passim: the four articles in this series are actually titled Personality and human destiny; Personality in statesmanship; Personality in statesmanship (III); and Personality in statesmanship (IV); p. 8 (Part I): catastrophies [= catastrophes]; p. 11 (Part II): bely [= belie]; p. 12 (Part II): neverthelesss [= nevertheless]; p. 12 (Part II): all the Europes [sic]; p. 12 (Part II): untramelled [= untrammelled]; p. 13 (Part IV): tonsilectomies [= tonsillectomies]; p. 14 (Part IV): humourous [= humorous]
Personality in statesmanship
Anthony M. Ludovici
The South African Observer 1.6, 1955, pp. 79; 1.7, 1955, pp. 1113;
1.8, 1955, pp. 56; 1.9, 1956, pp. 1314
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As of most equally important human characteristics, the present-day notion of personality is so anarchical that it has become a commonplace of political speculation to speak of the "accident of personality", just as if the mighty influence exerted by personality, especially in rulers, on the history of mankind, were a pure hazard like the weather, and unamenable to control.
No one, in the Democracies at least, has for generations, if ever, asked whether such fatalism is either justified or compatible with Man's alleged and much boosted Mastery over Nature.
Rulers adopting deplorable courses
In our own history and other peoples', we repeatedly see rulers adopting deplorable courses and taking tragically wrong turnings owing to this assumed "accident" of personality, without once (until quite recently) hearing of any measures being proposed to provide against such disastrous occurrences. No matter where we turn in our own history, however, we find compelling reasons for questioning whether, after all, it can have been sane to bow our heads so long before this intolerable scourge.
Who can tell, for instance what our world would now look like if it had been possible for England to avoid Edward II's succession to his great father; or to have had Prince Arthur instead of that lecherous clown Henry VIII after Henry VII, or to have had his elder brother instead of Charles after James I?
Whether James's inordinate jealousy of noble Prince Henry led him to poison the youth or not, is really less important than the question how and why Henry and Charles, as siblings, happened to be so disparate as to make it seem probable that the former's succession would have a much more favourable influence on our history than did that of his less gifted and less normal brother. Indeed, in view of this critical turning-point in England's history, one is appalled by the power of personality over human destiny.
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Settled doom of Europe
Meanwhile, elsewhere, similar but more gigantic changes were preparing through a sequence of personal accidents which, in my opinion, settled the doom not only of one nation, but also of all Europe.
Twice Louis XIV lost his Heir Apparent first in the person of the Grand Dauphin, and secondly in that of this man's son, the Duke of Burgundy. So that it was Louis XIV's great grandson who in 1715 ascended the French throne as Louis XV. This King's grandfather and father, had they lived, would then have been only 54 and 33 years old respectively.
Thus, in the ordinary course of events, the disreputable ruffian whose incompetence and depravity wrecked both the French monarchy and the general idea of monarchical rule in Europe, need not have come to the throne until at least forty years later than he actually did. Had this happened, it is reasonable to assume that the whole world, lot alone Europe, would now be infinitely better off; for, despite his grandfather's pitiful mediocrity, he was at least a much more respectable character; whilst his father was so far his superior that his contemporaries thought him a sage, if not a saint.
Fénelon, his tutor, was convinced that as King he would regenerate France. Voltaire describes him as erudite, modest, just and virtuous, a worthy pupil of the Duke of Beauvilliers and Fénelon, and declares that even had he been a commoner he would certainly have become celebrated. A later writer, Boulenger, says he had "the soul of a Marcus Aurelius or of a Saint Louis."
Influence of personality on history
But, alas! he did not live to reign. His blackguardly son therefore succeeded Louis XIV, and the evil repercussions of the catastrophies this low debauchee brought to his world, are hardly yet exhausted. Indeed, it would be difficult to name one aspect of the inhabited globe to-day, which does not bear some scar memorialising the vast convulsion caused by this parody of a sovereign ruler.
