Great Britain always seemed to me to be steeped in tradition and culture. As an American, the tradition was easily apparent. Culture, on the other hand, was relative and likely something that we Americans did not judge very well.
Almost forty years ago, I was involved in running a small British subsidiary from the US. I would spend about one week a month in a small town located several hours south of London. As a young man, I thought the English more refined than my counterparts in America. The Managing Director of the company was polished, but inept. I ended up terminating his employment after much soul-searching.
During the process, I concluded that the average American was incapable of judging the British. I thought then that if you put three quite different Englishmen in a room, a banker, a train conductor and a construction worker, and stripped them of all clothing and jewelry that the average American would be unable to discern who was who. I assumed that was how my boss made the the mistake of choosing the Managing Director I ended up “sacking.” Americans are unable to differentiate between the accents so all seemed polished compared to our cruder society.
Apparently the refinement that I saw no longer exists according to Theodore Dalrymple. Society, if not civilization, in England, according to him, is rapidly regressing:
… a fifth of all people with assets of more than $640,000 are thinking of leaving the country. Personally I am surprised it is so few. Other surveys have shown that at least 50% of the population wants to leave, in the main to flee the other 50% of the population.
He attributes this not to usual economic factors like jobs, taxes, etc. Rather, he says it is because of the culture has become so abrasive. Mr. Dalrymple speculates:
What has caused this collapse of civility in Britain, which was, within living memory, a civil country? In my view, it is a demotic version of egalitariansim, allied with multiculturalism.
If he is correct, then the same behavior will likely follow in the US for we are on the same path. Indeed, several of our inner cities have already achieved or surpassed the levels which Mr. Dalrymple deplores.