The Corner

The World They Made

My weekend column is on London ablaze and a society summed up by the relevant chapter title in my new book (“The New Britannia: The Depraved City”). The scenes we’ve witnessed this last week ought to prompt some serious soul-searching by liberal elites. I nearly said “paternalist,” but, as Tocqueville noted, the word paternalism implies that your object is to raise your charges to adulthood, whereas the children of dependency are maintained by government in a state of permanent and increasingly feral adolescence.

Are we likely to get that soul-searching? Charles Crawford, sometime NR cruiser and formerly Her Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador in various parts of Mitteleuropa, thinks not:

The only worse thing than having a problem is not knowing you have a problem.

And even worse than not knowing you have a problem is knowing you have a problem, but being unwilling to accept responsibility for doing anything about it.

And that’s the problem of our political elites, from all parties.

They dimly sense that things have gone badly awry, with Sprawling State (UK and EU combined) no longer the answer. But they just don’t have the strength or insight or idealism to do anything meaningful about it.

Peter Hitchens is inclined to agree:

As the polluted flood (it is not a tide; it will not go back down again) of spite, greed and violence washes on to their very doorsteps, well-off and influential Left-wingers at last meet the filthy thing they have created, and which they ignored when it did not affect them personally.

No doubt they will find ways to save themselves. But they will not save the country. Because even now they will not admit that all their ideas are wrong, and that the policies of the past 50 years – the policies they love – have been a terrible mistake. I have heard them in the past few days clinging to their old excuses of non-existent ‘poverty’ and ‘exclusion’.

I think they will have difficulty “saving themselves.” I have many in-laws and friends in delightful corners of village England, where as the sun rises on ancient hedgerows and thatched cottages it is easy to believe the paralytic chavs and incendiary imams and all the rest are somewhere far away and always will be. As leftie columnists in their Hampstead redoubts began (privately) to calculate as the rioters moved in from the less fashionable arrondissements, on a small island the mob doesn’t stay beyond the horizon for long.

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


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