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Theodore Dalrymple
Barbarians on the Thames « Back to Story

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I always enjoy reading these articles. Mr. Dalrymple is a talented and thoughtful writer.

My question for Mr. Dalrymple is this: What has brought the English to their current state of degeneracy? It is obviously self-imposed, but what intellectual theory could impose such civilizational decline?

This obvious decline in what constitutes an advanced civilization seems to be afflicting much of the West, including the United States. But I am quite unclear as to the source of such decline. Any insights?

People seem to be getting dimmer while at the same time more confident in their modest talents. It is as if they have no understanding how their civilization was built and even more clueless as to how it can be maintained.

While I agree that the political class and assorted punditry have betrayed Western nations and its people with their irrational utopianism, the people are responsbile for embracing this foolishness offered to them by their feckless leaders.

One idea I have thought about is that depravity and stupidity result when a people stop believing in God. Is a retreat to faith a solution to what ails the West? Or just a good kick in the pants that a worldwide economic collapse may afford?
I'm a little surprised at the personal abuse Dr Daniels is getting here. I spoke to a couple of consultants (oncologists) at City Road Hospital about him, and they said he was a decent and sensible chap. Admittedly they added 'for a psychiatrist', but that's to be expected ...
excellent article about London riots
Dalrymple is convinced the crime in the Netherlands is high. He says so here and has said similar things in his books and elsewhere. Every time he makes this assertion, it is made with adjectival emphasis that does not suggest weighty scholarship: "… is one of the most crime-ridden countries in Western Europe." Perhaps he as had his pockets picked at the Central Station in Amsterdam, and is still angry. It is true that this kind of crime is quite prevalent, as is bicycle theft. It is a fact, however, that the majority of this crime is not committed by Dutch, but by itinerant foreigners, and the most common victims of this crime are also foreigners, unwary tourists. Serious crime in the Netherlands is among the lowest in Europe. Dalrymple would be well advised to consult criminological statistics from reliable sources. He will discover that some indexes of social breakdown are astonishingly low. For example, the Netherlands has among the lowest rates of unwanted teenage pregnancy of developed countries.
Being dutch I,m impressed by the analytical competence Dr. Dalrymple shows here.
It,s almost the same in our country, where the left-wing oriented parties together with their friends from the press deny these observations.
Dear Katt: do you have any evidence besides your word that Dr. Daniels was a "a smelly failure" in Winson Green besides the fact that he has published books about his experiences in right wing publishing houses ?
You make great points, but is anyone listening? Your work reminds me of a line in Genesis: "..and there appeared a light in the darkness, which the darkness comprehended not."
Dear Editors:

It is a bit annoying to see old stuff here!
Don't you think it is time to remove old articles from City-Journal and start afresh in the new year? Peace

Rao, Canada
Dear Katt:

Britain is a great country but its somewhat devitalized and overdruged. I remember my dear family and I know what once England was, not an Empire, not a unconquerable model, but a country full of decent and hard-working people, with a conscience plenty of urge for justice.

I know these are other times and merriment and music are very good things too. But I think we must remember the fountain of our commodities and the price of our freedom.

I agree with your fabian way of knocking down our cock up rate. And I mightyly laughed with your own confession about your silver medal of Olympics!

America is another thing, a colosal and almost ignote country for me (Ive been living there for two years and I still dont know the americans). But I dont think Mr Dalrymple is doing so idiot a thing as to cheer up the riflemen of the States.

And you touch a very sensible point to me because I love Charlton Heston, the Riflemen Unions former president.

Dont miss your Christmass spirit, Katt, Goodbye and God save Manchester!
The trouble is that I can already see at least three/five/more errors in my Norwegian, and Jon may pick up on them. The bugger of it is, apart from anything else, that they have three extra vowels, and I am too lazy to learn how to type them in properly, because I so very very rarely need them. I can do it with a pen or pencil, but not a keyboard. Some crazy Shift combination or something. I'd probably crash my machine.

My own reading, dear Norman, and you are absolutely free to tell me to piss off far away if this is too personal, is that all the mayhem and mix-up gets you badly depressed. As if nothing can ever possibly go right.

I agree with you, but only so far. What about, instead of 100% cock-up, we try for a mere 78.413% cock-up, and then go for 61.925% cock-up? Still not even near half-way, but ... not necessarily a great boost to the heart and soul, but better than yesterday.

My irritation (one of my several irritations) with Dalrymple is that he is a paid professional doom-and-gloom merchant, hustling "Oooh, isn't it awful! Look at that! Look at those dreadful people over there! Look at how nasty and evil they are!"

My sad observation is that this is poisonous. It is the sort of alarmist nonsense which gets stupid scared Americans to buy pistols and then wangle concealed-carry permits.

(And before you ask - another surprise about kattrby to add to your list. I have been a skilled pistol shot. Among people I have known and liked was someone who won a Silver at the LA Olympics for shooting pistol.

BUT after two events, one local in which three people died, then the massacre at Dunblane, I gave up shooting without hesitation. The same UK laws that allowed me to shoot pistol were the same UK laws that allowed idiots and freaks to kill, whether by total stupidity or terrible malice, so my view was - to hell with it, right now. What I had also found over the many years was that the loudest mouths were always and inevitably the lousiest shots.)

That's not very Christmassy, for sure. But you just have to count how many more people have made it to next Christmas.

That's how you get toward a mere 78.413% cock-up rate, so please don't despair.

You always surprise me, dear Katt.

You know norwegian. There is one more reason to be proud of the citizens of Manchester.

Its something unfair to compare Britain with Norway. Norway is a little, well articulated comparatively simple society. Britain is a complex mix of historical regions and nations and of the incresing of our metropolitan areas.

We live in a huge society where there are many wild areas. If we analize French riots, we see something we can compare: the ideology of resentment, the many and failed expectations of our system of values, has become a form of protest. A burning and killing protest.

Why? Because we live in a depersonalized world. And we cant see the neighbour, high or low, like a friend or brother but like an enemy.

Maybe for many rioters was a more hard thing to write a card to the Times than to break all social rules in the name of the injustice of inequality. This is very big problem. But one you cannot amend with better social services or more expectations of social improvment.

Merry Christmass for you Katt and of course for our brother jon.
Til bade Jon og Norman

Til Jon:

Det er helt sant at i Norge det finnes litt mellom nederst og overst, men vi maa husker ogsaa at i Norge folk drikker altfor mye paa gatene.

(Unskyld - det var en gang, flere aars siden, nar jeg var gift - 1968/81 - med en pike fra Kongsberg. Tredve ars siden, derfor jeg har glemmt masse. Og det var mer vanskelig aa skriver en aa snakker.)

To Norman:

All the above is to agree with Jon about the equalities in Norwegian society, but also to point out in fairness that Norwegians do get mightily drunk in the streets.

(Most of it is actually apology for my lousy written Norwegian ...)

So - God Jul & Merry Christmas to you both.
We are speaking about two very differente kind of societies. Norway is a little country of almost 5 millions of people. London is as big as Norway. If we are going to speak about comparative things we must speak about France as Mr Dalrymple does. Otherwise, Mr Aarbakke you are cheating.

