List Of Contents | Contents of Utopia of Usurers and other Essays
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on his deathbed.  The Materialist does not think that Mr. Haeckel will go
to heaven, while all the peasants will go to pot, like their chickens.
In every serious doctrine of the destiny of men, there is some trace of
the doctrine of the equality of men.  But the capitalist really depends on
some religion of inequality.  The capitalist must somehow distinguish
himself from human kind; he must be obviously above it--or he would be
obviously below it.  Take even the least attractive and popular side of
the larger religions to-day; take the mere vetoes imposed by Islam on
Atheism or Catholicism.  The Moslem veto upon intoxicants cuts across all
classes.  But it is absolutely necessary for the capitalist (who presides
at a Licensing Committee, and also at a large dinner), it is absolutely
necessary for him, to make a distinction between gin and champagne.  The
Atheist veto upon all miracles cuts across all classes.  But it is
absolutely necessary for the capitalist to make a distinction between his
wife (who is an aristocrat and consults crystal gazers and star gazers in
the West End), and vulgar miracles claimed by gipsies or travelling
showmen.  The Catholic veto upon usury, as defined in dogmatic councils,
cuts across all classes.  But it is absolutely necessary to the capitalist
to distinguish more delicately between two kinds of usury; the kind he
finds useful and the kind he does not find useful.  The religion of the
Servile State must have no dogmas or definitions.  It cannot afford to
have any definitions.  For definitions are very dreadful things: they do
the two things that most men, especially comfortable men, cannot endure.
They fight; and they fight fair.

Every religion, apart from open devil worship, must appeal to a virtue or
the pretence of a virtue.  But a virtue, generally speaking, does some
good to everybody.  It is therefore necessary to distinguish among the
people it was meant to benefit those whom it does benefit.  Modern
broad-mindedness benefits the rich; and benefits nobody else.  It was
meant to benefit the rich; and meant to benefit nobody else.  And if you
think this unwarranted, I will put before you one plain question.  There
are some pleasures of the poor that may also mean profits for the rich:
there are other pleasures of the poor which cannot mean profits for the
rich?  Watch this one contrast, and you will watch the whole creation of a
careful slavery.

In the last resort the two things called Beer and Soap end only in a froth.
They are both below the high notice of a real religion.  But there is
just this difference: that the soap makes the factory more satisfactory,
while the beer only makes the workman more satisfied.  Wait and see if
the Soap does not increase and the Beer decrease.  Wait and see whether
the religion of the Servile State is not in every case what I say: the
encouragement of small virtues supporting capitalism, the discouragement
of the huge virtues that defy it.  Many great religions, Pagan and
Christian, have insisted on wine.  Only one, I think, has insisted on Soap.
You will find it in the New Testament attributed to the Pharisees.


The key fact in the new development of plutocracy is that it will use its
own blunder as an excuse for further crimes.  Everywhere the very
completeness of the impoverishment will be made a reason for the
enslavement; though the men who impoverished were the same who enslaved.
It is as if a highwayman not only took away a gentleman's horse and all
his money, but then handed him over to the police for tramping without
visible means of subsistence.  And the most monstrous feature in this
enormous meanness may be noted in the plutocratic appeal to science, or,
rather, to the pseudo-science that they call Eugenics.

The Eugenists get the ear of the humane but rather hazy cliques by saying
that the present "conditions" under which people work and breed are bad
for the race; but the modern mind will not generally stretch beyond one
step of reasoning, and the consequence which appears to follow on the
consideration of these "conditions" is by no means what would originally
have been expected.  If somebody says: "A rickety cradle may mean a
rickety baby," the natural deduction, one would think, would be to give
the people a good cradle, or give them money enough to buy one.  But that
means higher wages and greater equalisation of wealth; and the plutocratic
scientist, with a slightly troubled expression, turns his eyes and
pince-nez in another direction.  Reduced to brutal terms of truth, his
difficulty is this and simply this: More food, leisure, and money for the
workman would mean a better workman, better even from the point of view of
anyone for whom he worked.  But more food, leisure, and money would also
mean a more independent workman.  A house with a decent fire and a full
pantry would be a better house to make a chair or mend a clock in, even
from the customer's point of view, than a hovel with a leaky roof and a
cold hearth.  But a house with a decent fire and a full pantry would also
be a better house in which to refuse to make a chair or mend a clock--a
much better house to do nothing in--and doing nothing is sometimes one of
the highest of the duties of man.  All but the hard-hearted must be torn
with pity for this pathetic dilemma of the rich man, who has to keep the
poor man just stout enough to do the work and just thin enough to have to
do it.  As he stood gazing at the leaky roof and the rickety cradle in a
pensive manner, there one day came into his mind a new and curious
idea--one of the most strange, simple, and horrible ideas that have ever
risen from the deep pit of original sin.

