Marcus Aureliius

Reflecting on the ghosts of the Weimar republic, Leo Strauss abhorred liberal democracy. He associated it with the Weimar republic whose constitution was drafted at the end of World War 1. Germany had no liberal precepts built into its habitus and no referent collective historical precepts of democratic traditions to fall back on, and the Weimar republic was crippled from the start by critics on every side of the political spectrum who had no use for parliamentary government.

Conservatives preferred the monarchical and bureaucratic system of the Kaiserreich; nationalists such as Hitler had no use for parliamentary government and his party was opposed to the Weimar constitution because they claimed that it was too divisive, that it led to the fragmentation of the body politic, and that a dictatorship alone can accomplish the necessary social change to promote the national interest; Communists saw parliamentary politics as a bourgeois institution that should be superseded by the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Weimar was therefore threatened on all sides from its very inception. Both the communists and the National Socialists made great electoral gains, but by 1932 Hitler’s party had the greatest number of seats in the Reichstag. By 1933, Hitler had become chancellor as well as the leader of the majority party. Within a year he had abolished all the power of the state governments and brought all of German life under Nazi control.

Strauss’s experience in Germany confirmed the political teaching of his beloved Plato. A great enemy of democracy, Plato described it as the second worse form of government and was convinced that it inevitably leads to tyranny. For Strauss, as for Plato, democracy is a licentious state of affairs in which a multiplicity of conflicting and irreconcilable appetites compete for dominance. Plato described a society torn apart by insatiable and conflicting appetites, and he surmised that in this state of disorder, one master passion was bound to become supreme and rule despotically over all others. The scenario described by Plato, whereby democracy gives way to tyranny mirrors the scenario where Weimar sets the licentious stage of Hitler to emerge victoriously.

The comparison of American liberalism to Weimar is not original to Strauss. It is expressed by German refugees such as Theodor Adorno who believed that America was a duplication of Nazi Germany – the only thing missing is the brutality of the police. Instead of leading him to question the legitimacy of the comparison, the absence of coercion only succeeds in making Adorno marvel at the extent, sagacity, subtlety, and near invisibility of American style domination. This phenomenon is immortalized in a film with Rod Steiger called The Pawnbroker (for which he won an Academy Award).

For a critical description of Leo Strauss, I recommend: Leo Strauss and the American Right by Shadia B. Drury

A Correspondence with an Acquaintance.

Alex Towery 06-28-2020

I think that the whole idea of God isn’t even coming into objection. The qualities of divinity are not high on the mind of the polity.

The best political idea that I've come across is that the ‘left’ takes the high and the right owns the low. … The vision is the divisor.

The left is aiming high, looking at goodness in the mirror, seeing thy reflection as righteous and, indeed, holy in the sense of divination, but that explicit self-reflection is not self-actualized because 1: they are not gods. 2: religion, the idea of God, perhaps, is complex, full of parables and buzzing lights that distract but, necessarily, orient in the abstract, the uncritical masses.3. People are identifying as groups – easily defined (i.e. POC, BLM, LatinX, etc. ) who are easily divided, and their culture is more easily constructed by politicians taking the low and writing the high. Identifying with the group, the taxonomer, the classificatory structure, not themselves, the individual, the self-conceptual. (Don’t be cynical. individuals can just as much influence their communities and culture, more powerfully, toward higher precepts or very low and brute tactics if they just say something, normalize a practice, and in-form on the discourse. )

That’s what’s so disturbing about the American right. (the right defines) The American right has taken upon itself the Church, having lackey theologians concern the faith with the political machination. We have pastors and high priests, but today the Word is obstructed, in bad faith, taught to the parish in the dialectic of the unholy, lowly, and evil and pronounced as good, beneficent, right and distinctive. Politics and religion are always intertwined… But the state, for the sake of Republic, has declinated the court’s distinction and necessary separation from the guiding light: replaced it with a false idol, good and evil, known as the codified law.

I notice that the new left speaks with a self-regard that leaves no real room for discourse. Discourse is not even wanted, so that room is discounted before the fact. What people, namely young, ‘believe,’ if it’s anything distinct, is in thyself. They believe in their own self-righteous virtue, ‘facts’, memeolgy, university accreditation. That’s because that is what they’ve been told, by their school teachers, pastors, and college professor. Expertise in this society doesn’t have a nerve anymore. You don’t hear level, empathetic, and loving people call out and bite the wrongheadness of the bark. I fear that its not because of indifference or that they fear the lickspittle, but abandonment from the academy or the ‘group’.

They think they know the Delphic maxim: to know thyself. No one knows, including myself. We don’t know because we are not the last man. History is not dead. They are caught up, like myself, in a groupish distinction. The identity of a people, a group, the ‘blob’, the ‘civil service,’ not universally, like that of ‘we the people,’ is not of the people, the whole social construction. The people, to both the left and right – if I am to use their own scripted terminology – is just their twitterverse, or the sights on TV, their family, their digital and environmental understanding of social reality, which is unreality, par excellence – perhaps.

