Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Eighties Are Back

In music at Harry's, and in the Guardian, where Hugh Muir tells us that "gun crime will continue to rise while it remains the most accessible, rational career choice for so many young people ".

This was the new theme of the 1980s, as liberals who had previously denied the existence of rising crime ("Daily Mail ... more people have insurance ... more people have phones, so it's easier to report... people report crimes now which they would have accepted in past times ... the police are inflating the figures to justify demanding increased resources") suddenly accepted its existence and found a cause - that rising crime was due to poverty and injustice.

As I wrote a few years back

Suddenly there was an avalanche of theories designed to explain the rise in crime that had previously been denied. Bad housing, unemployment, the design of estates - all manner of physical, mechanistic explanations for crime. And the greatest of these was poverty. From the Church of England's 'Faith in the City' report in 1986 to the many reports of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Child Poverty Action Group, the message, put simply, was 'they thieve because they're poor'. And there was great political utility in this view during the Thatcher years. The same people on the 'left' who in the 1970s had characterised paid employment as soulless capitalist wage-slavery, the cause of alienation, suddenly decided that paid employment was a basic human right the ABSENCE of which caused alienation, of which crime was one symptom. Again put simply, the answer to the question 'whose fault was it, then ?' was 'THATCHER !'. So we have the third stage of denial - that yes, there is a lot of crime, but a) it's caused by poverty and our unjust society b) nothing can be done about it without relieving poverty/creating social justice.

You see, those outside Guardianista country are completely unaware of the "polarisation of our society into the haves and have-nots, the connected and the disconnected". It's not a concept we've come across before, having been asleep for twentyfive years, and we need people like Hugh to tell us about it. Apparently there's a "parallel universe of deprived communities, where the concerns and norms of mainstream Britain scarcely register" . I think he's talking about the UK underclass.

The wonderful thing is how the Guardianista worldview has trickled down into even the criminal underclass, providing a moral underpinning, a justification, for the criminal lifestyle. Never mind the fact that their victims are usually as poor and 'deprived' as they are themselves. Ever since the 1980s and the rise of the yuppie we've heard the refrain that "they see all this wealth on the TV which they haven't got - what do you expect ?".

"They see a lot of things happen on TV, famous people, rap stars, gold, big cars, houses; they all want it but everyone ain't got the same means of getting it, so they are going about getting it in other ways."

"Most of the criminals out there, they're not stupid, they're smart people, they just ain't had opportunities ... it's just, they do the easiest, like, the easiest thing that's there. Like me, for example, it was robberies and that. Robberies are easy, easy stuff. I could have done much, I could have maybe been a doctor, I could have been a lawyer, but it's just the way I grew up."

You see, it's all our fault. We don't "support families", whatever that means - I'd have thought we subsidise single parenthood rather successfully. We don't apparently educate the children ("better schools") and we don't provide "access to skills and role models", whatever that means. Perhaps we could bus males into sink schools and say 'this, Kyle, is called a father. He lives with his kids. Take a good look, 'cause you don't see many round here'.

Nowhere does he address the issue that at other times, or other parts of Britain (see my post on the high-crime constituencies), people have been poor yet have avoided crime as a solution to poverty.

Instead we get this.

"We are required to show personal responsibility, but ..."

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