There is a great deal here I’d like to quote. Though it is brief, this is one of the best, most revealing interviews of Dalrymple I’ve seen, and it provides answers to some of the more common, and more central, questions about his beliefs.
To what extent, as an atheist, do you ascribe value to the Judeo-Christian tradition? Is this a necessary foundation of Western civilization?It seems to me obvious that western civilisation is Christian in origin, and those who decry Christianity are in effect decrying western civilisation. I say this as someone who is not myself religious. I believe it is possible for some people to live without religion, but probably not for whole peoples to live without it. To have a sense of transcendent purpose without religion necessitates a political ideology (which is likely to be very bad), or a belief that one is contributing to a culture. Without this, one is living in an eternal present moment, without past and without future.Have we seen a different type of person arise in the West, as Mr. Boot proposes? How else would you explain that the virtues of respect, duty, deference and self-sacrifice seem to have been universally derided if not abandoned?Certainly I am worried about a shallowness in the human personality that, if I may so put it, appears to be deepening. Even such things as the electronic media of communication, for those unfortunate enough to have been brought up with them, seem to hollow out human relations, making them extensive rather than intensive. As to derided ideas such as humility, proper deference and so forth, I think we live in an age of inflamed egotism, and of individualism without individuality. Never has it been more necessary, and at the same time more difficult, to mark yourself out as an individual. The slightest subordination in any circumstances is therefore felt as a wound, because the ego is so fragile, and relies on such props as the brand of trainers you are wearing.