England - Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century b - RR160F11b
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As a result the nineteenth century was the age of the greatest expansion of Christianity since the days of the early church. Moreover the colonialism of Britain introduced an internationalism of ideas and men. It was a tremendous accomplishment. One of the most remarkable things if not perhaps the most remarkable thing in all of human history. However there were counter forces against this in Britain before the century was over, the old opposition never died out. One of the most effective persons in undercutting all of this work that the middle classes were doing and that Prince Albert had been able to further was Charles Dickens. Charles Dickens was a snob, he was also a dandy. I don’t know how to describe a dandy; Beau Brummell was perhaps about a century earlier the prince of dandies, not a century earlier, at the beginning of the century. We had a brief flash of the dandy during World War Two in the zoot suit [sp??] wearers in the Negro and some white levels. And that legitimately was a last flash of the dandy mentality. Dickens was a dandy, Oscar Wilde, by the way, was another. Dickens hated the middle class and his perspective was that of the leisure class, the people who are above work. [00:03:07]
And as a result through his novels he popularized the...
And as a result through his novels he popularized the idea of the oppressive middle classes, in Oliver Twist and in many of his other works the business man usually comes out as the monster and the lords as very kindly people and the lower classes as the poor abused people who are kicked in the teeth as it were by the middle classes. On top of that the Fabian society was organized towards the end of the century systematically propagating socialism. But earlier there had been even a more deadly enemy: Charles Darwin: 1859 The Origin of Species. The book as I point out in my Mythology of Science sold out the first edition on the day of publication. People were waiting for the book; here was armor against Christianity, a weapon to use against these hated evangelicals and middle class people with all their pious cant. So they bought it up the first day. It was an enormously popular book. The myth is propagated about how poor Darwin suffered and was persecuted, this is anything but the truth, it was an immensely popular book, except for one bishop there was no real opposition to the idea of evolution until about the 1890s when various people organized to combat the rising tide of unbelief that was sweeping the churches. Plus there was other factors that began to contribute to the decline that was setting in: the secularization of education, education was becoming a state affair and humanism was in command. Moreover the merchants and business men who were not all Christians by any means at any time were beginning now to desert the faith. [00:05:54]
They began to imitate the leisure classes, they sought...
They began to imitate the leisure classes, they sought prestige, the idea was to marry their daughter off to someone in the leisure class and using as a bait a great deal of money will give so many hundred thousand pounds if lord so-and-so’s son will marry our daughter and then he will have money enough that he doesn’t have a problem anymore financially and he won’t be a deadbeat with his tailor and so on and we will be related to the lords. And of course about the same time the second half of the last century especially in the latter part to the eighties, you saw the same movement here in this country as the wealthy American families began to seek alliances with the nobility of Europe. Let us marry our daughters off to the leisure classes of Europe and many a noble family of Europe, of Italy, of Spain and France, Germany, Austria, England and elsewhere was recharged financially with an American marriage. It is really incredible how many such marriages were contracted. Thus the middle classes began to imitate the ways and the values of the upper classes. It became more important to be a gourmet and a connoisseur than to be godly and productive. Good taste was no longer associated with what is in balance but what is precious and extreme, far out. As a result when the twentieth century dawned there was a new kind of man on the scene, a man who increasingly was aping the leisure class. The twentieth century was seen as the age of coming world peace, brother hood and asperity. They were sure that man was going to solve all his problems in this century and it was going to be a time of unequaled bliss and peace. But the collapse of the middle classes and their desertion of Christianity turned the tide in the other direction. [00:08:51]
Sometime after World War One a very interesting comic...
