In the course of this piece in Taki’s Magazine on the wisdom of taxi drivers, Dalrymple reflects on why two African drivers in France told him they were returning to Africa….to be freer than they were in France:
But for most people, there is more to personal freedom than an ability to denounce the government without fear of retaliation, a lack of censorship, and a vote once every four or five years. Indeed, for most people most of the time these things are hardly of the first importance. Much more important to them is how self-directed they feel, and how much they may do as they choose in their daily lives. This may vary according to their position in society.
Dalrymple notes the massive exodus of French millionaires to London due to French tax policies, but warns of a potential reversal:
Corbyn’s policy is to increase government spending enormously, while balancing the budget: this can only mean much higher taxation, and given his social views, this in turn can only mean taxation on the rich and even the modestly prosperous, both of whom he regards as milch cows who will remain placidly in his field, waiting for him to milk them. But unless he exercises explicit power to keep them where they are (which he would not be above attempting, again, all in the name of social justice), they will flee, and take their capital with them. French exports of their rich will seem a mere trickle by comparison; and France, if Macron succeeds in his opportunism, will be a favored destination for ex-patriate Britons.
Dalrymple expresses pride in having done the right thing, and engages in some light philosophizing, after damaging a neighbor’s car:
However, to have acted out of fear of capture would have been a dishonorable reason for doing the honorable thing. I am not sure that I believe in the Kantian categorical imperative—in fact, I am almost sure that I don’t—but in a case like this, the decent thing should be done for its own sake rather than from fear of doing the indecent one. Without a number of ad hoc exceptions, a purely consequentialist account of ethics is implausible—as is one that takes no account whatever of consequences.
Even book trade conferences are now political…
The subject is to be Men and Women in the Book Trade: Changing gender roles over 500 years. I suppose next year it will be Race in the Book Trade, and the year after that Homosexuals in the Book Trade. Do they – the ideological obsessives – never get tired of it? Ideology is an itch which only gets wor[s]e with scratching.
The reductio ad Hitlerum is a popular rhetorical technique for dismissing others’ arguments without much reason. In City Journal Dalrymple specifies some of the many problems stemming from its use:
The reductio ad Hitlerum is an argument from historical analogy, and analogy is, by definition, always inexact; otherwise, it would be repetition. As no less a person than Karl Marx put it, “history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce”—that is, it does not, and cannot, repeat itself exactly. While analogical historical reasoning cannot be altogether eliminated, therefore, it must be used with judgment, discretion, discrimination, and care. History teaches neither nothing nor everything; and it is as dangerous to use it wrongly as to disregard it altogether.
After another visit to a secondhand bookshop Dalrymple soon finds himself fascinated by a new topic that previously evaded his interest: woodlice.
Dalrymple had this piece on the Finsbury Park Mosque attack published in the New York Daily News a couple of days ago (somewhat surprising given the paper’s leftist orientation):
I am no Muslim theologian, but Islamic extremists can hardly be blamed for concluding from their religious belief that neither western societies nor western governments are legitimate. Their position is not illogical, given its premises. God, not man, is sovereign; the Koran is the word of God; therefore all that is not derivable from the Koran, or is opposed to it, is evil in the sense of being against God’s sovereignty. Only God has the right to be obeyed, and if he says kill, then kill we must.
This is not a recipe for tolerance, to put it mildly…
Grenfell Tower, the London skyscraper that recently burned in a fire that killed dozens of people, was a public-sector housing project managed by an essentially public-sector firm that had a history of ignoring its residents’ pleas for fire prevention. So what does Jeremy Corbin blame for the tragedy? Too little government, naturally.
Corbyn says that he is very angry at what happened, which he links to what is known as fiscal austerity—that is, when government spends only 108 percent of tax revenue, instead of the much higher percentage that he favors. He skated over the part played by the public sector in the tragedy…
At the Library of Law and Liberty, Dalrymple summarizes two recent books on the presence of Islam in Switzerland: Radicalism in Swiss Mosques: Islamisation, Cultural Jihad and Endless Concessions by Mireille Vallette and Switzerland at the Moment of Brexit: Inquiry into a Strange and Truly Unique Country by Jean-Pierre Richardot.
The contrast between these works—the first evincing alarmism and the second complacency—raises questions of political philosophy about which argument could be endless…
The difference between them might be summarized this way: Monsieur Richardot rejoices more over 99 good Muslim citizens than he worries over one fundamentalist, while Madame Vallette worries more over one fundamentalist than she rejoices over 99 good Muslim citizens. Which of them is right, if an answer to such a question can be deemed correct?
After the terrorist attack at her concert in Manchester, pop singer Ariana Grande and her fellow performers have had themselves tattooed with an image of a bee, a symbol of the city. Dalrymple doesn’t see the sense of such a tribute:
In a short time… the tattooed bee will no more conjure up Manchester than a tattooed palm tree would conjure up Antarctica. It will be just another instance, though a minor one, of the inexplicable epidemic of self-abuse that has overtaken the Western world in the past two or three decades. And when Ariana and her sidekicks tire of their compassion, sympathy, etc., they can always have the tattoo removed, for the techniques of removal have improved in tandem with those of putting them on: an example, no doubt, of what the economist Joseph Schumpeter called capitalism’s creative destruction, though tattooing itself is more like an instance of its destructive creation.
Read it here