James Delingpole

James Delingpole: I told Radley school pupils how to rebel. But I'm not sure they want to

From primary school onwards, we're handed this starter pack of right-on notions — and if we question them we're regarded as pariahs

23 November 2013

9:00 AM

23 November 2013

9:00 AM

For two blissful days last week I was at Radley College — what you might call the posh person’s Eton — as the school’s Provocateur-in-Residence.

Delightful place: like an especially agreeable gentleman’s club with a first-rate school attached. My only criticism — and it’s not really a criticism, more a rueful observation — is that even in this Helm’s Deep of immense soundness, the Orcish forces of lentil-eating progressivism have begun tunnelling beneath the walls and infecting the defenders of western civilisation with their malign and slithy creed.

Or to put it another way: if you cannot rely on the boys of Radley College to stick up for man’s unalienable right to hunt foxes, what the hell can you rely on?

We’re talking here, remember, about an establishment so pukka that any boy whose father is caught standing on a touchline and found not in possession of a shooting stick and tweed suit of at least Edwardian vintage is pegged out on the college golf course with croquet hoops and left to be devoured by the school’s beagle pack.

That’s why, when I put it to some of the young gentlemen that anyone who thought foxhunting ought to be banned on the grounds of ‘animal cruelty’ needed his head examined, I was so surprised to find one or two of them disagreeing with me.


Actually, that’s not true. I was not, in fact, remotely surprised by this display of politically correct groupthink. I’d seen flashes of it after all in pretty much every subject we’d broached, from the NHS to the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs to the EU. But I had slightly hoped — hoped, note, not expected — that this might have been one of those areas where personal insight would triumph over cant.

So I asked whether any of them had tried foxhunting. One of them put up his hand. ‘And it’s fun, right?’ I asked. He nodded. ‘Why is it fun?’ I prodded. ‘Because it’s exciting, is it not? Because it’s about the most thrilling, high-adrenaline sport there is, with the most flagrant contempt for the culture of health and safety, and by far the coolest kit?’ My young friend agreed that this was so. In that case, I suggested, was it not quite, quite wrong for some modish, upstart notion about vulpine rights to be allowed to trump arguably the finest traditional sport devised in the history of mankind?

The boys weren’t so sure. One of them felt that if you approved of foxhunting, you were halfway towards wanting to revive bear-baiting. Another pointed out that there was a time when folk held similar attitudes towards black people.

‘Ah, but there’s a key difference,’ I suggested. ‘Black people actually are people and always have been, whereas foxes aren’t. At no stage in the future are we going to suddenly discover otherwise and be forced to reconsider our lazy prejudices. Foxes are not people, never have been, never will. Foxes did not write the complete works of Shakespeare. Foxes did not build the Taj Mahal…’

Well my audience conceded me that point, at least. But they still seemed to think I was trying to cheat them with some manner of cunning rhetorical trick. I got a similar ‘does not compute’ response on the morality of the 1945 atom bombs. Even when I pointed out that the bombs had shortened the war and saved the lives of countless Allied troops, the boys had difficulty accepting the notion that the lives of our own men ought to take precedence over those of the innocent Japanese women and children we nuked.

I was reminded, rather, of Allan Bloom’s opening lament in The Closing of the American Mind: ‘There is one thing a professor can be absolutely sure of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative. If this belief is put to the test one can count on the student’s reaction: they will be uncomprehending.’

Exactly. Bloom published that book in 1987 — since when, I’d suggest, things have got an awful lot worse. We seem to have reached a state of intellectual decline where virtually the whole of western culture has forgotten to think and argue from first principles. Instead, from primary school onwards, we’re all handed this starter pack of the various right-on notions we’re now supposed to believe in — and if we dare to question them we’re written off as pariahs, freaks, dangerous troublemakers.

‘You want to be a real public-school rebel, not a fake one? Well, I’m here to show you how…’ I told the sixth-formers of Radley (and visiting girls from St Helen’s, Abingdon) at one of my talks. I meant it, too. If there was one thing above all I wanted to instil in these impressionable young minds it was this: take nothing for granted; question everything; think for yourselves. Only that way do you stand a chance of making the world a better place, as opposed to repeating all the mistakes my own generation has made.

And maybe some of them — most of them, probably — looked at where I stood and saw not a role model but a grim and scary warning of what happens to those who make it their business to fight against the intellectual current. But if at least one of them got the message that true rebellion these days does not involve climbing onto the roof and machine-gunning the parents and staff on Founders Day but rather in challenging the cosy right-on shibboleths of our intellectually decadent, relativist culture, then it will all have been worthwhile.

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  • EWorrall

    I suspect many student mass murderers who attack their fellows in a bloody orgy of destruction are the product of this nasty dissonance between what you are supposed to believe and what is actually true.

