By Vexen Crabtree 2004
Trash Culture is specifically British. It has become the mainstream culture across the United Kingdom. It is characterized by binge drinking, smoking, stupidity, the active hatred of intelligence & responsible behaviour, fashion-conscious youths, ignorant uneducated adults, misbehaviour at school, petty crime, organized crime, violence, homophobia, racism and xenophobia. Its greatest social monuments are pub culture and football, and its main facilitators are peer pressure, trashy tabloids such as The Daily Mail and The Sun, and uneducated, irresponsible parenting.
The Institute for Public Policy Research reported in 2007 that British teenagers are the worst behaved in Europe1. In 2006 it reported that between British, French, German and Italian youngsters, the British are near the top of every table comparing drugs, drink, violence and promiscuity2. The UK has the highest rate of under 18s pregnancies not only in Europe, but in all the developed world except for the USA3. The Daily Mail reported we "are more likely to binge-drink, take drugs [...] and start fights". "38% confessed to trying cannabis, more than five times the rate in Sweden. British teenagers are also bigger drinkers, with 27 per cent admitting to getting drunk regularly. In Italy, the figure is five per cent and in France it is just three per cent."1. Uri Geller, an Israeli celebrity psychic, people-watcher and occasional social commentator, complains about "our drinking culture which has gone beyond normal, social behaviour. Walk about any city on a Friday night and you will see young people boozed up and behaving terribly."4. "Townies", and drunken ones at that, make most city centres and the areas around popular pubs unfriendly and noisy places across all of Britain, every Friday night.
An important element of trash culture is its self-propagation. The individual elements of it encourage the others. If you smoke whilst young, you are more likely to drink too. It is a downwards cycle; drinking mothers reduce their average IQ of their children, and the less intelligent are more likely to drink more. Even the overindulgence in fast food can cause pregnant mothers' children to be born addicted to junk food5. On this page I draw on academic research showing how these things are related. Sociologists would give the name of secondary reference group to the position of trash culture in the UK. This means that the general background culture is a culture of short-term thrill-seeking & youthful ignorance, and this is the cultural reference under which all subcultures exist in the UK. A primary reference group is normally an individual's immediate family. Academic circles, intelligent subcultures, highly skilled classes, etc, have all become effective subcultures to trash culture. In the history of the British Empire it was the educated, ignorant-but-educated masses that was the mainstream culture. Sometime since the late 1940s, trash culture rose to prominence and displaced aristocratic idealism as the central mass. This decade has seen heavy government intervention cause slow reverses in some of these trends, but the cycle of trash culture remains. To break it, each individual element must be resisted and greater levels of general education must be reached.
Text taken from "Binge Drinking and Pub Culture (UK)" by Vexen Crabtree (2015).
In 1998 the UK government reported that 40 000 deaths per year are alcohol-related6. Per-capita consumption of alcohol in the UK has doubled since the late 1950s, whilst in other developed countries such as France and Italy, it has more than halved7. The price of alcohol, in real terms, is half what it was in the 1970s7. Between 1995 and 2001, binge drinking increased by 35% in the UK7. Despite government efforts to reduce excessive drinking, according to the NHS "hundreds more" children are admitted to hospital after drinking [in 2005] than five years ago, diagnosed with alcohol poisoning and "behavioural disorders because of excessive drinking"8: In 2009 this was confirmed by "an OECD report identifying its teenagers as the world's drunkest, among other dubious accolades"9. Death rates from cirrhosis, primarily caused by excessive drinking, "the increase is reflected in rising death rates from chronic liver disease, the primary cause of which is too much drink. In the 30 years between 1970 and 2000, death by cirrhosis for people aged 25 to 44 rose an astonishing 900%, from about 80 cases a year to more than 700".7.
Alcohol-related crime commands the single biggest use of police manpower in the UK and alcoholism and binge drinking is by far the biggest social problem that British society faces. UK holidaymakers and football fans abroad are bemoaned as the most drunken and most unruly of all foreign travellers. It disgraces the UK; other European countries such as Italy and France have no such problems. Binge drinking is not only a problem acknowledged by health and government officials, but it is also something they think all citizens ought to be warned about... its definition appears in the UK Citizenship Test lexicon's list of words that immigrants ought to learn10.
Alcohol, irresponsible behaviour, crime and all the other factors of trash culture are all inter-related. Sociologists sometimes classify households according to the wages of the principal income earner of the house; "lower social groups tend to smoke more, drink more, take less leisure, fewer holidays and participate less in voluntary work"8. There is an association between poverty and drinking, but also between drinking and smoking, and between drinking and all the other aspects of trash culture.
England has one of the highest smoking rates in Europe. Eire banned smoking in all public places and the first commercial culprit was hit hardest: Pubs. Recent Labour government curbs on smoking, including advertising bans, compulsory health warnings, stricter controls on the minimum age for purchasing nicotine products have all reduced smoking levels, but it is still a major problem and further measures are constantly being considered. Trash culture is short-sighted and compulsive; it is unable to control itself and does not want to. Peer pressure has reduced sensible behaviour to the point where the government has needed to step in; such is the all-pervading nuisance of mass stupidity. Much of the following is duplicated on:
Smoking costs Britain - there is no benefit of smoking. Smokers lack self-control and are selfish, draining the country of resources and health because of their own inability to consider the effects of smoking socially or personally. They are inconsiderate towards those who care about themselves who of course do not want to see their health suffer.
