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A Piece Of Wisdom

Theodore Dalrymple is a physician who has worked in prison and hospital wards throughout Britian for the last 14 years. Dalrymple is planning to retire from his work as a physician in the coming months and I'm dearing hoping that he doesn't retire his writing career as well.

His writings quite possibly provide the most insightful and direct observations on human behaviour you'll find on the Internet.

His latest piece The Frivolity of Evil is another must read. In it he describes the small evils that people commit and how the welfare state actively encourages such behaviours. He says:
The result is a rising tide of neglect, cruelty, sadism, and joyous malignity that staggers and appalls me. I am more horrified after 14 years than the day I started.

Where does this evil come from? There is obviously something flawed in the heart of man that he should wish to behave in this depraved fashion—the legacy of original sin, to speak metaphorically. But if, not so long ago, such conduct was much less widespread than it is now (in a time of much lesser prosperity, be it remembered by those who think that poverty explains everything), then something more is needed to explain it.

A necessary, though not sufficient, condition is the welfare state, which makes it possible, and sometimes advantageous, to behave like this. Just as the IMF is the bank of last resort, encouraging commercial banks to make unwise loans to countries that they know the IMF will bail out, so the state is the parent of last resort—or, more often than not, of first resort. The state, guided by the apparently generous and humane philosophy that no child, whatever its origins, should suffer deprivation, gives assistance to any child, or rather the mother of any child, once it has come into being. In matters of public housing, it is actually advantageous for a mother to put herself at a disadvantage, to be a single mother, without support from the fathers of the children and dependent on the state for income. She is then a priority; she won't pay local taxes, rent, or utility bills.

As for the men, the state absolves them of all responsibility for their children. The state is now father to the child. The biological father is therefore free to use whatever income he has as pocket money, for entertainment and little treats. He is thereby reduced to the status of a child, though a spoiled child with the physical capabilities of a man: petulant, demanding, querulous, self-centered, and violent if he doesn't get his own way. The violence escalates and becomes a habit. A spoiled brat becomes an evil tyrant.


Ultimately, the moral cowardice of the intellectual and political elites is responsible for the continuing social disaster that has overtaken Britain, a disaster whose full social and economic consequences have yet to be seen. A sharp economic downturn would expose how far the policies of successive governments, all in the direction of libertinism, have atomized British society, so that all social solidarity within families and communities, so protective in times of hardship, has been destroyed. The elites cannot even acknowledge what has happened, however obvious it is, for to do so would be to admit their past responsibility for it, and that would make them feel bad. Better that millions should live in wretchedness and squalor than that they should feel bad about themselves—another aspect of the frivolity of evil. Moreover, if members of the elite acknowledged the social disaster brought about by their ideological libertinism, they might feel called upon to place restraints upon their own behavior, for you cannot long demand of others what you balk at doing yourself.
I fear that over time our society is losing it's 'civilizing' abilities and in time will lead to a tyrannical government. I don't think it is too far of a stretch. When I grew up on PEI we never locked our doors. Heck we couldn't lock the doors since the stinking lock didn't work. But we never worried. Today, even on PEI you would be crazy to leave your house unlocked. Cottages are broken into on a regular basis and if you leave anything of value in your yard then you better ensure that you have it chained to something.

How have things come to this? Why can't people feel secure in their own communities? Dalrymple informs us that in 1921 there was one crime for every 370 people in England and Wales. Today that number has risen to one crime for every 10. I have no reason to believe the numbers would be much different for Canada. What has led to this?

I know the answer is certainly complex with many probably causes. Dalrymple's insight into this subject is impressive.

As he says elsewhere in the article '... sooner or later the summation of small evils leads to the triumph of evil itself.'

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