How low have we got?
Try the slopes of moral hell.
Mrs. NW and I once gave up a whole evening ( quite unasked by her) standing Adele free beers and shoulders to cry on; listening to her family woes and conspiracy theories about the bosses closing down most of the pubs to spite the workers after I’d found her muddy and bewildered… but also quite successfully talking Miroslaw at the corner shop out of a quarter bottle of handbag gin on credit.
I had lived on the same street as Adele and her then partner Ryan and knew them back before I met Mrs. Northwester. Mrs. Northwester knew her via friends of friends. Castle City is a small town. CS Lewis would recognize what Mrs. Northwester and I did. We were just being neighbourly. Not post code neighbourly you understand; but New Testament neighbourly. Or Great Rift Valley neighbourly. Take your pick.
People are often willing to be sociable - if not brainwashed out of it from birth or at adolescence - and many of us like to help nearby folk and even some not-too-strange strangers, freely, at personal cost in time and treasure and without governmental assistance or mandate. We do so with instincts descended from the ancient teamwork with which our ancestors survived the march out of Olduvai Gorge and through numerous Ice Ages with nothing but cutlery, sticks and cooperation to help them.
And still Adele wants it all for free.
Societies – particularly those with large measures of freedom and government by consent - require a wide scale predisposition from the highest to the lowest to follow the rules and treat each other right, and we are long past the point where we can rely on anything like that.
CS Lewis wrote (and I can’t find the quotations concerned right now so I’ll paraphrase) about how his Left-wing intellectual contemporaries -I think he was referring to Socialist Oxford dons and others of the 1940s and 1950’s Wise and Good - that whatever collectivist and anti-property views they taught and proselytized as being for the good of society, they would travel hundreds of miles to return a borrowed shilling.
I think I remember he also wrote something to the effect that no matter how much deep suffering they were prepared to inflict in theory in the name of Equality, etc, and no matter how much mass state violence they were prepared to tolerate in foreign policy support for the Soviet world, they themselves would act with the nicest concern for their fellow men if they knew them individually. Forced collectivization and megadeath famines under Stalin? A necessary fuelling station on the railway to The New Millennium. Let an undergraduate drink alone over the Easter vacations? Unthinkable! Sit over here old chap and tell me how your essay on The Aenead is coming along. Das Kapital and Hegel are all very well in the real world of men and machines and continents, but it was Sunday School morality and nursery-taught good manners and it’s just not done, old boy that they practised in their own neighbourhoods. That was Generation Number One. The Greatest Generation. They beat Hitler. No complaints.
I’m sure there’s still a lot of this about: think of your Leftie friends, relatives and colleagues who are still good for a tenner loan on a bad ATM day or a lift to the railway station or all the way home when you’ve missed the last bus.
But hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance are not enough to keep a society healthy and free.
My hometown, “Castle City,” has a village institute. Actually, it’s an urban institute donated about the turn of the century by one of the local capitalist exploiters/millionaire philanthropist/smart boy who got lucky and rich in business and inadvertently gave Castle County’s poor folk something to do for a living other than following the south end of a northbound plough horse.
It’s been extensively done up with ‘public funds’ from wherever, ie you, and there’s a bar with good beer and food and wifi, and a small cinema where we the Skyless people can watch major football matches over a pint without the elsewhere inevitable Walkabout exchange beginning “What the f*ck are YOU looking at?” They also put on small jazz combos and Zumba lessons and stuff for the children of both the potless manual workers and the Guardianistas. Interesting stuff happens that otherwise might not happen under the commercial constraints of budget and profit margins and high local property prices. You can have a pretty peaceful time listening to the turning pages of the TES and the sweet silver voices of little Hobbesian Ayeshas, Gaias and Toms ignored by their Rousseauian parents running about and torturing each other with fire-hardened Lego and dog-eared copies of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
Once in a while, we put on a disco.
I mean it: no embarrassment. An actual, glitter-ball bejewelled, Euro-trash and Radio Two Glam Rock standards disco, like the only enjoyable twenty minutes of a wedding night dance - except that they play the good stuff all night long; utterly free of the hot-hatchback amplified street beat of DUH-DUH-DUH!, and not a mothafucka to be heard
It’s voluntary. It’s self financing with surpluses going to local charities, with ‘security’ enforced by a rota of the musos themselves, plus yours truly and other volunteers minding the door. Teenage kicks for Generation X. This is the sound track to the Big Society, if there is such a thing; Samuel Smiles chanelling the Doors and the Stones and consisting of mostly middle class and aspirational working classes with no further state involvement. 30, 40 and 50- aged well-washed folk hopping and bopping to the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties (yey!) and Nineties. They work. They play. They pay their way.
Culturally, they should be the gatekeepers and upholders of our civilization, even if many of them obviously vote the straight Insane Platform at elections in that very hall, Dear Reader, but it’s safe as houses and never any trouble.
Except that we are all the Children of the Revolution and some of the younger ones don’t want to pay.
