Do your children have a bleak and nihilistic view of the world? It’s hard to tell, really, when they spend 30 per cent of the day blamming away at those whores in Grand Theft Auto and the remaining 70 per cent asleep. How should one go about inquiring such a thing? Text them, maybe. ‘R U blk n nlstc lol? — Dad’. But they might well lie in response: ‘OMG no! (followed by five smiley emoticons)’.
I have to say I’d be a little disappointed if they were not bleak and nihilistic, seeing how things are. One usually finds with relentlessly upbeat and chirpy children that they are receiving additional help in many subjects at school and may even travel each morning on a special bus with other similarly afflicted youngsters. Rather, surely, that they were sullen when not out of their brainboxes on legal or illegal highs.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has an interesting plan for the social services departments to take into care all children who are brought up with a bleak and nihilistic view of the world — so I suppose I had better start packing their bags and taking down their posters of Kierkegaard. More particularly, he suggested that the children of radical Islamic militants should be taken into care, because the ‘bleak and nihilistic’ world view to which they were subjected amounted to child abuse.
I am not sure that, strictly speaking, jihadi maniacs are nihilistic at all — a bit on the bleak side, I’ll grant you, but also filled with a rather worrying sense of purpose. But that is beside the point. Boris went on to say: ‘At present there is a reluctance by the social services to intervene even when they and the police have clear evidence of what is going on.’
The mayor, more usually a libertarian, seemed to me one of the last people on this planet who would be in favour of social workers kidnapping children on account of their parents’ political beliefs, and I still sort of hope it was just one of those strange things he sometimes says without actually thinking about it.
A caller on his radio show then asked if the same process would be applied if a child was being brought up in a family of British National Party supporters. Boris’s response was yes, perhaps, ‘in extreme cases’. I am not sure what this means. Is he simply excluding from the equation all those members of the BNP who are decent, liberally minded and moderate?
You can make your own mind up as to whether it is a short or long hop from the BNP to the United Kingdom Independence Party; suffice to say I would have thought Boris would have been as appalled as I was to read of the couple who had their three foster children removed from their home by social workers on account of their support for Ukip. It struck me at the time as being grotesque almost beyond words. Indeed there is already evidence that social services departments vet prospective foster parents to make sure that they are not, for example, homophobic (i.e. subscribe to a fundamentalist Christian view of homosexuality which I would guess is shared by about a third of the population).
Politics and ideology should surely play no part in whether or not someone is allowed to raise a child — and yet Boris is clearly not an adherent of this broad and basic principle — he simply objects to people being allowed to raise children when they subscribe to an ideology which is at odds with his own.
Most strange. I thought his plan to pave over the Thames Estuary and construct enormous runways out of compacted wildfowl was fatuous in the extreme, but this is even more bizarre. It wouldn’t surprise me now if he planned to build another platform in the estuary, this time for the fractious and bleakly nihilistic offspring of jihadi lunatics, a sort of juvenile Narrenschiff, with the requisite retinue of social workers dedicated to expunging the political beliefs of their charges.
It is a little sad that the mayor seems to go along with the rather horrible trend of the last 20 years in which Parenting — now an upper-case subject which one can study at what used to be called polytechnics — has become the dominion of experts who decide not only what is the right and proper way to bring up a child, but also adjudicate upon who should be allowed to do so. Our social services departments have never been more militantly interventionist, and have been urged to become so by successive governments.
The intrusion of the state into what was, for centuries, a private realm is one of the less discussed or even remarked upon developments of recent times. It has happened incrementally and stealthily and nobody could possibly object because that would be tantamount to defending child abuse. And child abuse, these days, comes in an ever widening variety of forms. The Mayor of London believes that one of those forms is to hold political views with which the vast majority of the population do not agree. That, I would suggest, is a deeply dangerous state of mind.