London Calling: The Endgame for the Welfare State Has Begun

Family Security MattersRalph Peters

State Socialism’s Ultimate Product is a Permanent Underclass of Entitled Thugs

It’s been over three decades since the magnificent, rabble-rousing and ultimately silly English punk group, The Clash, recorded its stirring riot-anthem, “The Guns of Brixton.” Now the streets of not-so-Merry Olde England have been trashed and torched again, but the similarity in thuggish behavior masks radically different inspirations and aims. The Brit riots of the 1970s and early 1980s arose from the death throes of labor-union tyranny over an entire nation; from the birthing pains of a post-modern economy, and from urban collisions between races. Today’s Swinging-a-club London has been wracked by inbred street criminals with a sense of entitlement.

It’s important to get the terminology right: The events earlier this week in London, Manchester, Birmingham and other English cities had nothing to do with capital-A Anarchy. Nutty as its view of the world may be, Anarchy has some intellectual heft, as well as theorists reaching back to Bakunin. The rampages in England certainly were the end-product of an ideology—state socialism—but there was nothing consciously ideological about the hooligans who looted, burned, broke, beat and ultimately killed. They were just out for a high old time, to burn off some unintelligible rage and grab a new pair of Nikes.

And credit where it’s due: The leftwing Labor Party members of Parliament who howled that all this was the result of austerity measures in the wake of government budget-cutting were absolutely right. From Athens to Albany, a half-century and more of welfare “generosity” addicted multiple generations to hand-outs, to a drip-feed of economic narcotics. Well, when you cut off an addict’s supply, he tends to get out of hand. The media rushed to note that, among those arrested in London, some lawbreakers were gainfully employed, even educated. But most weren’t. These riots reflected the savage opportunism of a deeply embedded underclass that, with government assistance, has redefined poverty as a tolerable condition, complete with hi-def televisions, cell phones and flash street gear. They had been conditioned to believe that they were entitled to council flats, endless hand-outs, and lives of petty lawlessness. Now they want their “rights.”

The cliché is absolutely correct: The problem with Socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money. Well, Britain ran out. To its credit, the Cameron government enacted serious budget cuts to begin to put its fiscal house in order (something our own Congress refuses to do). And in the wake of the riots, Prime Minister David Cameron, who just may have a strain of Mrs. Thatcher in him, stated firmly that there was no sociological excuse for the rioting; that hand-outs had created a permanent, parasitical underclass with an irrational sense of entitlement; and that his government would not be intimidated or deterred. (Can any reader imagine President Obama blaming our own underclass for anything?)

Still, the United Kingdom will face additional violence over the coming years—if not months. Nor were these riots isolated events. We’ve now seen successive years of paralyzing riots in Greece and other bankrupt Euro-zone states. The wealth-redistribution governments of southern Europe have run out of wealth and are in far worse shape than Britain. As austerity measures force deep cuts in giveaway programs, the pampered Lumpens from below and benefit-crippled government and unionized workers will generate far more disruption than we have seen to date. (Stir in Europe’s hopeless immigration problems and you have the most-volatile political situation since 1933.)

Well, Europe remains my favorite museum, but I’m ultimately more concerned with the message the London riots have for the United States. In our own country, government poverty-peddling has created a vast, functionally illiterate, unskilled, unmotivated, amoral and often downright criminal underclass the size of which dwarfs the Lumpenproletariats of Europe. And the Democratic Party is going to fight to the brink of our economic destruction to keep urban minorities and poor rural whites narcotized and paralyzed.

I credit LBJ’s Great Society programs with good intentions. A son of working poverty who lived through the Dust-Bowl years and the Great Depression, Johnson may have been a political scoundrel, but he genuinely identified with the poor. It was his misfortune to come to Senate seniority and then the presidency at a time when state-socialist solutions seemed viable and, indeed, had the blessing of the East-Coast intelligentsia that excited LBJ’s jealousy as well as his spite. The Great Society’s poverty-alleviation programs were supposed to lift the poor up into more-productive, better-rewarded lives.

The problem is that the programs didn’t work as intended. Instead, they made poverty livable—while destroying the traditional black families that had been so great a strength in once-thriving communities, and turning poor-whites into food-stamp and disability-check junkies. Instead of furnishing incentives to climb out of poverty, state-socialist programs everywhere provided just enough comfort to make poverty a viable lifestyle choice.

Our revels now are ended. The money isn’t there anymore. Worse, the competition for government hand-outs in our own, formerly self-reliant country has expanded exponentially, with my greedy fellow Baby-Boomers more articulate, organized and motivated to protect their own more-lavish welfare programs (“What? You expect me to shell out a two-dollar co-payment for my kidney transplant? I’m calling AARP and then my Congressman…”). In the coming Congressional duels-for-dollars, the Boomers will beat the underclass every time.

Think you saw rage in the heyday of the Black Panthers? They were Cub Scouts. Meth-head rural whites will be less of a problem because they’re spread thinly, but poor urban populations are going to blow. It won’t be tomorrow—but wait until the cuts begin to bite. There are few things more destructive of humans and their societies than a profound sense of entitlement. (And yes: Anyone who lived through the late 1960s knows that widespread rioting can happen here.)

Continue Reading: