Author Archives: Steve

A Modern Macchu Picchu

At Salisbury Review, Dalrymple writes of a building in Peru that has been favorably compared to Macchu Picchu and been deemed “the best new building in the world”, when it very clearly is not. He takes particular umbrage at the statement by one of the building’s architects that, “For us, the enjoyment of architecture is the sense of weight being borne down or supported, the feeling of moving with the forces of gravity. It’s a very primal need.”

Does anyone arrive in Venice or see the Taj Mahal for the first time and say, ‘Oh, what a wonderful sense of weight being borne down or supported’? And could anything be a primal need, of all things, that is to say a need that precedes all other needs?

Shake your head bitterly by reading this

The Wealth Gap

At Taki’s Magazine, Dalrymple takes on the idea of economics as a zero-sum game:

There is one sense in which I may by definition increase poverty if I grow richer. Suppose my wealth increases faster than that of most of the people in the society in which I live. The people in that society are poorer, relative to me, than they were before, even if, in absolute terms, they are all richer than they were before. This is not the same as active impoverishment. But since poverty is now usually defined in relative and not absolute terms, poverty can increase even where no one, not a single person, is the poorer. By the same token, a society can grow richer as everyone in it becomes poorer. This is absurd.

Read it here

Bread and Circuses

“Every day, the Guardian newspaper publishes a list of eminent persons, or persons whom it considers eminent, most of them British, whose birthday happens to fall on that day,” says Dalrymple, writing at Salisbury Review. Would you be surprised to learn that, at least on the day Dalrymple analyzed the list, the majority were from the world of popular culture? By comparison, people of more serious and genuine accomplishment seem to be given short shrift.

Read it here

On a less serious note, can it really be the case that this is the first Dalrymple essay, out of thousands he has written since we started this blog, with “Bread and Circuses” in the title? Surprisingly, that seems to be the case.

Mercy or Injustice?

At City Journal, Dalrymple writes of the rather difficult case of Jacqueline Sauvage, a French woman who did nothing for decades as her husband violently abused her and sexually assaulted all three of their daughters but then finally, at the age of 70, shot him to death. She was convicted of murder but was then recently pardoned by outgoing French President Francois Hollande:

…her lawyers characterized the presidential pardon as “an extremely strong message sent to women who suffer domestic violence. It has become symbolic. It doesn’t mean that you must kill to survive but that you must do all that is possible not to reach that stage.”

This is nonsense, of course. The message, if anything, is precisely the opposite: you will not be treated too severely if you kill your violent husband, even if you have made no other efforts to avoid his violence. If you put up with it for long enough, in fact, you can kill him.

The Red Cross pot calling the NHS kettle black

According to Dalrymple in the Salisbury Review, only 16 percent of the British Red Cross’s charity shop revenue actually ends up with the Red Cross, which then must pay its own expenses, of course.

…the question arises how the British Red Cross can raise so little money from its retail operations. After all, it receives most of its goods and a large part of its labour free of charge, and it pays reduced local taxes (a policy that should, of course, cease forthwith). It is a miracle of disorganisation, at least equal to anything seen in the National Health Service: I hesitate to call it by a name less morally neutral than disorganisation.

Read it here

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.