After spending a year across the pond in America, when I returned home to Britain, I was pleasantly surprised to find the streets of towns, cities, and villages decorated in union flags, with shop windows displaying various items in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Before I left, I used to ask myself why the British couldn’t be as patriotic as the Northern Irish unionists were who displayed their patriotism all year around. But while these decorations may only last for the jubilee, they illustrate something important about our country: Britain is still a proud nation.
Unlike most nations of the world, Britain (along with Denmark) are the only two countries that don’t have a yearly National Day. Britain, of course, has days dedicated to the various patron saints that go largely uncelebrated, but the country does not have a day that brings national unity across the nation. Instead, our national celebrations only come once in a decade in the form of celebrating our monarchy.
The years Jubilee has been significant in signifying the proud attitudes that the British still hold for the union. This stands in contrast to the recent years of bombardment that have sought to teach the British to be ashamed of their history and heritage. This phenomenon can be linked to an anti-racism and anti-colonialist narrative, that has appeared in recent events such as students at Oxford University taking down a portrait of Her Majesty due to the history of colonialism , statues of well-known and respected national heroes being vandalised during Black Lives Matter protests, and my own experience of being suspended from Aberdeen student’s union last year for the words “Rule Britannia.”
These attempts to erase British history and its achievements, comes from a narrative pushed by Marxist’s which seek to teach the British that our imperialist past ought to be seen as a source of guilt due to the dynamic of the coloniser/colonised to the oppressor/oppressed and the empires promotion of capitalism through the industrial revolution. Some, such as Kehinde Andrews, even go as far as to compare Britain’s role in colonialism to that of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan. But Britain never carried out atrocities like that of the Holocaust or the Rape of Nanking. In a world of empire building, the British Empire arguably modernised countries and created infrastructure within them. This thinking has served to not only attempt to abolish national pride but also the monarchy, arguing that its role serves to only reinforce privilege.
But the role of Her Majesty is more than a ceremonial institution, it is unarguably a crucial part in shaping national unity. Without it, people are more easily subjected to the political polarisation inherent to republicanism. The monarchy allows for patriots from all beliefs to rally under one crown. It is why Her Majesty is the Commander of the army, after all. By technically holding the reigns of military power, Her Majesty ensures they don’t fall subject to political division. Thus, the institution of the monarchy allows us to connect with our ancestors precisely because our ancestors, like our countrymen alive today, are also different from us yet have fallen under the same crown.
This year’s Jubilee has served to emphasise these factors, demonstrating that the will of British people has yet to be conquered. With thousands across the nation being unafraid to display their patriotism and admiration to their country by decorating their homes in union colours and celebrating with their communities. I myself was in London this weekend witnessing thousands of people, including many from Commonwealth countries such as Canada, joyfully waving their union flags and singing along to the national anthem with others they may have otherwise never spoken to: an important reminder that our monarchy not only serves to unify us, but also our former colonies outside of Britain.
Britain’s glory and legacy can therefore still be conserved even in an age in which it may look as if people have become increasingly spiteful of it. The British have historically been a people proud of their nation, customs and traditions. With thousands joining together across the nation in celebration of the flag and Queen they hold so dear, illustrating that nothing has yet changed. This nation, after all, will always be the place where our hearts, ancestors and souls will forever lay.
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Current Criticism on Austen: An Overview of the Norton Critical Pride and Prejudice, 4th Ed.’s Back MaterialBy Dustin Lovell — 11 months ago
“Short and easy will be the task of the mere biographer. A life of usefulness, literature, and religion, was not by any means a life of event…to the little disappointments incidental to human life was never added, even for a moment, an abatement of good-will from any who knew her.”
No, this quote does not refer to the late Queen Elizabeth II—though several aspects of it, from the humble understatement to the positive rapport among her acquaintances, could just as well describe the late monarch (ignoring the lacking a “life of event” part) as they do its actual subject, Jane Austen.
Written by her brother Henry and included as a preface to the posthumous volume containing Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, the brief biography is one of the many resources found in the 2016 Norton Critical Edition (the fourth) of Pride and Prejudice, edited by Donald Gray of Indiana University and Mary A. Favret of Johns Hopkins. Besides confirming that one cannot understand Austen without understanding her, as he puts it, “thoroughly religious and devout” faith (another parallel between Austen and Her Royal Highness, and many others), the biography gives several details that lend insight into not only P&P but Austen’s other novels, as well.
