I used to like people. Now there are too many of themby Duncan Fallowell / December 20, 2002 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2002 issue of Prospect Magazine
There are far too many people in Britain. A few quiet areas exist on the Celtic fringe but these are now coming under pressure while the rest of the country is packed. Crises in crime, housing, transport, education, the health service and the environment will never be overcome, given the pressure of people. But the government keeps telling us we need more people. They warn us against the folly of pyramid selling schemes while locking our whole society into one. They deny human biology as completely as the communists. The communists thought politics could exclude self-interest. The capitalists think politics can exclude territory. In the old days, when the Beatles sang “All You Need Is Love” and “Come Together,” I used to believe that the phrase “common humanity” had a noble, even reassuring ring. But it has since turned into a tidal wave of real people rushing towards us. Next year, the official population of Britain is set to go over 60m. But it must have done that already, given the levels of illegal immigration and the likely underestimate of the population in the last census. And still we are importing a city the size of Norwich every six months. People complain that we are importing poverty, disease and crime. But most important of all, we are importing congestion. Those already here display all the symptoms of rats in an overcrowded cage. High and medium level violence we know about. There’s also low level violence-the squabbling, spitting, sneering, sheer nastiness and rudeness encountered in public situations. Insulting language is everywhere taken for granted. Road rage, tube rage, street rage. Litter, filth, vandalism. Graffiti everywhere-no, it isn’t art. Now everyone is in the “angry business.” This article is angry. And beneath the low level violence is the ubiquitous stress. We are informed that there is no option-you’ve got to sit there quietly and watch the country being wrecked. So, in public, people try to blank each other out to survive. No one acts normally on the streets-except sometimes the old. If a man smiles at a child he’s a paedophile. Communal trust is lost. All is tension, battling through. In private life, it is head-in-sand or get drunk. A vast quantity of drugs, illegal or medically prescribed, are taken to blot out the psychological and actual noise. Then there’s television as Valium, barmy religiosity as a life-raft. We are a small country. I come at this overpopulation issue as an environmentalist. At what point do we address the lack of space? When the whole place is a choking, howling mess? But it’s not just physical. We are an old country too. Here, as anywhere else in the world, culture is vital to the sense of place, a sense of belonging, social cohesion. Cultural enrichment is one thing-annihilation is another. Immigration is one of the pillars of globalisation. A creepy alliance between humanitarian lobbyists and big business is creating an overheated racist hell for future generations. Public buildings have legal limits on the numbers of people permitted inside. This is for very sensible health and safety reasons. The same must apply to the national space. Those limits have already been exceeded. The optimum population for a manageable life in this country is, I would suggest, about 30m. Just as businesses and individuals slim down to improve health, the same must be true of unwieldy societies. Reduction of the population by half over the next 120 years (four generations) would be a wise objective. Even if such a target were not reached, the quality of life would increase noticeably with any substantial movement in that direction. The sense of relief that we were no longer being swept helplessly towards engulfment would count for much. Among the established population, the psychological shift to this has already happened. The birth rate among non-immigrant Britons is low and there is a growing tendency to regard anyone having more than two children as anti-social. Indeed, in an advanced technological society, low birth rate is generally a sign of health. However, the authorities promote population increase and justify every absurdity by saying it is “for the economy.” For the idea of population reduction even to be discussed we need new economic models-models that break our enslavement to mindless growth. We need a new political party-current politics is all about the creation of standardised consumers for the mass market. We need less fear of causing offence and a lot more honesty in public debate. However, the signs of solutions coming from politics are not good. In Britain there is still no one to vote for. Solutions coming from nature are more impressive, but take effect on a global scale-and won’t do us any good. Climatic warming and the collapse of antibiotics will probably make the third world uninhabitable and Britain more desirable than ever. Shanty towns on the Surrey Hills? Of course. But remember-only if you insist.