With the dawning of a new year I am yet reminded that there are still bastions of regression from which there are those who cry out for a return to “the old ways” to spite progress. One in particular I came upon not too long ago, proving that the old Tories are not yet dead, and may come back to bite us should we be seduced by their eloquence.
Anthony Daniels, writing under the pseudonym of Theodore Dalrymple, comes across as the very epitome of the tight-cheeked conservative. A retired prison psychiatrist, he is eager to give us the benefit of his experience among the less fortunate. To hear him speak, which I did recently on a Canadian radio program, is to be more than a little taken aback at just what a stereotype he sounds.
First let me say I am not interested in the individual so much as what he represents, and what he represents is what many liberals have always said of the conservative mind---they have no passion.
During the aforementioned interview I was astonished at how a so-called world traveler could be so prudish and old-fashioned. I can imagine him walking the streets of London in bowler hat and Victorian apparel, walking-stick in hand and passing Oliver Twist with a dismissive sneer.
At one point he becomes disgusted when, during a visit to an Italian soccer game, he was astonished that so many Briton's with disposable income (amazed, I can only guess, by the behavior of his own class) had come merely to shout obscenities at the team. How terribly uncivilized to use dirty words and show such enthusiasm---such engagement with life. No doubt Mr. Dalrymple would have found the ancient Olympics too outré, and walked out of Plato's Symposium when the talk went bawdy.
When the conversation turned to homosexuality, he spoke the word almost as if he feared being caught in the act, as he labored to get it out. He longs to make us see that it's all the liberals fault for the state of the world today, and I agree. Liberalism gave us the Civil Rights Movement, and the strides of feminism that opened the work place to women and gave them the independence to make their own choice's. It's due to liberal ideas of progress that we have the advances in the Sciences that have made our lives so much healthier and easier, as I would argue that the Scientific Method is in its self a liberal idea with ties to the freedom of inquiry and the enthusiasm of discovery, that same enthusiasm poor Mr. Dalrymple seems to have never been burdened with.
If this appears as an ad hominem, as I said, it is meant to be, for Dalrymple demonstrates in his person, in the very tone of his voice, the lie of the “compassionate conservative”. Perhaps genetically predisposed to see the glass always half-empty, they suck the joy out of life with their continual paean to “the good old days”, and devalue the present in search of a past that never was.
Theodore Dalrymple---never was a more gloomy or morose pseudonym conceived to perfectly reflect the spirit of an author and his ideas.