We live in a low and dishonest age. Political considerations cause almost all politicians and vast sections of populations to refuse to make fairly obvious statements of fact about the time in which we live. I therefore take notice when someone decides to break this taboo. Max Hastings, a British historian, we see a sample of him at work in the above video, shatters one great taboo by honestly describing the process by which modern Western society all too effectively produces amoral barbarians within its midst. He begins:
If you live a normal life of absolute futility, which we can assume most of this week’s rioters do, excitement of any kind is welcome. The people who wrecked swathes of property, burned vehicles and terrorised communities have no moral compass to make them susceptible to guilt or shame.
Most have no jobs to go to or exams they might pass. They know no family role models, for most live in homes in which the father is unemployed, or from which he has decamped.
They are illiterate and innumerate, beyond maybe some dexterity with computer games and BlackBerries.
They are essentially wild beasts. I use that phrase advisedly, because it seems appropriate to young people bereft of the discipline that might make them employable; of the conscience that distinguishes between right and wrong.
They respond only to instinctive animal impulses — to eat and drink, have sex, seize or destroy the accessible property of others.
Their behaviour on the streets resembled that of the polar bear which attacked a Norwegian tourist camp last week. They were doing what came naturally and, unlike the bear, no one even shot them for it.
A former London police chief spoke a few years ago about the ‘feral children’ on his patch — another way of describing the same reality.
The depressing truth is that at the bottom of our society is a layer of young people with no skills, education, values or aspirations. They do not have what most of us would call ‘lives’: they simply exist.
Go here to read the entire column.
He ends his column with this observation:
They are an absolute deadweight upon society, because they contribute nothing yet cost the taxpayer billions. Liberal opinion holds they are victims, because society has failed to provide them with opportunities to develop their potential.
Most of us would say this is nonsense. Rather, they are victims of a perverted social ethos, which elevates personal freedom to an absolute, and denies the underclass the discipline — tough love — which alone might enable some of its members to escape from the swamp of dependency in which they live.
Only education — together with politicians, judges, policemen and teachers with the courage to force feral humans to obey rules the rest of us have accepted all our lives — can provide a way forward and a way out for these people.
They are products of a culture which gives them so much unconditionally that they are let off learning how to become human beings. My dogs are better behaved and subscribe to a higher code of values than the young rioters of Tottenham, Hackney, Clapham and Birmingham.
Unless or until those who run Britain introduce incentives for decency and impose penalties for bestiality which are today entirely lacking, there will never be a shortage of young rioters and looters such as those of the past four nights, for whom their monstrous excesses were ‘a great fire, man’.
What he decribes I see frequently in my legal practice when I am appointed by the court to represent some youthful malefactor, or appointed by the court to represent children or their parents in a case involving termination of parental rights. Hastings correctly diagnoses how this came about: children brought up by unmarried mothers where the father is absent or a completely negative influence, completely ineffective schools, almost no consequences for bad behavior, rampant drug and alcohol use. Is it small wonder that they grow up unable to distinguish right from wrong, have zero interest in obtaining a job and marrying and raising a family? Most tellingly there is also almost a complete absence of religion. When I ask clients prior to sentencing if there is a priest or minister I could call as a character witness, the response, in a small county in rural Illinois, is usually that they never attend Church.
The under class created by welfare states in the West, welfare states that are manifestly coming to an end simply because the money is running out, tend to be populated by children in adult bodies. By and large I do not blame them, since they are products of a vast experiment that has been ongoing in the West since the Sixties of the last century at a vast expense: do away with the family by taking the father out of the equation as either bread winner or primary disciplinarian for children; throw in large dollops of hedonism consisting of promiscuous sex, illegal drugs and legal alcohol; have the State dispense material benefits to people who do not work; indoctrinate them in politically correct bromides in schools good for little else; foster in them a huge sense of entitlement; and finally take God out of their lives by rendering God meaningless, a process summarized in the stinging words of H. Richard Niebuhr in describing Liberal Christianity: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” This whole exercise in nonsense on stilts is ending in bankruptcy, moral as well as fiscal, an outcome predicted by many critics at the dawn of these welfare states.
We have been down the wrong path for a very long time and the riots in England are merely the latest manifestation of the putrid fruits of this grand and costly mistake. Free societies cannot exist for long with these types of completely wrong headed social policies. Democracies only function well when a vast majority of the citizenry are sober and industrious and lead orderly and useful lives, for themselves, their families and communities. The words of Edmund Burke are just as true in 2011 as when he wrote them in 1791:
“Men are qualified for civil liberty in exact proportion to their disposition to put moral chains upon their own appetites, — in proportion as their love to justice is above their rapacity, — in proportion as their soundness and sobriety of understanding is above their vanity and presumption, — in proportion as they are more disposed to listen to the counsels of the wise and good, in preference to the flattery of knaves. Society cannot exist, unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”