David Green

Rod Liddle’s ‘humour with a philosophical purpose’

At times hilariously funny and full of insight, Selfish, Whining Monkeys is a profound analysis of how British culture has changed in the last 60 years. Rod Liddle advances his argument by comparing the attitudes and beliefs of his parents’ generation with the equivalent today and skilfully interleaves tales from his own childhood and early life.

The values of his parents are summed up as ‘work hard, save money, don’t shag around, marry for love and for life, don’t get pissed, don’t gamble, do as you’re told’. He doesn’t want to go back in every respect. There have been many beneficial improvements but, he concludes, ‘I, and my generation, seem by contrast feckless and irresponsible, endlessly selfish, whining, avaricious, self-deluding, self-obsessed, spoiled and corrupt’. Amidst the improvements a ‘certain moral code’ has been lost, which has contributed to our becoming a nation close to bankruptcy, with many broken families siring ill-educated and undisciplined kids.

Rod Liddle fears that he may be dismissed as what he calls a ‘tired why-oh-why’ right winger, and he certainly denounces Marcusian idiocies of the counter-culture 60s. But in his defence he also attacks what he calls the ‘singularly grim and vindictive Conservative government of the 1980s’. He finds that all the main political parties have been in thrall to egotism – a toxic ‘determination to do away with everything – society, authority – but ourselves’.

In the age of Dawkinsian contempt for religion, he dares to say that the loss of religion – Liddle was sent to Sunday school – may have had some harmful effects. He fully expects to attract the attentions of the ‘shrill infantile absolutism’ of the ‘authoritarian left’ who deny that there has been any harm and who try to deny a platform to anyone who says otherwise.

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