And I am not slighting the technology companies in the slightest bit. They understand the beast they’ve created. If they don’t, we all die. As someone who studies existential risk and global catastrophic events, their values and actions, most importantly, are well understood by me. ( @ Twitter, Google, Microsoft, IBM, the IC, New York Times, BBC, etc.). The beast is dangerous.

In that reality, from the informational diet that's more digitally augmented than organic, in the case of the petty radical, is very simple. The informational complexity is rote and ritual. The words that enter the semantic sensorium, which is the interface – the brain and the UI – isn’t complex. It’s a recursive feedback loop into a niche universe of social understanding and non-experience experience.

In that universe, the code of language, the identity they develop, the groups they define, codify, put into distinction and in-form to the ‘other’, in the American mind, considers that which is not a ‘member,’ an ‘initiate,’ a self-proclaimed zealot and adherent in the public domain that is no longer neutral, but derisively political, is an interloper: a person who is sometimes or often regarded as evil, or, quite importantly, ‘disgusting’. No one listens. It’s all noise.

Jonathan Haidt is a force of mind. He talks about disgust and morality in politics and society. He speaks on the degradation of intellectuality on campus, rife among undergraduates, sometimes among professors, in the political discussions they have and engage publicly in practice. If I synthesize his work, I will get it wrong. He is superbly internally complex, an academic that I recommend you all read and share – right and ([but] especially) the left. Be critical, as always, of Haidt, but he is worth reading and understanding.

The President as the Messiah

By Alex E. Towery 07.22.2020

The President is not a God. No man is a God. No man is divine. I am human. Every person who reads this is human, I presume. There is no intelligent being that can take the mantle of Christ the divine. Any president who so does claim the name of Jesus manifest is wicked and a false prophet that will do evil to mankind.

Now that I've addressed the primary statement of fact that needs to necessarily be made explicit, let me address why the President is sometimes lauded as a God in the flesh, which he is not.

When we think about God, our concept of self and identity is often intertwined within that theology. God, in the sense of the Christian God, is love, is kind, goodness, and is the reflection of the beneficent mind.

God is the mirror to all mankind, in a sense, and those who let God, in the Christian way of thinking, into their heart, are saved by christ, according to John 3:16. But there are no other religions that edify in the word the necessary foundation of the public pronouncement of faith as the condition to be accepted into the light of the golden heights, Heaven in referent to the darkness of a fiery hell. That's just something to think about, which makes me very uncomfortable, sometimes leading me to think that Judas the apostate wrote that verse into the book, for all thy faithful to feel comfortable in sin. Let me continue.

Man can feel good about doing evil. Man can kill without thinking twice about the precepts underwriting his actions, which are manifestly unholy, irredeemable, and licentious, according to the Word, but feel as though they are good, righteous, and sanctified by God. We all are evil, in a sense, but the righteous mind has forgotten the value of God in the highest sense, and taken evil as goodness.

So man has replaced God with false idols of his manifestly evil, righteous distinction. Think, the republican party has co-opted God as their righteous foundation. Bullshit. The state is pure evil, to and through. That is something that all presidents know, deep in their heart. That's why the relationship between God and the most powerful man on earth is something that is sacred and shall never be forgotten, lest we fall into the pits of his judgement.

Man who knows not thyself, but thyself which is a false idol, is subject to loving thy reflection of thy evil as it is manifest holy in the flesh of the unrighteous president and the state nobility. Those people know nothing. They are idiots with a false distinction of horror.

Mr. Trump is the man child that Sir Issac Newton wrote about in his prophecies. Those who are dumb and bricked in the mind, which is the majority among the peasantry, will see in him all thy faith which is evil, licentious, and separated from the fruit of the spirit. I may not judge, but God will and the wicked at night will fall onto his deepest whip.

You can make subtle changes, perhaps. I am just hypothesizing and talking to a black box presumably. So subtle changes. What does that mean? So when you are tweeting, you're establishing an officialized narrative. An officialized story because the University is not only an actor within the information space, but a structure as well. Structures exist in reality, as there is a beautiful library on campus that is functionally accessible and rather strong in terms of its institutional stability and viability to exist as a research arm of the scholarly community.

Structures, most importantly, exist in the mind, first and foremost. The idea of God is conceived in the mind. The structure of religion, church, and pastor are all structures of mind. Because the religion is no more powerful than the faith of the faithful in the private domain, just as the pastor is no more distinguished as a wise man if he is vulgar at Sunday service. The structure of law, court, and president, follow the same order. They are observed and reinforced so long as the mental structure conforms with the reality of its existence. Police without force is like a judge without a prison. A president without moral discernment nor vision is just a thug with a court and military force. A university without a scholar is just a monastery of lost knowledge. The university has to conform to the reality of its real existence. Hold tight to form.

Now subtle changes can enhance the conformity to that reality, I hypothesize. Since structures are constructed in the mind, not the reality of life, they can be augmented and adapted with sustained cultural education. Young men are all just looking for a place in the world where they fit. So they go into mathematics even if they don't love science because to be a man is to make lots of money which makes the home happy. Right. So the humanities are obviously important. The humanities serve to inculcate the logic of the culturally reproducible myth of society. God, Theology and philosophy are cultural disciplines, par excellence. They are the most powerful cultural devices to bring society into a community.