Sometime after World War One a very interesting comic strip was produced by a man named Briggs who satirized this shift. We still have it with us but the point has been forgotten. Its Maggie and Jiggs. What was it about in origin? It was about an Irish couple, who had come to this country and had been on the lower level, had worked hard, and she had worked as a washerwoman, she had worked in factories she had worked here and there and everywhere in every kind of job. And he had gone into some kind of production work and little by little succeeded and then gradually had become a very wealthy and a powerful man. And what happened. From being production oriented they became consumption oriented. And Maggie decided she wanted to forget everything about their past so Jiggs could no longer go anywhere near Dinty Moore and his hang out and see his old friends who were common people and who had not risen as they had, she wanted to be associated with the upper classes and lords and ladies to be invited to her home and of course to go to the opera where she dragged her poor husband Jiggs who hated it. She was a social climber and the whole point of the comic strip was Jiggs, a man who had forged his way to the top as a very productive capable competent man was now a joke, why? Because his whole perspective was being shifted by his wife’s social ambition and from being a producer he was being made a fool who was financing his wife’s ambitions to be a connoisseur, a gourmet, a society hanger on. What did the comic strip mean as it originally came out? That the entrepreneur, the man who was the backbone of the western world was now becoming a joke. [00:11:39]
A world of the non-working elite was returning with...
A world of the non-working elite was returning with everyone imitating them and what was happening? Now the elite have always despised the mob, there was a time when cast off clothing was given to servants, now the standard became to give them their cast off bags, that is to create new styles, new patterns of behavior. And to drop them the minute they became popular with ordinary people and thereby to prove their superiority because they were setting the temper which everybody down to the lowest level would follow. So you would adopt a particular style of dress or conduct and the minute it caught on you moved on to something else and always proved you were the elite. That you were still giving cast off things as it were to the mob. The goal was to be demonstrably useless. A book was written at the beginning of the century about this by a socialist who was a very discerning man, Theory of a Leader Class. And he pointed out how this had been a pattern throughout history, how for example in Mandarin China the standard of being a gentleman and a lady, well to be a lady you had to have your feet bound so you couldn’t really walk very much, you were helpless. And you had long fingernails that proved you could not work. So long that you couldn’t possibly do any work and you thereby demonstrated that you were useless. And of course this is the essence of the whole idea of the leisure class, to prove that you are useless, that you create things and cast them off for the mob, that you treat everything as a joke and flout standards. You express your contempt for the practical, for the moral world. [00:14:09]
That your pleasure is to be seen in the best company...
That your pleasure is to be seen in the best company and the best restaurants and the best homes, on the best tours, the grand tour began in the eighteenth century. As one of the idle rich, to make an impression, appearance instead of reality. But when men lived in terms of appearance reality does not go away. It has a habit of returning with a vengeance. Next week as we conclude our studies we will see something of the return of reality to the sleep walkers. One of the great books written in Germany after World War One was titled The Sleep Walkers. It was a prophetic book, a very long unpleasant book, his basic thesis was and as a German who had seen defeat he was one of the few who woke up to what the world was becoming, and his basic thesis is: men are sleep walkers, they’re going around seeking their own advantage, their own pleasure, trying to get ahead and to make a bigger impression on other people, to experience the best pleasures, to have the best men or women to make love with, but like sleep walkers unaware of the reality that is bearing down on them. It was a fitting subject and a very kindly thesis. We are in the age of the sleep walkers who have forgotten reality for appearances and we will next week analyze precisely what the situation is and its meaning for us. Let us bow our heads in prayer. [00:16:53]
Almighty God our Heavenly Father we thank Thee that...
Almighty God our Heavenly Father we thank Thee that Thou hast called us out of the dream of sin, out of the nightmare, the sleep walk of sin into the reality of Jesus Christ. And we pray that Thou wouldst use us to wake up men, women and children to the reality of Christ, to the reality of a world lost in sin, to the reality of Thy purposes for us and Thy so great promises in Jesus Christ. That we may be able in the days ahead to recall men, women and nations to the saving power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In His name we pray, Amen.
