July 2021. The Problem With Malevolence

The Problem With Malevolence

The month is rapidly rolling over and with it the sour taste left behind by individuals who are obnoxious by nature – burdened by malice, resentment and a plethora of churlish habits that, by their lack of any character, contaminate the human race. They have always existed, hovering on the fringes of society, but now grasping the opportunity of the internet world, these ‘teddy-boys’ of today can vent their spleen to their hearts content through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, et al. Sadly, like a pestilence, their disease is contagious, spreading a venomous ethos to those who should demonstrate more civilized attitudes, instead of becoming cheer leaders to those parts of a degenerate press that thrive on the acrimony of their own personal resentment, and under the cover of journalism, emphasise such malice willingly. But there are also those rags of the fourth estate willing to condemn these attitudes in no uncertain terms, while yet, still advertising the acrimony for all its worth, instead of quietly pointing out the vulgar senseless activity of these barbaric mobs. They too are culpable of breeding popular discontent.

For those who have not yet grasped where I’m coming from, I direct your thoughts to the discreditable behaviour of what will be a small section of the public in respect of the football event entitled UEFA EURO 2020 which finally played at Wembley Stadium in July 2021, together with the ‘column time’ exposure, in all forms of the media. They were true compatriots. It will not be blown out of proportion because the miniscule activity of these psychopaths demonstrates a neat bifurcation between a monetary and political agenda as the hate leaning left are want to fabricate. There seems little difference between a ranting mob screaming political abuse and a cheering mob tipping a statue into a river. They are both demonstrating an anathema towards a civilized country, that if not always polite, was at least dignified. The UK might not necessarily agree with many forms of heterodoxies, but it always remained tolerant. Left leaning liberal Labour seem to be engrossed in an ideological war with the extremist communist Corbynistas, while Right leaning liberal Conservative’s struggle to keep a vacillating Johnson steadily on course. It is an odd situation where a Prime Minister who can perform brilliantly on the floor of the House, appears laconic when not. I hope, for all our sakes that all this is about to change.

I hesitate to characterise these louts as sporting people, for they apparently do not appear at Cricket, Rugby, or Tennis matches. But at the present velocity of social change, I’m not holding my breath. I cannot even say if they have always crouched on the fringes of Football even though my father was a professional player before the war came along changing his life for him. (Six years is probably too long a time for a come-back, even for Shuffleboard!) When I was very young, I accompanied him to matches, remembering they were noisy, but in no way aggressive. Dare I say it. Football was a somewhat civilized event in those days. I doubt if we will see gentlemen like Stanley Matthews and Bobby Charlton again, having to make do with the already almost forgotten, Beckham and Rooney. Nevertheless, it never became my cup of tea, and as far as I can tell, the south western part of England never produced the power players of the Midlands and the North, or their fanatic patrons. There must be a demographic reason for this – perhaps the lack of any real industrial business conglomerates once you get past Wolverhampton. Whatever it was, there has been a sea change in social behaviour, a corrosive copycat activity that is almost an imitation of the social disintegration being experienced in the United States following the inauguration of an already lacklustre President Biden. Much publicised in the British press and media outlets, the social upheaval that has followed might well have been a contributing behavioural factor and motivation for the present degeneration in England. One cannot say it is a general reflection of what is happening elsewhere. That France is on its seasonable cusp of revolution is perhaps a mere pretext for the present tremors, but a government can be lost for less. Russia too has its protesters, but a few stalwart rabblerousers such as “Pussy Riot” are a mere harmless pimple in a country that almost stretches round the world. Italians just scratch their heads and wonder how a nation such as England, known for its civility, can have fostered such louts. China meanwhile sends them to correction camps, or has them shot. These are not the equivalence of those thugs found in certain parts of the English-speaking world. So why has it happened? I offer my opinion, but fear it hardly scratches the surface of the present affliction. One will have to dig a lot deeper.

It seems apparent to me that we are witnessing a three-pronged phenomenon – those related to education, religion and social disintegration. Education because it has wandered beyond its pedagogic remit, religion by virtue of a dissemination of faith, and social disintegration due to the lack of family cohesion. Here are my thoughts on the situation.

Primary education should not, by any stretch of the imagination, be controversial. To teach children from five to eleven about sex orientation and gender, along with same sex relationships, is criminally foolish to say the least. What sort of parent would consider this a salutary introduction to a young life? Secondary education from eleven to sixteen poses a particular problem in that it is an experimental period in maturity, and one might make a strong case for some form of structural guidance. The curriculum is now too wide without a corresponding depth. Margaret Thatcher’s basic curriculum was about right, but has descended into a chaotic farrago. Education is not the responsibility of the community; it is the responsibility of the state. As such, the latter has dumbed it down, almost washed its hands of it. We don’t need one of suggested guide lines, but an absolute specific itinerary where its very content is outlined by law. How often do we hear now that sixty year old O level papers flummox undergraduates? A university, of course, should obviously not be controlled, but it should be socially restrained by law where the parameters of its remit threaten the social ethos of the nation. I wonder if anyone has bothered to discover whether a specific degree has benefited graduates in a relevant career, let alone society who have often directly financed it? If it does not, and the recipient ends up stacking shelves at Tesco’s, then the value of a university education for many, is a waste of time and  money.

Religion, on the other hand, should be mandatory in schools, but perhaps not in content as long as it follows a recognised faith consistent with the laws of the state. I cannot recall where the following point was made: when society exterminates religion it loses its hold on morality, and the idea of murdering millions holds no fear. The historical examples of Germany who sent 7 million Christians and 5 million Jews to the gas chambers, and present-day China whose closed existence hides their genocidal treatment of Uyghur Muslims, probably suggests I need say no more.

A society disintegrating is not a pretty sight. But this is what happens when the citizens no longer hold on to the central ground together; when the family becomes broken and fragmentary, shattering the bond of parent and child, becoming nothing but part of a socially disorderly mob.  It might deck itself out as a free philosophy defending the rights of the individual, but which in its bigotry, tends to discard the rights of other members of society. The law will not always deliver just and reasonable judgements on the action of violent thugs while it’s trying too hard to arrive at a balanced opinion. Historically, something like this has happened before, when civilized legal parameters ceased to exist. With the beginning of the erratic Roman withdrawal from Britain in the 4th century AD, England gradually came under barbaric attacks as the whole Roman empire crumbled. In less than a hundred years England's emerging cohesion, with some sort of developing cultural code, succumbed to a ferment of rape and pillaging by an ungovernable destructive mob of Gaulic tribes, whereupon everyone’s life was conditioned by overwhelming fear. 

We are facing a ‘wake up’ moment, where the glue of  a civilised social group may come unstuck. If such an event should come to pass there will be nowhere anyone can hide.  If modern society ‘drops the ball’, being a member of an educated, literate class; being rich and “ever so special”, will be of little advantage. 

I leave you with the salutary words of that greatest of our historians, Edward Gibbon, on the rise and fall of nations: An unceasing round of valour, greatness, discord, degeneracy and decay.

With al sincerity, I  hope this is not the path we have chosen to walk along!