Typos p. 38: whereever [= wherever]; p. 43: forebade [= forbade]; p. 49: Aristotles's [= Aristotle's]; p. 53: Wolkmann [= Woltmann]; p. 67: illtreatment [= ill-treatment]
Conservatism and Realism
The artisan who is conscientious at his work, and who devotes as much time as possible to acquiring proficiency at it, the artist who, in his criticism, is severest towards himself, and who is never satisfied that he has completed his apprenticeship; the man of noble birth, who knows how to surround himself not only with truly noble people, but with truly noble things people and things, that is to say, who bear the unmistakable hall mark of quality: such people are either actual or potential aristocrats, and nothing can rob them of this title. On the other hand, the Duke who has no sense of, and no antennæ for quality, who overlooks in himself and others a lack of the virtue and capacity which originally raised his class to its position of privilege, who does not know how to surround himself either with things or with people of quality, and who knows nothing of the necessity
The violence that has been done to truth by attempting to fit social classes compactly into political parties, is probably the primary cause of the confusion now existing in the public mind regarding domestic politics in this country. And that is why it cannot be repeated too often that the Conservative and man of qualitative judgment I do not mean the aristocratic ruler is an example of a very definite type of mind and body, which occurs in all classes, and is by no means necessarily more common in the present House of Lords than in a coal-pit. 1
Anthropologists speak of a "culture potential" in native races, by which they mean a certain people's capacity to evolve up to a certain plane of cultural organisation and not beyond it; and they often quote Liberia, the negro State of West Africa, as an example of their meaning. The negroes who were given Liberia, and who consisted very largely of the descendants of liberated slaves from America, had their culture imposed upon them from without by a benevolent Europæoid people, who gave them their constitution, cut and dried, their laws, and the pattern for the rest of their institutions. But the negro's "culture potential" soon made havoc of the ready-made white
1 It is obvious that the present House of Lords is not constituted of aristocratic rulers in any sense; its recruits being chosen not on account of their possession of ruler qualities, or the acquirement of these qualities through generations of discipline in a lower rank of society; but simply on account of their success either in trade, commerce, law, journalism, party politics or the army and navy. But, even so, it is a much better and more efficient body of men than the Commons (see pp. 170178).
The same phenomenon of a "culture potential" might be used to explain the fundamental divergence between the men who incline instinctively to qualitative, and the men who incline instinctively to quantitative values, and the social form which each evolves is as different as can be from the other. When a nation is divided between these two types, the compromise effected is frequently unsatisfactory and unstable; and as a complete fusion of the two social forms is never possible, there results the condition found in England to-day, which is one of constant and bitter internecine warfare.
The body of people inclining to quantitative values, which will draw its recruits from every social class, will tend to disruption, instability and futile change, despite that instinctive conservatism of all men discussed in the previous chapter, because it will never perceive the necessary relation between time and quality. Its conservatism will be largely self-interest, purse-anxiety; and if it possesses nothing, its conservatism will be feeble, because no self-interest will incline it to a stable state of things. Thus, on the Conservative side, the members of this body will be unreliable and unprincipled, and on the non-conservative side, anarchical and subversive. Their culture potential will reach its limits in commercial wealth, and their expression in all things is likely to take an ugly and bulky form.
The body of people inclining to qualitative values, which will also draw its recruits from every social
The dramatic material success of the former body, which is their chief interest in life, may and frequently does lead to their multiplication; and this is more likely to occur when the prevailing values favour their particular activities.
On the other hand the relatively small concern about material success which characterises the latter body, a concern which is largely swamped by the primary impulse to quality and beauty, may, if the prevailing values do not protect them, lead to their subordination or extinction at the hands of the quantitativists. And then that part of the nation which supplies it with its most valuable qualities, and therefore its chief equipment for stability, tends to decline and disappear.
Beauty contemplating her features in a mirror
On the other hand, Ugliness, which cannot be altered, however slightly, but she will improve, provides the beautifying surgeons with seven-eighths of their incomes, and to these gentlemen her sanctuary has an ever open door.
This simple parable should not be forgotten in measuring the worth, and the attitude of mind of the two bodies above described, in regard to change and so-called "amelioration". And when in the presence of a society in which much wealth is constantly being devoted to change, and in which beautifying surgeons abound and nourish, it is only prudent to suspect that rich quantitativists are at the head, and that their creation has been ugliness.
