|The Birth of "Folliage"||It Ain't Gonna be Pretty|
by Christopher Chantrill
July 24, 2004 at 8:00 pm
YOUVE got to hand it to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. He combines the Clintonian aptitude for triangulation with the political instincts of the wife of Manchurian Candidate Senator Iselin. Dont just get up and leave the room when you go to the bathroom, she urged her husband, make an exit. Get up from the your seat in the hearing room, express your outrage, and stomp out.
Thats what Tony Blair just did. Just before he left for a summer vacation at the home of aging British pop legend Sir Cliff Richard, he announced that it was time to get over the Sixties. He was going to put the decent law-abiding majority in charge of the criminal justice system, and build a society in which those who play by the rules do well, and those who dont get punished. It was all part of New Labours five-year law and order plan.
The British chattering classes have been in a dither ever since. In The Observer, Yvonne Roberts warned the loony left: Dont swallow Blairs bait. The reason for Britains problems was the decline of lifetime employment where working class lads could learn a trade as apprentices and years later have a skill, status, comradeship and a reliable wage... good husband material. Who can wonder at social disorder after the white working class had its anchor yanked away, its pockets emptied and its identity eroded?
Of course, the Tory press was spluttering for the opposite reason. How dare Blair blame them for the Sixties? There wasnt any discipline breaking down in the house of The Daily Telegraphs Vicki Woods. Not in my house it wasnt. Not from my parents, or anybody elses parents I had to hide my nefarious behavior from.
Anyone seen arch-triangulator Dick Morris lately? He wouldnt have been in London last month would he? But Tony Blair hardly needs advice from Dick. From the beginning the whole idea of New Labour was to triangulate the British Conservatives out of a job, promising to improve popular public services while keeping the lefts fingers off the economy.
But the trouble with Blairs law and order policy is that it ignores the root cause of a peaceful society: responsible citizens with real power to civilize their neighborhoods and lives. In overregulated Britain, citizens are told to lie back and think of England when raped by the rowdies, and the government keeps adding more and more laws and regulations to do something about the latest outrage. The more government you get, the less civil society remains.
That is what conservatives have been saying for two hundred years. Burke wrote about the little platoons, Strauss about the City and Man, Berger and Neuhaus about the need To Empower People in the mediating structures of church, union, and fraternal association, Michael Novak about the greater separation of powers expressed in The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism: the political sector, economic sector, and moral-cultural sector, Marvin Olasky about the Seven alphabetic Marks of American Compassion developed by nineteenth century charity workers for raising up the urban poor: Affiliation, Bonding, Categorization, Discernment, Employment, Freedom, and God.
So lefty Yvonne Roberts misses the point. The decline of the white working class is not a consequence of disappearing jobs and underfunding of Youth Justice Boards or forcing parents out into the workforce to pay the fines imposed on their wayward children. Instead, she should Google up President Bushs speech last week to the Urban League. It was all about helping people to help themselves, to help those who dream of starting a small business and building a nest egg and passing something of value to your children. It was all about helping those who believe the institutions of marriage and family are worth defending and need defending today. It was all about people struggling to get into the middle class. It was about believing in the power of faith and compassion to defeat violence and despair and hopelessness.
But perhaps Nigel Farndale has the best take of the Sixties, relating how it was considered bad form, a break with hippy etiquette, for a young woman to reject the sexual advances of a young man. So singer Marianne Faithfull didnt want to sleep with Brian Jones, she said, but did so anyway. She had, she added, wanted to marry Mick Jagger, with whom she had a stillborn child. But he dumped her for another, and she became a heroin addict instead.What do women want? Who knows? But we know what they dont want. They dont want to be dumped by the father of their stillborn child. And as the years pass, womenand men tooare finding out that there are a lot of other brilliant ideas conceived in the Sixties that turned out to be stillborn.
Buy his Road to the Middle Class.
[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists, she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican
[T]he way to achieve a system of determining admission to the public schools on a nonracial basis,
Brown II, 349 U. S., at 300–301, is to stop assigning students on a racial basis. The way to stop
discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
Roberts, C.J., Parents Involved in Community Schools vs. Seattle School District
[T]he Liberal, and still more the subspecies Radical... more than any other in these latter days seems under the impression that so long as he has a good end in view he is warranted in exercising over men all the coercion he is able[.]
Herbert Spencer, The Man Versus the State
[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050
[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.
[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm
[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values
Within Pentecostalism the injurious hierarchies of the wider world are abrogated and replaced by a single hierarchy of faith, grace, and the empowerments of the spirit... where groups gather on rafts to take them through the turbulence of the great journey from extensive rural networks to the mega-city and the nuclear family...
David Martin, On Secularization
What distinguishes true Conservatism from the rest, and from the Blair project, is the belief in more personal freedom and more market freedom, along with less state intervention... The true Third Way is the Holy Grail of Tory politics today - compassion and community without compulsion.
Minette Marrin, The Daily Telegraph
These emerge out of long-standing moral notions of freedom, benevolence, and the affirmation of ordinary life... I have been sketching a schematic map... [of] the moral sources [of these notions]... the original theistic grounding for these standards... a naturalism of disengaged reason, which in our day takes scientistic forms, and a third family of views which finds its sources in Romantic expressivism, or in one of the modernist successor visions.
Charles Taylor, Sources of the Self
There was nothing new about the Frankish drive to the east... [let] us recall that the continuance of their rule depended upon regular, successful, predatory warfare.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion
The Union publishes an exact return of the amount of its taxes; I can get copies of the budgets of the four and twenty component states; but who can tell me what the citizens spend in the administration of county and township?
Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America