Category Archives: Britain (decline of)

Only something like a religious revival can begin to solve England’s deep, deep problems

Britain, Dalrymple notes,

has enormous cultural problems, perhaps only to be expected in a country in which more than 50% of children are born out of wedlock and 20% do not eat a meal with another member of their household more than once every two weeks. A dangerously high and perhaps unsustainable proportion of the population is unfitted for productive life in a modern economy, having attained an abysmally low educational level despite (or because of?) considerable state expenditure. This section of the population is not merely indifferent to refinement of any kind – intellectual, æsthetic or of manners – but actively hostile to it. Similarly, it is not merely not anxious to learn, it is anxious not to learn.

This explains why Britain has persistently imported labour from Eastern Europe

to perform tasks in its service industries that ordinarily one might have expected its large fund of indigenous non-employed people to perform. Although these tasks require no special skills, they require certain personal qualities such as reliability, politeness, and willingness to adapt: and these the eligible local population lack entirely. No hotel-keeper, for example, would consider using British labour if he could get foreign.

Perhaps nothing, says Dalrymple, captures the levels of personal incompetence and lack of self-respect in Britain

than the fact that young men of the lowest social class are about half as likely to die in prison as they are if left at liberty. In prison, though adult, they are looked after, at least in a basic way, and told what to do. They are no longer free to pursue their dangerous and crudely self-indulgent lifestyle, in which distraction is the main occupation. In prison they receive the healthcare that, though it is free to them under the NHS, they are not responsible enough to seek when at liberty.

In short, Dalrymple observes,

they do not know, because they have never been taught, how to live in a minimally constructive fashion, though they were certainly not born ineducable.

Other comparable countries have similar problems, but none

has them to anything like the same extent.

He points out that these problems do not originate from Britain’s membership of the European Union,

nor will they be solved by exit from the Union. They can be solved only by something more resembling a religious revival than by any likely government action.

But

expecting a population to bethink itself while simultaneously being offered political solutions that require no effortful cultural change is unreasonably optimistic. And politicians are unlikely to be frank about the problem for two reasons: first because alluding to the deficiencies of their electorate is probably not the best way to get elected, and second because it downgrades the providential role of politics, which politicians are understandably reluctant to do.

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A filthy, degraded country

England, Dalrymple points out to an interviewer, is a corrupt country. Not in the way that, for instance, Italy is corrupt, but morally and intellectually corrupt, which is worse. The educational system has been ruined, there are large social problems (of which public drunkenness is an example), and the country is the dirtiest in Europe — Britishers routinely fling rubbish out of car windows to pollute the beautiful countryside, for instance. There has been a cultural revolution in the country, making it quite the opposite of what it once was.

The British Zeitgeist

Screen Shot 2016-08-15 at 08.56.56It is one, writes Dalrymple, of

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.

The English were constipated: now they’re incontinent

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 21.17.05Dalrymple explains that his account of Britain as a declining, broken society is

ironic in the sense that I don’t think there was a golden age in which society was whole.

But

we have to look at the problems we have. Every age looks at the problems it has, and what I’ve found in England is a refusal to face the problems: they’re just too uncomfortable.

Dalrymple says it is, to a degree, a

puzzle

as to why Britain has become more degraded than all other comparable countries. But he points to

a gestalt switch: what was regarded as good is regarded as bad, and vice-versa. Emotional constipation, once a characteristic of the British, has become emotional incontinence. People regard it as a good thing to express themselves, irrespective of whether they’ve anything to express.

For reasons of hormonal disaffection, young people are disposed to throw themselves into ideological causes. They are susceptible to ideological rot, as they are to criminality,

which is a young man’s game.

With regard to English anti-social life, Dalrymple says:

If you go to entertainment areas, there is always an element of threat in Britain.

He recounts an experience he had in Manchester, where he was staying at an hotel.

There was laughing and screaming outside at 1.30 in the morning. When I went out the next morning, I found that someone had been nearly murdered — he was in hospital, in a coma. You can’t tell the difference in England between people enjoying themselves and someone being murdered.

I’m fat, ugly, stupid — ‘n fuckin’ proud of it!

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 19.50.35Many British people, Dalrymple observes, are

beached human whales.

Dalrymple encounters a male whale in the hotel lift.

His T-shirt was emblazoned with a single word, ENGLAND, a superfluous message if ever there were one.

The British, says Dalrymple, are

fried food made flesh.

Their appearance signifies one of two things, or both:

  1. collapse of self-respect, at least in the aspect of physical appearance
  2. total lack of imagination as to the impression they make on others

Dalrymple points out that

slum-dwellers in Kinshasa make a better effort, with more success, in turning themselves out well.

A kind of larger Belgium

In 1956, writes Dalrymple, it became unmistakably clear as never before that Britain,

after two centuries of world influence, was reduced to the status of a third-rate power, which could disappear from the face of the earth without anyone beyond its shores noticing that anything very much had happened.

Such abrupt losses of status

are apt to result in a reduction of cultural self-confidence, both individually and collectively, as well as in a change of sensibility amounting to a gestalt switch.