A recent trip back to England, the country of my birth, was depressing. The narrow overcrowded roads, the angry impatient drivers piloting boxes on wheels, the cost of gasoline and diesel, the endless new housing and business park developments on once-beautiful countryside and the closure of so many fine old pubs were bad enough, but perhaps the most depressing things were the unappetizing appearance and behavior of so many of my former fellow-countrymen. How did a people that once dominated the world with their talents, ingenuity, hard work, energy and pride become so wretched and undignified in such a short time? Not all of them, of course, but enough to reveal the Nation’s native people are in dire need of a massive cultural revival. It set me wondering what has happened to dignity and self-respect.
For the record, I grew up in working class England during the war years and can remember our city center in ruins, night-time sirens, no street lamps, black-out curtains over windows at night, spending every night in the bomb shelters – and yet surrounded by a resilient, proud and dignified people singing cheerfully the meaningful and musical wartime songs. I remember the arrival of the American armed forces prior to the Normandy Landings. I also remember my father, my uncles and their peers returning from abroad in 1945-46, being ‘de-mobbed’ and wearing their ‘de-mob’ suits for best at weekends. Despite shortages of everything material there was no shortage of personal pride, and dignity in public was the norm. I continued to live in England until the early 1990’s, when I moved permanently to the USA.
Prior to leaving England, I had become aware of the cultural decline of the native people, indeed I was not immune to it myself. I realized that my standards of behavior and those of my contemporaries (men and women) were not nearly as exemplary and dignified as those of my father, my uncles and their generation. This decline was most noticeable in everyday speech (slang and expletives), some irresponsibility in financial affairs, growing extremism in dress and appearance, and especially in attitudes towards the opposite sex. I think the decline started just after the war, (a generation had grown up with absent fathers) but it was gradual. It speeded up by the 1960’s but was still relatively gradual. Young Britons were becoming less dignified in dress and behavior but the older generations were still concerned to maintain their dignity and they were everywhere. Since the 1990’s the cultural degeneration of the native British people has created a new norm.
This brings me to the concept of ‘dignity’, which my old dictionary defines as ‘worth’, ‘nobility’, ‘estimation’, ‘stately’ and ‘gravely courteous’. Since these are old-fashioned words I will throw in some other words and phrases that are relevant to what I am going to comment on the state of ‘dignity’ in contemporary Britain – or rather the lack of it. Self respect, appropriate dress and behavior, modesty (in clothing and behavior), (self) restraint, privacy, good manners, good taste, (self) control, decency, humility, gallantry, speech, public conduct-these are all related to ‘dignity’.
Also relevant, as the other side of the coin, ugliness, matey-ness, slovenly-ness, selfishness, self-preoccupation, inappropriate familiarity, silliness, imprudence, foolishness, ignorance, slangy speech, impoverished vocabulary, a desire to shock, ugliness, exaggerated responses, exaggerated language and lack of restraint. I am sure readers can add more words and phrases to both lists!
The indifference to dignity is increasingly evident here in California but the wholesale abandonment of dignity in the UK shocked me. Lack of dignity and self respect are rife among the British working people and the Nation’s underclass. The widespread decline in dress standards and public behavior has resulted in many more working people looking indistinguishable from the underclass. There was a time, just decades ago, when the two classes could easily be distinguished despite little difference in income. Not any longer, or so it appeared to me on my visit.
As I strolled each day around the small seaside towns of the West Country it was obvious that few people cared much about their appearance in public. This included people in their 50’s and 60’s. Obesity is not concealed by T-shirts, vests, old jeans, skimpy tops and short skirts, but I have concluded that obesity is now exhibited with pride. Young women were the worst offenders but older men were not far behind (no pun intended!). Big stomachs, fat backsides may be unavoidable for some, but there was a time when people strove to conceal such things with appropriate clothing. Not any longer! Proud exposure is the order of the day!
There are now two popular hairstyles for men – the shaven head (once associated with convicts and soldiers in trenches in order to prevent head lice), supplemented by a few days growth of facial hair, and (amongst older men) the bald head ringed by lank, long hair and terminated with a pony-tail. Among women, purple, red, pink and orange artificial hair colors are commonly seen, and as frequently accompanied by obesity, can hardly be described as dignified.
The majority of people under 60 seem to sport tattoos – and not just on their fore-arms. Shoulders, necks, calves and ankles are adorned with dragons, obscure symbols and names of past and current partners. Beachwear reveals more ‘artwork’ on backs, stomachs, thighs, buttocks and probably those few places that remain private. Ugly, fat women and young pretty women seemingly all feel the need to disfigure their skin. From a distance, many look like they have been cursed with birthmarks. Many men have tattoos from chests to necks, as well as all the other places.
Men with ear-rings and plastic studs, women with metal pieces in ears, noses and lips are hardly less common. The ear-rings which were not so long ago the province only of the young male are now accompanying the shaven heads and the pony tails of middle-aged men. Base-ball caps worn backwards are not yet as commonly seen as in California but presumably British men do not want to conceal the shaven and bald heads and have no need of sun protection. I am glad that British men are not seeking to look pretty, but is ugliness the only alternative?