The fact that this struggle between quantitative and qualitative values is no myth can be demonstrated from the records of the past; and I have even attempted in my Defence of Aristocracy to place my finger upon the precise period in English history, when in this country the balance finally turned in favour of the former; and the latter were left unprotected and abandoned to neglect and decline. 1
Throughout the Middle Ages, we find in every sphere of English life that the pursuit of quality is the paramount preoccupation. Workmen and tradesmen combined in those days not as now in order to keep up the price of their labours, to resist the public and the purchasers of their wares, and to reduce efficiency to the standard of the slowest and most slovenly worker, but, in order to maintain a standard of quality
1 See Chapter V: The Metamorphosis of the Englishman.
But the craft gildsmen of the Middle Ages insisted on maintaining quality "for the honour of their gild" and there can be no doubt that much of their system of regulations was "intended to check fraud and maintain the corporate good name of their craft". 3 So-called "searchers" were appointed by the gilds to discover and check fraud, bad quality, and dishonesty m the productions of their fellow gildsmen's work. Thus the London Lorimers in 1261 compiled "rules for the abating of guile and trickery" among the members of the gild practising their "mistery". In addition to other rules there was to be "no re furbishing of old horse-bits to sell as new", and "no night work". Among the cappers in 1269, it was forbidden to make caps except of wool, and old caps might not be sold for new. It was also forbidden to dye caps with black, because this colour would run in the rain. The cordwainers had to swear that when they made shoes they would mix "no manner of leather with other",
1 From Gild to Factory, by Alfred Milnes, M.A., p. 39. See also Mary Bateson Mediæval England, p. 402.
2 Milnes. Op. cit. p. 40.
3 Ibid. p. 45.
In the department of buying and selling for profit the giving of short weight or the selling of inferior drink or food for consumption, was severely punished, and inspectors were appointed to bring delinquents to judgment.
"Woe to the vintner", writes J. S. Jusserand, 1 "who was detected meddling in any unfair way with his liquor; he might experience the chastisement inflicted upon John Penrose, who, for such an offence was sent to the pillory in 1364, had to drink publicly there his own stuff, to have what he could not drink poured over his head, and was besides sentenced to renounce his trade for ever."
Speaking of this period, Mr. Coulton says 2: "The determination, too, steadily evinced by the civic authorities, that every trader should really sell what he professed to sell, and that the poor, whatever their other grievances, should be protected in their dealings against the artifices of adulteration, deficient measures, and short weight, commands our approval."
This appreciation and insistence on quality, in the first place, among the workers in "misteries", and secondly among the vendors of commodities in the open market, was almost universal in Europe. "The dominant preoccupation," says Funck Brentano, in his History of the Middle Ages in France, 3 "common to the statutes of the most diverse corporations, is to assure the fairness of the manufacture and the excellence of the merchandise sold. Thus, so that there should be no deceit a number of crafts prescribed working on the street front, in sight of passers-by." 4
1 English Wayfaring Life in the Middle Ages, p. 235 (note). See also G. S. Coulton, Chaucer and His England, p. 91.
2 Op. Cit. p. 128.
3 English translation (W. Heinemann, 1922), p. 344.
4 Ibid. p. 344.
The inevitable relation of time and quality, and vice versa, seems to have been known to the most ordinary people. And what does this knowledge amount to ? Is it not the recognition of the fact that everything that has quality requires time for its production, and nothing that exists can endure for any time without quality? Thus the apprentice system, which prevailed all over England, France, and Germany, became an indispensable part of this aristocracy of labour. The usual time insisted upon was seven years. 4 The idea of quality penetrated to the lowest strata of the population. The discipline which the constant concern about quality imposed, was everybody's discipline. Production and commerce was not thought of without it. And when it is remembered that these workers in the various crafts, like their predecessors in ancient Egypt, and like their fellow workers in modern India, tended to keep their trade or "mistery" in their families, and, moreover, to marry their sons and daughters, if
1 Ibid. p. 345.
4 Milnes. Op. cit. p. 47.
The fact that the earliest gilds were religious gilds, points to their inspiration under the influence of the Church, and there can be no doubt that the power of the Holy Catholic Church, in itself an aristocratic institution with a strict hierarchy, although deprived of the advantages of blood descent, was largely responsible for the organisation of labour and trade, as it was for the greater part of the life of the Middle Ages. Despite its non-Pagan creed, it is a commonplace of historical criticism to say that it retained much of what was valuable in the classic world, and among the things it transmitted, was undoubtedly the insistence upon quality.
