sentimental moralising combined with the utmost cynicism, where the government’s pretended concern for the public welfare coexists with the most elementary dereliction. There is an absence of any kind of idealism that is a necessary precondition of probity, so that bad faith prevails almost everywhere.
The British State
sees itself as an engineer of souls, concerning itself with what people think, feel, and say—as well as with trying to change their freely chosen habits—rather than with performing its inescapable duty: that of preserving the peace and ensuring that citizens may go about their lawful business in confidence and safety. It is more concerned that young men should not smoke cigarettes in prison or make silly jokes to policemen than that they should not attack and permanently maim their elders and betters.
One definition of decadence, he writes, is
the concentration on the gratifyingly imaginary to the disregard of the disconcertingly real.
No one who knows Britain, says Dalrymple, could doubt that it has very serious problems.
- Its public services—which consume a vast proportion of the national wealth—are not only inefficient but beyond amelioration by the expenditure of yet more money
- Its population is abysmally educated, to the extent that that there is not even a well-educated élite
- An often criminally minded population has been indoctrinated with shallow and gimcrack notions—for example, about social justice—that render it unfit to compete in an increasingly competitive world
Dalrymple warns that such
unpleasant realities cannot be indefinitely disguised.