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The Quivering Upper Lip -- The British character: from self-restraint to self-indulgence
City Journal ^ | Autumn 2008 | Theodore Dalrymple

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 couldn’t; and neither, frankly, could I.

snip

What, exactly, were the qualities that my mother had so admired? Above all, there was the people’s 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.

snip

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 now—and the old modesty is scorned. It is as if the population became convinced of Blake’s fatuous dictum that it is better to strangle a baby in the cradle than to let a desire remain unacted upon.

snip

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 ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: anthonydaniels; dalrymple; theodoredalrymple
Interesting essay. The author attributes the decline of British civil society to various "intellectual and legislative activity" (such as lowering the tax on alcohol), but never mentions the overriding change from a predominantly Christian to a post-Christian culture, perhaps reflecting a personal blind spot in the author.
1 posted on 11/30/2008 6:16:36 PM PST by SirJohnBarleycorn
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn
What socialism does to country after 60 years...
2 posted on 11/30/2008 6:24:19 PM PST by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

The era of Jeeves and Bertie Wooster is sadly past.


3 posted on 11/30/2008 6:25:44 PM PST by MrEdd (Heck? Geewhiz Cripes, thats the place where people who don't believe in Gosh think they aint going.)
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

Not to mention ‘political correctness’


4 posted on 11/30/2008 6:25:44 PM PST by 45semi (I find stinky B.O. really really offensive...)
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

Wal-Mart shoppers a few days ago...


5 posted on 11/30/2008 6:27:41 PM PST by DB
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

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.


6 posted on 11/30/2008 6:27:41 PM PST by Canedawg (The media is a ass, a idiot.," said Mr. Bumble.)
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

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.


7 posted on 11/30/2008 6:30:37 PM PST by Frantzie
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To: 2banana

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.


8 posted on 11/30/2008 6:32:09 PM PST by SirJohnBarleycorn
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn
If Horace Walpole was right—that the world is a comedy to those who think and a tragedy to those who feel,

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.

9 posted on 11/30/2008 6:33:31 PM PST by hinckley buzzard
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

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.


10 posted on 11/30/2008 6:36:06 PM PST by Arkansas Toothpick
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn
This writer has been writing columns in UK papers for at least the past 5 years. He is a psychologist MD who has dealt with prisoners as well as other people in UK society. He publishes under a pseudonym.
11 posted on 11/30/2008 6:40:15 PM PST by Frantzie
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn
When I travelled England about 5 years ago I still found a remnant of older people with great charm and manners - a very few young people I met also seemed to continue this sadly many English males are thugs and seem to enjoy being like that and many English women are no longer ladies. When churches are mainly tourist attractions and the real religion is soccer it is no wonder people turn into angry disillusioned prats.
12 posted on 11/30/2008 6:40:44 PM PST by melsec (A Proud Aussie)
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

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


13 posted on 11/30/2008 6:40:59 PM PST by vbmoneyspender
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

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.


14 posted on 11/30/2008 6:50:39 PM PST by KJC1
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To: KJC1

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.


15 posted on 11/30/2008 7:03:34 PM PST by SirJohnBarleycorn
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

>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.


16 posted on 11/30/2008 7:15:20 PM PST by OneWingedShark (Q: Why am I here? A: To do Justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God.)
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

bump


17 posted on 11/30/2008 7:18:20 PM PST by gibsosa
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn
The author is a truly incredible writer. It's sad that he is forced to chronicle the collapse of a culture that, as he shows in the article, possessed many fine attributes for many years. I sometiems wonder whether Princess Diana was more a symptom or more a cause of a significant portion of the decline.

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.

18 posted on 11/30/2008 7:33:58 PM PST by Irene Adler (')
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To: Frantzie
"He is a psychologist MD..."

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.

19 posted on 11/30/2008 7:37:48 PM PST by Irene Adler (')
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn
If people gathered near Westminster shouting slogans, a policeman would tell them to go away and they would go.”

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.

20 posted on 11/30/2008 7:37:53 PM PST by 1066AD
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To: Irene Adler; Frantzie
Wiki says he's a psychiatrist too.
21 posted on 11/30/2008 7:43:10 PM PST by 1066AD
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To: 1066AD

My semi-mistake. I said psychologist MD which is wrong. A psychistrist is an MD. They can perscribe drugs while a psychologist cannot. His writing is A1.


22 posted on 11/30/2008 7:44:32 PM PST by Frantzie
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

See BRUTAL BRITAIN http://www.brutalbritain.org.uk/


23 posted on 11/30/2008 8:10:21 PM PST by daniel1212 (I sent unto you all my servants the prophets,... saying, Oh, do not this abominable thing)
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn; aculeus; neverdem; AnAmericanMother; MozarkDawg; Billthedrill

Daniels/Dalrymple bump. Thanks for posting.


24 posted on 11/30/2008 8:53:43 PM PST by dighton
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

Dog-eared for Monday reading.


25 posted on 11/30/2008 9:03:32 PM PST by SuziQ
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To: dighton

Thanks for the ping.


