In New English Review Dalrymple praises an uncommon virtue he says is necessary for the production of great art: self-censorship…
But one faculty seems to me to be essential or indispensable in the individuals who would produce great art: namely, the faculty of self-censorship, that is a sense not merely of what should be left out, but of what should not be said. Without self-censorship, complete freedom of expression is destined by a kind of inner logic an arms-race of vulgar sensationalism.
Dalrymple makes the following aside in this piece in Taki’s Magazine about seeing art films in Paris:
The case for parliamentary democracy lies in the alternance in power, not in the wisdom of crowds or their choices. It is better that those in power should not get their feet under the table for too long, even if the people who will replace them at the table are no better than they. If it is argued, as it often is these days, that they are all the same, these competitors for power in Western democracies, and there is therefore nothing to choose between them, it is still well to remember that a cartel is preferable to a monopoly.
Dalrymple reacts in Taki’s Magazine to the list of “Sustainable Development Goals” released by the United Nations Office at Geneva:
Compared with UNOG’s totalitarianism, all other totalitarianisms—the totalitarianism of Stalin and his gulag, the totalitarianism of Hitler and his extermination camps, the totalitarianism of Pol Pot and his relocation of city dwellers to the rice paddies—were but local solutions to local problems. According to UNOG, about 6,000,000,000 human beings (or however many humanity now comprises) have a uniform list of things to do that, presumably, they must all stick with a magnet to the door of their fridge.
Intellectual curiosity can be a source of comfort to the elderly, says Dalrymple in City Journal: “No doubt a happy old age is largely a matter of luck, but it must also be partly a matter of attitude to the world, so various, so beautiful, so new.”
Observing airport display ads, Dalrymple realizes that the cult of rebelliousness has even come to, of all places, Geneva:
What did the rebellion touted by the advertisement consist of or amount to? It consisted of a male model, no longer in the first flush of youth but obviously trying to look still young (perhaps, unknown to me, he was an aging rock star), who was tattooed to his fingertips and up to his collar. To me he looked both repellent and stupid, though not by nature unintelligent. Intelligence, however, makes stupidity and bad taste all the more appalling.
Though Dalrymple supports Brexit, he says at the Library of Law and Liberty that Britain’s primary problems are unlikely to be solved by it:
And the economic auguries for Britain are indeed poor, though not only, or even principally, because of the European Union’s hostility. The fact is that Britain is unlikely to be able to take any advantage of life outside the European straitjacket because its own political class is itself in favour of straitjackets that are no better, and quite possibly worse than, the European ones. The present Prime Minister, Theresa May, is very much a statist, indistinguishable from European social democrats, and the leader of the opposition, Mr Corbyn, who might well be the next Prime Minister, is an unapologetic admirer of Hugo Chavez. It is hardly to be expected that foreign investors will place much trust or confidence in an isolated country whose next government might very well weaken property rights, impose capital controls and increase corporate taxation in favour of supposed social justice. It would not take very long to turn Britain into a northern Venezuela: a Venezuela without the oil or the tropical climate.
And for those who complain (perhaps fairly) that Dalrymple criticizes without offering solutions:
These problems…can be solved only by something more resembling a religious revival than by any likely government action. But expecting a population to bethink itself while simultaneously being offered political solutions that require no effortful cultural change is unreasonably optimistic.
On the rarity of public silence, from Taki’s Magazine:
One of the most denied of all human rights is that to silence. I do not mean by this the right to remain silent when accused of a crime, though in Britain at least this has effectively been abolished. I mean, rather, the right not to be assaulted everywhere by extraneous and unnecessary noise.
Silence has become a luxury that very few can afford.
In Taki’s Magazine Dalrymple describes in greater detail the violence at a recent literary festival he attended, and its import:
A German lady, trapped temporarily in the hall along with us, said that she had come to England nearly fifty years earlier because it had seemed so tolerant. Of course, there was no official doctrine of tolerance in those days, but since tolerance became almost an official ideology, everyone seemed to have grown angry all the time. At last, then, Herbert Marcuse’s famous concept, repressive tolerance, has taken on a reality or substance that it did not have when he first thought of it.
I’m not sure there is any better indictment of the modern educational establishment than that Copenhagen University is offering a course on the music of Beyoncé, on which Dalrymple comments in The Salisbury Review:
Philosophical relativism, the denial that there is any objective basis for judgments of worth or value, has become almost an orthodoxy in humanities departments. And if there is no real difference between good and bad, why go to the trouble of studying the difficult when the easy is, by definition, just as good?
With Robert Mugabe out of power in Zimbabwe, Dalrymple has completed a three-part series of pieces on the country (where he once lived) at the Library of Law & Liberty:
Understanding the Rise of Zimbabwe
…in which he recounts his move to the country and the situation during the last days of white colonial rule.
…in which he describes the shift to Mugabe’s regime and the consequences thereof.
…which includes an interesting analysis of the mindset of the colonized, including Mugabe himself (e.g., admiring those that you hate):
As Mao is to the present government of China so, for a short time at least, Mugabe must be to the future government of Zimbabwe. But with the passage of time, the kind of psychological complex from which Mugabe suffered, and which explains if it does not excuse some of his behaviour, will, as the colonial past fades from living memory, no longer exert its baleful influence on anyone. Africa will be free at last both of colonialism and anti-colonialism. Then there will be no more His Excellency, Comrade…: just ordinary, corrupt authoritarian regimes, perhaps, and possibly a functioning democracy here and there. A great improvement.