According to Dalrymple at Pajamas Media, there might business or public health reasons for doctors to choose not to treat certain types of patients, but those reasons might also just be a cover for simple discrimination. Or does the doctor’s motivations even matter?
Whatever the stated reasons, it’s clear that the real motivation for the establishment of the European Union is the desire of European bureaucrats for power. They claim to be motivated by a desire to avoid further conflict on the continent, but as Dalrymple says in a new piece for the Australian (available for free at Real Clear World), the union, if anything, promotes and encourages conflict:
Actually, a forced European unity, conjured from no popular sentiment by a strange combination of bureaucratic mediocrity and gaseous utopianism, is more likely to lead to conflict than to prevent it; and the increasingly wide divergence of the interests of France and Germany is fast recalling the ghosts of the past. The French fear to be dominated; the Germans don’t want to be condescended to.
In the Telegraph, Dalrymple takes the news of Sir Alex Ferguson’s announcement of retirement as an opportunity to muse on retirement generally, including his own:
There are few sensations more delightful than waking up in the morning in the knowledge that one does not have to get up if one doesn’t want to. No doubt it is a sign of mankind’s bad character that the sensation is all the more delicious because one knows that not everyone can share it. And one comes to realise that the old maiden aunt who took an entire morning to post a letter, whom Northcote Parkinson described to illustrate his famous law that work expands to meet the time available for its completion, was not so much a figure of fun or even obloquy as a wise old bird. The fact is that pottering is fun and soothes the soul.
This essay, consisting of fairly random musings about owls and inspired by his recent purchase of a book about the creatures, is a departure from Dalrymple’s usual oeuvre. Part 2 will apparently be about Richard III, the subject of the other book he purchased on the same visit to a charity shop.
For me, Dalrymple is no less exciting when he writes about the seemingly mundane than when he takes on the weightiest matters. The insights are just as interesting and profound, and the writing is, if anything, even more beautiful. As he says in this piece, he is interested in everything, and it seems to me that those who are the most interested are typically the most interesting.
Owls, I confess, play a only very small part in my life. In the little town in which I live when I am in England there is a woman who is always accompanied on her shopping expeditions by a pet owl. No one finds this astonishing or, if they do, lets their astonishment be known; this is either from a laudable desire not to intrude upon the owner or not to gratify her desire for notice. And in France a pair of tawny owls to-whit to-whoo every summer night in a tree a hundred yards or so (to judge by the sound of it) from the house. I never tire of listening them; I also never see them, and so their lives are a closed book to me. They therefore reassure me that there is mystery still in the world; for a world without mystery, in which everything were revealed and known, would be a terrible place. Knowledge is wonderful, the more of it the better, but omniscience would be a nightmare.
In his medical column for Pajamas Media, Dalrymple muses on the results of a recent study that shows that older doctors produce fewer complications for their patients:
Suppose it proved to be a general rule that every doctor is at his peak performance in his sixth decade? Will not every patient then want his or her doctor to be of that decade? It is obvious that such a desire could not possibly be complied with; and even if it could be, how would younger doctors get the experience to reach their peak in their sixth decade?
Of course, difference in age and experience is not the only cause of variation in doctors’ performance. Some are brilliant by natural ability, others less so. But the public does not necessarily react rationally when it learns of a statistical association.
I hate to quote so extensively, but I can’t resist the closing passage of this piece from Dalrymple’s Hilarious Pessimist blog:
[I]t doesn’t worry me that there are people in the world who are richer than I by a much larger multiple than that by which I am richer than an unemployed person in Hartlepool. When I arrived in Zurich I wandered among the antique shops and antiquarian booksellers and it didn’t worry me at all that I shall never be able to buy the type of things they contained and that I would very much like to possess. I was more mortified by the fact that I saw nothing of recent manufacture to equal the quality of the old: in other words, the rich were not doing their job properly in patronising the arts or stimulating the production of objects that would be valued in a hundred or five hundred years’ time, except possibly as historical curiosities.
It seems to me that the very rich have a moral duty to exhibit good taste and it is my impression that, these days, they rarely do so, at least with regard what is new (the hardest test of good taste). Good taste is not only a matter of having an eye, but of self-discipline. It requires cultivation, not merely conspicuous… expenditure.
I’m not sure this is the right title for this piece at New English Review. Dalrymple doesn’t write about blame per se but rather notes a recent case of a writer, James Lasdun, being stalked and defamed by one of his readers, an incident that must weigh heavily on the mind of a writer as prolific as Dalrymple:
Lasdun’s persecutor not only altered his Wikipedia entry, but wrote calumnies about him on Amazon and other sites (admittedly a hazard faced only by those who put themselves before the public in some way). These calumnies could be and were removed in time, but e-mails to his employers accusing him of things that were both inherently unlikely and difficult to disprove were far more serious, and could have been done to anyone. Lasdun stood accused of the kind of ‘crimes’ which always besmirch in the modern world – racism, sexism, harassment etc. – and which he himself had previously believed ought to be extirpated by administrative regulation. He found that proving a negative, even within the confines of his own mind, was not easy.
At the Library of Law and Liberty, Dalrymple revisits a political classic 50 years after its publication:
The liberal mind, as anatomized by Minogue, acknowledges no limits and accepts no human suffering as being consequent upon the inherent limitations of human existence. It denies that perfection is not of this world because it believes that no other world exists in which perfection might be possible…
No consideration of or reflection on the incompatible and contradictory desires that constantly arise within the human breast because of man’s very nature deters or discourages the liberal mind from its pursuit of perfection. The liberal mind is like the Émile Coué of political philosophy: Every day, in every way, I’m feeling better and better. What the Émile Coué approach to existence failed to explain, much less accept and prepare for, was the death of so many people, everyone in fact.
And yet, Dalrymple goes on, we have all embraced some aspects of the liberal mind. The problem is knowing where to stop.
Dalrymple catches the Guardian in a glaring contradiction: On the one hand, why are the Americans paying so much attention to the Boston bombings when the number of people killed by guns is so much greater?
On the other hand, let’s talk more about the death of Stephen Lawrence but ignore the much greater number of black victims killed by black criminals.
But that would have been a very painful subject, requiring real moral courage to address; and another very human characteristic is the avoidance of subjects that cause pain and require real moral courage to address.