26 posted on 11/30/2008 9:11:53 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn
The author attributes the decline of British civil society to various "intellectual and legislative activity" (such as lowering the tax on alcohol), but never mentions the overriding change from a predominantly Christian to a post-Christian culture, perhaps reflecting a personal blind spot in the author.

IIRC, he's admitted to being either an agnostic or atheist.

27 posted on 11/30/2008 9:14:02 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: Frantzie
Theodore Dalrymple is his pseudonym. Anthony Daniels is his real name.

English doctor, writer and social commentator, Theodore Dalrymple (pseudonym of Anthony Daniels), has practised medicine among the very poor and oppressed in several continents and, more recently, at a public hospital and prison in England.

28 posted on 11/30/2008 9:20:23 PM PST by neverdem (Xin loi min oi)
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn
Well, it gets a mention;

they had a state religion, but came to find religious enthusiasm bad form. . .

. . .but given the litany of evils here; could have given it 'greater mention'.

Certainly is a preview and warning; (if not too late already, 'here'). Never cease to be amazed at the level of degradation that much of our culture continues to descend to. Albeit; we are not 'England' - yet, anyway. And there are many fine young people - as I am sure there still are in England(?)

Does show the effects of Liberalism. Also thrown in here are the early 'inflluences' of 'Jerry Springer' TV and many 'ad nauseum' shows; now we have 'reality shows'. Seems 'trash' is King in tv land. . .for too much of the time and it does rise to the top; and we will pay a price for it.

And of course, Nature does abhor a vacuum. . .and so where Religion becomes scarce; nihilism, if only a big zero; fills the 'o's here.

29 posted on 11/30/2008 9:30:13 PM PST by cricket (America's Freedom Rings! Thank You ~ U..S.A. Military~/)
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To: Canedawg
I have traveled all over the world and I visited London in 2006. I found the people to be rude,narcissistic, and drunk.
The youths had bad manners and filthy mouths. Maybe I was in the wrong part of London. I did meet some really nice people thou. They took great pride in their education and appearance. A few years back,I had a British commando friend who was in his late 50's and he was as tuff as nails, yet very polite. Fear was not in his fiber. I also agree that the country has lost it's Christian heritage.
30 posted on 11/30/2008 9:50:09 PM PST by odin2008 (EVIL TRUMPHS WHEN GOOD MEN DO NOTHING)
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn

I agree with the author. Britain is dead. It will never return.


31 posted on 11/30/2008 10:11:10 PM PST by Mobile Vulgus
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To: MrEdd

Actor Ray Winstone: ‘I mean, don’t get me wrong,’ he says. ‘This is not something you want to do. Every time I get on a plane the thing I love is that moment when the captain announces we’re flying over England.

‘You open the shutters on your little window and you look down at all those miles of green fields and think: “This is it. This is England. This is the greatest, most beautiful country in the world.”’

He shakes his head and sighs. ‘But it’s just not great any more, is it?’ He pauses.

‘Let’s be honest. This country isn’t going to the dogs. It’s gone to the dogs. We’re a mess. And do I really want to live in this mess any more? I feel bad saying it, but I’m just not sure.’


32 posted on 11/30/2008 10:59:22 PM PST by flowerplough ("The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.")
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To: SirJohnBarleycorn
Daniels is a trained psychiatrist, yet commits the basic error of ascribing to entire populations characteristics properly attributable only to individuals. His writing, superficially impressive, elegantly articulated and not without its insights, succumbs all too often to the inductive fallacy: argument from the incisively analysed particular to an always misanthropic general, with nothing but a brief non sequitur to link the two. Hardly surprising, when one's entire professional life has been spent trying to make sense of the minds of the dregs of society, that one's outlook on humanity at large should become a wee bit unbalanced.
33 posted on 12/01/2008 1:50:28 AM PST by Winniesboy
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To: hinckley buzzard

That’s one of my longtime favorite quotations, as well.

I imagine most Freepers know of Theodore Dalrymple (AKA Dr. Anthony Daniels) and his work-for anyone who doesn’t-he is always excellent-his books and articles are terrific—if his byline is on anything-read it. This article is from City Journal-he’s a regular there, which is almost 100% worthwhile to read, every month and, IMHO, should be bookmarked by anyone interested in modern society, politics, etc.


34 posted on 12/01/2008 2:16:13 AM PST by Mac from Cleveland (Joe Biden behind a microphone is like Ted Kennedy behind a steering wheel)
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To: odin2008

Hmmm, it’s a shame, isn’t it?

As the post above yours stated: Nature does abhor a vacuum. . .and so where Religion becomes scarce, nihilism...fills.


35 posted on 12/01/2008 3:32:45 AM PST by Canedawg (The media is a ass, a idiot.," said Mr. Bumble.)
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To: dighton

bttt


36 posted on 12/01/2008 6:32:44 AM PST by aculeus
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To: odin2008

Well, thats London for you.

We have the same love for London you lot do for NY or LA...lol


37 posted on 12/03/2008 2:27:11 PM PST by the scotsman
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