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Daniels in 2007

Anthony (A.M.) Daniels (born 1949), who generally uses the pen name Theodore Dalrymple and has also used the pen name Edward Theberton[1] and two other pen names,[2] is a British writer and retired physician (prison doctor and psychiatrist).

Before his retirement in 2005, he worked as a doctor and psychiatrist in a hospital and nearby prison in inner-city Birmingham, England. His philosophical position is "compassionate conservative".[3] He is a critic of liberal and utopian thinking.

Contents

Life

His father was a Communist businessman, while his Jewish mother was born in Germany and came to the United Kingdom as a refugee from the Nazi regime.[4]

In 2005 he retired early 'at the first opportunity' as a consultant psychiatrist, writing in the Sunday Telegraph: "Retired at last! Retired at last! Thank God Almighty, retired at last! Such are the feelings of almost all hospital consultants and general practitioners who retire from the National Health Service after many years of service: years that increasingly have been ones of drudgery, servitude and subordination to politicians and their henchmen, the managers, who utter Pecksniffian pieties as they secure the advancement of their own inglorious careers. He now divides his time (with his wife, Agnes) between homes in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, and France, and continues to write.

He has worked in the present Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia), Tanzania, South Africa, Kiribati, the east end of London and central Birmingham (UK), amongst other places.

Regarding his pseudonym Theodore Dalrymple, Daniels says he "chose a name that sounded suitably dyspeptic, that of a gouty old man looking out of the window of his London club, port in hand, lamenting the degenerating state of the world."[2]

He is an atheist, but he has criticized anti-theism and argued that to "regret religion is to regret Western civilization." Although raised as a Christian, he began doubting the existence of a God at age nine. He became an atheist at about age fourteen in response to a moment in a school assembly. He later recounted:

We had been given to understand that if we opened our eyes during prayers God would depart the assembly hall. I wanted to test this hypothesis. Surely, if I opened my eyes suddenly, I would glimpse the fleeing God? What I saw instead, it turned out, was the headmaster, Mr. Clinton, intoning the prayer with one eye closed and the other open, with which he beadily [sic] surveyed the children below for transgressions. I quickly concluded that Mr. Clinton did not believe what he said about the need to keep our eyes shut. And if he did not believe that, why should I believe in his God? In such illogical leaps do our beliefs often originate, to be disciplined later in life (if we receive enough education) by elaborate rationalization.[5]

Writing

Daniels has written extensively on culture, art, politics, education, and medicine drawing upon his experience as a doctor and psychiatrist in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, and more recently at a prison and a public hospital in Birmingham, in central England.

His work frequently appears in The British Medical Journal, The Times, The Observer, The Daily Telegraph, The Spectator and in American and other foreign publications, including City Journal, a magazine published by the Manhattan Institute.

In 2009, British publisher Monday Books announced it was to publish two books by Dalrymple. The first, Not With a Bang But A Whimper, appeared in August 2009. It is different from the US book of the same name, though some of the author's essays appear in both books. In October 2009, Monday Books was to publish Second Opinion, a further collection of Dalrymple essays, this time dealing exclusively with his work in a British hospital and prison.

The publisher made extracts from both works available free of charge at its website at the following points: Not With A Bang But A Whimper and Second Opinion

In his commentary, Daniels frequently argues that the so-called "progressive" views prevalent within Western intellectual circles minimize the responsibility of individuals for their own actions and undermine traditional mores, contributing to the formation within rich countries of an underclass afflicted by endemic violence, criminality, sexually transmitted diseases, welfare dependency, and drug abuse.

He contends that the middle class abandonment of traditional cultural and behavioural aspirations has, by example, fostered routine incivility and ignorance among the poor. Although he is occasionally accused of being a pessimist and misanthrope, his defenders praise his persistently conservative philosophy, which they describe as being anti-ideological, sceptical, rational and empiricist.