In America, money, false idols, and an outsized scientific regard have jaded the religious mind — for good and for evil. Religion can be a beneficent, humanizing force, or it can bring men to arms in service of their own earthly contests. Ideally religion and the church frame the mental structures of society to constrain human agency from doing harm and position the culture towards altruistic endeavors for a collectivity. It doesn't always work that way. Hence why the oratory of the pastor or high priest is so critically important. Action produces reaction.

Moral concern reproduces itself in cultural arrays. We have witnessed how the over abundance of morality has stifled true wisdom among the polity today. Liberalism has grown into a mob fantasy that retorts any criticism with the slight evocation of a hysterical indignation. So the overproduction of morality is a concern the combat, in my opinion, because what's grown from it is a mass fallacy that's stagnant and a recursive positive feedback loop. Since the system has grown so large and so outwardly extreme, you may reason that it's like a bubble that can burst rapidly. So institutions have to be careful. Liberalism is indeed dying. But it is still a flame burning. I imagine it's only a matter of time until that bubble bursts. You're already seeing the inability of liberal democrat to take over the political passions of the polity and construct the narrative. Liberalism has a specific critique which can provide a logical foundation to construct the structures of an adapted complex system. But I have no strategic thoughts on how to get there.

Go to the CB section of the library, pick up the book “our private future” as well as “the imminent dark age” for proper encouragement. I could be totally wrong, but I perceive a devolution to less modern ideals. And cough cough that is not as horrific as it sounds. Maybe? I don't know. But the system is definitely look towards a new theory of social organization. I have to be super careful because this can lead to false visions of a future that are idealized and utopian. It won't be so. Science has taken us far enough@to where technology is democratized, embedded and abundant. How do you manage it? Technology is humanity? So we can actually transform ourselves into a higher social organization. A richer human collectivity of laws, academy, and civil society. A higher vision of movement and technologically mediated cultural evolution. The software matters.

Networks are power. Think about humans living in multiple identity realms, occupying vast social space, and relating to and through various structures in the social organization. You may do one job with another research group, within a larger hobby network. You may be an undergraduate at UT, but really like the technical school in Hong Kong, so you take classes and interact in both networks along with a high school network where you and your closest friends talk about politics and relationship. So the private and the public domain are intersectional but bisected and decided by individuals who hold agency over their network's construction.

Think about his identity could change doing this. The problem is history. History, which I don't want to defame because my professors would disparage me for such ridicule lol, imprisons our future in some ways. Racism in America is particularly constraining on the mind and cultural practice of the mass habitus. I heard on a podcast by the Texas national security review that “Americans are book people.” In the sense that Americans are culturally shackled to the book, the script, the text of the constitution. Not to disparage free association and due process, but the rigidity of the republic and the justice system is dauntingly severe. Literature, said bourdieu, is the political mastermind. Think, I believe this is correct.

The codified logic of the written word carries weight. It produces a vision in the flesh without human-to-human communication. The word is profoundly important. The word can encode vision and the divisions that it facilitates. One may cite Marx. It codifying the class distinction, the mental structure of the secular philosophy discriminated the polity's abundant similarity upon economic levels. The vision produced the division.... the word is the master. The word is god. The subtle alteration in the publicly pronounced cultural dialectic can inculcate the logic or felt essence or taste of a higher social affiliation, a higher regard and discernment.

The slight enunciation of manners and officialized concern can make those who identify with the educational institution more reserved and astute, which is not necessarily culturally adaptive. That is far past my knowledge and concern. The language and it's meta-cognition can also deconstruct the structure of educational distinction. It can bind itself to a lower order and distinction through cultural goodwill. That is not an attack, just the sentiments of Bourdieu.

In a society where information is free and no one is hard tied to rigid fact and cultural perfection, the academy has a slightly less influential mandate, and may reserve itself to quiet corridors. Or instead it should bolster its presence in the information space as it is so desperately needed. It is practically adaptive that we have experts@leading and guiding discourse and discussion. The academy is the intelligence of a social body. Without it and the church we are wolves ( I cringe saying that, so sorry, just part of my philosophy).

The officialized identity of the University can be constructed in a novel light given the adaptivity and flexibility of the UI. Since everything is digital, UT can really serve very diverse intersections of the human community, globally. I know Harvard is doing this, making their lectures open access. You don't receive accreditation, and perhaps that's best suited to the elite schools in practice, but agents may embed themselves in diverse informational ecosystems. I don't know what the UT strategy is going forward. I remarkably came across the Robert Ovetz papers last fall and skimmed through the university strategic roadmap. It talked a lot about multiculturalism, curriculum, cultural education, student, access, social policy in America, etc. there are underlying political fissures that are evidently emergent in America as we pivot into a more diverse social construction. Climate activism was talked about, which I support 100% especially the radicals, the new left, and other social reformist groups. I didn't read much, but it's definitely interesting. Ovetz called the academy University Inc. I believe, talking about the corporatism that dominates the university field and appreciative direction. It's not so much about corporations anymore but fufulling the human's individual potential within a collective network. —— It will change the world and everything and everybody we know. So these are just ideas, thoughts, projections by a distanced undergraduate. I'm prepared to adapt. I'm just waiting for the signals to make light at midnight. The darkness will not overcome us. The collective is prepared and has faced challenge and adaption far more complex and harsh. I'm confident. Hope this literary babble isn't into the black box. Maybe there's something. Likely, there's not lol.