Take-away food outlets encourage public eating (as well as litter) and people on vacation can be excused, but eating while walking is not conducive to dignity. My father and his generation when on vacation would sometimes eat fish and chips in public but they generally viewed public eating as unbecoming and uncivilized. Most British people now seem wholly comfortable with it and it is part of a larger pattern of uninhibited behavior that includes loudness, uncouthness and ‘yobbishness’.
All of this has a connection with the way that private behavior and public behavior in Britain are no longer kept separate. Undignified behavior, a component in every person’s life (including Kings, Presidents, beauty Queens and Nuns) has always been confined behind closed doors in civilized societies It is worth reminding ourselves that defecating, urinating, throwing up, having private parts medically examined, sexual intimacy and many other human activities that are unavoidably undignified have always taken place behind closed doors and mostly in the home. We can move on from these human functions that are extremely undignified to such things as washing, teeth cleaning and even eating, coping with the elements outdoors and getting in and out of cars that are hard to do in a dignified way, but most of us try.
Similarly, in civilized times, all but the most ignorant, immature, mentally impaired and emotional exhibitionists, knew that their private business and personal affairs were best kept private. Family and domestic arguments were contained within the home and behind closed doors. Personal and family shortcomings and scandals were not discussed with strangers. People strove to present a dignified public face to the world around and the undignified and intimate aspects of their lives were kept private. This separation of the public from the private was not hypocrisy but one of the advancements of civilized living. If I am correct in claiming that the private areas of life are being abandoned then surely this is a profound and revolutionary change.
The cell-phone and the hi-tech inventions of Facebook and Twitter are relevant here. Americans have no cause for complacency for all around me here in California people discuss for all to hear their personal business on cell phones. There was a time when a public phone box was sound-proof so that all conversations were private. Now, most cell-phone users talk about everything as though we should all be part of their audience. Few scuttle away to find a private place. Similarly, the users of Facebook and Twitter share with half the world and all posterity every personal experience, including (and mostly) the most trivial. Apart from the fact that those posting are exposing their ignorance of grammar and spelling, they reveal a determination to display the cultural poverty and emptiness of their daily lives. So everywhere we see the private in people’s lives being abandoned, including the undignified parts.
All of this – the ignorance and ugliness that is taking over the British and the jettisoning of privacy everywhere in the UK and USA – are manifestations of the social revolution that has accompanied the rise to power of the Media Class. The cell-phones and chat websites are vehicles for vanity, self absorption and shallowness, not root causes. For those we must hold the Media Class responsible. It is through the Mainstream Media, and especially its ubiquitous entertainment and Pro-sports outlets, that the purveyors of this disastrous moral, social and cultural decline impose their own decadent and dissolute standards.
There was a time when the Movie industry – a key part of the creation of the Media Class in the 1960/70’s-reinforced public dignity. Although from the beginning Hollywood had inevitably attracted the perverts, the self-absorbed, the grossly immature, the disaffected and the dissolute, there were enough normal people in the ranks of the professions to provide role models. Men who had served in the armed forces during the war and who had held real jobs found fame there. Gary Cooper, Audie Murphy, Cary Grant, Pat O’ Brien, Gregory Peck, Spencer Tracy, Fred McMurry, Burt Lancaster, Robert Redford, Randolph Scott, James Stewart, Richard Widmark, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, James Cagney, Donald O’Connor, Robert Ryan and Stirling Hayden were all stars who exhibited dignity in public life. It was probable that in their private lives they were much less dignified, but in public they presented good role models for all those impressionable cinema-goers. Rock Hudson, more than any, is an example of an actor whose private life was disgustingly undignified but whose public persona was dignified. Similarly other entertainers, especially popular singers, kept their scandalous and undignified private lives concealed. When these leaked out their reputations were damaged.
Today, few celebrities of any kind – actors, singers, dancers – attempt to keep their personal lives private. Indeed, the more shocking the ‘private’ life, the more public it is made. The path to quick and certain stardom is to publicize a gross lack of morals, to claim an uninhibited and shocking personal life of vice and violence. I do not need to name names for they are now the icons and role models of popular culture.
In the UK I was struck not only by the degraded public demeanor of so many people but also by the absence of local dialects and regional accents. Except for the elderly in the villages, gone are the Devon and Somerset voices. All now speak with the faux-Cockney voices and mannerisms that have been popularized by the BBC’s long-running soap ‘Eastenders’. This soap, which is a propaganda tool for multi-culturalism, immigration from the Third World, homosexuality and coarse and undignified behavior has also re- created the image of White working class people. This will not surprise regular visitors to this website where we have long held that the tax-payer funded BBC, infested with Leftists and perverts, has been the driving engine of the revolutionary Media Class. ‘Eastenders’ has been completely successful in indoctrinating much of the British working class with BBC moral values and imposing one accent, one limited vocabulary, coarse and undignified public behavior and bad role models. It has defined for the masses what is considered to be ‘smart’ (in the USA this equals ‘cool’) behavior, a ‘smart’ appearance and a ‘smart’ way of speaking. Just as Hollywood and TV soaps in the USA have greatly shaped the behavior of so many, so the BBC and TV in the UK have ruinously influenced the British people.
