City Journal Autumn 2014

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Theodore Dalrymple
Zadie Smith’s London « Back to Story

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I have a question. Why do you think the title of the section you described here (about Nat's visit at her sister's) is called Cheryl (L.O.V.E.) Why L.O.V.E.?
I like this review of Smith. I think it does more justice to the forces at work in the book than most other reviews I saw. The book to me is pessimistic, depressed. So why take it with me for a vacation on the beach and read it there, as the Guardian writer concluded?
If I am in London, and I live on the continent, I am impressed how well people get along. The story from the underside revealed by Smith is telling, sure, and there is much to be concerned about, but I do not agree with Dalrymple that there is a dire need for more than what is already there.
Hugh Mungus

'I find this analagous to the situation with Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment. I can't remember a single news story that accurately reported what crimes he had committed to earn his incarceration. He was invariably referred to as "jailed activist Nelson Mandela", '

Margaret Thatcher mentioned it a few times and what's more the man himself didn't even mind.

It was left to our incumbent: David Cameron (aka "Call Me Dave") to apologise on her behalf. Few things are more impertinent than apologising on another's behalf imho.
Natalie Blake's husband is called Frank not Felix. Felix is the the character who ends up getting stabbed in the end.
"Contostavlos later apologized, claiming that he hadnít known what Chindamo had done; he seemed not to realize that this was not a great improvement, for to call for a manís release from prison without knowing why he was there suggests a certain hostility to any form of criminal justice."

I find this analagous to the situation with Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment. I can't remember a single news story that accurately reported what crimes he had committed to earn his incarceration. He was invariably referred to as "jailed activist Nelson Mandela", as if he had only handed out leaflets opposing the government of South Africa. And I think few if any people know the nature of those crimes even today. Or perhaps they are only afraid enunciate them, despite the fact that his confession to the very serious charges of the Rivonia Trial were available at the ANC's own website when I last looked for them a few years ago.

If people on the street were interviewed today, how many would be able to correctly cite his crimes and how many would state that he was just a peaceful protestor, rather than a man who had plotted armed and violent attacks on the South African government, some of which resulted in death? Under such circumstances, who can be surprised that a pop star like Contostavlos could be ignorant of the crimes of Chindamo yet still hop on the bandwagon to support him? Didn't the pop stars all do the same for Mandela?

Racism is a vile and repugnant thing and I have nothing good to say about it. I bear Mandela no ill will due to his ethnicity. I simply get disgusted when the truth about a man is eviscerated for the sake of political correctness.
I want to live in Erik Schwarz's world of unicorns and fairies, because it certainly resembles in no way the United States of my experience. It is amazing what you can be self-blinded to by ideology. Multiculturalism is my beloved theory! He must travel in very rarefied circles and have adamantium blinders on if he doesn't see the alienation and violence in American cities.
Not sure how you figured Dappy (aged 25) and Chindamo (aged 33) went to school with one another.
The good doctor was the tour guide in Bedlam. Not a terribly noble role. Dalrymple was a psychiatrist. He does seem to see his patients: the mentally ill as the 'dregs' of society. It's quite shocking especially when I see that his readers accept this worldview without question. Just when I thought we'd made some progress. A doctor gets the patients he deserves.
The usual Dalrymple take on existence. Having spent a career working with the dregs, all he can see is dregs....except of ourselves for the fine up standing UMC Anglos he hobnobs with.
I live in a very diverse community. Not many of African background and a serious shortage of Inuit but other than that I think we have the globe pretty well covered. No we don't all talk each others language but we get on.
Provocative! Edgy! Upsetting! Ergo, the value of both Dalrymple's trenchant analysis (truth?)and Zadie Smith's galvanizing novel (emotional sincerity?)will be sabotaged in oh so many ways by the power brokers in our celebrity culture. Academics, politicians, community organizers, administrative elites - and others of that ilk who stand in the wings - will continue to subvert liberty, truth and creativity to insure forever their ever-increasing comfort zone.
'exe' should be 'axe'

Edit button please.
Rhywun,

The article doesn't really say anything about England itself. Only about its depiction in the novel Dalrymple is reviewing. The fact that he has an exe to grind will inevitably skew his perception. I see it as a kind of ideological Cliff's Notes.
The multiculturalism on display in my corner of Brooklyn (Bay Ridge) bears almost no resemblance to the dystopia described in the article. It's a relatively safe neighborhood, populated mostly by hard-working folks who speak a variety of languages at home but who have no trouble communicating in English in public. Strange (to me) costumes abound, but why should I care when it's a big city and I have neither the time nor the inclination to "know" everything about everyone around me. Frankly, the author's depressing depictions of multiculturalism say more to me about England than about multiculturalism.
Kate, I am not a supporter of the welfare state. I am simply pointing out that conservatives have a blind spot here.

