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Only something like a religious revival can begin to solve Britain’s deep, deep problems

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Theodore Dalrymple
December 20, 2017

England, Dalrymple notes,

has enormous cultural problems, perhaps only to be expected in 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.

In short, Dalrymple observes,

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.

He points out that these problems do not originate from Britain’s membership of the European Union,

nor will they be solved by exit from the Union. They can be solved only by something more resembling a religious revival than by any likely government action.

But

expecting a population to bethink itself while simultaneously being offered political solutions that require no effortful cultural change is unreasonably optimistic. And politicians are unlikely to be frank about the problem for two reasons: first because alluding to the deficiencies of their electorate is probably not the best way to get elected, and second because it downgrades the providential role of politics, which politicians are understandably reluctant to do.

This article was posted: Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at 5:54 am





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