London is a miserable city.
I have met UK citizens who have decided permanently to flee the country in disgust, due to some mixture of politics, weather, society, cultural change or general miserableness. It seems to be the only developed country suffering from this (so far). Some liberal Americans left the US because of Republican administrations, some Aussies and New Zealanders flee because of boredom. But I’ve never found another country which can generate such general abhorrence in its own citizens as the UK.
After travelling there recently, I now know why. I haven’t the slightest intention of moving to that 50 shades of grey, cold and sad city, with faceless corporates drinking alone in front of pubs at five o’clock, exhausted by the lifeless office politics of countless MBA graduates eager to succeed through Powerpoint in this “city of choice.” No way.
I’ve heard it said that the reason the sun never set on the British Empire, was because God would never trust an Englishman in the dark. And neither should you. London is ok for a visit, but you wouldn’t want your kids to stay there…
London is a vacuous, homogenous, crowded, violent and apathetic city proudly being transformed by progressives who wish only to reach Year Zero. Because they hate it so much, I love to tell them this transformation can be traced to a decision made 65 years ago by the Federal Council of Churches – an organisation of mainline Protestant sects with Calvinist roots – which endorsed a system of world government supported by right-thinking Londoners everywhere.
TIME magazine described this programme as "super-protestant," and if you’re baffled by this term, you can read Richard Gamble's The War for Righteousness: Progressive Christianity, the Great War, and the Rise of the Messianic Nation, which moves the clock for this decision back another 30 years, and is full of bloodcurdling Calvinism in a much more militant vein. This same strand of “secularism” ruling London today reaches back to Beecher's Bibles, the Puritans, Cromwell and his republic of saints, and ultimately, of course, Calvin himself.
But somewhere in the last 60 years, this strand vanishes – which should make everyone suspicious. We don’t have to look very far to see where it went, though.
The modern descendant of "super-protestantism" is American progressivism. Now and then, like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, it will claim to "take back Christianity," but such audacity is rare, and generally these people call themselves "secular." They all think this political model was born adult in 1945, springing like Minerva from the head of Zeus. Or maybe they’ll say the idea had always existed, or perhaps old versions are fabricated in previous generations. Ah, classic Whig history.
What they hate me for pointing out is that this secularisation is just an extension of ecumenism (the principle or aim of promoting unity among the world's Christian Churches), which is the process that gave us the Federal Council of Churches in the first place. In the 20th century, rationalism – the claim that one's beliefs are derived from reason and science – will always outcompete justification from revelation. I know a genuine freethinker doesn’t have to believe this at all. But nor does a genuine Methodist have any reason to shake hands with a genuine Presbyterian…
Another benefit of secularisation is that progressivism, unlike "super-protestantism," can twist free-speech and the general humanist tradition of religious tolerance into a weapon to assault its enemies – those dastardly unreformed Trinitarian Christians that decided to vote for Brexit. Progressivism rose to power through Christianity, WWII and used liberal weapons like free speech to break into power. But when it got to power in the 1950s it simply pulled up the ladder – a classic Machiavellian manoeuvre. Now the Trinitarians and Nationalists are being prosecuted for free speech.
Of course, these changes are adaptive, rather than conscious. There is no plot. The Illuminati is not involved in the destruction of London’s heritage and the dissolution of its culture. Basically, the modern world has replaced "religion," defined as the veneration of paranormal beings, with idealism, defined as the veneration of mysterious universal principles.
But I’d understand if people suspect a George Soros-type figure behind this mess. I guess that’s the miracle of evolution: its results are indistinguishable from the product of an intelligent designer. Or, in this case, an intelligent conspirator. Humans are pattern-seeking creatures and hate to think that, little by little, we take on the ideas of our rulers until we support concepts 20 years ago we would have died to fight against. But as usual, the left wins by the slow drip-dripping of erosion over time.
The secularisation mutation of Christianity now gripping London, like the human lactose-tolerance gene, it has arisen spontaneously more than once. The relationship between Calvinism and Rousseauvianism is remarkably like that between progressivism and liberal universalism.
Rousseau came from Geneva, and Robespierre used Rousseau's nominally non-Christian message of universal love to establish a reign that made Calvin look like Coolidge. In fact, through Hegel, Rousseauvian idealistic nationalism was a major contributor to the progressive Christianity of Woodrow Wilson, which created "super-protestantism." Like languages, ideas tend to have family trees.
