Skip to comments.The Quivering Upper Lip -- The British character: from self-restraint to self-indulgence
Posted on 11/30/2008 6:16:36 PM PST by SirJohnBarleycorn
When my mother arrived in England as a refugee from Nazi Germany, shortly before the outbreak of World War II, she found the people admirable, though not without the defects that corresponded to their virtues. By the time she died, two-thirds of a century later, she found them rude, dishonest, and charmless. They did not seem to her, moreover, to have any virtues to compensate for their unpleasant qualities. I occasionally asked her to think of some, but she couldnt; and neither, frankly, could I.
What, exactly, were the qualities that my mother had so admired? Above all, there was the peoples manner. The British seemed to her self-contained, self-controlled, law-abiding yet tolerant of others no matter how eccentric, and with a deeply ironic view of life that encouraged them to laugh at themselves and to appreciate their own unimportance in the scheme of things.
Gradually, but overwhelmingly, the culture and character of British restraint have changed into the exact opposite. Extravagance of gesture, vehemence of expression, vainglorious boastfulness, self-exposure, and absence of inhibition are what we tend to admire nowand the old modesty is scorned. It is as if the population became convinced of Blakes fatuous dictum that it is better to strangle a baby in the cradle than to let a desire remain unacted upon.
Lack of self-control is just as character-forming as self-control: but it forms a different, and much worse and shallower, character. Further, once self-control becomes neither second nature nor a desired goal, but rather a vice to avoid at all costs, there is no plumbing the depths to which people will sink.
(Excerpt) Read more at city-journal.org ...
The era of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster is sadly past.
Not to mention ‘political correctness’
Wal-Mart shoppers a few days ago...
Well, I was under the impression that they always served cold food and warm beer over there, so I agree it has more to do with moving to a post-Christian culture than the lowering a tax.
Sounds like their collective national character has been spiraling down, too.
Well it is militant secularism, anti-Christian plus pathological political correctness made worse by open borders etc.
I do not think a society in Europe has been more fervent in destroying their culture and destroying their civilization. I think the Dutch and the Swedes are moving in the direction as well.
The French have not changed that much culturally but their open borders and islamo-invasion are a major issue.
Amazingly, American liberals seem to regard what the British Left has accomplished there as something of a model. The National Health Service is a disaster, but may be on its way here. Joe Biden, as we know, believes he is really Neil Kinnock.
I picked this cherry from an excellent read. It explains why conservatives have such a good sense of humor and liberals are so unhappy. Thanks for posting.
Thank you for sharing this very interesting article.
As for your comments about Britain’s transition to a secular society, I would agree. I just was thinking that God allows for freedom of actions. However, when that freedom is abused, and debauchery is the result, He will intervene to stop that behavior. I believe that He is using the darkness of Islam to destroy the secular societies that have forgotten the name of Christ.
Start with the welfare state — and end with the welfare state. Everything flows from there. Political correctness, victimhood, dependence, sloth. All of that and more is subsidized and encouraged by the welfare state so that it can perpetuate itself
Sounds like Brit-trashing to me, just like we hear everyday about how awful Americans are. The message is: Western culture sucks!
We must all look to models from non-Western culture to not suck.
I can tell you the decline of British culture is real, not imagined. The problem is that contemporary British culture has moved away from traditional Western culture and in the direction of, and beyond, Euro-trash.
>but never mentions the overriding change from a predominantly Christian to a post-Christian culture, perhaps reflecting a personal blind spot in the author.
Indeed. Interesting also to note the rises and falls of powers that as a nation embrace or reject Christ.
It's happening to us, as well, of course. It will be interesting and instructive to see in what shape the Obamas will leave our culture. Eight years of Clintonism was plenty hard on our society, and while it may appear that we will be seeing eight more years of the same, I am betting that the Obamas will manage to introduce some major wrinkles all their own. We shall see. I am trying to figure out how to shelter myself from as much of our brave new Obamenvironment as I possibly can.
I have been reading him as well. Don't think he is a psychologist but rather the British equivalent of a family practitioner. The Brits probably still call it general practice. I have never seen any reference to his being a psychologist as well as a physician.
That was then.
Now, the cops yell and actually attack you if you are, for example, marching peacefully to protest the recently enacted ban on hunting to hounds. However if you're screaming for the death and dismemberment of infidels etc, the police do nothing but watch.
The decline has been steady but accelerated significantly in the last ten or fifteen years.