January 27, 2018

"If a country’s prevailing temperament is one of congenital, chronic emotional constipation, how would its inhabitants even recognize that they’re lonely in the first place?"

"The appointment seems to address an ill that Britain can barely admit it is suffering from, as if the United States government were to install a Secretary of Humility. Of course, the more serious commentary would go on to explain, loneliness is a real and diagnosable scourge...."

From "What Britain’s 'Minister of Loneliness' Says About Brexit and the Legacy of Jo Cox" by Rebecca Mead (New Yorker)("Jo Cox... a Labour M.P., had been a vocal advocate of remaining in the European Union; her killer, a local man in his fifties named Thomas Mair who was later discovered to have neo-Nazi sympathies, was heard to cry 'Britain first' as he stabbed and shot her").

46 comments:

n.n said...

He deemed her nonviable, and summarily aborted her. Equal rites. More like neo-liberal, with a proto-progressive temperament. BLM = Baby Lives Matter, individual dignity matters.

MikeD said...

"I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry"

Hear that lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I'm so lonesome I could cry

I've never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind the clouds
To hide its face and cry

Did you ever see a robin weep
When leaves began to die?
Like me, he's lost the will to live
I'm so lonesome I could cry

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I'm so lonesome I could cry

Darrell said...

I hate it when families fight. National Socialists versus international socialists. Sad.

rcocean said...

Oh good grief. The ENDLESS Left-wing propaganda.

When someone kills/attacks a Leftist - its politically motivated.

When someone kills/attacks a Conservative - its just a nut acting nutty.

Do people need to be more connected to their community? Yes.

But the problem is English/American WASP's don't like enforced togetherness. Hell, most WASPs don't even like to attend family functions.

Ralph L said...

The national hysteria over Diana proved the stiff upper lip is no more.

YoungHegelian said...

Didn't Sargent Pepper have something for this?

And, I mean, just how fucking New Yorker & upper class snot can the authoress be when she never even considers that one of the primary engines for such socialization in the recent past, even in Britain, were the churches & the the communities they fostered.

Isn't it amazing how when folks are told from the cradle onward that if they take care of the sick & minister to the lonely that they just might live in bliss for all eternity, a sizable fraction of them actually follow through? And when charitable activities such as these don't contain any eternal (and nary any societal) reward, nobody does them.

To paraphrase Insty, what you divinely incentivize, you get more of.

buwaya said...

The thing is a stretch to say the least, tying Brexit to "loneliness".

The problem of detached people is universal. The US may be more "lonely" than Britain. Its certain that in this place neighbors are uniformly strangers to each other, that families are routinely scattered beyond contact, that large numbers do not breed, produce no children to bring a social life, and that technology provides an ersatz and unsatisfactory substitute.

This is in large part the result of the encroaching government, the left wing generally, that destroys independent social institutions. I can cite the US Boy Scouts for instance. Its also pretty much massacred neighborhood social life by purging local taverns through licensing laws and smoking bans, mens clubs through discrimination lawsuits and legal risk, etc. ad infinitum.

And now these people, these evil busybody exterminators of society, have the gall to notice "loneliness".

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

YH makes a great point. Even in a small community you could just about volunteer every waking minute. It might not be pleasant or glamorous but you certainly wouldn't be lonely.
Some are forced into loneliness by disability, poverty, family breakdown, and dire social circumstances. Some are lonely because they're lazy, selfish fucks who never brought some a day in their lives.
Being excessively and self-righteously judgemental might also result in loneliness.

Bad Lieutenant said...

And now these people, these evil busybody exterminators of society, have the gall to notice "loneliness".

You of all people should realize that it's nothing to do with gall. They've created a void and now they intend to fill it.


http://www.rjgeib.com/thoughts/stalin/stalin.html

Josef Stalin (1879-1953)
How To Be a Good Dictator
"... and he is even thankful for the human warmth
coming out of my palm."
STALIN

When Josef Stalin was on his deathbed he called in two likely successors, to test which one of the two had a better knack for ruling the country.

He ordered two birds to be brought in and presented one bird to each of the two candidates.