“The Health Education Authority refers to the current situation as 'the smoking epidemic' and estimates that smoking is responsible for approximately 110 000 deaths a year. This amounts to roughly 17 per cent of all deaths. Some 285 000 people are admitted to hospital because of smoking and on average occupy 9500 hospital beds. The total cost of smoking to the National Health Service is £437 million.”
"Britain's Population: Demographic Issues in Contemporary Society"
Stephen Jackson (1998)11
While Jackson (1998) states above that there are approximately 110 000 deaths a year from smoking, the Secretary of State for Health (1998) states a slightly worse 120 00012. It is evident that the social conditions that lead to this kind of short-term, short-sighted attitude to health is demographically linked to the under-educated, less-intelligent portions of the population.
“Patterns of smoking vary significantly between different social groups. Approximately 15 per cent of professionals smoke in comparison to over 40 per cent of unskilled manual workers.”
"Britain's Population: Demographic Issues in Contemporary Society"
Stephen Jackson (1998)13
Smoking is intertwined deeply with trash culture. It is more common amongst unskilled and manual workers, prevails among "less educated" individuals14, and is associated with poverty. If you smoke, you are more likely to drink. If you smoke or drink, you are also more likely to do drugs. This is the result of the 1999 publication from the Office for National Statistics entitled "Smoking, drinking and drug use among young teenagers in 1998". A key factor of trash culture is that it is self-promoting. Once trash habits become accepted, they spread themselves. This entire culture is itself a harmful disease.
Amongst young teenagers, "the likelihood of having ever used drugs is strongly related to smoking experience: 63% of regular smokers had used drugs, compared with only 1% of those who had never smoked". With drinking the statistics are also similar and cyclic: 44% of young teenagers who drink also get involved in drugs, compared with only 1% of children who don't drink. And importantly, in case it is doubted that all these factors propagate one another, "virtually no children who had never smoked or drunk had ever used drugs".
The key for parents and teenagers is to delay drinking and smoking until children are older. This usually means giving up themselves, especially in front of their children.
So far we have seen that smoking, drinking and immature drug use have all gone hand in hand. The evidence is social, but there is also direct biological links between smoking and trash culture that transcend social factors, as reported in the British Medical Journal (2005)15:
If a mother smokes 20 or more cigarettes a day during late pregnancy, their child will have reduced IQ by an average of 6.2 points.
Smoking's "adverse effect on the central nervous system and brain may be a factor" which "may explain why smoking during pregnancy has also been linked to behavioural problems and increased risk of criminality in offspring"
This direct link is part of the self-propagation of the irresponsible and short-sighted aspects of trash culture. What is more is that the effect of smoking takes place across all income classes. It affects the children of professionals as much as the children of the unemployed: Money cannot make up for the loss accrued from smoke (and passive smoking) during pregnancy.
In youthful trash culture, intelligence is attacked. In pubs, intelligent conversation is frowned upon, scorned, laughed at and sought for as a target for ridicule. That mainstream culture rejects better people is not new, but the depths to which this has permeated British culture is the principal dangerous aspect of trash culture. Mature relationships, long-term planning, health, fitness, responsible living and all other personal endeavours are scoffed at. It is a mass reaction against anything elitist, so much so that intelligent culture has abandoned large swathes of the country, retreating into sidelined subcultures. The youthful short-term wish-fulfillment of trash culture has become the accepted norm.
Jeremy Paxman (1998)16 charts the modern British rejection of intelligence. Intellectuals, once respected, now hide. Across British lands we distrust, ridicule and dislike them. It is an odd and disappointing loss, in a country responsible for the foundation of so much of Western academia! The only consolation is that we are still endowed with common sense; the ordinary Brit is resourceful even whilst ignorant.
As a result of the lack of understanding of issues and facts, the populace hold "ideals", meaning thinking, to be useless. Debate of ideas is frowned upon, distrusted and disliked. The rejection of intellectual methods of debate, argument and active learning are all rejected; instead it has become taboo to question peoples' opinions and beliefs on issues. Frank Furedi writes insightfully that "a strong argument has been redefined as a form of mental intimidation", I quote him in full below. This modern trend is also eating away at the superiority of British Universities, the once-bastions of worldly knowledge and wisdom!
“British universities encourage academics to ban an 'adversarial' style of debate from the seminar rooms and provide a 'supportive environment' for students. A strong argument has been redefined as a form of mental intimidation. Such attitudes are even more in evidence on American campuses. 'Debate has gotten a very bad name in our culture', notes Jeff Nunokawa, a professor of English at Princeton University. '[I]t's become synonymous with some of the most non-intellectual forms of bullying, rather than as an opportunity for deliberative democracy.'
