Category Archives: Essays

Rag & Bone

In Theodore Dalrymple’s August New English Review essay, he recalls some childhood memories and the important life lessons taught by his mother before showing how these lessons are still applicable in the present day.

The pleasure that some people take in the gratuitous humiliation of others to make themselves appear larger in their own eyes (and that comes to be habitual) does not do so in the eyes of others, rather the reverse. All this my mother tried implicitly to impress upon me. Manners maketh man.

Britain’s Uncertain Future

Over at City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple looks back home across the Channel to weigh in on the latest political developments with the ascension of the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, and his plans for the long-overdue conclusion of Brexit. The good doctor calls out the new Liberal Democrat leader, Jo Swinson, for her uncompromising and undemocratic view on avoiding the voter-approved Brexit by any means necessary. Democracy is a favorite pet of liberals, except of course when election results do not go their way.

On the other hand, Swinson has made it plain that she would respect the result of a second referendum on Brexit only if it went in favor of remaining. In other words, there can be any policy you want, so long as it is mine.


Swinson’s statement, that she would do whatever it takes to prevent Brexit, including ride roughshod over public opinion, shows how Europeanized she is. She is young—39—and probably representative of the educated persons of her class and generation, to say nothing of those yet younger. They apparently have no objection to authoritarian rule—provided it is their own, of course.

Fare Warning

A pointless and redundant email from his insurance company warning against the obvious dangers of extremely hot weather prompts Theodore Dalrymple to reflect over at Taki’s Magazine on the abandonment of the concept of personal responsibility. Common sense is not only not very common these days, but it would appear that daily disasters in our lives are imminent without a benevolent bureaucracy shepherding the masses who lack any sense whatsoever, common or not.

Such redundant advice implies that the world is full of fools, that most adults are really children; and indeed there is no better way to infantilize people than to treat them as infants.


The growing nonacceptance of risk and the consequent rejection of personal responsibility in Western society are astonishing.

Earsores and Eyesores

The good doctor endures an annoying train ride from Paris to Nimes with a horribly dull passenger chewing his ear off for three hours in this week’s Taki’s Magazine column. Once in the beautiful city of Nimes, Theodore Dalrymple takes yet another aim at the talentless and destructive modern architects who have done so much to disfigure our cities.

Unfortunately, the late-20th-century contribution to the city is rather less distinguished, though not without a certain interest for those fascinated by the degradation of Western civilization. I recommend a visit to what is called the Ville active (as if the rest of the city were dormant, a kind of Pompeii or Angkor Wat) to understand the vision of what arrogant but pinheaded French architects evidently think is a utopia.

Rushing to Judgment

In his latest City Journal column, Theodore Dalrymple lambasts the cowardly and dishonorable way that Sir Roger Scruton was dismissed by James Brokenshire as chairman of a commission on the aesthetics of modern British housing. Brokenshire is the same minister who also happened to appoint Prof. Scruton, but spinelessly turned on him after a vicious and mendacious assault on Sir Roger by the English left-liberal “lumpenintelligentsia” on (anti-)social media.

Because, like May, Brokenshire appears to believe in nothing, he is not able to face down opponents with arguments, instead falling back into an immediate posture of surrender. These are the people who govern us, whether we deserve them or not.

The Great Hate Debate

Theodore Dalrymple weighs in on a rather nonsensical law being debated in the French Parliament that would attempt to control the promotion of “hatred” on the internet in his weekly Taki’s Magazine column.

If I read a hate-filled rant on the internet, my reaction is surely my responsibility. I have a duty to consider whether the alleged facts in the rant, if any, bear any relation to reality, and whether they justify the high emotion that the author expresses and perhaps wants me to share. If I do not have that responsibility, I am regarded as less than a fully adult human being.

Negligence and Unaccountability at the United Nations

The United Nations’ deadly negligence and disgraceful obfuscation in the recent Haitian cholera epidemic earn the justified ire of Theodore Dalrymple in his latest Law & Liberty essay.

But the United Nations was born with Original Virtue, and certainly with Original Legal Immunity, which is the nearest we come to innocence these days. The Haitian population has received no compensation for the introduction of one of the few plagues that it did not already suffer from. One’s blood boils to read of almost casual dishonesty of UN functionaries, willing dupes, and condescending editors of journals who preferred to save the image of the United Nations than prevent death on a large scale, and in the end did neither.

Burning Indignation

Theodore Dalrymple offers an in-depth analysis on a bizarre incident in 2017 involving a homeless man begging for money and a University of Cambridge law student burning a £20 note (~$25) in front of him, as well as the unsurprising outraged reactions from all corners of Britain.

Yet, is it actually unjust that he had money to burn—and, if so, unjust to whom? All of us, even the poorest, enjoy benefits that we have done nothing to earn or deserve. We have done nothing, for example, to deserve the comparatively long life expectancies that we enjoy, or at least possess. Most of us enjoy, without gratitude and as if by cosmic entitlement, the fruit of the efforts of past generations.


Perhaps it should not come as a surprise to us, then, that many of those who expressed themselves about Ronald Coyne’s awful behavior did so with a violence that belied their supposed humanity.

I Get No Kick From Women’s Soccer

In his weekly Taki’s Magazine column, Dalrymple expresses his perfectly obvious and correct—though politically incorrect—views on the pointlessness of watching women’s soccer as he happens to catch a women’s World Cup match on television while out dining with friends in Paris.

The players were very good—for women. The problem is that women are not very good at this kind of thing, certainly not by comparison with men. If you want to watch soccer played well (I personally have a limited appetite for it), you should watch men.

When I uttered what seemed to me a truism, that women will never be as good at soccer as men, the reaction was horror that such a heresy—no, blasphemy—should be pronounced out loud, though of course everyone knew that it was true (which is why it was a truism).

Ice Cold

The most recent New Criterion essay of the good doctor skewers yet another one of Britain’s mediocre, vulgar, liberal public intellectuals in his review of Tiffany Watt Smith’s 2018 book.

Schadenfreude: The Joy of Another’s Misfortune is interesting, but not because it is good. It is interesting because it is symptomatic of the increasing vulgarity and crudity of intellectual life in the modern English-speaking world, particularly in Britain, where it goes almost unopposed.


The book has at least the virtue of being short, but also the vice of being too long. Without intending to, it displays in concentrated form the prevailing characteristic of modern British culture, namely a vulgarity in conception, thought, feeling, and expression which has been raised almost to the level of an ideology.