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At the bottom of the Wikipedia page for Theodore Dalrymple, they list a few recurring themes from his writing. I was so impressed with this list, that I couldn’t help but share it. Somebody did a nice job summarizing such complex themes so concisely. And each bullet point is a brilliant insight that should be posted on billboards all over the country. Sorry for all the hyperlinks – again, I just copied and pasted this from Wikipedia. Enjoy:
- The cause of much contemporary misery in Western countries – criminality, domestic violence, drug addiction, aggressive youths, hooliganism, broken families – is the nihilistic, decadent and/or self-destructive behaviour of people who do not know how to live. Both the smoothing over of this behaviour, and the medicalisation of the problems that emerge as a corollary of this behaviour, are forms of indifference. Someone has to tell those people, patiently and with understanding for the particulars of the case, that they have to live differently.
- Poverty does not explain aggressive, criminal and self-destructive behaviour. In an African slum you will find among the very poor, living in dreadful circumstances, dignity and decency in abundance, which are painfully lacking in an average English suburb, although its inhabitants are much wealthier.
- An attitude characterised by gratefulness and having obligations towards others has been replaced – with awful consequences – by an awareness of “rights” and a sense of entitlement, without responsibilities. This leads to resentment as the rights become violated by parents, authorities, bureaucracies and others in general.
- One of the things that make Islam attractive to young westernised Muslim men is the opportunity it gives them to dominate women.
- Technocratic or bureaucratic solutions to the problems of mankind produce disasters in cases where the nature of man is the root cause of those problems.
- It is a myth, when going “cold turkey” from an opiate such as heroin, that the withdrawal symptoms are virtually unbearable; they are in fact hardly worse than flu.
- Criminality is much more often the cause of drug addiction than its consequence.
- Sentimentality, which is becoming entrenched in British society, is “the progenitor, the godparent, the midwife of brutality”.
- High culture and refined aesthetic tastes are worth defending, and despite the protestations of non-judgmentalists who say all expression is equal, they are superior to popular culture.
- The ideology of the Welfare State is used to diminish personal responsibility. Erosion of personal responsibility makes people dependent on institutions and favours the existence of a threatening and vulnerable underclass.
- Moral relativism can easily be a trick of an egotistical mind to silence the voice of conscience.
- Multiculturalism and cultural relativism are at odds with common sense.
- The decline of civilised behaviour – self-restraint, modesty, zeal, humility, irony, detachment – ruins social and personal life.
- The root cause of our contemporary cultural poverty is intellectual dishonesty. First, the intellectuals (more specifically, left-wing ones) have destroyed the foundation of culture, and second, they refuse to acknowledge it by resorting to the caves of political correctness.
I agree with many of his points, and I would love to debate with him on the others. We would have a wonderful conversation, I would imagine. But that wasn’t my first thought.
After reading this list, I wondered where I would go to read an equivalent summary of leftist thought. I honestly can’t imagine.
A friend once asked me why there was no leftist equivalent of Thomas Sowell. I flippantly responded, “Because Thomas Sowell makes sense. And leftism doesn’t.” We both laughed at my silly insult.
There must be more to it than that, right? There must be leftist writers struggling with the great questions of our day, like Mr. Sowell and Mr. Dalrymple. And Walter Williams and Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson and Larry Elder and Kevin Williamson and Jonah Goldberg and Victor Davis Hanson and on and on and on and on. So many fascinating thinkers, with so many different perspectives, on so many important topics, having so many fascinating conversations.
The left has Bill Maher. And AOC, I guess. I suppose they would claim Paul Krugman. I’m sure there are some others. What would a list of the great contemporary thinkers of the left look like?
And then imagine what a summary of their ideas would look like. Like the list above from the writings of Mr. Dalrymple. What would Mr. Krugman’s list look like? Or Bill Maher’s? Or, Lord help us, AOC’s?
No wonder the left talks about racism and climate change so much. Their ideas are uninspiring and uninteresting. They’re dangerous, too, of course, if you look at history. Which leftists typically do not.
But that’s not my point. It’s just that I would think that being a leftist would be terribly boring, for a thinking person.
I should go read some of Mr. Dalrymple’s work. I suspect I’ll learn something.
When a leftist reads Paul Krugman, or listens to Bill Maher or AOC, does that leftist learn anything?
I’m not sure. But I don’t think they care.
Which I don’t understand. Such a life must be terribly boring.Published in