Typos — p. 12 (Part IV): paedophils [= paedophiles]; p. 13 (Part IV): accomplising [= accomplishing]; p. 13 (Part IV): examplary [= exemplary]

Conditions in England

Anthony M. Ludovici

The South African Observer 15.1, 1969, pp. 14–15; 15.2, 1970, p. 13;
15.3, 1970, pp. 12–13; 15.4, 1970, pp. 12–13; 15.6, 1970, p. 14

- p. 14 -

From the earliest times mankind has known that scarcity always enhances value. It has always been the relative rarity of human beauty, skill and intelligence that has determined their price If all people were equally distinguished for comeliness, skill and intelligence, there would be no exceptionally high incomes to be earned as film stars, sculptors, portrait painters or scientists.
        It is the natural scarcity of precious gifts, genius, talent and personal beauty, that sets a high price on their possession.
        To come to this world, therefore, bereft of such rare advantages, classes one among the common herd, the mediocre mob. One can lay claim to no scarcity value. One is neither a pearl nor a diamond, but simply dross, and can command no high price.
        In a complicated civilization like that of modern Europe, there are countless occupations which, although to some extent skilled, are within the capacity of the more modestly endowed members of the community — occupations demanding no less common qualities than punctuality, diligence and ordinary health and strength.
        And the modestly endowed people who gravitate to these occupations labour under the permanent disadvantage of being in abundant supply — that is to say, they have no security value. All about them they see exceptionally endowed fellow creatures commanding high prices for their services and able to own luxurious homes, expensive cars and costly equipment of all kinds, whilst they themselves have to put up with inferior possessions.

'Strikes' used as a weapon

        By simply observing the life about them, they soon become aware of the fact that what accounts for the affluence of these owners of superior possessions, is their comparative scarcity. There are obviously fewer managing directors than ordinary clerks, fewer skilled professionals than unqualified members of the public, fewer beautiful film stars than ordinary plain shopgirls and typists. However dense they may be, it thus soon dawns upon them that there is a constant connection between natural scarcity and value. And since the majority cannot claim natural scarcity, they can enjoy none of the rewards that it commands.
        But wait! Could they not contrive some kind of unnatural or artificial scarcity? And if by even extending this scarcity to almost total extinction would it not be possible to make their commonplace services attain the price of the more rare services performed by the highly remunerated?
        Of course they could! How? — Obviously by what is known as "Strikes."
        And, in view of the sovereign power that can be exerted by this device of artificial scarcity extended to the total temporary suspension of essential services, the only possible factor preventing its unlimited use, are the families of the strikers, whom there is no means of excluding from the victims of Strike strategy.
        For, although in a country like England, depending as it does on its export trade, strikes are a compelling blackmailing tactic which may prove crippling to the nation as a whole, the general public are immediately incommoded only by strikes which suspend necessary public services.
        Thus, it is probably true to say that the one factor which consists of the victimisation of the families of the strikers themselves, is probably the only remaining safeguard modern societies still enjoy against the total chaos that Envy alone might bring about. For, when we fully measure the formidable power at the disposal of certain trades which are able to create the form of artificial scarcity resulting from Strikes, we cannot help commending the restraint with which usually this power has been used. Because, as a rule, the strikers' demands are surprisingly below what their total power gives them the means of imposing. It is true that moderation in this respect offers greater chances of agreement than excessive greed. But here again, the fate of the strikers' families may also play a part and act as a curb to exorbitant demands.

One other promising factor

        Can this factor of family welfare be the only remaining trump in the hands of the general public against the tyranny of strike action?
        — There is at least one other and, since it also promises further substantial advantages, it is not lightly to be dismissed, chimerical though it may appear. — I refer to a possible and wholesale simplification of our material needs — in other words, to Rousseau's RETOUR À LA NATURE (Return to Nature).
        It may well be that, quite soon modern man will at last recognize the extent to which he has enslaved himself to an unnecessarily complicated and sophisticated way of Life: how he has forfeited his pristine health, freedom and stamina by pursuing courses which have deviated too drastically from his original and more simple existence of pre-industrial days; and how the recovery of his once universal comeliness, health and pre-Promethean euphoria and vitality, is more important and worth while than any cunning, legislative means of putting an end to the garotting action of strikes.
        As England was the leader and innovator in the Industrial Revolution, it may be that she is also destined to put an end to its more intolerable abuses and miseries, and will be driven by sheer desperation, to inaugurate a new era of simpler living and more modest needs: changes that will snatch from her economy the weak and vulnerable features that give

