Riots show degeneracy of British welfare state on parade

Theodore Dalrymple
Chicago Sun-Times
8/12/2011

The ferocious criminality exhibited by an uncomfortably large section of the English population during the riots of the last week has not surprised me in the least. I have been writing about it, in its slightly less acute manifestations, for the past 20 years.

To have spotted it required no great perspicacity on my part; rather, it took a cowardly blindness, one regularly displayed by the British intelligentsia and political class, not to see it and not to realize its significance. There is nothing that an intellectual less likes to change than his mind, or a politician his policy.

Three men were run over and killed as they tried to protect their property in the very area of Birmingham in which I used to work, and through which I walked daily; the town that I live near when I’m in England has also seen rioting. Only someone who never looked around him and never drew any conclusions from the faces and manner of the young men he saw would have been surprised.

The riots are the apotheosis of the welfare state and popular culture in their British form. A population thinks (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class) that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and therefore it regards the fact that it does not receive that high standard, by comparison with the rest of society, as a sign of injustice.

It believes itself deprived, even though each member of it has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor — quite likely — any member of his family has made much of a contribution; indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others…

The article continues at the Chicago Sun-Times.

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