The national dustmen, after entertaining one another with a great many noisy little fights among themselves, had dispersed for the present, and Mr. Gradgrind was at home for the vacation.
He sat writing in the room with the deadly statistical clock, proving something no doubt – probably, in the main, that the Good Samaritan was a Bad Economist. – Hard Times
Our ruin will be disguised in profit, and the sale of a few wretched baubles will bribe a degenerate people to barter away the most precious jewel of their souls. – Letters on a Regicide Peace
Every year during the Christmas season we are greeted with a capitalist salvo against Dickens’ Christmas Carol. His work is excoriated by the capitalists as sentimental ___ [expletive deleted]. And the Victorians who loved the Christmas Carol are also sent to the dustbins of history with the label ‘sentimental,’ which in the mind of the capitalist translates to, ‘idiots who don’t understand how wealth is created and distributed in a capitalist society.’ As one of those idiots who weeps when Bob Cratchit describes his visit to the gravesite of Tiny Tim and who rejoices when he discovers that Tiny Tim “did not die,” let me say a few words, expletives deleted, against the tough guys in the ranks of the capitalists, the men who hate Dickens’ Christmas Carol, and in defense of the people who get all ‘sentimental’ over it.
Those who deride sentiment always have a sentiment about something else that is dear to them. They use the word ‘sentimental’ as a devil word in the hopes of defacing what you hold dear and elevating what they hold dear. What does the capitalist hold dear? What makes him feel all warm and gushy? The capitalist, be he neo-con or National Review conservative, gets all warm and gushy about free markets and wars to expand free markets on into infinity. In justification of his sentimental love for free markets and wars to expand the free market, the capitalist tells us how much better mankind, in the aggregate, is when the capitalist system is in place. The capitalist then goes on to tell us how much more wealth there is in capitalist societies compared to socialist and communist societies.
Let us grant that capitalism creates more wealth than socialism and communism. But let us also note that communism and socialism are reactions to capitalism run amuck. On the Welsh side of my family tree, the men were all coal miners. My great-grandfather, a first generation Welsh-American, started working as a breaker boy at eight years of age and then advanced to become a full-fledged coal miner. (1) He died of a heart attack at age 60 while walking home on Christmas Eve laden with Christmas presents for his eight children. He was the only member of his family, one of eight brothers, to live past age 50. His brothers all died of black lung. “Cry me a river,” the capitalist responds. But what type of system is it when negro slaves live better than white Christians?(2) That marvelous system of creating wealth that theoretically ‘trickles’ down to the masses but in reality stays invested in the Darwinian elite, never would have been modified in the slightest degree if the capitalists had not been compelled to make concessions by the labor unions, which, over the course of time, became capitalist entities themselves, freezing out the nonunion workers and casting them into outer darkness.
In his movie Metropolis, Fritz Lang gives us a hint at the solution to the eternal conflict between the capitalist and the laborer. After a long bitter conflict between capitalism and labor, the movie ends with a compromise: “Head and hands want to join together, but they don’t have the heart to do it… Oh mediator, show them the way to each other…” Then the mediator steps in, and the capitalist, who is the head, joins hands with the laborer, who is the hands: “The Mediator Between Head and Hands Must Be the Heart!” And so the movie ends. Sentimental mush? Yes, from the capitalist’s perspective it is sentimental mush; the capitalist does not want to compromise with labor. And from the Marxist perspective, the movie is also sentimental mush, because the Marxist does not want to compromise with the capitalists, he wants to eliminate them. It’s significant that Lang later repudiated the movie because as he moved further to the left, he left ‘sentimentality’ behind and looked to Marxism for salvation from the capitalist system. But before he became a hardened Marxist he was on the right track.
Lang was right – the heart must be the mediator between labor and capital, but it must be a heart purified by the one true Mediator between God and Man and between men and men. When the adherents of two ‘this world only’ systems clash, they will be forever at each other’s throats, because both groups have proceeded without Him. The grace of God is not something we can see with the material eye, but the fabric of our life here on earth, if viewed with the interior eye of a heart connected to His sacred heart, allows us to see that His grace is the only reality we can hold onto in this vale of tears. If that is sentimental mush to the capitalist, then so be it. I prefer, like Fezziwig, to stay with old Europe and its ancient customs and traditions, grounded in the love of Christ, than to live in the world of the entrepreneurs and plunderers. Scrooge was an easy convert compared to the modern capitalist, because he lacked an ideology of wealth. The modern capitalist would have thrown the ghost of Jacob Marley right out the door and then returned to his study to read Gilder’s Wealth and Poverty.