Themes

Daniels' writing has some recurring themes.[6]

  • 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 medicalization 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.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • An attitude characterized by 'gratefulness' and 'obligations towards others' has been replaced, with awful consequences, by an awareness of rights, a sense of entitlement. The result is resentment as, naturally, those rights are violated by parents, authorities, bureaucracies and others in general.[9]
  • 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.
  • One of the things that makes Islam attractive to young westernized Muslim men, is the opportunity it gives them to dominate women.[10]
  • It is a myth (its name is: cold turkey) that withdrawal symptoms of an opiate addiction (i.e. heroin) are virtually unbearable. It is hardly worse than flu.[11][12]
  • Criminality is much more often the cause of drug addiction than its consequence.
  • 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.[13]
  • Multiculturalism and cultural relativism are at odds with common sense and statistical evidence.[14]
  • The decline of civilised behaviour, such as: self-restraint, modesty, zeal, humility, irony, detachment, is a disaster for social and personal life.[15]
  • The root cause of our contemporary cultural poverty is intellectual dishonesty. First, the intellectuals have destroyed the foundation of culture, and second, they refuse to acknowledge it by resorting to the caves of political correctness.
  • Beyond and above all other nations in the world, Britain is the place where all the evils summarized above are most clearly manifest.[16]

Works

  • Coups and Cocaine: Two Journeys in South America (1986)
  • Fool or Physician: The Memoirs of a Sceptical Doctor (1987)
  • Zanzibar to Timbuktu (1988)
  • Sweet Waist of America: Journeys around Guatemala (1990)
  • The Wilder Shores of Marx: Journeys in a Vanishing World (1991) (published in the U.S. as Utopias Elsewhere)
  • Monrovia Mon Amour: A Visit to Liberia (1992)
  • If Symptoms Persist: Anecdotes from a Doctor (1994)
  • So Little Done: The Testament of a Serial Killer (1996)
  • If Symptoms Still Persist (1996)
  • Mass Listeria: The Meaning of Health Scares (1998)
  • An Intelligent Person's Guide to Medicine (2001)
  • Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass (2001) ISBN 1566633826
  • Violence, Disorder and Incivility in British Hospitals: The Case for Zero Tolerance (2002) ISBN 0907631975
  • Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses (2005) ISBN 1566636434
  • Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies And The Addiction Bureaucracy (2006) ISBN 1594030871 (published in the U.K. as Junk Medicine: Doctors, Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy ISBN 1905641591)
  • Making Bad Decisions. About the Way we Think of Social Problems (2006) (Dr. J. Tans Lecture 2006; published by Studium Generale Maastricht, The Netherlands. Lecture read on Wednesday 15 November 2006. ISBN 9789078769019)
  • In Praise of Prejudice: The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas (2007) ISBN 1594032025
  • Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline (US edition) (2008) ISBN 1566637953
  • Second Opinion. A Doctor's Notes from the Inner City (2009) ISBN 9781906308124
  • Not With a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline (UK edition; contains three essays that are not in the US edition) (2009) ISBN 978-1-906308-10-0

References

  1. ^ Website Skeptical Doctor. For an example of an article written by Edward Theberton, see: Black Marx (The Spectator, 5 juli 1986). The characteristic opening sentence of the article reads: "If the people of Mozambique could eat slogans, they would be fat."
  2. ^ a b Theodore Dalrymple. Where nobody knows your name. (Globe and Mail, Feb. 16, 2008).
  3. ^ Profile published in the New York Sun, 2004.
  4. ^ It was not a happy marriage; Daniels characterised his parents as having "chose[n] to live in the most abject conflictual misery and created for themselves a kind of Hell on a small domestic scale". In his essay 'What we have to lose', in: Our Culture What's Left of It, p. 158, Anthony Daniels wrote: "(...) my mother was a refugee from Nazi Germany (...) She had left Germany when she was seventeen (...)".
  5. ^ Dalrymple, Theodore. "What the New Atheists Don’t See". City Journal. http://www.city-journal.org/html/17_4_oh_to_be.html. Retrieved January 5, 2009.  
  6. ^ A good number of Daniels' themes are discussed in the interview by Paul Belien with Daniels: 'Dalrymple on Decadence, Europe, America and Islam', in: The Brussels Journal, the Voice of Conservatism in Europe, 17 September 2006.
  7. ^ Life at the bottom. The Worldview that makes the Underclass (passim).
  8. ^ What is Poverty, City Journal, spring 1999.
  9. ^ 'The Law of Conservation of Righteous Indignation, and its Connection to the Expansion of Human Rights', in: In Praise of Prejudice. The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas, p. 68 (chapter 17).
  10. ^ When Islam Breaks Down, City Journal, Spring 2004.
  11. ^ Cold turkey is no worse than flu New Statesman, 09 April 1999. See also: Romancing Opiates (passim).
  12. ^ Addicted to lies: junking heroin is no worse than flu.
  13. ^ 'The Uses of Metaphysical Skepticism', in: In Praise of Prejudice. The Necessity of Preconceived Ideas, p. 6 (chapter 2).
  14. ^ Multiculturalism Starts Losing its Luster, City Journal, summer 2004.
  15. ^ All our Pomp of Yesterday, City Journal, summer 1999.
  16. ^ Not with a Bang but a Whimper (passim). Daniels does not baulk at the use of the concept of evil. Numerous articles of his have evil in the title.