But the story of the influence, so often baneful, of personality on history, is endless. Without considering that of statesmen, whether in England, France, or Germany, if we recall only the part played by the masterful wives of weak potentates the Henrietta Marias, the Marie Antoinettes and the Empress Fredericks (1888) of history we have a spectacle of errors so irremediable and, in their outcome, so far-reaching, that they acquire the gravity of volcanic eruptions and earthquakes; the only difference being that, whereas those calamities cannot be averted, those duo to human personality both should and could be.
Nefarious claims of democrats
The democrat, the revolutionary and the anarchist are at heart grateful for disasters due to powerful blunderers; for they provide the stick with which to beat the advocate of personal rulership.
They stubbornly maintain, therefore, that, like the cataclysms of Nature, the fatal consequences of evil or merely inept personalities on the destiny of peoples cannot be averted, and argue that for this reason politics based on personal power, such as monarchy, and aristocracy, are inherently bad and should be abolished. This was more or less J. S. Mill's view and that of the 19th century radicals.
It finds its justification, however, only in a society in which human stocks, both in the ruler and the ruled classes, are exposed to the deterioration incidental to indiscriminate and unwise mating. As, moreover, such a form of society has existed for at least two millenniums in Europe, the arguments of the democrats and their camp-followers have acquired peculiar cogency. History teems with examples to which these rebels can now point in order to support their nefarious claims.
Absurd priority given by Socrates
At bottom, every thinker abreast of the scientific discoveries of his day, especially in the realm of genetics, knows that these claims depend for their validity on a social atmosphere permeated with the spirit of Socrates, in which concern about the biological quality of mankind in general and of ruler castes in particular, has long been regarded as impracticable, if not actually reprehensible.
The absurd priority Socrates gave to the so-called "soul" of Man, and the emphasis with which he denigrated the body, permanently influenced European values in a direction hostile to any policy of selective human breeding and assertive mating. Only quite recently Ins a mire enlightened scientific outlook changed this direction and restored to Mankind its whilom sanity in the quest of human quality.
For it is now established that Man is a psychosome, a psycho-physical composite, whose body and mind are so intimately related that they cannot be treated as mutually independent. So that once again, after over 2,000 years, of erratic wandering in the wilderness of Socratic tomfoolery, we have at last recovered our belief in the paramount importance of biologically sound human stock, and hence in the feasibility of constructive, selective human breeding.
What Plato suggested 2,000 years ago
Thus gradually, painfully, and through countless cruel experiences, has the science of sound politics revealed even to indurated democrats or at least to the honest and candid among them that the fatalism which has hitherto marked Man's acceptance of the "accident of personality" in rulers, is but falsely likened to his attitude to Nature's cataclysms.
A school of thought has therefore at last emerged which with desperate emphasis is summoning modern Man speedily to do what Plato over 2,000 years ago suggested should be done deliberately to rear and preserve an élite that may safely be trusted with the leadership of modern peoples.
To prove, indeed, how utterly we have at length shaken ourselves free from the monster Socrates and grown conscious of the urgency of reversing our gears in this matter of cultivating human quality for the time is short and Nemesis threatens even democrats have come forward with Plato's plea of two thousand years ago.
I could, of course, quote many Conservatives and conservative scientists who favour this means of salvation. But I shall deliberately confine myself to avowed and hidebound democrats and believers in Representative Government. Thus, we have surprisingly enough the following political philosophers and sociologists who, none too happily it is true, but nevertheless unmistakably, appeal to their fellow men quickly to rear an élite in order to save the world. I say "none too happily" do these men voice this appeal, because, naturally, it is never pleasant to have to cat one's words.
And this explains why these willy-nilly champions of Aristocracy all try to save their faces by sandwiching their appeal for an élite between impressive slabs of praise for democratic institutions. The two, they think can still form a happy mixture. But, behind this duty-
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Democrats who believe in an élite
The men I have in mind are: Sir Fred Clarke, a dyed-in-the-wool democrat, who, though intelligent enough to perceive the hopelessness, let alone the danger, of his political philosophy, and to appreciate the wisdom of an aristocratic order of society, yet has the insincere-sincerity to couch his plea for an élite in terms that will still seem democratic. Thus, he declares that if Democracy is to be saved it must have an élite of "uncommon-common men".
