Don't Count Britain Out
A lot of conservative pundits spend a lot of time predicting the imminent spiritual demise of Great Britain. Mark Steyn wondered “whether a nation that has "lost the stomach for a fight" has also lost its survival instinct,” pointing out that Great Britain is ignominiously withdrawing from Iraq, with most of its troops leaving before spring.
Theodore Dalrymple, in an article entitled “The Quivering Upper Lip,” writes that “when my mother arrived in England…she found the people admirable, though not without the defects that corresponded to their virtues. By the time she died, two-thirds of a century later, she found them rude, dishonest, and charmless”. And Britain is saddled with dozens of ridiculous laws seemingly designed solely to protect criminals. (For example, a man who held off two robbers with a toy gun was arrested for breaking gun laws; barbed wire is illegal in some parts of England because it’s dangerous to criminals). These laws have a predictable effect, with crime rates skyrocketing in many English cities.
And not only is England dangerous to live in, its culture seems to be coarsening to the point that no one would want to. Binge drinking is, apparently, shockingly prevalent among young people, and the many embrace the “chav” culture. (“Chav” is a British term for a working class hooligan, used in much the way “white trash” is used here).
And British political correctness is infamous. Catholic bishops are discussing modifying Catholic school restrooms to permit Muslim ritual washing—but spend time trying to make doing the “hokey pokey” a hate crime. (The hokey pokey was originally a bit of anti-Catholic doggerel). In England, no effort is spared to promote any culture, belief system, or religion (particularly Muslim)—except anything connected with Western culture.
So it doesn’t look very good for Great Britain—it is losing it’s culture war, it has lost its war on crime, and it has seemingly lost its will to fight abroad. So are Steyn, Dalrymple, and the rest justified in predicting England’s demise?
Maybe. But there are at least a few things in England’s favor, and it would be premature to count Britain out.
First, the Conservatives will almost certainly win the next British general election, making David Cameron the next Prime Minister. Cameron is no Margret Thatcher—but he is no Liberal either. He won’t stop England’s leftward tailspin—but he could slow it significantly.
And Britain’s army is still strong—by all accounts, its problems in Iraq stem from poor leadership. Britain’s individual soldiers did their country proud, and Britain still has a technologically advanced military force.
And England was one of the first to join the “coalition of the willing.” So it hasn’t lost all its martial spirit—just its stamina for war. England hasn’t wholly lost the will to fight—it just doesn’t see what is widely regarded as an American war as worth fighting for.
England’s cultural problems run a bit deeper. Like many liberal-dominated countries, it seems to feel that its culture is something to apologize for, and that every other culture has been so oppressed that it requires massive affirmative action to compensate. And the rule of law is spotty at best—serious criminals get off due to technicalities or absurdly light sentences. And that sort of cultural coma is very difficult to change.
But it can be reversed. During the twenties, Germany was in worse shape than Britain—apathetic and unruly, but with runaway inflation and a weak government. But ten years later, it conquered most of Europe. (Although Germany’s revival came at a horrible cost). And after World War II, both Germany and Japan overcame devastated cities and huge loss of life to become powerful economies.
Britain could see a similar turnaround. A hundred years ago, Britain had the largest empire on earth. It would be foolish to preemptively relegate England to second-class nation status.