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The Nazification of Britain

Theodore Dalrymple is a pseudonym used by British psychiatric doctor-cum-commentator, Anthony Daniels. A man with a tangibly Burkean Conservative mind, he wades hip-deep through the detritus of inner-city Britain, surveying a wasteland that stretches as far as his eyes can see.

Not surprisingly he has a rather jaundiced view of this country. Indeed, so relentlessly pessimistic are his columns and books that one wonders whether a majority of readers end up by being his patients.

However, being gloomy does not necessarily mean the same as being wrong. While other talking heads, both of the left and of the right, mount their various hobbyhorses and gallop off furiously to nowhere in particular, Dalrymple has hit the big nail resolutely on the head with a dire warning about the Nazification of Britain:

“I grew up believing that it couldn’t happen here; that the intrinsic decency, good sense and ironical detachment of the British would have precluded Nazism or anything like it from taking root in our sceptred isle. Now I am not so sure. Utter vileness does not need a numerical majority to become predominant in a society. The Nazis never had an electoral majority in Germany, yet Germany offered very little resistance to their barbarism. Of course, it is highly unlikely that history would repeat itself in anything approximating the same form; but evil, unlike good, is infinitely multiform. We can invent our own totalitarian evil. There is little doubt that we have prepared the ground very well for evil’s triumph.”

Just as the Germans had prepared the ground by the construction of the top-down Bismarckian state. Both citizens and civil servants obeyed the orders of their political masters without question because that is what they had become used to doing. The nature of the orders, or the consequences of their execution, were not subject to any meaningful moral analysis or challenge.

“Whenever I have dealings with British bureaucrats, an insistent question is at the back of my mind: is there any order you would refuse to obey? From my observations of their conduct, my guess is that, in general, there isn’t; that they would prefer mass slaughter to the loss of their jobs and that, in the event of a post facto trial, all of them would fall back on the old excuse, I was only obeying orders.”

From my own career as a practising lawyer, I can only concur. No regulation is too ridiculous or damaging not to be zealously enforced or robotically obeyed. In this. much of Britain’s professional class collaborate. It is simply too dangerous and career-damaging not too. The consequences of dissent are financial ruin, so there is no dissent.

“Recently, I received a circular headed New Ethnic Categories that began with the words, ‘As you may know, we are required to monitor the ethnic origins of our staff.’ Who was this ‘we’ of whom the circular spoke: no names, only ‘The Human Resources Unit’ (Orwell could have done no better). And no decent reason for this fascistic practice was given; the ‘we are required’ being the final and irrefutable argument in its favour. Again it is a fair bet that not a single peep of protest was uttered in the office of the ‘Human Resources Unit’ when this circular was sent round.”

Who issues these orders? Where are they formulated? What is their purpose? Who benefits from their execution? These are the real questions.

“The organised lying that results from centralised information-gathering not only blunts critical faculties and makes it impossible to distinguish true information from false, but also morally compromises those who participate in the process: everyone is made an accomplice of the central power, and so less and less does anyone feel able to make a stand. The more state employees conform to the rules laid down, the more helpless and degraded they become, which is the ultimate purpose of these rules. When you go to the doctor nowadays, you are not seeking his advice; you are finding out what the government has told him to do. Only appearances remain the same; the reality is changed utterly.”

The same applies for the private sector which has succumbed to such vast swathes of top-down state code that much of it is, in effect, nationalised. The more our behaviour, choices and dealings are prescribed for us, the less we rely on our own faculties in the pursuit of good judgement. Thus does civil society itself begin to dissolve.

“We, too, are now creating a cultural context in which great state crimes are possible, though perhaps not yet inevitable. When I see the routine inhumanity with which my patients are treated by the state and its various bureaucracies, often in the name of obedience to rules, I think that anything is possible in this country. Yes, when I see the baying mobs of drunken young people who pullulate in our city centres every weekend, awaiting their evil genius to organise them into some kind of pseudo-community, and think of our offices full of potential Eichmanns, I shudder.”

Britain has, in the past, so successfully resisted the pull of tyrrany because of the Anglo-Saxon heritage which has set the face of the individual in opposition to the state. Contrary the continental countries where the guiding ethos was governed by a vision of the state as the tree and the citizen as a branch of the tree. Since WWII in particular it is the latter view which has trumped the former in this country to the extent that it can no longer be assumed that Britain has some sort of magic amulet against the establishment of outright tyrrany in the future.

