Sunday, August 21, 2005

My Favorite Cumudgeon

One of my favorite contemporary social observers, Theodore Dalrymple has come out with a new book. His background as a psychiatrist for prison inmates gives him particular insights on pathologies common among individuals who lie at the bottom of the social hierarchy. To some, Mr. Dalrymple comes off as a sort of cumudgeon and is endlessly critical of the status quo that surrounds the desperate plight of the underclass. His last book, Life at the Bottom, describes aspects that affect their outcome and behavior and the failure of social services in dealing with them effectively. He loathes the general coarsening of modern culture, with fashions, language, and acceptable behavior influencing society from the bottom up. Although his views are based on anecdotal experience, their breadth and intensity of them allow him to create vivid portraits of the poor that few others non-fiction writers are able to do. Instead of citing economic inequality, racism, or other kind of vicitimization, the author points to cultural flaws, the adoption of nihilistics attitudes, and people's inherent barbarity that civilization struggles to repress. Below are a few articles Dalrymple contributed for City Journal for readers interested in acquainting him or herself with his writing:

Who Needs Parents?
Free to Choose
Jihad Chic
All Sex, All the Time
Lo, the Poor Terrorist
Why Theo Van Gogh Was Murdered
The Roads to Serfdom

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