Given the extent to which the authority of knowledge has been devalued, the negative connotations acquired by conflict of opinion and heated debate are entirely understandable. With so little at stake, what's the point of arguing? If ideas have such little consequence, insistence of one's point of view appears as pig-headedness and bad manners. Criticizing someone else's ideas is readily interpreted as ego-tripping or as an act of insensitivity, while the very act of questioning someone's view can appear as a personal insult. 'It's as though there's no distinction between the person and the argument, as though to criticize an argument would be injurious to the person', observes Amanda Anderson, an English professor at Johns Hopkins University.”
It is not only the University academia that has become loathed, but also the authority of scientific knowledge. Hughes and Fergusson, two sociologists with the Open University, write that although the notion of an authority figure of knowledge & intellect was respected and trusted, nowadays their wisdom is not appreciated by UK society18. They say in the UK that "we have become progressively disenchanted with those who claim to be grand 'experts', especially those that rely upon the authority of science to back up their claims". The anti-intellect and anti-responsibility auras of popular culture both combine to form a particularly ignorant form of science-blindness amongst masses of the population.
More humorously, in the light hearted "How to be an Alien" George Mikes says that "in England it is bad manners to be clever, to assert something confidently. It may be your own personal view that two and two make four, but you must not state it in a self-assured way, because this is a democratic country and others may be of a different opinion"19.
British youths in particular (not so much older people) are very fashion-conscious. As in history, cliques are largely identified by fashion. The worrying thing in trash culture is that others are actively hated for dressing differently. Whereas in other cultures differences are accepted as part of the natural order of society, in trash culture only the "in" styles of dress are seen as "normal". Toleration extends to business suits only through pragmatism, but stops short of anything else. So, those who wear foreign dress, religious dress, the alternative dress of subcultures, etc, are all actively sought out as victims. This problem persists as much in rural areas as it does in urban ones. Although not unique to trash culture, this style of shallow intolerance is notable for its deeper ignorance than is usual. Thankfully, this particular aspect does seem to reduce with age, so that it is worse with the youths.
Three generations of trash culture have existed since its rise to prominence after World War 2, and many of its anti-intellectual youths institutionalized the culture. It is now the only known culture for most of Britain. Uneducated adults of the first wave have produced an entrenched system of family-based and local systems of ignorance. Adults with racist, stupid, ignorant and short-sighted emotional goals pass on all their mistakes to their children. It has become self-sustaining, so that the children in such families are not pressurized into becoming more developed, intelligent adults. In fact that type of future is actively discouraged. Only the most unique children break free; as such trash culture has become the default from which escape is necessary: it is no longer a potential trap to fall into, but a central culture to be actively fought out of. It is socially institutionalized. Since the 1960s there have been no more English gentlemen20. Once we were the elite of Europe... now we're ignorant enough to reject and hate Europe; causing it to hate us, against its nature, in return.
Something has gone wrong with the British educational system, and it is probably trash culture itself that has caused the problems. Children are coming into the schooling system completely undisciplined, uneducated and unsocialized. Many parents are failing to teach children some of the basics, relying completely on schools for all their child's education and forgetting their own duties. Teachers are having to double-up as crowd-control agents and triple-up as moral teachers, with a healthy dose of self defence training proving itself useful too.
The peer pressure to conform to the negatives of trash culture is powerful; the combination of thrill-seeking, lazy thinking and irresponsibility combine with social pressure to form an almost irresistible force. For example children are given by their parents, "crisps and chocolate for school breaks to prevent peer ridicule", according to a study in the Midlands21. Ill health, obesity and lack of exercise are three things that also dim intellectual health. A physically fit body has biochemical advantages for the brain. But, the irresponsibility and stupidity of trash culture effect parents, so that the entire lifestyle of their children is permitted to go down the drain.
These children in turn appear more likely to fail to educate their children, therefore perpetuating a cycle from which people escape only in ones and twos. Multiple attempts to reform schooling have not been successful and the government is reluctant to be seen to be interfering in parenting. An entire culture change is required.
The decline of several major industries in the UK and the dismantling of the Empire left a country with fundamental holes in its social fabric. This, as much as the trash culture that rose to fill the space, caused the occurrence of petty crime at the same levels as seen in other modern industrial countries. Traditionally (they say) a more dutiful country of obedient citizens; the British lost their code of honour. Petty crime, robbery, street crime and the likes are a part of all major cities, but it seems it is made doubly worse by the pervading drunken, short-sighted trash culture; and such a behaviour is learned and therefore runs in families22. A culture of anti-police and anti-authoritarianism exists where criminals are all but encouraged. This was apparent in the nineteenth century when professional police forces were gradually being created across Europe and it was the British who protested most loudly; Britain came to lag behind Europe in the effectiveness of the judiciaries and in civilities23. Small-time benefit fraud has become a norm in all poverty-stricken families as the short-term, muddled minds of the mainstream populace fail to see the long-term consequences of social misbehaviour. Selfishness and irresponsible behaviour extends to both the criminal and innocent sides of pub culture.
