SUICIDE OF A NATION? by Arthur- Ed. Koestler


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A dirge on the state of England. It goes something like this: O weep for England, she is dead, or dying, or should be dead, or will die unless.... The lamenation appeared originally in Encounter; the singers range from Conservative MP's to Labour dons, along with unclassifiables: Malcolm Muggeridge, Cyril Connolly, and Arthur Koestler as editor-conductor. He explains the three-part proceedings: ""The first is devoted to analyzing the root causes of our economic plight, the second to foreign policy, the third to education and culture; but the divisions are not rigid and the subjects overlap"". They do, and the overlapping word is stagnation: production drops daily; managers lack get-up-and-go; unions are obstinately backwards; comforting illusions exist everywhere from Rightist nostalgia to Leftist neutralism; the middle-class refuses to understand that they don't understand the working class and vice versa; Oxbridge is mummy-land; the social system's self-deceiving, self-defeating; ""the cult of incompetence"" rules under ""the sanctification of banality"". What's to be one? Reform Parliament, reform business, reform education- in short, reform ""the Establishment"". Also- mostly implied- imitate the USA. The whole performance is intelligent and illuminating if at the same time circular and confining. Why, for instance, no Raymond Williams, Taylor, Tynan? Amidst the gloom-and-doom one unintentional delight: ""Sex, to a surprising number of English adolescents, is old hat; although naturally they continue to practise it..."". Does that mean there will always be an England?

Pub Date: Jan. 13th, 1963
Publisher: Macmillan