Here in the USA, public behavior has also been greatly damaged by TV programs such as Judge Judy. On such programs, dysfunctional, ignorant, gullible people are invited to act out their ignorance, grievances and uninhibited emotions in front of the cameras for the entertainment of the wider public. It may be that the original intent was to expose the participants’ failings but the law of unintended consequences has taken over. Not only the Show’s participants have been degraded but also those who watch, for it seems that the underlying message is that no-one is anyone unless they have their moment of fame at whatever cost to reputation. Public tantrums and infantile behavior are portrayed as acceptable. Too many viewers have concluded that washing dirty linen in public is cathartic, more interesting than normal restrained behavior, and ‘smart’.
Emotional and uninhibited behavior in public, once seen as embarrassing, regrettable and undignified, is now regarded as more ‘real’, more human, more than acceptable and to be emulated. Sadly, it is in fact a return to a more primitive time in human evolution but so are all the behaviors popularized by the Media Class. It is worth noting that chat shows like the one that has made Oprah Winfrey the richest woman in America, are successful only in so far as the participants display grossly exaggerated behavior and responses. It is not enough for something to be good or even outstanding-it has to be ‘awesome’, ‘fantastic’, ‘amazing’ or ‘cool’. It is not enough to smile. Successful participants screech with laughter, cackle, adopt exaggerated facial expressions, wave arms and collapse over the most trivial issue or comment. The contagiousness of this can be seen in any coffee shop or bar where women meet and chat. Almost all publicly displayed behavior is grossly exaggerated as though on Oprah.
The exaggerated response to trivial things has become the norm, and thus has debased language as well as emotions. The dangerous consequence of this is the door to intolerance has been pushed wider for the admission of political correctness. Leftist organizations and their followers can now be ‘outraged’ by anything said, printed or deemed ‘unacceptable’ and ‘intolerable’, no matter how innocent in intent or trivial.
The pathetic people in the UK (and the USA) who walk around with nose studs and metal pins in their ears and lips, purple hair and tattoos, are all attempting to shock the world in order to be noticed. It is another aspect of the exaggerated responses shown by Oprah’s guests and by their viewers. It is an aspect of those who use their cell phones to share their lives with anyone within hearing distance and those who daily post their trivia on Facebook and Twitter. ‘Selfies’ that are posted on websites are also quests for the elusive moment of fame. Predictably, as the deluge of such quests for fame condemns them to failure, ordinary people will follow the celebrities and seek fame through shock. Already, young Blacks are posting up pictures of their sudden violent attacks on unsuspecting Whites and Asians. Since Whites and Asians appear to be incapable of such gratuitous violence, we can expect to see Facebook and Twitter pictures of White and Asian sexual intimacy, defecation and other personal acts once deemed ‘private’. All done in the search for fame and confirmation of importance!
It is no co-incidence that one of the core constituencies of the new Ruling Media Class has already led the way in this. In San Francisco, homosexuals annually celebrate fornication, masturbation, nudity, sado-masochism and other grotesque practices in public- and thousands of heterosexuals flock to see this and to applaud. (See the website zombietime for proof). The mis-named ‘Gay Parades’ also willfully erase the line between private and public sexual behavior. The Obama/Holder regime is now preparing to introduce into all schools – pre-school to College-sexual ‘education’ that will not only promote perversion but erase the distinction between public and private behavior, for how can the classroom be anything other than ‘public’?
At the start of this article we asked what has happened to dignity and self-respect? The answer is that the Revolutionary Media Class is driving them into full retreat for they are seen as conservative and Christian values and can have no place in their new ‘progressive’ world.
Here in middle California we have had over two weeks of very high temperatures- upper 90’s F with occasional triple digits, but are now having a respite. It is worth noting that these July temperatures were not record-breaking for they also occurred in the 1970’s and the 1920’s. This suggests a 30/40 year cycle, but who knows? Southern California has just had a weekend of rainstorms.
In the UK, where the countryside is lush after two years of rain, some sunshine has arrived for summer and there will soon be talk of drought but no mention of rapid population growth brought about by mass immigration.
My youngest son, now a keen piano student, has recommended a track from the Esquire CD album “Something Else” featuring Milt Jackson (vibes), Percy Heath (bass), Connie Kay (drums) and Horace Silver (piano). This is the MJQ minus John Lewis. Silver, after this 1955 recording, went on to found his own group and compose a great many outstanding melodies. On this album his style is typical terse bebop, similar to Lewis, Al Haig and Russ Freeman. In later years he substantially changed his style. The late Smith Dobson told me that this was because he suffered damage to his fingers and was forced to adapt. The track recommended by my son is “Stonewall”, a 12-bar Blues. The title refers to Jackson’s nickname and has no connection to the homosexual riots in New York. As far as I know, jazz musicians of the 1940’s and 1950’s were all heterosexual.
I greatly appreciate your erudition and truthfulness. The degeneration of modern Western society bodes ill for our future.
Beautifully written! Thanks so much.