TDE Note: I really enjoy Dalrymple, but I find his pieces uneven. Some are excellent. Some are just alright. This one falls in the former category. Tweetable passages below.
There is nothing a strong government likes more than a weak people; and therefore, whether consciously or not, everything is done to render the people ever feebler.
The more vulnerable people can be induced to believe themselves to be, the more they need assistance to keep themselves going. Such assistance requires a vast legal and other infrastructure, put in place and regulated by the government. The government is the pastor, the people are the sheep.
[W]here a perceived harm is actionable at law, more such harm will be perceived.
The more lawyers we train, the worse things get. As the French Revolution amply proved, underemployed and disgruntled lawyers are a very dangerous class, and they therefore have to be employed somehow. What better way of doing so than by promulgating a constant deluge of ever-changing regulations and ensuring that a population is made of eggshells?
From the conclusion:
In England, in practically every railway station, and in the trains themselves, a horrible female voice, halfway between that of a slut and a harridan (if it is permissible these days for a woman to be described other than as a genius or a saint), intones the following over the public address system: “If you see anything that doesn’t look right, tell the staff or text the British Transport Police.” And then Ms. Slut-Harridan utters a slogan, of which presumably the uncouth dimwit inventor is probably very proud: “See it. Say it. Sorted.” . . .
The message is not only an incitement to denunciation, however, but an attempt to instill anxiety in the population, so that it comes to believe that (a) it cannot undertake even the most banal of journeys without both imminent and immanent danger to itself, and (b) fortunately for that same population, a wise, powerful, and benevolent public service is looking after its interests, in much the same way that not a sparrow falls without God’s benevolent attention. . . .