In this week’s Takimag column, the good doctor considers questions related to economics and modern consumer societies.
I am a follower of the greatest economic thinker of all time, Mr. Micawber. It was he who discovered the law according to which to live within one’s means was the secret of happiness and to live beyond them was the secret of misery. To be able to follow this advice, however, one must be able to control and limit one’s wants, but in a modern consumer society, not to have indefinitely expanding wants is to be a bad, or at least an anti-economic, citizen. For if you are satisfied with what you already have, and realize that to have more will not bring you any greater happiness, you are the salesman’s nightmare.
Theodore Dalrymple picks up a book by Ivor Brown while browsing through his vast library and the result is this Quadrant essay.
Unlike many of his modern equivalents, however, he was in favour of the maintenance of civilisation and high culture, not because of its snob value but because he thought it was high rather than low. In his view it was free for anyone to enter, which is not the same as saying that it must be entered by people in exact proportion as their characteristics appear in the general population.
This Law & Liberty essay concerning drug addiction is why our website is named The Skeptical Doctor. I only wish that the New England Journal of Medicine would publish this brilliant rebuttal.
The harm that Dr. Volkow inadvertently does is to turn huge numbers of people from agents and subjects into objects. If she succeeds in persuading, or even half-persuading, them that that is what they are, she has dehumanised them, both for herself and for themselves. If from a great height of authority you tell people that they are helpless, that is what they will become, especially when they derive some kind of self-destructive short-term benefit from being or acting helpless, such as the ability to continue to take drugs in the knowledge that it is not their fault.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.