Professor R, G. Collingwood imagines he saves the face of his fellow-democrats by limiting his requirements to a compound of Democracy and Aristocracy; and yet the treatise in which he enunciates this amiable compromise makes it perfectly plain that such a compound is impracticable.
Dr. F. C. Happold is so pessimistic about the democratic outlook that, as one turns over his pages one expects any moment to read that he has at last abandoned his old Faith. But, whether from the fear of displeasing the Powers that be, or from inveterate timidity, he never says outright that he has ceased to believe. All he does is to state the urgent need of aristocratic leadership and to lay down with exceptional insight (we must grant him that) the criteria to be used in selecting the progenitors of the future élite that are to lead the voting cattle of modern states.
T. S. Eliot is another of this ilk. If Democracy is not to bring ruin, an élite must quickly be improvised; but this does not mean that Democracy is to be scrapped. The major difficulty, however, according to Eliot, is to discover the "criterion of who are the best people." Of course! How can a Democracy possess such a criterion? This honest admission is at least refreshing.
Middleton Murry also sees Nemesis ahead if Democracy as at present found in Europe and elsewhere is not immediately restored to health by a ruler-class. But his specification of the attributes essential to an effective aristocracy, make the advent of such a body appear quite hopeless. Nevertheless, he remains a resolute and valiant democrat.
Professor A. Weber, Wilhelm Röpke and Karl Mannheim, are all more or less in the same position. Whilst seeing and deploring the unworkableness of totalitarian Democracy, and appreciating the pressing need of aristocratic leadership and the formation of a new élite, not one of them has the courage, let alone the candour, to say outright that Democracy is a lethal dope.
Occult renegades from democratic camp
Thus, the only lesson we derive from this bunch of occult renegades from the democratic camp, is that our opponents are at last reluctantly acknowledging the error of their thought and ways.
All we await now, and with a certain modicum of amusement, is their ultimate surrender. For, without exception, every one of them proposes to rear the élite he has in mind, by means of EDUCATION a method which never has and never can, alone, produce superior men. (We need only to have lived all our lives among educated people to know this. Besides, England is glutted with educated men and women, and yet is utterly destitute of any aristocracy).
Not one of the depressed democrats we have been examining has so far dared to speak the truth, which is that only by breeding and careful selection can the human material he formed for an élite which can benefit by élite education and training.
But these hidebound democrats are making such surprising progress in the discovery of their errors, I do not despair of soon hearing that they have at long last abandoned even their doctrinal aversion from the policy of human breeding, and have come round to Man's ancient wisdom in the matter of cultivating quality in human beings. Only when they have reached this point in their reformation, however, will there be some hope of over-coming the tyranny of personality in the destiny of our race. For not one of the historical examples I have given above would have been possible if the ruler-figures concerned had been carefully bred.
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It is the more timely to do this, seeing that it is a pro-supposition now accepted by everybody high and low, wherever the values of Western Civilization hold sway. It springs spontaneously to everybody's mind, like a conditioned mental reflex; is never questioned, and its purport is that any human being can if he likes express what he is not, be what he is not, and, in his performance, in no matter what sphere, flatly bely his basic nature.
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In the purely physical sphere, this pre-supposition is instantly recognized as bogus. A cachectic and asthenic cripple who would presume to express his strength in an all-out wrestling match with a Hercules, would immediately be sent home and told not to be silly. Likewise a raw clod-hopper, fresh from his plough and all muscle and clumsiness, who pretended to be able to lead a corps de ballet, would at once be suspected of some mental weakness and advised to think again.
Not so, however, in the sphere of the spirit. So long has the European and his like had it dinned into him that "soul" and "body" are separate, distinct and independent that a man whose appearance stamps him at the first glance as a complete chaos whose asymmetrical features and proportions loudly proclaim his lack of harmony and order, is neverthelesss neither derided nor denied if circumstances place him where he can clam to set our world in order.
