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Excluding Christianity Won't Work, Liberals Parable of the Swim Team

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The Children of the Welfare State

by Christopher Chantrill
December 21, 2003 at 7:00 pm


AFTER CLOSE on a century, the radical social reforms of the welfare state are clearly bearing fruit. And we can begin to see a new social type emerging: the child of the welfare state.

I raise this because of the conviction in England last week of Ian Huntley, accused of killing two ten-year-old schoolgirls in 2002 in the little village of Soham near Cambridge, England. Huntley had worked as the janitor at the school the little girls attended. According to British prison psychiatrist Theodore Dalrymple, Huntley is a “perfectly normal young British male... of a certain social stratum.”

His two murders mark him out as unusual, but his inflamed egotism, his need to dominate young girls, his previous experience with underage girls mark him as typical of that certain type in today’s England. For the religion of positive self-esteem rages, if anything, much stronger in Britain than in the United States.

The reverse of the Huntley coin is his girl-friend, Maxine Carr, who lived a life of abject submission to Huntley combined with “utter drunken sluttishness” when out of his clutches. You could read a book about the Ian Huntleys and Maxine Carrs of Britain in Dalrymple’s Life at the Bottom, now available in paperback.

Huntley and Carr are poster children of the welfare state.

In the United States, of course, we do not experience the same social collapse. The violent crime rate in London, for instance, is four times the rate in Harlem. But we have our violent underclass, our special children of the welfare state. Then there are the sorry victims of the hookup culture in our colleges. As four twenty-year-old co-eds reported on the Dennis Prager radio show recently, nobody dates anymore. They hookup at drunken parties, exchanging physical intimacies before they even get to know each other; only after physical intimacy may they decide to begin a relationship. We are raising a whole generation of young women who have never been courted. And they hate it.

In The New York Times Magazine on December 14, 2003, we were treated to a feature on the Dean kids, the young people that have flocked to volunteer for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. It is a story of aimless anomie and a yearning for friendship transformed by sudden conversion and enthusiastic commitment.

Then there is the naïve presumption of Rachel Corrie, the 23 year-old pacifist who was killed in the Gaza Strip when she interposed her body between an Israeli bulldozer and a Palestinian house on the border with Egypt. Corrie had been educated at Washington State’s Evergreen State College, a government-owned left-wing seminary, and was called to a life of activism. She participated in the 1999 Seattle riots, joined a pro-Palestinian peace group, and traveled to the Gaza strip to frame indictments against the Israelis in behalf of the victimized Palestinian people.

Is this what the progressive vision has come to: a deracinated generation of youth aimlessly clubbing, pubbing, and rutting? It surely wasn’t included in the prospectus of 1900. Only the martyred Rachel Corrie conforms to the progressive vision of the future, yet she is perhaps the most pathetic: a naïve girl enticed into cannon fodder for an ancient feud of which she understood nothing beyond trite propaganda.

When the progressives urged a welfare state upon us a century ago, they certainly did not expect to produce a generation of inflamed egotists or binge drinkers. They expected to produce creative and self-directed generation that would soar above the dull conformists of the nineteenth century. Obviously, something went wrong. The troubling thing is that the progressives don’t seem to have even begun a serious review of their achievements, but instead are defending their faith and their sinecures with pugnacious obstructionism.

Whether or not the welfare state works, we can at least agree that its achievements are modest enough to utterly vacate the presumption that its enormous appetite for compulsion and control should be continued. If the children of the welfare state are no worse than their grandparents, they are certainly no better.

Christopher Chantrill blogs at www.roadtothemiddleclass.com.

Buy his Road to the Middle Class.

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presented by Christopher Chantrill

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