The elementary principle that nothing lasting can be produced if those who produce it have no eye, no sense, for quality, was part of the classic tradition. It is certainly implicit in the way the classic craftsmen set about their work. Permanence, which was the aim of Greece and Rome, was achieved to the extent to which this principle was observed. And, although
Nor is it beside our point, as Conservatives, to consider what this virtue of permanence depends on in the productions of the classic world, whether in thought or material things. For, if to conserve and to preserve depend upon the prevalence of qualitative values, and classic principles are known to have secured for the ancient world a high degree of relative permanence, there must be something to learn from an examination of the meaning of the word "classic". The very fact that we apply the word "classic" to a work that has survived many generations and promises to survive a large number more, demonstrates how closely the word "classic" is associated in our minds with permanence and that which survives the ages. It is therefore most important that Conservatives should be clear about what it means; for they are concerned, primarily with the problem of permanence.
Now I suggest as a working definition of the classic that which is real, in the sense that it is based on eternal and universal laws. That which survives, whether in thought or in material form, must be real, that is to say, it must depend on nothing transitory or fantastic. A thought peculiar only to one phase, or to one localised manifestation of human development, is not real in this sense. It appeals to the temporary mood only of a few people who pass away, probably never to return. Thus, in material productions, the building which depends, as the classic building does, wholly upon the eternal law of gravity, is real in the sense that the principle on which it is constructed is true for all time. It is what one might
In the grandfather clock modern man has discovered a timepiece which, for relative permanence, must excel the bracket clock for all time. Why? Because the grandfather clock depends for its durability as a reliable timepiece on two eternal laws those of gravitation and of the pendulum, which are utilised in the most direct manner possible, whereas the bracket clock, depends only on one eternal law that of the pendulum. In the bracket clock the supplanting of the action of gravitation by a spring whose resilience is ephemeral, man has discovered something less permanent, less classic, less real than the grandfather clock. If the metals used in the latter could be made to survive wear, it would go on telling the right time for ever. The only help it requires is to have its weights readjusted once a week, whereas the bracket clock requires repeated help. It has to be wound up and it also requires the periodical renewal of its mainspring, which tends to lose its resilience. Moreover, during the gradual process of depreciation in the resilience of the mainspring, which is constant, it requires repeated correction.
In thought we can trace the same principle. The classic or realistic thought is that which survives because it is in harmony with some eternal law of the human mind. It cannot fail to appeal to each succeeding generation of humanity, because it is eternally valid. Æsop's fables are eternally valid. Some of Plato's and Aristotles's writings are eternally valid. The eighth book of The Republic contains probably the greatest number of eternal truths that have ever been packed into one political essay. It is realistic in the sense that it is capable of everlasting application. And the same might be said of much that Homer, Aristophanes, Horace and Tacitus said and wrote. Aristotle's Poetics contains a canon for dramatic poetry which can never be surpassed for the accuracy of its psychological analyses. It is realistic and permanent, and therefore classic; because, unless human nature changes beyond recognition, it will always be valid.
Thus in anything that is classic we may expect to discover the reality that has secured its permanence, and that reality will be the eternal law which it exemplifies and applies. Classicism is thus realism the profoundest realism (with quality of matter, expression, material and treatment always understood in its concrete examples). And since Conservatives are concerned about the problem of permanence, they must be both classicists and realists.
But classicism is frequently spoken of as standing in opposition to Romanticism. What is meant by this antithesis?
We need only examine the products of Romanticism in order to understand it. But, first of all, it is
But what had happened meanwhile to the European populations who had striven to reconcile the two conflicting demands that of the Church and that of Life? What was the expression of the civilisation created by this conflict?
In literature it produced the fantastic, the bizarre and wholly unreal world of Romance, in which the situations of the story or plot are as outlandish as the psychology is strained. This literature, which like many of the other artistic features of the period, took its origin in France, is admitted by its most friendly critics to be unparalleled for the wildness of its conceits. It consists of two elements the lives of fantastically holy people, or the quasi-historical account of actual events, known as the chansons de geste. But the marvellous nature of the former colours even the treatment of the latter, and the result is such a mingling of fact with eccentric phantasy that M. Emile Faguet has claimed that the chanson de geste was ruined by the influence of the other style.
