Author Archives: Steve

Beneath Paris

At Taki’s Magazine, Dalrymple summarizes the arguments in François Lenglet’s Tant pis! Nos enfants paieront (Too Bad! Our Children Will Pay), about the economic situation in France:

It is one of the theses of this lucid book that the generation of May 1968—or at any rate its leaders—has arranged things pretty well for itself, though disastrously for everyone else. If it has not been outright hypocritical, it has at least been superbly opportunist. First it bought property and accumulated other assets while inflation raged, paying back its debts at a fraction of their original value with depreciated money; then, having got its hands on the assets, it arranged for an economic policy of low inflation except in the value of its own assets. Moreover, it also arranged the best possible conditions for its retirement, in many cases unfunded by investment and paid for by those unfortunate enough to have come after them. They will have to work much longer, and if ever they reach the age of retirement, which might recede before them like a mirage in the desert, it will be under conditions much less generous than those enjoyed by current retirees.

Read the rest here

Tolerance and Its Limits

Netherlands is trying to “decree tolerance” and is therefore punishing Geert Wilders for advocating for fewer Moroccan immigrants. But as Dalrymple points out, the application of the law is nonsensical:

In order to secure the conviction, the judge had to maintain that the Moroccans were a race, because the law did not recognize nationality or national origin as grounds for legal protection from insult and critical comment. This gave rise to a certain amount of hilarity. If nationality were to be confounded with race, Dutch law would henceforth have to recognize a Belgian race, a Swiss race, et cetera.

But the very idea that there are certain groups in need of special protection from offence is both incoherent and condescending, partaking of the very qualities that the idea is supposed to be eliminating from the wicked human mind. The number of human groups that have, or could be, subjected to humiliation, discrimination, or worse is almost infinite. Persecution on economic grounds, for example, has been at least as frequent as persecution on racial grounds. To select a few groups for special protection is therefore irreducibly discriminatory. It is a little like protecting certain species from the ravages of hunters because they are threatened with extinction and unlike other species are unable to protect themselves by fecundity, say, or by camouflage.

Read it here

Trash Studies

Dalrymple’s contribution to the Autumn 2016 edition of City Journal has just been posted online. It’s a summary of the arguments presented in his 2011 book Litter: How Other People’s Rubbish Shapes Our Lives. As such, it’s a good overview for those who’ve not read the book.

The trash epidemic, which has arisen over the last two decades, raises the question of the legitimacy of public authority. I believe that the epidemic indicates a profound social malaise, and even political crisis, of far deeper significance than the more publicized agonizing over Britain’s membership in the European Union. Each piece of trash represents either an act of indifference to, or defiance of, civic or public order…

…the litterers act as if it were indeed their duty to look after themselves first, even in minute particulars, such as ridding themselves of rubbish. Their neighbor can pick up after them or not, as he wishes; but it is no concern to them because they do not belong to society, which is nonexistent in any case. They belong to no district, town, city, or country. They belong only to themselves, as sovereign as particles in Brownian motion. That is why no public authority has the right—or the moral authority—to tell them how to dispose of their garbage.

Read it here

Medical correctness

This new article at The New Criterion is perhaps one of Dalrymple’s most detailed yet on the subject of political correctness in modern medicine. Written as part of The New Criterion’s symposium on “Free Speech and the Academy”, it argues that P.C. was late in coming to medicine but has grown steadily, and for straightforward reasons:

At first sight, medicine might appear an unpromising subject for political correctness. You are ill, you go to the doctor, he tries to cure you, whoever you might be: what could be more straightforward than that? But in fact medicine is a field ripe for political correctness’s harvester. The arrangement by which health care is delivered is eminently a subject of politics; moreover we live in the golden age of epidemiology, in which the distribution of health and disease is studied more closely even than the distribution of income. Inequalities are usually presented as inequities (they have to be selected carefully, however: I have never seen the superior life expectancy of women, sometimes considerable and present almost everywhere, described as an inequity, even though the right to life is supposedly the most basic of all in the modern catechism of human rights). The decent man abominates unfairness or injustice: therefore the man who abominates unfairness or injustice is decent.

Better Left Unsaid

Self-expression is greatly overrated, says Dalrymple at Taki’s Magazine. Most of us would do better to keep quiet rather than give voice to the outrage that increasingly defines the modern world. (I wish the commenters at Taki’s Magazine would take this advice.) My favorite part of this piece:

Outrage is a substitute for religion: It convinces us that our existence has some kind of meaning or significance beyond itself, that is to say beyond the paltry flux of day-to-day existence, especially when that existence is a securely comfortable one. Therefore we go looking for things to be outraged about as anteaters look for ants. Of all emotions, outrage is not only one of the most pleasurable but also one of the most reliable.

Keening

Dalrymple writes in The Salisbury Review of a noticeable increase in the number of Syrian beggars in Paris, many of them entire families. Though he usually gives beggars some small change, they are increasingly using a new tactic that turns him off:

…what prevents me from giving them so much as a sou is that the children have been trained to make a continuous whining or keening sound that is obviously neither spontaneous nor sincere. It is rank bad acting. Far from wanting to give them a coin, I want to give them a slap so that they stop their dreadful noise.

Barely Scratching the Surface

Most of human life is filled with insoluble mystery. Consider, for example, the discoid eczema that Dalrymple has been experiencing on his right foot. No one can really identify the ultimate cause of it.

[These] mysteries could only be solved within a very short period of time, within what is known in managerialese as a window of opportunity. Once I am dead, for example, they will be no longer be soluble even in theory. Which means that there is an infinity of things about the past that, even in principle, can never be known. True enough, no one will ever want to solve all these little mysteries. But the point is that they couldn’t do so even if they wanted to.

A hearty Happy New Year to you all. May your 2017 be filled with joy.

The Vandals Took the Handles

In honoring Bob Dylan with the Nobel Prize for Literature, a member of the committee, Horace Engdahl, said that Dylan “gave back to poetry its elevated style, lost since the romantics.” Dalrymple finds that a little hard to believe:

So here is the recent history of “the elevated style” in English poetry according to the Swedish Academy: Wordsworth and Coleridge, and then a fallow period of nearly a century and a half until Dylan arrived, like a Daniel come to judgment. No Tennyson, no Longfellow, no Browning (husband or wife), no Matthew Arnold, no Swinburne, no Gerard Manley Hopkins, to name but a small handful. Comment is redundant.

Read the piece here

Have you packed your own suitcase?

At an airport, Dalrymple notices tobacco being sold only in a “hidden passageway”:

Is it not curious that the purchase and consumption of tobacco should be pushed into semi-clandestinity at the very time when pressure is mounting to make cannabis as freely available as (say) coffee? A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, no doubt, but it is odd that we accept new and blatant inconsistencies without noticing, let alone protesting them.

Dalrymple at Salisbury Review

Advise and Dissent

On the essays of Abraham Cowley (1617-1667):

The theme of his essays—on solitude, on obscurity (lack of fame), on avarice, on the dangers confronting an honest man, on the shortness of life and uncertainty of riches—is that happiness resides in the control of one’s desires, a middling state being preferable to one of poverty or extreme wealth.

As Dalrymple notes, Cowley’s message is not a new one — which perhaps implies that it has always been, and will continue to be, ignored.

Read the piece here