This is, of course, the purpose of Norton Critical Editions, which I have used since my first essay as a California kid at Oxford (due on a Monday after meeting my tutor on Friday). The Norton Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, bought, read, and cited in a two-day scramble, saved my grade that weekend, and it still graces my bookshelf for whenever I or mine might need it.
While pieces contemporary with the books’ printings, like the above biography, letters from the author to family and friends, and subsequent reviews at the time (for P&P from Scott, C. Bronte, Emerson, Twain, and others) provide a great context, as a student I found most useful the critical excerpts included in each edition, which attempt to give an up-to-date view on the literary conversation surrounding a certain work. For undergraduates who may not know where to look for sources on a certain author, I usually suggest Norton Criticals (and, by God, the several-page-long Selected Bibliography in the back—my brother and sister in Christ, THEY DO YOUR WORK FOR YOU), if only as a primer for larger critical discussion.
But the editions aren’t, and shouldn’t be, limited to the student; indeed, fans of Austen (or whom have you) might wear down their editions faster and more thoroughly than the student who buys it for a two-week paper. Although written with the academic in mind, works like Norton Critical Editions might very well contribute to the canon being preserved outside of the university, providing, as they do, the tools for a historical and critical understanding of one’s favorite work.
Literally one of the greatest novels ever written, and second in my mind only to The Brothers Karamazov, qua novel, Pride and Prejudice needs no encomium from me. Based on and in parts expanding my Goodreads review, what follows is a summary of and, at times, response to the recent critical sources in the 4th Norton Edition. I hope it will prove useful to Austen lovers as much as students.
D.A. Miller, “No One is Alone,” from Jane Austen; Or the Secret of Style (2003).
Discusses the break between Austen’s style and her characters, with the former being omniscient and the latter being little-knowing. Recounts how Austen’s style developed from reading 18th-century writers like Sam Johnson and how she novelized several aspects of their articles. Discusses the paradox of Elizabeth’s marrying Darcy (Miller cynically sees it as an unfortunate contradiction) by supposedly eschewing the very wit (or “impertinence”) that made her unique.
Jeff Nunokawa, “Speechless in Austen,” from Differences 16 (2005).
Discusses the timelessness in Austen (both narration and characters), whose writing seems to have no idea of the enormous cultural changes that were to come in the 1800s. Nunokawa identifies this confident changelessness as being part of why we read P&P, which, despite readers’ approaching it with nostalgia, has very little actual nostalgia within its pages. Discusses, like Elfenbein below, Austen’s use of space-as-social dynamic. Also contextualizes and discusses silence within P&P, and how Darcy must learn to open up because it is through sociability and inclusion, not mere rank, that one succeeds in P&P. Reasons that in Austen one can only know themselves through social interaction, and so Darcy’s attempting to only speak when he has something perfect or great to say ironically reduces him. Finally, examines the certainty of tone often used by both Austen’s narrator and her characters.
At times syntax/language felt a bit overwrought, but it may be because it’s an excerpt and, its being the first article I read after finishing the novel, I was still reading with Austen’s rhythm.
Andrew Elfenbein, “Austen’s Minimalism,” from The Cambridge Companion to Pride and Prejudice (2013).
Examines how and why Austen leaves out descriptive details; identifies her as not being a realist (as has been argued) because of this selectivity. Contextualizes Austen with Johnson’s 18th-century advice to make writing timeless by avoiding too many details; shows how Austen nuances this by using detail to enhance beauty of characters/scenes, like the then popular picturesque school (which suffuses the book – see Knox-Shaw below). Identifies rooms and the outdoors not as physical places but as identifiers of distance and a context for the social interactions that make up the book. One of the best articles in the edition, both for historical context and argument flow.
Peter Knox-Shaw, “Pride and Prejudice, A Politics of the Picturesque,” from Jane Austen and the Enlightenment (2004).
Identifies the Picturesque as finding a medium between the Burkean-Romantic poles of pacifying Beauty and provoking Sublime. Follows the picturesque as a running metaphor through the book for Elizabeth and Darcy’s love, and thus, for Elizabeth’s breaking of gender stereotypes/politics. Argues that, like the picturesque, Elizabeth’s development depicts a nuancing of (if not campaign against) conventional beauty, while showing that beauty and attractiveness are not synonymous in the book (see Michie below). In conjunction with the other articles on the picturesque, Knox-Shaw’s was one of the more enlightening articles in the material.
Felicia Bonaparte, “Conjecturing Possibilities: Reading and Misreading Texts in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice,” from Studies in the Novel 37.2 (2005).
