Gogol for the absurdity

The minister for loneliness

England in the grip of sentimentality

In January 2018, the British government appointed a ‘minister for loneliness’. Dalrymple comments:

While the government busied itself with the task of reducing loneliness, or with the creation of a bureaucracy with the task supposedly of reducing loneliness, it did not concern itself very much with the abundant evidence, extending over decades, that it has long presided over the most crime-ridden country in Western Europe.

After all,

only one crime is recorded by the police—alas, not the same as the number of crimes known to the police—for every two lonely people found by the parliamentary commission on loneliness. It is obvious which of these two problems, loneliness or crime, should attract more of the government’s attention.

He draws attention to a part of the General Confession in the Book of Common Prayer:

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us.

The words, says Dalrymple,

might serve not as the confession of the British government, but as a description of it.

A parliamentary commission found that about a seventh of the population suffers from loneliness, and that

it was the duty of the government to do something about it. For who, if not the government, is responsible for ensuring that everyone has a social life and friends and relatives who visit? After all, it was government policy that smashed up the family in the first place.

To understand what is going on in Britain and the rest of the West, Dalrymple writes,

it is necessary, and probably sufficient, to read three authors: Gogol for the pervasive absurdity, Kafka for the pervasive fear and menace, and Orwell for the pervasive lies.

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