The British public are infamous for their violent behaviour, but it is only really the central trash culture that acts it out. The pub-centered socializing breeds violence and destructive aggression. Nearly all outbursts of family violence occur in houses where the pub is the principal port of call; and most domestic incidents are reported to occur whilst the aggressor is under the influence of drink. Violent crime is not notably bad in the UK, but it is part-and-parcel of the unwise, thrill-seeking masses.
The UK is a notable exception to the generally multicultural style of Europe. Despite being a very mixed country (London is the most diverse city on Earth) the central popularist culture of the UK is very intolerant of foreign-looking things. Different styles of dress, customs, religions and accents are all cruelly stereotyped especially by some 'trashy' and very popular news outlets. Over the last few decades such overt racism has mostly made itself absent, and things are getting better. Focal points of expressions of xenophobia are pubs and football matches, the two greatest shrines of trash culture.
“Opinion polls consistently show that Britons are concerned about immigration, which they think is running out of control. [...] Television images of Afghans pouring into the Channel Tunnel particularly offended the island mentality. For the last three years, fewer would-be refugees have made it to Britain, thanks to better border security [...]. The number of asylum-seekers is now the lowest it has been for more than a decade. Oddly, though, public disquiet is as strong as ever.”
An Ipsos Mori poll in the summer of 2013 found that across multiple areas of popular opinion, including such hot topics as crime, benefit fraud and immigration, public opinion was in sync with the sensationalist headlines of cheap newspapers, rather than in sync with reality. People think that recent immigrants make up an astounding one third of the population (in reality, it is 13%). Non-whites are thought to make up 30% of the population. The reality is that only 11% of the British population is Asian or black. A few popularist media outlets - and pseudo-documentaries - have concentrated on the "waves" of immigrants who come to the UK in order to claim benefits, even though the vast majority come here to work, and go home when they're done (just as us Brits do when we work abroad). "The public think that £24 of every £100 of benefits is fraudulently claimed. Official estimates are that just 70 pence in every £100 is fraudulent". Across the board, people blame 'foreigners' for financial and social woes in a way that is often not actually racist, but is certainly very uninformed - and misinformed. They think that foreign aid is one of the top 3 three things the government spends money on - after a long series of misleading articles by the Daily Mail newspaper - and several anti-foreigner parties have campaigned with the policy that this has to end. But in reality, foreign aid makes up 1.1% of the budget, and lots of that goes to countries where we have a national interest in fostering stability anyway. These things really ought to be no issue at all, but numbers get inflated along with people's concerns and biases.
Countries such as Denmark, Finland and Sweden all accept a higher rate of asylum seekers than the UK and yet these countries do not have the problems that many in the UK complain about. Denmark's rate of 74% makes our 43% look positively timid. Although papers such as the Daily Mail make it seem otherwise, the influx of Asylum Seekers is very low compared with skilled and employed immigrants. Some single-issue parties make themselves popular purely on an anti-immigration and anti-foreigner stance.
Irresponsible popular newspapers such as The Daily Mail and The Sun have led long campaigns, resulting in widespread misconceptions and hostility to Europe, even though neither "troubles to keep a staff correspondent in Brussels" to see what is going on there. As a result of British prickliness "many EU countries are fed up with Britain and especially, with the Tories". In a democratic institution involving so many countries the only way to get what you want is to compromise, so senior Conservative leaders have expressed hope for a more harmonious relationship, including Mr Cameron and William Hague.25
“Why is the Tory party so Eurosceptic? One answer is that it reflects public opinion. So the real question should be why so many of the British (and more specifically, the English) are so hostile to the European project. Eurobarometer polls consistently put Britain at or near the bottom of the heap in answers to such questions as whether EU membership is a good thing or how much trust people have in the EU institutions. The explanation for such views is to be found partly in the country's geography and history, partly in its experience as a member and partly in ignorance and prejudice. [...] Making things worse is a profound ignorance of what the EU does and how it works.”
One effect, because of the sensationalism of the press, is a massive exaggeration in the popular mind of how many EU immigrants there are in the UK. Even those who accept and embrace the EU (i.e. 'Remain' voters in the 2016 referendum) think there are twice as many EU immigrants as there really are:
Source: Ipsos MORI poll (2016)26
Europhobia is a compound effect of various elements of trash culture combined: xenophobia, adult ignorance, distrust of intellectuals and reliance on poor sources of news on politics.
There is a massive market for mass media products aimed at the low-attention-span trash culture types. Male-dominated trashy tabloids depict female nudes, fictional short stories of the most banal and stupid kind, advice columns designed to shock rather than educate, and news stories that are widely known to be entertaining rather than true. The Sun, The Star, The Daily Sport, for example, are three of most popular "news" papers, and almost entirely devoted to the decadent content just mentioned. Television has become the resident priest of Trash, nearly all programs cater for people with short-attention spans. Adverts are quick and shocking, programs are simplistic and moronic. Although more educated content exists it is unpopular. Thankfully the government takes a strong hand in monitoring domestic channels for content and worth, otherwise I suspect local TV would be almost entirely lost to stupidity & contentless trashy entertainment.
