‘British Values’ won’t help in our fight against terrorism

At the Coffee House

Another structural problem is that, as the Adam Smith Institute’s Sam Bowman pointed out over the weekend, these attacks are going to increase hostility to Muslims, which in turn will encourage radicalisation. Sam is a friend with whom I profoundly disagree on the subject of immigration, and he got a lot of flak for this, but the point is almost certainly true. According to one paper, among the big terror risks are the size of the migrant population, having lower-skilled migrants, harsher policies and racism. France, which is worse than Britain on all four categories, has a bigger problem, but we’re not that far behind. Multicultural societies, and especially bicultural ones (Northern Ireland being a classic case) potentially carry positive feedback loops of hatred and radicalisation. Violence makes people more likely to want to saddle up next to people like them, not just of the same religion or ethnic background but political tribe, too – turning conservative against liberal and liberal against conservative. That’s why multiculturalism is obviously a fantastic idea.

And ‘British values’ will not make the slightest difference. Many concepts are only really articulated once they are disappearing; ‘chivalry’ was glorified by Sir Thomas Malory in his Morte d’Arthur only in the 1460s when the medieval code of ransoming aristocratic prisoners had complete gone and they were routinely beheaded; in The Likes of Us, Michael Collins recalled how local government types began talking of ‘community’ just as the old terraced streets were being ripped apart and replaced with lonely, isolating tower blocks which had no such thing. The reason we keep on hearing about ‘British values’ uniting our nation is precisely that they don’t; communities that genuinely do have a sense of group feeling don’t need to go on about a set of values that supposedly binds them. Why would they? This is not just about immigration; since the Second World War at least western societies have had a huge growth in values diversity, people being freer to chose their lifestyles; the internet has accelerated this. But these sort of values-diverse societies can only really run smoothly on the understanding that no one tries to blow the others up.

Read it all there

What do you think?