The following is rather long (sorry, Kathryn) but it says very elegantly and
accurately what many of us ex-Brits feel:
“Hi John, I’m a Brit who has settled in the United States (Los Angeles no less!). I read your article “Afterthoughts” with great interest. I am a member of the Conservative Party in the UK and have been for 15 years… and your line: ‘I do fear that this country might be made unfit to live in, as
the country of my birth has been, by a misguided and corrupt
humanitarianism, sentimental wallowing in past wrongs both real and
imagined, and class and race resentment petted and nurtured by opportunistic
tax-eaters’ struck a chord. The ills in Britain are far deeper and more
profound than many people realize. Britain seems to have entered, some time
in the mid-1960s, a period of social and moral decline that has continued
unchecked by Thatcherism, New Labour, entry to the European Union and any
other political development. It really is a country unfit to live in or
raise children in, which is why the birthrate is so low, the population is
ageing so fast, and so many people feel that their generation should not
create the next one.
The contrast between America and Britain could be best illustrated in a
conversation I had with some Brit friends who I met up with recently. We
were discussing the upcoming presidential campaign and the political issues
of the day. They were mystified that abortion was in any way a political or
moral issue. hadn’t that argument been resolved long ago, and wasn’t
abortion OK? They were fatalistic as to the deeper meaning of a declining
and ageing population (“but what can be done about it?”) And they were
largely dismissive of the effect of Christianity on America, as if
Christianity were some kind of social mistake or aberration that Europe had
thrown off but America still laboured under.
Whom do I blame? Well I would start with the Anglican Church which has
since the mid-20th century shown nothing but cowardice in the face of shrill
atheism, feminism and liberalism. In trying to retain its membership, it
has compromised its principles and now it has lost both….
The Conservative Party also has to take a considerable blame. It has
abandoned most of its Judeo-Christian roots and is trying to build an
ideology anew based on… well its not quite sure, which is why its agenda
is a ragbag collection of populist policies and vague promises to cut taxes.
Compared to the Republican party, which bases its agenda in American
Judeo-Christian values and builds its policies up from that base, the
Conservatives have no foundation, no moral compass from which to operate.
The Labour party has a moral compass in its Socialist roots, and even though
this is a deeply flawed base, at least it has one which is recognizable to
Quite simply, America is a better country.
Amen to that. I know very well that I could not now live happily in
Britain, though I maintain a sentimental attachment to the Ould Sod.
As to the very interesting question of why similar social forces have had a
much less destructive effect in the US than in Britain, when after all the
two are “cousin” nations: I personally believe that it has been the
different attitudes to authority in the two places. The old class deference
was still strong in England when I was a lad, and the upper classes — and
to some extent the middle classes, too — were expected to set a good
example to their inferiors. The story’s more complicated than that — there
was for example much more cynicism than that tells — but deference to
authority was real and strong. Americans, by contrast, were always more
self-reliant & dismissive of social ranks & privileges. We take our cues
not from rank or “place,” but from inner resources, spiritual and otherwise.
Thus when, in the 1960s, the upper classes abandoned their claims to
authority both here and there — abdicated, in effect — the effect was more
devastating in Britain.