It is for this reason that traditional arguments between Left and Right seem so circular and impotent. All ideologies have been left bleeding on the battlefield while the Regulatory State has ridden to triumph. We are ruled by an essentially apolitical elite who exercise power for the sake of power and without any real guiding principles except the maintaining of that power.

This leaves us with an ideological vacuum; a wide-open playing field for someone or something that has the verve and gumption necessary to capture the popular imagination. I like to think that this could be libertarianism as part of a wider yearning to throw off the yoke of the interventionist state. But, sadly, history does not corroborate that hope.

23 comments to The Nazification of Britain

  • Jeffersonian

    All I can think of is the first chapter of “The Road to Serfdom” where Hayek points to the seeds of this vile tree in Britain. Oh, the tragedy of seeing the birthplace of the liberal society, with its great heritage in Macauley, Cobden et al. reduced to a vassal state paying homage to the manor at 10 Downing. Weep for Albion.

  • Frank

    You may be interested in a new body, Migrationwatch UK, which takes an immigration restrictionist stance. They made frontpage headlines on August 5th and 6th 2002 when they said that immigration was running at over a quarter of a million per year. Not that many people are aware of them, so I think any efforts to let people know of them would be very helpful. A link to their website would also help them very much. It should be noted that they are completely opposed to the likes of the BNP and other similar parties. I took the following from their homepage.


    Migrationwatch website:

    Migrationwatch UK

    Migrationwatch UK is a newly established, independent, think tank which has no links to any political party. It is chaired by Sir Andrew Green, a former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Professor David Coleman, the Professor in Demography at Oxford University, is an Honorary Consultant. We are now in the process of establishing an
    Advisory Council.

    We appreciate the contribution that immigrants make to our society and we entirely accept that genuine refugees should be welcomed, but they comprise only about 10% of those who arrive in Britain each year. Our research indicates that, on current trends, we can now expect a net inflow of at least 2 million non EU citizens per decade.
    It is noteworthy that the Home Secretary accepted our estimate when
    it was put to him by the Home Affairs Committee on 18 Sept 2002.
    We believe that immigration on such a scale is contrary to the interests of all sections of our community.

    We intend to monitor developments, conduct research, and provide the public with full and accurate facts placed in their proper context.
    In due course, we will make recommendations for policy.

    We believe that many of the arguments adduced in favour of the current large-scale immigration are unsound either in fact or in economics, or both. We wish to ensure that they are thoroughly examined.

    Our objective is that there should be an open and frank debate, based on the facts, as to what should now be done. It is important that this debate should take account of everybody’s views and interests. Thereafter, decisions are a matter for the political system. We believe that the prevailing misinformation and the failure to address the substance of these matters give rise to rumour and suspicion which can only encourage the rise of the extreme right, to which we are strongly opposed.

    Unlike most organisations in this field, we receive no subsidy from
    the government in any form and have no intention of seeking one. As we are not a membership organisation, we rely on donations and on subscriptions to our papers (at a cost of £25 per year) from those who wish to help.

    This website includes a five page “Overview” explaining how the immigration and asylum system works. “Key points” is a one page summary of this paper.

    Other documents include short papers on;
    • How migration is measured.
    • Projections of future migration to Britain.
    • The history of immigration to Britain.
    • Emigration from the UK
    • Economic considerations.
    • Arranged marriages ( The primary Purpose Rule)
    • The White Paper of Feb 2002.

    Migrationwatch website:

    Migrationwatch UK


  • Dave Farrell

    My feeling while I lived in Britain in the Eighties and most of the Nineties (and where I was born) was that the bureaucracy of everyday life exerted a kind of enormous weight or irresistible force.

    It seemed to form a sort of carapace of encrustation that imprisoned the individual in actions predictable to the state and its various arms of authority.

    Although fear of financial ruin is perhaps one of the worst anxietoes of modern living, its impact in Britain and the countries of the European Union is very well cushioned and falls well short of the catastrophe it might precipitate for a middleclass person here in South Africa, for example.

    So it is curious that this should be cited as a prime motivation for failing to buck the system and make moral choices of one’s own.

    I suspect there are unadmitted motivations that lie deeper than that . Most middleclass people would, as John Cleese put it so admirably in A Fish Called Wanda, be mainly concerned with “getting safely into the grave without ever having been embarrassed”.