- p. 15 -
the striker his power.
        Indeed, there are signs that the second Revolution is already under way and that it is offering an alternative that many are beginning to adopt. The very spread of "Do-it-yourself" activities, the increasing popularity of caravans to defeat the "scarcity" value of holiday accommodation and the rapacity of hoteliers and land-ladies, and the almost complete disappearance of domestic servants, all point in the same direction.
        Thus, the anarchical tyranny of recurring strikes may in the end compel us to adopt every possible measure that will help to rob artificial scarcities of their power. As a blackmailing device, criminal on the part of a single individual man, but regarded as lawful and unimpeachable when employed by a group or corporation, strikes will tend to go out of fashion; and if, with this end in view, civilized life will become drastically simplified and much more independent than it is today, so that Freedom, instead of being understood as Licence, will be interpreted as everyone's ability to determine his own destiny and provide for his own needs, the change forced upon us by the basically immoral strategy of Strikes, will be all to the good, and will offer us one further proof, if such were needed, of the frequency with which a gross abuse and an intolerable evil may eventually be the means of introducing a priceless blessing.
        Meanwhile, however, it is idle to deny that, in the very nature of our Western Civilization, with its infinity of needs, there lies a means of irresistible power which these same means have given to all the craftsmen or mere operatives who provide them — a power which, in the end, may well wreck the whole structure.
        Veblen was abundantly right when he maintained that the generally accepted notion that "Necessity is the Mother of Invention" was much less true than that "Invention is the Mother of Necessity" — that is to say, of manifold essentials; and therefore that, by his indefatigable inventiveness, Man has created for his species compelling needs which have enslaved it just as effectively as if they had been deliberately designed by despots to set insuperable bounds to human freedom.
        In addition, moreover, — and there lies the rub! — the spread of Equality has spread a closeness of destiny, a proximity of living conditions, among modern mankind, which has led to such a keen spirit of rivalry and tireless comparison, that the factor of Envy has been made to flourish ever more and more fiercely.
        Whereas, in former days, if it existed at all, it was usually stifled by the accepted distinctions of rank, so that people were less likely to envy the inhabitant of their local castle than they were to envy their next-door neighbour whose hut or cottage was like their own, to-day there is a proximity of contact, a rubbing of shoulders with people economically superior to oneself, which tends to make Envy much more common.
        That profound Poet and Psychologist, Goethe, was the first to recognize this fact, and in his pungent epigram on ÉGALITÉ (EQUALITY) he wrote:

        "Few aspire to what is highest;
        Men envy chiefly what is nighest.
        Our fiercest envies on this earth
        Owe to Equality their birth." *

         * Author's Note — I do not pretend to have made a perfect translation of Goethe's epigram. I can but hope that I have at least conveyed its spirit. For Goethe's actual words were:—
        "Das Grösste will man nicht erreichen,
        Man beneidet nur Seinesgleichen;
        Der schlimmste Neidhart ist in der Welt,
        Der Jeden für Seinesgleichen hält."

