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C.S. Lewis, in his prophetic The Abolition of Man (1943):

And all the time--such is the tragi-comedy of our situation--we continue to clamour for these very qualities we are rendering impossible.  You can hardly open a periodical without coming across the statement that what our civilization needs is more ‘drive’, or dynamism, or self-sacrifice, or ‘creativity’.  In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function.  We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.  We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.  We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

Brad Green comments:

. . . A culture--the UK or otherwise--cannot generation after generation laugh at honour and virtue and then be surprised that a culture has produced people who have no interest in honor or virtue.  The most foundational question is not, “what caused these riots?”, but rather, “why are there not more riots?”  That is, a culture that systematically and repeatedly and thoroughly laughs at virute and honor should not be surprised when they look up to see traitors in their midst.  We cannot make “men without chests” and then be surprised to see them face-to-face.  May God help the UK, and all of us.

See also Theodore Dalrymple’s comments in The Spectactor:

I doubt there are many people who have never in their lives experienced the pleasure of inflicting some kind of pain on others, physical or mental, from sheer malice and delight in doing so. It is an urge that we overcome first by effort and then by habit.

It is one of the tasks of civilisation to tame our inherent savagery. But who, contemplating contemporary British culture, would recognise in it any civilising influence, or rather fail to recognise its opposite? It is a constant call to and celebration of degradation, not only physical but spiritual and emotional. A culture in which Amy Winehouse, with her militant vulgarity and self-indulgent stupidity, combined with a very minor talent, could be so extravagantly admired and feted, is not one to put up strong barriers against our baser instincts, desires and urges. On the contrary, that culture has long been a celebration of those very urges. He who pays the savage never gets rid of the savagery; and this is only the beginning.


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6 thoughts on “Why Are There Not More Riots?”

  1. Scott says:

    Winehouse was an extraordinarily gifted musician, faults and all. I know that’s not the point of the article(s), but let’s at least give credit where credit is due.

    There’s a reason these riots are taking place. Not excusable, but we shouldn’t attribute the incidents to a lack of civility and give full pardon to the aristocracy and ruling classes.

  2. Jonny Moore says:

    See also http://www.oakhill.ac.uk/commentary/11_summer/looters_them_or_us.html
    for further helpful comment which makes us look at our own hearts in the light of what’s happened here in the UK.

    1. Marty says:

      Agree Jonny. Thought Mike Ovey’s article was the best comment of those I came across at any rate. It’s amazing how people have short memories. As an 11 year old boy I remember the 1981 riots (my sister even bought the Special’s single “Ghost Town” – the sound track of that period). I thought Bristol, Brixton, Toxteth, Tottenham and so on were far more frightening and in a political sense, more easy to understand. Since, we’ve had many football ‘riots’, the Poll Tax riots and not a few riots here in Northern Ireland.

      The shock in all of this is the fact that the disorder took people off guard and spread with such speed. But as Brad Green suggests, it’s amazing that there isn’t more, given the societal breakdown we’ve experienced.

  3. Stephen says:

    I agree with the article, but would suggest that the Rupert Murdoch’s of the world bear as much culpability for the moral and ethical degradation of British society as do pop culture figures like Amy Winehouse.

  4. Michael says:

    People don’t need an aristocracy or a Rupert Murdoch to riot. They only need a sinful heart and an opportunity to let that heart go wild in the streets. The only restraint is a Biblical worldview shared by a majority of society. When schools teach (and governments support) that we evolved due to the survival of the fittest, why not express that in practical ways?

    Caesar used pay for weeks of gladiatorial games and feasts to keep the common people of Rome from rioting. Both the bloody games and riots stopped when Christianity spread.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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