Author Archives: Steve

Maritime musings

In a new piece at The New Criterion, Dalrymple considers the port of Antwerp, which he recently visited. Although repelled by the exterior of Zaha Hadid’s Havenhuis, he is pleasantly surprised by its interior, which he calls the best working environment he has ever seen. But it is the industriousness of the port and its juxtaposition with the surrounding countryside that seems to interest him most.

All the same, it seems to me an immense achievement that anything at all should grow so close to so large a concentration of industrial activity. Those of us who remember the good old days in Eastern Europe remember factories that seemed to produce nothing at all except pollution, and that poisoned the earth for hundred of yards, if not for miles, around, so that nothing would grow in the oily, poisoned land. It was as if the communist masters took pollution as a metonym for economic advancement: the smokier and the fouler, the nearer to the proletarian heaven the regime approached. And in Cornwall, where arsenic, at one time the elixir of industry, was mined in the nineteenth century, the land is still bare more than a century and a half later. One expects scrub, not fields, around so vast an enterprise as the port of Antwerp.

Read the full piece here

More Tools, Less Understanding

A new report on addiction by the United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek H. Murthy is filled with many of the same errors, faulty premises and falsehoods against which Dalrymple has argued for many years. As one example, when Dr. Murthy argues that addiction is not a character flaw but is rather deserving of compassion, does he not imply that “to recognize a character flaw in others is automatically to deprive them of compassion, though it is also possible that the recognition of flaws in others is essential to our recognition of their humanity, that is to say, their likeness to us”?

Dalrymple at City Journal

Feeding Your Inner Caligula

Self-esteem is one of the worst of modern vices, and inculcating it in children by, for example, teaching them to love themselves regardless of their own behavior, should be grounds for execution, says Dalrymple (half-jokingly?) at Taki’s Magazine. It’s not difficult to demonstrate the uselessness of such an idea:

Criminals, especially the vicious rather than the merely pathetic ones, have very high self-esteem. They are generally proud of how awful they have been and positively swagger with satisfaction at their own competence in the matter of causing misery to others. They too have “core beliefs” about themselves, all of them highly flattering. They even think they are lovable as well as admirable.

Read it here

The Decline of Advocacy

Reasoned debate is a foundation of our culture, Dalrymple says at Taki’s Magazine. But at the moment, neither Donald Trump nor his detractors seem much interested in it.

Many people nevertheless feel that, with the advent of Mr. Trump to the presidency, we have entered a new age of post-truthfulness and irrationality, but if this is such an age (and it is worth remembering that politics has never been entirely a disinterested inquiry after truth), Mr. Trump is a response to it rather than its originator. For what is political correctness other than an attempt to close down or preclude disinterested inquiry after truth on important selected subjects?

Beer Street, Gin Lane, and Blurred (Moral) Vision

“Potential harm to others can be alleged in practically any human action,” says Dalrymple, writing for The Library of Law and Liberty. And it increasingly is alleged, not only concerning human actions but also words, and not just regarding the public sphere but even the private. He cites this recent article in the Guardian as an example.

Read it here

Humble Pie in Short Supply

On seeing a photograph in a newspaper of a little girl at the Women’s March in Washington holding a sign that says, “I am kind, smart and important,” Dalrymple has many criticisms of a parent who would use their child in this way:

…a person who went round proclaiming, “I am important, I am important” would seem to us either pathetic, as if he were whistling in the wind of his own complete insignificance, or, if he used his supposed importance to push his way to the front of a line, say, in order to be served before everyone else, very unpleasant indeed.