As a disclaimer, I think that Dr. Theodore Dalrymple possesses one of the most important and insightful minds in all of conservadom. He’s one of five men whom immediately command my attention whenever I discover that they have authored a new article or essay. I’ve read most of what this retired English psychiatrist has written since 2001 due to my having a subscription to The New Criterion (since that time). I’ve also devoured all of his City Journal pieces since the new millennium began. Therefore, I figured that I would simply skim Not With a Bang but a Whimper; a notion that lasted until I got to page 2. At that point, I gave it my full focus as the opinions of Dr. Dalrymple are unlike those you will find elsewhere.
In these pages our narrator acts like a private Oxford Don instructing us both on the ways of humanity and the world. The one thing that the political left will never understand is that the doctor’s detached voice is drenched in compassion and kindness. He offers us reality which is far more empathic than any gesture you’ll receive from a utopian. Dr. Dalyrmple is appalled by what his native Britain has turned into but never lets his emotions interfere with the telling of the truth. His entire oeuvre is rooted in common sense but accentuated by erudition. Dr. Dalrymple thinks many of the same thoughts that the rest of us do but is better able to elucidate them due to his superior intelligence and breadth of experience.
The strongest essays here are “The Roads to Serfdom” [how pertinent this could be after next week’s election], “A Murderess’s Tale,” “In the Asylum,” “Multiculturalism Starts Losing Its Luster,” and an analysis of A Clockwork Orange called “A Prophetic and Violent Masterpiece.” Basically, political correctness—along with its corresponding effluvia concerning sensitivity, tolerance, multiculturalism, and the multivariate isms of sex, race, and class—is chiefly concerned with one thing: lying. PC demands we lie as a means to relate to one another. We have to be obsessed by the feelings of “the other”—even if it necessitates our not communicating at all. Dr. Dalrymple refuses to be the drone of our academic elites so he peers his exacting eyes into the culture as a whole, including topics ranging from the methodology of the English justice system to the faculty of language. This is a masterful work by one of our greatest masters.