Places P&P within the contemporary philosophical debate between the rationalists and the empiricists. Establishes how P&P identifies Jane Austen as an empiricist in the line of David Hume due to its consistent focus on skepticism regarding secondhand accounts, texts, and assumptions. Stresses how often characters’ epistemology is discovered to be faulty, and how the book encourages a general skepticism regarding first impressions. Argues that the Bennet sisters each, in their own way, undermines one’s ability to interpret reality with certainty, and that Elizabeth’s developing a “practical empiricism” is “the bildung of the novel.” Goes further to argue that Austen was even an early Nietzschean post-modernist in how she incorporates her characters’ mutual and self-reflective interpretations into their construction of, rather than deduction of, reality. Probably my favorite of the edition’s essays, for its historical context and depth of substance, as well as readability.
Vivien Jones, “Feminisms,” from A Companion to Jane Austen (2012).
Argues that, despite her focus on primarily women characters and their circumstances, Austen should not be classed as an early feminist because of her reaffirmation of marriage, which Jones interprets as an endorsement of the patriarchal structure she sees throughout the book. Identifies Austen, rather, as a postfeminist author, who (she thinks mistakenly) argues in her characters and scenarios that the inequalities facing early-19th-century women had largely been dealt with and that many problems experienced by women could be surmounted not by societal revolution and polemic but by individual reflection and reformation. Identifies Elizabeth as being in the vein of Mary Wollstonecraft, but Austen as aligning more with the conservative female writer Hannah More. Accuses Austen of contextualizing the benefits achieved by Wollstonecraft within a conservative/Tory context of twenty years later that reaffirms the social structure. Reads P&P as conservative reinterpretation of previous feminist ideals through the onus for individual, rather than broader social, reform. In my opinion, Jones’s view that Elizabeth’s marriage is a renegging on her previous independence (rather than a full expression of it) misses the point of the book, which his her growth out of her own pride and prejudice (an impetus and growth Austen notably gives to Darcy, too).
Janet Todd, “Jane Austen’s Hero,” from The Cambridge Companion to Pride and Prejudice (2013).
Argues that Darcy’s place in society allows him to begin the book as a boor, whereas Elizabeth’s requires her to adapt through the book. Sees Elizabeth as having no individuality in either Darcy or Collins’s eyes. Follows Alistair Duckworth’s 1971 Marxist reading of the book’s property entail (arguably refuted below by Macpherson), applying it to gender and property. Like Jones above, interprets Elizabeth’s growth out of her pride and prejudice as a negative, a product of her social standing and gender, and thus misses the point of the book.
Elsie B. Michie, “Social Distinction in Jane Austen,” from The Vulgar Question of Money: Heiresses, Materialism, and the Novel of Manners from Jane Austen to Henry James (2011).
Interprets P&P as Austen’s attempt to find the proper relation to wealth. Reads book as a response to Hume and Smith’s writings on the problematic effects of wealth on English society. Elizabeth as the opposite of Miss Bingley and Lady Catherine, both of whom present the negative effects of status via inherited wealth (shallow, arrogant, etc). Examines the growth of manners to replace the traditional virtues of the landed aristocracy (both shown in said characters). Points out how Elizabeth’s manners, as well as her disregard for inherited virtue or status, make her attractive despite her lack of apparent beauty (see Knox-Shaw above). Looks at what Darcy’s growing attraction to her says about him. A good essay for understanding and contextualizing the different dynamics in the Elizabeth-Lady Catherine interactions, as well as the changing social mores of the time.
Sandra Macpherson, “Rent to Own: or, What’s Entailed in Pride and Prejudice,” from Representations 82 (2003).
Lays out the laws of property entail—and, Macpherson points out, ironic humor surrounding the issue—that undergird the plotof P&P. Debunks Duckworth’s Marxist view that the book’s society is structured along class and gender lines (see Todd, above). Showing how entail cannot be blamed on any one person or group, explains the implicit joke in both Mrs. Bennet’s expecting something to be done about the entail and Collins’s continual apology for it (both of which Austen’s readers would have seen as ridiculous). Reads Austen as not being against entail, per se, because it is an image of social obligation, not one of exclusion. Examines Austen’s contrasting renting vs owning as makers of different personalities and virtues (vis, Bingley and Darcy). One of the more enlightening, historically based, and easy/fun to read of the back material; possibly my favorite, contending with Bonaparte.
Andrew Maunder, “Making Heritage and History: The 1894 Illustrated Pride and Prejudice,” from Nineteenth-Century Studies 20 (2006).
