I've just finished reading: The Abolition of Order and Justice in England, by Peter Hitchens, Atlantic Books 2003. I recommend it to you.
It's well written and interesting, The main thesis is that the liberal elite in England has forced the state to submit to its progressive agenda: rooting out the evil -isms, allowing more drugs and making prison harder to get into and less of a punishment.
Unfortunately this has helped to create a rising crime wave. So, rather than reverse these policies, the same elite has removed or weakened many of the traditional liberties enjoyed by the population and hard won over centuries at the cost of much bloodshed and toil.
Some of these are the right to trial by jury, innocence unless proven guilty, and the right to privacy from constant surveillance by dodgy state actors.
More subtle is the focus on solving so-called 'hate crimes' such as a religious person preaching against Muslims or gays. He talks about the focus on punishing the drug dealers, while helping the drug users, so that parents need not worry that their drug-using children will fall foul of the law.
A caricature of this problem is to be found in the attempted prosecution of the elderly retired seaman George Staunton in Liverpool in 1999 for 'racially aggravated criminal damage'. His offence was to paint on the wall of a derelict building the slogans 'Free Speech for England' and 'Remember the 1939 War', neither of which contains any recial sentiment whatever. The charges were eventually dropped, but only after newspaper criticism.
But for me the most interesting theme is the idea that the police have taken over policing, and we the public are no longer allowed to defend ourselves. When someone breaks into our house we are not allowed to shoot them dead, but must try to hide out of the way (hoping we are not hurt or worse) and wait for the police to fax through the insurance claim form.
Mr Hitchens says that the phrase 'taking the law into your own hands' is silly, because the law always has been in our hands, and we employ and empower the police to do much of this job for us.
Towards the end of the book is this gem, after which I have nothing more to say:
I have sought to explain in this book what appears to be the driving force of the new law. It is based, like the other changes that have overturned English life since 1960, on the new secular religion of the educated elite. Socialist and collectivist in origin, it worships the welfare state. It believes neither in absolute truth nor in absolute right and wrong. It demands special protection for cultures and lifestyle that consciously and deliberately undermine the morality and beliefs of the older generation. It uses the grievances of activists within racial and sexual minorities as the pretext for general change. It rejects the whole idea of punishment and affects to beleive in rehabilitation while failing to persue this objective with any real consistency. It is careless of the ancient liberties of the English constitution, which it often has not heard of, preferring arbitrary group rights granted to favoured lobbies over binding restaints on the power of the state. Having taken posession of the state, it believes that government is essentially benevolent and does not need to be restrained. It is hostile to individual self-improvement by the masses, although members of the elite are permitted to improve their own lives and even to become extremely rish. It is suspicious of indiidual weath and most types of property. It sympathizes with the drug-abuser and can see the burglar's point of view. It sees respectability and restraint as repression. It regards what remains of the police force as the army of the rich against the poor, of the morally conservative against the liberated.