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Peter Hitchens On Social Fragmenting of Britain

 

Peter Hitchens, The Abolition of Britain

(London: Quartet Books; 1999), pp. 253, 254.

 

The ebbing of wartime solidarity, the increasing mobility of people so that neighbours changed more often, the way in which almost everyone became car-borne and never left home or arrived there on foot all these things reduce the opportunity for contact. Then the growth of female full-time work depopulated the suburbs during the day, so that the once-familiar sight of women walking down the road with children became a startling rarity. Incidentally, it also greatly increased the opportunities for burglars, who could count on large areas being completely deserted during the working day. While this was going on, telephone ownership and the spread of hi-fi equipment allowed the millions to have electronic relationships and private electronic entertainment. It was no longer necessary to leave the house and go to the pub or the cinema to get away from each other. In the affluent 1980s, as millions of children acquired their own televisions and computer games, the house became a self-contained unit with almost no outside needs. Parents, scared either of dangerous traffic or of sexual predators, were afraid to let their children wander physically, so they allowed them to wander mentally instead. They swapped the old dispensation moral authority, power over ideas and the development of the imagination for the merely physical power to limit movement. The liberation of children's minds was, in part at least, the price for their loss of physical freedom.

 

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