Politics & Policy

The New Britannia

Big Government corrodes the integrity of a people, catastrophically.

The trick in this business is not to be right too early. A week ago I released my new book — the usual doom’n’gloom stuff — and, just as the sensible prudent moderate chaps were about to dismiss it as hysterical and alarmist, Standard & Poor’s went and downgraded the United States from its AAA rating for the first time in history. Obligingly enough they downgraded it to AA+, which happens to be the initials of my book: After America. Okay, there’s not a lot of “+” in that, but you can’t have everything.

But the news cycle moves on, and a day or two later, the news shows were filled with scenes of London ablaze, as gangs of feral youths trashed and looted their own neighborhoods. Several readers wrote to taunt me for not having anything to say on the London riots. As it happens, Chapter Five of my book is called “The New Britannia: The Depraved City.” You have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat me to Western civilization’s descent into barbarism. Anyone who’s read it will fully understand what’s happening on the streets of London. The downgrade and the riots are part of the same story: Big Government debauches not only a nation’s finances but its human capital, too.

#ad# As part of my promotional efforts, I chanced to find myself on a TV show the other day with an affable liberal who argued that what Obama needed to do was pass another trillion-dollar — or, better yet, multi-trillion — stimulus. I think not. The London rioters are the children of dependency, the progeny of Big Government: They have been marinated in “stimulus” their entire lives. There is literally nothing you can’t get Her Majesty’s Government to pay for. From page 205 of my book:

“A man of 21 with learning disabilities has been granted taxpayers’ money to fly to Amsterdam and have sex with a prostitute.”

Hey, why not? “He’s planning to do more than just have his end away,” explained his social worker. “Refusing to offer him this service would be a violation of his human rights.”

Why do they need a Dutch hooker? Just another hardworking foreigner doing the jobs Britons won’t do? Given the reputation of English womanhood, you’d have thought this would be the one gig that wouldn’t have to be outsourced overseas.

While the British Treasury is busy writing checks to Amsterdam prostitutes, one-fifth of children are raised in homes in which no adult works — in which the weekday ritual of rising, dressing, and leaving for gainful employment is entirely unknown. One tenth of the adult population has done not a day’s work since Tony Blair took office on May 1, 1997.

If you were born into such a household, you’ve been comprehensively “stimulated” into the dead-eyed zombies staggering about the streets this last week: pathetic inarticulate sub-humans unable even to grunt the minimal monosyllables to BBC interviewers desperate to appease their pathologies. C’mon, we’re not asking much: just a word or two about how it’s all the fault of government “cuts” like the leftie columnists argue. And yet even that is beyond these baying beasts. The great-grandparents of these brutes stood alone against a Fascist Europe in that dark year after the fall of France in 1940. Their grandparents were raised in one of the most peaceful and crime-free nations on the planet. Were those Englishmen of the mid-20th century to be magically transplanted to London today, they’d assume they were in some fantastical remote galaxy. If Charlton Heston was horrified to discover the Planet of the Apes was his own, Britons are beginning to realize that the remote desert island of Lord of the Flies is, in fact, located just off the coast of Europe in the north-east Atlantic. Within two generations of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain, a significant proportion of the once-free British people entrusted themselves to social rewiring by liberal compassionate Big Government and thereby rendered themselves paralytic and unemployable save for non-speaking parts in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And even that would likely be too much like hard work.

Here’s another line from my book:

“In Britain, everything is policed except crime.”

#page#

Her Majesty’s cowed and craven politically correct constabulary stand around with their riot shields and Robocop gear as young rioters lob concrete through store windows to steal the electronic toys that provide their only non-narcotic or alcoholic amusement. I chanced to be in Piccadilly for the springtime riots when the police failed to stop the mob from smashing the windows of the Ritz and other upscale emporia, so it goes without saying that they wouldn’t lift a finger to protect less prestigious private property from thugs. Some of whom are as young as nine years old. And girls.

#ad# Yet a police force all but entirely useless when it comes to preventing crime or maintaining public order has time to police everything else. When Sam Brown observed en passant to a mounted policeman on Cornmarket Street in Oxford, “Do you know your horse is gay?”, he was surrounded within minutes by six officers and a fleet of patrol cars, handcuffed, tossed in the slammer overnight, and fined 80 pounds. Mr. Brown’s “homophobic comments,” explained a spokesmoron for Thames Valley Police, were “not only offensive to the policeman and his horse, but any members of the general public in the area.” The zealous crackdown on Sam Brown’s hippohomophobia has not been replicated in the present disturbances. Anyone who has so much as glanced at British policing policy over the last two decades would be hard pressed to argue which party on the streets of London, the thugs or the cops, is more irredeemably stupid.

This is the logical dead end of the Nanny State. When William Beveridge laid out his blueprint for the British welfare regime in 1942, his goal was the “abolition of want” to be accomplished by “co-operation between the State and the individual.” In attempting to insulate the citizenry from life’s vicissitudes, Sir William succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. As I write in my book: “Want has been all but abolished. Today, fewer and fewer Britons want to work, want to marry, want to raise children, want to lead a life of any purpose or dignity.” The United Kingdom has the highest drug use in Europe, the highest incidence of sexually transmitted disease, the highest number of single mothers, the highest abortion rate. Marriage is all but defunct, except for William and Kate, fellow toffs, upscale gays, and Muslims. From page 204:

“For Americans, the quickest way to understand modern Britain is to look at what LBJ’s Great Society did to the black family and imagine it applied to the general population”.  

I believe it is regarded as a sign of insanity to start quoting oneself, but at the risk of trying your patience I’ll try one more, because it’s the link between America’s downgraded debt and Britain’s downgraded citizenry:

“The evil of such a system is not the waste of money but the waste of people.”

Big Government means small citizens: It corrodes the integrity of a people, catastrophically. Within living memory, the city in flames on our TV screens every night governed a fifth of the earth’s surface and a quarter of its population. When you’re imperialists on that scale, there are bound to be a few mishaps along the way. But nothing the British Empire did to its subject peoples has been as total and catastrophic as what a post-great Britain did to its own.

There are lessons for all of us there.

Mark Steyn, a National Review columnist, is author of After America: Get Ready for Armageddon. © 2011 Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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