Peter Oborne–The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom

It is not just the feral youth of Tottenham who have forgotten they have duties as well as rights. So have the feral rich of Chelsea and Kensington. A few years ago, my wife and I went to a dinner party in a large house in west London. A security guard prowled along the street outside, and there was much talk of the “north-south divide”, which I took literally for a while until I realised that my hosts were facetiously referring to the difference between those who lived north and south of Kensington High Street.

Most of the people in this very expensive street were every bit as deracinated and cut off from the rest of Britain as the young, unemployed men and women who have caused such terrible damage over the last few days. For them, the repellent Financial Times magazine How to Spend It is a bible. I’d guess that few of them bother to pay British tax if they can avoid it, and that fewer still feel the sense of obligation to society that only a few decades ago came naturally to the wealthy and better off.

Yet we celebrate people who live empty lives like this….

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Violence

33 comments on “Peter Oborne–The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom

  1. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    [blockquote]I couldn’t help thinking that in a sane and decent world … [p]eople would note that a prominent and wealthy businessman was avoiding British tax and think less of him.[/blockquote]

    In a sane and decent world British taxation levels were vastly below what they are today. We are now harvesting the toxic fruit of a century of the liberal welfare state experiment in its fullest form: punitive taxation of the productive, militant ingratitude from the recipients, and self-serving retrenchment in the administrative class, who themselves have become the most dependent parasites in all western society.

    Another big part of the decay is that in the absence of any competing cultural leadership, cultural trends increasingly move [i]UP[/i] from the bottom. Two examples: the baggy, beltless shorts and unlaced shoes (up from informal African-American prison garb) and the Brazilian Wax job (up from porn films). There are many more.

    Culture stopped percolating downward when the “creative” community decoded that the arts were supposed to “challenge” rather than uplift.

    It has not helped that most people are utterly unable to differentiate between celebrity and importance. A century ago it didn’t matter because there really wasn’t much of a celebrity industry — a Wild Bill Hickok here, an Annie Oakley there, the occasional bandit, and in extremely limited circles people like Enrico Caruso. That was it, since the media were simply orders of magnitude less influential than in our own time.

    The cultural, political and economic trends arising during and after WW1 have now reached the point of exhaustion. The industrial age with its centralized command-and-control structure is increasingly an unsustainable anachronism. More and more it is the small, independent businesses, professionals, and artists who in America (at least) are developping a 21st century analogy to Jefferson’s 19th century yeoman farmers.

    Amazingly enough it is a late 18th century Constitution that will prove best suited to shaping governance in the era of yeoman entrepreneurship. It gives America a phenomenal advantage over Europe and — if they don’t return to their political roots, Britain.

    It will also facilitate a return to much higher standards, morals, and culture as the tottering political architecture once erected as a counterbalance to the inherent nature of an industrial-corporatist society … crumbles and is eventually torn down as the useless old relic it is.

  2. Jeremy Bonner says:

    Mr. Oborne addresses something that has troubled me for a while now, namely the protected status of the legislator.

    The whole notion of paying parliamentarians was introduced with the intention of keeping them free from dependence on outside interests and able to deliberate objectively. In practice, it has secured to them benefits which, even if they only serve a single term, are out of all proportion to the rewards generally assured in the private sector (which frequently embraces them on retainer when they leave politics).

    As evidence of the altered perspective, I would cite the case of Jack Lawson, a miner from my birthplace (Durham, England), who ultimately served as a Member of Parliament. Early in his career, Lawson was sponsored by his trade union to take courses at Ruskin College, established in Oxford in 1899 to provide education for working-class men. At the conclusion of his time at Ruskin, several of Lawson’s professors told him that they would be willing to sponsor his candidacy for a BA at one of the established Oxford Colleges, which would have enabled him to pursue a comfortable middle-class career.

    Lawson declined. His union had paid for his education, he said, on the assumption that he would return to his community and assume administrative responsibilities (which still holding down a physically challenging job as a pitman). Of such men was the trade union movement of that day made.

    I don’t see evidence of such self-sacrifice among today’s political class, just an insistence on the maintenance of their own form of welfare, which permeates the Labour opposition as much as it does the Coalition (certain honorable individuals notwithstanding).

  3. evan miller says:

    Absolutely spot on, Bart. Theodore Dalrymple couldn’t have said it better.

  4. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    evan — I’ll admit my ignorance of having to google Dalrymple, being unfamiliar with his work. I’ll take it as a compliment.