Its a very different thing the class divide among 55 millions people than among 5 millions.
england and North Korea share at least one trait: that of hereditary entitlement!
I invite you all to Norway to see what an egalitarian society means. it starts in your soul when you are a child. basic dignity and self esteem. no class hate in either direction. a workplace where your voice is heard. 30 murders last year. the Gini factor? dunno, but clearly very low. and it's not all about oil.
no attempt here to bridge the class divide. the poor have low moral and thus ... if only they would work on the same terms as the exploitable Romanians and Poles!
Dear Katt:

We live in a world full of contradictions. We know there are many people like James of Durrisdeer, taking advantage of a polite and civilized society, making their evil doings with a smile in his face. But we are speaking about another matter.

The English riots are one of those explosions of barbarity we must take on account. And they put light on a social reality, that of marginal areas of our society, in the conditions of actual England.

I dont know anything about prison penalties. There are many cases and I cant count them all. But I think impunity is the worst politic with this kind of things. We have seen burning houses and streets full or marauders, breaking everything and attacking and killing pacific people. I think everyone must be judged by his doings.

And I think penalty is only a part of the solution of our problem. We live in a despersonalized society where many peole are cooking quietly their resentment. And there are the organic intellectuals of any kind of riot.

We must defend our society and we must teach a free state is a good thing to be defended. Thanks God thousands of people went to the streets to make our everyday life something normal. This is my hope and in this hope is a brave man with his hellium-balloon calling for fraternity and serenity.
Dear Norman

How about we consider other words? The odd thing is that I have met people who were technically criminal, but not in fact selfish or greedy. On the other hand, I have met people who were very selfish and greedy indeed, but not technically criminal, although deeply dishonest - they bought very nice cars while running scams like Amway franchises.

What is your idea of leniency? My own view is that putting in prison a wrong-headed young idiot who got carried away in the mood of the moment, broke a window and stole a thing he/she never even wanted, is a pure waste of everybody's time and money. Was that wrong? - utterly. Does that require a year in jail? Not in a sane world.
Dear friend Katt:

Im a smoker too and I understand perfectly what you say and I agree with you. But we are not speaking about common rules of behaviour. There is a class of people accustomed to behave crimminally, with no regard to laws and other people.

This is a very simple thing. Of course we cant regress to Talion ´s law rules and we must be not crazily punitive. But Mr Dalrymple talks about another matter, about a leniency that makes law breakers to break more laws because they dont see a limit to their transgressive impulses.

And he speaks too about an lack of clear judgement about the riots nature. My ideological voyage comes from radicalism to a most balanced view of the survival of our society.

The problem of our prisons is another matter. I think the problem is mainly of values. Of common values between liberals and conservatives, radicals and traditionalists alike. We live in the same society in peace for may centuries. This is a thing must protect against its enemies.

And the enemy is not one class or another, the enemy is within us, the lack of clear judgement about things essential, justice and public behaviour.
Dear friend Norman:

I am far more interested in how far we agree than in how far we might ever disagree.

I hate and detest it when I see a food-wrapper thrown on the pavement - if I see it being done, I am inclined to pick it up and hand it back to the person who chucked it, saying firmly "Excuse me, I think you dropped this."

But I don't want or need them to get a thirty-quid fine - I do believe in shaming, but not in being crazily punitive.

Those are two separate things.

I am absolutely in agreement with you about public behaviour. I am a smoker - that's how I keep my slim figure - but never would I throw a cigarette end down in the street. If I can't find a rubbish bin, I stub it out, fold it, and stick in my pocket until I get home where I can dispose of it. Which is why my coats may sometimes stink, but better that than being a litterbug.

My stowing away cigarette stubs is not because I am afraid of being hit with a fine, but because I think a street full of cigarette ends is ugly. I would be ashamed to throw down one of my dimps.

Punishment is not the only answer. That is not a liberal view, that is a practical, realistic view; the general understanding, bottom to top in prisons is 75:25 (some say 80:20), as in "75% of these people do not belong in here, 25% do" The problem is in working out who are the 25%.
Dear friend Katt:

Your insistence has lead me to reread Mr Danrymple article and I can not agree with you about its unsightfulness. I think criminal leniency is a big problem in England, I have known some terrible cases, and I think he is true about that. There is a big criminal/ludical sort of people who has no idea about the minimal notions of public behaviour and of course of justice, of what is good and what is bad.

I think there is a very big problem about values, about intangible things. These questions were very clear in other times but now we see a terrible void in many generations of people. The problem is the same with wild hoolingans, middle class barbarians, with good incomes and no respect for basic values.

England ´s riots have awakened us from the dream of an autoregulatory society because we saw a herd of people taking advantage of the rights of a civilized country. I think a very proposterous thing to mention capitalism and fattened words like that. I think too England and Britain in general is not a wild place. But we must be in guard in front of these eruptions.

I think Mr Danrymple is not doing melodrame about the class of the rioters but he is pointing undeniable facts: the resentment, the false tribal solidarity, the unconsciousness of a false consciousness about social justice. I have lived in very poor countries and I have seen real reasons to be resented. This not the case. This kind of resentment is the response to a void of positive values. Its the by product of a very insane way of life, the living of the people that took part on the riots.

Im glad to see your fierce anti-Dalrymplian war machine marching on. For me, Manchester is not only the land of Louise Cliffe but the place where a hellium-ballon lead us to the way of distension.
It doesn't help that the polititions are crooks as well! :P

For heaven's sake!

This piece is not an analysis, it is not remotely insightful,it is merely a parade of straw men and stooges. It is not just faulty, it is deliberately misleading.

It shamelessly plays to the idea of an underclass which will crawl out of the sewers and scare the prosperous. Seducing their daughters, being unkind to their pedigree cats ... who knows what 'they' might do next?

Let's run through some places I know - in NYC, the Upper East Side; in the DC area, Bethesda; in London, Chelsea; in north-west England, Wilmslow. All places in which the fear of crime and disorder is insanely out of proportion to any genuine risk of crime and disorder.

To shorten my case - people who worry far more about being panhandled for a dollar in the street by a badly-dressed ruffian than about being ripped off for millions by a perfectly-groomed Bernie Madoff.

The right response to both ruffian and Madoff surely has to be "Just Say No", and walk quietly away.

That is not a matter of any wild notions about the strengths of capitalism - which are many - more like "There is no fool like a scared fool in a leased Beemer."
No, it does not follow that a complaint about inequities in wealth distribution necessitates a desire for complete equality in wealth distribution.

Sloppy, lazy thinking.

An extremely insightful article: virtually everything said applies equally to Canada. In Vancouver, rioters in the spring (excuse: a lost hockey game) were not even charged for many months, and no-one expects any of those convicted to suffer any significant penalty. This despite the fact that they did about 200 million dollars worth of damage to the city centre, and terrified many store clerks.
More recently, "occupiers" demonstrated exactly the same sense of entitlement as described in this article.
The stereotype of the deadbeat whingeing pom is only too true but it dates to earlier than a mere 50 years ago. Intergenerational welfare dependence (3+) has had its predictable effects. You can no more expect social responsibility from someone living in council welfare housing than you would a serf working on the estates of the Abbey of St Albans or soviet serfs on a kolkoz. As for kiddie courts it only teaches criminals to break the law and good citizens learn they are not protected by the state. The bargain of the "Kings Peace" is broken.
To all:

A suggestion. Accusations of 'Ad homimem' sound so reasonable, while being sneaky and snarky. The fact is that that some people really do need to be challenged, opposed, confronted.

If someone claims to be what he/she is not, to remind ourselves of that is not 'ad hominem' so much as facing the known facts about that person.

