The British prime minister, David Cameron, spoke recently in Luton, a town long and universally despised in Britain by all who do not live there, against multiculturalism as an official doctrine and policy. He could hardly have chosen a time or a place more certain to stir up controversy: the day of his speech, members of the thuggish and fascistic English Defence League marched through Luton, nine of whose 23 Labour councilors (the largest party on the town council) are Muslim. There was one Muslim among the councilors of the other parties. There are no prizes for guessing, therefore, which party supports the expenditure of public money to support projects that supposedly benefit officially designated minorities, or at any rate minority “leaders.”
Much of what Mr. Cameron said was perfectly sensible, moderate, and self-evident. Many Muslims want to be absorbed seamlessly into British life; others want the imposition of sharia law, flirt with terrorism, and demand censorship of views that they find distasteful. There is no reason for anyone to make any accommodation whatsoever with the latter.
However, when Mr. Cameron spoke of “British values,” he seemed to be speaking of a golden age of high Edwardian liberalism, rather than the Britain of today, which is far from a liberal state (in the Edwardian sense) where freedom flourishes. On the contrary, he is the head of a bloated, bullying but ineffectual government apparatus that weighs very heavily on the population and acts as a thick pall of pollution over the whole society.
Here are just a few of the facts to which he might have addressed himself: Britain has the highest crime rate in Western Europe, despite having a third of all the closed-circuit television cameras in the world to oversee the population, and despite having more or less abandoned a suspect’s right to silence. There are whole areas of the country in which the weight of the state in the economy is not far short of that of the state in Soviet Russia. Thanks to state-sponsored social pathology, more than a third of the population is entirely dependent on the state for its livelihood, and would starve without it. The last government created a new criminal offense every working day for ten years, such that no citizen can possibly know what is legal and what is not. Arbitrary and constantly changing regulation makes life a nightmare for anyone running a business or a service. While expenditure on education doubled between 2000 and 2007, the proportion of British children learning a foreign language declined by 75 percent. In short, the British state is a swamp of corruption, all the worse for being more intellectual and moral than straightforwardly financial.
In other words, multiculturalism, while being part of this swamp, is only a small part of it. It is unlikely that Mr. Cameron will do much to drain it.