By Fr. George Welzbacher
August 28, 2011
The recent vicious outburst of predatory violence that paralyzed much of England for four whole nights and days should have come as no great surprise, given a generation of teenagers and young adults who were reared in broken homes where, more often than not, saying "No!" to impulse was neither exemplified nor taught, a generation moreover that "waxed fat" in the culture of a crib-to-coffin welfare state, where living by grace of state subsidy, with little or no incentive to work, has come to be seen as a basic right; where criminals, if and when actually apprehended, are all too often marched from holding room to court room to a brief stay, if even that, in detention, after which they are returned, smirking, to the street; and, most importantly of all, where a loving reverence for God and His Commandments, with the certitude that we must each of us one day answer to His judgment, is all but extinct. What has now so dramatically caught the world's attention was sooner or later almost bound to take place. When in the hearts of men the fear of the Lord no longer holds sway, the law of the jungle reigns. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is the spirit of liberty" (II Corinthians 3:17). The converse is also true. It was for this reason that our Founding Fathers insisted that the Republic they had crafted presupposed a God-fearing people, in the absence of which, the Republic would not and could not survive.
Back in the soaring (Man on the Moon) and searing (Watts and Weathermen) sixties a prophetic novel, A Clockwork Orange, by Britain's Anthony Burgess, was famously transferred to the screen by Stanley Kubrick, offering a horrifying vision of a future "Great" Britain, with godless young thugs exulting in violence, making life hell for the weak. What was envisioned there forty years ago has become a present reality, in dramatic validation of Our Lord's solemn warning: "Without Me you can do nothing." And one is tempted to wonder: England today, America tomorrow? The recent eruption of sadistic attacks by black youth gangs on helpless civilians in San Francisco, in Denver, in Milwaukee, in Chicago, and in the "City of Brotherly Love" (a.k.a. Philadelphia) is hardly reassuring.
* * * * *May I share with you here a trenchant appraisal of the terror on England's streets from the editorial page of the London Daily Telegraph for August 14, followed by a commentary from British novelist Theodore Dalrymple.
From an August 14 editorial in the London Telegraph:
Over the past week we have witnessed the CULMINATION of the liberal experiment. The experiment attested that two parents don't matter; that welfare, rather than work, cures poverty; you tolerate "minor crime"; you turn a blind eye to celebrity drug use; you allow children to leave school without worthwhile skills; you say there's no difference between right and wrong. Well, now we've seen the results.
The modem Labour Party's answer to every social question is to open the taxpayers' cheque books. We've tested that world view to the point of destruction. The welfare State has never been bigger but nor have our social problems, Today's historically higher tax burden has forced parents to spend more hours outside the home, just to make ends meet.
The Left is always ready to attack hyper-capitalism for the ways in which it can erode community bonds, but it looks the other way when it comes to thinking about the ways in which the hyper-state can devour social capital. Labour has become the most materialist and consumerist of Britain's two largest parties. Whereas Big Society Conservatives are immersed in the importance of relationship-building, within families and within communities, it is the Left that constantly emphasizes the right to personal fulfillment.
It reveres "lifestyle choices" as though the kind of home in which a child is raised is somehow equivalent to whether you get your weekly groceries from Morrisons or Asda. Any political movement that is relaxed about the structure of the family will produce the amoral youths that rioted last week.
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The Barbarians Inside Britain's Gates
The Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2011
The youth of Britain have long placed a de facto curfew on the old, who in most places would no more think of venturing forth after dark then would peasants in Bran Stoker's Transylvania. Indeed, well BEFORE the riots last week, respectable persons would not venture out into the centers of MOST British cities or towns on Friday and Saturday nights, for fear - or even in the certainty - of encountering drunken and aggressive youngsters. In Britain nowadays, the difference between ordinary social life and riot is only a matter of degree, not of type.
A short time ago, I gave a talk in a school in an exquisite market town, deep in the countryside. Came Friday night, however, and the inhabitants locked themselves into their houses against the invasion of the barbarians. In my own little market town of Bridgnorth, in Shropshire, where not long ago a man was nearly beaten to death 20 yards from my house, drunken young people often rampage down one of its lovely little streets, causing much damage and preventing sleep. No one, of course, dares ask them to stop. The Shropshire council has dealt with the problem by granting a license for a pub in the town to open until 4 a.m., as if what the town needed was the opportunity for yet more and later drunkenness.
If the authorities show neither the will nor the capacity to deal with such an easily solved problem - and willfully do all they can to worsen it - is it any wonder that they exhibit, in the face of more difficult problems, all the courage and determination of frightened rabbits?
The rioters in the news last week had a thwarted sense of entitlement that had 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 children that they might care to propagate.
But while the rioters have been maintained in a condition of near-permanent unemployment by government subvention augmented by criminal activity, Britain was importing labor to man its service industries. You can travel up and down the country and you can be sure that all the decent hotels and restaurants will be manned overwhelmingly by young foreigners; not a young Briton in sight (thank God).
The reason for this is clear; the young unemployed Britons not only have the wrong attitude to work, for example regarding fixed hours as a form of oppression, but they are also dramatically badly educated. Within six months of arrival in the country, the average young Pole speaks better, more cultivated English than they do.
The icing on the cake, as it were, is that the social charges on labor and the minimum wage are so high that no employer can possibly extract from the young unemployed Briton anything like the value of what it costs to employ him. And thus we have the paradox of high youth unemployment at the very same time that we suck in young workers from abroad. 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 popular 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."
Furthermore, all the young rioters will have had long experience of the prodigious efforts of the British criminal justice system to confer impunity upon law-breakers. First the police are far too busy with their paperwork to catch the criminals; but if by some chance - hardly more than one in 20 - they do catch them, the courts oblige by inflicting ludicrously lenient sentences.
A single example will suffice, but one among many. A woman got into an argument. with someone in a supermarket. She called her boyfriend, a violent habitual criminal, "to come and sort him out." The boyfriend was already on bail on another charge and wore an electronic tag because of another conviction. (Incidentally, research shows that a third of all crimes in Scotland are committed by people on bail, and there is no reason England should be any different.)
The boyfriend arrived in the supermarket and struck a man a heavy blow to the head. He fell to the ground and died of his head injury. When told that he had got the "wrong" man, the assailant said he would have attacked the "right" one had he not been restrained. He was sentenced to serve not more than 30 months in prison. Since punishments must be in proportion to the seriousness of the crime, a sentence like this exerts tremendous downward pressure on sentences for lesser, but still serious, crimes.
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....
* * * * *And good luck with that. John O' Connor, a former Scotland Yard official recently opined on the BBC that whereas the American answer to crime is that "they locked people up", "we haven't got the heart for that over here."
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