Welfare did not arise through the goodness of man, which is often overplayed these days, it arose out of problems encountered by the modern state, principally issues arising out of birth control, the sexual revolution and feminism.

The fact is no state survives without children, immigation can only take up so much slack. For all the motivated career women in the world there must be others who have children.

I won't draw conclusions about the moral choices made by Keisha and Cheryl in the novel, each in my opinion chooses a rational path to happiness, an imperfect happiness though.

My point is that Mr Dalrymple undervalues the family and so ignores conclusions which could be drawn from the novel, whether from ingrained conservatism or personal experience I cannot say.

Conservatives often call for the end of the welfare state and immigration, but rarely acknowledge that the whole edifice of the modern state is dependent on welfare, for no state can grow or be prosperous which has a declining birthrate. The end of welfare would eventually be the end of feminism, and the end of the incredible wealth which flows to the middle class through both parents working.

Ever wonder why conservative governments never get rid of welfare or immigration? They know what would happen without it, their rhetoric is simply playing to the prejudices of their constituents. They know that middle class wealth, the sexual revolution and feminism are wholly dependent on successful welfare and immigration.
Glenn ::: "She has forgotten how to do anything but work". Kind of like my Grandfather, who went into the fields in 1885 at the age of 9 and worked until he was 91. I don't know if we are going backward or forward.
****************

Mine too. Not fields, but a similar pattern starting with fishing boats.
The word 'tendentious' springs to mind.
Mr D, thanks for putting me onto Richard Millet. He sounds interesting, a bit like Pascal Bruckner.

by the way the British underclass is not nearly as lost and could be re-connected to society with the right politics, if only because they do not hate it.
Patrick - blaming capitalism is like blaming socialism or any other kind of ism. You don't make a case at all - just an accusation and then defend welfare as an answer. Yes, let's raise our families to hope for a future of welfare. Is that what you hope for your family and children. Working is empowering. It would be simple and easy for Natalie to return to the welfare life she leaves. It's not that far away, just across town. My immigrant ancestors, grandparents, and parents started literally with nothing with each generation but an opportunity for work. They formed their lives not the state and I would wish the same opportunity for anyone.
'If all immigrants were like Dalrymple, and there would be no problems at all.'

This is debatable to say the least.

Where is the 'imho'?
The commentary is more interesting than Mr. TDs article.

Patrick and Glenn, if I might combine your comments and say we could well be going backwards to rising inequality and a welfare less state. A career today means a huge number of hours or you are slowly moved away form the inner circle. Long hours need to be put in, often by both parents.

All we need is to cut welfare, forcing the Cheryl's to take nanny/ maid jobs in the Natalie households. Cheryl stays home and looks after house and children in holidays, they board off course.

Cheryl will hardly be able to read and write, but she will be a passable cook, cleaner and carer for the children when they are young. She will also get up to them in night when they cry or wake.

This is probably the only way the rich will return to breeding in any numbers.

It is just the next step in the inevitable widening of the income gap. The odd child of Cheryl's may show promise and they will be backed. A bright pretty girl to ensure the rich also ran is able to stay rich, or an intelligent and very hard working, but poor young man for the not pretty rich cousin.

The rich working long hours would expect the same of their servants, Victorian society would slowly return?

It would not all be bad, Cheryl would not live in fear of her safety or her childrens'. They would, abate downstairs, grow up in a good area with good food. The young man smoking his youth away, that fathered Cheryl's children would look after the garden, clean the car and drop the owners off at the railway station and collect them when texted at night. Spending the day in the garden and household jobs would see him living longer and healthier than sat on the sofa, beer in one hand, pot cigarette in his mouth and X-box on the TV screen.

My grandmother worked in such a house from fourteen year of age to twenty when she married my grandfather. She hated being in-service, but had friends who worked for the same family to the end.
"She has forgotten how to do anything but work". Kind of like my Grandfather, who went into the fields in 1885 at the age of 9 and worked until he was 91. I don't know if we are going backward or forward.
I have read many of your articles Mr Dalrymple. I think none has been so revealing about your own blindness in certain areas.

You're right, the modern state has destroyed families and made many of them dependent. But is it really the doing of the state through welfare or is there another reading of this plot, slightly at odds with current conservative thought. After all the achieving sister, Keisha becomes alienated from her own family and idenity as she becomes consumed by work and wealth; her sister Cheryl while poor has a family and seems surer of her own identity and relationship to them.

Welfare is not the sole destroyer, capitalism must also takes its share of the blame, in fact left wing big state politics finds many supporters in the big end of town. Smashed families are good business, alienated individuals are good business, multiple identities sexual or cultural are good business.


For a man of such intelligence your reading here is somewhat shallow and facile. Perhaps your own poor family experience in childhood of which you have written in the past, is the source of some bias here I respectfully suggest.

Cheryl has in many ways made the right decision, she has a family, flawed yes, but perhaps she realised that success in the contemporary world can come at a high price. No amount of trips overseas or high fashion or movies tickets or fashional eateries might have given her what she wanted, which was a family.

For the state to withdraw help to welfare families would at once destroy even the possibility of children for many, while at the same time destroying feminism utterly. Because the Keishas of the world rely on the Cheryls of the world to have the children they will never have.
I taught at City of Westminster College in the area discussed, in the Queenspark and Maida Vale campuses. The students were from every nationality, but the interesting thing for me was the British born students (any nationality/ ethnicity) and the overeas born contrast, the attitude and dispect shown by the British born was appalling. BUT the overseas born were almost to a person respectful, tried harder and often did better. The "system" makes trying to achieve a waste of time, to do what a dead end casual service job a few pounds above the dole anyway at the end of the week. It is as if we want to have Marx's reserve army sitting and fuming in the background, the left like them as they vote labour and the right, well they keep inflation down and every now and again a "Natalie/ Keisha" is produced, plus the rich own the housing the poor live in, and neither really cares about them.
is this a distorted view.... misanthropic...? the author must be a social conservative of a very deep variety. the tone is of a failed europe with its terrible mix of impossible ethnic groups....
the author might consider the united states in that context.... or is it simply that the modern world is a simmering cauldron of failed attempts. this is deep reactionary stuff.
Multiculturalism is a death warrant for Western society. The vast infusion of different ethnic groups into a stable community, but without the leavening of enforced law and order, plus the government subsidization and approval by the bien-pensant of dysfunctional behavior, is a prescription for self-immolation. We are even now three-quarters of the way to our societal demise.

Object case: Wesley Cook, a Black Nationalist who, as the transmogrified Mumia Abu-Jamal, killed Philadelphia Daniel Faulkner in 1981, was arrested and convicted of the murder, and was sentenced to die. But endless legal maneuvering spared his life, and he now spends his days in prison, at taxpayer expense, basking in the glow of hero status. He is an honorary citizen of 25 cities around the world; Paris has named a street after him (Rue Mumia Abu-Jamal).

The concept of comity -- "a loose widespread community based on common social institutions," according to Webster's -- is as dead as mutton. Huge swaths of America's cities are no-go zones for sensible whites. Sizable crowds of angry Muslims taunt British regiments returning from Afghanistan. I could go on.

Samuel P. Huntington has it right. The irony is that Western civilizations are conniving at their own destruction. Who'd a thought?
@ G Meade: the motto "e pluribus unum" originally referred to the union of the 13 American colonies, but now it expresses a shared national value of pluralism. Per Wikipedia, that unimpeachable source of demotic knowledge, "its meaning has come to suggest that out of many peoples, races, religions and ancestries has emerged a single people and nation." Your observation that the strength derived from this process "is only as great as the degree to which the 'pluribus' has become 'unum'" is both apt and felicitous. My contention, which I believe to be the majority view, is that the United States enjoys a high degree of commitment to the "unum" and derives considerable strength from its multitudes. Your subsequent note about "the casualties of multiculture" filling America's prisons and hospitals etc. is less apt. The prisons are filled mostly with the descendants of demographics present since colonial times rather than with South and East Asians and other recent immigrants. As for hospitals, are there data showing that Patels and Chos outnumber Cadwaladers and Winthrops on patient rolls? I doubt that. I do suspect, however, that the former outnumber the latter on medical staffs.
Interesting read. What Zade understands that TD does not understand is the presence of community and other people in her characters' thoughts.

-- "Natalie may not feel authentic, but this passage certainly does. It illustrates how completely the state has smashed up family solidarity. Cheryl and the rest of Natalieís impoverished family neither look for nor need Natalieís help, though she is becoming a wealthy woman; they look to the state to provide."

So what?

