Monday, March 24, 2014


We Must Go Back to the Dark Ages

Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939), Provence: From Minstrels to the Machine (1935; rpt. Manchester: Carcanet, 2009), p. 311 (ellipses in original):
So as long as trades and industries remain I should recommend you to support yourself sparingly by them and to trust to your little plot of ground to provide you with luxuries. For there is no grape sweeter than that which you pluck from your own vine nor, unless you have been raised in Putney or the Bronx, is there any sweeter occupation.

It is the strong conviction of that fact that makes France in general and Provence in particular the only stable and prosperous states in the world. But the inhabitants of Putney and the Oranges immensely outnumber all the thinking men of the world and it is the occupations of their spare times that is the real difficulty in front of us....You will suggest to one of them that the ideal—as well as the only practicable—state is one of very small communities belonging to hundreds of little nations each not much larger than, say, Monte Carlo; without rigid boundaries, violently settled codes of manners, without lethally supported senses of property....And imagine his guffaws!...
Id., pp. 312-313 (ellipses in original):
So he will yell: "Me live in a backwoods town!...Me never eat canned goods again!...Me go native!...Me live with Dagoes!....Me wear home-made pants! I don't think...What a hope!...Oh...hell!"

It will however come to that after the world has passed through the preparatory stages of Fascism or Communism of the Russian variety or the mutually exterminating contests of those two opposed world tendencies....We must go back to the Dark Ages....For if we do not go back to the Provençal Dark Ages we shall go back to those of the Teutoburger Wald with the poison-gas clouds for ever above the appalled tree-tops....

I do not suppose we shall get rid of—or even that it would be desirable entirely to get rid of—the Machine. I do not suppose that we shall ever not have War with us, or rid ourselves entirely of the sense of property, or of Churches, or of Science or even of Law which, ever since the Evil side of the Dual First principle put a tabu on the pamplemousse and Eve ate the first brussels sprout, has been the primary curse of humanity. And it would be hopeless to think of ever being relieved of the final curse, national patriotism.

But all these things must—they will inevitably—be made little. They will be reduced to their proper status either because the armament firms and scientists will blot out almost the entire populations of the world, leaving here and there mere pockets of men. Or else by a change of heart in humanity!

One way or another the number of machines and of machine hours worked must be reduced to a minimum. The wars of the nations must be little wars of little nations brought about by local jeers; the religions must be little religions; the churches without temporal powers; the leisure enjoyments be individual enjoyments. The glorification of Mass must disappear. You will talk of the largest pumpkin in the village as a glory, not of the largest armament-factory in the world. There must be the change of heart—the progression.
Ford Madox Ford, Great Trade Route (London: Allen & Unwin, 1937), pp. 86-87 (ellipse in original):
No, I want to belong to a nation of Small Producers, with some local, but no national feeling at all. Without boundaries, or armed forces, or customs, or government. That would never want me to kill anyone out of a group feeling. Something like being a Provençal. I might want to insult someone from the Gard if he said he could grow better marrows than we in the Var. But that would be as far as even local feeling would go...and of course I would not pretend that we could grow wine as good as the Côte du Rhône.
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.


<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?