Now before I show you these two pictures I’d like to comment briefly next week is our last session and a few of you have expressed a desire for some other sessions, perhaps a little later. And we can discuss next week what you are interested in, so if you are interested in them next week we’ll have an opportunity to go into that and what you are interested in. But I’d like to say this now: I am working on a very small paper back on the effect of Neo-Platonism on Christianity and this gets to the heart of many of these things we’ve been discussing. What are the ideas that came in, what they have done to the faith. Now in two, possibly three, weeks I can sum up the essence of that if you are interested in continuing these sessions for two or three weeks. How many of you would be interested in that. Well very good we’ll continue with Neo-Platonism and Christianity after we finish our world history next week. So two weeks from now we’ll go into that. Now this is the picture of [unknown] and this is no exaggeration, in fact it is perhaps not realistic enough because you don’t get the smell and the sound of it in a picture. And that basement bar will say ‘drunk for one pence, dead drunk for two pence and three for straw’. [Laughter] [00:19:45]
[Rushdoony] Now as I indicated because England was in a sense the center of the world stage for two or three hundred years, in a sense it became a center for every kind of force. I just barely touched on the tremendous forces of good that came out of that era.
[Rushdoony] Oh very good question. In a much earlier era these lords were feudal lords who really ruled each particular area as a kingdom. And they had a working relationship between themselves and the people, they were the protector and they were the lord of a particular area, they ruled it, a county or something. And as time passed of course they no longer had that function, the crown was providing the law and order for the common wealth. And as a result their role was basically parasitic. And so they worked to seize power and maintain it after the glorious revolution of 1688 and to prevent the middle classes whom they regarded as a threat from running the country. The real issue of course in the Puritan regime under Cromwell was that and this is where the lords broke with him, some of the lords were very perturbed and with reason at what Charles I was doing. But after a certain point they wanted no more of Cromwell because they were afraid that the wrong people were going to run things. How many of you saw the picture of Cromwell? Just a few of you, that’s too bad it was a very powerful and moving picture, but in it it very clearly shows how Lord Essex was very much against the king up to a point, but then changed sides the minute it became apparent what the direction of the whole thing was. [00:22:42]
He and others who were associated with him could not...
He and others who were associated with him could not bear the thought of triumph for these puritan merchants and it was to a great extent the triumph of the merchant classes and the middle class people of England. Yes?
[Rushdoony] That’s Thomas, that’s a different Cromwell, several generations before. Yes. Now at that point they’re following, incidentally that series while it is possible to differ at points is the most accurate I’ve ever seen in movie or television on anything. However Thomas Cromwell according to one of the finest English historians who has just written a book on Henry VIII is one the most maligned men of history and he makes a good case for the fact that he was the most dedicated servant England had at the time. A man of tremendous insight and practical wisdom, a man who did much of permanent worth for England. As a matter of fact after his execution Henry VIII realized that some of the men around him had deliberately lied to him and misrepresented things and so he accused them once of being liars, to have destroyed Cromwell who had been a good and faithful servant to him. Yes?
[Rushdoony] The Book of Jasher there is no such existing book although there are people who claim they have it, these are all apocryphal, fraudulent. The Book of Jasher and other such books referred to in the Bible were not books of the Bible, they were simply chronicles of military affairs, you see. So they are referred to at times but they have no status as scripture, they were military chronicles. Yes? [00:25:30]
[Rushdoony] Well the thing that divides men is not the class structure of society but rather a lack of a unifying faith. Adam Smith who wrote the Wealth of Nations was not Christian in his perspective but he does bring out some very interesting things, how in by gone years the lord and the lowliest man on his estate were very close together. They had a great deal in common; first they both shared the same faith. Second, they did many things together, it was a working relationship, you are always going to have people who are so to speak lords and people who are lackeys. You are never going to escape that situation in the world. There are some people who are naturally superior and are going to go to the top but without faith they fall apart and they become in conflict. With faith they become a working cooperating agency. Now it’s very interesting that I refer to the fact that Japan is still somewhat feudal, America is too, but in Japan the feudal relationship is a little closer in some respects, in other respects here, in the personal area it’s a little closer. The last U.S. News and World Report had a very interesting report of Japanese labor and it pointed out they are not underpaid the way some people think. All the fringe benefits they have and so on. And so they are really very well paid, why? Because among other things the executives feel a personal concern for them and take care of them. [00:28:23]
Now Peter Dracker has written in great length on this...