The roof could not be mended, or, at least, it could not be mended much,
without upsetting the capitalist balance, or, rather, disproportion in
society; for a man with a roof is a man with a house, and to that extent
his house is his castle.  The cradle could not be made to rock easier, or,
at least, not much easier, without strengthening the hands of the poor
household, for the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world--to that
extent.  But it occurred to the capitalist that there was one sort of
furniture in the house that could be altered.  The husband and wife could
be altered.  Birth costs nothing, except in pain and valour and such
old-fashioned things; and the merchant need pay no more for mating a
strong miner to a healthy fishwife than he pays when the miner mates
himself with a less robust female whom he has the sentimentality to prefer.
Thus it might be possible, by keeping on certain broad lines of
heredity, to have some physical improvement without any moral, political,
or social improvement.  It might be possible to keep a supply of strong
and healthy slaves without coddling them with decent conditions.  As the
mill-owners use the wind and the water to drive their mills, they would
use this natural force as something even cheaper; and turn their wheels by
diverting from its channel the blood of a man in his youth.  That is what
Eugenics means; and that is all that it means.

Of the moral state of those who think of such things it does not become us
to speak.  The practical question is rather the intellectual one: of
whether their calculations are well founded, and whether the men of
science can or will guarantee them any such physical certainties.
Fortunately, it becomes clearer every day that they are, scientifically
speaking, building on the shifting sand.  The theory of breeding slaves
breaks down through what a democrat calls the equality of men, but which
even an oligarchist will find himself forced to call the similarity of men.
That is, that though it is not true that all men are normal, it is
overwhelmingly certain that most men are normal.  All the common Eugenic
arguments are drawn from extreme cases, which, even if human honour and
laughter allowed of their being eliminated, would not by their elimination
greatly affect the mass.  For the rest, there remains the enormous
weakness in Eugenics, that if ordinary men's judgment or liberty is to be
discounted in relation to heredity, the judgment of the judges must be
discounted in relation to their heredity.  The Eugenic professor may or
may not succeed in choosing a baby's parents; it is quite certain that he
cannot succeed in choosing his own parents.  All his thoughts, including
his Eugenic thoughts, are, by the very principle of those thoughts,
flowing from a doubtful or tainted source.  In short, we should need a
perfectly Wise Man to do the thing at all.  And if he were a Wise Man he
would not do it.


I have never understood why it is that those who talk most about evolution,
and talk it in the very age of fashionable evolutionism, do not see the
one way in which evolution really does apply to our modern difficulty.
There is, of course, an element of evolutionism in the universe; and I
know no religion or philosophy that ever entirely ignored it.  Evolution,
popularly speaking, is that which happens to unconscious things.  They
grow unconsciously; or fade unconsciously; or rather, some parts of them
grow and some parts of them fade; and at any given moment there is almost
always some presence of thc fading thing, and some incompleteness in the
growing one.  Thus, if I went to sleep for a hundred years, like the
Sleeping Beauty (I wish I could), I should grow a beard--unlike the
Sleeping Beauty.  And just as I should grow hair if I were asleep, I
should grow grass if I were dead.  Those whose religion it was that God
was asleep were perpetually impressed and affected by the fact that he had
a long beard.  And those whose philosophy it is that the universe is dead
from the beginning (being the grave of nobody in particular) think that is
the way that grass can grow.  In any case, these developments only occur
with dead or dreaming things.  What happens when everyone is asleep is
called Evolution.  What happens when everyone is awake is called