British soap operas are famously violent, angry, shocking, melancholic tragedies depicting casts of characters that are all stupid, short-sighted, emotionally-challenged failures who seem allergic to honest, good relationships and intellectual pursuits. The masses are taught every way to fail a relationship and shown none of the compassions or developed attitudes expected of responsible adult relations. Petty crime, short-tempers and stupidity on the TV soaps reflect perfectly the mentality of trash culture, the self-perpetuating cause-and-affect cycle of this coupling is hard to break without serious top-down change.
I had the opportunity to discuss trash culture with a Captain in the British Army, and she informed me of her own pet term for the movement, calling it "trisha culture" after a popular dramatic chat show.
This section is a full extract from Football and Hooliganism in British Trash Culture.
Football is an institutionalized sport in Britain. Major matches are almost national holidays, with employees and their bosses finding ways to, almost religiously, watch the game live. It is the trademark of English yob culture, but suffers from long-standing negative associations with rowdy and antisociable behaviour27. Our fans are the most violent, least respectful, most disruptive and worst behaved in the world. It seems that it attracts the worst types of people, frequently sending them abroad en masse, crowding them together in the worst possible ways. But worse of all the culture around football doesn't only attract these personality types, it seems to develop them. It has become a self-indulgent sport of national moral decadence; around football you will find the worst violence, hatred, racism, xenophobia and homophobia. The most ignorant people will be commended in their stupidity, the entire culture of football is the tallest tower that trash culture can manufacture. The attitudes surrounding football have become an ugly monstrosity that overshadows what would otherwise be a sport concentrated on tremendous skill. But English trash culture, stupid, irresponsible, uncaring and violence, has made this sport its mascot and its primary recruiting ground. English youths are pressurized into football culture by peer pressure as much as they are sucked into trash culture; the two are both symptoms and causes of an inherently dysfunctional central-mass of the English populace.
Major international distrust of the UK, and our culture, comes from our pitiful public displays during football matches, especially abroad.
Jeremy Paxman is only stating obvious and well-known cases when he spends multiple pages listing the atrocious activities of British hooligans abroad and at home, fighting with visiting fans. "The English Problem is the hooligan problem"29. Amongst the horrifying events he iterates is one in the summer of 1985 May, "when a major disturbance between Liverpool and Juventus fans left nearly forty Italians dead on the pitch". Drunken English youths throw chairs, stones and anything, at anyone, especially at opposing fans, shops and police. No other country has fans that act in the same league as ours".
Our good-natured fans do little or nothing to restrict the bad ones; football culture is beyond repair, an international bother, an embarrassment, and no-one has the societal know-how to do anything about it. Clearly the "scum of the Earth" lowest-of-the-low recruits that were once indulged to join the Army have now found a new societal outlet: Football, under the protection of trash culture, is Britain's belated Hitler Youth movement.
“In Turin in the late 1980s, the writer Bill Buford watched with horror as a group of bloated Manchester United football fans staggered off the aircraft that had brought them from England [...]. The fans colonized the town center, sitting in their tattoos in sidewalk cafes singing "Fuck the Pope" over and over again, occasionally getting up to piss in the street. And that was when they were being well behaved, and not attacking the 'fuckin' eyeties' with sticks, knives or bottles. [...] Certainly, you don't expect to find plane-loads of Italians pouring into the centre of London and behaving in a similar fashion. [...] In Sardinia for the 1990 World Cup, Bill Buford watched as a mass of English football hooligans fought a pitched battle with the Italian police. [...]
The problem is not exclusively English - Dutch and German fans have developed their own versions of the sickness in which puffy-faced young thugs proclaim their loyalty by kicking or stoning anyone who speaks a different language or wears different colours. But the truth is that the English gave the world soccer. They also gave it hooliganism.”
Less serious than that is simple football mania. Charlotte Church, singer, said "I just can't stand the UK's obsession with football. It's on the telly all the time. Saying that, I'd be the first to admit David Beckham really is very gorgeous. But men who talk football, football and nothing else - no thanks! They're such a bore"4. The television, largely catering for trash culture types, but especially pubs that show all football matches, have created classes of people who drink, eat, talk and sleep football. It forms a barrier against friendly social contact with non-fans in the same way you can't really talk to a raving fundamentalist Christian about anything else other than his own strong opinions. Socially, it causes alienation of the British public that so many of us are football mad, especially when the very same people are frequently the ones to deride USA patriotism... they don't see their own fandom as the same thing, the same personality trait that sweeps up fans into aggressive fanhood also whips many Americans into fervent and unreasonable patriotism. Football is the UK's answer to patriotism, the only problem is that those involved don't admit it is the same thing as the USA's.
The 2015 Feb Paris Incident
In 2015 Feb, an incident in Paris saw a large number of English football fans chanting Chelsea football slogans, and, shouting racist chants, and comments about World War 2 that were probably anti-French27. They forcibly ejected a black man from the carriage when he tried, twice, to enter, and prevented another black woman from entering. The scene was caught on camera by another Briton at the station who described the yobs at the "ugly scene" to be "very aggressive"27 and it was widely reported in the News in France and the UK, causing much embarrassment for the British public as a whole. Together, the British crowd sung "We´re racist, we´re racist and that´s the way we like it"27,31.