Examines the role illustrations play in forming (and revising) later perceptions of an artist and their work. Explores how, “Illustrations play a central role in how readers construe novels,” and “modify, challenge, and even dictate readers’ understandings,” of the novels. Argues in a footnote that later illustrations of P&P like , rather than the text itself, are to be attributed with the reading that Darcy becomes more emotionally responsive by the novel’s end; conversely sees the text as validating Darcy’s cold “legal and ethical formalism,” and pushing Mr. Bingley to emulate it. Explores the effect the 1894 edition had on how the novel was interpreted, despite it’s being merely a “gift book” among many similars flooding the market. Presents and critiques key illustrations by artist Hugh Thompson and describes others, unpictured; interprets Thompson’s stated desire to show Austen’s “sense of fun,” as going too far, into reinterpretation. Although Thompson and editor George Allen caused a revival of interest in Austen, implies the popularity had more to do with the reinterpretive lens than with Austen’s work, itself (see my own critique of the recent Persuasion adaptation, linked above).
Tiffany Potter, “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” from Women, Popular Culture, and the Eighteenth Century (2012).
Reads Seth Grahame-Smith’s book/reinterpretation, P&P&Zs, as more than a pulp piggyback off of Austen. Presents book as a concretization of the implicit, unspeakable aspects of P&P, with the zombies being “a literalization of the threat of a social death in spinsterhood…in opposition to the socially constructed life-and-death quality of the marriage plot.” Interprets several moments from Grahame-Smith’s book as helping readers better understand Austen, such as Lydia’s becoming an “unmentionable” zombie as an image of the unspeakability of her adultery in Austen, or the steady death to zombiehood of Charlotte as a picture of her intellectual death in marrying Collins. An interesting piece that treats P&P&Z seriously, though Potter ultimately interprets certain aspects of Austen (e.g. Jane and Elizabeth’s marriages) negatively, like others above.
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By Jon McEwan — 1 month ago
Over the last few weeks we’ve been experiencing a rare phenomenon; politicians seem to have grown a spine. There’s tough talk of deportations & standing up to Islamic extremism. It’s far too good to be true. Many MPs and our Prime Minister have been living vicariously through Israel, springing to the defence of the Israelis and British Jews with extreme fervour.
Cross party leader support from Sunak and Starmer has been unwavering. However, whilst the latter is facing rebellion from his immigrant and militant leftist contingent as Israeli aggression continues unabated, Sunak engaged in the humiliation ritual of meeting Israeli leaders at the King David hotel. I’m unsure if a meeting between a sitting British PM and the Israeli leadership has been held there since Jewish terrorists bombed it, killing many Britons, but it’s certainly something I would not like to see again from a future PM.
The conflict in this area of the world does not particularly interest me. There are so many domestic problems facing Britain that I am somewhat dismayed that the sclerotic and otherwise necrotic government can rapidly reanimate when something so detached from us reaches their desks. As this latest crisis has rolled along several unfortunate reality checks have hit Britain. In an ideal world we could completely wash our hands of it, but we are not in that position. Imported ethnic conflicts are coming to fruition and we need to navigate them as best we can.
Many Israelis were killed and over 100 hostages were taken, Israel retaliated with its usual tactic of bombing Gaza with extreme prejudice. The actions of Hamas provoked disgust from the wider British public, seeing people murdered in their homes does not sit particularly well or so you would have thought. After the Israel response, pro-Palestinian demonstrations erupted across the UK. Among the usual suspects of white leftists were a sizeable ethnic minority contingent. London drew the most attention, at home & internationally, and most of the attendees were of minority ethnic backgrounds.
Between the messages of “free Palestine” and “from the river to the sea” less familiar ones started to emerge; the idea that what Hamas had achieved was anti-colonialism in action. This is where alarms bells should begin to ring, especially if you have been listening to leftist talking points in recent years or paying attention to protest actions. If decolonisation was not in fact simply tearing down statues or renaming streets but murdering your “oppressors” then perhaps this large & young contingent of resentful ethnic minorities could turn out to be a life-threatening problem. As the country moves toward the White British becoming a minority, as in London, this is a ticking time-bomb. When you see at the most recent protest White people attacked for defending the cenotaph and being called “White Trash” by immigrants the nature of this protest as an anti-White decolonisation action becomes more clear.
