Skip to comments.Surrendering to Barbarism
Posted on 02/26/2010 7:52:49 PM PST by neverdem
Readers of National Review need no introduction to Theodore Dalrymple. Under that byline, or his real name of Anthony Daniels, he is a frequent contributor. There's no one quite like him. He's been a doctor and worked in prisons, really coming to grips with the lower depths. Although he reports terrible things, and sometimes has a little gleam of I-told-you-so when reporting something even more terrible than what's gone before, he refuses to abandon his humane instincts and a belief that it's worth fighting for civilization even if the cause looks lost.
His very latest book, just published by Encounter Books, has the title The New Vichy Syndrome, and the even more challenging subtitle, Why European Intellectuals Surrender to Barbarism. In the wartime years of Vichy, intellectuals simply surrendered because that was the comfortable thing to do. Now they're at it again. Europe is in a bad way, with falling birth rates everywhere, and native populations being replaced by immigrants who are mainly Muslim and often unable or unwilling to integrate. Nobody has the courage to take a position about this, or indeed anything else. Morality is thought to be relative, so people must do as they like and feel free in this respect. In the absence of any such things as right and wrong, of course barbarism must gain the upper hand. Wonderful lengthy footnotes are evidence of Dalrymple's intellectual energy. Here's one: The present Archbishop of Canterbury recommends sharia law for Britain, and by so doing he “mistakes cowardice for bravery, surrender for victory, and platitudes for insight . . . far more of a danger to British society than Islamic fundamentalism on its own could ever be.”
By coincidence, a fine example of intellectual nonsense comes right now from Paris. Bernard-Henry Lévy is perhaps the foremost public intellectual in that city, with an opinion about everything and eager to sound off all day long. He's not really a bad fellow the way Sartre or other French intellectuals were, just totally and unforgettably pleased with himself. In a recent television show with discussion of the Enlightenment philosopher Kant, he thought to win the argument by quoting one Botul, who had a theory known as Botulism — you'd have thought that word might have given pause for thought, since botulism is a specially nasty form of food poisoning. Anyhow it turned out that some clever journalist had written articles inventing Botul simply as a spoof, and Lévy had fallen for it. Aren't the fatuous credulity and the bogus authority bang up to date? It's not a surrender to barbarism, of course, but it does tend to prove Dalrymple's point that European intellectuals are worse than useless.
“”Theodore Dalrymple explains how European intelligentsia turned on Western civilisation and paved the way for hedonism and Islamism to run roughshod over a once proud European culture. Western Europe is in a strangely neurotic condition of being smug and terrified at the same time. On the one hand, Europeans believe they have at last created an ideal social and political system in which man can live comfortably. In many ways, things have never been better on the old continent. On the other hand, there is growing anxiety that Europe is quickly falling behind in an aggressive, globalized world. Europe is at the forefront of nothing, its demographics are rapidly transforming in unsettling ways, and the ancient threat of barbarian invasion has resurfaced in a fresh manifestation. In “The New Vichy Syndrome”, Theodore Dalrymple traces this malaise back to the great conflicts of the last century and their devastating effects upon the European psyche. From issues of religion, class, colonialism, and nationalism, Europeans hold a ‘miserablist’ view of their history, one that alternates between indifference and outright contempt of the past. Today’s Europeans no longer believe in anything but personal economic security, an increased standard of living, shorter working hours, and long vacations in exotic locales. The result, Dairymple asserts, is an unwillingness to preserve European achievements and the dismantling of western culture by Europeans themselves. As vapid hedonism and aggressive Islamism fill this cultural void, Europeans have no one else to blame for their plight.
About the Author
Theodore Dalrymple is a former psychiatrist and prison doctor. He writes a column for The Spectator of London, contributes frequently to the Daily Telegraph, and is a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. He lives in France. “”
Absolutely correct, the “intelligensia” hate their own civilization and seek to promote wildly inferior alternatives.
I’m definitely a fan. But one of these days I’m going to have to ask him to his face if he chose to use a pen name rather than his real name cause he didn’t want to be mixed up with the C3PO guy from “Star Wars”.