Category Archives: Essays

Divide and Confuse

Over at City Journal, the skeptical doctor excoriates another nonsensical, politically-correct expression favored by leftists that is meant to confuse, distract, and divide us.

The expression “people of color” has always seemed to me in equal measure stupid, condescending, and vicious. It divides humanity into two categories, whites and the rest, or rather whites versus the rest; it implies an essential or inherent hostility between these two portions of humanity; and it implies also no real interest in the culture or history of the people of color, whose only important characteristic is that of having been ill-treated by, and therefore presumably hating, the whites.

An Epidemic of Ideology

In his weekly Takimag column, the good doctor worries about the ongoing and unceasing political polarization in the USA and elsewhere.

I think we have entered a golden age of bad temper that will last some time, one of the reasons being that too many people go to university where they have learned to look at the world through ideology-tinted spectacles. There is nothing like ideology for raising the temperature of debate and eventually of avoiding debate altogether.

The Linguistic Termites Are Every­where

In this month’s Quadrant piece, the dubious doctor points out some of the trending crimes against the English language by the politically-correct, progressive linguistic police.

Obligatory semantic defeminisation on one side of the Channel and obligatory semantic feminisation on the other, supposedly with the same justification: how is this contradiction to be explained? Surely the simplest explanation is that both changes are exercises in power rather than an attempt to improve society or reduce suffering in any way: and forcing you to change the way you speak and the words you use is an exercise in prepotency without violence.

Wishes, Blame, and an Excruciating Death

Over at The Epoch Times, the righteous doctor calls out yet another preposterous and vile statement from one of the standard tenured academic radicals.

Anya’s remarks are a mixture of crudity and ignorance, combined with an uncontrolled and not altogether ungratifying (for her) sense of rage. She does not think clearly: But then, would one expect someone among whose specialties is “applied linguistics as a practice of social justice and translanguaging in world language pedagogy”?

One-Way Ticket

Our favorite doctor calls into question how far (post)modern man’s freedom extends when considering the growing imbalance of power between him and various authorities.

It is not that the instructions in the letter are inherently wrong or absurd. There are reasons for them all. It is the peremptory and unapologetic tone of the letter that leads its recipient to conclude that he is a worm and the council is a blackbird out for its sustenance. The obligations flow from the citizen to the authorities and none in the other direction, and there is something almost gleeful in the way the citizen—servant—is informed of this.

The Queen’s Virtues and Ours

Over at Law & Liberty, the nostalgic doctor reflects on some of the—mostly negative social and cultural—changes that England went through during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

It is for their own lost virtues, exemplified by the Queen, that the people mourn, not least their distinctive understated humour and irony, now replaced almost entirely by crudity.

A Sense of Duty Unsurpassed

Our monarchical doctor remembers Queen Elizabeth II fondly while worrying about her successor over at City Journal. Requiescat in pace.

In doing so, they forget that, in practice, people are infinitely more likely to be oppressed by their elected representatives than by their constitutional monarch, and indeed are increasingly oppressed by them every day of their lives. Like many intellectuals, they prefer to fight shadows rather than substantive beings: it is easier and more gratifying.

The Power of Paranoia

In his Takimag column last week, Dr. Dalrymple comments on a surprisingly reasonable book about COVID-19, muses on the attractiveness of conspiracy theories, and predicts a future of generalized paranoia for all of us.

How many of us would be willing to admit our mistakes with such frankness, even to ourselves? Not many, perhaps because we are so unwilling to admit the unpredictability of the world. We want it to be fully comprehensible, and thereby foreseeable, especially by us. In addition, we are often more attached to our view of the world than to the world itself. Giving up a worldview is more difficult than giving up a bad habit.

Job Snobs

In this week’s Takimag column, Theodore Dalrymple explores various forms of snobbery and emphasizes the need—in fact, our duty—to pass judgment in order to uphold the good, the true, and the beautiful in our world.

The trouble is that snobbery toward the unambitious overvalues ambition as a human characteristic, and thereby helps to usher in the regime of ambitious mediocrities, or even sub-mediocrities, under which we now live. There is nothing wrong with mediocrity, it is indeed very necessary; but it is harmful when allied with ambition.

Pedantry as the Best Defence

In the September edition of New English Review, the good doctor muses on his pedantic interests while attempting to catalogue his vast library in his French countryside villa.

I suspect that we are fast approaching a state of society in which pedantry will be the best defence against the prevailing moral and philosophical (not to say physical) ugliness. Find a corner of the world about which nobody cares, and immerse yourself pedantically in it. That will be the way to survive until you reach the bourne from which no traveller returns.