Dawn of the Antiskilled

Le Figaro recently ran an article predicting that, by 2030, the British
economy would be the largest in Europe. I felt a momentary spike
of patriotic optimism: then I pulled myself together, and thought ‘If
this is really true, so much the worse for Europe.’

I suppose that having been so accustomed to national decline ever
since my birth (I do not think the two phenomena were causally
related) that I am by habit resistant to good news. Yet how much of
the growth we are supposed now to enjoy, at least by comparison
with our European neighbours if not with the rest of the world, is
the economic equivalent of muscular strength rather than of
swelling caused by oedema? I think there are good and rational
reasons for pessimism, the most potent being that Britain is the
only country known to me where there are substantial numbers of
people who are not only unskilled, but what one might call
antiskilled: that is to say they not only fail to possess any qualities
that make them desirable as employees, they possess qualities
that make them undesirable as such. Though their condition as
unemployed is far from enviable, indeed wretched both
economically and psychologically, yet they are uncompromising in
their refusal to change or improve themselves. Such aspirations as
they have lead them to daydream rather than to ambition and,
persuaded of the equality of everything by the doctrine
multiculturalism, are uncritical of and unreflective about their own
way of life, which is that of distraction, or attempted distraction, any
interruption of which is felt as an unwarranted and even unjust
intrusion upon the real business of life.

It is a matter of opinion how many such antiskilled people there are
in Britain and why they have become as they are; but they lack
even such simple attainments as the ability to answer the
telephone properly. They do not know how to address strangers
with reasonable grace and would feel any attempt to teach them as
an assault on their personal identity. That is why, when we have
millions of people unemployed, practically all hotel receptionists
have to be foreigners, even in areas where the unemployment rate
is exceptionally high. They are more mannerly and speak better
English than the millions of indigenous people who theoretically
could fill the posts. This phenomenon of antiskill does not exist
anywhere else in Europe, at any rate to the same extent as in
Britain. It is a tremendous burden for any economy to bear.

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