The once self-reliant English countryside used to be an idyllic place where communities managed themselves organically and disputes were settled without relying on the long-arm of national bureaucracy.
Sadly, today “the English countryside today is awash with busybodies and red tape,” writes Josie Appelton in a new article for Reason. Appelton explains:
English everyday life is now far more regulated than that of the French, that arch-bureaucratic and centralized nation that historically saw England as the beacon of liberty and live-and-let-live. Now it is the French who harbor a relative wariness of state interference and do their best to side-step red-tape and officialdom. It is French village life that now centers around things that are communal but not official.
The main reason for this lies in the crisis of English institutions. With the ceaseless reform of British institutions since the 80s, the state was stripped of its traditional culture, and institutions were reduced to a series of empty shells. Public servants were no longer professionals, with a public mission or institutional identity: they became the representatives of blank, empty officialdom, with no raison d’etre other than to subject social life to their bureaucratic tools.