Daily Blog 08/17/2011

  • These are bold claims, amounting to a thesis that Britain has been wrecked and transformed from a familiar, law-abiding spot to an alien hell hole in just three or four decades. But here is an odd thing, surely: go back precisely three decades and you get to the summer of 1981, scene of some of the nastiest riots in modern British history, when racially charged violence saw tracts of Brixton in south London and Toxteth in Liverpool burn for days.

    Seeking guidance, Bagehot decided to go off-line and read some books. From the shelves of the London Library, a gem: “Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears” a calm and witty history of moral panics that have gripped England over the ages, published in 1982, and written by a Bradford University academic, Geoffrey Pearson (later at Goldsmiths). The book is out of print, so I trust I will be forgiven (not least by Professor Pearson) for quoting from it at length: it is a brilliant survey.

    Just what happens if we take a time machine back three decades, to the time before the revolutionary transformation identified by Melanie Phillips?

    tags: britain riots

  • IS THE west falling out of love with the car? For environmentalists it seems an impossible dream, but it is happening. While baby boomers and those with young families may stick with four wheels, a combination of our ageing societies and a new zeitgeist among the young seems to be breaking our 20th-century car addiction. Somewhere along the road, we reached “peak car” and are now cruising down the other side.

    tags: transport car

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