Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Quick! Shut the stable door ... the horse has gone!!!

Nice comment piece in The Telegraph by Simon Heffer about us "squandering" the Victorian legacy.

We imagine the Victorians as stuffy and orthodox; yet they were the most questioning, most radical and most open-minded generation in our history. Perhaps it is our own arrogance, rooted in a belief that we invented modernity, that prevents our seeing this.

There's no "perhaps" about it in my view. There is no doubt as far as I'm concerned that the arrogance of this political generation - motivated by their belief in progressive liberalism - has led to the decay and decline of this nation. The Victorian era began with Britain in a state not unlike it is today. Morally bankrupt, rife with crime, entrenched poverty and culturally drifting - but in a generation they had changed all that to create the most modern, powerful nation on earth.

By the end of Victoria's reign we were not only the most mighty nation on earth, but we were making gargantuan strides in social improvements too - particularly in education and health - which would continue to snowball for many years to come. Social mobility - all but eradicated now - blossomed with a massive expansion of the middle classes.

When Victoria died in 1901 the usual style of house building was still the Victorian terraced cottage to house the working man's family, but just twenty years later they were building more and more semi-detached homes complete with drives and garages to accommodate the burgeoning and increasingly affluent, car owning middle-classes. Suburbia was born.

The much-derided suburbia was born out of the rise in social mobility, but was never given the credit it deserved. Instead it was seen - particularly by the liberal left - as something to be mocked and pilloried.

And despite Heffer's repeated references to Darwin (a sop to the liberal left I suspect), there is no doubt that the underlying belief that allowed the Victorians to make such progress in such a short time was their reaffirmation of the Christian faith as the underpinning of society. That, as much as anything else, is what led to the great progress this nation saw in the second half of the nineteenth century.

With all that said, Heffer is a little bit late in suggesting that we should not squander the Victorian legacy - we already have. It's a bit late to shut the stable door - the horse has not only bolted, but it's been dead and buried for forty years.


Bob's Head Revisited said...

Fine post.
I agree. There is a view, mostly propounded by silly-headed lefties and lazy journos, of the Victorian age as one of stuffiness, selfishness, chimney grime and abject poverty. Top hats and cloth caps.

What the Victorians achieved, considering the state of late Georgian England in the early 19c, was incredible.

It was far from perfect, of course, but many social problems were being improved slowly but surely, year after year.

And I agree too, Stan, that the underpinning of Christianity was absolutely vital.

And as far as innovation, industry and wealth creation go it was simply astonishing. I actually believe that it was a kinder and more moral time than now, as well.

All these are inconvenient truths to the progressive lefty, so they do their best to rewrite history.

The Victorians made a country to be proud of. The welfarism and liberal progressivism of the 20c destroyed it.

JuliaM said...

Great post!

"By the end of Victoria's reign we were not only the most mighty nation on earth, but we were making gargantuan strides in social improvements too - particularly in education and health..."

Today, the trend seems to run backwards in these two areas, despite the technological advances...

North Northwester said...

They believed.
They judged.
They found Britain wanting, and they changed it - at their own private expense and with a view to results rather than feel-good gestures.

Very different from non-judgmental, multi-culti but zero faith collectivist, government must act Britain.

This is a culture war battleground we can win on.
Small charities anyone? illegitimacy a problem? Child prostitution?

Great post, and thanks.