Propaganda & Uglification

In the January issue of New Criterion, the dubious doctor takes aim at his two long-time bête noires: tattoos and modernist architecture.

Sometimes I think (or is it feel?) that we are living in a propaganda state, not like that of North Korea, of course, in which the source of a univocal doctrine is clear and unmistakable, but one in which we are constantly under bombardment by an opinion-forming class that wants to make us believe, or be enthusiastic about, something to which we were previously indifferent or even hostile. There is no identifiable single source of the propaganda, and yet there seems also to be coordination: for how else to explain its sudden ubiquity?

Poison Pen

In his latest Takimag article, Theodore Dalrymple recounts lying in bed one morning, absorbed in an Agatha Christie mystery, as he battles a persistently obnoxious fly.

In fact, a publisher once asked me to write a book about Mrs. Christie’s philosophical, social, and psychological ideas. The prospect tempted me because I could lie abed all day reading her and imagine that I was working. I also had a grand theory to propound, namely that Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple were actually themselves serial killers.

 

Surveying the Ruins

The good doctor pens a generally favorable review of the interesting philosopher John Gray’s latest book back at City Journal.

It is his contention that liberal democracy contains within itself the seeds of its own decay—what Marxists would once have called its internal contradictions—because it is not moored to any substantive belief system, such as that which Christianity once supplied. Under what he calls hyperliberalism, the individual is left, and in fact is enjoined, to find his own identity and purpose, free of the barnacle-like accretions of intellectual, moral, and political history.

The Therapeutic Turn

In his City Journal column, Dr. Dalrymple examines the rise in importance of psychology in tandem with the increase in mental problems related to the many ills of post-war modernity in the West.

Unknowingly, though, we were at the onset of what one might call the therapeutic turn. The dissatisfactions of life, rather than being understood as the inherent imperfectability of sublunary existence, came to be viewed as psychological, or even psychiatric, problems—with psychological or psychiatric solutions.

On behalf of the team here at The Skeptical Doctor, I would like to wish all of our readers around the world a peaceful, joyous, and blessed Christmas.

Our Corruptocrats and Their Eager Acolytes

Over at Quadrant, the critical doctor sets his sights on Britain’s corrupt and self-serving bureaucratic class and the ongoing moral and spiritual corruption of the British people.

In the last analysis, it is also financial, insofar as it is the means by which an incompetent and greedy nomenklatura class has been created, with a much larger class of apparatchiks as hangers-on. The worst of it is that the corruption wrought by the nomenklatura and its associated apparatchiks is entirely legalised: indeed, it is often legally required.

Mirror-Image Racism

In this week’s Takimag column, the skeptical doctor excoriates the latest overpaid, fashionably ‘woke’ CEO spouting her racist ‘diversity’ drivel, this time in Britain.

One might naively have supposed, or hoped, that companies nominally answerable to their shareholders chose senior staff according to their ability to do their job, not according to some ideologically preconceived demographic pattern, supposedly reflecting the demographic pattern of the population as a whole.

The Never-Ending Trial

In the Christmas issue of The Lamp, Theodore Dalrymple reviews a highly recommended book on the Marshal Pétain and his Vichy regime, written by British history professor Julian Jackson.

Thank you to our reader from Portugal, António S., for bringing this to my attention. I will be posting the two other previously published Dalrymple essays at The Lamp in due course.

I cannot praise this book highly enough. It reads like a drama, and the writer is a model of impartiality. He does not simplify the labyrinthine complexities of history, only a few of which I have touched upon, to assume an easy moral superiority.

Sun of Childhood

In the December issue of The New Criterion, our favorite doctor remembers the last days of the famous Spanish poet Antonio Machado and his own visit to Collioure, the French town where the poet was laid to eternal rest.

Was it right, then, that I, so fortunate by comparison with my forebears, should bask in the blue day and sun in Collioure, and enjoy myself so greatly? Yes, provided that I did not forget.

Still No Sides to History

In his Law & Liberty essay, the doubtful doctor questions the popular but nonsensical notion of history having sides as he covers Comrade Maduro’s plans to annex territory from neighboring Guyana and his time spent in Rhodesia.

But history has no sides and evaluates nothing. We often hear of the “verdict of history,” but it is humans, not history, that bring in verdicts, and the verdicts that they bring in often change with time. The plus becomes a minus and then a plus again.

Get the Message?

In his Takimag column, our concerned doctor has trouble keeping track of all the excessive and useless warnings directed toward him during one evening out on the town in Paris.

One sometimes has the impression that one will not be left alone until one really does love Big Brother—though who exactly Big Brother is remains unclear. We seem to be undergoing, or at least are being subjected to, what the Chinese in the 1950s called thought reform.