    Because if you fail to accept the increasingly rigid system of beliefs you are supposed to embrace, you very quickly learn the quickest route to a peaceful life is to fake it – and someone who spends their entire life faking a set of beliefs is well on the way to serious mental illness.

    If we taught our kids how to think, rather than trying to brainwash them with our prejudices, the result might be a lot more kids who feel able to talk about their pain, before it becomes an unbearable burden which ends in bloodshed and violence.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Their pain? Their moral turpitude, you mean. Go and read a novel called something to do with Kevin. It will clear the ground a bit..

  • Julio!

    So James went to Radley with the avowed intent of challenging the students there to think for themselves, not simply accept what they are told, correct? And then he was upset when a couple of the kids had the balls to stand up to his fat-headed argument and actually disagree with him? They had the audacity to think for themselves, to not toe the Delingpole line. Hm.

    This actually sums up for me a lot of what is wrong with this particular columnist. He proclaims himself a free-thinker, open to intellectual debate, freedom of thought and action, etc. etbloodycetera. But actually what he means is he’s open to thoughts that conform with his own, unpleasently narrow, world view.

    James Delingpole: The Unreadable in pursuit of the Unpalatable?

    • EWorrall

      Since when is conforming to societal pressure “thinking for yourself”? The fact is fox hunting or even bear baiting doesn’t hurt any humans, unlike say adding a carbon tax to everyone’s heating bill, which kills poor people.

      • Julio!

        Radley’s society is, as James put it, a “Helm’s Deep of immense soundness.” The societal pressure here is old school establishment: “so pukka that any boy whose father is caught standing
        on a touchline and found not in possession of a shooting stick and tweed
        suit of at least Edwardian vintage is pegged out on the college golf
        course with croquet hoops and left to be devoured by the school’s beagle
        pack.”

        So yes, the boys who show the guts and good sense to disagree with their peers are indeed thinking for themselves, gawd bless ’em, and swimming against a tide of ickiness gushing straight out of Delingpole’s bum.

        • EWorrall

          By what objective standard is what Delingpole says wrong or gross? You’re judging what he says through the filter of your personal prejudices, without even recognising that they are prejudices.

          • Julio!

            Oh no, I absolutely recognize my prejudices. I’ve always had it in for mean-spirited, narrow-minded little oafs like Delingpole.

            I suppose I’m a bit narrow-minded in that myself.

          • Today’s breed of trustafarian “radical” simply can’t accept that their views are stultifyingly conventional. They are immovable in this.

            When dealing with them, I find that it’s generally best to save one’s breath.

      • Fergus Pickering

        But why should I care about poor people? Is there some law that says I should. What have poor people done for me, pray? They are much like foxes in this respect.

        • Duke_Bouvier

          Actually if you appreciate the history of welfare from parish relief and the 1601 Poor Law to the Victorian era you would know that it had as much to do with sustaining domestic law and order and providing healthy soldiers as it did altruism.

          Disdain the out-group if you wish (starve the poor, liquidate Kulaks, or explode climate change skeptics according to preference). But expect to be strung-up by the mob sooner or later.

          So far as I know the foxes haven’t organized guerrilla strikes against the fox hounds, and the hedgehogs aren’t running a secret pipeline to help foxes escape to safer areas. Watership Down was not a documentary.

          As and when the animals do organize this way, we would likely acknowledge their membership of our community of moral beings, just as we would admit Martians on a similar basis.

      • anncalba

        “Humans” are animals, possibly the most destructive creatures the world has ever known. There are now far too many human animals, and how they enjoy killing each other. No compassion to their fellow man, so of course it is unrealistic to expect them to be kind to other creatures. We are reverting to the unenlightened savages we came from.

        • Duke_Bouvier

          Of course humans are animals. They are also a mixture of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen and a smattering of other elements, but this says nothing about whether it is right to process them in a chemicals factory.

          Humans organize into moral communities; there are boundary issues (mentally disabled, very young, psychopathic, etc) and it is membership of a moral community that is the basis for the award of rights.

        • La Fold

          Humans are made of atoms, the exact same type of atoms that made the Atomic bombs that levelled Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Therefore all humans are atomic bombs?! Turn it in son.

      • Fergus Pickering

        There are lots of people. There are very few gorillas. Therefore…

    • Tom Tom

      Bet they could not structure a coherent argument though and retreated
      into the Groupthink approach. It is unreal just how wet and supine
      school children are today with intellectual mush making them candidates
      for a good kicking

  • Guest

    When I was at Radley there were regular debates. I remember one about the morality of blood sports – deemed immoral by the way, even in those heady days of intellectual rigour! The motion was won with an argument, something you have missed out in your article. Just as well your pulpit is not the debating chamber where attempts to defame the opposition with hollow pejoratives are easily dismantled.

    There are real and interesting ideas to the fox-hunting motion, both for and against. It’s a shame that you don’t explore them and instead peddle conspiratorial nonsense about ‘political correctness gone mad!’

    I’m not surprised the pupils were not impressed by your one-dimensional appraisal of both fox hunting or the atomic bombing of Japan. Radley is a rigorous education machine . When I studied WWII for GCSE we were taught that history is nuanced; “history is written by victors”. America’s atomic attacks should be viewed in the global context, and in particular the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. Surrender was inevitable and dropping the bomb was as much tactical as ethical. Life is not black and white. Unlike the attitudes in your article.

    You say you were looked upon as a “warning of what happens to those who make it their business to fight against the intellectual current”. This current is not some malevolence but the principles of intellectual rigour. Are you really surprised your shallow opinions had such a weak response? I’m not.

    • Colonel Mustard

      The idea that history is nuanced is now nuanced in one direction as your comment demonstrates. Your contention that “surrender was inevitable” is unproven in terms of time and loss of life. The Japanese intended to resist the invasion that was expected. Every single aspect of their military plans and preparations proves that.

    • Lyle Dunne

      Even in a country obsessed with the unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible, I’m amazed the debate has focussed on fox-hunting, and let through to the keeper Delingpole’s statement that

      “the boys had difficulty accepting the notion that the lives of our own men ought to take precedence over those of the innocent Japanese women and children we nuked.”

      It sounds like an attempt to be provocative for its own sake.

      And it misses the point.

      The idea that you can’t deliberately target non-combatants is not a PC novelty but a fundamental principle of just war theory, going back to Aquinas at least. Simply assuming that the end justifies the means, and pretending the real dispute is about whether Japanese lives are less important than American, is either incredibly sloppy or dishonest.

      Lyle in Oz

  • Bernard

    I myself was present at the lecture at Radley and I couldn’t help but notice that James Delingpole has skilfully omitted my main argument regarding animal rights. My main argument against him was this: Via his logic he can legitimise almost any form of violence towards animals. To give an example, there was a medieval sport called ‘Cat Burning’ (which is self explanatory). Now by James Delingpoles logic this would be perfectly legitimate, considering cats did not build the Taj Mahal or write the complete works of Shakespeare. However the question isn’t about the achievements of each individual species, it is whether the species in question feels pain (foxes do feel pain) which in my view James Delingpole views as irrelevant. It seems James Delingpole only views human utility as relevant. That is where our disagreement lies.
    Other aspects of his argument are debatable of course, for instance whether humans are worthy of more ‘rights’ than foxes (objectively speaking).

    • It’s not a question of whether or not we are “worthy” of our rights.

      We have them. Foxes don’t.

      • Fergus Pickering

        We don’t have them. Who granted them to us? God, if you believe in that kind of God. Otherwise Human rights are a comfortable fiction.

      • Fergus Pickering

        But we don’t have them. Or that is what the argument is about. You are begging the question, my dear sir.

      • Rihari_Wilson

        Whether there are “inalienable rights” in principle is debatable. However, rights that can be actually exercised in any society are granted by the powers that be. A Roman slave who demanded his rights would end up on a cross, like Spartacus.

    • whs1954

      “Rights” are only a tedious human notion made up out of the top of human heads. Foxes don’t have any conception of rights. They don’t stop to consider whether the rabbit they’re about to tear the throat out of is having its right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness impeded upon.

      It follows that if we humans invent the idea of rights, we decide who gets rights.

      If you are a student at Radley I can only hope they will knock some sense into you and this leftist drivel out of you.

      • Bernard

        You raise some interesting points.
        My reply will be simple and short.
        What would your argument be against (or for) cat burning?
        On a side note, I find it interesting that you have only addressed the last sentence regarding the objectivity of Human and Animal Rights.

        • Colonel Mustard

          What is the purpose of cat burning? What is the purpose of fox hunting.

          Humans ‘execute’ other humans all over the world. What is the purpose of that?

          • Bernard

            James Delingpole would argue the purpose is ‘Because it’s exciting, is it not? Because it’s about the most thrilling, high-adrenaline sport there is’.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I think in all three cases because cruelty is fun. Or it is fun for a certain kind of person.

        • Tom Tom

          You are going back to the old logic of Aquinas that treating animals badly diminishes us as human beings. That animals have no moral codex is self-evident, but they are not automatons as Descartes believed and probably should not be nailed alive to the wall…….the fact is a sense of guardianship rather than the inherent “rights” of animals

          • Bernard

            ‘That animals have no moral codex is self-evident’
            Frans de Waal: Moral Behaviour in Animals
            http://www.ted.com/talks/frans_de_waal_do_animals_have_morals.html
            You Fail.