The first one grabbed the bird, but was so afraid that the bird could free himself from his grip and fly away that he squeezed his hand very hard, and when he opened his palm, the bird was dead.

Seeing the disapproving look on Stalin's face and being afraid to repeat his rival's mistake, the second candidate loosened his grip so much that the bird freed himself and flew away.

Stalin looked at both of them scornfully. "Bring me a bird!" he ordered.

They did.

Stalin took the bird by its legs and slowly, one by one, he plucked all the feathers from the bird's little body.

Then he opened his palm. The bird was laying there naked, shivering, helpless.

Stalin looked at him, smiled gently and said, "You see... and he is even thankful for the human warmth coming out of my palm."


The whole liberal project has been to sever man from all his associations and leave him alone with only the State for company.

wildswan said...

Loneliness causes stress; stress causes physical damage; physical damage causes ill-health; ill-health in old age is expensive for the NIH. So it makes sense to have Minister of Loneliness who will reduce loneliness and its cascade of expensive consequences. And if those on the Loneliness Register ["I swear that no one will miss me if I die"] can't stop being lonely and expensive, why the Ministry of Loneliness will have a special "Meditation" room which permanently ends the expense at any rate: "See, over here, you go this shower and then REVELATION !!! in the next room. Then, no more sickness, no more sorrow since you've laid your burden down."

Jupiter said...

Wow, Bad Looey. I thought I had something to say here, but that Stalin story is a hard act to follow. 1984 in a few paragraphs. I think I'll keep my piddling thoughts to myself for a while.

AReasonableMan said...

buwaya said...
The problem of detached people is universal. The US may be more "lonely" than Britain. Its certain that in this place neighbors are uniformly strangers to each other, that families are routinely scattered beyond contact, that large numbers do not breed, produce no children to bring a social life, and that technology provides an ersatz and unsatisfactory substitute.

This is in large part the result of the encroaching government


Is there anything government can't do?

All the ills of modern life - government. It's almost as if there weren't an array of global commercial forces creating this same dynamic across a vast array of different countries with quite varying traditions and governments.

Achilles said...

AReasonableMan said...

Is there anything government can't do?

It can't bring you up to speed enough to present an argument worth debating.


You guys didn't even bring up welfare and the purposeful separation of fathers from children. This is easily the most egregious and destructive government intervention into society.

AReasonableMan said...

Achilles said...
the purposeful separation of fathers from children


I have children, no government has intervened to separate me from them. Did I just get lucky? Seems like there are families all around me with just the same outcome. The decline of the family is a disaster, for everyone, but it is not just government that is at work here.

The problem is that there are only so many good fathers in the world and a lot of shitty ones. Do women who, for whatever reason, can't attract a good father then have to forego reproduction? If they did, even more than they do now, the fertility crisis we have now would be dramatically worsened.

buwaya said...

Easy divorce was a government policy.
It was once quite difficult to get divorced.

And then there is the question of "good fathers".
Fifty years ago there must have been more good fathers?
Out of the same gene pool?

buwaya said...

And then there are womens expectations.
They have been sold a bill of goods, re divorce.

A fellow who worked for me for a couple of years - a fine lad. Married with two kids. The recession of 2009 gets him laid off his US job; he takes a hardship overseas job as a military contractor, very well paid, for a couple of years, with home visits every three months. Suffering for his family. His wife, while he's away, no Penelope waiting for Odysseus she, divorces him to move in with some other fellow, and dings him for alimony and child support. Then the other fellow dumps her. In the meantime my guy remarries and comes to work for us.

This is an extremely common scenario. US women divorce at the drop of a hat, a sidelong glance. And suffer for it, and their kids more so.

Henry said...

I prefer the snow cave and the eagle.

Luke Lea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Luke Lea said...

I imagine diversity doesn't help—especially for the elderly living in London who can't even recognize their own country. Rapid demographic change may not be such a good idea.

bgates said...

Why would anyone in Britain be lonely? It's the continent that's getting cut off.

Inga said...

“...her killer, a local man in his fifties named Thomas Mair who was later discovered to have neo-Nazi sympathies, was heard to cry 'Britain first' as he stabbed and shot her").
—————————————
“LONDON — President Donald Trump almost apologized for retweeting inflammatory anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant videos originally shared by a British far-right political group [Britain First.]