Peace be with you, Alex E. Towery.

When I say 'morality' please don't mistake this for the repressing moralisms of the American political situation today. It is not about good vs evil. It's not about defining the low, the evil, or the vulgar, in referent to the high, the progressive, and the good battling against the children of night. No. None of that is of my concern.

The 'morality' I'm speaking on is the immutable high. The immutable red line. The innate, human virtues of a good life and beneficent mind. The unquestionably good. The only right. The final, irreducible and unambiguous kind of morality which runs in the blood of western philosophy and that all Americans owe credence and their cultural foundation to. The basis of the western judiciary and the philosophical bedrock of wise statecraft: 1. Do no harm. 2. Give each their due. 3. Live honestly.

The first principle is the uncontested, most severely established, and concrete concern to a flourishing polity. Humans must be safe and secure in their setting to engage in altruistic and community activities. People must feel accepted — not without thought and reflection — into a community where they can speak without fear of abandonment or violent admonishment.

The second principle is the hardest to acquire. It's the most fickle and difficult to secure. It's essentially the ethos of equality. All men are equal in the eyes of the beholder. All men shall be afforded equal justice and treatment under the law. America has long struggled with fulfilling this highest precept. But that struggle is still alive and burning like a flame at midnight. You give each his due. Notice the word 'due'. What is deserved, what is right, what is just, and what is truth about the person who you deal with. A person's due is based upon their efforts, not their race nor innate physical predicament. You give each his due based on the works they have given to you. Students need to learn this — not that they don't know, but the point needs to be made explicit and precise. Don't explain the referent low. Just explain the immutable red line of right. (Psshh, me telling what to do... I'm sorry. please don't think I'm commanding anything. These are just ideas and what I think and don't need any reply)

Third: Live honestly. Students will leave university, obviously, and what they learn will stick with them forever. I had someone comment under one of my tweets the other day that their time at UT taught them that what they'd grown up hearing about black people was wrong. That UT was culturally conducive in that what they learned taught them to level with the fact that America is multicultural and that is a plus, not a negative or referent low. To live honestly is to live with dignity, self-respect, and self-understanding, knowing that I nor you knows that which we don't know. It is the honest reflection on your own ignorance that makes you human in the face of abject information systems and dissimulated communications. To live honestly is to live in the face of existential problems, not knowing the solutions, or seeing anyone else who knows what to do, but putting faith in a higher power that can guide you to “right” when what's right in some situations is unknowable or previously unthinkable. It is the constant battle to see others humanity, and to struggle in the day-to-day with what is good and honorable for a man of dignity to do.

Young men need to be the focus. All of history is a story about what to do with young men. The military gets this one right. But we shouldn't live in a militaristic culture. Young men need purpose and vision that's higher and valorized by the common world. A socially reproducible cultural relation. Not the culture of the academy, but the culture of the father, the son, the brother, and his keeper. Young men need to be spoken to. They don't need to be instructed as if they'd even listen. They need to be spoken to about the reasons why they want to be good fathers, and good citizens that do right in the face of wrong. That pick up and lead in the face of darkness and distress. That can be gentle and aspiring at the same time without being solemn and neglectful. Young men need a vision of the future that's not purely optimistic bc they see through that mess. Existential questions need to be asked and addressed, because that's what's on the mind of kids who don't know how to express what they and all others are keeping silent out of distress. We need a release valve that can decompress the pent up passions of the male mind that is higher and more worthy of respect that drugs, sex, money, and women. Kids yearn for that. It's the task of the university, the church, and our politics to speak on it.

Warmest Regards, Alex Towery.

The Nineteenth Century

In an Outline of History such as this it is impossible to trace the network of complex mental processes that led to the incessant extension of knowledge and power; all we can do here is to call the readers attention to the most salient turning-points that finally led the toboggan of human affairs into its present swift ice-run of progress. We have told of the first release of human curiosity and of the be beginnings of systematic inquiry and experiment. We have told of the escape of investigation from ideas of secrecy and personal advantage to the idea of publication and a brotherhood of knowledge, and we have noted the foundation of the British Royal Society, the Florentine Society, and their like as a consequence of this socializing of thought. These things were the roots of the mechanical revolution, and so long as the root of pure scientific inquiry lives, that revolution will progress.

The mechanical revolution itself began, we may say, with the exhaustion of the wood supply for the ironworks of England. This led to the use of coal. The coal mine led to the simple pumping engine. The development of the pumping engine by Watt moved into a machine-driving engine that led on to the locomotive and the steamship. This was the first phase of a great expansion in the use of steam. A second phase in the mechanical revolution began with the application of electrical science to practical problems and the development of electric lighting, power transmission, and traction.

