|The Decline and Fall of Excellence||N. G. Charnley observes the levelling down tendency at work in many places|
The Messiah of excellence has been persecuted by the scribes and pharisees of envy and mediocrity, and condemned to death. Moreover, anything that has as much as touched the hem of the robe of excellence has also been condemned and sacrificed to the false god of equality.
Envy is the driving force of this new religion of equality, envy that knows but never will admit that people are not equal in their abilities; envy that relentlessly and malignantly prosecutes its unholy cause through politics, through education, through the arts and in many areas elsewhere.
Envy in its many forms, it could be argued, makes an effective recruiting sergeant for most political systems. For instance, the communist covets his neighbour's ox; the socialist has no ox but hates anyone who has one; the capitalist covets all the oxen; the liberal treats the ox as his equal - as long as it does not covet his daughter. On the other hand, the nationalist will endeavour to see to it that everyone deserving of an ox shall have an ox.
Circa 1960, the axis of envy and mediocrity mobilised and declared war on excellence, with the first casualty being the BBC's Third Programme (now known as Radio 3). Although the Third was an exemplar in all that the present Radio 3 is not, it mustered barely a quarter of a million listeners. Broadcasters then spoke in perfect English with beautifully modulated voices, and were politely and deferentially, yet delightfully and disarmingly, formal - not, as now, patronisingly pally and ingratiatingly and distastefully familiar.
The assault on education
In the same decade, the equalisers infiltrated the field of education to hunt down excellence on a mission of search-and-destroy, Teachers who had swallowed whole the pernicious nonsense of Das Kapital, but had no more than nibbled at real English literature, began to 'harmonise' ability by teaching children that spelling, punctuation and grammar were 'elitist' stuff that only the bourgeoisie bothered about. The miasma of envy lay so dense in the dank educational hollows that some so-called teachers went as far as to reprimand parents for teaching their children to read, protesting that this gave the children and 'unfair advantage' over others.
Those children lucky enough to circumvent the comprehensive slough and stay on the straight and narrow of grammar and assisted-places schools found further perils waiting for them at the colleges and universities. These also had been infected by the bug of equality, and began to 'harmonise' exam marks by robbing bright Peter to pay dim Paul.
A.N. Wilson, the novelist and columnist, was formerly a tutor at Oxford University, and in his column in the Evening Standard told of one of his students who could not use the dictionary because she had not learnt the alphabet, incredible though it may seem. This implies that just about anybody can bluff his way into a university in the prevailing climate of equality. One so-called 'university' is even offering a degree course in the intellectually demanding discipline of darts! Will this subject be a branch of the humanities or of the sciences? Will the graduate in it be a BSc, a BA or merely a waster of taxpayers' money?
Every ridiculous Dotheboys Hall has now gathered unto itself the undeserved title of 'university'. If the equalisers continue to have their way, every young person shall attend one of these pretentious seats of 'learning', where he or she will read such enlightening subjects as darts, sociology, keeping gerbils in a council flat, the life and times of Coronation Street, the ascent of the couch potato, the decline and fall of real ale, and heaven knows what other nonsense - labouring all the while under the delusion that he or she consorts with 'higher education'.
A moment's study of the Stanford-Binet graph of the distribution of intelligence will convince all but the closed-minded zealots of equality that only about seventeen suitors in every hundred are worthy of the hand of higher education. The also-rans, with little or no academic ability, are constrained to effect more morganatic unions with that intellectual lady in one or another of the simulacra, attending such functions as remedial classes and lectures from marxist tutors until such time as baccalaureates as worthless as Honours are handed out.
Degeneration of politics
What little remains of the spirit of excellence in politics is being slowly but surely exorcised. The House of Lords, that Maginot Line of moderation and common sense that stands between the people and the wanton excesses and treachery of their elected representatives lies under attack from socialist envy, which, as with General Mola, has a fifth column already within the House. Many of the members of the Lower House are undesirables, and it would, I submit, be much more edifying to political life and beneficial to the nation as a whole for us to be rid of the turbulent Commons.
The hereditary Peers did not push themselves forward to gain powerful sinecures, nor did they trick us into the EU. Nor need they fear the fickle voter, who before a general election leans one way in the cold wind of a rise in the interest rates, and then quite the other in the warm breeze of thawing taxes. The Peers take no bribes for asking loaded questions in the House, nor do they need to weigh party interests, as members of the Commons constantly do, against those of the nation as a whole.
Corruption of the arts
In their fervour to burn the heretic of excellence at the stake, the witch-hunters of mediocrity have not overlooked the arts. They have fomented a latter-day peasants' revolt by encouraging a plethora of Plebeian publications purporting to be 'poetical' works, to be perpetrated on the unsuspecting public in paperback and even in hardback. The odious Channel Four held a poetry competition which a black girl won with the most appalling piece of gibberish in 'Rap' style. This was only to be expected of the equalisers, who, for their subversive reasons, champion: writing that flagrantly disregards the rules of grammar; writing that lurches unintelligibly from one miss-spelt word to the next; writing that has never heard of literary devices (and there are many); writing that has never made the acquaintance of rhyme or rhythm; writing that strives to express its trivial ideas with the fluency of a drunken man newly deprived of his tongue, and then calls itself 'poetry'.
In promoting the interests of mediocrity, the Arts Council finds itself at liberty to disburse large sums of taxpayers', and recently of Lottery, money to charlatans, who then add insult to injury by perpetrating upon the hapless taxpayers such works of art as randomly piled bricks (which may be seen on any building or demolition site) and gory anatomical sections of butchered cattle (which may be seen in any filthy slaughterhouse during opening hours.
The said Arts Council - over which governments maintain they have no control or influence - is in effect the secret agency, the MI6, of the egalitarian movement, commissioned expressly to fatten the golden calf of mediocrity and starve the messiah of excellence to death.
In the attempt to assume an air of respectability, the forces of envy and mediocrity have formalised their union and live together in the house of Political Correctness, from whence they have preached to and converted many of the feeble-minded and the spiritually halt and lame. If Britain's attenuated heritage of greatness is to be restored before it vanishes for ever, this house must be burnt to the ground and the ashes scattered in the bracing winds of patriotism and nationalism.