In an interview with Piers Morgan — who is friends with the president — Trump said he did not want to cause “any difficulty” for the U.K. but stopped short of directly saying sorry.

“If you’re telling me these are horrible people, horrible racist people, I would certainly apologize if you’d like me to do that,” Trump said.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/trump-almost-apologizes-retweeting-anti-muslim-videos-posted-britain-first-n841256

narciso said...

Because the British state under the lanourites chose to import a populace that would prevent another iron lady from rising, that would allow rochdale and Rotterdam to go on, for diversity's sake.

traditionalguy said...

The British are too shy and too easily embarrassed .They can all learn a thing or two from Trump's self confidence and joy du vive. But they first need the courage to risk the weapon of embarrassment used against them by their "Better Classes."

The aggressive Nigel Farage has it about right.

Jupiter said...

AReasonableMan said...

"All the ills of modern life - government. It's almost as if there weren't an array of global commercial forces creating this same dynamic across a vast array of different countries with quite varying traditions and governments."

As the role of "government" in our lives grows larger, we will necessarily attribute a larger part of our fortune to "government". What most Americans are realizing is that "government", especially at the federal level, is simply a few self-anointed parasitical criminals, claiming the right to govern us on the basis of their selection by their fellow parasites. Of course we want to be rid of them. I have heard of people, who "keep" a tapeworm as a pet. Are you one of them?

Bob Loblaw said...

Easy divorce was a government policy.
It was once quite difficult to get divorced.


How did this work, exactly? It seems like having the government force you to stay together would just make things worse.

D said...

Luke upthread hits it. The demographics are a big part. The pyramid is inverted, and that hits on culture. Not saying that the other things like family breakdown, mobility, vacant spiritual institutions, and other citations upthread dont matter. They do. But just wait until the % bariations get even bigger in another 7/8 yrs.

Well, here it comes. Here comes the night.
The lonely, lonely , lonely night.

Lucien said...

I’m struggling with the idea of a neo-Nazi screaming “Britain First.” Did he know nothing about WW2 and actual Nazis?

Angela Knight said...

In a sense, it is not possible to accept or dismiss a governmental policy all of a sudden based on its present logic. Everything would change ultimately, and who knows the worst decision by the government would turn out to be the best one. Visit Custom Essay Writing Service for in-depth analysis on politics.

narciso said...

Well Germany is the current driver of immigration specially from conflict torn regions

Lucien said...

Luke hits it on the head. The London that I’ve seen recently is a powder keg. The many native Brits who work there are deeply resentful that they can’t afford to live there, because of the foreigners (mainly Arabs and Russians) who have bid up the price of housing.

Knightsbridge and Chelsea are effectively suburbs of Riyadh at this point and the average working class Brit has lost patience with that. If you need any explanation for Brexit, that’s a good starting point.

My sense is that it could get ugly - burning down the homes and hanging them from lampposts ugly.

Ralph L said...

In Britain until the 1870's, it took a private act of Parliament to get a divorce. Very expensive. Then there was the social cost. Edith Wharton wrote a short story about a early divorcee who was still stigmatized after younger generations got away unscathed.

narciso said...

Communism was the spectre in the 30s , islamism is the spectre today?

Bob Loblaw said...

I’m struggling with the idea of a neo-Nazi screaming “Britain First.” Did he know nothing about WW2 and actual Nazis?

To the BBC you just need to be a Tory to be a neo-Nazi.

Rob said...

Chronic emotional constipation requires a giant glycerin suppository named Donald J. Trump. He’s certainly succeeded in loosening the left’s bowels, emotional and physical both.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Ministry of Loneliness? The prescience of Python!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iV2ViNJFZC8

Chris N said...

I agree that a lot is due to demographics, scalability, basic human needs and our design, as well as guiding beliefs, principles, rituals etc.

My main beef with many at The New Yorker is the progressivism and filling of such needs with unreflective and knee-jerk moralizing.

