“Theodore Dalrymple” Shows Us Where We are Being Led—Family Life, “Mental Health,” and “Immigration Reform”

This speech transcript is so amazing, it should be read in full, and not skimmed. I know that is difficult for many of us internet surfers to take time to read a speech, but this one is very much worth it. The text is still located here, where you don’t need to view it in PDF, because it is, as I write this post, still the latest issue of Hillsdale College’s Imprimis publication.

The speaker is Anthony Daniels, who often writes under the pen name “Theodore Dalrymple.”

He makes several powerful observations about the poor British families he would visit as a doctor. Among them:

I should mention a rather startling fact: By the time they are 15 or 16, twice as many children in Britain have a television as have a biological father living at home. The child may be father to the man, but the television is father to the child. Few homes were without televisions with screens as large as a cinema—sometimes more than one—and they were never turned off, so that I often felt I was examining someone in a cinema rather than in a house. But what was curious was that these homes often had no means of cooking a meal, or any evidence of a meal ever having been cooked beyond the use of a microwave, and no place at which a meal could have been eaten in a family fashion. The pattern of eating in such households was a kind of foraging in the refrigerator, as and when the mood took, with the food to be consumed sitting in front of one of the giant television screens. Not surprisingly, the members of such households were often enormously fat. 

Surveys have shown that a fifth of British children do not eat a meal more than once a week with another member of their household, and many homes do not have a dining table. Needless to say, this pattern is concentrated in the lower reaches of society, where so elementary but fundamental a means of socialization is now unknown. Here I should mention in passing that in my hospital, the illegitimacy rate of the children born in it, except for those of Indian-subcontinental descent, was approaching 100 percent. 

And he uses heroin addiction to make some startling points about human responsibility:

Heroin addiction has been presented by officialdom as a bona fide disease that strikes people like, shall we say, rheumatoid arthritis. In the United States, the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction quite baldly as a chronic relapsing brain disease—and nothing else. I hesitate to say it, but this seems to me straightforwardly a lie, told to willing dupes in order to raise funds from the federal government.


In fact, the whole basis of the supposed treatment for their supposed disease is rooted in lies and misconceptions. For example, research has shown that most addicts spend at least 18 months taking heroin intermittently before they become addicted. Nor are they ignorant while they take it intermittently of heroin’s addictive properties. In other words, they show considerable determination in becoming addicts: It is something, for whatever reason, that they want to become. It is something they do, rather than something that happens to them. Research has shown also that heroin addicts lead very busy lives one way or another—so busy, in fact, that there is no reason why they could not make an honest living if they so wished. Indeed, this has been known for a long time, for in the 1920s and 30s in America, morphine addicts for the most part made an honest living.

One of the most fascinating observations, given our current political turmoil about “immigration reform,” is about the relationship of the native British poor to the immigrant workers.

One of the curious features of England in the recent past is that it has consistently maintained very high levels of state-subsidized idleness while importing almost equivalent numbers of foreigners to do unskilled work.


There are three reasons that I can think of why we imported foreign labor to do unskilled work while maintaining large numbers of unemployed people. The first is that we had destroyed all economic incentive for the latter to work. The second is that the foreigners were better in any case, because their character had not been rotted; they were often better educated—it is difficult to plumb the shallows of the British state educational system for children of the poorest homes—and had a much better work ethic. And the third was the rigidity of the housing market that made it so difficult for people to move around once they had been granted the local privilege of subsidized housing.

There is much else I have skipped, including (right in the middle of that last excerpt) a description of how Britain perpetrated disability fraud on a massive scale. But I have to ask, when the Chamber of Commerce CEO claims that we need immigrants because we have too few workers for too many jobs, is he speaking from the perspective of the British template? Is there a White Paper or a manual for elites out there that explains that the U.K. has the ideal system of getting natives to warehouse themselves and stunt their children while bringing in foreigners to do menial jobs and vote Democrat?