Not With A Bang But A Whimper
The Politics & Culture Of Decline
– Theodore Dalrymple
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Published 18 August, 2009 – Hardback
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Theodore Dalrymple is Britain’s most incisive cultural commentator – praised for the piercing insight he developed through working for many years as a psychiatrist and doctor in a British inner city hospital and the large prison nearby.
He is sympathetic to the plight of the poor who find themselves trapped in the modern slums created by Britain’s uncaring welfare state. But he is astonished and appalled by the depravity, dishonesty and stupidity of the country’s growing criminal underclass, and scathing of those he blames for the creation of this sub-stratum of society – the liberal intelligentsia, who ‘express themselves more to flaunt the magnanimity of their intentions than to propagate truth’.
In this brilliant collection of essays, Dalrymple explores some of the ideas that are changing our way of life, and examines the state of our culture. He censures some of the most celebrated writers of the modern era for their contributions to our collective collapse of confidence, criticises the shallowness and vacuity of 21st century youth culture and illustrates how terrorism can flourish in the empty space vacated by old certainties swept aside in the name of ‘progress’.
He explains how the laissez faire lives of modern Britons and our ceaseless pursuit of a superficial – even chimerical – happiness has left our current age in a state of unparalleled physical comfort but profound existential unease. And he condemns our suffocating and self-serving State bureaucracy, wondering at a welfare system which, by oppressing and enervating those it is supposed to assist, achieves the opposite of that which it ostensibly intends.
Drawing on vast experience of working with thousands of criminals and the mentally disturbed – his area of medical interest – and on many years spent travelling and working as a doctor on four continents, he discovers the universal in the most local and particular of details, and uses this to prick the pomposity and self-regard of our political and cultural leaders.
His lacerating insight, expressed in prose of high elegance and wit, is used to expose the new culture of lies at the heart of modern life, and the moral, cultural and social decline that has accompanied its development.
The brutal, penetrating honesty of his thinking and the vividness of his prose make Theodore Dalrymple the George Orwell of our time... he is a writer of genius. - Denis Dutton
Dalrymple eloquently anatomises the moral depredations of that pseudo-enlightenment which has left large tracts of Western society the province of thugs, social workers, liberal bureaucrats and other enemies of civilisation. - Roger Kimball
Dalrymple's essays seem to me among the most truthful - and therefore also among the most morally courageous and intellectually rigorous - descriptions anyone has given us of 'life at the bottom'. - Norman Podhoretz
Drawing upon his harrowing experiences as a physician and psychiatrist in a British slum and nearby prison, Theodore Dalrymple demonstrates that much of the degradation of the underclass can be traced to bad ideas that have trickled down from the intelligentsia. - George Will
There is so much learning and unconventional wisdom in his writing. - Norman Stone
The Examined Life
The Policeman & The Brothel
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