2567 hits • 5 years, 2 weeks, 4 days, 3 hours, 3 minutes ago...Another time, another war
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Men without Chests:
The very power of Gaius and Titius depends on the fact that they are dealing with a boy: a boy who thinks he is 'doing' his 'English prep' and has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all. The authors themselves, I suspect, hardly know what they are doing to the boy, and he cannot know what is being done to him
If you ever wondered why many a European—what Lewis describes here is definitely not limited to English text books—seems to be reflexively Socialist (or Communist, Fascist, etc: no matter the specific brand of –ism, they are in fact being simply Collectivists—just picking a different team in the same game.), anti-American, anti-Capitalist and/or anti-Semite one generation after another, even when it's obviously against their best interests, there's your answer right there.
I have hitherto been assuming that such teachers as Gaius and Titius do not fully realize what they are doing and do not intend the far-reaching consequences it will actually have. There is, of course, another possibility. What I have called (presuming on their concurrence in a certain traditional system of values) the 'trousered ape' and the 'urban blockhead' may be precisely the kind of man they really wish to produce. (…) They may be intending to make a clean sweep of traditional values and start with a new set.We now know that it is indeed their plan: Du passé faisons table rase, or "Of the past let us wipe the slate clean", as goes the literal English translation from the French lyrics of the Communist anthem "The Internationale". (clenched fist salute required while you sing).
(…) As a result, they must either decide to remove all sentiments, as far as possible, from the pupil's mind; or else to encourage some sentiments for reasons that have nothing to do with their intrinsic 'justness' or 'ordinacy'. The latter course involves them in the questionable process of creating in others by 'suggestions' or incantation [Al is All!—DF] a mirage which their own reason has successfully dissipated.The depressing fact is that more than 60 years after it was written, that kind of writing is still stunningly relevant. The only consoling point being that it is still available to us when we need it more than ever—despite the fact that the social ills it describes and opposes have made great strides ever since, and encroached themselves so firmly that it would take generations to turn the tide—consider this as evidence #1 to support my beliefs that Europe will fall to one kind of Fascism or another in the near future.
Perhaps this will become clearer if we take a concrete instance. When a Roman father told his son that it was a sweet and seemly thing to die for his country,["Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori". Lewis refers to the Roman poet Horace on courage and patriotism. In Odes, book III, ode 2, line 13—DF] he believed what he said. He was communicating to the son an emotion which he himself shared and which he believed to be in accord with the value which his judgment discerned in noble death. He was giving the boy the best he had, giving of his spirit to humanize him as he had given of his body to beget him. But Gaius and Titius cannot believe that in calling such a death sweet and seemly they would be saying 'something important about something'. Their own method of debunking would cry out against them if they attempted to do so. For death is not something to eat and therefore cannot be dulce in the literal sense, and it is unlikely that the real sensation preceding it will be dulce even by analogy. And as for decorum—that is only a word describing how some other people will feel about your death when they happen to think of it, which won't be often, and will certainly do you no good. There are only two courses open to Gaius and Titius. Either they must go the whole way and debunk this sentiment like any other, or must set themselves to work to produce, from outside, a sentiment which they believe to be of no value to the pupil and which may cost him his life, because it is useful to us (the survivors) that our young men should feel it. If they embark on this course, the difference between the old and the new education will be an important one. Where the old initiated, the new merely 'conditions'. The old dealt with its pupils as grown birds deal with young birds when they teach them to fly; the new deals with them more as the poultry-keeper deals with young birds—making them thus or thus for purposes of which the birds know nothing. In a word, the old was a kind of propagation—men transmitting manhood to men; the new is merely propaganda. (…)
The operation of The Green Book and its kind is to produce what may be called Men without Chests. It is an outrage that they should be commonly spoken of as Intellectuals. This gives them the chance to that he who attacks them attacks Intelligence. It is not so. (…) Their heads are no bigger than the ordinary: it is the atrophy of the chest beneath that makes them seem so.
And all the time—such is the tragic-comedy of our situation—we continue to clamour for those very qualities we are rendering impossible. (…) In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.
The only unknown, at this point, being which brand of thugs will take over: indigenous national-supremacists-whatever or an Islamic-Leftist flimsy alliance de circonstance.
A dogmatic belief in objective value is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.That last quote I dedicate to the Waffle fighters in Brussels, between their phony "moral equivalences" on Brigitte Bardot, and their dreams of real balkanization of Western nations as a final solution to the Muslim question.
I am not here thinking solely, perhaps not even chiefly, of those who are our public enemies at the moment [i.e. 1943—DF]. The process which, if not checked, will abolish Man goes on apace among Communists and Democrats no less than among Fascists. The methods may (at first) differ in brutality. But many mild-eyed scientist in pince-nez, many a popular dramatist, many an amateur philosopher in our midst, means in the long run just the same as the Nazi rulers of Germany.
Again, one cannot compromise with Evil while claiming it's for the sake of Good.
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Today May 22, 2013
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