If Daniels/Dalrymple pointed to a vehicle and told me "That is a car", I would believe him. But I wouldn't buy it from him.
To Tom Welsh:

Do not presume to know from which political quarter I may speak. You would be wrong.

As for 'ad hominem', that could also be regarded as a matter of personal and professional reputation. Dr Daniels worked in Winson Green, a mostly Cat C provincial prison with a capacity of 1450; I worked in Wandsworth, a Cat B prison in the capital with a nominal population of 1665.

Just to make sure you understand the categories, Cat B is higher security, for more serious and dangerous convicted criminals.

Daniels/Dalrymple is intelligent. I do not doubt that. But he is also a huckster.

Sorry, I just did.
John Blyth, I am afraid you are very unlikely to see "a rebuttal by a left wing thinker". All you are likely to see from that quarter is the sort of repetitious, entirely unsupported ad hominem attacks that kattrby has written here.

I have never met Dr Dalrymple, but I have read several of his books and dozens of his articles, and I am quite certain that he is highly intelligent, intellectually honest, rigorous, and experienced. The evidence is right there in his writings: they are entirely consistent, from decade to decade, and make excellent sense to me.

His analyses may not show the whole picture nor explain everything; but none of us can see the whole picture. Indeed, it is very often the arrogant belief that one can understand far more than others that leads to utopian radicalism.
To John Blyth

You don't need a left wing thinker. You just need a thinker, not a poseur like Daniels(aka Dalrymple).

What he offers is by no stretch of the imagination an analysis; it is just pushing buttons in sequence, to gratify the people who pay him. He just pumps out nonsense by the inch, foot, yard, metre. Like a zookeeper throwing fish to penguins promptly at 4.00 every afternoon, he wants to be a crowd-pleaser.

No, Dr Daniels failed badly in his first career, took his large pension from the British state medical system (a very good system, good enough to retire out the charlatans who flub)and went off to sulk very comfortably in France, hoping for calls from DC. He is a classic double-dipper.

The supposed Dalrymple does not in fact offer an analysis; he parades a wordy sense of knowing things he has in truth never known.

It is not right-wing/left wing. Throw him $40k, and Dalrymple would switch from Goebbels to Che in the blink of an eye.
This is a remarkable analysis of a society in apparent decline.
I would like to read a rebuttal by a left wing thinker.
My dear friend Katt:

I must admit I have not the guts and the faith to take your way. I will always think the mobsters are going to smash me, because they are looking for that, a guy in their road, a living object representing the enemy and enmitie.

Nowadays, the next riot Im going to visit Manchester. I think I can recognize your hellium-filled balloon. For me, already a sacred and beautiful sign.
What is a thoughtful person to do? That is such a nagging question. As you say, fairness and decency are absolutely basic.
Lose those, you lose everything.

Like you, I do not despair. My way of working through a bad scene in Notting Hill, when things were about to cook off very badly, was to tie a helium-filled balloon to float about two feet above my shoulder, on the principles that a)a smiling guy with a balloon just above his shoulder was not being aggressive; and b) that hitting a smiling guy with a balloon just above his shoulder would be seriously uncool.

That is how you take the tension out.
Thanks for your apologies Katt. I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree with Mr Dalrymple, for instance, I disagree about his black vision of contemporary England. In this case I was infuriated by some of the responses to his article.

I apologise too for my words and my bad prose. I have heard in your gentle words an echo of my working and loved fathers old English fairness and decency. This is the thing we must need now and I must learn a little more about that.
To Norman:

We are almost certainly on the same side, no matter how cross the words. I do have an argument with the man who writes as Theodore Dalrymple - his real name is Anthony Daniels, and he was a lastingly smelly failure as a shrink at Winson Green, the prison in Birmingham. So he reinvented himself as Theodore Dalrymple, a very well-paid snarky guru for right-wing US think-tanks. He tries to pull a lot of smart moves, in so many ways, but he is limited by his knowledge and his talents. He weasels and fakes, time after time.

Not a man I could ever, ever respect. Not for a second. He should just go away.

You, on the other hand, I am growing to respect. I apologise for my rude words.
Thank you very much Katt for showing me a more gentle side of your personality. I was afraid your only matter was Mr Dalrymple curriculum and hearsay. I know football barbarism is a big problem. But we are talking about England ´s last riots. Perhaps hooliganism is a bigger problem. But now we are speaking about another matter. Believe me I loath right-wing violence as much as lef-wing violence. I was very young but I remember Brixton riots. It was the first time molotov cocktails were thrown on Englands soil in all her history. I remember some of my radical friends saying it was an improvment to break the false pacifism of British society. And they said it was a new and symbolic weapon for the dispossesed.

I see in my own town near to London 50 or 60 rioters armed with bricks, bottles, sticks and baseball bats. They were smashing shop and car windows, hitting everything. ÂżWas it a carnival? ÂżWere they resented? They were a mass of people moved by one of the oldest urges in humans, collective and mimetic violence and the looking for a scapegoat, a living or a unliving object to project all their fury. The lynching mobs of the Far West were not very disimilar. The worst thing is to see there are many people triyng to explain this very simple fact in structural terms.

You are quite right, Norm, that Manchester is not the hub of the universe - though, having been the first industrial city in the world, people there sometimes think it is!

So I will add two more places where I was around for riots - Notting Hill in the 1970s, Brixton in the 1980s - both of them in London. And add in dealing with events around, and following, three prison riots. And add in trying to be a peacemaker, walking between lines of very angry people during a major disturbance outside the American Embassy back in the Vietnam War time.

Believe it or not, I really do know what I am talking about. And you are right to be concerned about the victims - me too, because that was the whole point of my being there, on each and all of those occasions.

But, from your comfortable armchair somewhere, you spout nonsense about things you have never seen, people you have never faced. "the poor mass of indignant rioters"? "the joyful comrades of the mob"?

Those are not words that someone who has been there would ever use about rioters. More like "tangled", "confused", "over-excited", "foolish".

Riots are not driven by politics or resentment. My own, experienced, view is that they are far more like carnivals that get very badly out of hand. They are opportunities to let off steam, go crazy.

You will know that there is a long history in the UK of football hooliganism, of very bad violence. People do get killed. Many of them - far more than in riots. It is just the same effect.

And the defendants who end up in the dock are by no means poor or underprivileged in any way. They certainly have politics, if you think hatred of Catholics, or Protestants, or people who look different or come from another patch, amounts to politics.

The people who end up in the dock after a football killing or killings have a profile which is known and understood - white, 25-40, wife and a couple of kids, comfortable home, in a skilled or semi-skilled occupation such as joinery, plumbing or eletrician, ventilation, central heating. Maybe owns his own business, or works for his father-in-law. Goes out at weekends to get drunk and hurt people, in what is known as a "firm" - ie a known group of people who like to go out and hurt people. They tend to be racist, and right-wing, and their politics are at about the level of the SA. Which is why "firms" are both infiltrated and surrounded by police officers.

The body count/damage count from such people is far far higher than from any amount of random rioters.

Unless and until you understand that, you have not even started. My own position is not amateur; I have been employed by the authorities, given evidence very many times in court. I have no political affiliation.

