Category Archives: underclass

What lies behind Grant’s adoption of gutter language?

Dalrymple explains that Hugh Grant (left) was the star of the film Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) and once had some kind of trouble with the police

A tweet by the actor and thinker Hugh Grant, addressing the British prime minister, reads:

You will not fuck with my children’s future. You will not destroy the freedoms my grandfather fought two world wars to defend. Fuck off you over-promoted rubber bath toy. Britain is revolted by you and you [sic] little gang of masturbatory prefects.

Dalrymple comments:

No doubt the space allowed by Twitter does not encourage profound or logical reflection (though in the Analects, Confucius manages concision and compression somewhat better than Mr Grant). What is important in the above mental eructation is not its thought, or even feeling, but its mode of expression.

Grant’s dull and tedious adoption of the language of the gutter is

much more significant in the long term than Brexit or the actions of the prime minister. It points to the cultural degeneration of a nation that, insofar as it has an ideology at all, has made vulgarity posing as egalitarianism its ideology.

Grant’s greatest rôle: defender of freedom and democracy

Grant, says Dalrymple,

if I have understood correctly — though I am open to correction — has made something of his character as an upper-middle-class Englishman. But he is at one with the British cultural élite in vulgarity of expression.

We may be sure that,

irrespective of what the prime minister does, Mr Grant will be able to arrange for a bright future, at least in the material sense. We may be sure that, if any government were to threaten that assured material future by genuinely and inescapably egalitarian economic measures, his howls of indignation would be a good deal more sincere than in the tweet above.

Dalrymple notes that vulgarity as an ideology

is a substitute for economic egalitarianism, in which neither I nor the ideological vulgarians such as Mr Grant believe, and which both of us fear. Mr Grant, however, thinks that he can deflect some of the envy no doubt directed at him if he can show by his employment of vulgar language that he is really in the same boat as the most subterranean members of the underclass. He is asserting some kind of equality with them by his use of debased and inexpressive language.

The tendency to act down,

which occurs in spheres other than language, does not derive from any guilt about social or economic inequality, which, on the contrary, it is designed to preserve and maintain. It is rather a camouflage or smokescreen for privilege, whether that privilege be earned or not. But though it is playacting — indeed, defender of freedom and democracy may be Mr Grant’s greatest rôle — it is not without real cultural effect, an effect that is baleful if you do not approve of the coarsening that it brings with it.

Moreover,

lack of verbal restraint is not liberation, it is impoverishment of thought.

Britain’s moral collapse encompasses all classes

England’s degradation, writes Dalrymple, is not confined to an underclass of five or 10 per cent of the population, the mirror image of a small and highly educated élite. Far from it.

The underclass, Dalrymple points out,

is extensive and not readily distinguishable from the rest of the population.

Moreover,

the pauperisation of the minds and spirit of our people extends well beyond the confines of any such underclass.

A short walk down Dalrymple Drive

Dalrymple lives

in a wasteland.

In the slums, known in England as ‘council estates’,

the glass of many of the windows has been replaced by plywood; such gardens as there are have reverted to grey-green scrub, with empty beer and soft drink cans, used condoms and loose sheets of tabloid newspaper in place of flowers; and the people trudge through the desolation as disconsolately as in any communist land.

Everything is

disorientatingly arbitrary, just as bureaucrats like it: compared with the average British public housing estate, the Cretan Labyrinth was a model of classical regularity.

Here, says Dalrymple,

is where the rioting underclass lives and takes its being.

  • Women shuffle along in jumble-sale clothes and fly-paper curlers, prematurely undergoing the physical shrinkage of old age, a cigarette attached by dried saliva to their lower lip.
  • Young men, bodily mature but with the mind and inclinations of juvenile barbarians, eye the world with sullen hostility, which the tattoos on their knuckles, necks and forearms not infrequently express in words. They are unemployed and profoundly unemployable: they are intolerant of any external restraint on their behaviour, and cannot fix their minds upon anything for more than a few moments.

This is a world

in which schools not merely fail to educate, but are anti-educational establishments.

Dalrymple asks his young patients about their experiences at school, and they are depressingly uniform:

  • violence
  • boredom
  • indiscipline
  • insolence
  • intimidation
  • truancy
  • a determination to bring everyone down to the same abysmal level

Any effort to achieve

is treated as treachery, and if persisted in leads to violence. Teachers soon come to have the same outlook as prison governors: to survive a day without serious incident is a success or even a triumph. There is no question of imparting knowledge: schooling is a form of remand in custody.

A teacher tells Dalrymple of a circular from the headmaster of his school reminding staff that physical force is not to be used on pupils, except in self-defence. The same teacher tells him about a recent parent-teacher meeting at his school:

The parents of five out of 110 pupils found time away from their videos to attend. He telephoned the father of one of his pupils whose progress had been particularly poor (or whose regression to barbarity was particularly marked).

‘I’m your son’s class teacher,’ he said.

‘Are you?’ came the reply. ‘Well you can fuck off.’ And the father slammed the receiver down.