- p. 13 -

On November 26, 1969, the British public were shocked to read in their morning newspapers that John Lennon, one of the Beatles, had returned his M.B.E. to the Queen. Apparently, he had sent it to Buckingham Palace, together with a letter explaining the reasons for his action.
        He informed Her Majesty that he was returning the award "in protest against Britain's involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam, and against 'Old Turkey' (his latest record) slipping down the charts." And his letter was signed, "with love, John Lennon."
        Except for its oddity, Mr. Lennon's action had little significance; because it is all part of the sort of Shadow-Monarchism that masquerades as monarchical rulership in modern England. It is true that the Royal House is the fountain of honour in the country, and that its capacity to stamp an otherwise empty tribute with the mystical value of regal provenance probably saves the country enormous sums which, in the absence of such means of recognizing merit, would have to take the form of monetary rewards. And the nation too often forgets what a tremendous saving this form of public recognition actually means to the Treasury. Like Napoleon's "LEGION D'HONNEUR" it is intended to give immense satisfaction at little cost.
        Nevertheless, Mr. Lennon's gesture was really as destitute of significance as the award itself. Because, not only has Her Majesty as little as he himself has to do with the political events he deplores, but, to assume that her role in politics is such as to justify his protest, implies such a surprising misunderstanding of her function in English politics as to amount almost to a false accusation. It suggests that, as an artist who should display good taste and delicate judgment, Mr. Lennon appears to have lighted not only on the wrong reasons for returning the award, but also on the wrong time to do so.
        Had he declined to accept it in the first place and declared that although he fully appreciated Her Majesty's kind intention, he failed in spite of his earnest endeavours to recognize any particular honour in an award that has unfortunately been so lavishly distributed as to be almost a commonplace, no one with any fine feeling could have quarrelled with him. For a mere glance at the prodigious volume recording the numbers who can now claim to belong to the Order of the British Empire, whether as humble juniors, or as knighted seniors, might alone arouse justifiable doubts in anybody's mind concerning the reality of the honour. For the essence of an honour is its comparative rarity. More especially is this true today, seeing that, at a moment in our history when subnormality, whether in mind or body, is so widespread as to be statistically shown as almost universal, the qualities compelling exceptional recognition are ominously so rare that any abundant distribution of honours cannot help arousing not only the gravest misgivings, but also the darkest suspicions concerning the genuineness of the distinction conferred.
        The time to return an honour such as the M.B.E. was therefore the moment when it was first awarded. Any other hour for its rejection, whether intentionally or not, inevitably acquires the character of a rebuke, a sudden wish to reprove, incited by a recent world development, and suffers from the disadvantage of not illustrating any inspiring principle, or dignified moral requirement, for the edification of the populace.
        It is therefore impossible to congratulate Mr. Lennon on his gesture. It inculcated no inspiring lesson on his contemporaries; it implied no profound criticism of Royal awards in general, and it only leads one to suspect that Mr. Lennon does not yet understand the merely ceremonial functions performed by our so-called "Monarchs".
        Like most of the ordinary public's intervention in political life today, it was therefore futile and, in an Age wholly destitute of good manners, also held up no example of good behaviour to the general public.

- p. 12 -

With a zeal which, in any other circumstances, would have commanded our respect, the Teachers of England have at lost decided to put into practice one of the most time-honoured principles of their art, and, having been moved by the fear lest their 200,000 pupils might, when they become workers, be unaware of the substantial advantages to be gained by laying down tools, have resolved to teach their charges by means of example rather than precept and have accordingly all gone on strike.
        Naturally, among the loving mothers of the nation, this sudden drastic sentence of unrelieved parenthood has caused considerable consternation, which the, popular Press promptly construed as a dread lest the children should lose much important ground in their school subjects.
        It is, however, easy to take a grossly exaggerated view of this aspect of the Teachers' Strike — a view which, although promoting the teachers' cause, involves a serious over-estimation of the actual services rendered to the nation by our ruinously expensive Educational System.
        Both parents and teachers — not to mention the Popular Press — evidently overlooked the fact that in all the annals of Western Man, this age is likely to become notorious chiefly for having been the first wholly to divorce Education from any concern with Morals and Manners. So that, although their teachers' plagiaristic truancy may perhaps lead to some slight regression in our children's command of English Grammar, History and Orthography, and more than the customary inaccuracy in their handling of Algebra, Mensuration and Geometry, the total injury on them by their enforced vacation will be anything but serious.
        For, just as men do not live by bread alone, so even civilized mankind does not make itself tolerable to fellow-countrymen by merely replying correctly to the questions on an examination paper. Because, irrelevant though the quest may seem, people seeking signs or proofs of Education, are wont, however perversely, always to look for some evidence, no matter how slight, of a certain amount of proficiency in Manners and Morals. And, as long before the Teachers' Strike, all evidence of inculcated morals and manners was wholly absent from the behaviour of the nation's juveniles, it is hard to discover what fresh serious damage the Teachers' Strike is supposed to inflict on the character and demeanour of the rising generation. Indeed, if we were in a position to question the people of England who were adults before the early seventies of last century when the laws introducing free compulsory education were passed, concerning the behaviour of the nation's youngsters, it is extremely doubtful whether they would be ready to maintain, much less to prove, that the "uneducated" juniors of those days were any worse or more unruly in their morals and manners than are the youth of today.
        It is far more, likely that if some modern busybody were in fact to put such a question to his compatriots of a century ago, the reply he would receive would be similar to, if not identical with, that given by James Burnham of America to the same question in his own country. "In the United States," says Mr. Burnham, "all of our children go to school, but in many of our cities they are much worse behaved and more dangerous to society than their unschooled ancestors of a few generations ago." (SUICIDE OF THE WEST, 1965, Chap. VII).
        So let us console ourselves. The Teachers' Strike,