Yet I’m happy to say there are two Britains. One, centred in London, is a snapshot of progressive utopia (eww), while the other, located just beyond the city limits is a snapshot of Britishness. It was beautifully British in Canterbury and gorgeous in Bletchley. This was the Britain I wanted to see. The only pretence to Britishness in London were the attempts at politeness and an accent.
I wanted to see the England that contributed so much to the world. The English were nicer to their geniuses than other countries. The Channel allowed it to worry less about common enemies, and is the reason the rich and powerful let their geniuses be geniuses without looking at them askance for not turning their talents towards military problems.
Unfortunately for posterity, even stubborn and loveless Leonardo da Vinci often worked for the defence contractors of his day, and the great Raphael and Michelangelo both worked for the Roman equivalents of dreary four-star Pentagon generals. Imagine if they had been born in England? How any one of them could have painted a breathtakingly beautiful Rosalind in a nightingale-haunted moonlight glade (leaving poor Mona Lisa in the shade) or a happy Hamlet climbing for the first time the Northern stairs to the battlements, his noble spaniels happily climbing with him under the starlight?
But it wasn’t just British thought that lifted them – and the world – out of poverty. The key step was the steam engine.
London’s galleries and museums still pay homage to this technology, as if they sense an important link to the past that’s not quite ready for snipping. The original steam engine (Watt’s engine) is of little importance today. However, its offspring – gasoline, diesel, steam, gas and water turbines – power the relative prosperity we all enjoy today. Not that you’d guess from all the angst and resentment outside the museums.
Maybe there’s a lesson here. Why did the steam engine take off first in the UK? Geology, not politics ruled. The UK was unique in having many geographically-distributed coal seams located close to the surface which made possible large-scale coal use as early as 1200 AD. By 1500 AD, coal already supplied a significant fraction of Britain’s energy. By 1700 AD, coal accounted for half of all energy consumed in the country.
The UK’s coal seams allowed for large-scale, distributed consumption of coal. However, the coal deposits closest to the surface were quickly depleted. Plenty of coal existed at greater depths (30 metres back then), but water tended to fill the mines. The first steam engine, Thomas Savery’s “Miner’s Friend,” was invented in 1698 to pump this water out from the coal mines. It was quickly superseded by the Newcomen (Thomas Newcomen) engine in 1712. Much later, in 1765, a canny Scott called James Watt devised a new and improved steam engine. His new technology triggered an industrial and economic revolution that has transformed the world. Global economic output is perhaps 500+ times higher now than in 1765.
Of course, to progressives, none of this is worth thinking about because it risks encouraging traditional thought – which basically is just Nazism.
To them, Britain is just London surrounded by a barren moonscape where only trolls and hobbits live. For the average progressive in London (and the progressives are very average) this might as well be true. The rich and powerful have zoned themselves in and imported cheap labour. Said another way… they built local walls and tore down national walls.
What effect has this resentment had on the once-great city? Read this.
Now, I don’t believe in original sin, but I do believe in human biology. The doctrine of original sin was an excellent way to bring a little reality into the wishy-washy lovefest of Jesus’ more hippiesque ideas. Since the UK fell into the hands of the Nonconformists – aka the progressives – its crime rate has gone up by a factor of about 35. Now there’s some sin for you, original or not.
In 1893, the annual number of recorded robberies in England and Wales fell below 400. There were then never as many as 400 recorded robberies a year in the whole of England and Wales until 1941.
Ladies and ladies, I give you: Crime in England and Wales in the Nineteenth Century (1876). From 1860 to 1874, there are an average of about 4165 class 1 and class 2 crimes per year, in a (young, rapidly-growing) population of about 20 million. This equates to about 21 per 100,000. These classes include:
1st – OFFENCES AGAINST THE PERSON – Comprising murder, attempts to murder, stabbing or wounding with intent to maim, manslaughter, rape, assaults with intent to ravish, carnally abusing girls between ten and twelve, assaults, etc. (I love the old descriptions!)
2nd – OFFENCES AGAINST PROPERTY WITH VIOLENCE – Comprising burglary, house-breaking, breaking into shops, robbery, assaults with intent to rob, misdemeanours with intent to commit the above offences, etc.
3rd: OFFENCES AGAINST PROPERTY WITHOUT VIOLENCE- Comprising cattle, horse, and sheep stealing, the various kinds of larcenies, or in other words thefts not of an aggravated kind, embezzlements, receiving stolen goods, etc.
I’m not sure if people can understand intuitively how low those numbers are. So, let’s compare them to some figures from the modern, advanced, low-crime United States, in which everything is getting better all the time and always has been (sarcasm).
