List Of Contents | Contents of Utopia of Usurers and other Essays
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as the French Revolution.  The man offering himself at Wycombe as
representative of the Wycombe division simply says nothing about it at all.
It is as if a man at the crisis of the French Terror had offered himself
as a deputy for the town of Paris, and had said nothing about the Monarchy,
nothing about the Republic, nothing about the massacres, nothing about
the war; but had explained with great clearness his views on the
suppression of the Jansenists, the literary style of Racine, the
suitability of Turenae for the post of commander-in-chief, and the
religious reflections of Madame de Maintenon.  For, at their best, the
candidate's topics are not topical.  Home Rule is a very good thing, and
modern education is a very bad thing; but neither of them are things that
anybody is talking about in High Wycombe.  This is the first and simplest
way of missing the point: deliberately to avoid and ignore it.

The Candid Candidate

It would be an amusing experiment, by the way, to go to the point instead
of avoiding it.  What fun it would be to stand as a strict Party
candidate, but issue a perfectly frank and cynical Election Address.  Mr.
Mosley's address begins, "Gentlemen,--Sir Alfred Cripps having been chosen
for a high judicial position and a seat in the House of Lords, a
by-election now becomes necessary, and the electors of South Bucks are
charged with the responsible duty of electing, etc., etc."  But suppose
there were another candidate whose election address opened in a plain,
manly style, like this: "Gentlemen,--In the sincere hope of being myself
chosen for a high judicial position or a seat in the House of Lords, or
considerably increasing my private fortune by some Government appointment,
or, at least, inside information about the financial prospects, I have
decided that it is worth my while to disburse large sums of money to you
on various pretexts, and, with even more reluctance to endure the bad
speaking and bad ventilation of the Commons' House of Parliament, so help
me God.  I have very pronounced convictions on various political questions;
but I will not trouble my fellow-citizens with them, since I have quite
made up my mind to abandon any or all of them if requested to do so by the
upper classes.  The electors are therefore charged with the entirely
irresponsible duty of electing a Member; or, in other words, I ask my
neighbours round about this part, who know I am not a bad chap in many
ways, to do me a good turn in my business, just as I might ask them to
change a sovereign.  My election will have no conceivable kind of effect
on anything or anybody except myself; so I ask, as man to man, the
Electors of the Southern or Wycombe Division of the County of Buckingham
to accept a ride in one of my motor-cars; and poll early to please a
pal--God Save the King."  I do not know whether you or I would be elected
if we presented ourselves with an election address of that kind; but we
should have had our fun and (comparatively speaking) saved our souls; and
I have a strong suspicion that we should be elected or rejected on a
mechanical majority like anybody else; nobody having dreamed of reading an
election address any more than an advertisement of a hair restorer.

Tyranny and Head-Dress

But there is another and more subtle way in which we may miss the point;
and that is, not by keeping a dead silence about it, but by being just
witty enough to state it wrong.  Thus, some of the Liberal official papers
have almost screwed up their courage to the sticking-point about the
bestial coup d'etat in South Africa.  They have screwed up their courage
to the sticking-point; and it has stuck.  It cannot get any further;
because it has missed the main point.  The modern Liberals make their
feeble attempts to attack the introduction of slavery into South Africa by
the Dutch and the Jews, by a very typical evasion of the vital fact.  The
vital fact is simply slavery.  Most of these Dutchmen have always felt
like slave-owners.  Most of these Jews have always felt like slaves.  Now
that they are on top, they have a particular and curious kind of impudence,
which is only known among slaves.  But the Liberal journalists will do
their best to suggest that the South African wrong consisted in what they
call Martial Law.  That is, that there is something specially wicked about
men doing an act of cruelty in khaki or in vermilion, but not if it is
done in dark blue with pewter buttons.  The tyrant who wears a busby or a
forage cap is abominable; the tyrant who wears a horsehair wig is
excusable.  To be judged by soldiers is hell; but to be judged by lawyers
is paradise.