§

There is a tendency in many histories to confuse together what we have here called the mechanical revolution, arising out of the development of organized science, with something else, something for which there was already a historical precedent, the social and financial development which is called the industrial revolution. The two processes were going on together. They were constantly reacting upon each other, but they were in root and essence different.

There would have been an industrial revolution of sorts even if there had been no coal, no steam, no machinery; but in that case it would probably have followed far more closely upon the lines of the social and financial developments of the later years of the Roman republic. It would have repeated the story of dispossessed free cultivators, gang labour, great estates, great financial fortunes, and a socially destructive financial process.

Even the factory method came before power and machinery. Factories were the product not of machinery, but of the “division of labour.” There were factories in Rome in the days of Augustus. New books, for instance, were dictated to rows of copyists in the factories of the book-sellers. The attentive student of Defoe and of the political pamphlets of Fielding will realize that the idea of herding poor people into establishments to work collectively for their living was already current in Britain before the close of the seventeenth century. There are intimations of it even as early as More’s Utopia (1516). [The Industrial Revolution] was a social and not a mechanical development.

Up to and past the middle of the eighteenth century, the social and economic history of western Europe was, in fact, [following] the path along which the Roman State had gone in the three last centuries B.C. America was in many ways a new Spain, and India and China, a new Egypt. But the political disunions of Europe, the political convulsions against monarchy, the recalcitrance of the common folk, and perhaps, also, the greater accessibility of the western European intelligence to mechanical ideas and inventions, turned the process into quite novel directions.

Ideas of human solidarity, thanks to Christianity, were far more widely diffused in this newer European world. Political power was not so concentrated, and the man of energy anxious to get rich turned his mind, therefore, very willingly from the ideas of the slave and of gang labour to the idea of mechanical power and the machine.

The mechanical revolution was a new thing in human experience. It went on regardless of the social, political, economic, and industrial consequences it might produce. The industrial revolution, on the other hand, like most other human affairs, was and is more and more profoundly changed and deflected by the constant variation in human conditions caused by the mechanical revolution.

And the essential difierence between the amassing of riches, the extinction of small farmers and small business men, and the phase of big finance in the latter centuries of the Roman Republic, on the one hand, and the very similar concentration of capital in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on the other, lies in the profound difference in the character of labour that the mechanical revolution was bringing about.

The power of the old world was human power; everything depended ultimately upon the driving power of human muscle, the muscle of ignorant and subjugated men. A little animal muscle, supplied by draft oxen, horse traction, and the like, contributed. Where a weight had to be lifted, men lifted it; where a rock had to be quarried, men chipped it out; where a field had to be ploughed, men and oxen ploughed it; the Roman equivalent of the steamship was the galley with its banks of sweating rowers.

A vast proportion of mankind in the early civilizations was employed in purely mechanical drudgery. At its onset, power-driven machinery did not seem to promise any release from such unintelligent toil. Great gangs of men were employed in excavating canals, in making railway cuttings and embankments, and the like. The number of miners increased enormously. But the extension of facilities and the output of commodities increased much more.

And as the nineteenth century went on, the plain logic of the new situation asserted itself more clearly: Human beings were no longer wanted as a source of mere indiscriminated power. What could be done mechanically by a human being could be done faster and better by a machine.

The human being was needed now only where choice and intelligence had to be exercised. Human beings were wanted only as human beings. The drudge, on whom all the previous civilizations had rested, the creature of mere obedience, the man whose brains were superfluous, had become unnecessary to the welfare of mankind. This was as true of such ancient industries as agriculture and mining as it was of the newest metallurgical processes. For ploughing, sowing, and harvesting, swift machines came forward to do the work of scores of men.1 The Roman civilization was built upon cheap and degraded human beings; modern civilization is being rebuilt upon cheap mechanical power. For a hundred years power has been getting cheaper and labour dearer. If for a generation or so machinery has had to wait its turn in the mine, it is simply because for a time men were cheaper than machinery.

Now here was a changeover of quite primary importance in human aflairs. The chief solicitude of the rich and of the ruler in the old civilization had been to keep up a supply of drudges. As the nineteenth century went on, it became more and more plain to the intelligent directive people that the common man had now to be something better than a drudge. He had to be educated—if only to secure “industrial efficiency.” He had to understand what he was about. From the days of the first Christian evagalization, popular education had been smouldering in Europe, just as it has smouldered in Asia wherever Islam has set its foot, because of the necessity of making the believer understand a little of the belief by which he is saved, and of enabling him to read a little in the sacred books by which his belief is conveyed.

Christian controversies, with their competition for adherents, ploughed the ground for the harvest of popular education. In England, for instance, by the thirties and forties of the nineteenth century, the disputes of the sects and, the necessity to catching adherents young, had produced an abundance of night schools, Sunday schools, and a series of competing educational organizations for children, the dissenting British schools, the church National Schools, and even Roman Catholic elementary schools. The earlier, less enlightened manufacturers, unable to take a broad view of their own interests, hated and opposed these schools. But here again needy Germany led her richer neighbours.

The religious teacher in Britain found the profit-seeker at his side, unexpectedly eager to get the [modest conservative circles,] if not educated, at least “trained” to a higher level of economic efficiency.