          • Tom Tom

            A thesis is nothing more than that. You clearly accept the views expressed without reservation, I differ. Under your black-white thinking that generates “fail” which I ascribe to your limited cognition

          • Bernard

            Did you even watch the video?

          • Fergus Pickering

            Aquinas seems to have got it right, don’t you think?

      • Bernard

        I feel duty bound to reply to this comment. Before I start I would be interested to know what is the difference (in your eyes) between Bear Baiting and Fox Hunting (or any other hunting sport) considering both lack the cognitive abilities to have a concept of ‘Rights’.
        In my understanding you are making two arguments which can be summarised like this:
        1) Foxes don’t have the ability to conceive of ‘Rights’.
        2) Therefore ‘Rights’ don’t exist.
        This is wrong for multiple reasons. You could use this line of argument to argue that quadratic equations don’t exist, as follows:
        1) Foxes don’t have the ability to conceive of ‘Quadratic Equations’
        2) Therefore ‘Quadratic Equations’ don’t exist.
        Your second argument I think goes like this:
        1) Humans create ‘Rights’.
        2) Therefore Humans get to decide which species ‘Rights’ are given to.
        Now this is also flawed logic for two reasons. One a quick thought experiment:
        1) Aliens come to Earth and create a complicated version of ‘Rights’ we can’t understand.
        2) Therefore the Aliens can choose not to give humans rights because they hunt us for sport (considering in their eyes only alien utility matters and us humans are a savage species who kill one another for a wide variety of reasons).

      • Bernard

        Part Two.
        Now if you want to remain Logically Consistent, you would have to concede this is perfectly fine considering the Aliens have created their own version of ‘Rights’ therefore (ironically) they have the ‘Right’ to choose who they give their ‘Rights’ to.
        The second part which is wrong, is that I view you misunderstand what is meant by ‘Rights’.
        By ‘Rights’ I mean ‘a moral or legal entitlement to have or do something’. I view that we have a moral obligation to ensure animal protect animal well being… However I don’t believe you do. Therefore we just simply reach a different set of conclusions based upon the first fundamental premise: A reduce in well being is bad (for all species).

      • Bernard

        I feel duty bound to reply to this comment. Before I start I would be interested to know what is the difference (in your eyes) between Bear Baiting and Fox Hunting (or any other hunting sport) considering both lack the cognitive abilities to have a concept of ‘Rights’.
        In my understanding you are making two arguments which can be summarised like this:
        1) Foxes don’t have the ability to conceive of ‘Rights’.
        2) Therefore ‘Rights’ don’t exist.
        This is wrong for multiple reasons. You could use this line of argument to argue that quadratic equations don’t exist, as follows:
        1) Foxes don’t have the ability to conceive of ‘Quadratic Equations’
        2) Therefore ‘Quadratic Equations’ don’t exist.
        Your second argument I think goes like this:
        1) Humans create ‘Rights’.
        2) Therefore Humans get to decide which species ‘Rights’ are given to.
        Now this is also flawed logic for two reasons. One a quick thought experiment:
        1) Aliens come to Earth and create a complicated version of ‘Rights’ we can’t understand.
        2) Therefore the Aliens can choose not to give humans rights because they hunt us for sport (considering in their eyes only alien utility matters and us humans are a savage species who kill one another for a wide variety of reasons).

        • subwus

          There was a line in a book of quotations I read over twenty years ago:
          “Man and the lower animals. Who does the classifying?”

          That has always stayed with me as a thought provoking observation on too much of mankind’s arrogance towards the rest of the animal kingdom.

          Also, consider a sci-fi film that had a plot of a powerful alien species intensively farming another less powerful species to kill and eat. Most of us would almost certainly see that the less powerful species needed liberating and freeing from their more powerful and evil overlords. But then, as humans, we have our own factory farming systems.

          So let’s be clear, there is certainly a debate worth having over mankind’s relationship with other animal species.
          However….. the concept of animals given ‘rights’ by humans as advocated by yourself is transparently ridiculous.
          Gorillas are a good example of an animal, that for some ‘campaigners’, ought to have something that approaches full ‘human rights’.
          So, a human that ‘murders’ an ‘innocent’ gorilla gets prosecuted, the gorilla has a right to life after all.
          But how do you deal with a gorilla that kills an innocent human being?
          Do you give the gorilla a fair trial? How is the gorilla supposed to enter a plea of innocence or guilt?
          Who is on the jury? Twelve humans or twelve gorillas?
          Do we appoint a gorilla judge?
          It could be a vindictive or nasty gorilla for all we know.
          What about if a gorilla kills another gorilla?
          What is the legal situation for the gorilla ‘defendant’?
          The whole concept of rights for animals, even applied to an animal as close to humans as a gorilla, lends itself to absurdities.
          I used to be against fox-hunting, at times I can be very misanthropic minded because of how mankind treats other species.
          Mass overfishing, destruction of rainforest, etc, I can see how that can motivate people to be animal rights activists. But over the years, as I have grown older, I have also seen how animal rights/green activists have an ugly and twisted control-freak side to them that also warrants opposition from me.
          So, these days whilst I am not so much an advocate of fox-hunting, I was certainly against the fox-hunting ban.
          I don’t know where the limits ought to be drawn on mankind being able to exploit other animals themselves and the natural landscapes on which they live.
          But I do believe one thing, there is something far more honest and natural about a US citizen taking up his gun and shooting a wild animal for food, than any amount of animal rights activists screeching that same US citizen is a violent uneducated redneck partaking in wanton cruelty.
          Too many straw men are set up by animal rights campaigners for me to take them as the only source of where the lines ought to be drawn on animal rights.
          Moral dilemmas are an implicit part of humankind’s relationship with other animals, there is nothing less but a massive reduction of freedom of the individual if animal rights activists were to have their way and eliminate every one of them.

