A monstrous plan to secure welfare benefits

Philpott lived in a part of society in which sexual mores had loosened, without the desire for exclusive sexual possession having diminished—rather the reverse. This poisonous combination, a virtual invitation to violence, has been encouraged by social and fiscal reforms over the past decades, reforms that resulted not from pressure from below but from demands from above (at least if intellectuals and the political class are considered “above”). Moreover, the reforms—for example, discouraging marriage as a protective institution against man’s feral nature—were generally promoted by those who also favored the indefinite expansion of the welfare state and judicial leniency.

Philpott is not a typical product of these developments but their apotheosis: and apotheoses have their heuristic value. Not the welfare system alone, not judicial leniency alone, and not the jealousy consequent upon the sexual revolution alone produced Philpott; but all went into the witches’ brew from which he emerged. And he emerged from it not as something resembling an automatic and inevitable chemical reaction but rather as a human being reacting consciously to his environment and circumstances. When Owen Jones called Philpott a monster, he was perfectly correct, and monsters there will always be, simply because of inherent human variation; but he was a monster who met a congenial system in which monsters could flourish (if you can call how he lived flourishing).