External links

Articles

Reviews

Multimedia


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Anthony Daniels (born in 1949) is an English writer and retired physician (prison doctor and psychiatrist) who frequently uses the pen name Theodore Dalrymple.

Contents

Sourced

  • Where fashion in clothes, bodily adornment, and music are concerned, it is the underclass that increasingly sets the pace. Never before has there been so much downward cultural aspiration.
    • Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass (2001)
  • Childhood in large parts of modern Britain, at any rate, has been replaced by premature adulthood, or rather adolescence. Children grow up very fast but not very far. That is why it is possible for 14 year olds now to establish friendships with 26 year olds - because they know by the age of 14 all they are ever going to know.
    • Frontpage Magazine Interview
  • Optimism is the parent of despair, while pessimism allows the mind to accustom itself to the inevitable disappointments of human existence by degrees, just as some drugs induce a state of tolerance. Pessimists, moreover, have the better sense of humour, for they have a livelier apprehension of pretension and absurdity. In a meritocracy, furthermore, those who fail must either indulge in elaborate mental contortions to disguise reality from themselves or sink into a deep melancholy.
    • British Medical Journal Views and Reviews: Desperate house calls (BMJ 2009;338:b212)

City Journal (1998 - 2008)

Daniels' City Journal essays have also been collected in three books: 1) Not With A Bang But A Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline; 2) Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses; and 3) Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass

