Monday, December 06, 2004


I am sure that there can be few readers of this blog who have not enjoyed at least some of the columns by British prison doctor Anthony Daniels (a.k.a. "Theodore Dalrymple"). I myself read right through every one I encounter. His latest column, however, reveals that he is retiring from his job and suggests that he is looking for a different perspective on life. What he has mainly documented so far is the disastrous state of the British underclass. From his experiences as a prison doctor, he pictures an entire social milieu that is basically feral, devoid of hope and devoid of most of the best things in life. Read his latest column and you will know what I mean.

He attributes the sad state of the people among whom he has been working to two things: The welfare State that deprives people of any sense of individual responsibility and the politically correct Leftist doctrines that have told people that anything goes and that any misfortunes that they suffer are the fault of others. His proposed remedy, therefore, appears to be a winding back of the welfare state and a restoration of traditional, conservative values. With the first remedy I wholeheartedly agree but with the second I think he is pissing into the wind. There is no way that anybody can revive social values that have been replaced by values that come more easily to people. Only the influence of religion can go some way towards doing that for certain individual people and there will always be many who are deaf to the appeals of religion -- particularly in traditionally irreligious Britain.

What I think Dalrymple overlooks is that the vast majority of people in Britain continue to live decent and productive lives despite the politically correct amorality and denial of standards that is constantly being preached at them by their government and by their elites generally. How come, then, that not everybody is equally affected by the collapse of the moral and social standards that make a civilization possible? To answer that, I am afraid I am going to have to mention the elephant in the bedroom: Intelligence. The self-destructive behaviour that Dalrymple documents is in most cases quite simply foolish and if not obviously foolish shows at least a severe lack of forethought -- which is itself a sign of low intelligence. The women whom Dalrymple describes exemplify what I mean. He describes women who apparently get their legs up at the drop of a hat -- with no forethought about what that might lead to. And as a result they have multiple children to multiple partners and receive abuse rather than support from the fathers concerned. But how many intelligent women behave like that? Not many or at least not often. To this day most women are very selective about their sexual partners or at least make sure that casual sexual encounters have no lasting consequences. And does any bourgeois woman decide to bear the children of a man without great confidence in his longterm committment to her? Very few. So it seems to me that Dalrymple is blaming on culture what is really the outcome of lack of intelligence.

So until some new Einstein discovers a way of boosting intelligence in those who lack it, it seems to me that most of what Dalrymple describes will continue no matter what happens in the society at large.

I might add that I myself am of thoroughly working class origins and that I have also had plenty of experience with the stratum of society that Dalrymple describes. I was for a couple of years proprietor of a large boarding house in a very unprestigious suburb (Ipswich) where a substantial part of my customers came to me straight out of prison or via referrals from welfare agencies. And I certainly saw the drunken fights, the thievery and the abuse of women that Dalrymple describes. Perhaps because of my own working class origins, however, I knew how to deal with my customers and got on perfectly well with almost everyone -- even receiving civility from them when I was kicking them out for getting behind with their rent. Even though I physically bundled people out the door on a number of occasions, nobody ever laid a finger on me. So there is in fact a quite powerful culture at work even among the lowest of the low -- if you know how to work it and use its shibboleths.

And I must say that my own rise from a poor background to a state of affluence was virtually effortless. Intelligence is a key that unlocks almost every door and without it almost all doors might as well remain shut -- as the fate of most lottery winners attests.


No comments: