The critique of the riots and neoliberalism that Elias links to below reminds me quite a bit of Theodore Dalyrmple’s piece in City Journal, and this piece in The Australian.
Perhaps individualism cannot really come into its own in a society like modern Britain, where the welfare state is truly cradle-to-grave, taxes are abysmally high, and major portions of the population are at once disenfranchised and heavily subsidized.
Of course this is all just speculation. But what is at the heart of the disenfranchisement and despair among Britain’s youth? It’s not a lack of state-provided welfare. Education, healthcare, often housing are all either subsidized or free.
Perhaps it’s a lack of opportunity, leg room, something. What is crowding out the opportunity? Has the state gotten a bit too big? Advocates of a smart, effective welfare state should be just as worried about too much welfare as they are about too little.
Australia, on the other hand, has done an admirable job at providing a safety net while keeping government relatively small. Is life in Australia worse in some material way than life in Britain for the middle class?
P.S. I go into some greater depth on all of this at Forbes.