Social pathology: disaster or goldmine?

Update 2019 01 12: Added links to related articles and a note.


Opinion piece by Theodore Dalrymple

11 January 08

Whenever we try to assess the meaning and significance of particularly horrible cases, such as that of Nia Glassie in New Zealand or Baby P in Britain (between which there are several parallels), it is important to bear in mind that there is nothing new under the sun, that some people have always done terrible things to others, that some humans have always behaved with the utmost cruelty, that there has never been a golden age of universal benevolence and good will to all men, and that no social system will entirely eliminate the human capacity for evil….(Full Story)

Note (2019 01 12): Theodore Dalrymple’s observations, overall, appear to be objective, even though they have a somewhat pessimistic tone and conclude with,

“The fundamental point is that social pathology is an invaluable resource for a very large and possibly growing part of the state bureaucracy, which is an enormous employer of lengthily, but badly, educated people. A reasonably virtuous and self-regulating, self-controlled population is the last thing that the government apparatus now wants, for large parts of it would then be entirely redundant.

“Incidentally, I can only hope that in the economic turmoil to come, we do not discover the hard way just how improvident a policy it has been deliberately to smash up all forms of social solidarity that do not pass through government departments.”

Nevertheless, it is somewhat incongruous that, in the greater scheme of things, the quality of the human condition in most nations and world-wide is undoubtedly and steadily improving.  That is measurable, undeniable and good.  It is without a doubt to a very large extent a consequence of what Indur Goklany reports in this:

Humanity Unbound: How Fossil Fuels Saved Humanity from Nature and Nature from Humanity

Policy Analysis, No. 715, Cato Institute, Washington, DC


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