Thursday, June 10, 2010

On the Brink

British journalist Melanie Phillips discusses the West’s civilizational crisis.

By Daniel Allott

If the West is being overtaken by a departure from reason and logic and Judeo-Christian values and by an embrace of ideology, where are we headed? Where will we be in a generation?

Phillips: If we carry on as we are at the moment, then we almost by definition are not going to be able to continue with the principles that we hold most dear, like freedom of thought and the ability to defend ourselves.

Britain is already destroying itself. Family life has fallen apart. We have geographic deserts of fatherlessness. We have an education system that is de-educating so that young people are coming out of school literally unable to read and write in some cases, and even when they go to university everything is being dumbed down. To a certain extent they end up knowing less and less, and are less able to think for themselves.

So in Britain we’re becoming much more sheep-like, much less independent. If you don’t have the emotional resilience that comes from a stable family background, if you don’t have the intellectual equipment to enable you to progress through the world, then you become less independent and much more dependent upon the state and much more susceptible to state control and state interference. And that’s the way we in Britain are going. It’s a society in deep, deep, deep decline.

Now the great question is whether a society like this can and will repair itself. I say Britain because Britain is a kind of leader in this—where Britain goes today other societies in the English-speaking world will follow. You can see these trends throughout the West, but they are most pronounced in Britain.

Now there are two examples before us of societies that are in this kind of trouble. Britain in the 18th century was a kind of society marked by great licentiousness and disorder in which people like me were sitting around saying, “It’s all over, we can’t survive.” But that society did actually stop at the brink, looked over the edge and said, “We have to repair ourselves.” And that turned into the 19th century—the great period of Victorian England in which, led by the churches, Britain did repair itself. It went in for moral and intellectual repair and ended the century tremendously strong, with a great deal of order where there was disorder. So it’s possible that we can do that again.

Or you also have from history the examples of societies and cultures like ancient Rome, which did in fact collapse. I can’t say which one this will be. Certainly we would have to do something quite drastic as a society and culture to pull back from the brink.

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