Fantasy is all very well, it is better than nothing at all, but it is no substitute for reality. By middle age, Amos had had enough of it and its pretences. Why should he be condemned to a second-rate life just because, through no fault of his own, he had developed a unusual desire that, if fulfilled, would harm no one else? Every man has a right to fulfilment.
Peter Bolton from The Canary wrote to us to let us know about his new piece that criticizes right-wing commentators for hypocrisy on the subject of civil discourse. He says Theodore Dalrymple is the most notable culprit:
In a highly competitive field, the prize for the most glaring peddler of wilful bias may go to the conservative essayist Anthony Daniels, better known by his pen name Theodore Dalrymple…
Daniels’ writing often focuses on what he sees as the decline in manners, self-respect, decency, and personal responsibility in both public and private life in the UK. And for Daniels, the blame for this decline lies squarely with Britain’s political and intellectual class, along with their purported embrace of popular culture at the expense of high culture. This criticism, however, is seemingly reserved almost exclusively for those who he considers left of center.
It’s a fairly long piece with many examples, as Bolton sees it, of Dalrymple’s hypocrisy. Read it here.
Bolton asked if Dalrymple would like to reply, and I expect him to reply here shortly.
I am sorry that I haven’t posted any new Dalrymple pieces in the last couple of months. I have received several emails questioning whether Dalrymple is even writing any more, and I can assure you that he is writing as much as ever. I have had some challenges in my personal life that have made maintaining the blog difficult, and I feel the need to explain. In late January, my identical twin brother Clint, with whom I built and maintained this blog, passed away suddenly from a seizure disorder that began three years ago. His death has made life difficult for me, and I have not had the heart to continue posting. I plan to start up again soon, perhaps with one “catch up” entry that lists all of the pieces I’ve missed. We were lax enough in keeping up with Dalrymple and posting all of his pieces when it was the two of us, and I’m not sure I can do it alone. Therefore, if anyone would like to assist me in maintaining the blog, I would welcome the help. You can contact me by commenting on this post or by emailing me at email@example.com.
Clint took great meaning and enjoyment from Dalrymple’s work and worldview, and in helping to promote them. The opportunities we have had to get to know Dalrymple personally have been a real thrill, as have the opportunities to meet and communicate with so many of his readers. I want to thank you all for having helped to make my brother’s life a better one.
Many of you may know of Dalrymple’s 1989 visit to North Korea as part of a communist British delegation to the World Festival of Youth and Students, as recounted in his book The Wilder Shores of Marx.
Skeptical Doctor reader Yakimi has made a tremendous discovery, finding actual footage of Dalrymple in a YouTube video of the event. See Yakimi’s note – and the link to the video – in his message below:
Off-topic, but I have a discovery to share.
You may recall Theodore Dalrymple’s account of his journey in 1989 to the World Festival of Youth and Students held in North Korea. I was recently rereading that chapter of The Wilder Shores of Marx when I had the idea of seeing whether there existed any footage of him at the event. As luck would have it, YouTube is host to a two-hour film (http://youtube.com/watch?v=z972J4lVttU) documenting the festival. Dalrymple mentioned that the British delegation wore a uniform of “stormtrooper brown”, so I revieiwed the footage keeping an eye out for them.
At 31:39, a figure wearing a brown shirt and strongly resembling Dalrymple as he appears on the book’s dust jacket can be seen, resting his chin on his fist. He appears again at 32:35, holding a camera.
I do believe that to be Dalrymple. What do you think?
(Sadly, the footage of Dalrymple telling the wrestler that he hates sports or that of him being forced to dance were not featured.)
A YouTube user named “Expanding Overton” (which I think is a reference to this) has beautifully summarized Dalrymple’s 2007 book In Praise of Prejudice in video form. What a great idea. See videos of other works from the same user here.