Speaking of this literary output, Mr. Edward Dowden says: "Abstract ideas, ethical, theological, and
And, referring to the authors of these works, Faguet writes: "These men are Ariostos touched with melancholy, ceaselessly preoccupied with the mysteries, haunted by dreams, seeing nature as a collection and succession of miracles." 2
It should be remembered, however, in regard to this literature, that it was only a reflection of the impossible conflict between two lives the life of the real world and the life indicated by the ideals of the Church. Its unreality, therefore its Romanticism, consists in the fantastic flights to which the attempt to reconcile these two worlds necessarily led. But because it was superseded and died, we must not imagine that its influence, or the elements which gave rise to it, have disappeared from our midst; as Buckle says it was able "to enfeeble the understanding of a distant posterity". 3 Strained, unreal, fantastic psy-
1 A History of French Literature (London, 1897), pp. 313. The author adds, "Against these high conceptions, and the over-strained sentiment connected with them, the positive intellect and the mocking temper of France reacted."
2 A Literary History of France (1907), p. 28.
3 In his History of Civilisation (Edit. 1871, Vol. I, pp. 269 271), Buckle, speaking of the period from the sixth to the tenth centuries, says: "The few who were able to read, confined their studies to works which encouraged and strengthened their superstition, such as the legends of the saints, and the homilies of the fathers. From these sources they drew those lying and impudent fables of which the theology of that time is principally composed. . . . These miserable stories were widely circulated and were valued as solid and important truths. . . . They willingly laid aside the great masterpieces of antiquity, and in their place substituted these wretched compilations, which corrupted taste, increased their credulity, strengthened their errors, and prolonged the ignorance of Europe . . . thus perpetuating the influence of each separate superstition, and enabling it to enfeeble the understanding of a distant posterity."
In the graphic arts, as I have shown elsewhere, 1 it is possible to trace all through the early and later Middle Ages, the influence of the same fantastic conflict. The body of man is transformed by degrees into the eccentric type that seemed compatible with the unworldly ideal of asceticism. We see the Gothic figure ever more and more tenuous, more emaciated, and more morbid as the years roll on. According to a Byzantine canon of the eleventh century, the human body is actually declared to be a monstrosity measuring nine heads. All trace of Polycleitus's sane and realistic canon has disappeared. The people look so elongated, spiritual and heaven-aspiring, that it seems as if they could not even stand up, while the ugliness of their tortured features causes the spectator to wonder what could have overtaken humanity after the days of the beautiful Athenians. Wolkmann and Woermann describe the early period of mediæval art as one in which the classical cast of figure and features gets "swallowed up in ugliness". 2
This non-vital type bears its ephemeralness stamped on its every feature. It is impermanent because it is unreal. It is the expression of a fantastic conflict, an overstrained sentiment, a false psychology.
It is, however, in the architecture of the period, that the equation Unreal-Romantic-Impermanent, finds its most convincing expression. For, in the
1 Nietzsche and Art, pp. 176183.
2 History of Painting, Vol. I, p. 230.
"Now arches begin to tower aloft into heights undreamt of theretofore. Huge columns spring heavenwards, bearing up a roof that seems almost ethereal because it is so high. Spires are thrust right into the very hearts of clouds, and acres are covered by constructions which, mechanically speaking, are alive. Kicks from the vaulted arches against the hollowed-out walls below, necessitate counter-kicks; buttresses and flying buttresses strive and struggle against the crushing pressure of the stones or bricks of these fantastic architectural feats. All the parts of this mass of stone or baked clay are at loggerheads and at variance with one another, and their strife never ceases." 1
This is all typical of the contest proceeding within the body of the mediæval ascetic, but architecturally it differs from the Greek or Egyptian temple not only in its lack of repose, but also in its lack of permanence. The engineer has to be called in to strut and brace with steel a structure that threatens to collapse. 2
The association of impermanence with Romanticism, owing to the fact that the latter is not based on eternal laws, is a feature that clings to every aspect of non-classic or unrealistic thinking and construction, and the fundamental difference between the classic or real and the Romantic or unreal is therefore of immense importance to Conservatives, who are concerned with the problem of permanence. It should not be forgotten that Liberalism and
1 Nietzsche and Art, p. 185.
2 In Westminster Abbey, which is over a thousand years younger than the Temple of Theseus, the engineer's work is visible from. almost every quarter of the Church.
