I have no voice. The change in weather always does this to me. I get a cold in my head, it sinks to my chest...up and down and on the way it takes my voice away. Luckily you can't hear me. I sound like a fog horn. A fog horn with laryngitis. I'm just croaking my days away.
You, however, can listen to the smooth and luxuriant sounds of Jean Sibelius' Symphony Number Five. It will be a much more aesthetically pleasing experience.
The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana by Peter Hitchens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Peter Hitchens is in a sense is a prophet. Not the type that predicts the future, but the sort that clearly looks at the world and sees what is right and what is wrong.
In his book, The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana, he traces how the culture in the UK changed dramatically from a people owning a proud nationalist identity and Christian morals, even if they weren't particularly religious, to what we have today: people who are ashamed to possess anything other than a "global" identity and accepting any sort of social more or amoral code whatever.
He explains how this happened. Mostly through ideologues who made good use of the new medium of Television to change how people think about themselves and others. They did this through sitcoms that provided a "normal" that in the fifties and sixties was not normal and in fact different than most people's lives. However, as people lost contact with their community and spent their free time in front of the TV they developed a sense of community with the characters on the shows they were watching.
Lifestyles that had historically been considered perverse or deviant were now normalized. People can only be shocked once. Then it is accepted. Which means the shows' producers have to come up with even more shocking subject matter, which is then normalized and so on. I would point out certain televisions shows that are popular today as examples of how far we have sunk, but people I know personally watch those shows and far be it from me to offend anyone.
I especially like his observation that TV doesn't really show how people live, because if it did, it would show people sitting around for hours watching television.
He describes how legislation ostensibly designed to help the downtrodden has proliferated the downtrodden population.
Making divorce no fault, even if someone is at fault and forcing the man to financially support the woman, even if it was her fault and allowing her custody of the children regardless of the reason has simply multiplied divorces, and increased the number of women and children living off the state in poverty.
The other tool used by ideologues is education. Discipline and strong lines of right and wrong were dismissed, as was classical training. The rich plethora of classical literature that should rightly be the pride of Britain has been moved aside in favor of popular literature.
This came home to me one day when I met a young woman who had moved back home after teaching literature in various European countries for several years. I asked her if she was eager to begin this fall.
She said that she did not look forward to teaching the required reading list because it was all about college entrance.
"Oh," I said. "That must be limiting. What do you have to teach?"
"Greek and European literature from the last two thousand years. It's all Western culture. It doesn't represent other parts of the world."
"What country's literature would you like to teach?"
"I like Japanese."
I personally like classical Japanese literature so I asked, "Have you read 'Tale of Genji'? Or 'Shirobamba'?
She had never heard of either the oldest novel in the world or the classic story of a young boy's life in pre WWI Japan.
"What do you want to teach then?"
She then listed a number of current best sellers by popular Japanese writers.
"The problem is," she said, "is that the parents at school are hung up over language and sex. I didn't have that objection when I taught in London."
All that to say, Hitchens acutely diagnoses England and frankly, the western world's cause of cultural deterioration.
His best point is to expose the "imaginary" Puritan. This is the mythological person that is "shocked and appalled" over the "morally reprehensible" lifestyles of anything non conforming to Victorian cultural norms.
This person, as Hitchens points out, doesn't exist. But the media needs him and her to exist to feel as if what they are doing is "cutting edge" and "revolutionary". After all, you can't be a rebel unless you are rebelling against something. That something disappeared fifty years ago.
Today's ideologues have mastered the art of shaming to perfection. No one is going to publicly admit they think that certain modes of living is wrong or, dare I say, immoral. All sorts of "deplorable" names will be attached to you.
The final thing I admire about Hitchens' book, or at least Hitchens himself is that, as opposed to most authors who only include blurbs of glowing recommendations on the flyleafs, Hitchens includes people's remarks that obviously don't agree with him. Here are a few:
"Hitchens can do what he does best: provoke."
"Some passages are almost laughable in their old fogeyness while others are just plain offensive."
And my favorite:
"He stands like a latter-day King Canute, trying to turn back a tide of progress."
I have over simplified all that Hitchens has to say. He says much more. Such as how such a development took place in the first place without any kind of fight back from Traditionalists. The reason being that tradition is not a good reason for preserving anything, only immutable design and purpose of life that has always existed since the dawn of time stands the test. You cannot have a moral code without admitting that Someone created that code in the first place. And if this is true, society will flourish under that code and it will destruct if it deviates from it.
His writing style is fluid and I personally consider this a perspicacious declaration of where society is and how it got there, even if he was only talking of Britain.
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