  • What is the point of restraint and circumspection, if such stream-of-consciousness vulgarity can win not merely wealth and fame but complete social acceptance?
  • There is no such thing, wrote Oscar Wilde, as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. Presumably, then, Mein Kampf would have been all right had it been better written.
  • When every benefit received is a right, there is no place for good manners, let alone for gratitude.
  • Henceforth there are to be no fixed or inviolable principles of law at all—only an endlessly changing legal response to the fashionable causes of the moment.
  • There is nothing an addict likes more, or that serves as better pretext for continuing his present way of life, than to place the weight of responsibility for his situation somewhere other than on his own decisions.
  • I have never understood the liberal assumption that if there were justice in the world, there would be fewer rather than more prisoners.
  • In the modern view, unbridled personal freedom is the only good to be pursued; any obstacle to it is a problem to be overcome.
  • Mere absurdity has never prevented the triumph of bad ideas, if they accord with easily aroused fantasies of an existence freed of human limitations.
    • All Sex, All the Time
  • Having been issued the false prospectus of happiness through unlimited sex, modern man concludes, when he is not happy with his life, that his sex has not been unlimited enough. If welfare does not eliminate squalor, we need more welfare; if sex does not bring happiness, we need more sex.
    • All Sex, All the Time
  • The intellectual's struggle to deny the obvious is never more desperate than when reality is unpleasant and at variance with his preconceptions and when full acknowledgment of it would undermine the foundations of his intellectual worldview.
  • Never has so much indifference masqueraded as so much compassion; never has there been such willful blindness. The once pragmatic English have become a nation of sleepwalkers.
    • Seeing Is Not Believing
  • It seems that when an impending catastrophe will affect them personally, in their very flesh and blood, intellectuals start to think more clearly about the legal and institutional prerequisites of a free society.
  • Where hopes are unrealistic, fears often become exaggerated; where dreams alone are blueprints, nightmares result.
  • Civilization is the sum total of all those activities that allow men to transcend mere biological existence and reach for a richer mental, aesthetic, material, and spiritual life.
  • Equality is the measure of all things, and bad behavior is less bad if everyone indulges in it.
  • Nationalism is fraught with dangers, of course, but so is the blind refusal to recognize that attachment to one’s own culture, traditions, and history is a creative, normal, and healthy part of human experience.
  • For the sake of democracy, vigorous, civilized debate must replace the law of silence that political correctness has imposed.
    • How PC Boosts Le Pen
  • Henceforth, there is to be no testing oneself against the best, with the possibility, even the likelihood, of failure: instead, one is perpetually to immerse oneself in the tepid bath of self-esteem, mutual congratulation, and benevolence toward all.
  • The real and most pressing question raised by any social problem is: “How do I appear concerned and compassionate to all my friends, colleagues, and peers?”
  • It is better to be opposed by an enemy than to be adrift in meaninglessness, for the simulacrum of an enemy lends purpose to actions whose nihilism would otherwise be self-evident.
  • It is, of course, a common prejudice that censorship is bad for art and therefore always unjustified: though, if this were so, mankind would have little in the way of an artistic heritage and we should now be living in an artistic golden age.
  • It is only by having desire thwarted, and thereby learning to control it—in other words, by becoming civilized—that men become fully human.
  • When a population feels alienated from the legal system under which it lives, because that system fails to protect it from real dangers while lending succor and encouragement to every possible kind of wrongdoing, the population may well lose faith in the very idea of law. That is how civilization unravels.
  • To make up for its lack of a moral compass, the British public is prey to sudden gusts of kitschy sentimentality followed by vehement outrage, encouraged by the cheap and cynical sensationalism of its press. Spasms of self-righteousness are its substitute for the moral life.
  • In a democratic age, only the behavior of the authorities is subject to public criticism; that of the people themselves, never.
    • Who Killed Childhood?
  • In Britain, journalists often view comparisons with our society going back two, three, or seven centuries as more relevant than comparisons going back two, three, or seven decades. Drunkenness centuries ago is more illuminating than comparative sobriety 30 years ago. The distant past, selectively mined for evidence that justifies our current conduct, becomes more important than living memory.
  • For intellectuals, everyone’s mind is closed but their own.
  • Unilateral tolerance in a world of intolerance is like unilateral disarmament in a world of armed camps: it regards hope as a better basis for policy than reality.
  • The nearer emotional life approaches to hysteria, to continual outward show, the less genuine it becomes. Feeling becomes equated with vehemence of expression, so that insincerity becomes permanent.
  • Frivolity without gaiety and earnestness without seriousness—a most unattractive combination.
  • The refusal of free inquiry derives from an awareness of the fragility of the basis of religious faith; and since certainty is psychologically preferable to truth, the former often being willfully mistaken for the latter, anything that threatens certainty is anathematized with fury.
  • Experience rarely teaches its lessons directly but instead requires interpretation through the filter of preconceived theories, prejudices, and desires. Where these are invincible, facts are weak things.
  • If all our political and intellectual elite offers by way of a national culture is “pop music, gambling, fashionable clothes or television,” then we can neither mount a convincing intellectual defense against our enemies, nor hope to integrate intelligent, inquiring, and unfulfilled Muslim youths—young men principally, of course—to our way of life.
  • We are like creatures so dazzled with our own technological prowess that we no longer think it necessary to consider the obvious.
  • Mediocrity triumphs because it presents itself as democratic and because it is dull, and so for many does not seem worth struggling against.
  • When the cold war ended, I thought, as no doubt did many others, that the age of ideology was over. Again like many others, I underestimated man’s need for transcendence, which, in the absence of religion or high culture, he is most likely to find in a political or social cause.
  • The appeal of political correctness is that it attempts to change men’s souls by altering how they speak. If one sufficiently reforms language, certain thoughts become unthinkable, and the world moves in the approved direction.

