The War Will Find the Shire
As always, Mark Steyn does an excellent job articulating the conservative perspective, this time on the British riots:
While the British Treasury is busy writing checks to Amsterdam prostitutes, one-fifth of children are raised in homes in which no adult works — in which the weekday ritual of rising, dressing and leaving for gainful employment is entirely unknown. One-tenth of the adult population has done not a day’s work since Tony Blair took office on May 1, 1997.
If you were born into such a household, you’ve been comprehensively “stimulated” into the dead-eyed zombies staggering about the streets this past week: pathetic inarticulate subhumans unable even to grunt the minimal monosyllables to BBC interviewers desperate to appease their pathologies. C’mon, we’re not asking much: just a word or two about how it’s all the fault of government “cuts” like the leftie columnists argue. And yet even that is beyond these baying beasts. The great-grandparents of these brutes stood alone against a Fascist Europe in that dark year after the fall of France in 1940. Their grandparents were raised in one of the most peaceful and crime-free nations on the planet. Were those Englishmen of the mid-20th century to be magically transplanted to London today, they’d assume they were in some fantastical remote galaxy. If Charlton Heston was horrified to discover the Planet of the Apes was his own, Britons are beginning to realize that the remote desert island of “Lord Of The Flies” is, in fact, located just off the coast of Europe in the northeast Atlantic. Within two generations of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain, a significant proportion of the once-free British people entrusted themselves to social rewiring by liberal compassionate Big Government and thereby rendered themselves paralytic and unemployable save for nonspeaking parts in “Rise of The Planet Of The Apes.” And even that would likely be too much like hard work.
Today, he moves from explicit references to science-fiction dystopias to an implied, perhaps unconscious, reference to Lord of the Rings. Responding to the suggestion of Peter Hitchens that rich liberals “will find ways to save themselves” as “the filthy thing they have created” roars around them, Steyn writes:
I think they will have difficulty “saving themselves”. I have many in-laws and friends in delightful corners of village England, where as the sun rises on ancient hedgerows and thatched cottages it is easy to believe the paralytic chavs and incendiary imams and all the rest are somewhere far away and always will be. As leftie columnists in their Hampstead redoubts began (privately) to calculate as the rioters moved in from the less fashionable arrondissements, on a small island the mob doesn’t stay beyond the horizon for long.
You’ll recall, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, that the four Hobbits of the Fellowship of the Ring left the Shire almost with no sense of urgency. Moreover, the dangers of Middle Earth came to their village by Bilbo’s unknowingly bringing the One Ring back from his far-off adventures. In other words, when they began their adventure, it seemed that the shire would never be affected by the distant evil but for the intrusion of that one magical item, and could be saved mainly by its expulsion. When the Hobbits return, however, it is clear that the larger war had reached the Shire, anyway, and an anticlimactic section of the book is required to clear its last remnants.
I’ve been working, for the better part of the past half-year on a waterfront property in Tiverton overlooking the northern tip of Aquidneck Island. As the headlines have continued to turn darker and darker, it’s been odd to look out across the water and think that the society that we’ve built could actually fall. Washington, D.C., (let alone London) seems a long, long way away. Abstractions about debt ceilings seem many steps removed from an individual family’s ability to put food on the table.
Consequently, many people remain models in apathy.
In intellectual and civic terms, it is high time that people set out from their comfort zones. It is too late to keep the Shire untouched, but unless the battle is engaged, our lives are sure to be unrecognizable in no time at all.