A CLOCKWORK ORANGE BRITAIN
Friday February 15,2008
By Leo McKinstry
AS yet another innocent father is senselessly murdered by rampaging thugs laughing at the law, novelist Anthony Burgess’s nightmarish vision of ultraviolent youths has come disturbingly true.
Nick Baty was trying to be a good samaritan. On his way home from a night out near Bridgend, the 48-year-old was helping an injured man outside a nightclub when he was stamped on and kicked for no reason whatsoever. A few days ago his wife Lyn agreed to switch off the life support machine that had kept him alive but in a coma for a month.
His 12-year-old daughter Katy said: “Things like this just ruin families. This could have happened to anyone. It’s just shocking. My dad has been so brave all his life and he always tried to help people.”
It’s inconceivable that a man just trying to do his best to help someone in trouble can become yet another grim statistic in crime-ridden Britain. A 17-year-old youth from Bridgend has been charged with grievous bodily harm with intent. Police will consult with the Crown Prosecution Service about bringing a murder charge.
Dreadful stories like Nick’s have become all too common in recent years. And the more we read of them, the more a notorious series of images of wanton violence comes to mind.
High on drugs, a teenage brute and his gang of fellow thugs trap a homeless old man in a deserted underpass, then savagely attack him with chains and sticks.
After this act of barbarity, the leader takes his gang into a deserted building where they get into a fight with another group of delinquents. Having triumphed over their rival gang, they steal a car in celebration, drive into the countryside and descend on the isolated home of a writer and his wife. For nothing more than sadistic pleasure, the man is beaten, his wife raped.
This unspeakable tale of viciousness sounds as if it were committed on the streets of Britain last week. However, this episode is actually taken not from our modern reality but from cinematic fantasy.
The film A Clockwork Orange, directed by Stanley Kubrick and based on the 1962 novel by Anthony Burgess, caused outrage across the country when it was first released in 1971 because of its scenes of graphic cruelty and sexual degradation.
Set in a futuristic Britain of 1995, the story centres on the “ultraviolent” antics of a gang led by Alex DeLarge, so memorably played in the film by an unhinged Malcolm McDowell. Devoid of all morality, DeLarge’s only interests are rape, violence and music.
The movie caused such widespread revulsion that, a year after its release, Kubrick withdrew it from distribution and it was not shown in this country for another 27 years.
Tragically for our country, such senseless attacks on the innocent no longer exist just in the imaginations of gifted writers and film-makers. The terrifying visions of Burgess and Kubrick have become part of the fabric of our society.
The likes of DeLarge and his grisly crew can now be found in towns and cities throughout Britain, fuelled by drink and drugs, bent on nihilistic thuggery, glorying in violence for its own sake. As blood-soaked aggression spirals out of control, we are now sliding towards the anarchy of A Clockwork Orange in which even innocent passers-by are potential targets.
Only this week Gareth Avery, a plumber, 48, from Weston-Super-Mare, was beaten to a pulp by a gang who had been urinating his garden. Mr Avery suffered a broken jaw, fractured cheekbone, split forehead and other injuries after being repeatedly punched and kicked. So serious was the assault that he was actually left for dead.
And his experience is only the latest in a mounting catalogue of random violence. The killing of Garry Newlove, a devoted family man beaten to death outside his home, was another incident, as was the assault on Ernest Norton, 67, who was playing cricket with his son when he was stoned by a gang of juveniles and later died.
One particularly gruesome crime occurred recently in north London, when a teenage girl was repeatedly raped by a local gang and then had acid poured on her body to cover up DNA evidence.
There is a growing sense that we are forced to live with the menace of feral gangs who have no respect for anyone and sneer at the concept of the sanctity of life. Our descent into this bleak world inevitably prompts the question as to why our well-ordered, gentle society seems to have collapsed so rapidly.
There are those voices of the Left that claim the perception of rising violence is only a sign of media-manipulated panic and that we have always had teenage brutality in our midst. But all statistics show that violent crime has increased exponentially in Britain in recent decades, doubling since 1997 alone. Visitors to Britain in the Fifties would often comment on the peacefulness of the streets. No one would dream of doing so today.
The other myth put forward is that juveniles turn to savagery because of poverty or deprivation. But again, this is misguided. We have never had a more affluent society or a more generous welfare state. Teenagers today, even those from supposedly deprived backgrounds, are awash with consumer goods.
Equally fallacious is the tendency to heap all the blame on drugs or alcohol or violent computer games. Again, teenagers used to get drunk in the past or watch explicit films without resorting to murder. In any case, it is illegal for anyone under 18 to buy alcohol so we do not need more laws to stop youthful binge drinking. Similarly, drugs are still illegal. So we should just enforce the law as it stands.
Drinking and drug-taking are just symptoms of the problem. The real issue is the continuing moral collapse of Britain, a process that began in the Sixties and has accelerated ever since.
Before that sorry decade, British society was generally law-abiding, peaceable and secure because there was a universal moral code, based on ethics of Christianity. Families were generally strong so boys grew up in a disciplined environment headed by a masculine role model, while our civic institutions, led by the police, the courts, the Church and schools, were morally self-confident enough to tackle miscreants and instil a set of values in the young.
But all that has evaporated in the past 40 years. Authority, both in the home and in the public sphere, has collapsed.
The family is in crisis, with more than half of all children born outside wedlock. We have youngsters growing up who have never experienced any moral boundaries, living in households where instant gratification is the only ethic.
Furthermore the bloated welfare state has destroyed the work ethic, creating a vast sector of the population without any sense of self-responsibility or discipline.
Because of the dogma of Marxism, which now pervades all our civic bodies from universities to the police, juvenile thugs are treated as victims of oppression so they are given support rather than punishment. Delinquents, growing up without fathers and never properly challenged for their behaviour at school or on the street, receive the message that they can be rewarded for their criminality.
The cycle of violence therefore only intensifies, especially when the courts continually dish out meaningless sentences. The gang that attacked Ernest Norton, for instance, did not even receive a custodial sentence.
And what will happen to the thugs who days ago stabbed Joe Dinsdale to death yards from his home in Hull, or the two teenagers charged with murdering Evren Anil when he confronted them over dropping litter?
Anthony Burgess glimpsed this dark future when he wrote A Clockwork Orange and his vision was given extraordinary power by a similarly prescient Kubrick. The paradox is that the social revolution begun in the Sixties was carried through in the name of freedom. But thanks to the destruction of morality, we have never felt less free.
It is the spirit of Alex DeLarge that now governs our streets.