Sexual savagery ennobled

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 11.49.24Literature and common sense attest, writes Dalrymple, that sexual relations

have been fraught with difficulty down the ages because man is a conscious social being who bears a culture, and is not merely a biological being.

But intellectuals in the 20th century

sought to free sexual relations of all social, contractual, or moral obligations and meaning whatsoever, so that only raw sexual desire would count in decision-making.

Of course, the intellectuals

were about as sincere as Marie Antoinette when she played shepherdess. While their own sexual mores became more relaxed and liberal, they continued to recognise inescapable obligations with regard to children, for example. Whatever they said, they didn’t want a complete breakdown of family relations any more than Marie Antoinette really wanted to earn her living by looking after sheep.

But their ideas were adopted literally and wholesale

in the lowest and most vulnerable social class. If anyone wants to see what sexual relations are like, freed of contractual and social obligations, let him look at the chaos of the personal lives of members of the underclass.

Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 11.47.15

Uncouth chic

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 13.53.48Professional soccer players, Dalrymple points out, are drawn

from the class adjacent to the underclass, into which downward slippage is all too easy.

But in the past,

those who managed to escape their lowly origins usually aspired to be taken for bona fide members of the middle classes by conforming their conduct to middle-class standards.

No longer. Newfound wealth imposes no obligation to change one’s ways. Violent and despicable public conduct results

neither in legal sanction, social ostracism, nor even strong disapproval.

In England,

the direction of cultural aspiration has reversed: it is the middle classes that aspire to be taken for their social inferiors, an aspiration that (in their opinion) necessitates misconduct.

Young middle-class women proudly sport tattoos, for example,

as badges of antinomian defiance, of intellectual independence, and of identification with the supposedly downtrodden—if not of the entire world, then at least of our inner cities.

Advertising

glamorises the underclass way of life and its attitude towards the world. A new style has been invented.

O círculo vicioso da miséria moral

Screen Shot 2016-01-02 at 08.54.53

Portuguese-language edition

Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass is, writes Thomas Sowell,

an insightful account of the dire consequences that the welfare state has led to among low-income whites in England. Many will recognise striking similarities to problems among low-income blacks in America — problems often blamed on ‘a legacy of slavery’ but which have followed in the wake of the welfare state in England among whites with no legacy of slavery.

O círculo vicioso da miséria moral

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 07.20.52A Vida na Sarjeta

Este livro é o relato pungente da vida da subclasse inglesa e das razões de as pessoas persistirem nessa vida, escrito por um psiquiatra britânico que cuida da clientela de baixa renda de um hospital de periferia e dos detentos de uma penitenciária de Londres.

A percepção fundamental do Dr. Dalrymple é a de que a pobreza continuada não tem causas econômicas, mas encontra fundamento em um conjunto de fatores disfuncionais, continuamente reforçados por uma cultura de elite em busca de vítimas. O livro apresenta dezenas de relatos reveladores e verídicos que são, ao mesmo tempo, divertidos, assustadoramente horríveis e bem ilustrativos, escritos em uma prosa que transcende o jornalismo e alcança a qualidade de verdadeira literatura.

A verdadeira miséria

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 08.55.42Já que a grande mídia e a intelligentsia se esforçam em festejar o assistencialismo a despeito de seus efeitos colaterais, torna-se pertinente recorrermos ao testemunho de um profissional que vive e trabalhou dentro desse ambiente de ‘fraternidade’ estatal.

The eternally hypocritical English bourgeoisie

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 18.15.18The British lower classes are deeply unpleasing, having been thoroughly corrupted by welfarism. But the classes of Briton that excite the most disgust are the upper middle, to which Britain’s current, lamentable prime minister belongs.

It is not just the world-class snobbery and hypocrisy of the British upper-middle classes that repel. (The snobbery and hypocrisy persist, or are even heightened, despite the nation’s third-rate, piffling status. As snobs and hypocrites, Britons punch above their weight.)

Middle-class Britons are greatly more vulgar — and sillier — than before. They are the silly-billy bourgeoisie, and the idea of duty, responsibility, probity or self-restraint is alien to them, especially if they work in that abyss of imaginary money, the City of London. Dalrymple has, for example, often drawn attention to the grotesque, insensible vulgarity of one of their favourite magazines, the How To Spend It supplement of the Financial Times newspaper. They are, writes Dalrymple,

the underclass, but with more money.

The British middle classes are ‘not a pretty sight or a grateful sound’, for they

lack refinement in their tastes, except in matters of expensive technological appurtenances…Their manners, down to their gestures and very facial expressions, are crude, coarse and brutish.

Get me a fucking roll-up

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 13.54.19These were the first words, when he regained consciousness, of a heroin addict who had collapsed the night before from an overdose and required intensive care, with doctors and nurses having tended him through the night. Dalrymple writes:

There was no acknowledgment of what had been done for him. If he considered that he had received any benefit from his stay, well, it was simply his due.

For

when every benefit received is a right, there is no place for gratitude.

A welfare system that makes no moral judgments thus promotes anti-social egotism.