MPs and media personalities began the tough talk immediately. “Deportations for anti-semitic students” and possible prison time for Hamas supporters. Nothing so far has come to fruition in that regard and deportations are unlikely to happen because the Tories have failed to dismantle the legal apparatus that allows the successful appealing of deportation efforts. Deportation efforts that are consistently hampered by an industry of state leeching legal practices and lawyers. A more devious development appeared during the most recent protest with the publishing of an article exploring the “English roots of anti-Semitism.” A feeble attempt to paint these events as originating as a native White issue or an extension of historical anti-Semitism not something artificially imported.
It was at this point I began to think “Where was this talk when minority rape gangs were exposed or terrorist attacks were carried out here?” It was non existent. We were actually encouraged to “Not look back in anger” with special government networks rolling out I “heart” (city/town affected by terrorism) almost immediately and a deafening silence with regard to the former. Anybody that has spoken out about these issues has been frequently demonised or silenced, they have not enjoyed even a fraction of Government support that Israel and British Jews have received over the last few weeks.
In response to the hostage crisis in Israel, British Jews have been running a poster campaign and projecting the images on the back of trucks in London. These efforts have been disrupted in the form of posters being torn down or the vehicles being stopped by the Police themselves for the sake of “public order.” The people doing a substantial amount of the poster tearing have been minorities and in a particularly amusing clip a Jewish man states to an unconcerned black woman that “he supported Black Lives Matter.” For him he had been a good ally how could these people betray them? Don’t they know they’re only meant to undermine White British society? The great irony that many British Jews are pro-immigration and support Leftist causes that have lead to this is not lost on us. Indeed many leftist Jews were marching for Palestine in a somewhat annihilationist expression of self-determination.
The Police have been no less cowardly than usual in their reactions. Violent rhetoric against Jews and Israel, actual calls to Jihad, being hand waved away by the MET. As one would expect British people with Union flags or the St. George’s Cross have been arrested, escorted away or spoken to with typical Police condescension. Since the Oldham and Bradford riots the British Police have been deathly afraid of policing minority issues for fear of them rioting or triggering acts of terrorism. This fear needs to be presented to the public as the Police are utterly incapable of presenting this issue themselves. We saw a little bit of spine from the armed officers a few weeks ago but they have since stood down, happy to operate in a system that oppresses Whites and one that will throw them under the bus for political expedience. I’m not sure what is going on with the Police in the UK, large swathes captured by Leftists is the easiest answer but many officers must be “lying back” and “thinking of the pension.” In the most recent protests we have seen police officers injured, although it’s hard to muster sympathy. Police support on the Right is definitely on the wane.
The online nationalist space has been interesting. Many Third-Positionists have naturally aligned themselves with Palestine & other aggrieved minorities in order to “strike out” at Jewish power structures and to rebuke Israel itself as a “colonial holdout.” Fundamentally, the minorities they are in a temporary alliance with see no difference between Jews/Israelis and Whites. Their incredibly short sighted tactic is stoking anti-White rhetoric that is all too often used to put White British interests down.
The counter-jihad types have once again insisted that this is proof that we are indeed in a civilisational war with Islam, but I tentatively disagree. We have a demographic problem that extends beyond the Islamic population here. This should not be a theological debate, it’s a question of race; the preservation of the White British. I would be lying if I said that the large protests taking on Islamic characteristics didn’t alarm me. It’s as if we were seeing a vision of the future. The prospect of large Islamic voting blocks are something that could have us leaning more on the counter-jihad ideology in the future. Thankfully our electoral system suppresses this somewhat, although that itself is a double edge sword effectively suppressing us.
Others have seen the Government’s bold talk of deportations as a good opportunity for us to begin broaching the demographic question. I am not convinced that pushing this under the guise of dealing with “anti-Semitism” will serve us in any real capacity long term. Like all rushed legislation it actually has the ability to hurt us in the long run, you set the precedent that anti-Semitism is somehow antithetical to life in Britain then many similar pieces of legislation could follow. We are already staring down the possibility of a Labour government that wants to make “misogyny” a “hate crime”, we don’t need more restrictions to speech before then if they can be avoided.
One silver lining from this mess, if not a vehicle to directly push deportations, is that it shows the obvious failure of the enforced multiracial project we call Multiculturalism. The success of this project being so heavily disputed in recent weeks after being somewhat cynically trotted out by Suella Braverman. One other potential benefit is that it once again allows us to hammer home the point about the blocks to deportations from the ECHR as well as the legal practices opposing them being funded by the taxpayer.
