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Friday, October 29, 2004

 

The Good Life?

Pitcairn Island has not been in the headlines since the mutiny on the Bounty, not until the recent and disturbing child abuse trials, in which most of the island's men have stood in the dock.

Most observers have been puzzled why this crime was endemic in a supposed paradise. This
article in today's New York Times explains why.

"Such disturbing crimes are often attributed to the influences of modern society, from pornography on the Internet to the dissolution of the nuclear family. But on the remote island of Pitcairn, you can't tune in to a single TV channel, while Internet access is only a recent innovation. And the ties of community are very strong; there are only nine families, sharing four surnames. Everything commonly denounced as corrupting is absent. So why is such a pocket-sized island not Paradise, but an outcrop of Hell?"

The answer is precisely that it is an isolated settlement. Communities such as Pitcairn Island, where everyone is related and there is no-one to turn to, are places where petty tyrants flourish.

Many British people idolise remote rural life and self-reliance, but such places aren't happier or healthier. In fact, they tend to be more oppressive and illiberal. As I pointed out in an earlier posting (
Country members), liberalism is more likely to flourish in big cities. As Tristram Hunt argues in his recent book, we should regain the self-confidence of our Victorian forebears and learn to celebrate the city. It is, after all, where 85% of British people live.

It's all the fault of socialist
William Morris, of course. That, and endless re-runs of the sitcom The Good Life. The sooner the British end their idiotic rural obsession, the better.


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