Indeed, scores of such men sire now functioning as legislators all over our Western World. Their personality breathes disorder, exudes discord. But they are yet thought quite capable of establishing and maintaining order and harmony.
Consequences are disastrous
A man whose whole aspect repels, is not necessarily debunked or doubted if he sets up as a poet, a painter, a sculptor or a musician. Since the "soul" has nothing to do with the body, it is assumed that beauty, grace, charm and harmony can issue from him like honey from a cockroach.
People whose breath is so foul as to make any tête-à-tête with them a severe ordeal, are nevertheless granted the right of having pure souls. And so on! Can there be any doubt that the pre-supposition I have mentioned now prevails in all the Europes of our modern world?
Naturally, the consequences of acting on this presupposition sire disastrous, especially in world politics. But, in a world fast disintegrating into chaos, who suspects that the catastrophic changes now transforming the modern scene, are the inevitable outcome of leaders, rulers and whole peoples, who for generations have themselves been individually chaotic; who, owing to their heterogeneous hereditary sources, cannot help being shrilly discordant, intricately confused?
Who suspects that the prohibitive ugliness of most of our modern poetry, graphic and plastic art, and music, are due to the scarecrow ugliness of our poets, artists, sculptors and musicians?
Expressing what he is not
The belief that a human being can be and can express what he is not, is in fact at the bottom of all the fatuous hopes that have built our reformatories and inspired our schemes for Moral Rearmament and Uplift. Exhorting curs to be prize-winners is palpable nonsense. But exhorting human rubbish to become Apollos is thought eminently sensible.
But in an atmosphere in which it is believed that nurture can turn a crow into a nightingale or, to be more strictly relevant, a cuckoo into a cossetting parent, what modern man or woman, above all the latter, ever doubts that fiends can be taught to become angels?
In such an atmosphere, no one of course believes in breeding. It is too vulgar! No one pays any heed to beauty (except the cinema producers) or symmetry, as at all necessary for human beings.
The fact that the judgment "ugly" is allowed to carry no characterological implications to-day and is in truth regarded as hardly relevant in discussing a fellow being, is looked upon as a proof of our higher civilization.
When, in the latter half of last century, the Empress Eugénie observed that a sovereign should be good-looking, it was probably the last time in our era when this profound sentiment could be expressed without provoking loud guffaws.
Inheritance from disparate parents
Yet nothing could be more certain than that ugliness, in the sense of disproportionate, unharmonious and asymmetrical features, is always the product of conflict and confusion between two or more hereditary influences the inheritance from disparate parents and disparate ancestors of different parts of the mask and body.
How easily this arises is immediately grasped when we learn that different parts of the face and even different parts of the same feature in the face (the nose, cars, jaws and eyes) may be inherited independently from either of two disparate parents. So that ugliness is without exception always the outward sign of a confused constitution. For the various parts of the body down to the endocrine glands and even the ganglia, are also inherited independently from either parent.
When, therefore, these parents are disparate, the confusion and conflict in their offspring's organism may and too often do cause obscure and sometimes serious symptoms of faulty functioning and disease.
Add to this that the impulses, proclivities, passions and gifts of two disparate parents, by being haphazardly mixed up, also occasion conflict in the motivations, the will and the emotional reactions of the offspring, to the extent of causing neuroses, if not madness, and it requires no particular shrewdness to infer that individual ugliness is a public warning of a hidden danger.
Rule by the best
Thus, when Proust remarked that "ugliness was so common in the French aristocracy of his day that, in itself, it partook of a sort of aristocratic savour" (Le COTÉ DE GUERMANTES, I), he unwittingly but definitely pronounced the French aristocracy stone dead as indeed it then was.
For aristocratic rule is rule by the best i.e., the best in human quality. And like that of any other species of being, human quality means essentially psycho-physical integration, harmony, order and proportion. So that not only can the aristocrat express order and harmony, because he is both, but he is also a smoothly functioning creature, untramelled by conflicts, whether physical or psychological. His features are consequently free from the conflicting elements of disparate parents and are, in accordance with the aesthetic standards of his particular type, noble and handsome. He should be the epitome of his people's best type in excelsis.