    Since posting #1 I encountered comments entirely germane to the discussion, courtesy of Powerline (Johnson), who writes (in part):

    [i]Professor Malcolm is a historian and constitutional scholar specializing in British and colonial American history who teaches on the faculty of the George Mason University Law School [snip] Professor Malcolm has devoted much of her scholarly career to the historical roots of the right to bear arms, on the one hand, and the link between the abrogation of the right to bear arms and the rise of criminal violence, on the other.

    I invited Professor Malcolm to write for us on recent events in England. She has graciously responded with the column-length essay “The English riots: How British law fosters disorder.” Professor Malcolm writes:[/i] — and if there’s a better description of political and cultural rot, I’ve yet to read it —

    [blockquote] The most amazing thing about the reaction of English MPs to last week’s terrible violence was how surprised they were. For a country whose criminal law is invariably sympathetic to offenders, nearly always harsh on their victims, and unwilling to pay for adequate policing the surprise is that they were surprised.

    Two stories hitting English papers during June and July provide a glimpse of current British law in action.

    On June 23 around midnight a masked gang broke down the back door of a home in Salford, in northwestern England. The householder, 59, his son and the son’s girl friend called the police and tried to defend the home and themselves. They managed to stab one of the gang who died of his wounds. When the police arrived they arrested the householder, his son and the son’s girlfriend on suspicion of attempted murder.

    On July 11, a headline in The Sun read “Shopkeeper, 72, nicked after `stabbing to death robber.’” Mr. Coley’s Manchester flower shop was closed and he was playing dominoes with a friend when two masked men armed with guns broke in. In the struggle that followed, Mr. Coley’s friend was injured but Coley managed to stab one robber, who later died, while the other fled wounded. The Manchester police are holding Mr. Coley for attempted murder.

    Since at least 1953 the English government has insisted that citizens depend on the police for protection and not try to protect themselves. The Prevention of Crime Act of 1953 prohibited anyone carrying an article in a public place with the idea it could be used for protection if they were attacked. If discovered they are charged with carrying an offensive weapon.

    Since 1964 self-defense has not been considered a good reason to keep a handgun, even if for those who lived in a remote area. Then in 1998 all handguns were banned. Toy or replica guns are also illegal. A man was arrested for holding two burglars with a toy gun while he contacted the police.

    More recently knives with points have been made illegal. A list of prohibited weapons, possession of which carries a 10-year prison sentence, includes not only machine guns but chemical sprays and knives with a blade more than three inches long. An American tourist from Arizona who protected herself from attackers in the subway using her penknife was arrested for carrying an offensive weapon.

    The government does not permit even someone who is unarmed from acting forcefully when attacked if his or her assailant is harmed in the process. If a citizen is attacked in the street he is to flee. If a citizen is attacked in his home he is not to injure the attacker beyond what a court later considers a reasonable use of force. If a citizen harms his assailant he will be accused of assault, or, as the cases cited above illustrate, murder or attempted murder should the attacker be killed.

    Burglars can sue for damages and the police are careful to ensure they don’t get hurt. This past February the gardeners of Surrey were told they could not use wire mesh on the windows of their sheds because burglers might get hurt breaking in.

    Tony Martin, an English farmer jailed for killing one burglar and wounding another with his shotgun during the seventh break-in of his home was denied parole because he would pose a threat to burglars. The career burglar he wounded was granted parole and sued Martin for his injuries. Worse, the burglar was given public funds to pursue his lawsuit.

    While law-abiding citizens have been treated strictly offenders have not. Since the 1950s it is only under extraordinary circumstances that anyone under 18 is put in jail. Instead offenders are given a warning, a fine or community service. Since young offenders know they will not be incarcerated there is little to deter them from committing ever more bold crimes. One of those brought to court during the recent riots was an 18-year old who had been hauled before the courts 21 previous times but never jailed.

    Sentences for adult criminals have been shortened and they routinely serve only half of these. In lieu of policemen on the beat the English have opted for surveillance cameras. These are much cheaper but all a potential offender needs to do is to wear a hood or mask to greatly diminish their value. English police now dealing with the riots boast they have 20,000 hours of footage.

    Even offenders who have been apprehended tend to be let off with a caution or electronic bracelet. This saves money on prison but means they are back on the streets in short order. In 2009 70 percent of burglars the police managed to apprehend avoided prison.

