British Left squirming as riots expose their flawed ideas

It’s a difficult time to be a Left-winger when a society run on your lines is plainly dysfunctional, as the riots have shown. Guardian credibility has hit the rocks.

Police fighting back in Camden, North London
Robin Shepherd, Owner / Publisher
On 11 August 2011 20:01

If you wanted to illustrate what “cognitive dissonance” meant to someone who had never heard the term before, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example than a brief explanation of the root cause of the British riots in Wednesday’s Guardian editorial. Referring to the risk of race riots accompanying the looting, the paper said:  

“If this happened, the fury of the dispossessed that underlies this week's unforgivable looting would pale as a social problem in comparison.”

Savour the key words – “…the fury of the dispossessed that underlies this week’s unforgivable looting…” But if people have been “dispossessed” their “fury” is surely rational and their resultant behaviour could not then, in the fullest sense of the word, sensibly be called “unforgivable”.

What the Guardian means (but dare not say, I suspect) is not quite that the behaviour of the looters is “unforgivable” but that it is “disproportionate” or “misdirected”: these people have a legitimate grievance, after all; they’re understandably angry; but they should be aiming it at the “system” not local shopkeepers.

Who precisely “dispossessed” these people in the first place, by the way, is never explained, but then again it never is.

Not one ever to be outdone in the twisted logic stakes, the paper’s far-Left ideology supremo Seumus Milne also chimed in with a classic piece of denial of his own referring to “three decades of neoliberal capitalism [which] have already shattered so many social bonds of work and community”.

It beggars belief. With public spending as a proportion of gross domestic product in Britain at 45.5 percent (2010 data), it’s perfectly arguable that Britain is barely capitalist at all anymore. When quite so much of your economy is flushed through the state, it is nothing short of irrational to expect capitalist outcomes from such heavily-compromised capitalist beginnings.

And even if one agrees, for the sake of argument, to stretch the definition to breaking point no-one outside the lunatic asylums could conceivably prefix that designation in the modern British context with the word “neoliberal”. Taken at face value, it’s all utterly bizarre.

But this is what happens when the collapsing social edifice is so plainly your collapsing social edifice. The truth is too painful to confront. For starters, let’s not forget that the essential political context in today’s Britain is that we have just come out of 13 years of Labour government, while the new coalition is both in its infancy and overwhelming concerned with bringing down the massive levels of debt bequeathed by its predecessor. It hasn’t had time to leave its mark yet, and it’s hard to imagine any reasonable observer suggesting otherwise.

Even more devastating for the Guardian and company is that the high-tax, high welfare-dependency, regulation-saturated, relativistic, multi-culturalist society that we live in bares the unmistakable imprint of the thinking being spewed out of the pages of Left-wing newspapers for decades.

Internationally, the Right may have won the Cold War, but domestically, the socio-political culture war has largely been won by the Left.

To be sure, the riots that have swept London and shocked the world were not led by people with a political axe to grind as such.

Nonetheless, people respond to, and become formed by, the broader physical and cultural environment around them.

And from the crime-ridden council estates in which they were brought up, to the sink schools they went to which taught them nothing, to the courts they have encountered that refuse to jail them, to the welfare departments that stump up cash for them without question and to the prevailing relativism that says concepts such as right and wrong are to be derided and laughed at, that physical and cultural environment was constructed by the British Left.

Robin Shepherd is owner/publisher of the Commentator. His book, A State Beyond the Pale: Europe's Problem with Israel, is out in paperback.  

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