          • Bernard

            To be honest from how I understood it, I agree with most of what you say.
            I myself am unsure regarding the objectivity of Animal Rights, or any other form of rights for that matter.
            All I ask is people remain logically consistent in their moral reasoning and follow the evidence where ever it leads.
            Though I do view I should correct the assumption of ‘animals given ‘rights’ by humans’. I have never said this, it is those who disagree with me who say this.

        • Daniel Maris

          Yes the alien argument is definitely a good one. As human, even though only we (on this planet) may be able to understand the concept, that does not mean it can only apply to ourselves. Reason guides us to the notion that animals too enjoy rights e.g. the right of animals that need space not to be confined in small cages, the right of animals not to be tortured.

          Whether fox hunting is really that bad for foxes, I am not convinced. It seems a fairly natural way to keep their populations under control and can be seen as a holistic element in rural life. I don’t think it’s on a level with cock fighting, bear baiting, dog fighting, bull fighting and other cruel animal sports.

      • Daniel Maris

        Interesting – but wrong when you think about it. Foxes most definitely have a conception of rights…i.e. territory. They tend to avoid each other’s territories, just as humans do, so that is a point of contact.

      • Rihari_Wilson

        “…this leftist drivel ” This reveals subtlety of thought. It follows that any disagreement whs1954 is merely leftist drivel and without merit.

    • ohforheavensake

      Now, I’m bound to say it- if James was the intellectually fearless contrarian he claims to be, he really should duck below the line and debate with you.

      So, James: how about it?

    • George Smiley

      Not according to Aristotle or Saint Thomas Aquinas.

    • Tom Tom

      No it is not, Peter Singer is an idiot

      • Bernard

        Then what is in question, if not the well-being of that specific species? I’m uncertain how you connect me with Peter Singer. I can assure you he is not an idiot, considering he has come up with complex theories like ‘The Expanding Ring of Empathy’. (Defining an Idiot as someone with an IQ below 70).

  • Fergus Pickering

    Wel, of course they don’t want to. Why would they. I visited about ten years ago. The boys were intelligent, well-read and deeply unattractive. They were busy growing up into the sorts of shits that detest and are detested by, the common run of people. People like me.

    • Duke_Bouvier

      It is deeply unattractive to make such a bigoted generalisation

      • Fergus Pickering

        Not at all. I was there. The boys seemed like that. There is one old Radleyan, Andrew Strauss the cricketer, who seems to me a quite admirable person. But he wasn’t there. What, pray, is your definition of a bigot? Is it like that of Gordon Brown, a person who disagrees with you?

        • Duke_Bouvier

          As an instance of a bigoted generalisation I suggest that writing off the entire body of a school as

          “…deeply unattractive. Busy growing up into the sorts of shits that detest and are detested by the common run of people”

          is a pretty good one.

          If you were a pupil there then the idea that you alone were one of “the common run of people” suggests the issues are yours not theirs.

    • trapezium

      Your admission that you’re a shit detested by the common run of people was very courageous.

  • dalai guevara

    James, have you ever met the Scary Guy? He is indeed very scary.
    His Q&A with the likes you attempt to ‘teach’ often begins with: do you believe that by the time you retire, there will be ‘world peace’?
    Now, five year olds will mostly answer this positively, 12 year olds will deliver a reluctant ‘maybe’, whilst your age group, well yes, your age group is delusioned by your own hidden agendas.

    Your world no longer encompasses just you, your outlook has taught you that whilst going through life, there will always be someone who will not play by the rules, not have the common good at heart, not stick to ethics in business and advocate a green future that is the only way to return to a truthful self. You enjoy mocking Plan A whilst failing to deliver on a Plan B of any description. You have no plan, all you do is moan about silly detail without looking at the big picture. Have you become that spoilt brat that our parents have always warned us about?