The Empress Eugénie was thus quite right. Her words sound fantastic, if not laughable to-day, because the type-mongrels composing our democratic world, have only their ugliness, their diseases, and their "sense of humour" in common. In all other respects they are as individuals sharply differentiated, with no standardized psycho-physical qualities, of which their leaders can be epitomes in excelsis.
Result of type-miscegenation
Owing to this extreme individual differentiation all
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Indeed, they are led to believe, even by scientists, that their typical differences from each other are an advantage and that one should deliberately mate with one's "complementary opposite" if one would achieve "perfect harmony" (Sir Adolphe Abrahams: WOMAN: MAN'S EQUAL?).
Not how human quality arises
In vain, therefore, do we seek in our modern Western populations, any group of people sufficiently homogeneous and uniform in stamina, health and psycho-physical features, to be able to give promise of ultimately extruding an aristocratic caste. And the deeper we sink into anarchy and biological shoddiness and the more our popular scientists scoff at breeding and heredity, while staking our future on "Education", the more desperate will our situation become.
Facing a generation of uncomely, generally sick and neurotic people, it is easy to convince them that all will be well if only they improve their education, and that in the end even their new élite, their leaders and men of quality, will be produced by the same means.
It is much more difficult mid hazardous to forget tact and to tell them plainly that as type-mongrels, hopelessly mixed in every physical feature and every instinct, impulse and appetite, they can expect nothing beyond further chaos unless they take drastic steps to reduce the chaos in themselves; and that they cannot aspire to one day extruding an élite, a competent body of leaders, from their midst, until they themselves become a source from which beings of quality can at last be born.
Resembling one another in various forms of disease, in ugliness and "a sense of humour", is not enough.
That is not how human quality arises.
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If this is not fanciful and pleasant verbiage; if it is not mere wishful thinking, what precisely does it mean? To the reader who has come across this notion for the first time, it may seem a mere juggling with words. What, for instance, does "extruding" mean in the context?
To the modern democrat's mind, it will probably convey very little. Knowing only democratic method of appointing leaders i.e., by the mass voting of people who cannot choose a charwoman, much less a husband or wife, with any certainty of success; who are notoriously ill-informed about how to infer performance from appearance, and who are wont, moreover, to favour only those candidates who promise to secure them some material advantage (as if that necessarily implied élite gifts!) with such limited notions in mind, the modern democrat will shy at the idea of extruding an élite, and declare with angry emphasis that he has never heard or thought of such a process.
If this is really so, however, it means that he has read history, if at all, without either understanding or even attention. For all the élites known to history have led their people to creative steps in human culture, have been thus extruded from a population already standardized in quality, and have been the epitomes in excelsis of this population's qualities.
Biological and psychological quality
But and here the average common man will probably be confronted with something he has never been told before in order that a people may be capable of extruding an élite equipped for creative leadership, it is essential in the first place that these people should themselves have quality. They should be sufficiently homogeneous to have escaped the many penalties of having been bred, from disparate parents. This is of the highest importance; because only in this way can their psycho-physical constitution be harmonious, free from conflicts and disproportions a condition which is the foundation sine qua non of biological and psychological quality.
By selective, careful and endogamic mating, plus the operation of Natural Selection, they must have eliminated all hereditary taints from their family lines, all injurious recessive genes; and cultivated a forest stamina against which temporary adverse environmental conditions assail them in vain. Only thus can they become a people of quality, a pool of quality, from which a higher order of being can one day arise.
No matter how mixed their ethnic origins may once have been, they must, in order to achieve these ends, have protected their strictly endogamic customs for generations from the disturbing influence of strangers differently constituted and differently bred from themselves; for this would mar their standardization. They must also have exercised untiring vigilance in maintaining high levels of health, stamina and hereditary soundness.
Highest exemplars of mankind
But, if these essential requirements are correctly enumerated here, we should expect to find all those geographical conditions which automatically prevent foreign visitations, make the introduction of foreign blood and influences impossible or difficult and favour endogamy, precisely the conditions which are best calculated to promote the formation of a people of quality, and thence, of a higher caste capable of leading them.
