November 20, 2017
Although moral relativism may set the stage for some crimes, there are deeper eddies swirling into the harbors of Western civic life. First is the loss of trust in society’s ability to self-regulate. This is because self-regulating societies tend to be monocultural. I witnessed this firsthand at the Tallinn Song Festival. Tens of thousands of Estonians processed through the streets before filing unaided through the narrow defiles of a stadium to memorialize their “singing revolution” against the USSR. The small number of police officers in attendance were greeted not with hostility but cheers. It is the type of peaceful nationalism that is anathema to modern liberals. A cynic might suggest that the destruction of such monocultures in the West was itself intended to extend the state further into the interstices of society (on the basis that “nation-state minus nation equals state”). Yet the limits of such a strategy are shown by European countries—the U.K. included—where the state is instead retreating from the ungovernable spaces left by cultural fragmentation.
Second is a deeper shift in the role of the British police away from arbiters of an existing society to agents of a new type of society. This may seem at odds with the slide into passivity here described. But the police are far from passive in other areas. There has been a coordinated drive on all areas of “hate crime,” ranging from a furious crackdown on social media to proactive publicity stunts. The latter range from redecorating patrol cars to policemen appearing in high heels and nail paint. The relevant police forces issued statements that they were “disappointed” at the inevitable deluge of public mockery. Such responses are themselves a step away from being criminalized (on the basis that mocking the enforcement of hate crime also mocks its victims).
Yet Britain still has a fractionally small transgender population, leading to the quip that never have so many done so much for so few. The public are also highly liberal and uninterested in what other people do with their own and each other’s bodies. Yet the resources being put into such social engineering are starving areas the public does care about. Foremost is violent crime, which has risen 13% this year. Other issues of national concern are passed over for apparent reasons of cultural sensitivity. Of around 5,000 cases a year of female circumcision, this month has seen the first-ever prosecution. Culturally motivated policing has also seen Armistice Day parades canceled for a stated lack of resources. While underage grooming gangs reportedly still operate with impunity, the police busy themselves with hypothetical sex probes against dead Conservative prime ministers.
The thread of democratic accountability between the public and their police has disappeared. The combined voices of lobby groups and attention-hungry politicians have drowned out a 300-year-old principle of the British state: that government is there for those who are to be governed. And those who are to be governed expect to use their mobile phones in public.
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