by Kung Fu Zu 2/26/14
By Theodore Dalrymple, (Anthony Daniels) • After finishing this book, I was not sure whether to pop-a-cork or hang myself. I could open the champagne simply because my life, no matter how difficult, is Nirvana compared to the lives of those mentioned in the book. On the other hand, if the characters in the book are indicative of future generations, well let’s just say it might be better not to be around to see the end.
Dalrymple is a psychiatrist who worked in the British National Health Service. In addition to seeing patients in hospitals located in some of the less salubrious parts of London and Birmingham, he also tended to the occupants of several of Her Majesty’s correctional institutions.
In the early 1990’s, the editor of “The Spectator” asked him to write a weekly column on medicine. He obliged for a period of fourteen years. “If Systems Still Persist” is a compilation of some of those columns. If you haven’t already guessed, these articles do not give advice about avoiding the flu or how to moderate one’s diet to lose weight. They were meant to give a description of conditions among the less fortunate in British society, and do so in spades.
This is a hilariously depressing book. In his forward, Dalrymple writes, “Having worked in several countries of the so-called Third World, and having travelled extensively through all the continents, I was convinced that the poverty of spirit to be found in an English slum was the worst to be found anywhere. More flagrant injustices by far, worse physical conditions, greater exposure to violence, were of course to be encountered elsewhere: but for sheer apathy, for spiritual, emotional, educational and cultural nihilism and vacuity, you must go to an English slum. Nowhere in the world – at least in my experience – were people to be found who had so little feeling of control over, or responsibility for, their own lives and behaviour.” In Dalrymple’s opinion, the chief culprit behind the degradation of the lower classes is Leftism.
Each chapter is written around Dalrymple’s consultations at NHS hospital clinics and in various prisons. Dalrymple’s hospital patients seem to consist mainly of battered women who will not leave their current boyfriends because “I love him, and he doesn’t beat me too often”, thuggish young men with hangovers who have puked on the hospital floor and greet the doctor with a pleasant “fuck off” when he speaks to them, and ignorant slackers who want others to take the blame for the sorry state of their lives. I mustn’t forget the common welfare thieves who threaten physicians with bodily harm unless the doctors sign a form confirming the holder is physically unable to work. It is probably just as well that the doctors sign such forms as the recipients probably wouldn’t have time to work in any case, given the amount of time they spend on martial arts training, attending football games and guzzling ale at the pub.
The characters in prison are perhaps more interesting as their lives are under the control of Her Majesty’s Prison Service. Having less room for maneuver than their friends who are not incarcerated, they may be even keener to game the system. They feign amnesia, mental incompetence or arthritis to get a room on the ground floor. Then they pretend they are having severe withdrawal symptoms thus need more drugs, etc. They are, if not very inventive, a persistent group.
Dalrymple holds the self-serving, career driven bureaucrats who run the Social Security System, in complete disdain. They are all too often lazy, self-promoting, dishonest and generally useless. When a person is truly unfortunate enough to require something of the System, he or she is typically given the run around. Dalrymple chronicles some of his experiences in this bureaucratic labyrinth.
I believe Dalrymple has a special place in his heart for the English Department for Education. He recounts discussions with various patients who have completed the minimum eleven years school attendance required by law. Over the years Dalrymple used standard questions to determine the level of education and awareness of people who visited him in clinic. He would ask such simple things as, “how much is 9 x 6?” The number of people who could not answer this was amazing. Dalrymple would also ask people to read a simple sentence. Many had trouble pronouncing three syllable words, much less understanding their meanings. And Dalrymple points out these were not mentally handicapped people.
This is not a treatise for the faint-hearted. If your reading runs to “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”, do not go near this book. Scanning lines about immoral toughs with eight children by several different women (girls from fourteen years old and up) who beat their girlfriends, assault their pub mates or strangers, rob, burgle and murder as they see fit, gives one pause. Add to this females, who have numerous children through several men, are constantly on the dole, abusing their own children and generally increasing misery in their general proximity, and one is forced to question whether or not abortion is as horrendous as one originally thought.
While this book deals with England, it could just as easily have been written about large swaths of the U.S.A. Given the present state of affairs, it is clear we are fooling ourselves if we believe things will improve simply by stopping abortion. As horrible as abortion might be, one has to ask oneself what the country would be like had those 40 or so million abortions not been performed? Given data that is available, it is pretty clear the vast majority of these aborted children would have come into the world through young unmarried, ignorant, unemployable women unable to take care of themselves much less any offspring. How many of them would end up like those described in this book? At what point does a society lose the ability to survive because of the poverty of its human capital? No doubt, as Dalrymple points out, much of this is due to the welfare state which must be rolled back. But what do we do until that actually happens? • (1999 views)