Category Archives: Hayek, Friedrich

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.

Sadistic Murderers Against Famine

Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 08.43.04Also

Necrophiliacs Against Infant Mortality

We are a hair’s breadth away from these, says Dalrymple, as he draws our attention to a state-subsidised enterprise called Fuck for Forest:

In a world in which rock stars can set themselves up, and actually have people accept them, as moral authorities, it is hardly surprising that pornography has become a charitable activity.

The cry of one of Fuck for Forest’s creators, Tommy Hol Ellingsen, is: ‘How far are you willing to go to save the planet?’ Dalrymple has this to say:

Hayek wrote that a social conscience might be but a mask for selfishness and licence: one’s personal conduct, after all, can scarcely compete in importance with the fate of the world. Ellingsen turns Hayek’s proposition inside out, complaining that his public sex act worried more people than did the destruction of the rainforest. Either one favours Ellingsen having sex in public, or one favours the destruction of the rainforest: no other possibility exists. By this rhetorical blackmail, it is possible to push back the frontiers of the permissible indefinitely, for once a man has declared himself to be doing something for the sake of a good cause, his actions are beyond criticism. The expression of the right opinions becomes the whole of virtue. The more general and more generous-sounding they are, the better the person uttering them. If his opinions are correct enough, he finds himself exonerated from the need to refrain from doing anything he wishes.

(2005)