I came aacross an eye-catching quote this evening:
Britain is a miserable sight. A society of failures, full of apathy, and aroused only by envy at the success of others. This is why we will continue to decline. Not because of our economic or industrial problems. They are soluble. But because the psychology of our people is in such an appalling – I fear irretrievable – state. Meanness has replaced generosity. Envy has replaced endeavour. Malice is the most common motivation.
I could easily imagine coming across it in some newspaper column (if I still read a newspaper) but it is actually from 40 years ago. Certainly the idea that ‘malice is the most common motivation’ rings true.
Yes. I am reading yet another history of the 1970s. Having enjoyed, if that is the right word, When The Lights Went Out by Andy Beckett and State of Emergency by Dominic Sandbrook I got tempted to download Crisis? What Crisis? by Alwyn Turner the other day while it was one of Amazon’s deals of the day. The above quote is from Harold Wilson’s policy advisor, Bernard Donoughue in (I think) 1974 or 1975.
The quote does continue with:
It is time to go and cultivate our gardens, share love with our families, and leave the rest to fester.
But, for whatever reason, Alwyn Turner does not include the final part of what Donoughue wrote:
And if it gets intolerable – because fascism could breed in this unhealthy climate – to emigrate if need be.
I think the overwhelming feeling while reading the book is relief that while all that was going on I wasn’t really old enough to worry about it. It really does make the seventies out to be a terrible time and I feel slightly guilty that I look back on them so fondly. It does help that all I had to worry about was whether Elton John would be on Top of the Pops, whether West Ham would get through to the next round of the FA Cup and whether I would get a snog after the school dance.
I’m feeling a bit tempted to download the Dominic Sandbrook book that covers 1974-79 for when I finish thisbook but since it weighs in at a hefty 992 pages I might postpone that a little while.