Author Archives: David Seri

A Sense of Duty Unsurpassed

Our monarchical doctor remembers Queen Elizabeth II fondly while worrying about her successor over at City Journal. Requiescat in pace.

In doing so, they forget that, in practice, people are infinitely more likely to be oppressed by their elected representatives than by their constitutional monarch, and indeed are increasingly oppressed by them every day of their lives. Like many intellectuals, they prefer to fight shadows rather than substantive beings: it is easier and more gratifying.

The Power of Paranoia

In his Takimag column last week, Dr. Dalrymple comments on a surprisingly reasonable book about COVID-19, muses on the attractiveness of conspiracy theories, and predicts a future of generalized paranoia for all of us.

How many of us would be willing to admit our mistakes with such frankness, even to ourselves? Not many, perhaps because we are so unwilling to admit the unpredictability of the world. We want it to be fully comprehensible, and thereby foreseeable, especially by us. In addition, we are often more attached to our view of the world than to the world itself. Giving up a worldview is more difficult than giving up a bad habit.

Job Snobs

In this week’s Takimag column, Theodore Dalrymple explores various forms of snobbery and emphasizes the need—in fact, our duty—to pass judgment in order to uphold the good, the true, and the beautiful in our world.

The trouble is that snobbery toward the unambitious overvalues ambition as a human characteristic, and thereby helps to usher in the regime of ambitious mediocrities, or even sub-mediocrities, under which we now live. There is nothing wrong with mediocrity, it is indeed very necessary; but it is harmful when allied with ambition.

Pedantry as the Best Defence

In the September edition of New English Review, the good doctor muses on his pedantic interests while attempting to catalogue his vast library in his French countryside villa.

I suspect that we are fast approaching a state of society in which pedantry will be the best defence against the prevailing moral and philosophical (not to say physical) ugliness. Find a corner of the world about which nobody cares, and immerse yourself pedantically in it. That will be the way to survive until you reach the bourne from which no traveller returns.

The New Class

In last week’s Takimag, the skeptical doctor takes on the new breed of untalented, useless, leftist commissars here to shepherd us along—whether we like it or not—to their progressive utopia, while they accumulate more wealth, power, and influence at our expense.

The corruption of which I speak has a financial aspect, but only indirectly. It is principally moral and intellectual in nature. It is the means by which an apparatchik class and its nomenklatura of mediocrities achieve prominence and even control in society. I confess that I do not see a ready means of reversing the trend.

Charity Begins with Taxes

Over at The Epoch Times, our favorite doctor expounds on the modern welfare state and the enthusiastic bureaucrats intent on expanding “free” services in order to increase their power and influence over the very people they are busy pretending to help.

The fact that there is a spectrum of need, from total to none, gives bureaucracies of welfare the pretext or excuse for expanding them ad infinitum, thus expanding also the requirement for further compulsory donations from the rest of the population. An incompetent population is the joy of bureaucrats.

The Inescapable Inadequacy of Psychology

In his Law & Liberty column, the dubious doctor ponders the role of psychology in accounting for people’s criminal behavior in light of the July 8 assassination of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.

Where human behaviour is concerned, except in very few and limited cases, there is always a gap—which I believe to be metaphysical—between the explanandum and the explanans. For this reason, I believe the role of psychology is very limited in the legal context, and that the presumption of responsibility for actions is both necessary and realistic. Mitigation (which may be very strong indeed) must not be confused with exculpation.

How We Fell for Antidepressants

Dr. Dalrymple returns to The Spectator after a four-year hiatus with an insightful essay on the reasons behind the fact that one in six people in Britain are now on antidepressants.

Thank you to Andrew S. for bringing this new Dalrymple piece to our attention. Cheers, Andrew.

The patient also benefits in a certain way, even in the absence of that placebo effect. He is pleased that his misery is validated as an illness, thus removing some of the need for self-examination or the making of difficult decisions about his existence. He has successfully transferred some of the responsibility for his life from himself to the doctor and this is always gratifying.

You’ve Been Warned

In his weekly Takimag column, the skeptical doctor learns the reason behind the English “Dog Awareness Week,” questions the motivation behind scary warning labels, and mocks mindless slogans. All in a day’s work for Dr. Dalrymple.

The overall impression given by these warnings is that we are a population of rather weak-minded, ignorant minors who are, or ought to be, the wards of a small class of well-intentioned guardians who know better. The problem is that one tends to become what one is treated as being; and some people might take the illogical leap to conclude that if something does not bear a warning, then it must be safe or even beneficial. After all, if it were harmful, officialdom would have warned us about it.