The left has revealed its agenda by living vicariously through the actions of Hamas and the government has revealed their priorities in jumping to the defence of Israel & British Jews. Nationalists are effectively homeless; we have to advocate for ourselves. Leading from our principles towards our goals and not simply hoping to achieve something by serving others that have so often opposed us. Immigration, repatriation, withdrawing from the ECHR, smashing the Equality Act & Human Rights Acts, all things that take precedent. Can we take a step toward doing any of these things with this crisis? Undoubtedly, but we must be cautious.
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By Seóirse Duffy — 9 months ago
Are the kids alright? 30 years ago, the news that two children had taken it upon themselves to murder a third was a moment in the national consciousness that stopped us in our tracks. Nowadays, it appears that we’ve either gone numb or deaf to the phenomena.
I have in the last few years lost track of how many teenagers and young people appear to die at the hands of others. Just this month, I can think of three; but it seems week in and out we see minor headlines on the BBC about another stabbing victim somewhere (who invariably ends up being a minor) and nothing more is said or done.
The causes are difficult to diagnose and difficult to treat. “Community centres” have become the go-to meme response as people – left and right-wing alike – debate whether a community centre or a skate park could have prevented these deaths, but none seem to grasp the wider issues that feed into these unfortunate and tragic outcomes.
Since 2010, almost 25,000 police officers were slashed, as were their budgets. The effects could not have been felt harder: crime feels almost decriminalised in Britain as thefts and burglaries go uninvestigated, and conviction rates for serious crimes dwindle. The prison system invariably is also under strain as a lack of infrastructure, staff, and adequate sentencing leads offenders to be often out and back on our streets sooner than is necessary for community protection. What is the result? Police forces pursue “easy” victories that use limited resources, and you end up being investigated over offensive tweets whilst the assailant who robbed you at knifepoint the night before is left to slink into the shadows. Reporting a crime to the police now seems more of a formality for the sake of your insurance, rather than anything else.
However, the structural issues – policing, prisons, courts – only explain the proliferation of crime itself; not this apparent uptick in youth criminality. How have we reached a position whereby two 15-year-old children feel capable of stabbing another to death? At the risk of becoming a jaded geriatric, I fear the cause of the issue lies in the technology itself, and the way we now socialise children. In the 24 years since David Bowie said that the internet would become both exhilarating and terrifying, his words could not have come truer. In my pocket, I now carry the means to communicate instantly with anyone I want; to scroll page after page of Wikipedia and see what the people I care about are up to. I also have access to the social undercurrents that pre-internet were confined to alleys and abandoned warehouses, and those undercurrents have access to me.
The internet has ended childhood as we know it. The mistakes and foibles of adolescence, which previously were left on playgrounds, are now a part of your digital footprint that will follow you into adulthood. You are exposed to predators, pornographers, peddlers and perverts far easier and more conveniently than our parents were, and you as a child are expected to negotiate a culture where sex, drugs and criminality in adulthood is now available – dare I say made attractive – to you.
How does a 15-year-old find themselves carrying a knife with the intention of using it on another person? How does a 15-year-old find themselves crossing national borders to join a terrorist organisation? How does a 15-year-old find themselves escorting illegal substances on behalf of older, organised criminal gangs? Because they have been left online and found – or been found by – people that have groomed them to do so. Parents who would not dream of leaving their child alone in a shopping centre, leave them on the internet for hours at a time with the same level of vulnerability because they do not understand, or do not care to understand, the internet and the threats it can pose.
This is not to say that the internet does not bring benefits. This topic is so thorny because of that truth: that to restrict children from the internet in their entirety would be impossible in a world where adults have made technology and tech literacy a core component of civilisation. Government legislation has attempted to strike a balance and thrown up more issues as adults have to contend with how methods of protecting children may negatively impact their own ability to use the internet the way that we do.
Internet usage is perhaps going to end up being a topic that, like sex, drugs, and alcohol, parents will have to talk to their children about moderation and limits. You only have to scratch a 20-something with a presence in online spaces to realise the extent of the issue: whether that be people joking about liveleak videos of ISIS executions, the prevalence of self-harm and the culture around it on tumblr in the last decade, all the way through to online communities that eventually breed terrorists – some as young as 13.
We cannot begin to understand why children commit crimes as shockingly as adults without understanding that in the age of the internet we have abolished childhood. Children grow up faster now but with all the instability and recklessness that marks adolescence, and unfortunately this leads to some slipping through the cracks and into things that lead to negative outcomes for all involved. If Conservatives seek to protect children, and build functioning and cohesive communities, they must accept this reality and begin to understand how we can preserve some semblance of childhood for generations which have no understanding of a world without the internet.
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