Category Archives: public services

Forward into the seventies

Britain, Dalrymple notes, has several very severe problems, and this is evident the moment you leave a prosperous area whose residents are likely to vote Conservative. Among the problems are

  • stagnation of productivity
  • precariousness of income
  • deficiencies in public services
  • low cultural and educational level of much of the population
  • inadequacy of the housing stock

Yet

the only solution heard to these problems is more government expenditure. The Conservatives went in for this — Theresa May refused to rule out tax increases, for example.

Socialist calamity looms

Thus an alarming aspect of the election was

the recrudescence of the politics of envy and resentment.

The Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn

radiated dislike of the prosperous, even the modestly prosperous.

The party’s solutions to the country’s problems were supposedly to be paid for by higher taxes on the richest 5% of the population.

This proposal overlooked the fact that the top 1% of earners already pay almost three times as much in income tax as the bottom 50% combined.

Wealth, Dalrymple points out,

is dynamic rather than static, resembling the bloom of a grape, not a cake to be sliced.

Taxes on capital (in other words, state expropriation) were Corbyn’s obvious next step,

with capital flight the equally obvious consequence.

None of this worried the young,

who had as yet no stake in property, only what are sometimes called ideals. The Labour party offered them and others the beguiling vision of living perpetually at the expense of others — Bastiat’s definition of the state. The Laffer curve meant nothing to them; punishing the prosperous was more important and gratifying than understanding how to maximise tax receipts.

Dalrymple comments:

The election could take Britain back more than 50 years.

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 joy of spite

Screen Shot 2016-04-16 at 15.37.08The outrage that greeted the Mossack Fonseca revelations partakes, writes Dalrymple,

more of joyous spite and hatred of the rich than of any real desire to improve the world, the latter being a much weaker emotion than the former. If the rich could be deprived of their wealth, even if no one else benefited thereby, I think many people would want it.

Even if the money hidden offshore were paid in taxation,

it does not follow that public services such as schools would improve proportionately. After all, it cannot be for lack of expenditure that a significant proportion of British children are semi-literate after 11 years of compulsory attendance at school. Every country has its bottomless pits.

As for Vladimir Putin’s illicit fortune,

anyone who supposes that, were the Russian state to recover it, the Russian people would benefit…well, they are not very well versed in Russian history.

What British fascism looks like

Screen Shot 2015-12-08 at 07.55.55Timeservers led by scoundrels

Dalrymple grew up believing

that it couldn’t happen here; that the intrinsic decency, good sense and ironical detachment of the British would have precluded Nazism or anything like it from taking root. Now I am not so sure.

Utter vileness

does not need a numerical majority to become predominant in a society. The Nazis never had an electoral majority in Germany, yet Germany offered very little resistance to their barbarism. Evil, unlike good, is multiform. We can invent our own totalitarian evil. We have prepared the ground very well.

Hedonistic egotism, fear and resentment

form the character of a large proportion of our population, and it is a character that is ripe for exploitation. They have made themselves natural slaves.

Dalrymple recently received a circular headed New ethnic categories that began with the words,

As you may know, we are required to monitor the ethnic origins of our staff.

Who, he asks,

was this ‘we’ of whom the circular spoke: no names, only ‘the human resources unit’ (Orwell could have done no better). No decent reason for this fascistic practice was given; the ‘we are required’ being the final and irrefutable argument. It is a fair bet that not a peep of protest was uttered in the office of the ‘human resources unit’ when this circular was sent round. Would anyone have mentioned the fact that the Dutch bureaucracy’s refusal to destroy census data on the religious affiliations of the Dutch population on the eve of the German occupation greatly aided the subsequent elimination of Dutch Jewry?

Septic isle

Every public service

has been weakened by the ethos of obeying centralised orders. Doctors, teachers, the police, social workers, prison officers, crown prosecutors, university dons have all been emasculated by the ‘need’ to obey orders that they know are fatuous at best, and positively destructive or wicked at worst.

The organised lying

not only blunts critical faculties and makes it impossible to distinguish true information from false, but morally compromises those who participate in the process. The more state employees conform to the rules laid down, the more helpless and degraded they become, which is the ultimate purpose of these rules.

The public,

gorged with bread and benumbed by circuses, is indifferent. I can’t help thinking of the murder of psychiatric patients and the mentally disabled in Nazi Germany. Neither the public nor the medical profession protested to any great extent (though, instructively, those few doctors who did protest were not punished for it). This terrible crime was made possible, though not inevitable, by an entire cultural context. We, too, are creating a cultural context in which great state crimes are possible.

It could happen here

When Dalrymple sees

the routine inhumanity with which my patients are treated by the state and its various bureaucracies, often in the name of obedience to rules, I think that anything is possible in this country.

When he sees

the mobs of drunken young people who pullulate in our city centres every weekend, awaiting their evil genius to organise them into some kind of pseudo-community, and think of our offices full of potential Eichmanns, I shudder.

British fascism

will no doubt be touchy-feely rather than a boot in the face – more Kafka than Hitler – but it will be ruthless nonetheless.

Legalised corruption in Britain

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 08.00.49The highly motivated idiocy of bureaucrats

The professionalisation of management in the public service, writes Dalrymple,

was one of Mrs Thatcher’s great legacies.

Tony Blair

took political advantage. The road was open to the creation of public-service millionaires.

Opportunities have been

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 08.03.56

Margaret Thatcher

systematically created for the economic benefit of ambitious mediocrities.

Margaret Thatcher’s belief was that

the motivation of a manager in the public service can beneficially be made the same as that of one in a private business.

James Burnham

James Burnham

But

even in large privately owned businesses, the interests of the managers have long since ceased to be identical to those of shareholders, a fact of which Mrs Thatcher appeared to be oblivious, and which helped to bring about the banking crisis.

Thatcher

was no match for the dimmest manager of Boghampton Social Services, once that manager was freed from the straitjacket of a salary structure and could pretend to be a businessman or woman, complete with strategic — never tactical — planning and business models, the development of which necessitated teambuilding weekends in country hotels and awaydays in pleasing locations.

Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 08.06.17Before management became professionalised, managers in the public service

had no vested interest, as they do now, in inefficiency and incompetence, in the insolubility of all problems and in the creation of new ones.

What is needed, says Dalrymple,

is amateur, not professional, management. No more awaydays, no more teambuilding, no more strategic planning, no more business models. Let bureaucrats be bureaucrats — in proper circumstances, a perfectly honourable if not high calling — not ersatz businessmen.

 

Intellectual propaganda against all forms of commerce

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 03.09.17In Britain in the 1970s, it was, writes Dalrymple,

very necessary to try to undo the effect of many years of intellectual propaganda against all forms of commerce, which the intelligentsia then thought was intrinsically besmirching in a way that public service funded by taxation was not. The utopia peddled by the intellectuals was of a society in which everybody and everything was subsidised. (The ultimate source of the subsidies, of course, was of no interest or concern.)