Nor, if we study history from the days of ancient Egypt and Babylonia to the 15th Century A.D. the period of the Renaissance shall we find our expectations ungrounded. For, without exception, wherever in Europe and the Near and Far East, feats of culture have been performed and the very foundations of all Civilization have been laid, we encounter islands, peninsulas, or else naturally or artificially enclosed or insulated areas, such as the Nile Delta, the land bounded by two rivers, Mesopotamia, circumvallated China and isolated Venice.
The élites extruded from the peoples occupying these areas have been among the highest and noblest exemplars of Mankind. Their taste, their choice, their judgment, even their laws, have set us an example and given us the most precious portions of our heritage.
We must, however, take care not to ascribe too much merely to the endogamy their geographical situation
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Rapid decline in homogeneity
At all events, not until both the social conventions and geographical conditions of the people of high quality began to be considerably modified and to enter a phase in which they could no longer protect these people from becoming type-mongrelized, and the people themselves ceased to observe the rules which had guaranteed their health and stamina, was the accumulated capital of quality created through the Ages at last gradually squandered.
And when, over and above this, vastly improved facilities of transport, coupled with an intensified application of Socrates' corrupt doctrines, led to a rapid decline in homogeneity, wherever it had contrived to survive in small pockets throughout the Western world when these manifold changes came about, everything else gave way and inaugurated an era, not only of indiscriminate type-miscegenation and all its sequelae in the form of psycho-physical disharmony, disproportion, ugliness and faulty functioning, but also of general psycho-physical deterioration in hereditary influences.
Owing to the catastrophic Socratic humbug about the alleged superiority of the "Soul" and the negligibility of the body, health, stamina and hereditary soundness rapidly dwindled, without, however, causing the faintest anxiety or alarm among those who displayed these symptoms of decadence. We cannot wonder, therefore, that all high quality slowly vanished from the populations of the west and made them incapable of extruding an élite competent to lead them. This was the fundamental cause of the DECLINE OF THE WEST. All the other causes enumerated by Spengler were merely subsidiary.
Desperate need of a new "élite"
The situation being such as I describe, it is frivolous, not to say dishonest, to pretend as many prominent moderns are doing, that in our desperate need of a new élite today (a need which they at least have the candour to acknowledge), we may confidently rely on "EDUCATION". Since the pool of quality from which an élite can arise, has now been recklessly dissipated, what hope can there be of a recrudescence of aristocratic leadership through the activities of schoolmasters, however zealous and diligent?
If even in the domain of health, stamina and hereditary soundness, nothing is being done to regenerate our various European stocks, what hope can there be of restoring to the various nations of the West that homogeneity and standardization which, alone, can spare us the dire consequences of being bred from disparate parents?
And when I speak of nothing being done in the domain of health, stamina and hereditary soundness to regenerate our stocks in the West, I make no unsubstantiated charge. Volumes of evidence could be adduced to prove that, whilst everything, all the resources of our complicated society, are lavished almost to the point of exhaustion, on the physiologically bungled and botched, on cosseting and patching up human rubbish, and on preserving what in prudence should be discarded; whilst even Royalty, when time hangs on its hands, can think of nothing better to do than to grace a hospital, a home for cripples, the deaf and dumb, or the blind, with its august presence, no one makes a gesture, much less a bequest, which might promote the multiplication of the sound and desirable stocks still surviving in our midst. Even the rich follow Royalty's lead in manifesting interest chiefly in the sick and the degenerate. For when plutocrats die they invariably leave a part of their property in the form of insurance policies against Hell Fire by making substantial bequests to hospitals and kindred institutions.
Sacred duty to cry "nemesis"
Nothing, not a single effort, either financial or doctrinal, is made to foster, nurse, or even preserve the diminishing sound elements that still survive in the nation, or to protect them from the pollution and corruption threatening them at every step, particularly in the form of tainted stocks, when they contemplate marriage.
If even here, in this elementary duty of promoting soundness, health and stamina, nothing is done, how can we expect the other, less obvious pre-requisites of human quality to be considered or provided for?
