The Curse of English

Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth

Nations encouraging the introduction of English can expect that, over time, their citizens will become more individualistic, more materialistic and less compassionate. They are also likely to want to watch more television, eat more junk food, become fatter, marry less and divorce more often. Their children will become less disciplined, more likely to need drugs to calm them down, and to binge on alcohol when they reach their teens.

In London notices on lamp-posts proclaim £500 fines for urinating in public; yet vomiting in public goes unpunished. Perhaps binge-drinking and its technicolour consequences are viewed as an unavoidable facet of English life, a manifestation of what one expert called “the pain of being British”. On the other hand, surely there are votes in it for the party that declares it will be tough on vomit, and tough on the causes of vomit.

Clive Hamilton is Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra. He is currently a visiting professor at Sciences Po in Paris. View his full profile here.