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  • The Riots in Britain

    Posted by David Foster on August 16th, 2011 (All posts by )

    Two quotes from Antoine de St-Exupery:

    A civilization is built on what is required of men, not on that which is provided for them


    If you would have them be brothers, have them build a tower. But if you would have them hate each other, throw them corn

    Most liberals would probably argue that the British rioters did what they did because not enough had been done for them. Conservatives, on the other hand, would tend to say that it was because not enough had been expected of them.


    11 Responses to “The Riots in Britain”

    1. David Foster Says:

      Theodore Dalrynple has some pretty dark observations:

      “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 than would peasants in Bram Stoker’s Transylvania. Indeed, well before the riots last week, respectable persons would not venture into the centers of most British cities or towns on Friday and Saturday nights, for fear—and in the certainty—of encountering drunken and aggressive youngsters.”


      “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…”

      A question for our Brits: Is it really this bad?

    2. Shannon Love Says:

      I read a book years ago about the rise of Fascism in Germany and on of the key factors was the sense of entitlement created by Germany’s relatively expansive and cutting edge welfare state.

      Germany had been the first nation to create a social welfare state and they began in 1880s with the explicit intension of creating loyalty to the empire among Germans who had been citizens of various kingdoms. Nearly 40 years later by WWI most Germans expected the government to provide them with jobs and basic necessities. The inability of the Weimar republic to do so, discredited democracy in the eyes of many Germans. The sense of entitlement justified violence in the name of creating socialism.

      Once people believed that they were morally entitled to significant support from the state, it seemed reasonable that the state should have total control over everyone lives to ensure they could create that support. People became violent when they didn’t get what they believed they were owed.

    3. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Dalrymple has been writing pretty horrifying books for 15 years about what he sees in British prisons and mental hospitals. I think it significant that he has retired to France along with a large share of British upper middle class. There are towns in south eastern France that are entirely English speaking.

    4. AndyP Says:

      David, it’s been decades since I’ve read St-Ex, could you tell me which book the quotes are from? Sounds like maybe “Wisdom of the Sands”? Thanks.

    5. David Foster Says:

      AndyP…yes, the quotes are from Wisdom of the Sands. (A very unfortunate title, IMO: the original French book was titled “Citadelle.”)

    6. Steve Korn Says:

      Liberals often believe that people who feel good about themselves produce good results

      Conservatives often believe that people who produce good results feel good about themselves

      Liberals continue to believe that the only reason socialism hasn’t worked anywhere it’s been tried is because the right people haven’t been in charge.

    7. Tatyana Says:

      David: possibly, you used “Conservatives” as general, non-specific term, referring to Americans? Because British Conservatives, as evidenced by comment of your British contributor, are engaged in their customary “spot of trouble here-n-there, but nothing to see here, move along” denial.

    8. David Foster Says:

      British contributor?

    9. Tatyana Says:

      This site’s contributor who lives in London. Must I name names?

    10. dearieme Says:

      “A question for our Brits: Is it really this bad?” I don’t know – I wouldn’t dream of risking going into town on a weekend evening to find out.

      P.S. Bridgnorth is a gem. So sad.

    11. arcs Says:

      Admittedly, I have no idea but it sounds to me like the ale is far too cheap in Britain.