This is about the most cack-handed and unscientific assessment of the riots I have read. Like the journalists he criticizes at the start of his piece, it would have served Dalrymple better to start with some evidence rather than his own bias and ideology and the anecdotal vagueness he uses to back them up.
Katt, I was not in Manchester but Manchester is not the centre of the world nor the only place in England where rioters acted. Perhaps your could talk with the rioters and they explained you the deep philosophical reasons to act in this way. 68 years old Richard Mannington Bowes was not as fortunate as you because he was killed by the poor mass of indignant rioters. Or Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir, they were killed too by the joyful comrades of the mob. They deserve a more compasionate view from your part, as Mr Dalrymple deserves it too. Don ´t be so snobish with my way of writing. The right of opinion is universal and not limited to Dalrymple specialists like you. In your old age you must be no so resentful.
The analysis is obviously correct - now to Lenin's famous question:"what is to be done?". The remedy must be realistic, i.e., not require the refashioning of humanity from materials other than the "crooked timber" of which it is made, or involve the turning of society upside down or the expenditure of unrealistic resources. This leaves us with making the police and the courts perform their duties, if need be by tightening legislation.
I am sure you'll enjoy this.
A somewhat different take on the UK riots. And anyone who can knock egalitarianism and the human right industry in one sentence gets my attention!
Well, Norman, you seem to have your own tribe. An unruly mass that invents words like 'compasive'.

Before you talk about hatred of old people, please bear in mind that I am 64 years old. Nothing whatsoever in the Brit riots made me feel for one second that my age mattered. I was around when things broke out in downtown Manchester, UK. Nobody offered me any violence, nobody tried to rob me. What can I say? I was there, you were not.

You, Norm, are not involved in these things. So why don't you just stay quiet?

I have seen many times during my life, when a person has no arguments ad hominem attack its the better. Mr kattrby must be an authority in Dalrymple matter and he knows an infalible tribunal that considers Mr Dalrymple is "a vain lazy know-nothing". Katt, you must be more compasive with every sort of people, not only with convicted criminals and his likes.

The crux of the question is that Duggan ´s case was only a spark to ignite the fire of a resented group of people, hungry of violence and robbery and destruction. They are the true abolishers of individual rights. We must remember a person was killed because the hatred of old persons is a tribal fact for this kind of unruly mass.
Here we go again.

Pompous lo-buck Cassandra parades his vanity.

You have made much in the past, Dr, of your supposedly worldly ways. How you met all these low-life sponging peasants while you worked in a prison. You want a street-cred that will work on K Street. You are doing what Tom Wolfe described so well in "Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers".

But the fact remains that you were less than mediocre in your job. Just a blowhard.

I too worked in the Brit prison system. For years. You were regarded as a vain lazy know-nothing, by all sides. Screws, cons, everybody.

So ..... how I am to view your ideas about rioting?

You misquote history, take Mayhew the wrong way, play mightily on people's prejudices.

As someone who has been called in to prevent riots, and not by force or threat, I regard you, Dr, as the empty poltroon you are.

Disgusting tripe.

The crux of your argument on robbery sentencing and the Duggan shooting is that the police should mete out punishments based on identities rather than actions. What Duggan's friends and relatives said about him may be revealing - but it has nothing to do with the facts of the case. And you suggest that we should sentence thieves not based on the crime for which they're convicted, but rather based on other crimes they may or may not have.

Identity and affiliation may be a driver of the riots - if people do not feel they are being represented by those who purport to do so, they will have strong reactions - but if you are proposing to make them the basis of policing, sentencing, and the judiciary in general, then I must strongly object. It is something beyond the pale to argue, as you do here, that the supposed failures of the educational system should be compensated for by a tightening of judicial leniency and a demolition of individual rights.

Additionally, and on a personal level: the classist scorn and condescension displayed by you here - and, I have no doubt, in your other work and your everyday life - renders you unfit to use the voice you have been granted.

Good day.
ConservativeWhisperer December 11, 2011 at 6:36 PM
Overall this was a very insightful read and I appreciate where the author has the time piecing together interpretations of the new media coverage on an episode that seemed to fade off without much resolution on what deeper meaning could have been contained in the August riots.

In a few passages though, I found myself cringing a bit at the missed insights I felt an author of this caliber would have realized had they seen more of the day-to-day existence in some of the industries and scenarios that were used to support old and sore subject of what is essentially an elitist view self-fulfilling their own biases by only experiencing and remembering what is always an unusual exchange between the elite and the poor.

In many situations, a well-fare recipient refers to their check as "getting paid" because they are only too aware of the social judgements made upon them should they reveal their status. As others pick up the same language, some do disassociate the money from the greater society that is largely alien and uninviting. This is indeed an education problem, but also a social program one.

To assert the old stereotype of brainwashed entitlement still oversimplifies and disservices the vast individualities of recipient populations, though the author does appear to be making a concerted effort not to purposely do so. Put more simply, just as in any elite household, you're still different from your brother or mother. Welfare recipients are as well, and language to the contrary, while an interesting thought experiment, and worth reading in the article above, does boarder on dehumanizing and is worth noting with this mild counter-perspective. I have never known a well-fare family that didn't have a striver, a loafer, a quiet one, a good kid, a troubled, kid, and a dreamer. Due to the lax, chaotic, and largely abandoned prison like situation described in the article, welfare families are destined to be even more varied and complicated, not less.

"Second, many of the young foreigners possessed qualities superior to those of their British counterparts..."

This myth is also proven untrue time and again by the difficult cultural transition of migrant workers who arrive from the same category of slum in their home countries as the job seekers already competing with them in the slums of first world countries. In fact, being newcomers they have a severe disadvantage of navigating new gender and class distinctions in acceptable behavior, not to mention a language barrier severely limiting effective communication. Only the highest towers pull the most successful immigrants. Broader service levels remain the same regardless of who has the job, except that Britons seeking average jobs will rely on more public services until they get them.

Lastly, the interesting analysis of Duggan's girlfriend and sister are revealing, however the use of the language from both girls and Duggan's own persona more strongly reflects exposure to others in their environment who speak in gang cliche. Instead of considering this alternate scenario, the author instead lumps the individual players in these observations at face value. Understandably, this alternate interpretation would be more apparent to someone who actually did grow up in such situations, and can actually write about them with some modest anecdotal authority, however slight.

It would be preferable to see an author of this perceptive ability instead focussed on plausible scenarios to solve the root causes of these maligned identity factors using the same hypothetical faculties currently used on Duggan and his family, who at best are an interesting literary device, but can only be used as poster children for the problems society at large has some control over.