The second half of the nineteenth century was a period of rapid advance in popular education throughout all the Westernized world. There was no parallel advance in the education of the upper classes, some advance no doubt, but nothing to correspond, and so the great gulf that had divided that world hitherto into the readers and the non-reading mass became little more than a slightly perceptible difference in educational attainment.

At the back of this process was the mechanical revolution, apparently regardless of social conditions, but really insisting inexorably upon the complete abolition of a totally illiterate class throughout the world.

The economic revolution of the Roman republic had never been clearly apprehended by the common people of Rome. The ordinary Roman citizen never saw the changes through which he lived, clearly and comprehensively as we see them. But the industrial revolution, as it went on towards the end of the nineteenth century, was more and more distinctly seen as one whole process by the common people it was affecting, because presently they could read and discuss and communicate, and because they went about and saw things as no distinguished commonalty had ever done before.

In this Outline of History we have been careful to indicate the gradual appearance of the 'ordinary people' as a class with a will and ideas in common. We have cited the enthusiasm of the distinquished gentry for the First Crusade as marking a new phase in social history. But before the nineteenth century, even these massive movements were comparatively restricted. The equalitarian insurrections of the peasantry, from the Wycliffe period onward, were confined to the peasant communities of definite localities, they spread only slowly into districts affected by similar forces. The town artisan rioted indeed, but only locally. The chateau-burning of the French revolution was not the act of a peasantry who had overthrown a government. It was the act of a peasantry released by the overthrow of a government. The Commune of Paris was the first effective appearance of the town artisan as a political power, and the Parisian crowd of the First Revolution was a very mixed, primitive thinking, and savage crowd compared with any Western European crowd after 1830. ...

But the mechanical revolution was not only pressing education upon the whole population, it was leading to a big-capitalism and to a large—scale reorganization of industry that sought to produce a new and distinctive system of ideas among the common people in the place of the mere uncomfortable recalcitrance and elemental rebellions of an illiterate gentry. We have already noted how the industrial revolution had split the manufacturing class, which had hitherto been a middling and variously sorted 'class', into two sections, the employers, who became rich enough to mingle with the financial, merchandizing, and land-owning fractions, and the employees, who drifted to a status closer and closer to that of mere gang of agricultural labour.

As the manufacturing employee sank, the agricultural labourer, by the introduction of agricultural machinery and the increase in his individual productivity, rose. ... By the middle of the nineteenth century, Karl Marx (1818—83), a German Jew of great scholarly-attainments, who did much of his work in the British Museum library in London, was pointing out that the organization of the working classes by the steadily concentrating group of capitalist owners, was developing a new social classification to replace the more complex class systems of the past.

Property, so far as it was power, was being gathered together into relatively few hands: the hands of the big rich men, the capitalist class; while there was a great mingling of workers with little or no property, whom he called the “expropriated,” or “proletariat” — a misuse of this word — who were bound to develop a common “class-consciousness” of the conflict of their interests with those of the rich men.

Differences of education and tradition between the various older social elements which were in process of being fused up into the new class of the expropriated, seemed for a time to contradict this sweeping generalization; the traditions of the professions, the small employers, the farmer, peasant, and the like were all different from one another and from the various craftsman traditions of the workers; but with the spread of education and the cheapening of literature, this “Marxian” generalization becomes now more and more acceptable. These classes, who were linked at first, by nothing but a common impoverishment, were and are being reduced or raised to the same standard of life, forced to read the same books and share the same inconveniences. A sense of solidarity between all sorts of poor and propertyless men, as against the profit amassing and wealth-concentrating class, is growing more and more evident in our world.

Old differences fade away, the difference between craftsman and open-air worker, between a black coat and overall, between poor clergyman and elementary-school master, between policeman and bus-driver. They must all buy the same cheap furnishings and live in similar cheap houses; their sons and daughters will all mingle and marry; success at the upper levels becomes more and more hopeless for the rank and file. Marx, who did not so much advocate the class-war, the war of the expropriated mass against the appropriating few, as foretell it, is being more and more justified by events.2

  1. Here America led the old world.

  2. 'It sometimes argued against Marx that the proportion of people who have savings invested has increased in many modern communities. These savings are technically “capital” and their owners “capitalists” to that extent, and this supposed to contradict the statement of Marx that property concentrates into few and fewer hands. Marx used many of his terms carelessly and chose them ill, and his ideas were better than his words. When he wrote property he meant “property so far as it is power.”

The Outline of history Wells, H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946. New York, Collier, 1922.

# H.G. Wells #

In an Outline of History such as this it is impossible to trace the network of complex mental processes that led to the incessant extension of knowledge and power that is now going on; all we can do here is to call the reader􏰚s attention to the most salient turning-points that finally led the toboggan of human affairs into its present swift ice-run of progress. We have told of the first release of human curiosity and of the be beginnings of systematic inquiry and experiment. We have told of the escape of investigation from ideas of secrecy and personal advantage to the idea of publication and a brotherhood of knowledge, and we have noted the foundation of the British Royal Society, the Florentine Society, and their like as a consequence of this socializing of thought. These things were the roots of the mechanical revolution, and so long as the root of pure scientific inquiry lives, that revolution will progress.