    The extent of the tolerance of criminality and refusal to allow law-abiding people to protect themselves has led to an atmosphere where gangs can operate with virtual impunity. The recent, widespread riots, apart from their scale, are not radically different from the violence that has been occurring for many years.[/blockquote]

  5. bettcee says:

    Regardless of whether the lawlessness comes from the rich or the poor, it is clear that British citizenry do not adhere to the Christian faith and morality that has, until now, sustained the British people?
    Where are the leaders of the Church of England with regard to these riots? Why have Church leaders not attempted to teach the basic truths of Christianity to their own uncivilized people?
    It seems to me that too much time has been spent indulging the voyeurism of the listening process, too much has been said about toleration of Sharia law, too little time has been devoted to listening to those who profess the faith and too little respect has been given to those who would evangelize for Christianity.
    The Church of England could learn much from early Church missionaries who spread the Gospel to uncivilized people and it could renew our faith if it concentrated on actively spreading the Christian Gospel and the teachings of Jesus to uncivilized people in England.

  6. evan miller says:

    Bart, thanks for the excellent essay. I forwarded it to my son, who will be stationed in England for the next four years. The situation it highlights is why, much as I love the UK, I could never live there.

  7. Martin Reynolds says:

    I am surprised at Professor Malcolm, she is not telling it quite as it is.

    In the cases cited, outcomes were somewhat different.

    For example in the Salford case, which was a little more complicated than given here, those arrested and interviewed by the police were NEVER charged and no action was taken following proper police enquiries. The views of the Prime Minister as explained in th Sky News article are also hardly a reflection of the claims in this alarmist piece. Accuracy and truth please.

  8. evan miller says:

    It is a scandal that the homeowner and his family were arrested in the first place. That would never happen in my part of the country, thank God.

  9. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    None of it should even be at issue. I have a God-given right to defend my person, my family, my home, and even my business by whatever means necessary, up to and including lethal force.

    Here in Kansas the law goes so far as to state “no retreat” — meaning I do not have to retreat from an aggressor to establish “self-defence”. I need merely establish reasonable fear for my safety or that of any other person. Even a fat guy with a knife can run 25 feet and stab you before you can draw. If he’s acting aggressively, go to low-ready before it’s too late.

    Anybody invading my property immediately creates grounds for self-defence, and if they’re in my home I will not shoot (or do anything else) merely to wound. There’s a reason there aren’t a lot of home invasions in places like Kansas

  10. evan miller says:

    Same conditions apply in Kentucky, by state law. I would only say that rather than a right, we have a responsibility ot act as you describe. Of course, there are far to many on the left of the political spectrum who oppose such rights and the laws that protect them, and would love to reduce us to defenceless victims like our more civilized cousins across the pond.

  11. John Wilkins says:

    #9 There aren’t “a lot” of home “invasions,” per capita, up here in NY either. Most violence is poor upon poor.

    Here’s another story. Sometime in the 1960’s, as people started questioning government, the church and corporations, people found themselves liberated from a variety of social structures that kept people connected. It was a time when churches and rotary clubs might have extremely prosperous members, as well as lower middle class ones. Taxes were high upon the extraordinarily prosperous, but they continued to make money and still gave to their communities. The prosperous were also individuals who fought alongside poor and middle class people in war, and didn’t think of themselves as fundamentally different. Perhaps they were lucky, and some were more diligent, but they didn’t think that their ability to make millions with a few clicks of a mouse made them fundamentally smarter than other people.

    Many of those individuals who became wealthy grew up in the 1960’s and benefitted from the lack of restraint. They could benefit both from lack of social ties, and since they were becoming stratospherically wealthy, didn’t need to encounter poor, working class or even middle class americans. There were a few generations away from the great depression, and hadn’t fought in a major war with people who didn’t have the same sort of prosperity.

    Furthermore, over the last 40 years, a sense that the United States government was capable of great acts of national pride, such as sending someone to the moon, building an infrastructure that was the envy of the entire world, or doing awesome things as a country became second to what individuals could do for themselves and for personal profit. What happened is that the idea that personal profit or pleasure trumped any sort of shared values or shared commitment to each other in the form of the institution where multiple groups can work things through peacefully: the government.

    the middle class, and poor, who note in the back of their minds the S&L scandal; Enron; Chiquicita funding terrorism; Halliburton overcharging the government; Worldcom; and AIG learn quickly that the wealthy, when they don’t have to pay for their own actions, that greed is good, and crime may pay.

    Some have argued that baggy pants and various kinds of cultural trends move upward. They do so because people make a profit off of it. They are promoted by anyone who decides that making a quick buck by selling chinese made pants to prisons is easier than ensuring the local opera house is free, open to the public, and worthy. But for the powerful, elite institutions should remain elite. Museums and “culture” should be for those who can pay for them. They indicate status and privilege and an aspirational quality for the middle class who want such cultural cache.

    It is possible, that as the wealthy have learned to justify their own selfishness, we all have learned to justify our own. After all, are they not the “productive” members we’re supposed to emulate? the poor simply model them. They just can’t get away with it.

  12. Martin Reynolds says:


    It would surely only be a scandal if the police were NOT following the regular and lawful practice.

    Here, if there is a dead body and a knife in a bloody hand, the person with the knife and bloody hand is arrested. There is no scandal attached to being arrested under such a situation., at least none here.

    Mind you I would prefer our system to this:

  13. Martin Reynolds says:

    But my point was Evan, we are not getting the whole truth from the Professor Malcolm polemic, in fact we are being misled, as you are, to think that their arrest is a scandal, rather than normal practice.

  14. evan miller says:

    11. Well. that’s a pretty typical Marxist way of looking at the world. Virtue resides in the working class and the poor and the enemies of mankind are the rich. Simple.

    William Raspberry wrote a column years ago entitled, “Young People Today Mimic the Look, the Behavoir, of the ‘Bad Element.'” The “ovesized pants barely clinging to their rear ends,” was one of the examples he cited. He closes with these words, “The lessons learned at such dear cost by civilized society are tossed away like useless shards – and not just in the inner cities. The downward pull of the “bad element” is more and more evident in the pricey suburbs, even in the small towns of exurbia – and among girls aw ell as boys. Members of my generation cluck our tongues at the slovenly dress, unsightly hairstyles and dismaying manners of our children, and pray that these things are only protective coloration, not a preamble to something far more deadly.”

  15. Teatime2 says:

    Well said, John Wilkins! Particularly this bit:
    [i][blockquote]Furthermore, over the last 40 years, a sense that the United States government was capable of great acts of national pride, such as sending someone to the moon, building an infrastructure that was the envy of the entire world, or doing awesome things as a country became second to what individuals could do for themselves and for personal profit. What happened is that the idea that personal profit or pleasure trumped any sort of shared values or shared commitment to each other in the form of the institution where multiple groups can work things through peacefully: the government.

    the middle class, and poor, who note in the back of their minds the S&L scandal; Enron; Chiquicita funding terrorism; Halliburton overcharging the government; Worldcom; and AIG learn quickly that the wealthy, when they don’t have to pay for their own actions, that greed is good, and crime may pay.[/blockquote] [/i]

    America has become an extremely isolated and isolationist place, both in terms of our views of each other and of the world. It’s a place in love with its own “exceptionalism,” as if increasing business opportunities and maximizing profits are “exceptional” qualities. They’re not.

    Hey, I’m willing to remove the rose-colored glasses and admit that my English ancestors who arrived here in the late 17th Century were privateers who were far more concerned about building up business in the colonies and avoiding as much tax to England as possible than they were interested in starting a new country or political system. But lofty political rhetoric used to inflame sensitivities is the best way of getting others to help you accomplish your own ends, isn’t it? Some things never change.

    But the things that HAVE changed in this country, as pointed out by Mr. Wilkins, hardly give us any moral standing over other countries. The hopes and livelihoods of average Americans are routinely sacrificed at the altar of business; our system, which the “entrepreneurs” are keen to export whenever possible, also leads to the corruption, ahem, expansion in other countries, affecting their ways of life.

    Few seem to spare a thought to how quickly formerly devout countries such as the Czech Republic have turned rabidly secular and insatiably capitalistic. Poland will be next. Ireland sold its soul years ago and the economic hardship followed. New alliances are forming and stepping back to watch the muddle that American-style capitalism is making of individual countries and the global economy. We’re tearing ourselves apart and they know it.

  16. evan miller says:


    That the police were following “regular and lawful practice,” I don’t dispute. The scandal is that such a practice is “regular and lawful.”
    I prefer our system, thank you very much.

