327. Youthful folly (VIII)
Britain is a collapsed society, the collapse started in earnest after 1911 when the House of Lords lost its veto powers on the budget. This marked the moment we entered unrestricted democracy; we have had unrestricted democracy for 120 years now and every year the country becomes a little worse. The collapse became a landslide after the First World War; during the war the economy was socialised and after the war the country was gutted by debt—the Second World War, although mythologically more important, remains less significant for Britain than the First World War. The First World War was really the moment the country was fatally holed, though the ship of state had not had a captain since Lord Salisbury in 1902—and we have not had a captain since, just a selection of demagogues, bureaucrats, and the gulled mob.
American conservative commentators like to mock Britain for its social degeneration and oppressive strictures, represented by the meme-friendly phrase: “Do you have a loisense for that, mate? Can I see your tea-drinking loisense?” A phrase which caricatures the inflexion of a British policeman, clad in his hi-vis vest, enforcing some petty regulation. However, this is largely psychological relief for Americans; in fact, since they live nearer Rome—nearer imperial centre—they are less free than British people, who are in turn less free than Hungarians. Ultimately, if you want to be free you have to find some interstitial space between the power blocs—a remote town in India or Peru—where there is hardly any government at all.
The Americans can own guns and, in theory, this gives the citizens power over the government. Yet as we saw last summer when Mark and Patricia McCloskey attempted to defend their home from a BLM mob with their weapons, the American state supports the mob—the mob it created—and so the McCloskeys were arrested without a shot fired. No loisense need apply, the right to bear arms exists on paper; and it is doubtful if Americans have the psychological will to exercise the implied right to overthrow tyranny.
The mob and its masters rule Britain and America. Back in 2011, I lived in the centre of Britain’s second-largest city when a week or so of riots broke out; putatively justified because the police shot a boy—tinges of racial discrimination, they say. It was coordinated by the relatively novel medium of social media. It was a fairly uneasy night, that first night, as I listened to the gangs smash the windows in the shops below my apartment complex. I kept a knife on my bedside table, just in case the action should spread upward.
When I trailed down to the underground parking garage the next morning, I found my car was the only one left; it was quite untouched, but everyone else had sequestered their cars elsewhere—on the street every car had its windows smashed. The complex was built over a casino and, as I walked to work, I found the entrance to the casino had been barricaded with a slope of metal beer kegs by the besieged bouncers; the doors buckled, the kegs held. I walked to work, as I always did, through the city centre. Nobody went to work that day, except me. A police helicopter thumped overhead—it would thump all day—and there were great four-wheeled dustbins used by shops, with goblin-like fires in them, scattered lazily about the streets; and everywhere I walked there was glass, glass, glass from the shattered shopfronts.
The zombie movie has had a renaissance over the past twenty years; many reasons have been suggested for why this is the case, from pervasive materialism—the idea that without spirituality we are all ambulatory meat in decay—to viral-memetic fears. And on that day the feel was as in the zombie flicks, an uncanny quiet—a suggestion I was the last man on the planet—and all around me acres of broken glass, the street’s unmeltable ice.