No generation has seen their country so altered, so turned upside down, as children like me born in the 20 years between the two world wars. In our adult lives Britain's entire national spirit, its philosophy, values and standards, have changed beyond belief.
Probably no country on earth has experienced such a revolution in thought and outlook and behaviour in so short a space.
Other lands have known what seem to be greater upheavals, the result of wars and revolutions, but these do not compare with the experience of a country which passed in less than a lifetime from being the mightiest empire in history, governing a quarter of mankind, to being a feeble little offshore island whose so-called leaders have lost the will and the courage, indeed the ability, to govern at all.
This is not a lament for past imperial glory, though I regret its inevitable passing, nor is it the raging of a die-hard Conservative.
I loathe all political parties, which I regard as inventions of the devil. My favourite prime minister was Sir Alec Douglas-Home, not because he was on the Right, but because he spent a year in office without, on his own admission, doing a damned thing.
This would not commend him to New Labour, who count all time lost when they're not wrecking the country.
I am deeply concerned for the United Kingdom and its future. I look at the old country as it was in my youth and as it is today and, to use a fine Scots word, I am scunnered....
My generation has seen the decay of ordinary morality, standards of decency, sportsmanship, politeness, respect for the law, family values, politics and education and religion, the very character of the British.
Oh how Blimpish this must sound to modern ears, how out of date, how blind to "the need for change and the novelty of a new age". But don't worry about me. It's the present generation with their permissive society, their anything-goes philosophy, and their generally laid-back, inyerface attitude I feel sorry for.
They regard themselves as a completely liberated society when in fact they are less free than any generation since the Middle Ages.
Indeed, there may never have been such an enslaved generation, in thrall to hang-ups, taboos, restrictions and oppressions unknown to their ancestors (to say nothing of being neck-deep in debt, thanks to a moneylender's economy).
We were freer by far 50 years ago - yes, even with conscription, censorship, direction of labour, rationing, and shortages of everything that nowadays is regarded as essential to enjoyment.
We still had liberty beyond modern understanding because we had other freedoms, the really important ones, that are denied to the youth of today.
We could say what we liked; they can't. We were not subject to the aggressive pressure of specialinterest minority groups; they are. We had no worries about race or sexual orientation; they have. We could, and did, differ from fashionable opinion with impunity, and would have laughed PC to scorn, had our society been weak and stupid enough to let it exist.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
The last testament of Flashman's creator: How Britain has destroyed itself