The mechanical revolution itself began, we may say, with the exhaustion of the wood supply for the ironworks of England. This led to the use of coal. The coal mine led to the simple pumping engine. The development of the pumping engine by Watt moved into a machine-driving engine that led on to the locomotive and the steamship. This was the first phase of a great expansion in the use of steam. A second phase in the mechanical revolution began with the application of electrical science to practical problems and the development of electric lighting, power transmission, and traction. **** **** There is a tendency in many histories to confuse together what we have here called the mechanical revolution, arising out of the development of organized science, with something else, something for which there was already a historical precedent, the social and financial development which is called the industrial revolution. The two processes were going on together. They were constantly reacting upon each other, but they were in root and essence different.

There would have been an industrial revolution of sorts even if there had been no coal, no steam, no machinery; but in that case it would probably have followed far more closely upon the lines of the social and financial developments of the later years of the Roman republic. It would have repeated the story of dispossessed free cultivators, gang labour, great estates, great financial fortunes, and a socially destructive financial process.

Even the factory method came before power and machinery. Factories were the product not of machinery, but of the “division of labour.” There were factories in Rome in the days of Augustus. New books, for instance, were dictated to rows of copyists in the factories of the book-sellers. The attentive student of Defoe and of the political pamphlets of Fielding will realize that the idea of herding poor people into establishments to work collectively for their living was already current in Britain before the close of the seventeenth century. There are intimations of it even as early as More’s Utopia (1516). [The Industrial Revolution] was a social and not a mechanical development.

Up to and past the middle of the eighteenth century, the social and economic history of western Europe was, in fact, [following] the path along which the Roman State had gone in the three last centuries B.C. America was in many ways a new Spain, and India and China, a new Egypt. But the political disunions of Europe, the political convulsions against monarchy, the recalcitrance of the common folk, and perhaps, also, the greater accessibility of the western European intelligence to mechanical ideas and inventions, turned the process into quite novel directions.

Ideas of human solidarity, thanks to Christianity, were far more widely diffused in this newer European world. Political power was not so concentrated, and the man of energy anxious to get rich turned his mind, therefore, very willingly from the ideas of the slave and of gang labour to the idea of mechanical power and the machine.

The mechanical revolution was a new thing in human experience. It went on regardless of the social, political, economic, and industrial consequences it might produce. The industrial revolution, on the other hand, like most other human affairs, was and is more and more profoundly changed and deflected by the constant variation in human conditions caused by the mechanical revolution.

And the essential difierence between the amassing of riches, the extinction of small farmers and small business men, and the phase of big finance in the latter centuries of the Roman Republic, on the one hand, and the very similar concentration of capital in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries on the other, lies in the profound difference in the character of labour that the mechanical revolution was bringing about.

The power of the old world was human power; everything depended ultimately upon the driving power of human muscle, the muscle of ignorant and subjugated men. A little animal muscle, supplied by draft oxen, horse traction, and the like, contributed. Where a weight had to be lifted, men lifted it; where a rock had to be quarried, men chipped it out; where a field had to be ploughed, men and oxen ploughed it; the Roman equivalent of the steamship was the galley with its banks of sweating rowers.

A vast proportion of mankind in the early civilizations was employed in purely mechanical drudgery. At its onset, power-driven machinery did not seem to promise any release from such unintelligent toil. Great gangs of men were employed in excavating canals, in making railway cuttings and embankments, and the like. The number of miners increased enormously. But the extension of facilities and the output of commodities increased much more.

And as the nineteenth century went on, the plain logic of the new situation asserted itself more clearly: Human beings were no longer wanted as a source of mere indiscriminated power. What could be done mechanically by a human being could be done faster and better by a machine.

The human being was needed now only where choice and intelligence had to be exercised. Human beings were wanted only as human beings. The drudge, on whom all the previous civilizations had rested, the creature of mere obedience, the man whose brains were superfluous, had become unnecessary to the welfare of mankind. This was as true of such ancient industries as agriculture and mining as it was of the newest metallurgical processes. For ploughing, sowing, and harvesting, swift machines came forward to do the work of scores of men.1 The Roman civilization was built upon cheap and degraded human beings; modern civilization is being rebuilt upon cheap mechanical power. For a hundred years power has been getting cheaper and labour dearer. If for a generation or so machinery has had to wait its turn in the mine, it is simply because for a time men were cheaper than machinery.2

Now here was a changeover of quite primary importance in human aflairs. The chief solicitude of the rich and of the ruler in the old civilization had been to keep up a supply of drudges. As the nineteenth century went on, it became more and more plain to the intelligent directive people that the common man had now to be something better than a drudge. He had to be educated—if only to secure “industrial efficiency.” He had to understand what he was about. From the days of the first Christian evagalization, popular education had been smouldering in Europe, just as it has smouldered in Asia wherever Islam has set its foot, because of the necessity of making the believer understand a little of the belief by which he is saved, and of enabling him to read a little in the sacred books by which his belief is conveyed.

