The riots are the apotheosis of the welfare state and popular culture in their British form. A population thinks (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class) that it is entitled to a high standard of consumption, irrespective of its personal efforts; and therefore it regards the fact that it does not receive that high standard, by comparison with the rest of society, as a sign of injustice. It believes itself deprived (because it has often been told so by intellectuals and the political class), even though each member of it has received an education costing $80,000, toward which neither he nor—quite likely—any member of his family has made much of a contribution; indeed, he may well have lived his entire life at others’ expense, such that every mouthful of food he has ever eaten, every shirt he has ever worn, every television he has ever watched, has been provided by others. Even if he were to recognize this, he would not be grateful, for dependency does not promote gratitude. On the contrary, he would simply feel that the subventions were not sufficient to allow him to live as he would have liked.
British Degeneracy on Parade by Theodore Dalrymple - City Journal
Sat, 13 Aug 2011 22:19:39 UTC
The diagnosis he describes is of course the dependency created by a welfare state. It is irrelevant whether the motives were for humanitarian or darker reasons. Although practically speaking, the persistent question is always that since we would never dream of raising our children in such a manner if actualization is the goal, why do we think it is appropriate for the state to do so, especially after they become adults?
And sociologically and psychologically, the welfare state ignores so many constructs that we know to be true. We are aware that local decentralized systems are more reactive and knowledgable than centralized bureaucracies. We know that people learn and improve in a variety of engaged environments, yet our education and welfare systems isolate and force passive stances. Surely we must ignore a great deal of what we know in order to enforce the mysogenies of the class warfare meme.
Unfortunately by now the prescription to the failing and bankrupt welfare state is bureaucratic. And there Tainter and Olson are our masters.
In his book titled The Collapse of Complex Societies, Tainter argues that complex societies collapse because devolving becomes impossible. Those layers of bureaucracy and stratifications of professionals and regulation become such an inflexible warren that unwinding them becomes impossible. Like large bankrupt firms, orderly downsizing is often impossible. The bureaucracy and overhead has devoured the last marginal value and the increased complexity just adds cost. Collapse eventually becomes the only possible avenue to simplify.
And of course there is a cultural component here as well. Can British culture demonstrate the will and determination to withstand the pain that devolvement must entail? Sadly, the riots do not give us much hope.
For Britain in the last decades iconically adopted the post-modernist and Malthusian global warming and class warfare stories of a beseiged planet. How else can one adopt government policies that restrict virtually all construction, job creation and the punishing standard of living costs of alternative energy?
Unfortunately, none of these cultural memes buttress a culture to fight their own decline or bankruptcy. On the contrary, they prepare for it.
More thoughts at the Belmont Club on Darwinism, lead by Mr. Fernandez