Saturday, March 03, 2012


Decline and Fall

Guess who wrote this:
It is a pity that true history is not taught in schools. If it were, people would understand much better the history of what is passing in their own time. For instance, the dangers which are now threatening European civilization are of the same sort in part with those which threatened and at last undermined the old pagan civilization of Rome.

That civilisation was not destroyed by invaders, it was never defeated in any decisive battle. What happened to it was that it was undermined from within, and it was undermined from within by very much the same forces which are destroying the supports of our own traditional culture. Those forces are the forces of contrast between well-being and indigence, coupled with the contrast between freedom and servitude and enforced by the contrast between human and inhuman relations. When a large number of men are compelled to labour by a small number of men, when their labour is passed under inhuman conditions and the sense of servitude inseparable from the enforcement of labour in any form, they end by driving the masses subject to such disabilities to rise against their wrongs. But in doing this, the rebels may well act blindly, for the very conditions of their subjection forbid them the culture that would enable them to act wisely. They are impelled not only by the desire for freedom, but by the hatred of those who exploit them and who enjoy a freedom of security and substance denied to themselves. They are filled also with a general hatred; a love of destruction for its own sake.
It wasn't a Marxist or an Occupy Movement protester. It was Catholic essayist, poet, and historian Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), in "The Barbarians," published in One Thing and Another. A Miscellany from his Uncollected Essays selected by Patrick Cahill (London: Hollis & Carter, 1955), pp. 203-205 (at 203). The essay originally appeared in G.K.'s Weekly, but I don't know when.

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