The Importance of Being Sympathetic

In Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple expresses his shock at seeing his first post-election photo of a much older-looking Hillary Clinton:

I was surprised by my own feeling of sympathy for her, I who had previously detested her (quite without admiring Mr. Trump—very far from it) for her ruthless self-righteousness and self-righteous ruthlessness, with one eye always fixed on high moral principle and the other on the main chance, the latter always seeming to triumph over the former.
….
My sympathy did not, of course, go very deep or last very long. He who lives by ambition dies by ambition. If you make the achievement of power the meaning of your life and you are thwarted in it, some kind of collapse is only to be expected.

Self-Anointed v. Resentful

We have fallen somewhat behind again in posting Dalrymple’s work, and so this City Journal piece on the American presidential election, from before it occurred, may have been overtaken by events. But it is still interesting to hear the European perspective, whether with schadenfreude or disgust at the outcome, as the case may be.

There is no doubt that there is an underlying smugness about the European attitude to the American election. It couldn’t happen here: no serious politician of Trump’s crassness would reach his exalted level. Not only does such assurance forget our history, but it also disregards the subterranean discontents under the calm and well-ordered surface that could well one day erupt into something far worse than Trump’s clownish rodomontade. And our political class already shares Clinton’s invincible and ruthless self-righteousness. Being Hillary Clinton is like love: never having to say you’re sorry.

Blind Commitment

I was unaware of the absurd commitment Airbnb requires homeowners to sign:

You commit to treat everyone—regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.

Dalrymple responds in Taki’s Magazine:

Does it mean that one is committed to welcoming necrophiliacs into one’s home, or people like Dennis Nilsen, who liked to watch television with the corpses of the people he had killed sitting next to him (before cutting them up and flushing them down the lavatory)?…Did the framers of this oleaginous “commitment” mean that the owners of accommodations should take no notice if their potential lodgers are satanists, or members of the Ku Klux Klan, or Black Panthers, or soldiers of ISIS?

….

In short, the ridiculous “commitment” is demanded not because it will do any good, but because it exhibits the virtue of those demanding it. Those who demur from such a commitment…will nonetheless find themselves condemned for bigotry.

The Price of Bread

On the practice of judging politicians based on their knowledge of the prices of common goods, as occasioned by a recent such episode in France:

Perhaps it would be possible to rank politicians (or people in general) by the prices of which they are aware. Those who know the price of an Aubusson tapestry, for example, but not that of a pain au chocolat would be of aristocratic or industrialist conservative type; those who know the price of a pain au chocolat but not of a McDonald’s hamburger would be of good cultivated social democratic type; while those who know the price of Coca-Cola but not of fennel would be of the proletarian populist type. Political debates should be replaced by lists of goods of which the candidates estimate the current price.

Or in shorter form: “By their knowledge of prices shall ye know them.”

Read the whole piece (but not the comments) at Taki’s Magazine

Wiesel Words

In this month’s piece at New English Review, Dalrymple writes of attending a speech by writer and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel years ago in Buenos Aires:

…the audience, which was obviously a highly-educated one, grew restless under Weisel’s seemingly unprepared, but nevertheless well-worn, torrent of sickly platitudes, most of which struck an unpleasantly sentimental or folksy note that might have just been appropriate for a village meeting but here was of an almost insulting superficiality. Indeed, several people in the audience walked out in a protest, or at least in disgust…

After reading Wiesel’s book The Night, about his horrific experience at Buchenwald, Dalrymple began to see things differently:

As anyone who has had evil or even only discreditable thoughts will know, it is a continuing burden to have had them, all the more so in such circumstances. No wonder Wiesel writes nothing of his experience for several years afterwards. But it was hardly surprising that, once he had started to do so, he interpreted everything in the light of it. Which of us would not do the same?

A Society Worthy of Our Televisions

Television is a very poor medium for the discussion of complex topics, says Dalrymple in the Library of Law and Liberty, but that fact doesn’t seem to have limited the popularity of such discussion shows. He cites a recent experience on a show where he and three other people were expected to discuss the public value of imprisonment in ten minutes. What to do when a fellow talking head says something Dalrymple knows to be untrue?

Once my fellow panellist had delivered himself of this supposed fact, the presenter turned to me and asked me a question completely unrelated to it. I was faced with a dilemma: If I answered her question, the alleged fact would float by unchallenged; but if I disregarded her question and returned to what my fellow panellist had said, I would appear rude and evasive. Besides, I had 30 seconds at most in which to speak. Hogging the microphone for more time than that would have been counter-productive, because it would have led to a row which would have overshadowed completely the substantive matter we were trying to address.

So I let his statement stand, which might have given the impression that I accepted it as truth. The viewers, too, may well have assimilated it as truth.

Read the piece here

On The Shelf

In an article for Standpoint, Dalrymple laments the loss of the book as a physical object:

If I had my time again I’d have less to do with people and even more to do with books than I had the first time around: but I would have to come back in the past rather than the future, because the book as an artefact seems to have ever less importance in our culture…

Read the rest here

Correction: This piece is in Standpoint, not the Spectator.

Not a Nobel Man

I doubt anyone will be surprised at Dalrymple’s reaction to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for literature:

When I heard the announcement, I thought it was a spoof. I thought, “Why not award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry to a celebrity chef?” Poetry is made of words; Dylan wrote words. Food is made of chemicals; chefs mix chemicals.

…But I accept that tastes differ (though it must be remembered that humanity is more divided by taste than by anything else).

The medical (and legal) consequences of looking at your phone in bed

Almost everyone nowadays spends an inordinate amount of time looking at phone and computer screens, and there are examples in modern medical literature of consequent physical harms. How long can it be before a new disease is discovered (Dalrymple calls it Screen Separation Anxiety)? With all the attendant legal issues, of course.

…it would be easy to list the criteria for the diagnosis of SSM in the normal manner of the DSM: Severe or incapacitating anxiety on being separated from screens for more than two hours, with at least three of the following: a) Excessive time spent looking at screens (except for work); b) Reduced normal social interaction because of time spent looking at screens; c) Inability to concentrate on anything except a screen; d) Preference for screens over all other activities; e) Anger at suggestions that less time should be spent looking at screens; f) Inability to refrain from looking at screens when one or more is nearby.

AND at least one of the following: 1) Serious interference with social or work performance; 2) Insomnia caused by proximity of screens consulted through the night.

Read the rest at The Spectator

Sir Philip Green sans Knighthood?

Explaining that a spiv is “a person who dresses nattily, lives well even in hard times for others, and makes his living by disreputable means”, Dalrymple argues at Salisbury Review that spivvery is endemic to modern Britain:

You have only to read the Financial Times’ Saturday supplement, How to Spend It, to understand how much of our economy is in essence a spiv economy. The supplement is aimed not at people with more money than sense, but at a group of people far, far worse: people with more money than taste, for whom Sir Philip Green (if he still is Sir Philip) is a leader of fashion.