    The embrace of predictability and the comfort of familiar routines are all that is required for the “banality of evil” eventually to emerge.

    What Britain needs desperately is a written constitution and a bill of rights. I expect howls of protest at this, but I see no other way for the individual to lever off the weighty shell of the state’s authority.

  • cydonia

    Sorry Dave but I think you are are an optimist.

    The only written constitution that would be any use would be one that expressly limits total State spending to a pre-specified maximum percentage of GDP (Milton Friedman’s idea I think). Needless to say, that is the one constitution that we are unlikely ever to see.

    As for a bill of rights, what you are likely to end up with is not something that guarantees individual liberty but something that enshrines the “right” (!!!!) of the State to take away individual liberty. See for example this nasty little paragraph from the so-called European Convention on Human Rights (now part of English law):

    “The preceding provisions shall not, however, in any way impair the right of a State to enforce such laws as it deems necessary to control the use of property in accordance with the general interest or to secure the payment of taxes or other contributions or penalties.”

    In other words, the State has the right to nick your stuff whenever it feels like it.

  • David Carr

    Dave Farrell,

    Sadly I concur with cydonia. Any sort of Constitution or Bill of Rights that is drafted today would enshrine state power not restrict it.

    It would include all manner of entitlements dressed up as ‘rights’ such as a ‘right’ to education, free health care, welfare benefits, housing etc. It would be disastrous. Some fabian government policy wonk was on the TV a couple of weeks ago insisting that ‘freedom from hate speech’ was a ‘basic human right’. Get the picture?

    I’m sorry, chum, but I don’t have any solution either. If I did, believe me, I’d be posting it here.

  • Dave Farrell

    To respond to both of the above: yes, I had expected this response. The whole thing would depend on who drafted it (who had a say in drafting it). The European Convention on Human Rights cannot be described as a constitution,because it does not flow from the people . It is a pious exercise in control. Kafka was not making it up, after all.

    The British do, however, as your own excellent Samizdata site attests, have basic beliefs that CAN be stirred: the belief in fair play and indeed the importance of the individual, and this goes across so-called middle and working class (terms I loathe, but we know whom they encompass).

    The constiution I envisage would require a bargaining process, not a fiat, and that will require political regrouping, which it seems may be already taking place. It also means good minds giving eloquent expression to ideas outside the approved range (a trend the internet is encouraging — it’s not for nothing that blogging is becoming so ubiquitous, since mainstream media do not stray much into the turbulent waters of dissenting views).

    I am not an optimist by nature. Quite the opposite, otherwise I might still be in Britain.

    But something’s gotta give in the end. Could a written constitution and bill of rights (negotiated) really be worse than what is happening now? It’s surely worth the attempt.

  • cydonia

    I still think you are an optimist!

    A libertarian constitution or bill of rights would require a libertarian minded populace. It would therefore be the end product of progress towards libertarianism. Not the starting point.

    You say that “something has to give”. Why?
    My own (gloomy) view is that the regulatory State does an excellent job at maintaining the conditions for its continued existence and expansion. Its propaganda is impressive (and impressively effective) as witnessed by the pro-regulatory/collectivist views of the general public and the mass media.

    There are also powerful forces interested in maintaining the status quo – viz the numerous self-interested pressure groups that clamour (with great success) for privileges to be bestowed upon them by the State.

    So I just don’t see that anything is going to change “out there”, nor any real reason why it is likely to. Quite the contrary.

    I just hope I’m wrong :-(.

  • Kevin Connors

    David, should I give the credit for this masterful piece of work to you or Mr. Daniels?

    Now that you have CARA, the puzzle is nearly complete.

    Too much of this, sadly, is also applicable to the US.

  • cydonia

    Kevin, what’s “CARA”?

  • Thanks ever so much for telling me Dr Dalrymple’s real name. He is our modern Dickens – with a terrible twist – although I don’t think the Nazis could ever have made it here. Six million Jews could never have been gassed, shot, hung or otherwise murdered under our present bureaucracy – it would take too long. Perhaps there is something to be said for our Civil Service…

  • Sadly, I don’t think any sort of written Constitution or Bill of Rights would help you in the end. We have these things here in America, and yet when I look at the UK I can clearly see where we are headed. Our Constitution keeps our movement in that direction slower than it would otherwise be, but nonetheless we are still headed down that same slope.

