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 A Rake’s Progress: decline and fall of the UK


READERS will be familiar with A Rake’s Progress, a series of eight paintings by the English artist William Hogarth, produced in 1732-1734 and published in print form in 1735. The series shows the decline and fall of Tom Rakewell, son and heir of a rich merchant, who wastes all his money on luxurious living, prostitutes and gambling. As a consequence he is incarcerated in the Fleet Prison and ends his days in Bedlam. The story of Tom Rakewell bears a striking resemblance to that of post-1960 United Kingdom. For ease of reference, and invoking artistic licence, the UK will be referred to as Albion.

The Heir

In the first painting, Hogarth depicts Tom inheriting his fortune on the death of his father. Whilst the servants mourn, he is measured for new clothes. Although he has a common-law wife, the pregnant Sarah Young, he rejects her and pays her off.

In the late 1950s Albion had ‘never had it so good’. Many of its industries were world-beaters, crime levels were low, the police were respected, there was a strong compliance with the Christian moral code and most citizens had an optimistic outlook. Albion had promised to stay close to the Commonwealth but was increasingly looking elsewhere.

The Levée

Tom is at his morning levée in his new London home. He purports to be a Renaissance Man. He is attended by musicians and other fawning hangers-on, all in expensive clothes. Those surrounding Tom include a music master, a fencing master, a dancing master, a landscape gardener, a bodyguard and the bugler of a hunt.

In the mid-1960s the self-satisfied Albion wallowed in the World Cup win, the explosion of British/Irish popular music, the availability of cheap foreign holidays and the beginning of the so-called ‘permissive society’. A hubristic ‘Swinging Arcadia’ perceived itself to be the envy of the world.

The Orgy

The third painting depicts an orgy at a brothel in the Rose Tavern, Covent Garden. The diseased prostitutes are stealing from the drunken Tom.

After rejecting religion and many tenets of Christian morality, Albion embraced ‘free love’ and accepted the growing use of illicit recreational drugs. Albion’s decline began to accelerate.

The Arrest

In the fourth scene, Tom narrowly escapes arrest for debt as he is carried in a sedan chair to a party at St James’s Palace to celebrate Queen Caroline’s birthday. He is saved by the intervention of Sarah Young, the girl he had earlier rejected.

As Albion contended with low productivity, inflation, increased borrowing, labour unrest, and vain attempts to maintain the value of the pound, the bailiffs from the IMF were never far from the door.

The Marriage

In the fifth painting, Tom attempts to salvage his fortune by marrying a rich but ugly old maid. In the background, Sarah arrives, holding their child. It looks as though Tom’s head has already been turned by the pretty maid during the nuptials.

In a desperate attempt to improve its economic status, Albion lied and cheated to get into bed with the globalist organisation that was to become the European Union. It was not a happy liaison. Albion then attempted to gain acceptance by agreeing to binding international treaties which would ultimately be fatal. Secretive affairs were conducted with those who would prove to be Albion’s nemeses, including Gates, Soros and Bush.

The Gaming House

The sixth painting shows Tom praying for divine intervention in a gaming house at White’s club after losing his fortune. Neither he nor the other obsessive gamblers seem to have noticed a fire that is breaking out behind them.

Albion failed to realise that futile bets on Net Zero, unreliable energy and vanity projects such as HS2, international aid, and useless military equipment would lead to penury.

The Prison

All is lost by the seventh painting, and Tom is now in the notorious Fleet debtors’ prison. He ignores the distress of both his angry new wife and faithful Sarah, who cannot help him. Tom begins to lose his senses.

With the National Debt and associated interest payments soaring to record levels, Albion succumbed to an inevitable and irreversible decline. The European Union and globalist hangers on revelled in the fall. Old friends in other parts of the world suffered similar devastation. Albion’s degeneration accelerated in a prison built by bankers and malevolent globalist parasites.

The Madhouse

Finally, in the eighth painting, the insane and violent Tom ends his days in the infamous asylum, Bethlehem Hospital. Only Sarah Young is there to comfort him, but Rakewell continues to ignore her. 

Driven completely insane by lockdowns, pharmaceuticals, poor healthcare and irresponsible behaviour, Albion lashed out violently at a foreign power. Before the inevitable demise, Albion’s insanity allowed millions of people to enter the country. Energy and other essentials became unreliable and grossly expensive. Houses became unaffordable. Unaccountable agencies controlled policy. The government disintegrated. As a result, the few remaining friends were keen to leave the squalid mess that Albion’s estate had become.

Albion was no more.

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John Ellwood
John Ellwood
John is the father of four beautiful girls. He is, thankfully, not knowingly related to Tobias Ellwood. ‘My Dear Friends . . . ’ a compilation of many of John’s contributions to TCW Defending Freedom is available in paperback and on Kindle.

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