England in Crisis
THESE are exceptionally gloomy and exceptionally perplexing days in Britain. Indeed, the gloom and the perplexity are linked. This is not the first time in the past two decades that Britain has appeared to be on the edge of an abyss of economic stagnation, industrial self-destruction, and social friction. There have been earlier periods when the pound has had to be given international first aid, when strikes have brought about a confrontation between the government of the day and the trade-unions, and when a revival of the politics of class conflict has seemed imminent. But now there are some new elements. The various crises, industrial, economic, and financial, have been superimposed on, and aggravated by, the international oil situation, worldwide inflation, and fears about a global recession. There is, too, the simmering civil war in Ulster. Perhaps more important, however, is the sense of perplexity currently prevailing in Britain, a sense of bewilderment about what is happening and why it is happening, a suspicion that no one quite knows what ought to be done, and a feeling that the ship is out of control. The abyss is familiar enough, but it is beginning to look rather deeper and steeper than in the past, and the path around it has never seemed more slippery or quite so wreathed in mist.
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