Sunday, 10 June 2012

If the Victorians could see us now

Over at the Graun, there's an article about the crisis we face over body image:
... the women who make up the world's only Centre for Appearance Research (Car) are talking quietly about perfection. I arrived here after following a trail of newspaper reports – on the effect of airbrushing in the media, on men's growing anxiety about their weight – reports used variously by politicians and educators to highlight the way our world is collapsing...
The world may indeed be collapsing, (see Syria, Spain etc. for details) and it may be connected indirectly with the way supposed adults see themselves when they look in the mirror. I guess this is what happens when you breed a nation of perpetual adolescents, never taught to take care of themselves or responsibility for themselves, never permitted to bear the consequences of their mistakes, brought up to believe there will always be a government daddy figure to wipe the tears away, to give them housing, to educate their kids, to take away their elderly relatives for quiet euthanasia, etc. etc.

I have recently been reading a fair bit from Sir Ernest Benn (see below), and have been constantly struck with the similarities between the predicament of this country and the world in the 1930s and 1940s and the present time. In 1933 he wrote about 'This Soft Age'. What scorn he would have for us now.


Daz Pearce said...

The game-changer was when the State nationalised compassion after 1945. People were not only given a reason not to care for themselves, but the state stepped in to care for others.

Even private charities have been taken over by the state in many instances. You can't be too harsh when people are conditioned in that way, to coin a phrase, from cradle to grave.

It's a soft age, but more importantly, a completely dumb age too.

Trooper Thompson said...

I think we need to follow it a little further back. Certainly the socialist government after the war realised the plan, but it was in the previous decades that the argument was won, and it was the acceptance of state-run welfare by the liberals and the conservatives which made it inevitable.

Also, with regard to private charities, I think the smashing of the Gold Standard did a lot to destroy the charitable institutions of the previous era. Imagine if you have an endowment of, say £10 per year. In gold, that is a lot of money, but once the convertibility is removed, then inflation devours all but a minute fraction, so the charitable institutions suffered the same wipe-out that the middle classes in Germany experienced during the hyper-inflation, meaning that the state became the only game in town.