Excellent piece from Toby Young in today's Telegraph entitled 'Moral relativism is to blame, not gang culture...'
Towards the beginning of Lord of the Flies, William Golding’s masterpiece about a group of teenage boys marooned on a desert island, a scene takes place in which the most vicious of the boys, Roger, throws stones at a younger boy whose sandcastle he’s just knocked down:
Roger gathered a handful of stones and began to throw them. Yet there was a space round Henry, perhaps six yards in diameter, into which he dare not throw. Here, invisible yet strong, was the taboo of the old life. Round the squatting child was the protection of parents and school and policemen and the law. Roger’s arm was conditioned by a civilization that knew nothing of him and was in ruins.
The problem with multiculturalism is not that different ethnic and religious groups can never peacefully co-exist, or that certain immigrant groups can never be persuaded to embrace our way of life. Rather, it’s the taboo it introduces against the teaching of substantive moral values to anyone, not just members of particular “communities”. It creates a general reluctance to promote any values other than procedural ones. The result is far too many people cast adrift, black and white alike, imagining they believe in something only to discover, when social order breaks down, that they believe in nothing.
Perhaps the root of the problem is the progressive Left’s conviction that mankind is essentially good. After all, if you think human beings are fundamentally benign and altruistic, then failing to teach them about right and wrong isn’t going to pose any major problems. They’ll just get along regardless. But the lesson of Lord of the Flies is that this is sentimental and naive. Released from the bonds of civilisation, human beings will quickly descend into cruel, atavistic creatures who pursue their own selfish interests at the expense of everyone else’s. Sigmund Freud got it right when he pointed out that men are not gentle creatures who just want to be loved. On the contrary, they are fundamentally territorial and aggressive:
As a result, their neighbour is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him. Homo homini lupus. Who, in the face of all his experience of life and of history, will have the courage to dispute this assertion?
That’s what we witnessed during the four days of rioting – Homo homini lupus. It’s a mistake to see the rioters as belonging to a particular ethnic group or as being “outsiders”, as some local MPs claimed. They were just ordinary people who’ve been insufficiently socialised, members of all communities and none. What they lack isn’t material wealth or meaningful employment, but a moral framework that enables them to see that smashing shop windows and setting fire to cars – and stealing – is wrong.
For four nights, those precious six yards that protected the boy in Lord of the Flies were breached. Unless we reject the moral relativism that has led to this sickness, they’ll be breached again.