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July 22, 2006

Social responsibility

Wandering around the blogosphere briefly while checking some facts and waiting for someone to finish a late running lecture session, I stumbled on something the Rev'd Mike recently posted and got to thinking. Though the quote from his blog below was written with the US specifically in mind, it extrapolates rather too readily into the present state of Britain. We have become a nation which expects "someone else" to sort out the lack of discipline in children, the lack of respect for another persons rights, the breakdown of morality and the collapse of the entire edifice on which our society is built.

We laughed at the John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett sketch which lined up the three comedians in order of size and began with the toffee accented John Cleese saying "I look down on him because he is ... " and finished with little Ronnie Corbett saying "I look up to him because ..." Since then the liberationist movement has successfully undermined every single facet of family, school, and political life to the point where we have all become suspicious of authority, surly when told to do something and entirely to ready to shrug our shoulders and say "someone else" should deal with it.

I quote the Rev'd Mike's blog verbatim as he has written under the title "Are you pulling this wagon; or pushing it?"

Twenty years ago, Neuhaus correctly saw that the chief threat to our republic was not communism (as many thought at the time), but “a collapse of the idea of freedom and of the social arrangements necessary to sustaining liberal democracy.” But he seemed reluctant to follow his own analysis to its natural conclusion. Though he mentioned in passing the “lethal liberationisms that reached their apex in the late ’60s and early ’70s,” he did not explore what that social revolution was doing to the cultural foundations of our republic. Though insisting, as did many of the Founders, that our regime of ordered liberty requires certain moral qualities in its citizens and statespersons, Neuhaus held back from pondering the condition of the principal settings where those qualities are acquired. It is now clear that the years of adult “liberation” took a dreadful toll on children, and on the nation’s principal seedbeds of character and competence: families and their surrounding communities of memory and mutual aid.

What many Americans now seem to want is for other people to be “incorrigibly religious” (or at least to behave as if they were). They want other people to cultivate the self-restraint that makes social life possible, other people to hang in there when family life gets tough, other people to be ethical in business dealings, other people to pay taxes, and other people to provide children with attention and discipline. While Neuhaus was urging free citizens to claim their rightful places in public life, we were becoming a nation of free riders, coasting along and spending social capital that is rapidly running out.

Neuhaus had it right, society is falling apart precisely because the liberationists have lost sight of the key point about a truly liberal democracy - it's called personal responsibility and it is the glue that holds any society together. Unless we all accept responsibility for our own welfare, our own actions, our own growth and development - and yes, our own failures - society rapidly becomes first an oligarchy and finally a dictatorship. Britain is now run by Whitehall and Westminster along the same lines as a Nanny running a nursery. We are not trusted to know how to take care of ourselves because, thanks to the cultivation of the victim menatlity and the dependency of social handouts, we are frankly in the main capable of looking after ourselves. Parents cannot discipline chil;dren any longer because Nanny says its not good for them, thus Nanny is now promoting indiscipline and contributing to the further degradation of society.

In the US many have turned to fundamental Christianity in response to the growing collapse of morality they perceive about them, here even more seem to have turned to Football Mania, Pop Star worship or the nurture of "saint" cultures such as the one surrounding the late and largely unlamented Princess of Wales. If you look back in history you soon recognise the pattern, ours is a dying culture - and perhaps that may not be a bad thing in the longer term - it will be hell for those of us living in the short term!

Posted by The Gray Monk at July 22, 2006 12:21 PM

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I don't know if we're in a dying culture as you say, but I can definitely see cracks in this once great Democracy.

Posted by: PoliticalCritic at July 24, 2006 10:40 PM