  • Michael990

    Merely an anecdote of course, but I had an old Radleyan, or whatever they choose to call themselves, working for me at one time. He proved to be rather an unpleasant person, who never got over the chip on his shoulder that I had been promoted over him.
    A couple of old Etonians in contrast were rather pleasant people, of good intelligence.

    • Duke_Bouvier

      I wonder what he says about you.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Well, Eton is several cuts above Radley, and considerably more expensive.

  • rtj1211

    I’m not sure I understand the need to rebel if your parents can afford to send you to Radley these days.

    The world is so unequal, why rock the boat when you were granted the right to compete in the Olympics by birth?!

    • Duke_Bouvier

      Or by being highly motivated, working hard, making sacrifices and being bloody good.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Sorry. Who is bloody good?

      • Daniel Maris

        LOL – you mean the four scholarship boys?

    • Daniel Maris

      You hit the nail bang in the middle there!

  • ohforheavensake

    James- the boys you met sound considerably more mature than you do.

  • Johnnie Hayes

    “One of them felt that if you approved of foxhunting, you were halfway towards wanting to revive bear-baiting.” I assume this comment refers to myself however it seems to be taken rather out of context considering I am in favour of bear baiting.
    I was having a debate with James Delingpole as I was told that he believes that animals have no rights and that he approved of bear baiting. It quickly became apparent though that he didn’t know what bear baiting was. He thought it was and I quote “oh, it’s where you hunt bears with dogs like fox hunting.” However this is completely wrong, bear baiting is where you rip out the bears claws and file down its teeth before tying it to a stake to be savaged by dogs until it dies.
    James, get your facts right if I were you…
    Also as you went to Malvern college, I don’t think you can give this sort of attitude to a public school with out being hypocritical

    • binnsmeister

      “bear baiting is where you rip out the bears claws and file down its teeth before tying it to a stake to be savaged by dogs until it dies.”

      And you’re in favour of this … may I ask why?

      • Johnnie Hayes

        Sorry, how awkward. I meant fox hunting not bear baiting!

        • binnsmeister

          No problem, I’m all for fox hunting myself, not so keen on the other.

          • Johnnie Hayes

            I’m glad to hear it. Strange that Delingpole is now against bear baiting though he was in favour of it when he came to Radley. Maybe it was because I proved him wrong when I debated this subject with him!

          • binnsmeister

            Sounds to me like you did a good job putting him right on the subject and that you were indeed misquoted in his article.

  • Sean Lamb

    “Even when I pointed out that the bombs had shortened the war and saved
    the lives of countless Allied troops, the boys had difficulty accepting
    the notion that the lives of our own men ought to take precedence over
    those of the innocent Japanese women and children we nuked.”

    Arguably the bombs lengthened the war and allowed the Soviets to get a hold on Manchuria and thus resulted in the Korean war.
    The lure of the bomb left the Allies disinterested in Japanese peace overtures.

    • Duke_Bouvier

      And arguably the unconditionally defeated German and Japan became model international citizens not fascistic militaristic states that would have gained nuclear weapons a few years hence.
      No doubt if we let then stop the war without being accountable for their horrific war crimes, you would be condemning the failure to bring the Japanese hierarchy to account.

    • dodgy

      ..Arguably the bombs lengthened the war…

      I have NEVER heard this one! And I wonder how it could possibly be argued?

      Though there were many in Japan who felt that conditional surrender was an option, they would NOT accept unconditional surrender – in particular, they would not accept any threat to the Emperor, for whom they wanted and expected to fight to the last man, woman and child. I can think of no reputable historian who does not agree this.

      The US and the British had made unconditional surrender a political requirement in countless speeches, and rejected any proposals which did not contain it. It was this political mismatch that meant that Japan was not able to surrender once it had been effectively defeated during 1944.

      The options for the Allies therefore were:

      1 – to ‘blockade’ Japan and flatten it with massive air attacks (cf Tokyo)
      2 – to invade and defeat Japan with ground fighting

      Each of those options would have resulted in the effective annihilation of the Japanese people. The second would have included massive casualties on the Allied side as well. So the first was obviously going to be followed. The use of atomic weapons enabled the Japanese military to save face, since they could argue that they were now facing ‘new weapons’. If option 1) above had been followed, Japan would have probably surrendered by the end of the year, after several more raids like Tokyo. Note that these attacks killed roughly twice the numbers that the atomic bombs did.

      By any calculation the atomic bombs shortened the war, and resulted in less casualties. You may still argue about their morality, and suggest that the Allies should have accepted a conditional surrender in 1944, but I cannot see how they can be accused of LENGTHENING the hostilities…

      • Daniel Maris

        The allies only had four usable bombs. Had the Japanese taken another couple of hits, we would have looked a bit stupid.