These amendments, for lack of a better egalitarian term, are offered here to continue the discussion on otherwise very strong and well-considered points, not to condemn. But the point is now made to hopefully consider in future articles we'll look forward to reading.
great column
I notice that you have not mentioned the economic disaster of the last few years brought about by the banks and their associates in power. I, for one, would be very resentful to see the same people responsible for this situation still doing very well while I have to struggle to get by.
Is freedom self-terminating?
We know every goverment is full of faults and that our institutions are not very efective. And to be a policeman in a wild society is not a way of roses. The people that destroyed the urban centre of our cities and weared nikes and robbered every shop and attacked ancient persons are not the manifestation of our maladies but humans being capable of such actions. They are free subjects and they have decided to fall in the blind marasm of mimetic violence. This is not a new thing. History and news are full of this kind of behaviour. The new thing is the host of people that must wash their conscience backing the unreason of a wild multitude. There are social problems, world crisis is an awful thing and many bankers are a sort of thieves. But Englands rioters were people with hands and brains and they need canalize this destructive energy to improve their situation. But naturally law and order must be defended against their agresors and organic intellectuals.
What a wonderful name - Theodore Dalrymple!
Sadly not such wonderful powers of deduction.
Suggesting that the police in Britain are seen as occupiers may or may not be true, there is certainly anecdotal evidence that they are hated by many parts of the community, but this is hardly a basis for deducing that the cause of this is simply lenient sentences by the courts. A more probable explanation might be an endemic distancing of the police from the people they are protecting. Certainly it would seem that young black people are stopped disproprotionatle by the police leading to a justified resentment. The fatal assault on the innocent walking past by a police officer is a case in point. None of the other officers who witnessed it did anything about it or seemed even slightly bothered by it. Like the officer who struck the man they too had covered or removed their badges and faces. The police hierarchy lied blatantly and continued to do so long after everyone else with access to the interent had seen what had happened.
As for the unemployed refusing to work because they are subsidised to not work, I assume that the author has never lived on unemployment benefits. To say that the unemployed subsidise their meagre allowance by other means, presumably illegal ones, well that is simply an assumption. What evidence has he got for this comment? One is reminded of Kenneth Clark's reference to "the criminal classes" after the riots. This from the Justice Secretary! Clearly education is behind much of the prob;lems of Britain, but I feel that peoiple who perceive the country as being composed of "criminal classes" among others are hardly suitable to be in a position of power and influence. One wonders about Mr. Clark's education. All jolly decent chaps what-ho!
I agree with the suggestion that it would be impossible to staff a hotel with young British people but I feel the causes for this are complex and have an awful lot to do with how British society is structured. one would hardly expect sink estates to produce young people who are polite, hardworking and keen to learn. That is not an indictment of education or Lord Chief Justices but of the people who have run Britain for the past fifty years and the assumptions that they have based that rule on.
Britain has become an alienated and resentful society. The flaunting of wealth and the existence of grinding poverty and hopelessness is a potent mix. The world is currently going through a period of austerity and uncertainty while the people who caused it are carrying on as if nothing had happened. I'm a middle class, well educated professional but I feel anger and resentment at the complete failure of any government anywhere to respond to this. The main govt response has been to give the banks billions, without any conditions while these so-called traders and hedge fund managers continue to "earn" obscene amounts of money. (does anyone know what a hedge fund actually does?).
I appreciate the author's attempt to explain these riots but I don't think he has done so>
Andrea Ostrov Letania December 10, 2011 at 12:09 PM
In both Paris and London riots, blacks played a prominent role. So, one lesson is blacks are more likely to riot because they are naturally more aggressive(more crime-prone), physically stronger(therefore, more contemptuous of non-blacks), and generally less intelligent(more likely to fail in society).
There are lowlife thugs in all communities, but blacks are MORE likely to run amok. Anyone who denies this is a radical anti-racist--as foolish as a radical racist.
Is this serious? If Theodore Dalrymple was a serious human being I would feel angry. Where to begin with such an ignorant excuse for a human being!
One rioter was recently interviewed for a grandiose, left-wing project initiated by the Guardian and the London School of Economics "to understand the riots".

By his own admission, he was on holiday abroad with his mates, when he learned about the mayhem. He quickly decided to come back home in order to take part in the action : burn down a few buildings, hurl a few bricks at policewomen and, of course, steal some stuff.

Why would he do that ? For the reasons Dr. Dalrymple reports in his article : "poverty", "exploitation", "cuts in benefits" and "lack of an affordable education".

So this guy, who's wealthy enough to enjoy a foreign vacation with friends, tells us with a straight face that he's a poor downtrodden prole who can't take it any more from the toffs.

And he expects the journalist to believe him.

With good reason, because the man from the Guardian writes that the poor rioter is nothing but a victim, really.

Dr. Dalrymple is right, of course. Oh, and by the way, to the neo-marxist bashers : before hurling the usual slander that someone who dares criticise the underclass does not know them, do a bit of research.

As a prison and hospital psychiatrist, Dr. Dalrymple has had close, personal and direct knowledge of the British underclass he's writing about.

Not something most armchair revolutionaries can say.
A progressive peaceful society requires it's leaders to be firm yet benevolent; decisive but fair, and above all honest. Lack of the above is an important cause of disaffection.
Some of the responses to the closely argumented reasons of Dalrymple are a by product of the moronic marxism of some Englishmen. I cant imagine more extraordinary thing than a revolutionn conducted by the privileged claque of progresive profesors here representend and the mass of a resented herd, conducted by his mimetic desire of violence and greed. The first ones hanged from lamposts would be these depresive and devitalized profesors. The truly privileged and hypersubsidiarized are going to be the first prey of this new kind of thugs. Thanks good in Englad law respectful people are majority. Thanks to them progresive intelectuals can chatter forever.
The predictable insipidity of Dalyrymple's analysis here is rivaled only by his purblind inability to accurately envisage the villains of the situation he "observes". As so often, he picks on the 'little' enemies he prefers to imagine, people who probably picked on him in his youth; his favorite enemies are those most like him, even as he sweats to "defend" the station of people he doesn't really know - whose work, essentially, is "existence" (what more accurate term for smug, inert complicity with the prevailing order in this context?) - who certainly do not have any desire to share HIS company, and who take steps to ensure they can avoid doing so.

Best cower under your bed, Mr D - there's no respite for your pitiable ilk from "the Duggieman".
typical conservative yibberish. Its people like you who will be the reason for a new revolution and it will be my pleasure to spit on you when you dangle from a lamppost. Is that anger enough for you - its not that people have the right to everything its that people have the right not to get exploited by the Murdochs and camerons of this world - and we will get you - someday soon
Alena Hromádková, Prague December 09, 2011 at 8:39 AM
Dr Dalrymple´s commnets have always been a sort of revelation among politically aware citizens of my country, I experienced.
The human rights/wishful thinking culture has been imposed on Central Europe in very massive and dynamic tempo and confused/corrupted the young generation in an unprecedent way, after 1989.How many opportunities to identify the heart of the matter were missed or deliberately destroyed! The adequate reflexions are still before us and we can just prey for growing influence men like Dr. D.
The author needs to miss a few meals.
The problem is that people who are born on
home base think they have hit a triple.
Well, patrick, here are some thoughts on civility and economics.

