The First Duty and Lily Lilley

Everyday absurdities and cruelties are commonplace in this state, and probably always have been; they run alongside acts of kindness and compassion. For hundreds of years, however, English elites and their fellow travellers have thought of the ordinary people of the country as a mob.

Sometimes they have reason; often they do not. One of the tragedies of England has been that those who believe themselves democrats and out to reform have usually and reliably ended up serving class interest, and those who might have worked with them have retreated into populist and violent reactions to get themselves and their moral economy noticed. Another is that every time the best education is opened to people, in a way that removes middle class advantage (I was reading of the Jacobean distaste for grammar schools because they promoted so many low-born people today), it is pulled back, often by its own working-class products.

That's a debate for another time. I am tired and ill. I have been shocked by a story I read today, though not surprised. It relates to Exile's Aunt Lily, may she rest in peace. I don't always agree with Exile's politics, nor he with mine. No one asks that we should be in agreement. But when his Aunt is murdered--and not in a clean way--and wheeled in a bin to a canal, and her killer gets pregnant, by another inmate who is treated as a 'customer of the prison service' at a 'user forum', and who has an ongoing, hotel-based relationship with that man whilst still nominally in prison, what is he supposed to be other than angry?

Surely the first duty of a state is to ensure justice and protect the people from harm? We now live in a country where around eight out of every ten voters did not vote for the government; where popular policies and views are routinely discounted; and where savers, and the law-abiding, and those with common sense in enough store to see through the green nonsense are routinely ignored. This is a country that has become scared of its police and where large numbers of areas are just not safe for citizens to be.

A class of almost uncontrolled, poorly educated, overworked, and cynical 'social workers' have been raised to power that is often unchecked. Because of what they see of their fellow human beings, and their preconceptions, and their inability to stand outside of their history, they think most of us racist, violent, vengeful, and stupid.

These are harsh words and harsh words very often lead nowhere. Despair is a sin for a reason. But what else fits? Even Christ cursed a barren fig tree once.

Lily Lilley's isn't an isolated case. I know, and not from any special knowledge but because I listen to ordinary people whom I know, where various killers are. The dogs in their street know. I also know that no one has attempted to kill them in some of the toughest towns I have been in. Working people have been restrained.

Yet we let bad people out of prison as a society, before their time, and spend money on new identities for them, just as we celebrate our humanity by making euthanasia, and abortion, and debt slavery, and the destruction of families easier and easier. We do it because lower-middle class social workers think the worst of working people, but still spend their taxes. How is this right?

This country has been in worse trouble. It has seen bad days before, and it will see worse ones. I think that it can be recovered from itself. But there are times when you want to weep at what is happening to England, even if you are not English. Put the wrong sort of recycling in your wheelie bin and you'll feel the full force of the law; torture and murder an old lady and drop her in one, and you'll be out with a new identity fairly quickly.

This country is failing in its first duty to its people. The mood is sour and worsening by the day, outside of the bubble. What happens when the real credit and jobs crunch hit next year?

I'm something of a Hobbesian; I think people can be bad, and that the bad will drive out good if allowed. I think that we suffer the state to maintain ourselves, and we hold back from vigilantism because law and justice can be matched with order only by a just state. What, however, happens, when a radical philosophy so grips the strongest parts of the state that justice slips away? What happens when eight out of ten people did not vote for the government that stands at the apex of that state?

I tell you where it leads. It leads to hokum like that in the video below that gives badness an apparent mandate and undermines hope and decency more surely than any amount of drugs or sex, for a generation. It encourages racism, and the exclusion of the ill educated and the one-time violent and the stupid, and drives on the hangers, and the brutal; it makes compassion impossible. It leads to people giving up on law and justice and redemption and playing with the psychotic notion that no person can ever be redeemed because some badnesses were indulged and improperly punished.

It leads to delusion and gesture politics on both sides.

We need tough, small government. We need lower taxes and social insurance, and an encouragement to work, and local decisions and more democracy. We need people to have a real investment in a society via the chance of real property for themselves, and not mortgage-driven delusions of Minsky assets. We need jobs that stem not from the state but from a balanced, decent society that recognises that selfishness and the market can't do everything, but that humanism, self-restraint, and limits can lead to the best things, and that they need to be taught by schools and families and churches that are away from state control.

We need just punishment, more prisons, and tough compassion. We need an end to a state that breaks up some families, prevents others from starting, and uses a third set to undermine all rules of just punishment. There is an intimate relationship between the destruction of the family, the glorification of personal autonomy without a proper education, and every aspect of the Lilley tragedy.

Adoption works. It's infinitely preferable to abortion, and to the state-murder of murderers. Children should not be a get out of jail card; rehabilitation and redemption should be.

The best cliches are true. They encapsulate really very old lessons. One is to let justice be done though the heavens fall. Another is to subdue the proud and spare the humble from harm. But one of my favourites is written into the stone of the Old Bailey--Defend the Children of the Poor and Punish the Wrongdoer.

Lily Lilley was one of this country's children too.

Comments

Exile said…
Thank you for this post and your kind thoughts towards my aunt. It did a lot to restore my belief that there is some good in the world.
Martin Meenagh said…
Some, I hope. I wish people would wake up to what is going on.
berenike said…
bloody hell. I used to think I was paranoid making sure someone phones my gran at least once every single day when she's on her tod.