Britain, benign & proud

Dalrymple’s latest New Criterion piece resembles one of his older City Journal essays in its analysis of British cultural breakdown. This particular member of the genre addresses the supposed relationship between inequality and criminality:

Nowadays, after many years’ exposure to propaganda of various kinds, we have difficulty in believing that so unequal a society, with so much poverty, could have been well-ordered.

He makes his case via discussions of the NHS, the poet William Ernest Henley, Jack the Ripper’s first victim and Somerset Maugham:

What is clear, however, from Maugham is that the violence was not accepted passively in Lambeth, as being normal or a fact of life like the weather. Indeed, his novel’s women repeatedly threatened their men with the police, and assumed that, if arrested, they would serve three months in prison and that this would be a deterrent to them. They did not carry out their threats in the book, but what is clear is that they regarded the state in the form of the policeman as their protector, a protector who would act with justice and probity. Let me repeat: the characters in the book were at the lower end of the social scale of a very unequal society, yet they clearly believed that the law offered them real protection and redress.

Read the whole thing. (Subscription or individual $3 purchase required.)

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