Reason as the Leading Motive

The Broken Britain Phenomenon

Posted by Jerry on February 18, 2009

Little Alfie from the UK has been making big news around the world: at only 13 years of age, he conceived and is father to a newborn with his 15 year old partner.

This, people claim, is symptomatic of a phenomenon spreading across Britain called “Broken Britain.” From the Associated Press report, I quote:

Sir Bernard Ingham, once press secretary to former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, told the Associated Press that people from across Britain’s political spectrum are in despair over the country’s social breakdown.

“It’s an indication that we’ve lost our way, that people don’t know the difference between right and wrong.” [emphasis mine]

In light of the above quote, I can’t help but be reminded of my own article, written some time ago, titled “Enforcing Moral Values“. In the article, I explained how the government–by interfering in the private affairs of individuals–effectively undermines the moral rudder of a society and erodes the ability of individuals to make moral decisions for themselves. Here’s some pertinent quotes from my earlier article:

Governments have assumed the role of a moral authority and have begun passing down moral laws–what it considers as being in the benefit of the “greater human family.” The government has replaced the individual as the moral and causal agent.

What this has led to is the following:

If an individual has no reason to hold a value other than because it is mandated by law, then he will also have little or no knowledge of how to pursue and maintain that value nor any incentive to discover the reasons; in other words, he will not know what is a virtuous life and how to lead it nor will he care to learn of it. He will seek further mandated guidance in the realm of virtues, thoughts, and actions. This breeding of intellectual laziness entrusts the job of thinking to others.

What we are seeing in Britain is certainly not just germane to that country. The Broken Britain phenomenon has to a considerable extent spread across the entire world.

8 Responses to “The Broken Britain Phenomenon”

  1. Here here!

  2. Or maybe it would be, Hear Hear!

  3. Rory said

    Damn right! This is what I get all the time. I am amazed at how much Freshers at my Uni actually complain about all the choice they have now: choice over modules, exercise, eating, etc. At dinner last night, a few of them actually admitted that they wished they were still forced to do Physical Education, like at school.

  4. Jrock said

    Respecting opinions of course is expected. Yet, government in fact legislate morality. It is just a matter of what/whose morality gets legislated. In the States, it is morally correct to where seat belts while driving. Why? Because it is legislated by the law. Why legislated? Because there is a pretty darn good case that seatbelts save lives in accidents. Thus, the “good” is being imposed.

    Thus, the government in fact legislates and even dictates values and morality. For now, it is more “moral” to tolerate all view points than it is to boldly delcare something is “wrong” at the risk of alienating some “good”. Case in point, teen age sex. Very little “good” can come of such a strong emotional attachment and pursuit at a young age. Yet, because it is fun and little hard evidence exists (becaue the variables of social outcomes are too many to pinpoint exact cause/effect), we feel we can’t set and hold standards.

    Sad, huh?

  5. Jrock –

    It is true that government policy depends upon a moral code. However, morality is logically prior to politics and cannot be equated to it. Specifically, the legal cannot be equated to the moral, nor the illegal to the immoral.

    The issue of “legislating” morality is an equivocation. A government that enforced the entirety of a moral code, regardless of the particular code, would be a totalitarian state. The proper role of government is solely to protect individual rights through the retaliatory use of force, governed by an objective legal code.

  6. Anirudh said

    I’d like to know your stance on use of narcotic substances.

  7. Ergo said

    Hello Anirudh,

    My stance is simple. I don’t condone the use of narcotic substances. But I defend the right of people to act foolishly if they so wish. This would be subsumed under their right to life, liberty, and ownership. The government should not ban narcotic substances–or the use and promotion thereof.

  8. Geetha said

    Hi Jerry,
    I agree with what you said about using narcotics. The same applies to the censor board deciding what is appropriate for us to watch.
    With respect to ‘legislating’, ofcourse you don’t need the governments permission to love someone. But the legislation is a shield against irrational groups who take it upon themself to act as the ‘guardians of social moral’. I am sure you know that certain political parties are against celebrating valentines day! There is some organization that says Indian women should not go to pubs. This legislation is a protection from such irrational people. For what its worth, its illegal for any one to bother you or discriminte against you because of your sexual orientation.

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