Friday, April 21, 2006

Dalrymple on lawless England

Dalrymple is one of the most powerful moral commentators writing today and his new piece for the City Journal is no exception. He discusses the modern trend towards public policy being focussed upon managing people's thoughts and private behaviour rather than preventing genuine acts of violence and criminality; lenient towards violent crime but hard on smokers. This suggests a move from the night watchman state to the parallel opposite of one that enjoys its nannying reponsibilities but finds maintaining the peace an encumbrance. Such a move is an abandonment of the traditional virtues of the English nation.

I do not see a desire for this move in the public; people favour a more forceful approach to maintaining law and order and view intrusions into their ability to make their own decisions with derision at best. However, it is generally true in a democracy that a public gets the leadership it deserves. Pretending that Chirac, Sarkozy et. al. are failing France neglects the reality that had Thatcher been borne French she would probably have wound up a frustrated councillor at best. This tendency means that I cannot dismiss the idea that we are not being led astray by our political class but actually want a state telling us what to do and giving those who leave someone permanently disabled in a vicious assault a token sentence. What I'm having trouble working out right now is why.

1 comment:

Umbongo said...

I suspect it's something to do with education and, more particularly, teaching history. English freedom - because that's what it is - is a product of 1,000 years of history. It didn't come about by Tony Blair waking up one morning and deciding to set the people free (or the reverse). If we (deliberately?) refuse to teach the next generation not just what freedoms are enjoyed but also the how and why, we are asking that generation to be "free" in a vacuum. Of course, mix that ignorance with a general failure to teach that generation how to reason independently (ever tried to recruit somebody from a comprehensive or new "university" - you'll know what I mean) and you have a recipe for disaster. Part of the disaster is believing that the state can deliver everything - including freedom: it can't.