27 SEPTEMBER 1997, Page 63

High life

Culture of meanness


It seems almost obscene to be back in London, a grimy, big city and, in the words of the great Paul Johnson, 'perverted, bru- tal, degenerate, horribly modish'. Paul used these words to describe the nightmare Britain as opposed to the Britain of our dreams which culminated in the moving ceremony for Diana, Princess of Wales.

After two months in the Swiss Alps and Aegean Islands — conservative places with established beliefs and authorities nihilistic London is for the birds. I sudden- ly can't stand the place. I imagine it's old age. Big cities are for the young; clean, well-ordered resorts for the old.

Basically, I think it has to do with the path towards anarchy that big cities have chosen. And, of course, the prevailing cul- ture. It is a culture that celebrates mean- ness as a virtue — exemplified by Charles Saatchi's celebration at the Royal Acade- my. It is also the swaggering, boasting and flaunting of material things by the young, to the glorification of violence as the easy way to acquire these things, to the everyday speech pattern that uses the F-word as an article, an adjective and a noun.

Once upon a time, less than six months ago, some fools believed that Tony Blair would champion the call for renewing Britain's cultural values, starting with fami- ly values. This is not the case. And, sadly, Britain's urban masses cannot hope to see their children grow up to make something of themselves, as long as these kids are forced to grow up amid this culture of meanness.

The whole mess most big Western cities find themselves in has a lot to do with the erosion of the moral underpinnings of a society and the diminution of personal responsibility. Man, after all, needs a cer- tain moral sense of right and wrong. There is such a thing called evil, and it is not the result of being a victim of a capitalist soci- ety. We in the West have abandoned an ethical basis for society and instead expect the government to solve problems that arise from the lack of ethics.

When I was growing up in Greece during the war, the individual existed in the con- text of the family. Government did not try to provide for a person what the family best provided. There was no violence to speak of, no crime, no drugs, no vagrancy, no unbecoming behaviour in public. Fathers made sure of it. All this went down the Swanee as soon as the liberals had their way in the Land of the Depraved. The expansion of the right of the individual to misbehave as he or she pleases replaced the orderly society. It has been downhill ever since.

Roger Scruton once wrote that 'the prin- cipal damage done by liberalism has come from its relentless scoffing at ordinary pro- hibitions and decencies'. The liberal press and Hollywood have been the main culprits in transmitting liberalism's message. In the 1960s the evil duo decided that their mis- sion henceforth would be to champion the deviant, the abnormal, the psychopath, while heaping scorn on the decent, the honourable and the law-abiding. Family values were dumped on and blamed for everything ranging from the Holocaust to female circumcision in Africa. Films and articles proclaimed that women were better off without men. Today one baby in two in America is born to an unmarried woman. The magnitude of this disaster is obvious to any visitor to Ameri- ca's cities. Violent, meretricious Hollywood has declared war on the family, and no politician dares take it on. We now have a celluloid world in which homosexuals are presented as the norm and heterosexuals as aberrations. The New York Times called this 'a sense of overdue justice'.

The head of the programming committee of the Big Bagel Lesbian and Gay Film Festival went a bit better: 'Here's your great opportunity to take revenge on all those people like your parents, your teach- ers, your neighbours, people of all kinds . ..' Perhaps Chris Smith, both as a homosexual as well as the Minister for Cul- ture, has something to say about this. (And now homo partners of civil servants are being offered pension rights. What next? One-night-stand bum-boys, too, have rights.) One knows the end is near when the broadsheets announce the separation of the ultimate low life — Edwina Currie — on their front pages. And when the Red Cross is about to be abolished as the world's greatest humanitarian symbol because of PC and some Israeli schmucks' refusal to recognise it. Personally, I am throwing in the towel. When the new Palazzo Taki is ready, I am moving to Rougemont. And I shall return to London only for the Season and certain parties. So there!