- p. 13 -
no matter how long it may last, will not inflict nearly as much damage on us as any of the strikes of industrial workers repeatedly does, and we may comfort ourselves with the reflection that it has been motivated and ultimately enacted as the result of a grossly exaggerated estimate the teachers themselves have formed of their present-day function.
        Only if Education were properly understood as a discipline inculcating not merely knowledge and ready-reckoning, but also skill in the practice of good morals and manners and the elements of civilized behaviour, would the Teachers' Strike be a calamity. And, as at present, there is not the slightest indication that our system of Education does in fact perform any such valuable service for the community, we may complacently fold our arms and gaze perhaps compassionately on the misguided men and women who imagine their act of truancy will compel us to bow to their exorbitant demands.
        Only if the Teachers' Strike at last awakens us to the peril of excluding from the curricula of our schools all training in Manners and Morals, will it have served a purpose meriting the gratitude of posterity.
        To those who may object that hitherto, in England at least, the task of inculcating morals and manners upon children, has traditionally been consigned to the parents, it should be pointed out that for ages, in all the more enlightened nations of the West, it has been well known that parents, especially mothers, are the worst possible people that could be selected for such a duty. And chiefly because it is extremely difficult for fathers and mothers, especially the latter, to take an objective view of their offspring and to abide by it.
        Thus, William Morris thought that "whoever may be the best people to be in charge of the nation's children, there can be no doubt that the parents are the very worst." (See Bernard Shaw's EVERYBODY'S POLITICAL WHAT'S WHAT, 1944, Chap. VI). Robert T. Lewis took the same view. "The modern home," he said, "is not, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, a place suitable for the rearing of children." And adds, "Parents as a body are not qualified for the delicate work of child guidance" (ROMULUS, pp. 19 and 74).
        Unfortunately, although all this has been familiar to the people of the West for countless ages, the authorities who from time to time have been in charge of national education seem only very rarely to have felt any compulsion to assume the responsibility of providing for the decent manners and morals of the rising generation, with the result that today there is nothing, no influence, in the life of the young, to rear a population in whom good manners and decent behaviour are, as it were, a second nature.
        The modern world pays dearly for this grave omission. Meanwhile, the crippling cost of our educational institutions does nothing to reduce the present overcrowding in our prisons, or to establish a better tone in the population as a whole.

- p. 12 -

By the time this issue of the South African Observer is in the hands of its readers, a new hope will have been kindled in every English home, and there will be much jubilation in consequence. There will be a feeling in all quarters of the land that at last the MILLENNIUM is in sight.
        It is true that certain extremists are not lacking who think the authorities responsible for the innovation have erred in the direction of excessive caution, and that if we are to be the beneficiaries of the wisdom alleged to issue spontaneously from the mouths of babes and sucklings, a much more tender age than 18 might have been chosen for the moment at which to grant the vote to the country's juniors. But, opposed to these fanatical paedophils there are incurable pessimists who profess to doubt whether even the enfranchisement of teenagers of eighteen was altogether advisable. It is only fair to say that these prophets of gloom constitute no majority in the nation and cut little ice.

