In the intro, Mr Hitchens states that the book is the history of the death of Britain between the deaths of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana. Perhaps the most interesting (and Moldbuggian) part of this thesis was that Britain had died largely due to the occupation of Britain by the US:
The unspeakable truth was that by 1941 we were a defeated nation [Britain], whose conquerors had neglected to invade us. Impoverished, beaten in battle in Flanders and Malaya, condemned as it seemed to grey years of sacrifice with no certain end, we were invaded by our allies instead. . . . [British traditions] simply could not compete with the vigorous, wealthy, well-fed, sheer success of the Americans . . .
Mr Hitchens then goes to compare pre-WWII Britain to current Britain. The comparisons are not favorable to modern Britain. He discusses the decline of the family (Mr Hitchens has some MRA – men’s rights – sympathies), the destruction of sexual morality, the rise of homosexuality (which he compares to smoking, in what was a bit of a stretch, to say the least), the loss of the empire, the effects of TV, the loss of standard English, the destruction of education, crime and more. Here he is discussing the rise of single-motherhood:
The older cruelty, which took the ugly form of workhouses, shame and stigma, was hard to bear because it required active harshness from the state and from individuals. The new cruelty, which leaves hundreds of thousands of children without a proper family, is imposed through many acts of generosity by the state and by the taxpayers, and through the broad-minded tolerance of individuals and opinion-formers. It is therefore easier to bear in a society which has nationalized its conscience.
(The writing really is excellent.)
Or on crime:
The Home Office had just revealed that 20,000 London homes had been broken into in 1964, compared with 5,500 in 1938. (The current total is something like 165,000 a year.)
Sometimes the discussions are persuasive and sometimes they seem a bit over-the-top. For example, is TV really making people stupid, or do stupid people just really like TV?
Anyway, a call to return to earlier (but still recent) days at times get pushed aside in favor of a much more reactionary vision:
The truth is far more complicated, and – given the circumstances of the time – far more creditable. They [our ancestors] were better than we think they were, and our blithe assumption of moral superiority is not justified. And since much of our condemnation of the past is designed to make current generations feel good about themselves and to prevent fair and serious consideration of older ways of behaving and thinking, this is no small thing.
. . .
The changes it [the book] records and tries to explain, while not directly political themselves, have made it possible for a long-buried radical strain to climb out of its tomb and finish a revolution which first threatened the country during the Civil War, was defeated by the Restoration and headed off by the historic compromise of 1688. It rose again in the aftermath of the French and American revolutions, but was defeated by Church, King, Law, patriotism and tradition . . .
This is a long stretch of almost losing (or losing, for the Jacobites out there). Mr Hitchens would have improved his work if he could have explained how this radical strain can be defeated for good.