FP: You mention how Lenin did not want to hear Beethoven because it made a person want to pat children on the heads, a behaviour that is not synonymous with running a death cult. I have always been interested in what music represents and how it poses a great danger to totalitarianism. Today, in facing Islamism, we know that this deadly enemy also despises music (the Taliban) or most kinds of music (Khomeini). What do you think it is about music that so threatens totalist ideologies?
Dalrymple: Music escapes ideological characterisation. Just as there are some social scientists who believe that what cannot be measured does not truly exist, and some psychologists used to believe that consciousness does not exist because it cannot be observed by instruments, so ideologists find anything that escapes their conceptual framework threatening - because ideologists want a simple principle, or a few simple principles, by which all things may be judged. When I was a student, I lived with a hard-line dialectical materialist who said that Schubert was a typical petit bourgeois pessimist, whose music would die out once objective causes for pessimism ceased to exist. But I suspect that even he was not entirely happy with this formulation.
And this on PC:
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 no 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.