No violent protests

        Strange as it may seem, no violent protests against the innovation appear to have come from the seniors in the population. What can this mean? Is it perhaps due to the fact that these seniors, knowing the ruling passion in England is Envy, had begun to dread what retaliatory measures the teenagers might soon adopt, if they were any longer denied the coveted and priceless privilege of having a say in Parliamentary elections? Or was it perhaps thought that, because, as Lord Frederick Hamilton and Theodor Wolff have both pointed out, English people are by no means the most intelligent Europeans (See THE DAYS BEFORE YESTERDAY, Chap. V, and elsewhere, and THROUGH TWO DECADES, Chap. IX), the sooner the rising generation is made to think about politics the better it will be for the country?
        There was certainly one voice raised against the change, and that belonged to a teenager himself — a youth of 18 who on the evening of February 18 was reported on the radio to have expressed his doubts whether he or any of his fellow teenagers possessed the experience, information and judgment necessary for the safe exercise of the new right that had been foisted on them.
        The whole country knows of course that, before anyone can be trusted to drive a car safely — i.e. safely for other road users — a stiff test is applied to the aspirant driver, who has to satisfy an official examiner that he is competent to be placed in control of a piece of locomotive machinery whose record for lethal violence on the public highway makes the slaughter of which modern artillery is capable, appear little less than derisory.
        It is therefore at least odd and indicative of modern man's faith in the innate wisdom of his juniors, that in the vital business of determining the nation's destiny and ensuring its safety, the competence of its 18-year-old juveniles may be taken for granted.

Profoundly mysterious

        I say, it is at least odd. But it is really much more than that. It is profoundly mysterious. How explain it? Can it be, perhaps, that older people themselves, secretly aware of their deplorable lack of any adequate qualifications for shaping their country's future, feel too diffident, too shy, to wish to interfere, lest they provoke the extremely awkward retort that they themselves should show their credentials and satisfy us that they are fully equipped to use their Vote for the good and safety of the realm?
        On the other hand, it is possible, though hardly probable, that the promoters of the measure that has enfranchised our sixth-form school children, may at bottom be no more than a band of cynical conspirators who, despairing of being able to demonstrate, once and for all, the futility of democracy by any other means, have lighted upon the plan of proving its fundamental irrationality by a vast and convincing practical example.
        But this is all idle speculation; for what must be surely painfully obvious is that, whatever the future may hold in store for us, at least, not we ourselves, the seniors in the nation, but these, teenagers and their like, will be the only victims of any disasters their political activities may bring about.

A polite euphemism

        Meanwhile, it may comfort us to reflect that at least for the present they may be too deeply immersed in the studies and meditations necessary for the fruitful performance of their newly appointed task, to be free to indulge in their customary pastime of damaging our telephone kiosks, our garden seats, our railway carriages and public property in general; and, with this hope in our hearts we may with patience await the

- p. 13 -
Apotheosis their new political powers are expected to stage.
        With the country fast heading towards complete anarchy — for the term "permissive" applied to our present Age is but a polite euphemism for the state of lawless self-indulgence that now prevails in almost every department of our life — people who imagine that the effect of teenage influence on our politics will prove a significant factor in restoring sanity and sober deliberation to our society, are I fear likely to be sadly disillusioned.
        Nevertheless, our juniors are by no means wholly responsible for the spirit of arrogant self-assertion and self-sufficiency that animates their every thought and action. And those seniors who are inclined to charge them with overestimating both themselves and the contribution they are likely to make to our national life, are forgetting the share our older politicians had in cultivating among them a grossly exaggerated view of their powers, merits and native virtues.
        Throughout two major wars, they have been hearing prominent and responsible politicians exalting and extolling their generation at the expense of the members of other nations, even of other great nations possessed of distinguished gifts and attainments. In the chorus of adulation echoed and re-echoed by infatuated patriots, they have been encouraged — nay, compelled to regard themselves as the cat's whiskers, as the Salt of the Earth. Dazzled by the V sign incessantly brandished before their eyes, can it surprise us that they should think themselves invincible — even in political inspiration?
        There can, therefore be little they are not capable of accomplising and they may be expected to accept and wield their own political powers with an assurance quite examplary. There is, of course, the danger that this assurance may be incompatible with their knowledge and ability. But let us remember that this happens not to be entirely their fault.

- p. 14 -

We are by now so much inured to high-speed interferences with natural processes that probably only a few English people have been shocked by the recent proposal to meddle with the earliest stages of human generation, which goes by the name of "Test Tube Babies".
        Yet, this latest scare in the department of our lives hitherto discussed only in embarrassed whispers or in the text-books reserved for midwives and medical students, cannot be contemplated without disquiet.
        It is not as if Society in our Western World were threatened with extinction owing to the diminishing numbers of our species for, with the whole of Europe — let alone, the other continents — literally crawling with humanity in more or less desirable forms, to the extent of terrifying statesmen and biologists with what has come to be known as the "Population Explosion," we would have thought that what scientists of a humanitarian turn of mind and possessed of a little tact should now be assiduously seeking, was not new and ingenious methods of increasing our numbers, but rather some painless but certain method of reducing them.