Now the point must not be missed in this way.  What is wrong with the
tyranny in Africa is not that it is run by soldiers.  It would be quite as
bad, or worse, if it were run by policemen.  What is wrong is that, for
the first time since Pagan times, private men are being forced to work for
a private man.  Men are being punished by imprisonment or exile for
refusing to accept a job.  The fact that Botha can ride on a horse, or
fire off a gun, makes him better rather than worse than any man like
Sidney Webb or Philip Snowden, who attempt the same slavery by much less
manly methods.  The Liberal Party will try to divert the whole discussion
to one about what they call militarism.  But the very terms of modern
politics contradict it.  For when we talk of real rebels against the
present system we call them Militants.  And there will be none in the
Servile State.


I read the other day, in a quotation from a German newspaper, the highly
characteristic remark that Germany having annexed Belgium would soon
re-establish its commerce and prosperity, and that, in particular,
arrangements were already being made for introducing into the new province
the German laws for the protection of workmen.

I am quite content with that paragraph for the purpose of any controversy
about what is called German atrocity.  If men I know had not told me they
had themselves seen the bayoneting of a baby; if the most respectable
refugees did not bring with them stories of burning cottages--yes, and of
burning cottagers as well; if doctors did not report what they do report
of the condition of girls in the hospitals; if there were no facts; if
there were no photographs, that one phrase I have quoted would be quite
sufficient to satisfy me that the Prussians are tyrants; tyrants in a
peculiar and almost insane sense which makes them pre-eminent among the
evil princes of the earth.  The first and most striking feature is a
stupidity that rises into a sort of ghastly innocence.  The protection of
workmen!  Some workmen, perhaps, might have a fancy for being protected
from shrapnel; some might be glad to put up an umbrella that would ward
off things dropping from the gentle Zeppelin in heaven upon the place
beneath.  Some of these discontented proletarians have taken the same view
as Vandervelde their leader, and are now energetically engaged in
protecting themselves along the line of the Yser; I am glad to say not
altogether without success.  It is probable that nearly all of the Belgian
workers would, on the whole, prefer to be protected against bombs, sabres,
burning cities, starvation, torture, and the treason of wicked kings.  In
short, it is probable--it is at least possible, impious as is the
idea--that they would prefer to be protected against Germans and all they
represent.  But if a Belgian workman is told that he is not to be
protected against Germans, but actually to be protected by Germans, I
think he may be excused for staring.  His first impulse, I imagine, will
be to ask, "Against whom?  Are there any worse people to come along?"

But apart from the hellish irony of this humanitarian idea, the question
it raises is really one of solid importance for people whose politics are
more or less like ours.  There is a very urgent point in that question,
"Against whom would the Belgian workmen be protected by the German laws?"
And if we pursue it, we shall be enabled to analyse something of that
poison--very largely a Prussian poison--which has long been working in our
own commonwealth, to the enslavement of the weak and the secret
strengthening of the strong.  For the Prussian armies are, pre-eminently,
the advance guard of the Servile State.  I say this scientifically, and
quite apart from passion or even from preference.  I have no illusions
about either Belgium or England.  Both have been stained with the soot of
Capitalism and blinded with the smoke of mere Colonial ambition; both have
been caught at a disadvantage in such modern dirt and disorder; both have
come out much better than I should have expected countries so modem and so
industrial to do.  But in England and Belgium there is Capitalism mixed up
with a great many other things, strong things and things that pursue other
aims; Clericalism, for instance, and militant Socialism in Belgium; Trades
Unionism and sport and the remains of real aristocracy in England.  But
Prussia is Capitalism; that is, a gradually solidifying slavery; and that
majestic unity with which she moves, dragging all the dumb Germanies after
her, is due to the fact that her Servile State is complete, while ours is
incomplete.  There are not mutinies; there are not even mockeries; the
voice of national self-criticism has been extinguished forever.  For this
people is already permanently cloven into a higher and a lower class: in
its industry as much as its army.  Its employers are, in the strictest and
most sinister sense, captains of industry.  Its proletariat is, in the
truest and most pitiable sense, an army of labour.  In that atmosphere
masters bear upon them the signs that they are more than men; and to
insult an officer is death.

