Category Archives: Essays

Norman Stone (1941-2019)

In The European Conservative, the good doctor remembers the life of the well-known and highly regarded Scottish historian, Norman Stone, who passed away this summer. Requiescat in pace.

I was among Norman Stone’s admirers. You could not be in his company for very long without realising that you were in the presence of a deeply erudite man whose fund of historical anecdote was seemingly inexhaustible, always apposite to whatever happened to be under discussion, and brought forth for its own intrinsic interest and relevance, never merely to display how learned he was or to make you feel ignorant. To be at his feet where history was concerned was not so much a humiliation because one knew so little, comparatively speaking, as to be at a delightful and never-ending feast. Moreover, if you happened to know something that he didn’t, he was delighted to learn it.

We Are All Parasites

The dismissal of the bizarre shyster WeWork CEO, Adam Neumann, is the topic of Theodore Dalrymple’s latest Takimag column.

The most successful gurus are not straightforward crooks, at least not to begin with. If they deceive, they are also to a large extent self-deceived. However, with repetition and success comes more straightforward skulduggery, swindling, misappropriation of funds, sexual predation, and so forth, all because they now believe themselves to have been granted impunity, as with a diplomatic passport.

Deniable Dishonesty

Theodore Dalrymple calls out Senator Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren in City Journal on her recent obnoxious wisecrack about traditional marriage—such as the one that she has been involved in since circa A.D. 1980.

The upper-middle classes pretending to despise marriage are no more sincere than was Marie Antoinette playing shepherdess, though they do more harm by their pretense than Marie Antoinette ever did, for no one was ever encouraged to become a shepherdess by her playacting. It is otherwise with the upper-middle class’s playacting.

Papal Pap

The recent ridiculous papal condemnation of adjectives and adverbs is the target of Theodore Dalrymple’s Takimag column.

The need to say something is often far greater than the need, or the capacity, of the speaker to say something important or worthwhile listening to. Many a person wants to communicate without having anything specific to communicate. Some of my young patients said they wanted to be writers, but when I asked them what they wanted to write about, they had no answer. It was not a question that had occurred to them.

The Pell Case: A Strong Odour of Injustice

The Cardinal Pell verdict in Australia is critiqued by Theodore Dalrymple over at Quadrant.

Without knowing anything about the truth or otherwise of the allegations, it seemed to me wrong in principle that a man should be convicted on an unsubstantiated charge brought by an alleged victim without any corroboratory evidence whatsoever—even if, as might be the case, the charge were true. In these circumstances, it cannot be known beyond reasonable doubt that any crime actually took place, let alone that any individual committed it.

….

It is surely troubling that a man may be convicted according to due process of law of an offence which it is well within the bounds of possibility never to have taken place, on the word of a single witness both as to its having taken place at all and as to who committed it.

European Gloom

Theodore Dalrymple remarks in City Journal on the growing sense of economic gloom in Western Europe and how the Eurocrats and the left-liberals fear that this will lead to an increase in populism, and even in—gasp—nationalism, the dreaded enemy of all that is glorious and pro-EU.

In other words, if only governments of countries in which populism—that is to say, the popularity of one’s opponents—spent enough money to revive their respective economies, the people would return to their senses and reenter the social-democratic fold that has served Europe so well in the recent past—even if, in fact, it led to the present trouble.

An Ill-Defined Petition

In last Saturday’s Takimag column, Theodore Dalrymple lampoons the recent petition—signed by 30,000 miseducated snowflakes—to remove the word bitch from the Oxford English Dictionary.

A dictionary is not a manual of etiquette, any more than a textbook of tropical diseases is a paean of praise to tropical sunsets. A dictionary definition of the word slag or slut is not a recommendation that you approach the first person to whom it might plausibly be applied and apply it to her face.

….

All this is so obvious that I would hesitate to mention it were it not for the fact that 30,000 people appear not to understand it. What is most disturbing about this is that the 30,000 are probably above average, possibly well above average, in their level of education, or at least in the number of years spent at an institution of supposed learning.

Trudeau: Politics Without Spine

In his October New English Review essay, Theodore Dalrymple ponders the recent blackface scandal of that limp-wristed, politically correct, talentless Canadian left-liberal non-entity, Justin Trudeau. The good doctor then goes on to comment on his own lack of courage, obesity and moral character, and the politically incorrect Katie Hopkins.

If the political leader of an important country can be overthrown or not re-elected on so relatively trivial a ground, while at the same time no one cares in the least about his shallow but dangerous moral posturing and obviously weak-minded pandering to the ayatollahs of an absurd and ill-founded political morality, then a new nadir of decadence and cowardice has been reached. It is a difficult question of moral philosophy as to whether it would be worse if Mr Trudeau actually believed his own political correctness or merely made use of it as a means to power. If the former, he is a fool; if the latter a knave.

The Regrettable Emphasis on ‘Remorse’

The good doctor laments the faulty emphasis on remorse in the granting of parole in many Western criminal justice systems in his Quadrant column.

It is obvious that where there is both a demand and a reward for expressions of remorse, there will be a supply. Where such expressions are rewarded, it is impossible to know whether or not they are sincere. And yet a strange degree of importance is attached by our criminal justice system to precisely such expressions. You pretend to be sorry, and we’ll pretend to believe you.

Decline & Fall in a Welsh Town

In his September essay for The New Criterion, Theodore Dalrymple (writing under his real name, Anthony Daniels) recounts his recent trip to Aberystwyth, a seaside resort town and the home of the National Library of Wales. Despite the noticeable degradation, the good doctor ends up managing to find some hope for optimism among a few of the town dwellers.

As for the non-student population, its most notable, or noticeable, characteristic is self-abuse. Tattoos and facial ironmongery are much in evidence, as is obesity; and down the promenade waddle slatternly mothers pushing their infants in wheeled contrivances, the insemination of the mothers having been so miraculous, given their size, that it makes the Virgin Birth seem mundane by comparison. Everyone, even the elderly, dresses as if he has risen late on a Sunday morning after a hard night and early hours in the bar, and put on the first crumpled clothes that came to hand and required no effort to don. Self-esteem has completely obliterated self-respect as a desideratum.