It’s as though they’ve fallen into a new-timely religion themselves, and are completely un self-aware about the fact.



tim maguire said...

While most countries could benefit from fostering a greater sense of community, it's difficult for me to see how Lonliness could be a cabinet-level position. Is there also a minister for 57 channels and nothing on? That affects everybody.

tim maguire said...

Blogger Bob Loblaw said...How did this work, exactly? It seems like having the government force you to stay together would just make things worse.

Government didn't. The church did.

I'm not ready to say the human cost of forcing people to stay in bad marriages is better or worse than the human cost of letting people walk away too easily, but I am ready to say that the stable nuclear family is the best societal unit in which to raise successful well adjusted children and maintain positive communities. If government is to have a hand in it at all, it should be towards helping people choose more carefully and then to stick it out once having chosen.

Chris N said...

For all the talk about closed-mindedness and cultural unity, the US and Britain have proven remarkably open to trade, immigration, exploration, and innovation. Much Anglo-genius lies in remarkably resilient modes of governance with a lot of consent, responsibility and renewal required.

It’s part of what makes both London and New York so rich and varied, and our societies healthy and adaptable (and also what creates such resentments and inequalities).

Once taken to modern extremes, however, and modern doctrines are expected to fill our human needs, it becomes apparent how dangerous, limiting, and insufficient they can be (revolutionary praxis doctrines and resentment, Diversity, international Solidarity, One World Secular Humanism, Equality).

There’s a lot of poor design and vast overshooting of what is often possible, local, and doable in reality.

At least much religious doctrine has built in limiting principles and long experience regarding our appetites, blindnesses, capacity for evil, and mob justice. The ease of mistaking our own ideas about the world for the world without reflection.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

It was like George Carlin said about groups... with a common purpose. Pretty soon they start all wearing hats. And then armbands....

And we know what starts happening at that point.

Freeman Hunt said...

Loneliness cure: church. If you're too old or infirm to drive, there are even ones that will come pick you up. I assume temples and mosques operate similarly.

Lucien said...

The worst part about being Minister of Loneliness is when you find out how small the budget for your staff is.

Phil 3:14 said...

Inga and TTR;
Always the narrative!

Angel-Dyne said...

tl;dr: New Yorker writer produces incoherent article in which she tries, and fails, to use pet political points as a basis for understanding the brokenness of modern British society, while refusing to look at the reality that she can't, despite her best efforts, keep from revealing itself in her own writing.

A sampler [my bolding]:

"And yet Mair’s separateness from society and his embrace of violence are not entirely unrelated. The social conditions that allow loneliness to proliferate—the decline of a commitment to the collective, the loosening of ties and obligations to the community—are the same ones in which invidious feelings about strangers can arise, and even lead to violent acts against them."

The obtuseness here is astounding. "I cannot think about why and how feelings of commitment and obligation to a community arise, because that would blow up my whole cosy world view. Therefore crimestop!, and back to bemoaning cuts in funding to social programs."

"As the minister responsible for civil society..."

"It comes as no great surprise to learn that the cure for loneliness might involve a greater investment in shared institutions devoted to the common good."

"Shared institutions", sense of "common good".

The belief that a culture can be attacked root and branch, and a replacement civil society created top-down by fiat and a well-funded propagan...er, educational initiative, is the most insane of all "progressive" ideas.

Angel-Dyne said...

buwaya: This is an extremely common scenario. US women divorce at the drop of a hat, a sidelong glance.

It happens, but it's not "extremely common". "Most divorces are caused by spoiled, bored women who divorce at the drop of a hat" is as glib (and about as accurate) as its feminist counterpart. Despite roaring in with an unusually stupid - even by his standards - rejoinder @7:46, ARM is correct that what he shorthands as "global commercial forces" are also implicated in the social pathologies of advanced rich nations.

As much of a reactionary as I am, simple fixes for social decay and dysfunction (tighten up divorce laws!, etc.), whatever their merit for addressing a specific, fixable bit of a larger, far less tractable problem with complex roots, are just so much ghost-dancing when clung to as "the solution" for the latter.

Char Char Binks said...

The British just need a handsome Okinawan man to make them cry and then wipe away their tears.