Josh Parsons posing with Nigel Farage, leader of the
anti-foreigner UKIP party, 4 months beforehand31
Josh Parsons (21) and Mitchell McCoy are two of the chanting thugs who have been identified. Mitchell has tried to defend the crowd, making the excuse that the train was crowded and so they saw to it that no more people got on. But this hardly explains the racist chanting, in English, on a French train. "At the time of the incident, McCoy sent a number of tweets which he later deleted, including one which read: Our captain is a racist a racist a racist and that is why we love him we love him we love him"31. Both identified thugs are supporters of UKIP, a toxic single-issue political party that campaigns against foreigners in the UK. These two young men and their chanting friends no doubt complain loudly about antisocial foreigners coming to the UK and not speaking English. The racism, attitude and chanting are abhorrent and hypocritical, and everyone involved and all those that know them should forcefully tell them what a national embarrassment they are.
Source: BBC (2007)33
All modern countries have been witness to a gradual improvement in health, as huge amounts of research and development have been put into medical services, as well as comprehensive and careful regulation of toxic materials, product safety and workplace risks. In the face of this, a new generation of complacent and daft adults has arisen, who are addicted to poor lifestyle choices, trusting that the state, that the welfare system, will look after them. Mentally, it is a childish and irresponsible approach to life: rather than control their own desires, they simply expect others' hard work, via taxes, to pay for their own sustenance. I am talking about, of course, the massive wave of obesity that has swept across the UK. The rate of increase (see the graph) makes it clear that the increase is not genetic. It is cultural. It is down to poor parenting, followed up by continued poor choices amongst adults.
The effects are wide-ranging - the costs of the NHS are skyrocketing, with obesity, and its associated diseases, being one of the major drains of resources. Not only that, but there is an overall economic impact due to lost work hours and productivity. The British Army has to recruit an increasing number of soldiers from abroad - from Fiji, Nepal and Ghana: Michael Yardley in "The Oxford History of the British Army" by Becket and Chandler (1994) writes that "entrants from abroad tend to be mentally and physically tougher than locally harvested recruits and highly motivated to boost their skills and academic qualifications" and that local British Army recruits tends to be "not as tough" as previous generations, they are "soft" and "couch potatoes"34.
As obesity rises, there are a whole suite of physical jobs for which British natives are becoming unsuitable. Workers imported from elsewhere in Europe are physically fit, motivated, and much more likely simply to get on with it, unlike the 'couch potatoes' mentioned by Michael Yardley.
We have seen that smoking, drinking, drugs, low intelligence and other symptoms of trash culture are not only prevalent amongst the same groups of people, but that they all act as factors in each other's propagation. This is what the sociologists Boreham & Blenkinsop published as a result of their survey of 10000 secondary school children (aged 11-15, in school years 7 to 11) carried out on behalf of the Department of Health by the National Center for Social Research and the National Foundation for Educational Research. The use of multiple substances; cigarettes, alcohol, cannabis, volatile substances and class A drugs, were all found to be individually related to each other (ch. 9). Peer-pressure plays an undisputed role. Of pupils who had taken drugs in the past year (30% of all children), only 8% said none of their friends did. In other words, amongst users, 92% had friends who had also used.
“All correlations were statistically significant and positive, thus pupils who had recently taken one of these substances were more likely than pupils who had not to have taken each of the other substances. [...] Pupils who had ever played truant were considerably more likely than those who had not to have taken drugs in the last month (38% compared with 7%), to be a regular smoker (33% compared with 4%) and to have drunk alcohol in the last week (52% compared with 19%). Similar patterns were found for pupils who had ever been excluded.”
"Drug use, smoking & drinking among young people in England in 2003"
Boreham & Blenkinsop (2004)35
All the elements above are causes and effects of trash culture. To definitively sort out the causes from the symptoms of cultural change is impossible. One cause/symptom is the simple fact that the length of TV adverts and popular music has reduced. Adverts are shorter, pop music tracks are shorter, public entertainment is briefer. In addition, thrills are quicker, cheaper and simpler. Do all these things shrink because our attention span is decreasing, or, does the production of cheaper, quicker thrills cause attention spans to decrease? Intelligent music; classical, intelligent "upper-class" entertainment such as theatre, intelligent movies (not mindless ones), radio, all require greater patience and calm intellect to be enjoyed. It is very hard to point to which elements of pop culture are causing trash culture elements and which are causes of it.
Does a decreasing sophistication of the arts and public entertainment cause the short-attention-span mentality, or is it simply that those with short attention spans or low intellect are now given an entertainment that suits them and keeps them occupied? Is it that there has always been a trash culture at the center of every social empire, and now in the West we have simply given them centre stage? Or is it that the pandering to our stupid sides (commercialism and crowd control) creates more stupid behaviour, in a self-perpetuating cycle?