We’ve previously posted two articles Dalrymple has written for The Journal of Modern Wisdom, a publication from author and philosopher Ben Irvine devoted to the search for wisdom and the good life. In addition to publishing Dalrymple, Ben has been a friend to this blog for years, and now he has a new book we want to tell you about. Scapegoated Capitalism examines the history of scapegoating generally, shows how it is perhaps inherent in human nature and demonstrates how it reveals itself today in the arguments of anti-capitalists, who blame an obviously beneficial economic system for problems that have other causes:
The scapegoating of individuals is bad enough when the accused share the blame with their accusers. But, in fact, the blaming of capitalists is more sinister still. The policies advocated and implemented by anti-capitalists do not mitigate but rather cause or worsen the problems that capitalism is accused of causing. Capitalism is therefore blamed not so much for everyone’s sins as for sins that belong to its accusers.
Readers like me who reject the accusation of ignorance and hatred often thrown at defenders of the free market will appreciate Irvine’s linkage of capitalism’s critics to the witch-hunters of old, for it is the big-government types who rely most on ignorance, fear and demonization.
We’re looking forward to hosting another happy hour meetup of Dalrymple readers, anyone else who reads our site, and like-minded types on Tuesday evening, December 1st in Manhattan.
We had a great time at our first such event back in July, discussing our favorite writers, swapping stories of being under intellectual siege in Gotham, and conspiring to rid the world of shallowness, rudeness and Madonna (but I repeat myself). This time we will surely solve Europe’s terrorism problem, come up with a plan to defeat Bill de Blasio, and reimpose reasonable standards of etiquette and civilization on Western society.
If you’d like to join us, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for the details.
As mentioned in the New English Review piece posted immediately below, Dalrymple visited East Timor during the brutal Indonesian occupation to participate in the making of a documentary about the atrocities committed there. Steve found the documentary here on YouTube yesterday and immediately recognized the anonymous doctor commenting in silhouette at the 37:10 mark.
Dalrymple’s ensuing 1994 piece describing the occupation in the Spectator, published under the pseudonym Edward Theberton, is available here (h/t Yakimi.) This powerful, intense article is well worth a read, as it gives a sense of what it is like to visit a totalitarian dictatorship:
Ten photographers, one with a video camera, took my picture before I reached the terminal building. Some foreign politicians were soon to arrive on an investigative mission, and the authorities wanted no troublemakers to interfere with their valiant (though in the event unavailing) efforts to mislead them about the monstrous injustice of Indonesian rule in East Timor…
No sooner had I walked out into the streets of Dili than a goon on a motorcycle followed me like a kerb-crawler in search of a prostitute. I stared into his dark glasses and turned to walk in the opposite direction. Disregarding the one-way system (there is very little traffic in Dili), he turned to follow me, making no effort to disguise the fact. I smiled at him, but his face remained blank; after a quarter of an hour, he left me, to return to my side at frequent intervals…
As in all totalitarian states, communication in East Timor is indirect, through gnomic hints, single statements blurted out as if by sudden irresistible impulse, and by brief but intense encounters. ‘It is not good here;’ My family was killed;’ My sister was raped by many soldiers;’ You must tell the world what we still suffer.’
The documentary states that two Australian teams of journalists were murdered there in 1975 for reporting on the invasion. Sometimes I think it is amazing that Dalrymple is still alive.
One of our commenters, Brian, recently had a fine idea: having a few fellow Dalrymple readers get together for dinner and drinks in Manhattan, where some of us live and/or work. Clint and I have had the pleasure of meeting many Dalrymple readers at various events over the years and have always been impressed with them and in particular with the Skeptical Doctor readers and commenters and look forward to meeting more. It turns out our friend Gavin, who does heroic work running the excellent Dalrymple Forum and associated Twitter account and who also rebuilt our website (he’s a very talented pro at this stuff), will be making his first trip to New York next week, so we thought this would be the perfect time for a meetup. As such, we are looking at Wednesday night, July 8, at a restaurant or bar still to be determined. No, Dalrymple himself will not be there, but I am sure we will have a good time anyway.
If you plan to join us, may I ask you to RSVP to email@example.com with the number of people in your party? The more the merrier as far as we are concerned (especially since everyone is paying for themselves). Once we have a headcount, we can select an appropriate location and maybe reserve a table or two. We will provide the location via email to those who RSVP.