Curtis Bowman: Theodore Dalrymple
Here's an interesting blog piece (what IS the word for a small section of a blog? - entry perhaps?) on Theodore Dalrymple (who would have guessed that's a pseudonym?) whose writings I have often been intrigued by. Curtis Bowman is not unsympathetic, but objects to TD's dogmatism. I know what he means, but on the other hand, TD bases his observations on years of empirical evidence. He writes about what he comes across on a daily basis as a prison doctor - and it is a catalogue of, mainly, bottomless stupidity. Dalrymple often shows, as he does in the passage quoted by Bowman, how these people seem incapable of helping themselves, and simply drift from one disastrous - I was going to write "decision" but the point is they don't make decisions - one disastrous scenario to another. They are passive observers of their own downfall. What concerns me is the fate of their children. These kids have no chance to grow up as reasonable members of a civil society. The right wing press, and some police spokesmen, I've noticed, have taken to calling them "feral children" and one can see where they get that idea. Schools are routinely blamed for the problem, though, as I remember wearily pointing out to people more than once when I was a schoolteacher, you can't do much with kids who don't attend school.
The underclass that Bowman refers to is, literally, reproducing itself, and I worry about where it will lead.
Trouble is, this makes me sound like a Daily Mail reading reactionary. I'm not. None of the mainstream British parties is leftwing enough for me. Still, though, I can't see how current policies - if we can dignify the short term opportunism and soundbites of the main parties with that term - can do anything to address the problem of the breakdown in civil society.