  17. Terry Tee says:

    I am always surprised, and a little dismayed, when this site turns into a US-vs-UK slugfest (is it still a full moon?). I have lived in both and love both. And I do not like to duel with the fearsome Bart Hall, who epitomises Sarah Palin’s dictum: ‘Don’t retreat, reload.’ But in a fit of madness I take on the breathtaking argument that guns made the US a safer society. Well, just to quote some recent statistics: homicides in the UK (12 month period 09/09) = 648. Homicides in NYC 2010: 536. Population UK: circa 65m. Population NYC: circa 7.5m (I am drawing those figures from memory but please allow that I am roughly right).

  18. Terry Tee says:

    Oh dear. ‘Roughly right’ figures above refers to population, which I was too lazy to look up, not the homicide figures, which come from respectable online sources, in the case of NYC, the city’s own police department.

  19. evan miller says:


    Violent crime rates in London far outstrip those in New York.

  20. John Wilkins says:

    #14 – Evan, I actually don’t believe that virtue resides either in the poor or in the rich as a whole. The only difference is that one has the money to get away with their vices, and the other doesn’t. I didn’t argue that. I argued that the poor imitate the rich and that the rich are not necessarily the paragons of virtue we assume.

    It may be that one reason the middle class imitates the “bad element” (really? is that a real indicator of moral rectitude? Most men’s pants are quite baggy) is because they choose to create their own fashion rather than imitate the hypocrisy of the rich; or because they are unable to purchase the sorts of fashions that are deemed acceptable, they create their own. If anything, it’s a celebration of the same individualism we expect the rich to embody.

    Of course, I also think it’s a mistake. It’s easily commodified rebellion, a poor substitute for organizing to demand living wages.

  21. Terry Tee says:

    I set out to prove Evan Miller wrong, using official statistics. What I found was a considerably more complicated picture that did indeed lead me to revise my views of London and NYC. Evan is more right than he is wrong. Allow, for argument’s sake, that the populations of London and New York are roughly comparable in size (which they are).

    Here are the statistics for London, 12 months 2009-10, and for New York, 2010, each from their own police department statistics:

    Total number of murders in London: 146
    Total number of murders in NYC: 536

    Total number of rapes in London: 2177
    Total number of rapes in NYC: 1373

    On rape and murder the figures are clear. New York has four times more murders than London. London has 1.6 times more rapes, in total, than NYC.

    It is difficult to compare assault. I think that London police have a considerably lower threshold in defining assault. But if we take the London definition of Grievous Bodily Harm to be correlated to New York definition of Felonious Assault then the figures are:
    Serious assaults London: 11212
    Serious assaults NYC: 16956
    So far this would make New York half as violent again as London. But wait. If you want to include Actual Bodily Harm statistic of 59750 to the London figure, then it shoots up to a total of 70962, meaning that you are four times more likely to be assaulted in London.

    The figures per population are even more difficult to correlate, so I did not attempt those.


  22. Sarah says:

    I agree with Evan — it’s scandalous to arrest someone for defending themselves in their own home. The fact that others are shameless is neither here nor there — plenty of people down through the ages ought to have felt shame or a sense of scandal without doing so, and leaned on their society’s “laws” to assert that particular actions were just fine.

    I don’t particularly care what the UK does regarding guns or violence or crime — they can self-immolate as they please. I’m more concerned about what the US does about our own crises — and looking forward to 15 months from now, too!

    RE: “In the cases cited, outcomes were somewhat different.”

    How odd — because after making such an assertion, Martin Reynolds doesn’t come up with a single fact to support it. Asserting that “those arrested and interviewed by the police were NEVER charged and no action was taken following proper police enquiries” is nicely irrelevant since the article did not make such a claim anyway.

    The article stated a fact — a disgraceful fact, too — which is that “they arrested the householder, his son and the son’s girlfriend on suspicion of attempted murder.”

  23. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) says:

    It is also quite instructive to examine the homicide data in more detail, as a much clearer picture begins to emerge. There is an [url=]interactive map[/url] of such things for several years in the past decade.

    It is also worth noting that 20 years ago the homicide rate was approximately four times as high as it is today. Mr. Giuliani’s crackdowns greatly diminished gang violence, and thereby eliminated thousands of murders. The homicide rate continues to decline.

  24. Ross says:

    I don’t know any of the facts of the actual cases cited, so I decline to comment on specifics.