If anyone ask how this extreme and unmistakable subordination of the
employed to the employers is brought about, we all know the answer.  It is
brought about by hunger and hardness of heart, accelerated by a certain
kind of legislation, of which we have had a good deal lately in England,
but which was almost invariably borrowed from Prussia.  Mr.  Herbert
Samuel's suggestion that the poor should be able to put their money in
little boxes and not be able to get it out again is a sort of standing
symbol of all the rest.  I have forgotten how the poor were going to
benefit eventually by what is for them indistinguishable from dropping
sixpence down a drain.  Perhaps they were going to get it back some day;
perhaps when they could produce a hundred coupons out of the Daily Citizen;
perhaps when they got their hair cut; perhaps when they consented to be
inoculated, or trepanned, or circumcised, or something.  Germany is full
of this sort of legislation; and if you asked an innocent German, who
honestly believed in it, what it was, he would answer that it was for the
protection of workmen.

And if you asked again "Their protection from what?"  you would have the
whole plan and problem of the Servile State plain in front of you.
Whatever notion there is, there is no notion whatever of protecting the
employed person _from his employer_.  Much less is there any idea of his
ever being anywhere except under an employer.  Whatever the Capitalist
wants he gets.  He may have the sense to want washed and well-fed
labourers rather than dirty and feeble ones, and the restrictions may
happen to exist in the form of laws from the Kaiser or by-laws from the
Krupps.  But the Kaiser will not offend the Krupps, and the Krupps will
not offend the Kaiser.  Laws of this kind, then, do not attempt to protect
workmen against the injustice of the Capitalist as the English Trade
Unions did.  They do not attempt to protect workmen against the injustice
of the State as the mediaeval guilds did.  Obviously they cannot protect
workmen against the foreign invader--especially when (as in the comic case
of Belgium) they are imposed by the foreign invader.  What then are such
laws designed to protect workmen against?  Tigers, rattlesnakes, hyenas?

Oh, my young friends; oh, my Christian brethren, they are designed to
protect this poor person from something which to those of established rank
is more horrid than many hyenas.  They are designed, my friends, to
protect a man from himself--from something that the masters of the earth
fear more than famine or war, and which Prussia especially fears as
everything fears that which would certainly be its end.  They are meant to
protect a man against himself--that is, they are meant to protect a man
against his manhood.

And if anyone reminds me that there is a Socialist Party in Germany, I
reply that there isn't.


That anarchic future which the more timid Tories professed to fear has
already fallen upon us.  We are ruled by ignorant people.  But the most
ignorant people in modern Britain are to be found in the upper class, the
middle class, and especially the upper middle class.  I do not say it
with the smallest petulance or even distaste; these classes are often
really beneficent in their breeding or their hospitality, or their
humanity to animals.

There is still no better company than the young at the two Universities,
or the best of the old in the Army or some of the other services.  Also,
of course, there are exceptions in the matter of learning; real scholars
like Professor Gilbert Murray or Professor Phillimore are not ignorant,
though they _are_ gentlemen.  But when one looks up at any mass of the
wealthier and more powerful classes, at the Grand Stand at Epsom, at the
windows of Park-lane, at the people at a full-dress debate or a
fashionable wedding, we shall be safe in saying that they are, for the
most part, the most ill-taught, or untaught, creatures in these islands.

Literally Illiterate

It is indeed their feeble boast that they are not literally illiterate.
They are always saying the ancient barons could not sign their own
names--for they know less of history perhaps than of anything else.  The
modern barons, however, can sign their own names--or someone else's for a
change.  They can sign their own names; and that is about all they can do.
They cannot face a fact, or follow an argument, or feel a tradition; but,
least of all, can they, upon any persuasion, read through a plain
impartial book, English or foreign, that is not specially written to
soothe their panic or to please their pride.  Looking up at these seats of
the mighty I can only say, with something of despair, what Robert Lowe
said of the enfranchised workmen: "We must educate our masters."

I do not mean this as paradoxical, or even as symbolical; it is simply
tame and true.  The modern English rich know nothing about things, not
even about the things to which they appeal.  Compared with them, the poor
are pretty sure to get some enlightenment, even if they cannot get liberty;
they must at least be technical.  An old apprentice learnt a trade, even
if his master came like any Turk and banged him most severely.  The old
housewife knew which side her bread was buttered, even if it were so thin

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