Dalrymple’s presumption is that civility – the general happiness of, and goodwill of the members of society towards individuals and the collective – is some sort of monotonically increasing function of economic equality. The many experiments of communes, of socialist societies, and even of various (and sometimes more than slightly odd) collections of intellectuals have shown that any attempt at absolute equality ends in tears, recriminations and sometime mass-murder. It is also easy to demonstrate that those social structures where everything (including all members of society) is owned by one person are rather less than the best of all possible worlds. It takes but a few moments thought to understand that there may be several levels of inequality between these two extremes that are more or less locally optimal for the generation of a happy society (more or less, since the function is certainly ill-behaved – such is the curse of economics) and one that is more or less globally optimal. These points will change over times as society changes, but it should be one of the objectives of the dismal science to locate approximately the optimal point nearest to the current state of economic inequality and propose methods to shift the economy towards it. Unfortunately, the lessons of history are that the only known ways to engineer such shifts are through major wars and depressions. Perhaps that is why it is called the dismal science.
Tina May Santa Cruz CA December 09, 2011 at 12:18 AM
I would love to read Dr Theodore Dalrymple's opinion of the head master Mr. Benzie who turned the heat off in the school on a day when the temp was 34 degrees F at Ansel Academy Castle Cary Somerset England negatively affecting 640 students age 11 to 16 written up at The Sun online under the title School turns heating off to 'save planet'. Turning off the heat was done at the suggestion of some students on an eco committee and was carried out by the head master to diminish the carbon footprint of the school. I would also be interested in Dr. Theodore Dalrymple's ideas about the students on this eco committee at the school. While parents have objected, the head master vows to continue these eco days. I wrote posts suggesting that the adult British readers read Dr Theodore Dalrymple's books and free articles on line and interviews, and watch free Youtube short videos of him online. Every time I mention Dr Theodore Dalrymple's name, my post is censored by the editors so that the British readers never get to read my suggestion that they look at the forest rather than the tree by reading Dr. Theodore Dalrymple. I thought that Dr. Theodore Dalrymple's thoughts were applicable to the situation, specifically his thoughts on brainwashing that he mentioned in an interview with Front Page Magazine on 8/31/2005. He was being interviewed by Jamie Glazov about one of his books called "Our Culture, what's Left of It". I posted on The Sun numerous times and so far got censored and deleted 5 times. Some of my postings on other points remain. I gave up trying to post there. They do not give a reason why they won't allow Theodore Dalrymple aka Anthony Daniel's name to be mentioned in their comments. Coming from California, what appears to be censorship based on content of ideas is appalling, since I don't see any explanation and I was always polite and used proper language and did not involve hate speech etc.
This is reactionary swill. You refer to "the unthinking assumption that more equality is better;" this "assumption," whether you agree with it or not, is far from unthinking-- as you know, social equality has been the subject of most of the brilliant political philosophers of the past 150 years, and every victory for equality is, in the 40/20 of hindsight vision, considered a triumph for society: the women's lib and civil rights movements, to name obvious names.
"The riots might herald a positive change... the magistrates have imposed much stiffer sentences on the rioters than anyone expected." And you, a coddled academic, sit back and nod in approval. Bring back the public hangings, as well! The property of wealthy men is, unquestionably, a much greater asset than the lives of the riff-raff, am I right?
Your comments on the Gini co-efficient were remarkably facile and poorly-informed, as well-- it is a good predictor of class unrest, but not the only one, as you very well knew. (Shame on you for such sophistic reasoning.) France had a raft of problems that incited the 2005 riots: urban ghetto-ization, racism, a refusal to grant work visas.
"This theory [of resentment] implies that the rioters’ “disaffection” was more self-consciously analytical than was probably the case..." Really? I'm not even going to bother with this-- the blithe, unthinking elitism suggests that you might have some problems with self-analysis yourself.
"It is hardly surprising, then, that when people claim that service reductions provoked the riots, they are unable to see that if this were so, the problem would be not the removal of services, but dependence on them in the first place." Do you yearn for the days of Dickensian London, when the lack of urban "services," or maintenance, created a heartbreakingly ignorant lower class, child slavery, animal abuse, sexual exploitation, and air so thick with feces dust that you could barely breathe? What "services" are spoiling us? Garbage collection? The sewer system? The education system?
There's plenty to go around, Mr. Dalyrymple. Take a moment to examine your own reactionary, narrow-minded, grasping ideas and maybe you'll come to some surprising conclusions.
And the Country with the most equality is North Korea where all but ten people are totally impoverished
Why is Theodore Dalrymple always so cogent, so thought-provoking, and so right? often have we heard the 'envy' accusation hurled at the dispossessed? Isn't is so ungrateful of them, when we are all so obviously in this together...?

'You can laugh, you know, I don't mind you laughing. I'm talking to you .
. . There's
people'd call this envy, you know, it's not, it's hate.'
Trevor Griffiths, Comedians, p.52 (published script)
Patrick.. It struck a nerve because its, er... wrong.

The author has not made any response to the multiple people who have pointed out that the quoted crime stats are simply wrong.

I guess if reality does not correspond with your theory, it's reality's fault for not appreciating your brilliance!
Looks like this one struck a nerve with quite a few on the left after its mention in A&L Daily! :D

There are very few reasonable critiques of Dalrymple's point of view here, other than the Gini coefficient thing which I agree is not a strong point of this piece. Sarcasm levels are high, and numerous commenters felt it necessary to make personal attacks and resort to cliché stereotypes of the upper class.

aldousk - Please do tell us "childish, unthoughtful, perhaps even brainless" people more about the "workings of civility." Clearly you are something of an expert in that area.

Philipp J. - Theodore Dalrymple is a pseudonym of a doctor who worked for many years in prisons. He does know whereof he speaks.
"It might also be worth mentioning that the Netherlands, with its relatively virtuous Gini coefficient, is one of the most crime-ridden countries in Western Europe, as is Sweden, with an even lower Gini coefficient." This is simply untrue. Don't getting your facts right matter any more?

See here:

And here:
Conservatives like Mr. Dalrymple champion personal responsibility until they stumble upon a convenient opportunity to blame "society" for someone's misdeeds.

Were a criminal to excuse his crimes by saying, "I had to rob banks because me mum always spoke harshly to me and me dad never bought me sweets," Mr. Dalrymple would of course reply with, "Hogwash. You're an adult. You've no one to blame but yourself!"

But when thousands of miscreants riot in England, Mr. Dalrymple spies an exculpatory sermon under every stone they tossed.

The rioters didn't riot of their own free will, Mr. Dalrymple would have us believe.

They rioted because "liberal" politicians and government policies somehow magically, and irresistibly, coerced them into rioting.

