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Reasons For The UK Riots: Janet Daly Presents Jean-Jacques Rousseau

by | 22nd, August 2011

THE UK riots – reasons for them, with Janet Daly:

There is no national debate about the epidemic of riots and looting that spread through our cities like a bush fire. Out there in the real world, where people go about the normal business of life, there is no sign of the heated argument that the media is so determined to air. In fact, I cannot remember a time when there has been such crushing unanimity on a matter of public importance: the answers to the questions of why this happened, what went wrong when it began to happen and what needs to follow in its aftermath are considered so blindingly self-evident as to be beyond rational disagreement.

You can read all the reasons here. The uniformity might not exist:

There are indeed views of the human condition which hold that all species of wickedness are connected, because they are all rooted in the fact that man is a fallen creature. But somehow I doubt that the ardent liberal secularists who were piping up last week were believers in original sin or the machinations of the Devil.

Oh no?

Parents, teachers, police, judges, politicians – decent citizens of every station and calling – formed an unspoken confederacy to uphold standards of behaviour within their own communities. But their shared values and expectations about human conduct were systematically undermined by a post-Sixties political ideology that preached wholesale disrespect for authority, and legitimised anti-social activity in the name of protest…

In fact, the politics of the Sixties were just a late incarnation of an 18th-century philosophy. We have Jean-Jacques Rousseau to thank for the basic principle that men are born good and will only behave badly if they are corrupted by authority and repressive institutions: that we need only liberate them from those false limitations and their natural moral instincts will come to the fore.

So hugely influential was this view in education and social policy that it almost succeeded in extinguishing the truths that arise from experience: people (especially young ones) will behave badly just because they can, because no one is stopping them, or has ever inculcated in them the conscientious discipline that would make them stop themselves.

The capacity for self-control, and the willingness to suppress one’s innate selfishness or cruelty, is something that adults must consciously instil in children and reinforce in other adults by their attitudes to them….

If you think that rioters are getting tough treatment from the courts, you should hear what my newsagent would like to do to them. Real people know what “deterrence” means, even if they do not use the word.

So much for self-control… READ on.



Posted: 22nd, August 2011 | In: News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink