You’ll need a subscription to the Times to read it, but Dalrymple had a piece in that paper yesterday on the ostensible outpouring of grief among North Koreans at the death of Kim Jong-Il.
He is also quoted in this BBC story on the same topic:
It’s very difficult to know, says Anthony Daniels, a psychiatrist and writer whose pen name is Theodore Dalrymple. He visited North Korea in 1989 as a member of the British delegation to the International Festival of Youth and Students.“It’s a terrible mixture of fear, terror and apprehension about the future, mass hysteria and possibly genuine grief as well.“It’s very difficult to know the reality and I think we’ll never know the reality. There are huge cultural barriers anyway and then you have to remember this is a regime where everything that isn’t forbidden is compulsory, so it’s difficult to know what their state of mind really is.”No expression of emotion was apparent during that 1989 visit he made, he says, except mass hysteria.“When I was in the huge stadium and the Great Leader [Kim Il-sung] came in, everyone stood up and started worshipping him, quite literally worshipping him and letting out a roar at the same time.“It might be that these people would be terrified not to do that but at the same time it’s possible that many of them felt a genuine allegiance to the Great Leader.“After all, when Stalin died, people wept in the streets, although it was less effusive than in North Korea.”In a very small way, there have been examples in the West when people have felt compelled to express emotions, says Mr Daniels, author of The Wilder Shores of Marx. After Princess Diana died, some people felt afraid to dissent from the mass grieving, but there is a huge difference with North Korea on the level of compulsion involved.
This is a sidebar in the story:
Competitive cryingIt’s not easy to produce tears when you’re not really feeling it but you could fake weeping and wailing and this mass hysteria makes it impossible to tell what is real. There’s a kind of arms race situation in which you have to express yourself more and more extremely in order to demonstrate that you are feeling the orthodox emotions. A lot of it is perfectly compatible with acting. That isn’t to say that it is acting, however.Anthony Daniels, psychiatrist
H/t Michael P. and Michael G.
I really don’t think many British people “felt afraid to dissent from mass grieving” after the death of Princess Di. No-one I knew was particularly bothered about her demise. As with so many things these days, it was largely a media event – or at the very most, a London event, with a large contingent of excitable tourists.