Category Archives: Essays

Man and Underman at RADA

The leftist SJW mob at Britain’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art has turned its sight on George Bernard Shaw—the man who left a portion of his royalties to the institute.

If every person commemorated for exceptional achievement is to be pulled down from his plinth because he is subsequently found to have been less than a saint (according to current conceptions of sanctity), we shall end up honoring no one except ourselves.

The Science of Socks

We get a gratifying glimpse into the post-laundry, sock-pairing routine of our favorite doctor over at Takimag.

So you see how difficult it is to retain one’s intellectual probity even in a matter as unimportant as that of pairing socks. It is not surprising, then, that in medical research, say, where whole careers depend upon it, there is so much special pleading, massaging of figures, omission, dissimulation, repetition, non sequitur, false insinuation, deceit, and outright fraud. It’s a wonder, in fact, that there has been any progress at all.

Keeping the Government Healthy

Returning to England from France, our good doctor is placed in quarantine, which gives him plenty of time to think about the useless and semi-useless government responses to the Red Chinese pandemic.

It is always better for a government to do everything possible, even if useless, than to do nothing, even if the results are no worse. It follows from all these considerations that to impose a quarantine was politically all but inevitable because the object of government is not to save lives but to save itself.

Capturing the Wrong Picture

The skeptical doctor makes his return to The Critic with a short piece commenting on another example of the deliberately inaccurate reporting of the mainstream liberal media.

Perhaps they thought that people are so inclined to skim that only some faint relevance of a photograph to a story is necessary. And perhaps, in the statistical sense, they were right. Why bother with accuracy when you can get away with approximation? As we all know, the latter is easy, the former more difficult.

Guilt Complex

Our favorite doctor is back with his weekly Takimag column covering topics ranging from the obnoxious selfie to dealing with telemarketers, and much else in between.

But posing and posturing have become a mass phenomenon, the tattooing of our time. Of nothing is this more true than contemporary Woke morality. Whereas not long ago young people of the middle classes sought to express their sympathy for the lower and supposedly oppressed orders by imitating their tattoos and way of dress, imitation being the highest form of empathy available to egotists, they now express the same desire by making Wokeness the touchstone of their morality. They think they are rebelling when, of course, they are conforming.

The Temptations of Power

Over at Law & Liberty, Theodore Dalrymple contemplates the totalitarian temptations among intellectuals in our decadent, relativist, liberal Western countries.

The obvious incompatibility of all this with freedom should not blind us to its popularity with the now very large number of people who have been educated, or trained, in the various branches of resentment studies. Totalitarianism offers career prospects to those of apparatchik disposition and abilities, while appealing to the resentment of at least a portion of the population and its joy in the humiliation of those who were previously more fortunately placed than themselves.

Life BC

The good doctor reflects on his life before COVID in this week’s Takimag column.

And shall we ever recover the simple, unselfconscious pleasures that were ours in that very ancient era, BC? It is too early to say whether alarmism will triumph over amnesia, and for how long. Most people seem to think that normality, that is to say what normality once was, will return only very slowly, if it returns at all.

We’re All A Bit Sorry

The skeptical doctor critiques some of Socrates’ arguments from his Apology in the September edition of New English Review.

Perhaps Socrates is the first of a long series of intellectuals who have pursued their obsessions at the expense of the people supposedly closest to them. They feel responsibility for others in inverse proportion to their proximity. With the general bohemianisation of society, this has become almost a mass phenomenon. People now feel responsible for the planet but not for the person next door. They are worried about the environment, but not about the chewing-gum that people tread into the pavements of their streets.

A Tangled Web

Theodore Dalrymple discovers an intricate spider web in his château’s garden in the French countryside in this week’s Takimag column.

It is curious how, in these circumstances, one anthropomorphizes even the arthropods. I saw in this little scene a poor, innocent, suffering victim and a vile, merciless, evil predator. I still have firmly in my mind’s eye the vision of the little insect’s kicking legs, in its futile efforts to save its life to which, insignificant as it was, it behaved as if it was attached. My sympathies were immediately engaged, and I even thought of trying to rescue it. It was, as it were, the underbug in the conflict.

Hypocrite Hector

In the September edition of New Criterion, the good doctor reviews two awful, anti-white books that pretend to be anti-racist while promoting racialism and collective guilt for European peoples. My sympathy goes out to Dr. Dalrymple for having had to waste his valuable time reading such nauseating, leftist, politically correct propaganda.

Perhaps the most interesting question raised by these books is why, when they are so badly written, self-indulgent, and intellectually nugatory, when they are so plainly written in the spirit of what Karl Popper called reinforced dogmatism, they should be so popular among the Western intelligentsia. Let us hope that this is not a question for an Edward Gibbon of the next millennium to answer.