The answer must be both: There is always a mass of people that are stupid, inferior, who are suited to trash entertainment. There is also a superior element in society who are simply bored by the stupid entertainment offered to these people. There may also be a central intermediate mass who can be swayed either way. This is the classical case in all groupings of people; the same Venn split occurs everywhere. That there is a central mass tells me one thing: That trash culture should be oppressed, suppressed and controlled more rigidly in order to bring enlightenment and improvement to this central mass, and maybe even to phase out and gradually decrease as much of the hardcore trash-culture victims as possible.
By other names, trash cultures have existed as part of all major empires and nations. At the heart of the waning Roman Empire was a decadent culture of thrills, where a growing cancerous trash culture flourished. Once the Empire was rich and powerful enough a mass of people could get by without skills, work, education or intelligence. Without the quality control of constant strife, the Roman Empire didn't have the infrastructure to prevent inner rot from melting away previous superiority of organisation, intelligence, strength, etc. This was not a corruption of power, but simply a loss of vitality that was not controlled. It needed to be controlled centrally by government, but the government itself came subject to the decay. As the Roman Empire died, the masses converted to intolerance and ignorance more than ever before. The same core of moronic masses exist everywhere. It is human nature.
If democracy is to work, the electorate need to be informed decisions and evidence-based decisions37. Too often, mass delusion overwhelms good sense. Such problems undermined several early attempts at democracy in Europe in the 18th century38. Founding thinkers such as Aristotle, Fortescue and Machiavelli taught that deliberation (which requires intelligence and knowledge) is a key aspect of democracy39. It is sensible to argue that if you don't understand a topic then you shouldn't vote on it40. But the problem is, many do vote on issues based purely on sound-bites, one-liners, sensationalist newspaper stories and anecdotal evidence41. A "race to the bottom" condition is created whereby parties come into power based on who has the most pithy reactionary statements rather than who has the best policies42.
Such are the issues referred to when commentators worry about "post-truth politics". In a world where reality-TV is orders of magnitude more popular than politician's policies most news reporting centres on interpersonal battles that ought to be kept private. News outlets report trash because it sells; and politics continues a nosedive into rash popularism. If the populace do not soon began to vote with deliberation, then, the entire democratic project runs the risk of failure41.”
In the past of the British Empire, mainstream society comprised of the educated classes who could afford education, the many who were intelligent but had access to no education, and the stupid masses. When people today reminisce about a past where education was much better, they are missing the fact that there has always been a terrible, seething mass of stupid and uneducatable untermensch. It is merely that now, this is what we now call trash culture, and it has risen to claim the central spotlight whereas previously due to an enforced inferiority complex, the entire mass of people was ignored. Nowadays the history books include these people, but historically they've been ignored. The upper-class represented the country and controlled the media. Now, trash culture has taken that control. The non-trash, academic cultures and great people, have now all lost the ability to claim their superiority. It has become taboo to be "better" than other people!
This taboo and humble disability has let trash culture take over mass entertainment. A subculture that deems delinquency acceptable contributes to youth conduct disorder43. The government in a democracy bows to public pressure, it rules in ways that public do not understand and takes into account factors that the public are too stupid to consider. In short, the government rules by stealth. People vote on the most simple, stupid, irrelevant things, and in short the government runs one campaign for the masses, and one for the intelligent. It is the campaign for the masses that brings most votes. It is no longer respectable for the government to claim, as it could do, that its members are better educated than most and actually do know what is best, unlike the mass population who have little appreciation of the concerns a modern government faces! As it has become disrespectable to point out that "I'm cleverer than you", modern democratic governments have made themselves incapable of dealing with trash culture in an honest way.
“If the masses are stupid, democracy doesn't work. The government has to rule by stealth, tricking the people through things that merely sound good but in intelligent society promoting and doing things that are good, or democracy shoots itself in its foot and causes the downfall of the nation into an anarchic mess. Shallow policies do not make for good government, but, most stupid people vote on shallow issues. The solution is to trick the stupid people into voting for you or to educate them. A good-intentioned deception is nearly always much easier and will never be dispensed with, the only alternative is to restrict voting for uneducated people. This is the dilemma of modern Western democracy!”
The Institute for Public Policy Research report 2007 warns that "British adults are becoming afraid of trying to curb out-of-control youngsters. We are less likely than our European counterparts to confront teenagers about antisocial behaviour and vandalism."1. What is needed is a strong movement of anti-stupidity preachers and teachers, philosophers and writers, all to encourage the active recognition and condemnation of trash culture for what it is. Pupils in schools should be taught how to think critically and not to follow others mindlessly. Independent minded youths are less influenced by peers to take substances44. But this campaign must be done without invoking images of class warfare (which it is definitely not - the upper class have a fair share of drunken idiots too). Increased intelligence and education are what make democracy worthwhile. If the population in stupid, democracy shoots itself in the foot as government becomes disabled as people vote on shallow issues, not important ones. As people do not understand politics or worldwide issues, science or sociology, so the "concerns" of the vote become worryingly vapid. This can only be countered by active campaigns making it, once again, a matter of public pride to be intelligent. This, in short, means destroying the social acceptance that trash culture has gained.
Britain now (2006) has some of the toughest anti-social behaviour laws in Europe.