Christian controversies, with their competition for adherents, ploughed the ground for the harvest of popular education. In England, for instance, by the thirties and forties of the nineteenth century, the disputes of the sects and, the necessity to catching adherents young, had produced an abundance of night schools, Sunday schools, and a series of competing educational organizations for children, the dissenting British schools, the church National Schools, and even Roman Catholic elementary schools. The earlier, less enlightened manufacturers, unable to take a broad view of their own interests, hated and opposed these schools. But here again needy Germany led her richer neighbours.

The religious teacher in Britain found the profit-seeker at his side, unexpectedly eager to get the [modest conservative circles,] if not educated, at least “trained” to a higher level of economic efficiency.

The second half of the nineteenth century was a period of rapid advance in popular education throughout all the Westernized world. There was no parallel advance in the education of the upper classes, some advance no doubt, but nothing to correspond, and so the great gulf that had divided that world hitherto into the readers and the non-reading mass became little more than a slightly perceptible difference in educational attainment.

At the back of this process was the mechanical revolution, apparently regardless of social conditions, but really insisting inexorably upon the complete abolition of a totally illiterate class throughout the world.

The economic revolution of the Roman republic had never been clearly apprehended by the common people of Rome. The ordinary Roman citizen never saw the changes through which he lived, clearly and comprehensively as we see them. But the industrial revolution, as it went on towards the end of the nineteenth century, was more and more distinctly seen as one whole process by the common people it was affecting, because presently they could read and discuss and communicate, and because they went about and saw things as no distinguished commonalty had ever done before.

In this Outline of History we have been careful to indicate the gradual appearance of the 'ordinary people' as a class with a will and ideas in common. We have cited the enthusiasm of the distinquished gentry for the First Crusade as marking a new phase in social history. But before the nineteenth century, even these massive movements were comparatively restricted. The equalitarian insurrections of the peasantry, from the Wycliffe period onward, were confined to the peasant communities of definite localities, they spread only slowly into districts affected by similar forces. The town artisan rioted indeed, but only locally. The chateau-burning of the French revolution was not the act of a peasantry who had overthrown a government. It was the act of a peasantry released by the overthrow of a government. The Commune of Paris was the first effective appearance of the town artisan as a political power, and the Parisian crowd of the First Revolution was a very mixed, primitive thinking, and savage crowd compared with any Western European crowd after 1830. ...

But the mechanical revolution was not only pressing education upon the whole population, it was leading to a big-capitalism and to a large—scale reorganization of industry that sought to produce a new and distinctive system of ideas among the common people in the place of the mere uncomfortable recalcitrance and elemental rebellions of an illiterate gentry. We have already noted how the industrial revolution had split the manufacturing class, which had hitherto been a middling and variously sorted 'class', into two sections, the employers, who became rich enough to mingle with the financial, merchandizing, and land-owning fractions, and the employees, who drifted to a status closer and closer to that of mere gang of agricultural labour.

As the manufacturing employee sank, the agricultural labourer, by the introduction of agricultural machinery and the increase in his individual productivity, rose. ... By the middle of the nineteenth century, Karl Marx (1818—83), a German Jew of great scholarly-attainments, who did much of his work in the British Museum library in London, was pointing out that the organization of the working classes by the steadily concentrating group of capitalist owners, was developing a new social classification to replace the more complex class systems of the past.

Property, so far as it was power, was being gathered together into relatively few hands: the hands of the big rich men, the capitalist class; while there was a great mingling of workers with little or no property, whom he called the “expropriated,” or “proletariat” — a misuse of this word — who were bound to develop a common “class-consciousness” of the conflict of their interests with those of the rich men.

Differences of education and tradition between the various older social elements which were in process of being fused up into the new class of the expropriated, seemed for a time to contradict this sweeping generalization; the traditions of the professions, the small employers, the farmer, peasant, and the like were all different from one another and from the various craftsman traditions of the workers; but with the spread of education and the cheapening of literature, this “Marxian” generalization becomes now more and more acceptable. These classes, who were linked at first, by nothing but a common impoverishment, were and are being reduced or raised to the same standard of life, forced to read the same books and share the same inconveniences. A sense of solidarity between all sorts of poor and propertyless men, as against the profit amassing and wealth-concentrating class, is growing more and more evident in our world.

Old differences fade away, the difference between craftsman and open-air worker, between a black coat and overall, between poor clergyman and elementary-school master, between policeman and bus-driver. They must all buy the same cheap furnishings and live in similar cheap houses; their sons and daughters will all mingle and marry; success at the upper levels becomes more and more hopeless for the rank and file. Marx, who did not so much advocate the class-war, the war of the expropriated mass against the appropriating few, as foretell it, is being more and more justified by events.3

  1. Here America led the old world.
  2. 'In Northumherland and Durham in the early days of coal mining they
  3. 'It sometimes argued against Marx that the proportion of people who have savings invested has increased in many modern communities. These savings are technically “capital” and their owners “capitalists” to that extent, and this supposed to contradict the statement of Marx that property concentrates into few and fewer hands. Marx used many of his terms carelessly and chose them ill, and his ideas were better than his words. When he wrote property he meant “property so far as it is power.”

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