  • I agree with Ken… The written constitution did not prevent RICO, Civil Forfeiture or an outright prohibition of legal handguns in the United States’ own capital city!

    There is ONLY one defense for liberty and it cannot not be found on a scrap of paper…the defense is a confident and armed culture of liberty: if enough people refuse to cooperate in their own oppression, then liberty flourishes. There is no other bedrock, for what is written by people at the top can be unwritten by people at the top.

  • Larry

    Thank you Perry for that wonderful comment.

    It’s a sign of our culture that people look to paper, legalisms, for defense of their liberty. “Our” = Anglo-American.

    I’m glad to read of Daniels work, as I have long feared that events will prove Hitler was not wrong, just early.

    As Perry and Ken point our, the UK might be further down this path than the US, but we’re all on the same road.

    A Wish for 2003: that Samizdata hosts more discussions of practical acts of resistance — solutions, not more diagnosis.

  • David Carr


    If credit is due then I think it must be assigned to Mr.Daniels (Dalrymple) for his incisive article. I merely embellished it with a few observations of my own.


    CARA is the Civil Assets Recovery Agency, established by the Proceeds of Crime Bill 2002 and empowered to forfeit property from ‘suspected’ criminals.

  • Dave Farrell

    I didn’t know about that. We have one here too, which is a kind of motley collection of police, prosecutors and other state officials.

    In practice, they have run into difficulties giving judges enough evidence (because it is preliminary evidence) to justify seizures when these are challenged by the first-class lawyers of wealthy drug dealers and other career criminals. They have frequently had to unfreeze assets already seized.
    Recently the Receiver of Revenue has been roped in to “get” elusive targets using what is called the Al Capone method: doing them for tax evasion.

  • Kevin Connors

    Here in the US, forfeiture is losing some ground, but still causes quite a bit of devastation. On that same TalkLeft post, follow the link to this excellent series of articles.

  • Dennis Patten

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. Thos. Jefferson

  • Val

    Perry (rightly) says, “There is only one defence of liberty and it cannot be found on a scrap of paper … the defence is a confident and armed culture of liberty; if enough people refuse to cooperate in their own oppression, then liberty flourishes.”

    A tiny batsqueak of encouragement is coming out of the UK right now as the movement to refuse, under threat of imprisonment, to pay the state-imposed licence fee to own a television set gains pace. The hundreds of millions in pounds extracted from a public largely unwilling to have leftist/socialist/communist claptrap force-fed them, is spent funding the BBC and its legion of left wing programmers, editors, scriptwriters and news commentators. The BBC may be the largest employer of Guardianistas in the world, funded by unwilling taxpayers and indifferent to their opinions. Its statist, controlling and illiberal instincts are a major contributor in the thinking that is leading to the Nazification of Britain.

    One Sunday Times journalist, Jonathan Miller, has teamed up with a former Soviet refusenik – Stop BBC Bias – and the two have offered to be imprisoned rather than pay this monstrous imposte for the privilege of receiving broadcasts through the airwaves. They are claiming the right to receive broadcasting is a human right and are prepared to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights. (As it’s there, why not use it to advantage?) They have now been joined by the publisher of The Guiness Book of Records, Norris McWhirter. Despite the squeals coming from the ever plentiful trough, the movement appears to be taking off. The Daily Telegraph ran a piece reporting (not advocating) the movement and their website crashed under the weight of email reponses it received. T

    The chairman of the BBC said in an opposing article that expecting the BBC to compete in the free market was absurd, because there were only so many advertising pounds to go around. Thus he unwittingly testified to the unpopularity of BBC programming with viewers. As we know, advertising pounds only go to programmes the purchasers know are going to be watched.


  • Howard Gray

    Tony Daniels is an Eeyore of distinction, and always entertaining. The nazification of the UK and much of the modern “western way” is proceeding at a pace. Or is it?

    I am an optimist, and it is my view that there are good reasons to believe that there are limits to the rapacity of bureaucracy and mindless lawmaking.

    There are now signs that there isn’t a blanket acceptance of the miasma of regulations and laws and, above all, behaving with mindless obedience.