Now Peter Dracker has written in great length on this in Men, Ideas and Politics and he’s pointed out how in Japan when anyone goes to work for a company he can figure that if he’s there after the probation period he’s there for life. He will expected continually to improve himself, he gets all kind of security provisions. When he is fifty five he is retired but he will probably be retained with better pay, only now he can be dropped at any time. So he’s very much on his toes after fifty five and instead of becoming stagnant he’s a much better employee because now he can be dropped with two years severance pay at any time. On top of that any young executive who goes to work at a company is assigned a godfather. This godfather as it were has to meet with him regularly. Now who is this godfather, well he is somebody who has become an outstanding executive, he’s in his forties, however he is not going to be a member of the board of directors and part of the top echelon. He knows when he’s reached that point and he’s given people who are going to be his boys as it were, his sons in the organization, that he’s not going to be the top drawer executive in the company. What he will be given after fifty five is an executive position in a subsidiary. A department that he’s familiar with so that a smaller company here he’ll run. But he’ll meet with these young executives who’ve just been taken out of college into the company or who have come up through the ranks regularly. And they’ll discuss their problems with him. They’ll come to him with their problems and complaints and he’ll work them out. And then he’ll go to them with things that he’s heard that they need to work on and after a while he’ll make a recommendation. And since he’s not going to be competing with these boys he’s going to be in a subsidiary company at fifty five as the top man there he’ll say ‘well wanobi here is a good man for the elite leadership in our company’ or ‘I don’t think he is’ and so on. [00:31:17]
And Drukker said that one of his pupils when he moved...
And Drukker said that one of his pupils when he moved to Japan a few years ago came to him and he said I’m new here and they think very highly of me but they don’t have any foster father or god father in the organization who has known me long enough to recommend me, and there’s a position coming up in South America that I very much want, so will you put in a good word for me in terms of your evaluation of me of seeing me at work in the states and the doctor said will they except it, and he said oh they’ll welcome it. They said he was conferring with the president of the corporation and he said would you mind if I say something about so and so, a former pupil and the president’s face lit up and said oh I would be hoping you’d be ready to say something, tell us just what you think of him candidly. And he said on his word the fellow got the job. And he said this kind of thing makes everyone feel there’s a personal relationship, you see. Now this I’ve gone around the barn quite a bit but to give you an idea of what once existed between lords and commoners and there was a working relationship then. When that ended, that was never ideal because there many ugly periods in history then, but this was the kind of thing there was, this closeness. Now there wasn’t the corporate structure so you were working your way up but there was closeness. Today there is no longer that closeness. Whether it is in a small company of fifty people or a big corporation of thousands they are aliens to one another. In fact if there are five people working in some enterprises they can be strangers in a way that they are not in Japan and in a way that they were not in earlier centuries throughout the western world. And it is this depersonalization that has created many tensions and resentments against upper class peoples, against middle class peoples, against workers, because they are at war with one another. [00:33:39]
This is why in the south where there was this kind...
This is why in the south where there was this kind of personal relationship between black and white there was possible a peaceful relationship that was not possible the minute the Negro went north. The relationship was impersonal. Now well, one more question.
[Rushdoony] Well of course this is a worldwide problem today. This is a worldwide problem and of course it isn’t that there isn’t good men, it’s when you don’t have the right kind of faith in a people you cannot have them choose the right kind of leaders. This is the problem. Well I think that’s got all except there is an announcement, the Chalcedon prayer meeting will be meeting on January the 22nd, at the home of Ken and Helen at 7:30 p.m. and it will include discussion on the five points of Calvinism. The address is 3837 All Menar in [unknown] and contact Ken for directions.