Saturday, August 27, 2005

Why Some Brits Despise Their Cops And Army

An earlier post wondered why, in the middle of a huge operation to prevent another 7/7, an unlikely crew of Brits have followed the Marxist line and focused on attacking the London cops. This is puzzling to Americans who all closed ranks for months after 9/11 - so what's going on? I think it's caused by the Brit class wars - the middle class detractors despise Brit soldiers and cops because they think them low class.

To get to this conclusion, I tested a range of hypotheses, using the book on Brit core values I recently reviewed plus my trusty copy of Hofsteed's Culture's Consequence: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions and Organizations Across Nations.

I quickly rejected the theory that the critics were displaying the Brit values of Fair Play and Supporting the Underdog - the 52 people who were killed and the many maimed were just as much underdogs as the Brazilian who was accidentally shot. And fair play requires that the cops who did the shooting are not convicted by leaks from the politicized investigation.

The Brit propensity to moan is part of the problem. Just as they won't complain to the waiter & get a bad meal replaced - preferring to moan to eachother, so they moan about the mistakes of the cops rather than talking seriously about how to prevent more 7/7s. But moaning is a social habit, and I wouldn't expect this level of obsession in the Brit MSM and blogosphere from a social tic.

Another cause is the anti-authority stance which comes with the territory of being under 35. Here's Giles, a libertarian (who by definition must be young...):

The one thing the last century has taught us is that terrorists are dangerous, but much more dangerous is the uncontrolled state, the state that kills some of its citizens in the name of making life safer for the others. A very approximate tally based on the numbers I can dredge up from the depth of my memory gives at least 60 million dead from state violence since 1905. Numbers for terrorism I don’t have, but I would challenge anyone to come up with more than a million.

Which misses the point that these 60 million deaths were caused by tyrannies - the 20th century equivalents of al Queda. Anglosphere sacrifices destroyed these tyrannies, making much of the world safe for libertarians. As a thought experiment, imagine how long a libertarian would survive in a modern tyranny like China or Iran.

Which brings me to the Times and Tim Worstall. They can't claim youthful idealism, and obviously they aren't Marxists. So what's their excuse?

It's Class

Living in the US eliminated my class reflexes. Americans do have a class structure but rarely show it - they are too focused on assimilation and social mobility. When I first moved to work in the US, a late meeting I attended was politely interrupted by the janitor who was hauling the trash. He wanted to know what we were doing to improve the stock price. I'd filtered him out as a mere menial, and never forgot the lesson - in America, everybody counts, and you assess people as individuals, not by their job or accent.

However English people filter and classify people all the time, and the anthropologist comments:

What is distinctive about the English class system is a) the the degree to which our class (and/or class anxiety) determines our taste, behavior, judgments and interactions; b) the fact that class is not judged at all on wealth , and very little on occupation, but purely on on non-economic indicators such as speech, manner, taste and lifestyle choices; c) the acute sensitivity of our on-board class-radar systems...

The Brit General I posted on last week gives a nasty example, branding:

many (army) recruits as "cocky and arrogant and brought up on a diet of football brats and binge drinking. . . who are not educated in and able to recognise self-discipline".

No American officer would dream of voicing (or even thinking) such a class-laden statement about recruits. It tells you is that the Brit army sees itself as a bunch of upper class officers doing their best to manage a crew of drunken, brutal thugs - a lousy model for a fighting army.

And here's how Tim Worstall describes London's cops - I'm not picking on him, but he's the biggest Brit Blogger, so a weather-vane for its blogosphere:

The police are now encouraged, nay ordered, to execute people on suspicion. Walk out of your house while Plod’s relieving himself, show no other suspicious characteristics at all, no bulky coat, no rucksack, no running, sit down on the Tube and die.

The whole thing drips contempt ("Plod" is a pejorative word for a stupid low-class cop). Can you imagine any non-lefty American blogger using such terms about his local Sheriff?

So here's the deal. The Times and many non-lefty Brit blogs are written by and for the Brit middle-middle class. The members of which have been trained since birth to disregard and show contempt for the lower classes. They think the cops and army are populated by said lower classes. So they despise them.

Sufferers can check my theory with another thought experiment.

How would you treat a police force made up entirely of upper-class Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson types and an army manned entirely by decent chaps called Rupert?

I rest my case.