Western democracy is now in the throes of abject self-loathing

This article does not mention Russia or Ukraine, but there is a link. See comments.

It is exactly what makes Britain and the United States such desirable destinations that our liberal elites are now threatening to destroy

Janet Daley

28 January 2023 •

Janet Daley was born in America, and taught philosophy before beginning her political life on the Left (before moving to Britain, and the Right, in 1965) – all factors that inform her incisive writing on policy and politicians.

Migrant Channel crossing incidents - small boats
People risk their lives to reach the West’s democracies. yet our achievements are denigrated CREDIT: Gareth Fuller/PA


Hundreds of people cross the Channel in dangerously insecure small boats every day, determined to make it to Britain where they hope to stay. They seek asylum whether or not they are actually in danger of death or persecution. Many of them will destroy their documents and identity papers in order to do this, disguising the fact that they are not genuine refugees who are fleeing from mortal threat. Similarly large numbers of migrants will head for European countries like Sweden and Germany. The question that generally dominates discussion of this phenomenon is, how can we put a stop to it? Or at least, how can we dismantle the criminal networks that facilitate this movement, and thereby reduce the numbers who arrive?

On the other side of the Atlantic, thousands of people from Central America besiege the Mexican border in order to enter the United States, putting themselves and their families through tremendous hardship and danger in the process. Again, the question that much of America asks – and demands of its political leadership – is, how can we put a stop to this?

The answers offered range from building a 2,000-mile impregnable wall (Donald Trump) to offering to help relieve poverty in the countries from which the migrants are fleeing (various Democrats).

What almost nobody asks is why these vast hordes of people are so eager to get to these specific places? What is it about those nations that makes them appear to be heaven on earth to the poor and desperate peoples of the world? On the face of it, the answer is obvious. The populations of these blessed countries are seen to be rich and free.

Indeed, their wealth and liberty are now so universally acknowledged that they seem like facts of nature, or the gift of some benevolent deity. In fact, they are the direct products of the most stupendously successful political and economic system in human history. There is no point in arguing about this. The movement of people puts this truth beyond any doubt: the combined effects of liberal democracy and free-market economics have created a social order in which almost everyone would choose to live.

Bizarrely, this miracle of social organisation, which has liberty and the possibility of unprecedented opportunity embedded in its political institutions, is now in the throes of abject self-loathing. So overwhelmed by the belief that it does not deserve its own remarkable success, Western democracy is now torturing itself into a denial of its own virtues. The freedoms on which it is built and which made its extraordinary progress possible, must be portrayed as forms of “privilege” which deliberately disadvantaged other less-favoured groups. Every achievement and advance that was enabled by economic and social innovation must be discredited because it was the product of unfair practices. Everything that was once seen as right about the liberation of the individual – and the enterprising spirit that arose from it – is now wrong. So wrong that it must be atoned for with a kind of neurotic self-harm: an endless confession of guilt and regret that discredits every aspect of national history.

The greatest irony is that most of the people who are taking such enormous risks to enter these successful Western countries are – according to the logic of fashionable historic guilt – precisely those who should hate them most. Paradoxically, at the same time that the white populations of Europe and America are depicting themselves as loathsome and unworthy of their inherited privileges, the ethnic groups, who should feel nothing but resentment, are determined to join them. You might argue that there is nothing inconsistent in this: that the migrants from former colonies or populations that were once exploited by the slave trade are just seeking their fair share of the wealth that they helped to create for the West. But this does not look much like vengeance or resentment. It seems like a simple choice: the desire to live under a decent, basically fair rule of law and democratic accountability which rewards individual effort. This is what most economic migrants describe as seeking “a better life”.

So how is it that almost everybody in the world can see so clearly what is uniquely valuable in our political and economic way of life at the very time that our own intellectual elites are denigrating it? The main plank of this cultural self-hatred is the idea of inherited guilt. Taking on the moral opprobrium for evils committed generations ago should sound patently absurd and unjust. We do not hold the children of murderers responsible for their parents’ crimes, unless they were wilfully engaged in them. How can it be conceivable that anyone alive today should share the guilt of 18th-century slave owners? Because they have shared in the inherited benefits of that ownership, goes the argument. Well that includes pretty much everybody. It would be impossible now to disentangle the origins of contemporary sources of mass prosperity from those earlier roots. Arguably, the entire modern industrialised economy can be traced back to the wealth acquired through empire and, at least in the United States, to the slave trade.