I shall now proceed to give a brief sketch of a few leading characteristics of the Conservative or classical ideology, and the Liberal or Romantic ideology, so that the two may be compared.
The true Conservative must be above all a realist in thought and action. And, it must be admitted that in his best examples, he has been true to type. Following the Classic and Realistic tradition, he believes in the natural hierarchy of life, that order of rank which is of nature's making, and which cannot be squared with any unreal notions about human equality. Thus, he is a supporter of order, subordination, authority and discipline. He believes in time and its relation to quality, and vice versa. He does not build on the romantic idea that greatness of any sort is accidental or independent of causation. He organises society on lines in which time and quality can work their reciprocal effect, both in human beings and in things. He very naturally inclines to a belief in good lineage, heredity and in sound and pure stock, 1
1 Cf. Disraeli (Coningsby): "All is race, there is no other truth." And in Lord George Bentinck (1882, p. 331) he says: "All is race. In the structure, the decay, and the development, of the various families of man, the vicissitudes of history find their main solution." Disraeli is mystical and unsound in his use of the word race, as I shall show in a later chapter. But at least his mind was concerned with the
Thus in 1692, in spite of its strong support in the country, and the fact that it well knew the advantages which it might have gained against the Whigs by the measure, the Tory Party, which was not yet sufficiently opportunist to abandon its principles, declined a Redistribution and Reform Bill. By extending the suffrage, this Bill would undoubtedly have played into the hands of the Tory Party, because the popular vote was then chiefly Tory. But the Tories nobly acted up to their principles in defeating this Bill. For although they believed in protecting the people from oppression and exploitation, they very rightly did not entertain any fantastic notions about the people's ability for self-government. By this act of folly, says Mr. Maurice Woods, "the Tory Party prepared for itself a long domination by which the Whig corruption of the boroughs held it in impotence and subservience for the greater part of the eighteenth century". 1 And Mr. Woods declares that "it is difficult to speak with patience about it". But it was not an act of folly. It was an act dictated by principle, and we should, as Conservatives, applaud it. 2 The same applies to the Tory attitude towards problem of blood and stock a statement which cannot be made of every political thinker on the Tory side.
1 A History of the Tory Party (1924), p. 65.
2 Later on, in 1770, the Tories again opposed the measures of reform put forward by Chatham, although it would have been to their momentary advantage to have accepted them. And when in 1785 the Younger Pitt failed with his Reform Bill, it must be remembered that in preparing it he acted more as his father's disciple than as an independent Tory.
Again, in their attitude to the five who presented the Kentish Petition to Parliament in 1701, the Tories revealed not only the soundness of their attitude towards democratic control, but also the nature of their conception of government. It will be remembered that owing to the Tories' rooted dislike of English military expeditions to the Continent, certain sections of the country were rendered impatient at Louis' interference in the Netherlands and petitioned the House of Commons to support the King and to "turn their loyal addresses into Bills of Supply". This action the Tories greatly resented, and pleading that the constituencies had all discharged their duty when they had elected their members, and had no right to influence the House any further, sent the five who brought the petition to the Tower.
The opposition of a great Conservative, like the Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, to the Reform Bills of 1832 and 1867, and the Ballot Act of 1872, was thus not due to his dislike of the people, or to his inhumanity, for he was the most solicitous guardian of the people's welfare that has ever lived. It was due
1 In his opposition to Chatham's proposals for reform in 1770, Burke, although a Whig, really expressed the Tory view, when he argued that the constitutional change would end in throwing power into the hands of the ignorant a consequence which he saw would ultimately turn not to the advantage, but to the disadvantage of the masses.
He knows that futile change can result from unhappiness, and generally does result from unhappiness. Indeed, he is aware that "indignation is often the mainspring of political activity", 1 and thus insists on keeping the "people" happy. Charles I, who was probably the first great Tory, strove all through his reign to keep the people of England happy, and this aim has characterised the best Conservatives down to Disraeli, who, as we have seen, maintained that "Power has only one duty: to secure the social welfare of the People". 2 Charles I's opponents, on the other hand, who were the lineal ancestors of the Whigs and the modern Liberals and Radicals, never cared about the happiness of the people. They thought more of saving the people malgré eux than of securing their contentment.