Let cowards and sycophants, who are too tactful to call their fellows, let alone Royalty, to their senses in this matter, continue to lisp their safe slogan, "EDUCATION".
For the more candid and courageous among modern thinkers, it is now a sacred duty to lift their voices and to cry "Nemesis!", unless something drastic and fundamental is speedily undertaken to lend reality and substance to all the much advertised programmes of human betterment.
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It is readily admitted that the expenditure is fabulous. But how can it serve a regenerating purpose for our N.H.S., through its chemists, to dispense 10,62,000,000 prescriptions, as it did in England and Wales alone between 1947 and 1952; through its oculists, 27,000,000 pairs of glasses; through its aurists, 305,000 deaf-aids, and through its dentists (who tested 43,000,000 cases) 10,500,000 dentures?
Disease due to genetic causes
We may feel confident that every possible kindness is shown to the blind and yet, according to a Ministry of Health report (1953), there has been a sharp increase in these unfortunates ever since 1919; and Dr. J. A. Eraser Roberts has told us that "the proportion of blindness and ocular disease due to genetic disease is very high indeed". (Italics are mine: A.M.L.). At all events "to-day, more than half the population has spectacles."
There is no doubt that the N.H.S. deals most benevolently with deaf children; but this does not prevent the incidence of deafness from increasing, and there are already 3,000,000 people known to be deaf, partially deaf, or hard of hearing.
It is, of course, very comforting to know, first of all, that children's throats are now so assiduously attended to that tonsil operations on juveniles rose from 69,449 in 1949 to 100,821 in 1951; and, secondly, that the annual rate of admission to hospital during the first 5 years of life is now 53.0 per 1,000 children, and that main causes in the first year are "congenital malformations, digestive disease, and lower respiratory infections," whilst in the second "tonsilectomies account for 25 per cent. of the number."
Serving national regeneration?
But, surely, it cannot he tactless or discourteous to ask, in what way does all this serve the purpose of national regeneration?
We have seen that, in the matter of blindness and ocular disease, hereditary influences are important. But let us consider another disease, well-known owing to its prevalence, and see what Medicine is doing about it. It is estimated that there are about 306,000 diabetics and potential diabetics in our midst, and we are told that diabetes is increasing. How does a contributor to the BRIT. MED. JOURN. (30.7.55) comment on these facts?
Dr. J. B. Walker says: "Improved therapy has increased the diabetic population . . . the young diabetic no longer is expected to die within 12 months, but lives fully. Although he may not reach old age, he works, plays, marries and produces children with or without the inherited character."
Is there any need to elaborate the point any further? Need I refer to the alarming increase in cancer, peptic ulcers, insanity, neuroses etc. in our society? Need I add that in the purchase of proprietary medicines alone £594,730 are spent by the public for laxatives, and £520,301 for indigestion remedies in an average year?
In view of these facts and others mentioned in my previous articles, how can it be confidently asserted that the health, stamina and hereditary soundness of the English people not to mention the people of Europe may safely be left to the various National Health Services, operated by armies of doctors in our Western World?
Why is nothing done about it?
The reader may protest further: "But if all this is known, why is nothing done about it? Why are our prominent and influential people not crying all day long "NEMESIS!" from the steps of the Royal Exchange and demanding drastic and truly regenerative reforms, before we sink into total physical ruin?
The reason why such behaviour cannot he expected of our prominent people i.e., those men and women whose privileged position gives them influence in our society is very interesting and worth examining. It is that, among the many vices we inherited from the ancient Romans, are the vulgar tendencies to accord social influence only, or at least chiefly, to the pecuniarily successful, and to grant political power only, or at least chiefly, to men and women with the gift of the gab; or, in other words, to identify great oratorical achievements with great statesmanship.
Most unfortunately, however, the first of these vulgar tendencies the limiting of social influence to affluence has this regrettable consequence, that the very people who could bring pressure to bear for the initiation of beneficial changes in a decadent world, are precisely the people least inclined to do anything of the sort. Why?
