Friday, March 31, 2006

Fair's Fair, Now

The attacks by the casseurs on French demonstrators are being covered by the BBC.

They're just not being given the kind of prominence they would be if the attackers were natives and the victims not.

During a recent protest "thugs hit the shop windows on their way up the avenue, and hit the demonstrators on their way down".

Who are they? Ask any shopkeeper, and they will tell you that they are the same youths of immigrant origin who rioted across France's impoverished suburbs in November.

This report manages to tell the truth and ignore it simultaneously. Can you imagine the BBC's coverage if the casseurs were white 'right-wingers' ?

"The festival atmosphere quickly darkened as a small group of troublemakers began to target trade union stewards trying to keep order on the march.

Those youths smashed the windows of a cafe and soon took on the trade unions' security men in random brawls, as the peaceful protesters - young and old - continued on their route across the River Seine and on to Place de la Republique"

"But once they reached their destination in the eastern city centre, most student demonstrators - and the workers who came out in support of them - quickly left as more youths descended on the square, with the sole aim of picking a fight with the riot police.

These youngsters - aged between 15 and 25 - were wearing hooded tops that obscured their features. Many wore masks, so they could not be identified."

"The irony is that the government's new job contracts were brought in hurriedly to help youngsters in France's troubled suburbs - where last November's rioting brought severe social and racial problems into sharp focus."

An irony not lost on the great Dalrymple.

"Whether they know it or not, the people on the streets in France were demonstrating to keep the youth of the banlieues — who recently so amused the world for an entire fortnight with their arsonist antics — exactly where they are, namely hopeless, unemployed and feeling betrayed. For unless the French labour market is liberalised, they will never find employment and therefore integration into French society. You have only to speak to a few small businessmen or artisans in France — the petits bourgeois so vehemently despised by the snobbish intellectuals — to find out why this should be so. The French labour regulations make employment of untried persons completely uneconomic for them."

UPDATE - via the comments, France-Echos with photos of the kind of thing the BBC prefer to ignore. Not sure if I follow his politics, but the snaps are pretty eloquent.

Photos via France-Echos

Photos via France-Echos

UPDATE 2 - More Dalrymple.

"The French do not go to the banlieues, but what they fear is that the banlieues will come to them. Perhaps it is starting to happen. My nephew and a friend of his were walking through the Bois de Vincennes, overlooked by elegant Parisian bourgeois apartment blocks, when they were set upon by two Africans and three Arabs. They were not badly injured, but at the hospital their mothers were told by the staff that such attacks, carried out not for gain but for the sheer pleasure of revenge upon the hated comfortable French, were now commonplace."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Stopped Clock "Sometimes Right" Shock Horror

In among the usual nagombi ("this howl of existential anxiety") the BBC's Caroline Wyatt gets the odd bit of sense in.

"To the barricades, they went, these revolutionaries, to fight for their rights - to pensions, mortgages and a steady job.

Such odd revolutionaries. No heartfelt cry to change the world, but a plea for everything to stay the same.

For France to remain in its glorious past: a time of full employment and jobs for life - a paternalistic state to take care of them from cradle to grave"

"A recent survey suggested that for most of the young in France, the real dream is to become a civil servant - a fonctionnaire. To work in government offices with regular hours, long holidays, and a 35 hour working week."

Blogger Rue Rude isn't so poetic about existential anxiety.

"Casseurs with hoods and masks are all around Place de la République right now breaking things and causing mayhem right now, 20h30-- stay out of central Paris if you can. "

And the Pub Philosopher on the story the MSM ignore - how, once again, ghetto youth are attacking the demonstrating 'bolos'.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Light Blogging

Lots of work, so a few links.

I said the other day that "one of the things I'm interested in is documenting how it all went pear-shaped, what life was like before the Fall, the cultural drivers behind the destruction, the personalities involved, and some of the original documents."

The destruction has fallen most heavily on what was once the British working class.

"And the sandcastle virtues are all swept away,
In the tidal destruction, the moral melee"

as someone once wrote. I haven't time to investigate the fascinating subject of how the MIDDLE classes, before the fall the touchstone, exemplar and ambition of the respectable working man, became the object of the hatred and scorn of the 'representatives' of the working class, themselves middle-class almost to a woman. It would be interesting to research Hansard and socialist writing to discover when 'middle-class' became a term of abuse. I'd guess 1970/80s, with a few forerunners like Richard Crossman.

Let's just look at what the working class could do for themselves, before they had an enlightened State to do it for them.

Via commenter Phil Jackson, a look at The Classics In The Slums. And Frank Prochaska's series of posts at the SAU on the voluntary institutions of the working class. Enjoy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Those DFES stats

I speculated a while back that "if you asked the DFES for a breakdown of primary school numbers by ethnicity (recorded by each head and reported to the DFES) the figure would be 25%+ for ethnic minorities in England."

The figure (table 47a) is 20.2%, if you include Irish and Irish travellers as natives.

2.3% of kids are "unclassified" - including mine. You can opt out of this South African style system if you wish.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

My Generation, Baby

"I am a modern man - the Beatles, colour TV - that's the generation I come from" - Tony Blair, 1997.

One of the things I'm interested in is documenting how it all went pear-shaped, what life was like before the Fall, the cultural drivers behind the destruction, the personalities involved, and some of the original documents.

This post will be a little disjointed, as it covers some big themes, each worthy of one or more essays - which I have neither the time nor ability to write.

