Mark Steyn Letter of the Week
Doom and gloom, Britain's finished, eh? I'm not so sure.
In a way, I'm rather excited about where Britain's going at the moment. It has more than a whiff of the eighteenth century about it, as the dominant national consensus from Gladstone to Thatcher breaks down, and the long, grey, dull, compromise-ridden 20th century gives way to a new, almost Georgian sense of social and cultural conflict. I mean to say, here we are again, arguing about how to share the island between England and Scotland; how to deal with massive epidemics of urban drunkenness and crime; what to do with a substantial elite of incredibly wealthy financiers and merchants and an ignorant, feckless and violent underclass; trying to define and then circumscribe the role of corruption in politics (who thought that the de facto sale of titles would make a political come-back?); wondering what the monarchy is for; being sold out to foreigners by a rascally pack of radical, Utopian MPs… Throw a juicy war with France into that lot and it could easily be 1750.
But really it was these questions, these conflicts, this overwhelming sense of crisis which underpinned the very individualism and innovation which in the 18th century put the English-speaking people to the top of the pecking order of nations and has kept us there. I reckon that Britain's detachment from the innovative individualism of the rest of the Anglosphere during recent generations is largely due to the success of the late Victorians in forging a homogenous society, the sense of national and social solidarity which proved such fertile breeding-ground for collectivist ideas and which has therefore turned us into the sluggish, complacent and obeisant loosers we are today. That settlement is now falling to bits, and I look forward to a time when this naturally bolshy and traditionally virtually ungovernable people reasserts itself in the new context.
After all, what do you think of when you consider the parallels between the following old lines and our provincial city centres on a Friday night:
Gin by pailfuls, wine in rivers,
Dash the window-glass to shivers!
For three wild lads were we, brave boys,
And three wild lads were we:
Thou on the land, and I on the sand,
And Jack on the gallows-tree!
I think: Britain is Back...
Posted by our very own Cato, who won Mark Steyn's letter of the week!
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Justice Kirby: His support for monarchy almost lost him appointment to High Court
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Victoria Cross: Australian TROOPER MARK DONALDSON awarded the VC
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Wednesday, 9 January 2008
Mark Steyn Letter of the Week