Category Archives: British social policy

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.

In England, inner emigration is the only option for decent people

Britishers, writes Dalrymple, are

more comprehensively surveyed as they go about their daily business than the poor Soviets ever were.

The surveillance

is intended not to protect or deter, but to intimidate.

There is in Britain, he notes,

a nomenclatura who wield great and irresponsible power, whose life is distant from that of the great majority of citizens. As in the Soviet Union, they do not own the state institutions in which they work, but they have the usufruct of them. Their privileges are wildly out of proportion either to their merits or to the privileges that others enjoy. The first-class carriages of trains, for example, are almost exclusively for their use.

Sovietisation

Dalrymple points out that England has become

a propaganda state. No matter what economies are imposed on those parts of the public services that deliver services to the public, there is always time enough and money enough in state institutions for the production and distribution of glossy propaganda to the workers who receive it compulsorily (for they are never asked whether they want it or not).

As in communist countries, the purpose of the propaganda

is not to persuade, much less to inform, but to violate the probity of the recipient, who has neither the energy nor the courage to protest against its lies, and therefore becomes in some way complicit in them. The more untrue the propaganda is, the more at variance with the lived experience of those who are subjected to it, the better, for the more completely it destroys the integrity of the recipient, rendering him docile.

Therefore, at the very time when hospitals are under threat of closure,

the staff receive glossy handouts portraying them as happy and smiling, at one with the management, just as Soviet peasants were portrayed feasting at tables groaning with produce at the height of famine.

There is

a constantly-changing langue de bois used by the hierarchy of public institutions, to disguise the reality. Words no longer have tolerably fixed meaning, but must be construed in their dialectical sense. Experience teaches, for example, that when the chief executive of an NHS institution says, ‘I am passionately committed to x,’ he means x is about to be disbanded or closed down, and about time.

Careless talk costs careers

An atmosphere of fear stalks Great Britain, says Dalrymple.

People are reluctant to speak their minds, even if what is in their minds is by no means outrageous. Whole subjects, some of them of great national importance, are beyond the pale of acceptable discussion. In the public service, underlings are afraid that their superiors might get to hear anything that contradicts the latest ideological doctrine, or that fails to use the latest accepted terminology, and that they might suffer.

Professionals have to take part in many fraudulent

ceremonial procedures, such as endless meetings of a semi-political nature, and perform bureaucratic tasks ever more intellectually corrupt and disconnected from the real goal of their work, compliance with which destroys their probity and turns them into ciphers.

Failure to protest

induces a state of self-hatred and contempt.

The best

go into inner emigration, and withdraw from public life completely.

The worst

join the apparatchiks.

Careerism, cronyism and looting of the public purse

Who is to blame for the Sovietisation of British life? Dalrymple explains that Margaret Thatcher played a large part.

Not only did she give the impression of being an economic determinist, a mirror-image Marxist, and not only was she a great centraliser, giving an impetus to the most ruthless forms of careerism and its corollary, cronyism, but she vastly increased the role of supposedly technocratic management in society, and particularly in the public service. She thought that professional managers were the way to control the vested interests of professions and public servants; in the process she created the new nomenclatura, with vested interests that dwarf all previous vested interests, and a looting of the public purse such as has not been seen for two centuries.

The Labour party,

to do it justice, saw its opportunity presented to it on a plate by the Conservatives. Trained in dialectics by those (many) among them with communist pasts, they read the situation with some subtlety. Not nationalisation, but a permanent revolution of ever-changing regulation, favour-swapping with big business, bureaucratic reorganisation, and the proliferation of parastatal bodies was the road to eternal power and the spoils it brought with it.

In the process,

the freedom and independence of the citizen had to be destroyed: a small price to pay, since they never valued it in the first place.

Dalrymple does not expect to see the Sovietisation reversed in his lifetime,

at least not without a cataclysm: and that might bring us something very much worse.

In the meantime, he has

joined the inner emigration.

British social policy defined

An idiocy wrapped in a lunacy wrapped in an absurdity, to produce misery and squalor

Dalrymple writes:

A tax on knowledge is a terrible thing, but a tax on ignorance, prejudice, evasion and half-truth is worse. That is what every British household with a television must pay, for the privilege of having the earnest but frivolous lucubrations of the BBC purveyed to it, whether it wants them or not.

This poll tax — or licence fee, as it is known — is the equivalent of nearly $200 per household a year, and is thus worth evading. Unfortunately, it costs nearly three times as much to catch evaders as the licence fees would have raised if paid. One proposal is to halve the licence fee for single mothers. Dalrymple comments:

In other words, we should subsidise a subsidy, in the name of a universal right to misinformation and trashy entertainment (and at the same time confer yet another incentive for single parenthood).