By: Peter Goodchild
Five thoughts on how times are changing –
- The British National Party serves roughly the same role in the UK as the enemy Goldstein in Orwell’s “1984.” It gives the populace someone to hate, while drawing attention away from the real villains. Which then leads to the question of why there cannot be a “sane” nationalist party in the UK, not just a bunch of beer-swilling hooligans. (Yes, I know, “nationalist” is a taboo word, but I’m too busy to go through my “Politically Correct Dictionary” to look for a synonym.)
- Kaplan begins “The Ends of the Earth” with the comment that West Africa is a portrait of what the entire planet will be in a few years’ time. Yet in terms of the “developed” world, I’d say the UK is a good portrait. Or Nova Scotia.
- I hesitate to include (below) an excerpt from an article of 2007, because I’m always being told that I shouldn’t pass on any Internet item that was written over a year ago. Apparently if something happened over a year ago — then it simply did not happen. That’s another thing Orwell described in “1984″: that the past can be eliminated just by deleting the text.
- But Orwell enters the picture again. Whenever I mention Orwell’s “1984″ I am pretending that the people I am addressing have actually read the book, whereas the sad fact is that the average “activist” of today hasn’t read a book since the day he left high school.
- In contrast to that world of British depravity, part of a little poem is pasted at the very bottom below. Just as a reminder that the world wasn’t always as it is, and that it doesn’t have to be as it is.
From Mary Newland, “Why England Is Rotting” (MacLeans, June 11, 2007):
- UNICEF this year ranked Britain bottom in the league of industrialized nations in terms of the well-being of children. This is a startling fact, given that child welfare has been one of Gordon Brown’s chief preoccupations throughout his 10 years at the Treasury.
- Labour has also failed to meet its own targets on the reduction of child poverty, and this despite the extra billions in welfare targeted at parents and carers.
- Britain also has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe, the highest proportion of single mothers, and one of the highest divorce rates.
- Britain ranks top, with France, in western Europe in terms of sexually transmitted disease. It has the highest obesity rate in Europe, with nearly a quarter of inhabitants classified as obese.
- Britain has one of the highest rates of alcohol abuse in Europe, with a quarter of Britons indulging in the sort of binge drinking that every weekend transforms cities and market towns into Hogarthian hellholes.
- Britain also heads Europe in terms of drug abuse. Cocaine use is highest in the United Kingdom, and use among secondary school pupils has doubled in the last year.
- Along with Ireland and Holland, Britain has the highest crime rate in Europe. London has a higher violent crime rate than any other city in the European Union, higher than in Istanbul and New York City.
Perhaps most worrying is the alienation of large sections of the country’s young people. These are people detached from society, floating free of family, jobs, education and training. NEETs, or young people “not in education, employment or training,” now comprise one-fifth (1.2 million) of British 16- to 24-year-olds. In the 16 to 19 age bracket, 11 per cent are classed as NEETS, double the proportion in Germany and France — and this despite massive spending on “welfare to work” initiatives by Gordon Brown since he declared, on taking up the reins of power in 1997, that “staying home is not an option.”
Finally, a few lines (regardless of the present date) from Browning’s “Home Thoughts from Abroad”:
Oh to be in England
Now that April’s there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England — now!
About the author: Peter Goodchild is the author of ‘Survival Skills of the North American Indians’ (Chicago Review Press). Click here to mail him.