Mr. Dalrymple, who otherwise condemns government efforts at "social engineering," would have us believe that the rioters wouldn't have rioted if only right-thinking social policies and government measures had been in place.
Deconstructing someone else's use of evidence is not the same as providing some for one's own opinions.
Fintan O'Higgins wrote: "Does TD suggest that criminals convicted of one crime should automatically be sentenced for crimes of which they have not been convicted on the assumption that they must have got away with something else? That is stupid and wicked."
Technically, O'Higgins is correct. However, TD is criticizing the lordship's writing only. TD is praising their performance in sentencing criminals, at least these criminals.
O'Higgins does not realize that courts convict criminals for what they do; they sentence criminals for who they are. Judges carefully avoid mentioning their suspicions of other, uncharged crimes. However, they do give consideration to employment, family, and other positive factors. These positive factors are considered, because they are evidence that the convicted criminal is not a career criminal. Even a suspected career criminal is indeed going to be "sentenced for crimes of which they have not been convicted on the assumption that they must have got away with something else."
Don't think Theodore is going hungry, looking for work, a home or an economic future. The real sin is that we fund institutes that sponsor eggheads like him to squat and basically frame their own class prejudice in pseudo-intellectual terms, then turn it on the marginalized as if it were an ethical weapon. They actually get paid quite well to spout their self-righteous smugness, which basically has no value at all for the folks who actually are living on the edge.
The typical superficial, dishonest, pesudo-factitious diatribe of a member of the British upper middle class who konws noting but blathers about anything as long as he is leaninmg against the bar in his favourite watering hole. Has Mr. Dalrymple ever talked to any on of the people he is rumbling on about? I hae my doots!
In my country, Argentina, happens exactly the same. And, I think, for the same reasons.
"A locution that welfare recipients frequently use is revealing: “I get paid on Friday,” they say..." And what does Mr Dalrymple expect them to say? If Friday is the day on which they recieve funds, thenthey are paid said funds, and it is resonable to describe said funds paid as "pay". Any other locution would be absurd. To draw a broader interpretation from such a statement is also absurd.
TD's etiology of casual rioting is persuasive even to this traditional leftie. But, alas, it was the UK political class who corrupted the idealism of Locke and Mill by their short term "solutions" of the rioting classeys. And they are particularly guilty of acquiescence in the bipolar educational system where the children of the alreadyarrived are coddled and the multigeneration losers abandoned scorned. If the losers are guilty of abusing welfare traditions, so much the more are the powerful who allow the works of good thinkers and doers corrupted by their complaisance. As a retired American professor of American Literature who has emigrated to Weimar, Germany for the last decade, I'm impressed about carefully business executives take special pains to train the coming generation of ordinary workers. Strategic reeducation must begin to really elevate the lowest classes. Unless the upperclasses are too arrogant to stoop to conquer. I's like to see how TD would speculate about such a policy. He seems complacent to let the watefulness continue, as unsolveable. Patrick
A great article. I wondered about English riots and this is a very good answer about them. We see England suffering the bad consequences of the welfare state, the creation of a crimminal class below the boundaries of subsiding. This new class of barbarism is akin to hooliganisms in the terms its described by Barry Gifford.
The causes of the riots are very hard to explain.
But, one thing you can absolutely sure of is;
poverty is not one of them!
Oh, Once-great Britain - I WEEP for thee!
How very true. If only the lower classes would just accept their place! The rich man in his mansion, the poor man watching Downton Abbey in his hovel, that's the way!
"meaning, of course, the first time that they get caught, not the first time that they burgle, a distinction that seems to have escaped their lordships". Please. Does TD suggest that criminals convicted of one crime should automatically be sentenced for crimes of which they have not been convicted on the assumption that they must have got away with something else? That is stupid and wicked.
Theodore is absolutely right.

We must realise that some people are so evil that only force will make them behave.
How dare those bloody proles feel entitled to an ordinary standard of living don't they know a sense of entitlement is hereditary. It comes along with Daddy's money.
Whatever the rioters feel entitled to is as nothing to the smug, self obsessed sense of entitlement common not only to the one percent but to virtually a whole class level. The people Dalrymple rages against didn't create the system they find themselves in. It was the upper class who created the consumer society that drives the sense of entitlement he bemoans. It was they that decided that education should be done on the cheap and they who have benefited by decades of simple theft by the finance industry and gross exploitation by executives. Dream on Theodore the world is changing and your simplistic analyses reveal only your personal prejudices.
"First is the unthinking assumption that more equality is better; complete equality would presumably be best."

No. Your presumption betrays a childish, unthoughtful, perhaps even brainless, misunderstanding of the workings of civility.
So Sweden and Holland are the crime capitals of Europe? Who knew!
hard to take such politically motivated b.s. seriously. Mr. Dalrymple, you omit the radically different composition of the people doing the rioting, as well as the reasons. It's almost as if you had an axe to grind, and didn't care if a few facts got in the way.
The way in which the Gini coefficient is most often put to analytic use reflects the assumption of economic growth and continuing social liberalism deeply rooted in the mindsets of even the most pessimistic observers such as Dalrymple.
Without the assumption of perpetual material growth and expanding entitlements, expressions of social malaise would expand in form and pervasiveness. That might be lurking around the next corner.
The suddeness and intensity of the August riots were incomprehensible. Many of the young people involved are subliterate and subnumerate. They utter substandard language and lack social graces. The schooling system and the collapse of family as a stable unit of acculturation are probably major contributions to this low level of educational attainment. All I can recommend is a cultural revival for Britain and elsewhere - but the who and how are a big unknown.
And by the way Bryan, when referring to the "30 tons of refuse in LA", perhaps you should read the first-hand report of a successful TV writer (no, not a jobless hippy) which clearly states that the police trashed private property, dumped it, and then blamed the refuse on the protestors.

Or, maybe, the police are all honest, it's a liberal conspiracy, and militarisation of the police force is nothing to worry about.
Well, it is hard to know exactly how to respond to such a sulfurous piece of prose. Minimally, there were logic errors (from the proposition that a high gini coefficient implies social unrest it does not follow that a low gini coefficient implies serenity: the fallacy of denying the antecedent, etc) but this is a pretty minor complaint.
We may all agree that a nanny state is undesirable and fosters retrograde tendencies in the population but what is the alternative vision being proposed here"? Some Dickensian scenario in which we reinstitute poor houses, child labor, feudalism? Is 19th century English society really being proposed as a better reality? What else was being suggested here? I see no other ideas.
It is easy to whine vitriolically about the prevailing ethos but in the absence of the suggestion of a better alternative, of legislative measures to improve the situation, of implementation details for a different course, it is all rather facile.
Plausible casual explanations for the British riots are sparse at best, pontifications of sociologists and psychologists to the contrary notwithstanding. The dynamics are almost certainly non-linear so adequate accounts are going to be hard to come by - thus providing Dalrymple with more straw men to attack. Rather than trash the obviously jejune accounts on offer, it would have been more interesting to hear a constructive account of why what happened, happened or suggestions for a superior social contract.
Britain has a number of socio-economic problems which Dalrymple has surgically dwelled upon with numbing consistency. He may want to claim that he is just a critical observer and not a constructive theorist but there are surely upper bounds of interest on the number of the same acerbic diatribes being offered.
In short there is almost nothing of intellectual or epistemological substance here, but rather the curdled disaffections of someone obsessed with them.
I don't know why you are staying on as a journalist. You've apparently invented a device that can read someone's state of mind, in the past, through a TV screen. How else can you divine what someone meant, and their whole politicial philosophy, from someone else's one-line interview?

Surely the patents are worth more than you will ever earn in journalism?
Gary Novak: WELL SAID.
The reasons the London rioters gave, and the types of lives they live, are identical to those of the putative Occupy Wall Street demonstrators. Nobody at OWS was starving as they demonstrated, and the big problems we heard during the early stages was theft of iPads, laptops, and large sums of money.

Their little cities evolved quickly to allow rape, drug abuse, and unsanitary behavior, all neatly tucked away for a while from the general populace.

Then, when the general populace grew tired of the restrictions on their own use of the appropriated public spaces, they sent in the police.

Unlike the police in Britain, the ones in the United States are far better armed than their adversaries will ever be, and are allowed far greater latitude in use of force.

We learned from the LA Riots. Now that London has had its version, its time for it to learn.
All of the welfare benefits were sold on the idea of "fairness", equality and "compassion".

Now, across the pond, President Obama is selling the same goods.

