Friday, April 28, 2006

It's that bad?

A poignant conclusion from one of my favorite analytical writers (for the insufferably curious, the others are Mark Steyn, David Warren, and Victor Davis Hanson - Charles Krauthammer is about one or two brilliant articles from making the list).

It's This Bad

The newspapers confirmed what I had long perceived before I left Britain: that the zeitgeist of the country is now one of sentimental moralizing combined with the utmost cynicism, where the government’s pretended concern for the public welfare coexists with the most elementary dereliction of duty. There is an absence of any kind of idealism that is a necessary precondition of probity, so that bad faith prevails almost everywhere. The government sees itself as an engineer of souls (to use the phrase so eloquently coined by Stalin with regard to writers who, of course, were expected to mold Homo Sovieticus by the power of their words). Government thus concerns itself with what people think, feel, and say—as well as with trying to change their freely chosen habits—rather than with performing its one inescapable duty: that of preserving the peace and ensuring that citizens may go about their lawful business in confidence and safety. It is more concerned that young men should not smoke cigarettes in prison or make silly jokes to policemen than that they should not attack and permanently maim their elders and betters.

One definition of decadence is the concentration on the gratifyingly imaginary to the disregard of the disconcertingly real. No one who knows Britain could doubt that it has very serious problems—economic, social, and cultural. Its public services—which already consume a vast proportion of the national wealth—are not only inefficient but completely beyond amelioration by the expenditure of yet more money. Its population is abysmally educated, to the extent that in a few more years Britain will not even have a well-educated elite. An often cynical and criminally minded population has been indoctrinated with shallow and gimcrack notions—for example, about social justice—that render it singularly unfit to compete in an increasingly competitive world. Not coincidentally, Britain has serious economic problems, even if the government has managed so far—in the eyes of the world, at least—to paper over the cracks. Unpleasant realities cannot be indefinitely disguised or conjured away, however.

Therefore I have removed myself: not that I imagine things are much better, only slightly different, in France. But one does not feel the defects of a foreign country in quite the same lacerating way as the defects of one’s native land; they are more an object of amused, detached interest than of personal despair.

And my-oh-my, what day is it? Gee - that couldn't be a transparently thin excuse for some Friday Frickin' Cat Blogging, could it? Who cares!

Thompson gazelles don't grow on trees, you know.

Or do they?


Blogger Tom said...

Yep, if I was trapped on an island and had to choose three columnists, Krauthammer, VDH, and Steyn would be my three too.

Krauthammer's right about Britain, too. In the summer of 2005 I went on a mission trip to Scotland with a church group. We stayed in Motherwell, which is a small city close to Glasgow. It was very depressing. Only about 10% of Britons attend church, and not many more profess a belief in God. I have to think that too, contribues to their problems. As Chesterton said, when you stop believing in God you'll believe in anything.

10:54 PM  

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