    As a general comment, though — while agreeing completely in principle with the right of a person to defend their home with lethal force if necessary — thinking about it from the perspective of the police, if I arrived at a home and found a person lying dead on the floor and another person holding a weapon that seems very likely to be the one that killed the first person, then I can see wanting to keep the first person in custody until I can verify that:

    (a) The person standing up and holding the weapon is, in fact, a resident of the household, rather than, say, an intruder themselves; and

    (b) The dead person is, in fact, an intruder, rather than, say, the homeowner, or a friend of the homeowner who got into an argument with him, or an innocent delivery person, or some other person whom society would take a dim view of being summarily killed.

    I mean, sure, the guy with the weapon is going to SAY they’re the homeowner and that the other guy broke in. But if I were the police, I’d want to check that that is actually the case before slapping the guy on the back and saying, “Good on you, mate!”

  25. Ross says:

    “…wanting to keep the second person in custody…” I meant to say.

  26. Katherine says:

    What struck me about the excerpt was this:[blockquote]I’d guess that few of them bother to pay British tax if they can avoid it, and that fewer still feel the sense of obligation to society that only a few decades ago came naturally to the wealthy and better off.[/blockquote]It seems to me that what severed the obligation to the poor which people used to feel was the assurance that “the government” would take care of them, and so individuals have no further responsibility. In many cases in the UK apparently people are also told that “the government” will protect them and they therefore should not take protective measures on their own. The riots in the UK and the flash mob phenomenon here in some US cities tell the tale: We’re on our own when the violence is happening, and should be prepared to protect ourselves. Americans still have the tradition of personal giving to charity, at least for now.

  27. Jeremy Bonner says:


    I think it’s overly reductionist to make this all about excessive expectations of government. In the first place, Britain (which, of course, has a population more equivalent to that of the Pacific Rim states than to the America as a whole) has been accustomed to a much greater degree of government intervention than the US for over a century. It didn’t necessarily lead to the sort of erosion of community values that we are seeing today.

    Furthermore, eighteen of the last thirty-two years were presided over by a woman who has been celebrated as a conservative icon dedicated to “rolling back the frontiers of the state.” In the course of the Iron Lady’s tenure both water and the railways passed into private hands and – in the case of the latter, at least – we’re still waiting to see the benefits to the consuming public. All the complaints that used to be made about the much-maligned British Rail are as nothing compared to those directed at the present gang who operate the various regional railway companies (including that great entrepreneur Richard Branson).

    While multiculturalism has played its part, in many ways it’s functioned independently of the economically interventionist state. Much was articulated in the Tory Eighties about personal responsibility, but comparatively little heed was paid to the social costs of industrial restructuring (which hit communities such as Durham – not unlike Pittsburgh – very hard). It’s also interesting that Margaret Thatcher, while constantly addressing matters of law-and-order, never took any interest in pro-life issues, presumably because it wasn’t something that comported with her free market libertarianism.

    I suspect that with the perspective of distance we will find that both the Tory Eighties and the New Labour Nineties contributed to the present collapse of community values. Perhaps Tariq Jahan’s call for calm after the death of his son attests to the fact that the desire to revive such values endures.

  28. evan miller says:

    Terry (#21)
    Thank you for sharing those statistics. You didn’t have to, but I commend you for it.

  29. Katherine says:

    Jeremy Bonner, I didn’t say it’s “all about” the excessive expectations of the government. I think it’s a large contributing factor, along with the decline in religious belief and instruction. To varying extents all of the Western nations are suffering from the same dry rot.

  30. robroy says:

    For Bart Hall, from a fan:

    Theodore Darymple on the London riots, an excerpt:
    [blockquote]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 (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class), 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. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude. On the contrary, he would simply feel that the subventions were not sufficient to allow him to live as he would have liked.[/blockquote]
    From [url= ][b]British Degeneracy on Parade[/b] [i]The riots should surprise no one who’s been paying attention.[/i] [/url]

  31. Martin Reynolds says:

    I think Ross makes the point succinctly.

    Also it may be important to know that (in the UK) arrests do not form part of any official criminal record and therefore do not require legal action on behalf of the innocent person to see them expunged.

  32. drjoan says:

    where Rabbi Jonathan Sacks speaks to these very issues today!
    The accompanying picture is also moving–a priest and an imam standing hand in hand, praying before cleaning up the London streets.

  33. robroy says:

    drjoan, that was a good essay. I thought the picture, however, was a forced media manipulation. There were many saying that the riots were a sign of failure of western civilization and using them to push for the imposition of sharia law in parts of Britain.