        I think the argument against the bomb is that it was used on cities full of civilians. It was clearly indiscriminate and clearly against the Geneva Conventions (as was the “dehousing” bombing).

        One can argue the individual merits of the bombing but you can’t argue this is a good moral principle – “When ever you fear military casualities on your side, you are entitled to use WMDs to wipe out huge numbers of civilians”.

        There would have been a strong moral argument to use the Bomb to destroy coastal defences, prior to an allied invasion.

        • dodgy

          Alas, I am finding it difficult to see much value in your contributions.

          We were talking about the use of atomic bombs LENGTHENING the war, so none of your points seem to address the subject. And even taking your comments at face value, they seem to be singularly ill-informed.

          Here is some information for you (H/T to various sites for dates, etc…)

          1 – The Allies made an initial total of 3, NOT 4, atomic bombs. These were code-named ‘Gadget’, ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’. Gadget was detonated at Alamogordo (the Trinity test). The other two bombs were weaponised and used operationally. These bombs were based on uranium and plutonium respectively.

          By August 1945, both the plutonium bomb complex at Handford, Washington and the uranium bomb works at Oak Ridge, Tennessee were in full production mode. A third atomic bomb was already in the pipeline, and the annual production capacity of the Oak Ridge uranium bomb works was between 2 and 4 U-235 bombs. Thus, another Little Boy (Uranium) would have been ready around November or December of 1945.

          However, the Hanford plutonium works was capable of much greater production. According to a memo written by Leslie Groves and Robert Oppenheimer to General George Marshall, by the time Operation OLYMPIC, the US invasion of Japan, was due to commence in November, 1945, there would have been as many as twelve (12) P-239 Fat Man bombs available for use.

          So, no, we would have NOT looked ‘stupid’.

          2 – The Geneva Conventions were created and adopted in 1949. So there is no way the dropping of the atomic bombs could have been in contravention of them. Since you did not even know that, it seems rather pointless for me to inform you that the only relevant ratified international document addressing the bombardment of civilians at the time would have been the Hague Convention of 1907, and the atomic bombs, the German Blitz and the retaliatory US/UK bombing campaign of Germany were all in accord with it. Both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were, of course, chosen as military targets – Hiroshima, for instance, was the South Japan Defence Headquarters. By now it seems to me that you are looking a little stupid.

          3 – “When ever you fear military casualities (sic) on your side, you are entitled to use WMDs to wipe out huge numbers of civilians” is, of course, your biased and inaccurate presentation of the actual discussion which took place in Allied headquarters during the build-up to the atomic attacks. As you must be well aware, the belief at the time, which proved to be correct, was that this killing would save much more killing, including greater numbers of Japanese civilians later.

          This is not only an arguable moral principle, but it is the central moral principle advanced by the Utilitarian school of philosophy – specifically by Jeremy Bentham, its founder. You, and I, may well not agree with it, but since you will find it covered in all Moral Philosophy degree courses, I cannot comprehend why you think it is unarguable.

          Your response?

        • Dodgy Geezer

          ..The allies only had four usable bombs. Had the Japanese taken another couple of hits, we would have looked a bit stupid…

          Where do you get ‘4 usable bombs’ from? That assertion looks a ‘bit stupid’ to me…

          We had several production lines running. By May 1945 we had one workable device which was tested at Trinity. By early August we had two more, which were used operationally. The production lines were to deliver another atomic bomb ready for use on 19 August, with three more in September and a further three in October. The lines had been sized to deliver about one bomb a week when running fully.

          If the Japanese had not surrendered when they did, they would have been subjected to the destruction of one major city per week, probably in size order. There are 10 cities bigger than Hiroshima in Japan, and 37 bigger than Nagasaki.

          If this rate was shown to be insufficient, we could have increased it, though at further cost. We might have looked murderous and genocidal, but we wouldn’t have looked stupid because we were weaponless…

  • artemisinfrance

    James, I hope you pointed out that bear baiting is completely indefensible while fox hunting actually achieves something – thé destruction of foxes quickly and surely – something which is to be applauded because they are so destructive on farmland. The fact that most townies disapprove of it is not per se a reason to applaud fox hunting and I must say that thé ritual of “blooding” children seems unnecessarily barbaric and rather triumphalist. Still, be that as it may, it seems many children have endured this and lived to tell thé tale. I am a townie who used to be against fox hunting but has seen thé light. But don’t push your luck speaking blithely about blood sports as if they were all OK.

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Hard to find a boarding school in UK without a religious component. Outrageous when you think it through. Catch um young, brainwash the holy *rap out of um.

    • You have no moral compass then!

      • George Smiley

        As if we don’t already know!

    • George Smiley

      Why would you need to? You are too busy trolling to have any children!