Keisha/Natalie has moved herself to material success at cost of losing her community. Her own Brave New World has her paying big taxes and being owned by her work. "Community, Identity, Stability" from BNW -- but not exactly. And her risk is falling to another slogan: "A gramme is better than a damn" and becoming Ambition's child, another BNW "Lenina."

Similarly, TD dismisses withdrawal symptoms from heroin as "not grave" and poo-poos words from heroin addicts: "How do you know (about blood itch withdrawals) if youíve never had them?" TD does not understand PTSD and how these withdrawal episodes produce lasting mental disabilities. He pursues ideological goals with references to any number of concepts, loosely connecting any of it.

Zade Smith depicts her Cheryl character as the one who keeps calm and carries on. Not at all a believer that "the state has smashed up family solidarity." Not at all a fan of TD's various insistences on Free Market Randianity. Keisha/Natalie is the one in trouble here despite that she wins every game she plays.

Which sister gets to eat breakfast and supper every day with her children? Gets to hear their truths?
I do not understand how one can mistake "e pluribus unum" for an endorsement or advocacy of pluralism. The strength derived from demographic differences, I think, is only as great as the degree to which the "pluribus" has become "unum". The casualties of multiculture otherwise line the halls of prisons, hospitals and gang headquarters, either baffled or enraged at its failure.
@BoredWithHate 'Dalyrumple's usual hate spiel. Those who can't trace their heritage back to the rosy days of Dickens better beware.'

It's hard to think of anyone less prone to 'hate spiel' than Dalyrumple (sic).

And he is himself the child of immigrants - a Russian father and a German mother - so cannot trace his own Englishness back far beyond the Jewish diaspora of the period before WW2.

But that's not his point. His point is that it is perfectly possible to assimilate into any culture as long as you accept, as his parents did, that the culture to which you are emigrating is deserving of respect and perhaps even emulation.

If all immigrants were like Dalrymple, and there would be no problems at all.

Sadly, many people in the UK - both indigenous and immigrant - lack the intelligence and understanding to place the greater culture ahead of their own. (Not that the 'culture' in the UK these days always has much to recommend it, but still.)

This leads to - for instance - groups of young Muslims in London streets attacking people carrying alcohol or women they consider to be immodestly dressed on the basis that 'this is a Muslim area'.
A revisionist view of multiculturalism.Jenny Brock's discussion on genital mutilation last night, showed it to be a female promotion (culturally pc for 85% in Somalia )not a patriachal based tradition.
The death of the "melting pot" or assimilation model is the end of progress.
Excellent article with astute social observation, we have plenty of multicultural societies here in Australia, especially in the big cities.
More often than not, these are commonly characterised by high crime rates, drug dealing & public drunkeness, a high price for any society to pay for a falafal.
Perhaps best to leave behind the loaded term "multiculturalism," which incites impassioned attacks and defenses. Let us use instead "diversity" and "pluralism." In North America, the land of "the low-self-control, high-sensation ghetto culture" per Dalrymple, diversity is a demographic fact. We live in neighborhoods, go to workplaces and consist of families inclusive of people from many religions, nationalities and cultures. This diverse landscape is the result of deep economic and historical tectonics, and it cannot readily be reshaped even by tools as powerful as politics or law. What a nation makes of the fact of its diversity is another matter. It can devolve into the alienation and violence described by Dalrymple or embrace pluralism, i.e. choose to view and use demographic differences as a source of strength. Despite occasional outbreaks of Know-Nothingism, the United States has chosen the way of pluralism, and "e pluribus unum" has become one of its great abiding strengths. There are various reasons. One is that American nationalism, unlike the European kind, is not ethnic nor racial. Another is long-established and constitutionally inscribed disestablishmentarianism and religious liberty. And at their best Americans of all classes make genuine attempts to understand and engage their diverse neighbors in shared civic and cultural spaces. New York, or for that matter New Orleans, may not be quite so sophisticated and civilized as Alexandria and Constantinople, but American cities have gone well beyond tolerance to a healthy embrace of difference which will sustain them when others have gone the way of Nineveh and Tyre. One can hope that the cities of Europe will find their own way to a pluralism forged from the best aspects of their underlying civilizations.

An excellent analysis of how the 'loony left' has gone about destroying civilised society by embracing multiculturalism. We have been warned but it is probably too late.
Dalyrumple's usual hate spiel. Those who can't trace their heritage back to the rosy days of Dickens better beware.
Great article. If only there were millions instead of hundreds listening to the message.