The Conservative believes in private property, but
1 A. Ponsonby: Religion in Politics, p. 10.
2 See p. 20 ante (note).
Because he believes in character, health, good taste and pure stock, the Conservative must always be opposed to miscegenation, and the flooding of his country with foreigners. If the identity of the nation is to be preserved, its people must be protected against blood contamination. Thus, although Conservatives may be courteous and hospitable to the foreigner, they ought never to allow this attitude to extend to the toleration of marriages between the people of the country and the foreigner, or to the granting of too great facilities for foreign settlers.
But, above all, the true Conservative entertains no highfalutin' notions about the alleged radical good-
1 Wilfred Meynell (op. cit. p. 120). Cf. Aristotle, Politics, VII, 1330a. "In the first place health is to be consulted as the first thing necessary."
As we proceed, we shall find to what other important principles the Conservative is committed. For the present, however, the above will suffice in order for us to make a comparison and to ask the question, why the belief in these principles should be essential to sound Conservatism. The answer is, because, they alone are found to work, they alone can be trusted to maintain and preserve the identity of a nation. It is not a matter of fancy, it is a matter of eternal law. Relax any one of these principles, alter the ideology of Conservatism, by however little, and the end, which is the preservation of the nation's identity through change, will be imperilled.
The ideology of Liberalism and Jacobinism, on the other hand, is as free from realism as anything possibly could be. Impossible, impracticable ideals,
Thus it reveals a repeated neglect of sound stock and lineage; nay, it has a rooted dislike of both, and constantly tries to destroy belief in their importance. It is always in favour of elective offices as opposed to hereditary offices, as if the capricious and erring judgment of a crowd, were more reliable than the certain and unalterable laws of nature. Everywhere it seizes on those instances in history when heredity seems to have failed in human families, without considering whether the conditions which alone enable the law of heredity to operate successfully, were or were not fulfilled in the instances it adduces. 1 It flings ridicule at the House of Lords as a convincing example of the failure of the hereditary principle, without revealing to those it would mislead that for over a century the selective and not the hereditary principle has chiefly operated in composing the body of the Upper House. It points to Commodus as a proof of the unreliability of heredity, without first ascertaining the gifts and antecedents of the wife of Marcus Aurelius, or the chances which nature was given, in the case of this only child, to effect the best possible combinations of his parents' qualities. 2 The
1 For an exhaustive discussion of this question and a complete vindication of heredity, see my Defence of Aristocracy, Chapter VII.
2 Buckle is a particularly bad offender in this respect. See his History of Civilisation in England (Edit. 1871, Vol. II, pp. 162163). To inveigh against hereditary distinctions and to point to the failure of European aristocracies to maintain a high level of quality, without
By unwisely rejecting the hereditary principle, Whigs, Liberals and Jacobins have relied on the romantic principle that virtue and character come from nowhere, and have therefore promoted, and incited the world to, a degree of miscegenation, both between stocks, nationalities, and traditional cultivated types (such as functionally distinct families like artists, skilled tradesmen, scientists, commercial men and other professionals), which has dissipated all character and nearly all capacity in every Western nation.
In the Liberal and Jacobin ideology it is a fundamental principle that every man is the best judge of his own interest, and that the cumulative effect of
allowing for the fact that these aristocracies did nothing to enable the law of heredity to preserve quality in their lines, is to reveal merely unscientific prejudice against the idea of aristocracy as such.
In the Liberal and Jacobin ideology, the principle of the equality of mankind is axiomatic. It colours the whole mentality of their thinkers, from Locke 4
1 See Jeremy Bentham, Theory of Legislation, Chapter XII: "As a general rule the greatest possible latitude should be left to individuals, in all cases in which they can injure none but themselves, for they are the best judges of their own interest." We agree with the first part of the statement, but take violent exception to the second and last part.
2 Conservatism, p. 188.
4 The ingenuous manner in which Locke, arguing against Sir Robert Filmer, claims that men in Nature are equal, was only possible as a result of the ignorance of the time. "A state also of equity," says Locke, "wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another, there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to
all the same advantages of Nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst the other, without subordination or subjection, unless the lord and master of them all should, by any manifest declaration of his will, set one above the other." See Two Treatises on Government (Book II, Chap. II, Par. 4). It is hardly necessary to point out that this "state of Nature" is a pure myth, and yet it was believed in by Rousseau, and came to form the basis of all Jacobin agitations. Millions of ignorant people still believe in it to-day.
