The events of the past few days have unmasked modern British politics as the Faustian bargain that it has always been. The illusion of a third way — the notion that somewhere between freedom and totalitarianism is a perfect balance where there exists both universal healthcare and free markets, guaranteed entitlements and individual liberties — is unraveling at an alarming, if not unsurprising, rate.
The riots now engulfing England are yet another indicator of just how deeply social rot has infected the culture of a once-proud nation. The kids throwing rocks at businesses and setting cars on fire are the children of the social revolution called modern liberalism — entitled, unsophisticated and selfish.
The rioters are angry because what they are used to having and expected to always have — pensions, guaranteed leisure, lives free from constraints — are threatened. These people can’t be dismissed as mere hooligans and thugs. In fact, they are acting rationally given where they believe their best interest lie.
The social welfare state has kept Britons from realizing their full potential, robbing individuals of their initiative and dignity even as it claims its actions are just, humane and necessary. It blocks the development of critical thinking skills, replacing them with rules and regulations that govern every aspect of people’s lives. It replaces merit and its corollary, dignity, with entitlements based on class, race, status, geography and a myriad other qualifiers that are utterly divorced from the forces that are within an individual’s control. A person in control of neither his destiny nor his present is not a citizen at all, but a ward.
And so it is that the wards of the British state are throwing this inevitable fit at having their entitlements revoked. Perhaps instead of calling them names, it is time to recognize that they are driven by fear, a perfectly rational fear that they are uneducated, unskilled and unable to cope with a life they have been bred from birth to avoid. We should ask ourselves how it is that the culture that gave us William Shakespeare, Isaac Newton and Adam Smith has come to this.
With half of Americans paying the bills of the other half, one in six on food stamps and guarantees of retirement, healthcare and security, how can we believe that our own dance with social democracy will not yield similar decay?
Don Rasmussen is a political consultant, writer and former Ron Paul adviser. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he is pursuing a graduate degree in political management.