Because they are so deeply persuaded that a world in which they enjoy or have won privileged positions, can have little wrong with it; they find it so difficult to see blemishes in a society that has raised them to the top, that, as a rule, they often reach a ripe old age without ever once having noticed any wrongs, abuses, or running sores in their environment.
As Shakespeare, with his wholly un-English psychological insight so shrewdly observed:
"Nothing can seem foul to those that win." (Hen. IV. I. Act V).
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True, there have been notable exceptions. Beatrice Webb, J. S. Mill and Carlyle are examples of people who, either born wealthy, or having achieved pecuniary success, nevertheless indicted their Age and their Nation. But, as a rule, it is the unhappy fate of Nations like England, where influence is vulgarly wedded to affluence, that the more prominent people find it hard work to sec anything wrong with the world. This explains why to-day extremely few of those who might sway public opinion, are able to see anything amiss about our grossly inflated medical profession, our wealth of palatial hospitals and asylums, and the disquieting multiplication of the sick and the ugly.
The fact that this form of nescience ultimately recoils on their own heads and threatens even their own survival, or that of their descendants, also of course, escapes them. Hence, the prophet Amos, after decrying the deplorable state of Israel, uttered this wonderful warning: "Woe to them that are at case in Zion!" (7th century B.C.).
The second of flip vulgar tendencies we inherit from the Romans to identify the gift of the gab with statesmanship also militates against the recognition of national decadence; because it is of the nature of success in oratory to be able to please your listeners, to woo their self-esteem, and above all, to avoid depressing them. No one, who like myself, has had much experience of public debating, can fail to have noticed that it is not the truthful realist, dwelling on unpalatable facts, who is acclaimed, no matter how eloquently he may speak; but the speaker who leads everyone to believe that everything is all right, or, as even the so-called educated prefer it to-day: "quite" all right.
Indeed, Quintilian unblushingly acknowledges this. He says: "When our audience finds it a pleasure to listen, their attention and their readiness to believe what they hear are both alike increased." (INSTITUTIO ORATORIA, VIII, iii).
Statesmanship and oratory not identical
On this account, the popular association of oratory with statesmanship is always nationally detrimental. For it means, not only that more fluency elevates to power men and women not necessarily possessed of other qualities, but also that these people's very success in politics is contingent on their turning a blind eye to their own and their listeners' least edifying attributes.
Carlyle was among the few who perceived these dangers. "All Virtue and Belief and Courage," he exclaimed contemptuously, "seems to have run to the Tongue, and he is the wisest man and the most valiant, who is the greatest Talker." His friend, Fronde, in 1887 observed: "We have decided that orators are the fittest people to rule us. The constituencies choose their members according to the fluency of their tongues. Can he make a speech? is one of the tests of competency for a legislator, and the most persuasive of the whole we make a Prime Minister. These are the persons who are now regarded as our wisest."
Can it then be wondered at that the seamy side of life in modern democracies, those features of it that should arouse shame, anger and alarm, are never even mentioned in public, let alone dealt with by the only people whose position would enable them to effect salutary changes? These orators of our modern world, like those of ancient Rome, knew only too well that the applause, the favours and the 1aurels are won, not by the Cassandras, but by the Cleons and Clodiuses of the rostrum, who know to a hair's breadth the boundary between the unpalatable truths that offend, and the humourous and pleasant flatteries that enhance, the self-esteem of their audiences.
Quintilian must have known that the doubledyed rascal Clodius, who was largely responsible for wrecking the Republic, won his way with the multitude through his "ready wit and his talent at haranguing"; and yet, his INSTITUTIO ORATORIA, whilst blandly admitting that the object of oratory "is not truth, but persuasion." XII, I. 11), he professes to believe that "the statesman and the orator are identical." (Bk. I. Pref. 10, and Bk. XII. I. 11).
England, like her great forerunner, Rome, may one day awaken to the fact that statesmanship and oratory are by no means identical. But meanwhile there is no sign that this awakening is near at hand, and least of all any reason to suppose, that the psycho-physical deterioration of the English people is claiming the earnest attention of the authorities.