Most of these children of the wartime generation and the early Boomers cheerfully fork out the nominal fee to cover the running costs of the event and accept that any surplus buys new CDs and the rest is sent off to help Castle City’s actual poor. There are ticket price concessions that make admittance penny chew stuff.
But still some of them don’t want to pay.
Take Adele and Ryan. Both are lifelong hardcore Lefties and have been deeply involved over the decades in making sure that the world and Castle City don’t get too much better via their work at election times and their bureaucracies lobbying government for more government. You know the type; left their inherited wealth town house uninhabited for a few months to rent a place in the pupil catchment area of a more distant and excellent rural non-selective school so that little Che and Fidel could be get a decent education rather than sitting elitistly for examinations for Castle City’s selective school or being incarcerated in the progressive comprehensives their parents have spend a lifetime protecting from parental choice, academic excellence, formal discipline or anything else of much value. Respect, yeah?
Ryan pops in to the disco from time to time: a quite charming smiling man of the people and sometimes neglects to pay if he doesn’t see me at the ticket table. I have to pursue him and cheerfully demand that nominal fee which he does with a ‘Silly me, I must have forgotten’ grin. Adele, however, knows shame or something and once turned up late in the evening and actually asked to come in free as she’d missed the beginning. Nice try but that’ll be Generation X pounds please Adele and enjoy your dance. These are Generation Two.
Get to the point, North Northwester; I think that gangrene is setting in to my brain. There are lots of pictures of pretty ladies on the Internet and Julia’s probably posted up another storm by now.
Adele and Ryan aren’t really the villains of my tale. We’re way past them in 2011. They are only practising what they preach after all, and it will come as no surprise to readers of this blog that some Lefties are actual as well as philosophic looters. The real slope of hell, however, is unto the next generation – the undergraduate-aged ones and twentysomethings who drift into the dance hall and don’t even consider buying a ticket. They have the cheek to look hurt when I pursue them and agree that, yes, all are indeed welcome to come in from the very instant after they’ve paid peanuts and got their hands stamped they can boogie with the Flintstones of Glam. Some of them actually argue about it. We’re not talking pallid, wasted features and hollow cheeks or track-marked arms here; we’re talking shiny happy people who can’t see why they should contribute anything at all to the event except for the pleasure of their company. It’s not really ‘cheek’ at all - it’s aggrieved entitlement.
It’s the bootleg DVD mentality. It’s the illegal download generation. It’s also cultural Marxism triumphant and they don’t even know they’re doing it: from those according to their ability to those about to rock.
Logically, they aren’t wearing out the dance floor much more and they do buy drinks (when they buy drinks) and that supports the Institute’s finances, and they aren’t violating anyone’s property rights and they don’t kick off or fight; these youngsters who want a bit of retro paid for with their smiles, but they are expecting it as a right.
To recap: to work, societies - particularly those with large measures of freedom and government by consent - require a wide scale predisposition from the highest to the lowest to follow the rules and treat one another other right.
This generation has no concept of the rightness of things – that everyday manners and consideration and morality matter - and who were brought up by parents who neither understood that it was important to do so: let alone why.
Their parents have been propagandized (by Ryan and Adele’s assorted bards and filmmakers) to avoid any such ideas. CS Lewis’s Socialist colleagues and Adele and Ryan’s (and my) generation have passed to them, where in every film the West’s military are evil, where the corporations threaten life on Earth and peace and put toxic waste into puppies, and where the very notions of self-restraint on the one hand and doing the proper thing on the other are alien and hostile perversions.
These poor kids have no idea of the separation of powers; or the multiplier effect of new products put onto the market or how they get there in the first place; or the dignity of the individual (other than as a benefits entitled individual); or what privacy is for; or how important property rights are or the importance and utility of loyalties to collective arrangements such as patriotism or civic pride; let alone why traditions become so and how they. Freedom is licence. Responsibility is conditional. Duty is contractual and subject to ‘conscientious’ change at zero notice. This is Generation Three. Generation free. ‘Free’ as in free of personal cost.
These are the people who will be voting and organizing ‘protests’ and nominating prospective parliamentary candidates and writing scripts and editing the news and commissioning documentaries and teaching our children for the next forty years, if some guy named Mo doesn’t float a couple of yachts laden with Pakistani technology up the Thames and the Clyde ins’allah. They are the people that readers of this site and commentators and supporters of its mission have little or no way of getting hold of and teaching them what’s wrong with their attitude. They’ll click away if they find us, because we are toxic waste. These are the people who will squash this dream flat – and order vodka shots and text each other whilst the police and the mainstream media cut it up into bloody, ignored, reviled little pieces.
It will take decades, generations even (if we are allowed to live through them by the Greens and the green flag boys) to turn a tidal wave on which we are merely minority flotsam. We can attack at all levels, but if we don’t aim for the foundations by countering Lewis’s colleagues in the moral and cultural spheres, we’re still going to be written off (if we’re lucky) as so much human strontium ninety or its 21st century offspring, carbon dioxide.
Picture from here.
Picture from here.