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So yes, the Labour Party let the country down hugely. Gordon Brown let the country down hugely. The idea that you could have a manic bull market under a Labour government and then for it to say, we'll give public money away to bail these people out, is an extraordinary thing. It's a sign of how weak social democratic culture has become in Britain that people are not amazed by what has happened. It's not talked about that Gordon Brown and Ed Balls can appear in the street without people throwing horse manure at them. I don't agree with Jonathan Sacks at all. If British culture, Western culture, depends on religion then we're in a huge mess. It is impossible for serious people to believe in God any more, or at least the God of the Bible, the God of the Koran, the God of the Torah. You just can't do it. So if you're going to pin Western culture to decaying ideological systems then you've lost already. 

Aside from that, this is where I agree a lot with George: there is a problem that people in universities, in schools, in the media, who believe in high standards have to defend themselves against vulgar, money-grubbing people who attack them. But they don't have the language to defend themselves. They can't just mock the people from television whom George was describing. Or say, "Why can't you just be an honest scam artist? Why can't you just say, ‘Hey, I've made a lot of money, I've got a nice house, I've got a nice car', and leave us alone." If they speak plainly this elite accuses them of being "elitist". But then again, I'm not so pessimistic about British culture or indeed European culture. 

DJ: Can you give us a reason for optimism? 

NC: We have democracy. We have freedom of speech and freedom of thought and to some extent I'm arguing it should be extended. However poor a lot of universities are, about a third of young people are attending them. Incidentally, because of the crash, because of unemployment, students are going to be a lot more tough-minded and a lot more determined to learn than perhaps the preceding generation were because I noticed their shock. I am talking about those who were born in 1989, 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and all they had seen around them was a continuously growing economy. Their parents were able to say to them you can take a gap year, you can do this, you can do that, but as long as you work hard and go to university it will be fine, and now it's not. And so they are toughening up. 

DJ: I hope they are toughening up. The first thing they did was riot last Christmas and it was the riots of the elite that preceded the riots of the underclass.

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March 28th, 2013
4:03 PM
There certainly are examples of playing down to the lowest cultural levels - and very embarrassing they are, to choose just one relatively harmless effect of this. I am not sure Cameron adopting something by Tracy Emin is an example of that though. Isn't she typical rather, of the taste the cultural elite than of the underclass - most of whom would probably see it for the rubbish it is better than the elite would?

March 11th, 2013
8:03 AM
'we have the worst underclass in Europe and we've seen their powers of destruction.' No you haven't. And you probably never will. No group of people would tolerate the kind of unpleasantness that is being dished out to them by the likes of the rather strange looking fellows in the illustration accompanying this article and willingly sacrifice themselves as cannon fodder again. 'Most squaddies come from council estates' David Starkey, CBE, FSA But not for much longer.

Bob Hunt
March 2nd, 2013
1:03 AM
Dear Sir, I am very interested in the fact that no British bank went under in the twenties or thirties. How was this possible?

RHJ King
October 29th, 2012
2:10 AM
I'll grant that there were a few interesting points made over these ten pages, but am quite surprised how the conversation fizzled into the ether with an unchallenged bit of silliness. Regardless of how much Nick Cohen would like to think that the "model has fallen apart", there is no avoiding the fact that for decades one 'elite' or another has had a wrench in the gears of the free market system. The western social democratic model in all its guises throughout the world is floundering and has neither the skills nor the belief system to support a stable economy, let alone one that is faltering. The notion that trade unions and bureaucrats aren't to blame can also be questioned. If the recent riots are not a direct cultural descendent of the labour unrest of the 70's, what is it? And, please, just look at the size and cost of the modern bureaucracy and the debt they insist on accruing. What we require is the impossible: among other things- less government (particularly left of center so called conservatives), a revamped educational system that will teach self reliance, and some old fashioned hard work. What we will get is more of the same 'ghastly demotivating' statism.

December 29th, 2011
4:12 PM
"It is impossible for serious people to believe in God any more, or at least the God of the Bible, the God of the Koran, the God of the Torah. You just can't do it." Nick this is the silliest comment you have made in this interview. It is obvious that serious people do believe in God and precisely in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Who could be more serious than Benedict XVI, John Paul II, Jonathon Sacks, Jacques Delors, Angela Merket, etc., etc. I would say that not believing in God is extremely frivolous and adolescent. Most public atheists, if they were once had faith, lost it in their teens. But this means that they are locked into an adolescent syndrome with regard to what is the most serious question that can be asked: does God exist? They fail to grow spiritually even if they become brilliant scientists, writers, mathematicians, etc.

December 24th, 2011
9:12 PM
Iv been checking for a few weeks now and I can't believe no-one has bothered commenting on this! George Walden's, New Elites, is a philosophical classic and once read, you will see the sh'it were in in an entirely different, and even original, way. New Elites peels away the lazy cobwebs we operate in and opens a new angle to explore. A bit like Orwell and Huxley, but for today. So it's a damn shame that I am the only person bothering to comment. Now that's intelligence for you! Now what time is The X Factor playing?

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