New Criterion (2000 - 2005)

  • The tattoo has a profound meaning: the superficiality of modern man’s existence.
  • To deal with the problems of modern society, hard thought, confrontation with an often unpleasant reality, and moral courage are needed, for which a vague and self-congratulatory broadmindedness is no substitute.
  • Whereas fortitude was once regarded as a virtue, it has come to be regarded as a kind of reprehensible and deliberate obtuseness, to be utterly condemned as treason to the self (there is no fury like a non-judgmentalist scorned).

The Social Affairs Unit (2006 - 2008)

  • In the British public service nothing succeeds like failure: indeed, failure is success, if looked on in the right way, namely as something requiring yet further intervention in people's lives to amend.
    • Mr Brown's self-esteem issue - or, asks Theodore Dalrymple, does Gordon Brown really believe that he can solve the problems of the world
  • Equality can only be measured by outcome: and this means the imposition of racial quotas. The job of the Senior Executive is therefore to be a senior racist.
    • Theodore Dalrymple finds a cure for the German malady of low blood pressure: read The Guardian's job advertisements

CBC Ideas Interview (podcast) (September 25, 2006)

Link Archive.org

A wide-ranging interview (.mp3 file, 24.1 MB, 52 min. 34 sec.) by Paul Kennedy on the CBC Radio program Ideas audio Best of Ideas. podcast. Where noted, <times> shown are minutes and seconds from the beginning of the podcast.

  • Resentment is one of the few emotions that never lets you down, but it’s useless. In fact, it’s worse than useless, it’s harmful, and we all suffer from it at some time in our lives.
  • The main difference between working in an NHS hospital in Britain and a prison is that prison is much safer.
  • <14:06> ...Of course I made it quite clear to the women that I thought that that the way that they had been abused was terrible and completely unjustifiable. However, I thought that it was very important that they should understand their own complicity in it; so that, for example, they understood that the way they chose men, and their refusal to see signs (which they were capable of seeing) resulted in their misery… <14:40> To give you a concrete example, I would say to them, ‘This man of yours, who’s very nasty to you, and drags you across the floor, and puts your head through the window, and sometimes even hangs you out of the window by your ankles: How long do you think it would take me to realise he was no good, as he came through the door? Would it take me a second, or half a second, or an eighth of a second, or would I not notice that there was anything wrong with him at all?’ And they’d say, ‘Oh, an eighth of a second, you’d know immediately.’ And I would say to them, ‘Well, if you know that I would know immediately, then you knew immediately as well.’ It’s a logical consequence, really. And they would accept that. ‘And yet, you chose to associate with him, knowing full well that he was no good; and I tell you this, because it’s very necessary you should understand your own part in the predicament you now find yourself in, because if you don’t understand it, or don’t think about it, you’re just going to repeat it.’ which is of course, a very, very common pattern.
    • Daniels on helping victims of abuse understand how they can help to break the cycle.

Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy (2006)

  • Over and over again, medical writers liken withdrawal [from heroin], at worst, to a dose of flu. ... Let me ask the reader this: if you were given a choice between suffering a bout of flu in the above sense, or avoiding it by robbing someone in the street or breaking into a house and stealing its contents, which would you choose?
  • There is something deeply attractive, at least to quite a lot of people, about squalor, misery, and vice. They are regarded as more authentic, and certainly more exciting, than cleanliness, happiness, and virtue.
  • His greatest fear, or nightmare, is not to be thought hip or cool, and if to avoid that terrible fate it means that he has to glamorize evil--well, so be it.
  • If consequences are removed from enough actions, then the very concept of human agency evaporates, life itself becomes meaningless, and is thenceforth a vacuum in which people oscillate between boredom and oblivion.
  • There is nothing an official hates more than a person who makes up his own mind.
  • Wisdom and good governance require more than the consistent application of abstract principles.

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