    In the UK, there are nascent indications that all is not well with the body politic. The Tory party is moribund (a good thing for the time being?), leaving no effective “official opposition”. However, you are now seeing rumblings of a reemerging tradition of the Watt Tyler variety, an “unofficial opposition”. People are taking to the streets in demonstrations about oil prices and hunting the inedible fox. This will be small potatoes in the early days, but it will gather force. Much like the Poles, when the Pope visited Poland under communist rule, leading to a meeting of the eyes of the population at large with a view to change. Change came in a surprising way, didn’t it?

    Unlike Poland, we now have huge unofficial and unvetted news circuits on the Internet feeding dissident minds out therein the dark, far from the official “light” of politics and the press. This steam beneath the surface of the banality of our politics is there and will keep on emerging at inconvenient moments. Do not dismiss the power of this entity.

    Bemoaning the distortion of constitutional law is largely pointless. The legal system is open to bending, and lawyers do that for a living within and without the legislatures. Get used to it! Given our desire to put law schooling into larger and larger leftist law schools, don’t be surprised by the idiocy of lawyers and the laws they support or promulgate.

    The overwhelming stupidity of many of the laws that reach the statute book every year is self-evident. Rest assured that they have very little chance of any real impact in the greater scheme of things. There are signs that this nonsense has limits somewhere, and that somewhere is soon to be upon us. For those of you who are advocates in our courts, always remember to articulate the concept of “public interest” as a synonym for “government interest,” and make the point that John Q Citizen has nothing to do with any of it.

    Here in the US, tort reform is beginning to rear its head as the public is beginning to realize that the high cost of medicine, and products generally, is a function of humungous damages settlements that are not, nor never were, in the public interest.

    Sun-setting laws are beginning to happen, too. There is still a need to create more comprehensive phagic laws that gobble up the obsolete and absurd legislation on the books. Sun-setting alone will not do it.

    Libertarian thinking isn’t mainstream, but it has immense possibilities in the subterranean production of “steam” in our political worlds. The very existence of Samizdata indicates that this is true. Otherwise, why bother!

    I go to our local community board meetings (which I admit can be atrocious travesties of governance) here in Brooklyn. At the meetings, I often stand up and have my say, putting the libertarian rhetoric into action. For my sins, I have been photographed and reported in the local paper. I have had a number of letters, co-authored with my wife, often up to three pages of A4 in length, printed in the Bay News here in Brooklyn. This is small stuff, I know, but it does reach about 100,000 people.

    My point is this: don’t forget to be active from time to time in the political world. Attend council meetings and have your say if you can. Exercise your viewpoint in public. Once in a while, someone will ask you where you got your ideas. Guess what? You get to answer them, and in moments, you may have another libertarian. It really is that simple.

    Vladimir Bukovsky is about to humble the BBC by the simple action of refusing to pay the license fee for his TV. Here is a prime example of how to shut down a hive of Guardianistas in one fell swoop by direct action. There are so many possible ways to put a stop to the runaway train, folks. A little inventiveness and less pessimism is the order of the day.

    A willingness not to accept the status quo is important to prevent the mindless obedience to political correctness and other wickedness that passes for discourse in our society. Professionals and bureaucrats must see that there are those who will oppose them with guile and honed rhetoric and, above all, honesty. All is not lost, so get out there and do some metaphorical boot work.

  • blabla

    Great article.

  • Pity Theo Dalrymple has not read “The Ominous Parallels” ( The end of freedom in America) by Leonard Peikoff, then he would understand the “Why?”.

  • Dave Farrell

    I am in agreement with pretty well everything Howard Gray says here, but it should be remembered that although there are limits to the extent that draconian laws and controls can be effectively implemented, it’s rather like Russian Roulette: there’s no knowing which crazy crusade the state will feel obliged to police very thoroughly, mainly in the political interest of the party in power.

  • Andy Ridgway

    To quote Howard Grey; “we now have huge unofficial and unvetted news circuits on the Internet feeding dissident minds out therein the dark, far from the official “light” of politics and the press”.
    Whilst I agree with the above comment, it should be noted that:
    a. To find informed comment you have to wade through a mass of detritus. The amount of informed debate on the net is in inverse proportion to the number of articles posted. Welcome to the Tower of Babel.
    b. If the internet ever becomes a serious threat to traditional politics or institutions you can expect measures to be taken against it.
    c. How long before the BBC/New Labour bring in the PC licence fee?