  • Colonel Mustard

    Even in my day my minor public school was full of ghastly lefty pupils who imagined themselves to be rebels but were in fact the most dreary conformists of that orthodoxy with its codes, tokenism, shibboleths and demons. Now that the establishment has largely been captured by those same types any contemporary public school “rebels” spouting that tripe must be even more conformist.

    • Daniel Maris

      It’s not a new phenomenon. Orwell said that the majority of boys at Eton at the end of WW1 were Bolsheviks. Back in the 19th century they took control of the place and used shotguns on the masters.

      We forget these things because they don’t fit with our preconceived ideas.

  • neilcraig

    Not sure disagreeing with you is a sign of being unable to disagree. Read Farage’s bio – he disagreed with the right on just for the sake of it and would probably have put Dellers through his paces too.
    And incidentally I disagree about Hiroshima. It wasn’t necessary to get Japan to surrender and more importantly that wasn’t even the purpose. The purpose was to frighten the Soviets into obedience. It did frighten them but they didn’t obey.

  • Roisin

    “…the lives of our own men ought to take precedence over those of the innocent Japanese women and children we nuked.”

    Fair enough. After all, the Japs didn’t write the complete works of Shakespeare or build the Taj Mahal…

  • Ben Archibald

    Posing the question of whether activities are or are not moral goes nowhere near establishing whether people should or should not do them, particularly if one seeks to lazily pollute the argument with utilitarianism. We do exciting things because they are fun, but we apply a utilitarian balance to delineate the activities we undertake and the activities we probably won’t.

    It may be immoral to go skydiving on the bases that it’s environmentally wasteful, economically inefficient and dangerous enough to potentially deprive one’s family of a loved one. We still do it because it’s fun – we decide that our fun is worth it.

    On the other hand, killing people is probably quite fun, but we don’t do it because we’re certain it’s so immoral we can’t and wouldn’t want to bring ourselves to do it. The question comes down to simple and calculable bang-per-moral-buck, and what we can get away with. I was able to learn this in a good Belfast grammar school.

  • Hugh_Oxford

    I went to university with some old Radleians. Almost to a man they were drug toking, porn fixated, hard drinking, boorish people, although not all. This might have counted as rebellion once, but not today.

  • Conservative Radleian

    Just the kind that give the British Conservatism a bad name. Uncompromising, near fascist views. When asked if he had ever lost an argument his predictably pompus answer was simply: ‘no’. Reasonable, well-based questions were insolently dismissed by irrational and prejudice driven retorts. The fact is that Delingpole ‘does’t play the game’. A lot of provocation, little debate.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Of course the best way to defeat Delingpole in argument is to say ‘Fuck off, Delingpole’ and then punch him. Has this been tried?

  • Daniel Maris

    Were you toking on the ganga at the time?

    Your comments on the ethics of the atom bombs are completely wayward. You are essentially asking us to resile from the Geneva Convention. If you want war fought on that basis, fair enough, but there is nowhere to stop. You will be giving the enemy the right in law to kill and torture your civilians as they please. Maybe you don’t mind.

    Sounds like the Radley children were just normal thinking human beings who hadn’t yet been corrupted by a tour as an intern in the City or membership of the Bullingdon Club.

  • Jim Baron

    It’s people like these kids that make me feel ashamed to be a Gen-Y. We were born into a generation where we had everything spoon fed to us. We’ve had some of the most stringent health and safety policies imposed into our minds that does not allow us to make/take risks and learn from our mistakes. We were educated in the most anti-meritocratic system which tells us that we’re all special and that there are no winners or losers (the world doesn’t work like that) and most importantly we were educated by some of the biggest unionist Trotskyite fascists that uses environmental sustainability, progressive ideology, multiculturalism and in this case animal rights as a cowardly facade to hide there socialist beliefs which are being surreptitiously shoved down the younger generations throats. Reading the spectator makes me feel reassured and reminds me that western civilisation isn’t completely fucked yet.

  • Freda

    I find it astonishing how you can argue that these students are redundant in the ability to think for themselves, with the reasoning that none of them agreed with you. If in fact all these students, like you, possessed the belief that foxhunting should be a perfectly legitimate sport, could you seriously suggest that would mean that they are thinking for themselves anymore than if they didn’t (agree with you)? All that would show is that they agree with you. Surely, the fact that they didn’t all agree with you is a compelling argument that they can think for themselves – they questioned what you were saying, and came to their own conclusions.

    At the beginning of this article, you write how this institution is historically in favour of foxhunting. Therefore, it would be much more rebellious of them to be against foxhunting, and therefore reject the opinion of their school, than to blindly accept their school’s stance on foxhunting.

  • Rihari_Wilson

    I would suggest that James Delingpole is following the example of many rebels and believes that disagreement with him indicates lack of independent thought. I would suggest that disagreement with him is rebelliousness which he should applaud.

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