1 Op. Cit. Book II, Chapter VI, Par. 54.
2 This was recognised by Aristotle. See his Politics, Book V, 1302 a.
The belief in equality naturally leads to the depreciation of authority and subordination. We saw it do so in Locke, and it does so in Mill. Hence we find the latter postulating the following fantastic proposition:. "Command and obedience are but unfortunate necessities of human life; society in equality is its normal state." 3 How much more wise and profound is Aristotle's statement: "Whatever is contrary to nature is not right; therefore if there is any one superior to the rest of the community in virtue and abilities for active life, him it is proper to follow, him it is right to obey." 4 Mill would have us believe that there is something abnormal and morbid about the conditions which Aristotle describes here. It is this disbelief in authority and subordination, which, in the ideology of Romanticism, Liberalism and Jacobinism, always leads to the decline of discipline; for wherever the ideology prevails discipline ceases to be upheld. And since, without discipline, it is impossible to maintain standards, the belief in the myth of human equality and the disbelief in authority and subordination ultimately lead to the loss of a nation's identity.
As, however, the tendency in the Liberal and
1 Declaration by the Representatives of the United States.
2 The Subjection of Women. Chapter II, Section 10.
3 Ibid. Section 12.
4 Politics. Book VII, 1325b.
1 A Defence of Aristocracy. Chapter V.
2 Wilfred Meynell (op. cit. p. 140): "He loathed levity about the only serious and mysterious thing we really know the body." See also Aristotle. Politics. Book VII, 1334b. "The body, therefore, necessarily demands our care before the soul; next the appetites, for the sake of the mind; the body for the sake of the soul."
In its attitude to liberty, the Liberal and Romantic ideology is again as different as possible from the Tory and Conservative attitude. As we have seen, while the Tory and Conservative resist the granting of too much political liberty to the subject, because they wish to be responsible for the subject's guidance and protection, feel that such guidance and protection will always be necessary, and have no desire to shirk the responsibility they involve; and, while they wish to safeguard the individual liberty of the subject as far as possible, the Whigs and Liberals, on the other hand, are always endeavouring to relieve themselves of the responsibility of guiding and protecting the masses by giving them as much apparent political power as possible, and caring not a scrap for their individual liberty. An extreme application of these
The idea of granting political liberty to the people 2 and of handing over to them the control of their nation's affairs is, of course, as fantastic as any other Romantic and Liberal scheme, and in practice, it is
1 The Enemies of Liberty (London, 1925), p. 138.
2 I shall make no attempt here to discuss the origin of the Whig and Liberal idea of the political liberty of the subject in the writings of men like Locke and Rousseau, because it would take too long. But anyone can, at a glance, perceive the wild nature of these alleged "philosophic" roots of popular liberty in Locke's indefensible statement that "man is born free", which he occupies many pages in a vain attempt to support (Two Treatises of Government. Book II) and Rousseau's equally preposterous claim that "man was born free and everywhere he is in chains". (For a fuller discussion of the absurdity of this standpoint see my False Assumptions of Democracy, Chapter IV.)
1 Representative Government. Chapter III.
3 An interesting and telling example of the more sound view regarding this matter is afforded by the action of the organist of Salisbury Cathedral during the latter half of the seventeenth century. At the time when petitions were constantly being sent up to Charles II by the Petitioners and Abhorrers (see p. 84 infra), he was asked to sign one of them, and he replied: "I understand nothing but music, and, if you please, I will set a tune to it, and that is all I can do for your service." This is the best comment from an honest man on Mill's idea of the stultification of the popular mind in communities where the suffrage is restricted. (See Roylance Kent. The Early History of the Tories. London, 1908. Page 259.)
