The New Class

In last week’s Takimag, the skeptical doctor takes on the new breed of untalented, useless, leftist commissars here to shepherd us along—whether we like it or not—to their progressive utopia, while they accumulate more wealth, power, and influence at our expense.

The corruption of which I speak has a financial aspect, but only indirectly. It is principally moral and intellectual in nature. It is the means by which an apparatchik class and its nomenklatura of mediocrities achieve prominence and even control in society. I confess that I do not see a ready means of reversing the trend.

Charity Begins with Taxes

Over at The Epoch Times, our favorite doctor expounds on the modern welfare state and the enthusiastic bureaucrats intent on expanding “free” services in order to increase their power and influence over the very people they are busy pretending to help.

The fact that there is a spectrum of need, from total to none, gives bureaucracies of welfare the pretext or excuse for expanding them ad infinitum, thus expanding also the requirement for further compulsory donations from the rest of the population. An incompetent population is the joy of bureaucrats.

The Inescapable Inadequacy of Psychology

In his Law & Liberty column, the dubious doctor ponders the role of psychology in accounting for people’s criminal behavior in light of the July 8 assassination of the former Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe.

Where human behaviour is concerned, except in very few and limited cases, there is always a gap—which I believe to be metaphysical—between the explanandum and the explanans. For this reason, I believe the role of psychology is very limited in the legal context, and that the presumption of responsibility for actions is both necessary and realistic. Mitigation (which may be very strong indeed) must not be confused with exculpation.

How We Fell for Antidepressants

Dr. Dalrymple returns to The Spectator after a four-year hiatus with an insightful essay on the reasons behind the fact that one in six people in Britain are now on antidepressants.

Thank you to Andrew S. for bringing this new Dalrymple piece to our attention. Cheers, Andrew.

The patient also benefits in a certain way, even in the absence of that placebo effect. He is pleased that his misery is validated as an illness, thus removing some of the need for self-examination or the making of difficult decisions about his existence. He has successfully transferred some of the responsibility for his life from himself to the doctor and this is always gratifying.

You’ve Been Warned

In his weekly Takimag column, the skeptical doctor learns the reason behind the English “Dog Awareness Week,” questions the motivation behind scary warning labels, and mocks mindless slogans. All in a day’s work for Dr. Dalrymple.

The overall impression given by these warnings is that we are a population of rather weak-minded, ignorant minors who are, or ought to be, the wards of a small class of well-intentioned guardians who know better. The problem is that one tends to become what one is treated as being; and some people might take the illogical leap to conclude that if something does not bear a warning, then it must be safe or even beneficial. After all, if it were harmful, officialdom would have warned us about it.

Heaven & Hell

The good doctor takes a prominent French communist to task over more nonsensical, utopian thinking over at The Critic. Communism apparently still lives on in certain quarters even after its bloody and notorious failures of the past century.

Does Mélenchon’s ridiculous use of a superlative epithet matter? I think that it does. When people are convinced that nothing worse can exist than that which they already experience, they do not stop to consider even the possibility that a policy advocated to release them from their “hell” might actually make things worse for them.

New book: The Wheelchair and Other Stories

Dalrymple has just written another new collection of short stories, and the book is available on Amazon sites worldwide. The Wheelchair and Other Stories is his fifth collection since he began embracing the genre in 2017. The book features eight stories that touch on themes both topical and timeless. A good example is “Getting to the Roots,” in which a teenage girl promotes a utopian political cause with terrifying sincerity:

Felicia wrote a letter to the main newspaper of humane opinion, pointing out our ignorant and unthinking cruelty to vegetables, especially root vegetables. It created quite a stir, and there was a small flurry of letters of support. The National Association of Potato Growers wrote an attempted rebuttal, but of course all denials go to show just how well-founded accusations are, otherwise they wouldn’t be advanced. At first Felicia was elated, but before long it dawned on her that the sale of potatoes, carrots, parsnips and turnips (she hated swedes) had hardly decreased, if it had at all. Something more would have to be done if all this avoidable suffering were to be reduced.

The Wheelchair and Other Stories is available here to US readers and here to those in the UK.

The Rushdie Attack

Over at City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple remembers the Salman Rushdie affair and the weak-kneed Western response to the head Iranian Islamist in light of the shocking stabbing of the famous writer Friday in western New York state.

Future histories will see the Salman Rushdie affair, which followed the publication in 1988 of his novel, The Satanic Verses, as a pivotal moment in the history of Islamism: for the British response, and that of the West as a whole, was weak and vacillating, encouraging Islamists to imagine that the West was a kind of rotten fruit, ripe to fall from the tree, and therefore susceptible to terrorist attack.

The Broken Publicity Machine

In this week’s Takimag, the dubious doctor discusses the modern tendency of self-promotion and self-aggrandizement after reading of the removal of a Damian Hirst “masterpiece” from a German museum.

This is not to decry the ordinary, quite the reverse: We need the ordinary quite as much as we need the extraordinary. The problem is that, if you start boasting about yourself, you come to believe your own boasts, and when you find, as inevitably you will, that the world fails to treat you as if your boasts were justified, you begin to feel resentful. This is surely one of the reasons why there is so much anger in society, even when, judged by the standards of all previously existing societies, people are extremely fortunate.