The Right Coast

April 23, 2004
"Theodore Dalrymple"
By Maimon Schwarzschild

Very interesting piece by Theodore Dalrymple in City Journal -- on Islam, and why Islam is dangerous today precisely because it is weak and unable to meet the modern world on equal terms.

A little background on Dalrymple, or rather "Dalrymple", a pen-name of Anthony Daniels. Daniels is a psychiatrist with a practice in British hospitals and prisons. Born in Britain, his parents were refugees from Nazi Europe. Daniels writes frequently on the English underclass, whom he meets every day in his practice: people whose lives are often violent, disorganised, demoralised, and hopeless. Lives, Daniels believes, that are made immeasurably worse by the foolish and self-serving slogans of the intelligentsia, which ooze out into the ethos of the people who can can least afford to live by those slogans.

You can buy "Dalrymple" 's chronicle of Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass.

Or here is a collection on-line of some of his essays.

I have done some criminal defence work in England myself, as a fledgling barrister in the late 1980s and early 90s, and I had a taste of the underclass Daniels writes about. What I saw was every bit as grim as what Daniels reports. I have depressing memories of pasty-faced clients, living on soda pop and "cheap take-aways". I even had the dubious privilege of defending a few for "glassing" -- an offence common enough to have that slang name, well known among a whole (under)class of people (and of course among criminal lawyers): it means breaking a beer glass on the counter in a pub and shoving the jagged edges into the face of whoever you're having a fight with. Nice.

(One interesting thing about the British underclass, from an American point of view, is that it is mostly white by race, although it includes Caribbeans and increasing numbers of young Muslims as well whose parents or grandparents came from Pakistan or Bangladesh. The prevalence of whites, though, ought to cure any racist illusions. Thuggish and hopeless under-class-hood is an equal opportunity trap in life, and there are plenty of cockneys to prove it.)

Anthony Daniels has also done some excellent travel writing. Utopias Elsewhere is about his travels in Communist Romania, Cuba, and North Korea, and captures the dismal and debilitated life of those places, as well as the idiocy (sometimes the depravity) of the leftist pilgrims from western Europe and North America who turn up on package tours to those places.

City Journal not only publishes Daniels ("Dalrymple"), although there are two very good pieces of his in the current issue. (Here is the other one, on crimes in Britain involving children, and what they reveal about British life.) There is plenty of other important, shrewd, and well-written work in City Journal as well.