We'll be joining you soon mates!
Typical left wing response, incoherent and meaningless
Wow. Great article. Thank you.
Typical arrogant right-wing drivel.
Mr. Hiller claims to agree with much of what Dalrymple says-- and then criticizes him for not making the unthinking assumption that more equality is better. But the criteria Dalrymple provides for condemning the barbarians-- lack of work, effort, and self-discipline-- also condemn crony capitalists, corporate welfare recipients, and crooked investment bankers. Hiller mistakes a critique of barbarians on the Thames for an implicit defense of sin on Wall Street, because he thinks capitalist inequality is inherently unfair. He refers to our “capitalist/monopolist” culture, as if capitalism were essentially monopolistic. But as Joseph Schumpeter pointed out long ago, there is too much “creative destruction” in capitalism for monopolies to survive long-- unless they are state-supported. You know, like Fannie Mae. When government picks winners through subsidies, bailouts, and politically-motivated regulation, wealth ceases to be earned through work, effort, and self-discipline and does, indeed, become a matter of unjust inequality. But the solution is not to fall for the bleeding heart liberal claim that inequality is necessarily a matter of “social injustice” but to recognize, with Dalrymple, that such intellectually fashionable ideas are, themselves, a major cause of social degradation.
Charles W. Miller PhD December 06, 2011 at 12:37 PM
"A Clockwork Orange" (Anthony Burgess, 1962) has been the reality for some years now.

Here in Texas we still execute 'em.

CW Miller PhD
DepressingReadingButTrue December 06, 2011 at 7:30 AM
England has lost an entire generation to the entitlement mentality. Just imagine what would have happened if these brats were around in WWII to defend their country against Hitler.
An eminently witty (at least I found it funny) and readable piece. I agree with much of it and I think it applies in other places.
At the same time, it is, as usual, so one-sided.
One only has to remember the wholesale criminality in other places, e.g. the investment banking "community."
More fundamentally, it leaves unexamined what
our capitalist/monopolist culture takes as its due.
For a more balanced perspective, I recommend
reading Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, "The Spirit Level: Why greater Equality Makes Societies
Stronger"; and Gar Alperovitz & Lew Daly, "Unjust
Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance And Why We Should Take It Back".
"It might also be worth mentioning that the Netherlands, with its relatively virtuous Gini coefficient, is one of the most crime-ridden countries in Western Europe, as is Sweden, with an even lower Gini coefficient."
Utter tosh. The Netherlands and Sweden are two countries with very low criminality, and very high equality. What they also have is a sense of in-group that is unlike the Balkanisation of British society, with the "black community", "Muslim community", "Jewish community", etc., all competing with each other for the attentions of the state.
But how can I possibly trust Dalrymple's analysis when his facts are wrong?
"The police have become simultaneously bullying and ineffectual, the worst of all combinations, barking rudely at motorists who stop where they shouldn’t but disregarding manifestations of serious criminality entirely. "

And let's not forget they seem always to find time to harass people like Tommy Robinson ...
Tom - your math is wrong. $300 million is 30% of a billion. 3% of a billion is $30 million. A lot of money but very spendable in a years time.

While I am sure you made a simple mistake I do wonder if our liberal friends may also have been asleep during math class.
The interpretations of such rioting is always wrong. If inequality were a cause for rioting we would see near constant strife in North Korea, where the world's most repressive government keeps its cowed population on the edge of starvation. But a revolt in North Korea? Not going to happen.

There you have it - as Stalin, Mao and other dictators know, the result of complete repression never causes civil strife. NEVER. The peasants don't have the courage.

What does cause unrest is rising expectations, a lifting of repression etc. The French peasantry at the time of the French Revolution were doing quite well overall. And it wasn't the peasants who caused the revolt in Cuba, which had a decent standard of living at the time of the revolution. So why revolt? In France a weak and compliant king, broke treasury (caused partly by funding those other revolutionaries across the ocean) and simply because no one stopped them?

After all what caused the race riots in the United States during the 1960's? The US was finally addressing racial inequality before the law. So...why riot in the '60's, not the 20's and 30's during periods of terrible repression?

In Britain, a weak government, combined with lots of unemployed young men, a press that encouraged rioting (yes, that's right - same as in America in the 1960's) and the general behavior of any mob.

Plus fatherless families, little fear of penalty for looting - no one goes to jail in Britain, they lose their benefits!

After all, the end of campus unrest was Kent State. The "whiff of grape shot" - it would have done the same here, but the Brits no longer have the spine.

Perfect conditions for a new Napoleon.
The author mentions just about every factor in the the riots except probably the most crucial one, namely, that Britain has been overrun by Third World immigrants, and their descendants. They were rioters vastly out of proportion to their numbers in the general population.

This article is like an medical paper on malaria that covers every aspect of the disease except mosquitoes.
Correction, second only to Germany.
Um, Joachim, I checked your source. Total crimes reported in England and Wales in 2008 were over 4 million, far more than any other European nation. Thanks.

As a swede I was a bit surprised by the authors claim that my country is one of the more crime-infested in Europe. Where is the data to support that idea? Certainly not in actual statistics:
Highly perceptive, cogent analysis.
The secular society in moral collapse. The poet Herder stayed in England for a couple of years in the early 1800s. He found the English to be vulgar, drunk and stupid. It seems that at some point in the 19th century the English acquired a degree of civility, and the working classes embraced the notion of decency. Now it looks like they are reverting to form.
There is much good sense in this article, and none the worse for our having heard it before. There are some truths that need to be repeated as often as possible, in the hope that they may eventually sink in.

On a relatively frivolous note, I would quibble with the assertion that "one can be broke on any income whatever if one’s desires fail to align with one’s financial possibilities..." Of course this is a theoretical possibility, but in practice billionaires rarely find themselves hampered by it. Suppose one invest $1 billion at the 3% interest that is about the best one can hope for at present. The annual interest is then $300 million, or nearly $1 million per day. The practical difficulty of spending this kind of money has even been made the central joke of a series of films - one of the latest being "Brewster's Millions". Hence the advice that used to be given to heirs of large landed estates: "Never touch your capital, nor the interest either; spend only what you must of the interest on the interest".
Again and again rioters interviewed on TV said the same thing- that they decided to join in after viewing TV reports of the police standing to one side and allowing the rioters to loot and pillage. The police had decided to 'contain' the riots by surrounding limited areas and preventing them from spreading. A false theory ,as these are people- it's not forest fires you are dealing with. The perceived weakness of the police encouraged youths to join in. The motivation of the youths was eloquently summed up by the nickname they acquired on the ground in West London- they were known as the 'Trainer Riots' (for Americans sneakers). They were thus all to do with material greed and easy money at little danger, not remotely by any highfalutin' sociological or political causation.
if man is inherently good....society, or the system, or the rich, Big Money, the goverment, etc must be the cause of their bondage. Humanism's chickens home (again) for another reconing...
Oh dear. A man dies and goes to heaven. St Peter lets him in and gives him the tour. "Over there are the catholics, the quakers are round the corner, the baptists are the end of that cul-de-sac ....." The tour goes on and Peter lists all of the world's religious denominations and finally says, "Any questions?" "Yes", says the man, "what's that small area over there with the very high wall around it?" "Oh", says Peter, "that's Theo Dalrymple, he thinks he's the only one here."
At the end of the Roman empire it too was overrun by barbarians.

Home-grown or imports - little difference.

Whatever - we have OWS and 30 tons of refuse in downtown Los Angeles.
This sad article reads here in deepest Central Maryland's exurbs like an example of "...the world turned upside down".
I love the observation that France has segregated it's welfare dependants. Fortunately, no charge of apartheid has been leveled at them. Unfortunately, the sociological benefits of apartheid are still lost upon the apologists for post-colonial African which has seen countries like Zimbabwe decay into chaos from previously being the breadbasket of Africa. Some lessons are never learned.
An excellent analysis but unlikely to be taken seriously by Britain's law makers and the largely left wing media. Not until public welfare is eliminated will British society return to respectability.