Category Archives: British people

In Britain, abuse will be tolerated

Compared to the old days, writes Dalrymple, England

has managed the difficult trick of being both much richer and much nastier.

He remembers an Indian doctor in the hospital where he worked half a century ago,

whose exceptional sweetness of character inspired the instant affection of all who met him, telling me that he considered Britain the most civilised country.

No one, Dalrymple points out,

could make that mistake now, not for an instant, for even at the airport at which he arrived he will have noticed prominent written warnings to the British public that violence or abusive behaviour towards staff will not be tolerated: meaning, of course, that in most instances it will be ignored.

From having been among the most self-controlled populations in the world, the British

have gone in half a century to being among the least self-controlled.

Dalrymple notes that the British population is also

the most spied-upon. Britain has almost as many closed-circuit television cameras installed as the rest of the world put together, but they seem to have hardly any effect on the general level of civility. Testifying quite often in court as an expert witness in murder trials, I am astonished to discover in the course of those trials just how much of British life now takes place on camera: every Briton, indeed, spends more time on screen than the most ubiquitous of film stars, whether he knows and approves of it or not.

At the same time,

menace and incompetence have become the twin characteristics of British officialdom.

Dalrymple reflects that societies fall apart when (among other causes)

their ruling élites, political and intellectual, lose faith in their own right or duty to prescribe standards. They become Hamlet-like: the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and they become persuaded that generosity of spirit and broad-mindedness are the only true virtues, even if they result in paralysis in the face of disorder, with all the accompanying miseries of those who suffer it.

Dalrymple warns the Britishers

The doctor-writer points out that Britain’s enormous cultural, social and economic problems do not originate from membership of the European Union, nor will they be solved by exit from the Union, if exit ever occurs in fact rather than in name only. (More likely is that a second referendum will be staged at which the British people will be invited to give the right answer, or the means will be found simply to annul the referendum result.)

The country’s problems are so deep, Dalrymple argues, that they

can be solved only by something more resembling a religious revival than by any likely government action.

He gives examples of the sort of changes that are needed:

  • reform — or dismantle — the educational and social-security systems
  • liberalise the labour laws
  • repress crime much more firmly

And that’s just to start with.

However, he says,

expecting a population to bethink itself while simultaneously being offered political solutions that require no effortful cultural change is unreasonably optimistic.

This is 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.

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.

British culture: a form of ruminant grazing

The terrible deterioration in the character of the English

The decline of religious belief, writes Dalrymple,

which provided a basis for personal responsibility, occurred at the same time as a decline in Britain’s world power. Intellectuals, impotently enraged by this, mocked at every value and belief, without providing alternatives. Unlike France, which remained the standard-bearer of a language and a culture, Britain was turned into a province, a deep humiliation for a country which had been metropolitan for two centuries.

Young Britishers

have been deliberately deprived of any knowledge of British achievement: they know nothing of Shakespeare and Dickens, Newton and Darwin, Brunel and Lister. They know of nothing of which they can feel proud.

In the absence of a system of values, says Dalrymple, adolescent revolt

has become a permanent state of mind.

The lack of belief in anything

is compensated for by shrillness, as if noise could fill the void.

The trouble with Britain is not the government. It’s the people

The malaise, Dalrymple points out, is not confined to an underclass.

Every week I meet members of the middle classes who consider themselves victims of some injustice or other in order to lend significance to their lives. They are only victims in the sense that Marie Antoinette was a shepherdess.

The attempt to find transcendent meaning in social justice

destroys or perverts aesthetic appreciation: for how, it is asked, can beauty and injustice subsist in the same world? The aggressive ugliness (not mere lack of taste) of the mode of dress of many of my younger patients, especially those with intellectual pretensions, is intended to provoke the very rejection that will then be used to justify the resentment that gives meaning to otherwise meaningless life.

Essentially personal dissatisfactions (of the kind attendant upon life) are projected on to society as a whole. This

has its advantages: it absolves one of the often painful necessity of self-examination. But it breeds the angry passivity that is now almost a national characteristic.

The sullenness of many of Dalrymple’s young patients

is not mere adolescent rebellion, it is a permanent condition: they will not grow to courtesy. They do not have the dignity or self-respect of previous generations which have known suffering that is not self-inflicted.

The impact of swearing is inversely proportional to the frequency of its use

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 09.27.43

The coarsest people in Europe — and fuckin’ proud of it!

A swear word used too often, writes Dalrymple,

comes to mean no more than ‘er’ or ‘um’.

If you walk down any crowded shopping street in England,

you will not go more than a few yards without hearing a part of speech of a well-known verb, many times.

The words

do not express a specific meaning; at most, they are used for emphasis. They are meant to convey that the speaker is militantly vulgar and is not going to be deflected from his vulgarity by anyone.

The words

are not used involuntarily, as a tic is involuntary.

When Dalrymple’s patients ask him why he wants them to give up swearing while speaking to him, he hands them the prescription and says:

Take one of these fuckers every four fucking hours until your fucking headache’s gone and if they don’t fucking work, come straight the fuck back.

The more the English swear,

the smaller their verbal repertoire.

And the English

are known throughout Europe as the continent’s coarsest people.

The collectivist rot in Britain

Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 07.54.19An infantilised people

Its sense of irony, writes Dalrymple, once protected the British population

from infatuation with utopian dreams and unrealistic expectations.

But the English are sadly changed.

A sense of irony is the first victim of utopian dreams. The British tolerance of eccentricity has also evaporated; uniformity is what they want now, and are prepared informally to impose. They tolerate no deviation in taste or appearance from themselves.

The pressure to conform

to the canons of (lack of) popular taste has never been stronger. Those without interest in soccer hardly dare mention it in public. A dispiriting uniformity of character, deeply shallow, has settled over a land once richer in eccentrics than any other. No more Edward Lears for us: we prefer notoriety to oddity now.

The English are no longer sturdily independent as individuals, either. They now

feel no shame or even unease at accepting government handouts. (40% of them receive such handouts.)

Many Britons

see no difference between work and parasitism.

They are left with

very little of importance to decide for themselves, even in their private spheres.

The State

  • educates them (at least nominally)
  • provides for them in old age
  • frees them of the need to save money (doing so is in many cases made uneconomic)
  • treats them when they are ill
  • houses them if they cannot afford housing

Their choices

concern only sex and shopping.

No wonder, says Dalrymple, that the British

have changed in character, their sturdy independence replaced with passivity, querulousness, or even, at the lower reaches of society, a sullen resentment that not enough has been or is being done for them. For those at the bottom, such money as they receive is pocket money, reserved for the satisfaction of whims. They are infantilised. If they behave irresponsibly it is because both the rewards for behaving responsibly and the penalties for behaving irresponsibly have vanished.

Such people

come to live in a limbo in which there is nothing much to hope or strive for and nothing much to fear or lose. Private property and consumerism coexist with collectivism, and freedom for many people means little more than choice among goods. The free market, as Hayek did not foresee, has flourished alongside collectivism.