“Since coming to power in 1997, the Labour government has forged more than a dozen legal weapons to combat the petty incivilities that are thought to corrode society. They range from on-the-spot fines to "dispersal orders", which can be used to expel people from designated areas, to ASBOs.”
These are described simultaneously as "unusually tough powers" for a government to be allowed to pass, and part of the reason is that the anti-social 'hard line' is popular. Many people, even whilst participating in it, profess a belief that trash culture is bad for society, disturbs the peaceful life, and should be curbed by the government. As a result, as trash culture has become more assertive; spilling into the streets of adulthood rather than being confined to rebellious youths of the 1970s, there is a constant feeling that something has to be done. As a street-level government, Labour is in touch with this movement and does indeed proceed to battle with trash culture. It has done pleasingly well; the Labour government has reversed the smoking trend, partially turning smokers into outcasts with all kinds of anti-public-smoking laws and regulations, and has run campaigns against obesity, even taking this campaign to the constitution of school meals. The Guardian, a top UK newspaper, reported that in 2006 that the "tide of binge drinking that threatened to engulf Britain has started to recede" amongst men and women over the last two years47 and in 2012 The Economist (2012)48 reported that some of strongest brands of beer have reduced their alcohol content from 5% to 4.8%. This is the biggest increase breweries thought they could get away with without consumers noticing, but, it is still a start!
Britain's level of education was once a proud symbol of civility; but after a century of stagnation, most of Europe (and the rest of the developed world) have greater levels and length of education. Although the rate of improvement would make a tortoise look like an Olympic sprinter, things are set to change, and the age at which people must be in education or training, is being increased from 16 to 18.
“The measure, announced in the Queen's speech on November 6th, reflects a determination to bring Britain into line with the rest of the developed world. [...] The plight of the so-called "NEETS" - young people not in education, employment or training - is another powerful reason to reform things. At any one time about 10% of those between 16 and 18 fall into this category. The 1% who stay in it for the whole two years are likely to end up among the long-term unemployed.
So from 2013 all 16-year-olds will have to spend at least 16 hours a week in education or work-based training. The only alternative will be working at least 20 hours and training in the classroom for just a day a week. These rules will be extended to 17-year olds in 2015.”
The government, and sociologists, are hopeful that public education and improved social policy can continue to reduce the harmful effects of trash culture, but the clash between sense and mindless hedonism is apparently an eternal one.
Current edition: 2004 Nov 26
Last Modified: 2016 Dec 08
Parent page: United Kingdom: National Successes and Social Failures
All #tags used on this page - click for more:
The Guardian. UK newspaper. See Which are the Best and Worst Newspapers in the UK?. Respectable and generally well researched UK broadsheet newspaper..
The Economist. Published by The Economist Group, Ltd. A weekly newspaper in magazine format, famed for its accuracy, wide scope and intelligent content. See vexen.co.uk/references.html#Economist for some commentary on this source..
Anderson, M S
(1985) The Ascendancy of Europe 1815-1914. Paperback book. 2nd edition. Published by Pearson Education Limited, Essex, UK. Anderson is Professor Emeritus of International History in the University of London and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.
Carroll, Robert Todd. (1945-2016). Taught philosophy at Sacramento City College from 1977 until retirement in 2007. Created The Skeptic's Dictionary in 1994.
(2011) Unnatural Acts: Critical Thinking, Skepticism, and Science Exposed!. E-book. Amazon Kindle digital edition. Published by the James Randi Educational Foundation.
(2002) Media Control: The Spectacular Achievement of Propaganda. Paperback book. 2nd edition. Originally published 1991. Current version published by Seven Stories Press, New York USA.
(2009) "The Worst of the Modern Mass Media" (2009). Accessed 2017 Apr 11.
(2015) "Alcohol: The Social & Medical Effects and How to Combat Misuse" (2015). Accessed 2017 Apr 11.
Davison & Neale
(1997) Abnormal Psychology. Hardback book. 7th edition. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Amazon link points to a newer edition than the one I've used here.
Hollin, Clive R.
(1989) Psychology and Crime. 2006 reprint. Published by Routledge. An introduction to criminological psychology.
(2013) Survey conducted for the Royal Statistical Society and King's College London, by Ipsos Mori. A phone survey of 1,1015 people. Reported in The Independent article "British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows" on 2013 Jul 09
(1998) Britain's Population: Demographic Issues in Contemporary Society. Published by Routledge.
(2000) Sword and Scales: An Examination of the Relationship Between Law and Politics. Paperback book. Published by Hart Publishing Ltd, Oxford, UK. Prof. Loughlin is Professor of Law at the University of Manchester, UK, and Professor of Public Law-elect at the London School of Economics & Political Science, UK.
(1970) How to be an Alien. Paperback book. Published by Penguin Books.
Office for National Statistics
"Smoking, drinking and drug use among young teenagers in 1998" (1999). Published by the Office for National Statistics, London, UK.
(1998) The English. Paperback book. Published by Penguin Books.
Secretary of State for Health
(1998) Our Healthier Nation: A Contract for Health. Government consultation paper presented to Parliament (CM3852).
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