Alarmingly, the landscape of Britain, especially its capital, has assumed an aspect of alien, dystopian desolation. Its origin was three months of pandemic lockdown; the more recent cause is the paralysis of government, national and local, in the face of intimidation by the violent and wholly unrepresentative elements of a mob that is successfully dictating its agenda to the elected authorities. This weekend, London is disfigured by sinister-looking wooden rectangles enclosing the statues of our monarchs, statesmen and national heroes. They have become monuments to the eclipse of civilisation.

Those statues, confined in cubes like nuclear waste, include three of our kings and Sir Winston Churchill – the man who did more than any other individual in 20th century history to defeat rampant racism of a viciousness and scale unimaginable to modern “woke” demonstrators. They have compiled a “hit list” of 78 memorials they insist must be removed, across 39 towns and cities, 12 of them in London. They include monarchs, prime ministers, a holder of the Victoria Cross and national hero Nelson on his famous column, the global epitome of London. It is a project to erase large parts of Britain’s history, to create a tabula rasa in iconography, a revolutionary Year Zero.

The pretext for visually deleting our heritage is to protect monuments from rioters. That limp excuse predicates the inevitability of riots and the impossibility of containing them. The message it sends to the perpetrators of violent disorder is: you have won. These clashes on Whitehall would have been illegal at any time, but they take on an extra dimension of nihilism in the light of the fact that Britain is still on lockdown against a deadly pandemic. Demonstrators should have been dispersed at the first signs of their congregating.

Police were not backward in harassing lonely sunbathers during lockdown, so why permit thousands to assemble cheek-by-jowl? They appear to have been crippled by deference to the demands of the more extreme protestors.

It is fashionable to claim we have an obligation to reappraise our society and its alleged faults. True, we do need to revisit many of our assumptions, including an objective investigation of the scale and incidence of racism, but it should not come at the price of abandoning all historical nuance and rational debate.

The unjustified slur that Britain is an inherently “racist” nation today must also be repudiated. This country has, successfully, opened its doors to millions of immigrants, but further integration is made more difficult by the most militant campaigners, often extravagant white liberals, relentlessly engendering a culture of grievance and victimhood that seeks to divide.

Unfortunately, the real agenda of some of these activists, as we have seen on our streets and in their social media proclamations, is to overthrow the political order of representative parliamentary democracy – and to destroy capitalism, or the market system.

Many of the supporters of the organisation Black Lives Matter want peaceful change. BLM started in the US with a sensible outlook and noble goals rooted in tackling serious social problems. It has since been hijacked by the far-left. Anyone who doubts that should look at the British website – UKBLM – raising large sums of money for the campaign and advocating (on the “read more” section) the dismantling of capitalism and the abolition of the police.

In this way, just as, historically, many scoundrels wrapped themselves in the Union flag, today the catch-all mantra of “anti-racism” and “anti-fascism” is being deployed to mask a totalitarian agenda.

Troublingly, most mainstream politicians – with very few exceptions – appear too terrified to point any of this out. The Prime Minister had a modest go at speaking out on Friday, on Twitter. But he and his colleagues will have to go much, much further. They must make the case clearly in defence of the rule of law, democracy and civic order.