A few select quotes:
FP: Your observation about humans’ thrill for danger and how this interrelates with humans’ pattern of self destruction and the voluntary choosing of misery is very profound. Could you share your thoughts with us about this?Go read the whole thing.
Dalrymple: It is clear to me that people often want incompatible things. They want danger and excitement on the one hand, and safety and security on the other, and often simultaneously. Contradictory desires mean that life can never be wholly satisfying or without frustration.
I think it was Dostoyevsky who said that, even if the government were 100 per cent benevolent and arranged everything for our own good, as judged by rational criteria, we should still want to exercise our freedom by going against its dispensations.
One reason for the epidemic of self-destructiveness that has struck British, if not the whole of Western, society, is the avoidance of boredom. For people who have no transcendent purpose to their lives and cannot invent one through contributing to a cultural tradition (for example), in other words who have no religious belief and no intellectual interests to stimulate them, self-destruction and the creation of crises in their life is one way of warding off meaninglessness. I have noticed, for example, that women who frequent bad men - that is to say men who are obviously unreliable, drunken, drug-addicted, criminal, or violent, or all of them together, have often had experience of decent men who treat them well, with respect, and so forth: they are the ones with whom their relationships lasted the shortest time, because they were bored by decency. Without religion or culture (and here I mean high, or high-ish, culture) evil is very attractive. It is not boring.
FP: You make the shrewd observation of how political correctness engenders evil because of “the violence that it does to people’s souls by forcing them to say or imply what they do not believe, but must not question.” Can you talk about this a bit?
Dalrymple: Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.
FP: Islamists and leftists have many things in common. One of them is that they are miserable, hate life and see cheer and joy as a dangerous enemy. You make the comment that “the acceptance of the inherent limitations of existence that is essential to happiness.” Can you illuminate this a bit about life in general and also connect it to the toxic nature of Islamism and leftism?
Dalrymple: I take it as given that man, having contradictory desires, is always subject to frustration, even when happy. For example, we want both adventure and safety, and when we have the one we long for the other. All forms of human happiness contain within themselves the seeds of their own decomposition.
Modern man particularly - or so it seems to me - is particularly bad at recognising that much of his unhappiness or discontent stems from this inevitable source. Rather, he blames the structure of society and thinks that a perfection that will resolve all contradictions and eliminate all frustrations can be achieved, if only we abolished private property or followed the example of the 7th century followers of Mohammed. The attempt to force people to do so gives meaning to their existence, and of course a lot of sadistic pleasure into the bargain.