There was once an honest man, whose name I never knew, but whose face I
can almost see (it is framed in Victorian whiskers and fixed in a
Victorian neck-cloth), who was balancing the achievements of France and
England in civilisation and social efficiencies.  And when he came to the
religious aspect he said that there were more stone and brick churches
used in France; but, on the other hand, there are more sects in England.
Whether such a lively disintegration is a proof of vitality in any
valuable sense I have always doubted.  The sun may breed maggots in a
dead dog; but it is essential for such a liberation of life that the dog
should be unconscious or (to say the least of it) absent-minded.  Broadly
speaking, you may call the thing corruption, if you happen to like dogs.
You may call it evolution, if you happen to like maggots.  In either case,
it is what happens to things if you leave them alone.

The Evolutionists' Error

Now, the modern Evolutionists have made no real use of the idea of
evolution, especially in the matter of social prediction.  They always
fall into what is (from their logical point of view) the error of
supposing that evolution knows what it is doing.  They predict the State
of the future as a fruit rounded and polished.  But the whole point of
evolution (the only point there is in it) is that no State will ever be
rounded and polished, because it will always contain some organs that
outlived their use, and some that have not yet fully found theirs.  If we
wish to prophesy what will happen, we must imagine things now moderate
grown enormous; things now local grown universal; things now promising
grown triumphant; primroses bigger than sunflowers, and sparrows stalking
about like flamingoes.

In other words, we must ask what modern institution has a future before
it?  What modem institution may have swollen to six times its present size
in the social heat and growth of the future?  I do not think the Garden
City will grow: but of that I may speak in my next and last article of
this series.  I do not think even the ordinary Elementary School, with its
compulsory education, will grow.  Too many unlettered people hate the
teacher for teaching; and too many lettered people hate the teacher for
not teaching.  The Garden City will not bear much blossom; the young idea
will not shoot, unless it shoots the teacher.  But the one flowering tree
on the estate, the one natural expansion which I think will expand, is the
institution we call the Prison.

Prisons for All

If the capitalists are allowed to erect their constructive capitalist
community, I speak quite seriously when I say that I think Prison will
become an almost universal experience.  It will not necessarily be a
cruel or shameful experience: on these points (I concede certainly for the
present purpose of debate) it may be a vastly improved experience.  The
conditions in the prison, very possibly, will be made more humane.  But
the prison will be made more humane only in order to contain more of
humanity.  I think little of the judgment and sense of humour of any man
who can have watched recent police trials without realising that it is no
longer a question of whether the law has been broken by a crime; but, now,
solely a question of whether the situation could be mended by an
imprisonment.  It was so with Tom Mann; it was so with Larkin; it was so
with the poor atheist who was kept in gaol for saying something he had
been acquitted of saying: it is so in such cases day by day.  We no longer
lock a man up for doing something; we lock him up in the hope of his doing
nothing.  Given this principle, it is evidently possible to make the mere
conditions of punishment more moderate, or--(more probably) more secret.
There may really be more mercy in the Prison, on condition that there is
less justice in the Court.  I should not be surprised if, before we are
done with all this, a man was allowed to smoke in prison, on condition, of
course, that he had been put in prison for smoking.

Now that is the process which, in the absence of democratic protest, will
certainly proceed, will increase and multiply and replenish the earth and
subdue it.  Prison may even lose its disgrace for a little time: it will
be difficult to make it disgraceful when men like Larkin can be imprisoned
for no reason at all, just as his celebrated ancestor was hanged for no
reason at all.  But capitalist society, which naturally does not know the
meaning of honour, cannot know the meaning of disgrace: and it will still
go on imprisoning for no reason at all.  Or rather for that rather simple
reason that makes a cat spring or a rat run away.

It matters little whether our masters stoop to state the matter in the
form that every prison should be a school; or in the more candid form that
every school should be a prison.  They have already fulfilled their
servile principle in the case of the schools.  Everyone goes to the
Elementary Schools except the few people who tell them to go there.  I
prophesy that (unless our revolt succeeds) nearly everyone will be going

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