Presumably then we must renounce the modern era itself as a kind of penance. The environmental extremists seem to have something like this in mind. In some future orgy of self-punishment, will everyone who benefited from the trade in fossil fuels have to be denounced too? Is that where we are heading? Perhaps this really is the end: the perverse suicide of a great civilisation, which will someday be studied in the way that the collapse of Rome is now. But if it’s over and unrecoverable, what will become of all those migrants who sincerely want to be part of this miracle that the West has achieved? Where will they go? Perhaps they are the ones who are destined to save this enterprise because they at least understand the value of it.


  1. Whenever the topic of slavery is debated, the question should be asked : “who was the first to abolish slavery?” That would be Britain; via a Conservative MP; William Wilberforce, in 1833. The US followed in 1865.
    Slavery and slave trading had been practiced by every nation on earth up until that point. It is still widespread in primitive, savage societies today, such as Russia and its occupied territories, plus Africa, the Middle East and Asia.
    One of the world’s largest economies; India, still has the caste system; a hideous form of slavery built on supremacism.
    Russia’s ally China, practices rape, torture and genocide on the Hmong people, the Tibetans and the Uighurs, yet we are still happy to do business with them?
    The intention of fascist Russia was and still is, a reversion to a slave system, with Ukrainians being subjugated, tortured, raped and murdered, as they have been throughout the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine.
    Socialists in the US and UK want to pay reparations to the descendants of slaves, but they conveniently forget that millions of Africans still choose to emigrate; legally and illegally, to the US and UK.
    Who wants to emigrate to Russia? Nazis only.
    Strangely, no one demands reparations from the descendants of the Arab slave traders who controlled the trade in Africa, or the village headmen who abducted the slaves and sold them on to African tribal bosses who in turn sold them on to the Arab traders who then sold them on to the imperial powers. The largest economy in Africa; South Africa, has just declared its deep friendship with fascist Russia, which again goes to show that Marxists and nazis are one and the same. SA and all putlerite regimes supporting genocide of Ukrainians must be sanctioned until they bleed.
    If you support a genocidal regime, you are no different from that regime and must be crushed.
    It is clear from the documents published by RIA Novosti, the claims made by putinazi propagandists and dwarf nazi Dmitry Medvedev that Russia still intends to enslave all Ukraine.
    Russia would murder every single Ukrainian opposed to its fascist imperialism and is prepared to lose millions of its own “soldiers” (in parenthesis because Russian soldiers are torturers, rapists, child murderers, perverts and thieves) in order to achieve its foul objectives.
    Yet the allies are still dithering about tanks, long range weapons and modern aircraft, just at a time when the most evil fascist power in history is plotting its next murderous onslaught on Ukraine.

  2. “The populations of these blessed countries are seen to be rich and free.”

    And, our inglorious leftist-liberals are happy to destroy our wealth and freedom through massive and virtually uncontrolled immigration. Those “refugees” should start making changes in the shitholes they live in, to bring wealth and freedom into their lives there. The efforts they put in to travel long and dangerous distances could be put to good use for this instead, not to mention spending the money in their own countries, instead of on organized crime gangs and human traffickers.

    • Things have changed now and so have the politics. People used to come to western democracies to start a new life, bring their tools and experiences and have a go at it. Thus, immigration was encouraged.
      Now people come to try to have everything given to them, simply because they are supposedly in the category of “have nots.” Thus the political landscape has changed and the hard Left encourage this type of immigration in hopes not of personal achievement but of future voting blocks and perpetual dependency.

  3. The US Civil War is America’s bloodiest conflict.

    If Africans had fought as hard to avoid becoming slaves as some of us whites did to free them, I think the story would have been much different.

    The real question is why there aren’t more places that are favorable to live? The answer is that corruption and tyranny make it so.

    Anyway, the US actually needs immigration. Try finding labor these days. But what it most needs is a system of legal immigration. Gone are the days when you can roam the Earth and go anywhere you want.

  4. U.S. does greatly depend on immigrants. Many flee from wars or gangs now days from central and south America. My family line comes from immigrants as well as many others in the U.S. they were more fleeing religious persecution and political hegemony. But pretty much spent or gave up all they had to come to the United States. Yes they had some skills, but had to start from ground up. Many from south and central America have skills and are very hard workers. That all being said U.S. immigration system needs a major overhaul. More judges are needed to process cases as well as social workers to sort out eligibility, status, and qualifications. Coordinated funded and boosted border patrol and law enforcement efforts. Utilization of technology and funding for such to track and eliminate tunnels (we could learn a lot from Israel on this) as well as being able to distinguish between an armadillo and a human being lessening waste of valuable human resources.

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