There are several elements involved in this documentation. One important one is to bear witness. A key liberal myth, the "Myth of the Myth of the Golden Age" holds that crime wasn't REALLY lower in the past, streets weren't REALLY safer."He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."

At present this is a difficut task for our liberal elite. There are simply too many people alive who can remember Britain in the 1950s or even the 1960s (remember that the culture of the 1960s only spread in the 70s - and went mainstream even later, around the time Habitat stores opened everywhere. For an accurate picture of 1966 England look at the World Cup Final crowd - 95% in ties - ties ! and many also sporting hats).

But these generations - the wartime generations - are dying and will soon be gone. Mortality is even now on the horizon of the post-war grammar school boys, the people - of whom I'm one - who destroyed the culture to which they were the heirs.

So it's important to record the lives and opinions of these generations, partly for their own sake, but partly to refute the arguments of those who believe that the present is always better than the past.

Three documents - two on the cultural drivers of destruction, one on Edwardian Britain.

First the Independent on the 50th anniversary of the play "Look Back In Anger", as reviewed by the late Keneth Tynan in 1956.

"All the qualities are there, qualities one had despaired of ever seeing on stage - the drift towards anarchy, the instinctive leftishness, the automatic rejection of 'official' attitudes, the surrealist sense of humour ... the casual promiscuity, the sense of lacking a crusade worth fighting for and, underlying all these, the determination that no one who dies shall go unmourned ... The Porters of our time deplore the tyranny of 'good taste' and refuse to accept 'emotional' as a term of abuse; they are classless, and they are also leaderless."

I'm not quite sure what happened to to the underlying theme, but all the rest were representative enough - a small manifesto for the counterculture.

Another document - I must admit to never having heard of the Preston poet Alan Dent - and having read some of his stuff I wish he'd never heard of Dylan Thomas. But his "Memoria Technica" is important in that if you wanted to know what the Sixties were a revolt against, you'd only have to read this. All the themes are there. Namely :

Capitalism - indeed, paid employment of any kind - is dull and morally reprehensible. Success in this world is a token of moral worthlessness.

society’s handshake was a pay-packet and slavery

for he was famous in his realm
in Leyland and Chorley
from Accrington to Darwen
in Lancaster and Blackpool and as far as Oldham
he had conquered with his charm
the blue-eyed father and slick commercial traveller
filled the emptiness of his life by selling
as vain men fill the emptiness in their lives by selling
selling themselves a dream of themselves

Church is a dull thing that the straight parents make us do.

freedom from the narrowness of a niggard isle
from sexless Wesleyism
and God drowned in the Ribble
dirty with Protestant profit
and freedom was in no choice but to choose

On dull Sunday evenings at six
tight-suited smart and calm
on the back-row wicker seats
in a plain poor dour building
in a rich pretentious zone

I want to get drunk and have sex with girls.

I took my pre-sex preaching
then pubwards quiet querying and queer
went on my usual crusading quimquest

Respectability sucks.

my dream was freedom from the boss and the bureaucrat
my dream was the death of deference

In its own way it's also a manifesto for change - and a manifesto triumphantly implemented - as the figures for church attendance and a walk down any High Street on a Friday night will bear out. Though not quite fully implemented - all over Preston small boys, neatly dressed, will even today trot off to their religious classes once a week, with greater or lesser enthusiasm. But they'll be clad in white, not Sunday best - and their classes are on Fridays. I can still remember the cheerful kids pouring out of the madrassa in Woodhead Road when I lived in Bradford.

What a contrast with a Victorian working man - the Blackburn poet William Billington. What was that about the working class being uninterested in education ?

A dacent chap ull do his best,
An' eawt o' wod he's earnin
Ged th' owdest son a trade, an' th' rest
O' th' lads a bit o' learnin;
Bud iv he's eawt o' wark; wey then,
Unschollard, unbefriended,
His childer grow up into men—
Aw wod this war wur ended!

("this war" being the American Civil War, which closed half the mills in Lancashire)

The third document I stumbled upon while trying to find some lyrics for an old 78 in my posession. The Hubbard family archives contain the unedited memoirs of Frances Roper (nee Hubbard), an upper-middle class Englishwoman of good Christian family, describing the first twenty-odd years of her life in Ealing, the Forest of Dean, and her aunt's orphanage in South London. Absolutely fascinating stuff.

Four salient points - the safety and order of the Edwardian world, the all-pervading influence of Christianity, the still rigid class structure, and (as anyone reading childhood memoirs of the era will recognise) the enormous contrast betwen the tighty regulated and rigidly enforced relationship between adult and child, where any adult's word was law in every sphere, and the freedom/liberty/license of children's relationships with each other. In George Borrow's memoirs he desribes gang warfare and running battles between schoolboys (with however, none of the knife-work you'd get in, say, London today) in the Edinburgh streets. Reading the passage where the village boys torment Frances' Downs syndrome brother, I was reminded of Laurie Lee's gang of Cotswold adolescents plotting to waylay and rape the village idiot - a mentally deficient girl.

(The cultural level of the respectable working class in late Victorian times was remarkable. When our decorators arrive the radio is the first thing to go on. Can't work without it. Once ...

"When we had the local painters and decorators in the house the most beautiful part-singing would re-echo throughout the place all day, as they, the maids, the daily woman and the scullery maid all joined in, each one taking his or her part in perfect harmony." )