The Barbarians Inside Britain’s Gates

Dalrymple’s prophetic 2002 essay The Barbarians at the Gates of Paris received quite a bit of attention after the 2005 riots by young Muslims in France. Now he adapts the title for a Wall Street Journal op-ed on England’s own riots:
The rioters in the news last week had a thwarted sense of entitlement that has been assiduously cultivated by an alliance of intellectuals, governments and bureaucrats. “We’re fed up with being broke,” one rioter was reported as having said, as if having enough money to satisfy one’s desires were a human right rather than something to be earned.
“There are people here with nothing,” this rioter continued: nothing, that is, except an education that has cost $80,000, a roof over their head, clothes on their back and shoes on their feet, food in their stomachs, a cellphone, a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator, an electric stove, heating and lighting, hot and cold running water, a guaranteed income, free medical care, and all of the same for any of the children that they might care to propagate.
….
The culture in which the young unemployed have immersed themselves is not one that is likely to promote virtues such as self-discipline, honesty and diligence. Four lines from the most famous lyric of the late and unlamentable Amy Winehouse should establish the point:
I didn’t get a lot in class

But I know it don’t come in a shot glass

They tried to make me go to rehab

But I said ‘no, no, no’
This message is not quite the same as, for example, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways and be wise.”
….
So several things need to be done, among them the reform and even dismantlement of the educational and social-security systems, the liberalization of the labor laws, and the much firmer repression of crime.
David Cameron is not the man for the job.

3 thoughts on “The Barbarians Inside Britain’s Gates

  1. Henry Reardon

    I wonder if anyone can suggest an example of a culture that went the opposite direction? In other words, does anyone know of a culture that started out the way the British underclass is today and that it pulled itself up by its bootstraps into something resembling today’s Western middle class?

    I think such an example would be very valuable in giving us courage that problems of this kind CAN be addressed successfully. If no reasonable example can be cited, it only discourages us from trying.

    I wonder if post-WWII Singapore might be such an example? I once saw a documentary that described postwar Singapore as dirty, crime-ridden and populated with lazy, shiftless people (or words to that effect), yet it is apparently very prosperous today.

    The more success stories we can think of, the better.

    Of course the lefists will inevitably argue that any such triumphs were NOT comparable to today’s situation or were only accomplished through extremely harsh measures that are unacceptable to today’s sensibilities….

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  2. Seymour Clufley

    I do wonder if Britain prior to the Victorian era was debauched, immoral and hedonistic in the way we see today.

    Perhaps that is why the Victorians believed in such prudishness? They knew that the British, unchecked, were biased towards boorishness?

    The good side of it, if the analogue is true, is that it must be possible to raise an underclass out of moral squalor.

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  3. Paul

    “I do wonder if Britain prior to the Victorian era was debauched, immoral and hedonistic in the way we see today.”

    See the work of Hogarth! And yes, I think that Victorian Britain was indeed a reaction to Georgian Britain. However, I don’t see any sign of a comparable moral backlash stirring today. …Unless you fancy Islam. 🙁

    As the good doctor himself has pointed out, when confronted with the modern moral declension, the progressive Left always say that “there’s nothing new about this, why remember Gin Lane!” — conveniently leaping two centuries in order to make their point. Liars and knaves the lot.

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