And this brings us to the last fundamental principle of the Whig and Liberal ideology which we shall consider. I refer to the fantastic belief in the radical goodness of human nature. The way politicians of this school speak of the "People", of trusting the "People", of appealing to the "People", the way they construct their schemes as if angels and not venal, acquisitive and egotistic human beings were the object of them; and above all, the way in which they tend to speak of political abstractions which have no basis in natural, human existence, is a sign of this superficial and facile psychology. A good deal of
1 Meynell (op. cit. p. 97).
1 See The Theory of the State (3rd Edition. Authorized translation, Clarendon Press, pp. 442443). "Solon witnessed, without being able to prevent, the victory of tyranny over the democracy which he had established with its mixture of the aristocratic elements of birth and wealth. After the fall of the tyrants, pure democracy was introduced at Athens, but it fell into obvious and hopeless collapse before it had existed a century. On the other hand, the constitution of Lycurgus maintained the greatness of Sparta for five centuries. When Sparta did fall it was because that constitution had been violated by the accumulation of wealth, by the corruption which was thus introduced, and by the demagogic intrigues of the ephors."
2 In considering the effect of ancient democracies, we ought never to forget that these democracies consisted only of the free men of the States in which they ruled, and not of the entire population. Democracy to-day, however, is not the rule of a cultivated class, but of everybody. This makes the danger to the State very much more serious.
Truth to tell, the traditional and orthodox Tory and Conservative position is one definitely opposed to democracy. And the idea mooted ever since the eighties of last century of a Tory-democratic party is thus an absurdity. Far from believing in the natural or inherent right of every individual to political liberty the Conservative believes "that all men are directed, by the general constitution of human nature, to submit to government, and that some men are in a particular manner designed to take care of that government on which the common happiness depends." l And why does this constitute the Tory and Conservative faith in politics? Because it is the only belief that works, if the object is to preserve the identity of a nation.
The Jacobin ideology goes very much further than the Whig and Liberal in its Romantic nights. The theories of Socialism and Communism are alone sufficient to show to what extent fancy and not a sound knowledge of human nature directs the supporters of this ideology in the framing of their Utopias. But since, as Burke points out, "criticism is almost baffled in discovering the defects of what has not existed, and eager enthusiasm and cheating hope have all the wide field of imagination, in which they may expatiate with little or no opposition", 2 it is extremely difficult to convince people that these Utopian schemes,
1 Viscount Bolingbroke. On the Spirit of Patriotism (Edition, T. Davies, 1775, p. 8). See also A Dissertation on Parties (same edition, p. 208): "Absolute monarchy is tyranny, but absolute democracy is tyranny and anarchy both."
From this brief and inadequate comparison of the ideologies of Conservatism and Liberalism, and the description of the roots from which they derive, it might be inferred that the course of each party is so sharply defined from the other that nothing could be simpler than to trace their separate policies in two consistent lines throughout history. This, however, is very far from being the case. The clash and rivalry of parties in Parliament on the one hand, and, on the other, the failure of Conservative statesmen and thinkers to maintain the high standard of realism requisite for sustaining conservatism as a practical and sound political policy, have led to much confusion and to the framing of much unconservative legislation on the part of Conservatives themselves. And the Tory reader of history is frequently astonished to find his party committing themselves to programmes and policies which are as remote as they can be from the ideology of his political creed, and therefore inconsistent with the aim of preserving the nation's
Owing either to a lack of realism or to the wish to cut the ground from under the feet of their opponents, Conservatives have too often stolen a leaf from the Liberal, and even the Jacobin book, or initiated policies which were not Conservative in spirit. And, seeing that some of the best Conservative leaders have been guilty of this practice, it is not surprising that there should be considerable doubt among the rank and file of the party, concerning the true character of their position.
For instance, throughout the last fifty years, the Conservatives have been much too prone to identify themselves with the capitalists, to whom they do not strictly belong, and have supported and even initiated legislation which has enslaved rather than emancipated the working classes, who ought always to have been regarded as their particular protégés. Instead of taking a firm stand in favour of improving the condition of the workers so that these might themselves have taken better care of their children's health and education, and by so doing have preserved that self-reliance, independence and personal freedom, which were the characteristics of the Englishmen of history, Conservatives have been too much inclined to co-operate with Liberals in a campaign of enslavement, which has consisted in keeping the condition of the poor more or less as it has always been since the Industrial Revolution, and in spending for them vast sums in doing for them in education, health, and recently in insurance, what they ought to have been encouraged and helped to do for themselves. This has altered very considerably the character of the people, and the alteration has not been an improvement. To the extent, therefore, to which Conservatives have co-operated with the Capitalistic and