The real crying need

        Yet here, in this recent proposal to produce human beings with the aid of test-tubes, as a sort of supplementary method to that already provided and found abundantly adequate, we have an innovation which has all the appearances of having been inspired by a mind strangely enfeebled.
        At a time, moreover, when the really crying need of the Age, our most urgent concern, should be the cleansing and pruning of our species, choked and impeded at every moment by the hordes of its weeds; at the same time when there never has been a more pressing demand for the most stringent application of eugenic regulation aimed at improving our stock; our chief concern, like our most respectable aspiration, should be to discover and employ every possible humane and effective means of recovering the native health, stamina, vigour and above all beauty, which must have once led Man to make God in his own image.

Nothing done in thirty years

        Can any sane and sensitive modern man or woman believe that Man has made himself the dominant living being on earth only in order to become the inferior, in both grace and quality, of the animals from which he has emerged?
        About twenty years ago, Dr. William McDougall, in his book RELIGION AND THE SCIENCES OF LIFE (Chap. VII) wrote:
        "We, the human race, are ill-bred when compared either with the races of animals that live in a state of nature, or with those which man has domesticated and modified for his own purposes. Among them we seldom see a creature that is not graceful, healthy, efficient in all respects, full of vigour and vitality, beautiful according to its own type. How different is the lot of the human race! In every civilized land one sees among all classes a large proportion of men, women and children, burdened with defects of nature that derogate from their humanity; defects ranging from mere clumsiness of limbs or disharmony of features to gross deformities of structure."
        Yes! And what has been done about it in the thirty years that have elapsed since, this was written? — NOTHING! — On the contrary! Whilst our eternal queues for hospital beds lengthen year after year; whilst the cost of our National Health Services threaten to surpass even the fabulous total of £60,000,000 a year, and whilst, as Dr. Frances Harding has warned us, "If the growth of insanity continues at its present rate, every man, woman and child will probably be mad by the year 2039" (DAILY EXPRESS, 8.11.36), all we are doing is not to devise means of improving our race, but merely to think of supplementary means of multiplying it!

Incredible lack of reason

        What can be the, reason of this hardly credible lack of reason?
        — The fact is that not only do our taste, sensitiveness and discernment seem to have become entirely blunted when faced with defective members of our own species; but the defective and the sick themselves have lost all shame, all sense, of any loss of "face" by their lower standing as living beings. On the contrary! To hear two modern people confiding the histories of their ailments to each other one might gather from the tone of their voices and the expression of their features, that they were describing their latest win on the Pools. At the sight or thought of physical imperfection, who to-day feels the sort of instinctive and spontaneous aversion, tinged with distaste with which we contemplate morbidity in an animal? It is as if our standards of taste in human beings had become wholly corrupt.
        It is now 62 years since Francis Galton founded the Galton Chair of Eugenics in the University of London. Yet, as far as the present world is concerned, and as far as the general public are aware, he might never have existed. Even to mention Eugenics in conversation is to incur the risk of sounding rather odd and cranky.
        A good deal of this indifference to human degeneration and of this blindness vis-a-vis of human degradation in physique, may of course be due to self-complacency, conceit, and the reluctance to acknowledge any shortcoming in the nation to which the patriot belongs. The secret belief firmly implanted in all minds that modern mankind has reached its apogee, coupled with the treacherous influence exerted by the internal-combustion engine on the feelings of the man or woman who drives it, has tended so insidiously to disguise and cover up human defects which otherwise would be self-evident, that millions to-day spend the greater part of their lives with a completely mistaken estimate of their physical condition and their constitutional powers. For, as Malcolm Muggeridge, referring to the effect of car-driving on modern man, has observed, "With such power at his disposal the weakest feel strong and the poorest-spirited formidable." (THE THIRTIES 1940, Chap. IV, vii).

Remains profound mystery

        Meanwhile, it remains one of the most profound mysteries of this generation of men, that only the fewest seem to be aware of the deplorable state to which we have allowed ourselves to sink. So that to forget this lamentable fact and to ponder the means by which to employ supplementary methods of increasing our already alarming numbers, would seem no more than yet another example of the increasing spread of mental infirmity.