Let me pick up this post where I left off the last one. The bombings in London have given rise to some introspection about the kind of society the terrorists, all immigrants or sons of immigrants, encountered in Britain. The Brits are asking, what is our country? What does it stand for? One answer is “multiculturalism”: all moral systems and ways of life must be treated as equal, even when, to judge by the consequences, they clearly aren’t.
Another answer is “personal freedom”: any individual can drink and drug himself into a perpetual stupor, have children out of marriage, work as little as possible, and expect financial support and lack of moral condemnation from society, most particularly from the government.
The combination of multiculturalism and personal freedom had something to do with the appearance of violent sectarian Muslims among the white hooligans of Leeds. In this Sunday Times opinion piece, Minette Marrin reflects on the “decadence” of Britain, for which, she notes, the terrorists can muster nothing stronger than contempt.
All the same, it can hardly be denied that with all our celebrated freedom, and all our wealth, we have somehow created a society that is characterised by growing disorder, uncertainty and loss. For a long time now Britain – or rather many of its institutions and traditions – has been suffering from a loss of nerve and a loss of will which amounts to a national moral funk.
The results are everywhere, in each day’s news. There is a connection between working-class lager louts looking for a fight and rich kids vomiting and copulating drunkenly in public, both here and on holiday abroad. Standards in public life have fallen very low, whether it’s the prime minister’s wife or a slaggy Hooray Henrietta on a Cornish beach or simply Big Brother.
Multiculturalism is abdication. Personal freedom, as defined by your basic hooligan, means self-indulgence without negative consequences. Neither can be made the basis of British public life. At the same time, a nation is more than a government over a defined piece of real estate. A nation is either a moral community or it is, in truth, in decadence, on a path to extinction. A moral community requires a moral code: rules of behavior that are expected of all, and respected by all.
The moral ideals that define “Britain” had better be articulated clearly, and those who disregard the ideal, whether vicious Muslim or drunken hooligan, must be openly condemned by the community and allowed to pay for the consequences of their fanaticism and decadence. Otherwise, terror will strike again and again, and there will be little on the other side worth saving.