criterion and does not appear to require a subscription as it typically does.