Theodore Dalrymple is touring Australia. Adam Creighton writes in the Australian:
Renowned psychiatrist and author Theodore Dalrymple has warned Australia’s elites against embracing the sort of amoral intellectual vanity that has seen his native Britain waylaid by family breakdown, vulgarity and rampant welfarism.
Dalrymple, who has written more than 30 books alongside his 30-year career as a British prison psychiatrist, argues postmodern attitudes that treat all life decisions equally has encouraged swaths of the population to live unfulfilling and self-destructive lives on welfare.
“In Britain we have the remarkable situation where we have more invalids than after the First World War: three million, of whom two million could probably work,” he said.
“This is a fraud on a very large scale: deeply corrupting of the recipients, who wrongly believe they are sick; the government, which shifts people out of the unemployment statistics; and the medical profession,” he says, recounting stories of college doctors being violently abused by welfare recipients for refusing to grant medical certificates.
While almost 800,000 Australians were receiving Disability Support Pensions late last year, more than 3.1 million Britons were receiving the Disability Living Allowance (whose name the Cameron government is changing to the Personal Independence Payment).
Since 2010, the Conservative government has restructured and capped working age welfare payments at £500 ($936) per family regardless of the number of children to encourage people to look for work, but Dalrymple — in Australia for a month as the Centre for Independent Studies’ scholar in residence — is sceptical of the impact.
“It won’t work because a little bit of drug trafficking here and illegal activity there will make up for the cuts,” he told The Australian, suggesting the “entrepreneurial parasitism” of benefit recipients wasn’t recognised by naive bureaucrats. “They know how to manipulate things to get the maximum benefit; they are reacting to incentives.”
Dalrymple, 66, whose real name is Anthony Daniels, says culture, the welfare system and rigidities in the housing markets were to blame for the lack of British people in basic service jobs.
“Most fundamental is that Poles are better than the English in a work ethic sense, that is the real problem; and they often speak better English,” he said.
He has little time for libertarian arguments about drug legalisation. “John Stuart Mill (who argued that individuals should be free to harm themselves but not others) also thought that fathers who abandoned their children should be put to forced labour — you don’t hear that bit quoted much by legalisation advocates,” he said.
“Most of the blame for all this social dysfunction lies with our intellectual class, who actually revel in this behaviour.”
Appearing on ABC’s Q&A program this week, Dalrymple attracted controversy for suggesting women bore some of the blame for domestic violence.
“Men who commit violence against women should, of course, be put in prison, but the idea women are playing no part in this is wrong,” he argued.