Hoyle’s category 1 seems roughly comparable to the FBI’s category of violent crime at about 1,400,000, or about 470 per 100,000. Whereas Hoyle shows 2300, or about 12 per 100,000.
The FBI’s property crime index blurs the Victorian categories 2 and 3, but the FBI has 10 million, or about 3500 per 100,000. Whereas Hoyle’s category 2 shows 1846, or about 9 per 100,000, and Hoyle’s category 3 is about 12,500, or about 62 per 100,000.
To put this in context, from February to December 2001 there were never as few as 400 recorded robberies a month in the London Borough of Lambeth alone. That was 20 years ago. Has it gotten any better? Nope. Relative to the UK a century ago, crime has gone up by about 5000%.
In a civilized modern society, the risk of suffering human-on-human predation should be only slightly higher than the risk of being attacked by, say, a grizzly bear. And yes, you should be able to park your bike without locking it. Relative to Somalia, or Manhattan in the ’70s, sure, crime in the UK today is not a problem. But relative to Japan at any period, it’s a tremendous problem.
The former Met Police chief superintendent Leroy Logan told the BBC recently that “London’s violent traits have become a virus.” Of the 44 murder investigations the police have launched in 2018, 31 have been a result of stabbings. A century ago, a single stabbing would have been front-page news in London. Today, it might be mentioned in a police report column.
The fact that, in London in 2018, there are go areas and no-go areas, places you can go in the day but not at night, places you can’t go at all – would astonish and appal our great-great grandparents. So, please, let’s not hear it about “hysterical” fear of crime in the past. You’d need to ramp it up about five orders of magnitude to get to hysteria level.
But what’s crazy is that the situation is not one of hysteria, but of anesthesia – not overhyping, but self-coordinating censorship by everyone on the street. As usual, reactionary reality is seeping back into the system. 100 years ago, the UK was the least Americanised of nations; today it is arguably more Americanised than America. To see the transition described, have a look at Peter Hitchens’ Abolition of Britain. You might also find yourself engaged by his Brief History of Crime.
To see just how screwed up this situation is, check out the Wikipedia article on Crime in Japan: Few robberies are. In 1989 Japan experienced 1.3 robberies per 100,000 population, compared with 48.6 for West Germany, 65.8 for Great Britain, and 233.0 for the United States.
My unscientific guess is these levels are roughly comparable to those in a civilised European country of a century ago. Do you have any idea how much the government and society of Britain changed between 1960 and 1990?
How do you anesthetise a population? When it reacts normally to crime, convince it that it’s being hysterical. It’s much easier to do when journalists believe in the ruling ideology as well.
The elephant in the room is that maybe – just maybe – London shouldn’t have let in millions of people who subscribe to a religion created as a black flag against European Christianity. Maybe.
But whose fault was that? There are many explanations for the decline in London’s public safety over the 20th century – but they all come back, in the end, to a case of government failure. It’s no coincidence that the 20th century was also the century in which it was thought that government policy should and could be planned by statistics, rather than phronetic decision, common sense and tradition – “by steam,” in Thomas Carlyle’s phrase. Or perhaps it’s not a coincidence.
Even a quick jog through the British museum would prove that Europe became generally more orderly from 1500 to 1900, and generally less orderly from 1900 to 2000, especially after 1950. If you want to know why, I would say: because order is a product of coherent state authority, and coherent state authority strengthened from 1500 to 1900 and weakened after 1900. And if you wanted to know why this happened, I would say: read some history.
Britain once had a long tradition of responsible public service, which could not be corrupted overnight by American political correctness, mendacity and bureaucracy. London is what happens when the old British civil service turns into something much more like a Communist state. Britain has never really seen anything quite like NuLabor progressivism.
The British literally invented modern policing. As you’d expect. Note how the 8th principle says: “absence of crime and disorder.” As in, you know, absence. In the “modern” era, crime has been rising vertiginously – 4700% in Britain overall. How can any descendant of the inventors of the police be proud of anything today? In Britain, everything is policed except crime.
When you read British writing about America in the 1850-1950 era, the Brits are simply amazed that such a thing as organized crime can be allowed to exist. Dr Moriarty, the spider at the centre of the web of crime, was a fantasy. Whereas now, at least according to the Times, there are 2800 gangs in Great Britain. No word on how this statistic was compiled, but I suppose it is probably accurate to within an order of magnitude or two.
So, here I sit, having returned from a city I grew up adoring. And I am torn between hoping the English come to their senses and fight off the progressive invaders before it's too late and hoping they get what they deserve for letting it get to this point.
London is a miserable city.