Monday, November 1, 2010

Not With a Bang But a Whimper, Theodore Dalrymple

The full title of this book is Not With a Bang But A Whimper, The Politics and Culture of Decline. I have written about Theodore Dalrymple before. He writes a column for the London Spectator. See .
He also writes for the City Journal. See City Journal.

Most of his books are a collection of essays he has written. This book is no different. What I want to talk about today is one of his essays, called The Roads to Serfdom. In this essay, he talks about the people of Britain looking back on WWII as the best time of their lives. The war provided them with a powerful existential meaning and purpose. People wanted this mood to continue into the peace time.

They wanted to use the dedication of the population, centrally controlled by the government to defeat things like want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness. This was from the Beverage Report and it was supported by such intellectuals as George Orwell. The thing they wanted was socialism. Against this spirit of collectivism, Hayek wrote his famous book called “The Road to Serfdom”. Hayek though that the road led to totalitarianism.

Dalrymple thinks he was wrong in this. What it led them to, was a total change in the British Culture. Moral passion shifted from the individual to the state. For example, it is a city council’s duty to keep the streets clean, not the individual’s. So people become litter bugs.

The British, before their socialistic experiment were independent and self-reliant. They believed in individual initiative, responsibility and tolerance. They had a very high tolerance to eccentricity that has just evaporated. For people on welfare, they call the day their welfare cheque arrives their payday, just as if they actually earned it.

People of Britain are left with very little to decide for themselves. They are taken care of by the government from cradle to grave. The only decisions they get to make concern shopping and sex. The people are infantilized with nothing much to hope or strive for and nothing much to fear or lose. Britain is now a people of the government, for the government and by the government.

To make a comment closer to home, I remember when workfare was introduced into Ontario. There were protests by welfare people and socialistic groups. They felt that the people on welfare should not be turned into “wage slaves”. But, what about me? I have worked all my life and I have save my money for a rainy day. These people seem to believe that they have a right to any money I have.

What about the thousand and thousands of people, here in Ontario, who actually do work for a living. They expect working people to continue to support them. I do not think the protestors had any clue how much the average working person was shocked at their attitude. The protestors expected to contribute nothing to society. So, you can see that I have some sympathy for the feelings Dalrymple expresses in this essay.

To see a review of this book, see book review. Theodore Dalrymple is a pen name. His real name is Anthony Daniels. He is in Wikipedia, see Anthony Daniels . He is also on YouTube, see Theodore Dalrymple in Buitenhof for an interview.

On my website is how to find this book on Amazon if you care to purchase it. See Dalrymple. Also, this book review and other books I have reviewed are on my website at Book Reviews.

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