The deriding of sentiment in favor of pure intellect has deep roots. Socrates derided the simple faith of the Athenian people in favor of his “sublime” faith in nothingness. And the Athenian people reacted to his theology by inviting him to drink hemlock. St. Thomas changed St. Paul’s “charity never faileth” to Aristotle’s “reason never faileth,” and the faithful responded with the Protestant Reformation. In due time the Protestant Reformation produced Protestant scholastics who were just as opposed to “charity never faileth” as the great medieval scholastic. When does the Hegelian dialectic end? With Protestantism? With Communism? Or does it end with Capitalism? The dialectical struggle between men of strife will end when Christ returns. Until that time there will be wars and rumors of wars between systems grounded in materialism and espoused by men with a sentimental attachment to their own reason divorced from the God who enters human hearts. (3)
The monstrous inhumanity of capitalism and its children, socialism and communism, consists of their atomization of human souls. The individual human being becomes part of an aggregate herd called humanity. There are no family ties, no racial ties, and no religious ties to the humane God in their systems. There is only the great debate over the allocation of the goods of this world. And whether it is communism, socialism, or capitalism the final solution always entails the distribution of goods to a small elect and the casting into outer darkness of the undeserving non-elect. The communist-socialists simply differ with the capitalists on the issue of the elect. The capitalists want to be the elect, while the Marxist-capitalists want the people, be they the French proletariat or the noble savages of color, whom they (the Illuminati) will lead, to be the elect. The Christian European must respond with, “A plague on both your houses.” We should maintain our sentimental attachment to what was the common faith of the European people prior to the age of systems, the faith in the God-Man who overcame the world through His divine charity, which, unlike the materialist, rational systems grounded in this world only, never faileth.
The capitalists have correctly identified their greatest enemy in Charles Dickens. No man ever attacked capitalism with a greater zeal than Charles Dickens. God bless him for it! But Dickens did not succumb to the false either/or of capitalism vs. communism. He rejected both heresies. In Hard Times, the hero, Stephen Blackpool, rejects the capitalism of Josiah Bounderby and Thomas Grandgrind and the socialism of the radicals for an ancient non-ideological faith in Someone beyond the ken of the systems analysis men.
‘If aw th’ things that tooches us, my dear, was not so muddled, I should’n ha’ had’n need to coom heer. If we was not in a muddle among ourseln, I should’n ha’ been, by my own fellow weavers and workin’ brothers, so mistook. If Mr. Bounderby had ever know’d me right—if he’d ever know’d me at aw—he would’n ha’ took’n offence wi’ me. He would’n ha’ suspect’n me. But look up yonder, Rachael! Look aboove!’
Following his eyes, she saw that he was gazing at a star.
‘It ha’ shined upon me,’ he said reverently, ‘in my pain and trouble down below. It ha’ shined into my mind. I ha’ look’n at ’t and thowt o’ thee, Rachael, till the muddle in my mind have cleared awa, above a bit, I hope.
They carried him very gently along the fields, and down the lanes, and over the wide landscape; Rachael always holding the hand in hers. Very few whispers broke the mournful silence. It was soon a funeral procession. The star had shown him where to find the God of the poor; and through humility, and sorrow, and forgiveness, he had gone to his Redeemer’s rest.
And what of Thomas Gradgrind, the man of facts and figures? His sentimental love for the daughter he ruined through facts and figures, brings him back to faith, hope, and charity:
Forced to admit that much of his misfortune is attributable to his own hard system of philosophy, he becomes a humbler and wiser man, bending his hitherto inflexible theories to appointed circumstances; making his facts and figures subservient to Faith, Hope, and Charity; and no longer trying to grind that Heavenly trio in his dusty little mills?
The repentant Gradgrind, like the repentant Scrooge, is in accord with Burke, Shakespeare, Scott, Dickens, and the European people during that ‘sentimental’ Christian era of their history. Hard economics, the economics of systems, whether the system be capitalism or Marxism, must be subordinate to His reign of charity. It is worth noting that neither capitalism nor communism has ever produced a major poet. The capitalists have Carl Sandburg and the leftists have a longer list of minor poets, but the major poets see something more than ‘this world only.’ How could it be otherwise? The great European poets are in line with the Gospels and St. Paul. And our Lord and His apostle never advise us to seek first the things of this earth so that we can buy our way into heaven.
The reason that Trump is hated by the communists on the left and the capitalist Republicans is because he has injected a discordant note into the political debate. He has one foot in the camp of the capitalists, but he also has one foot in the camp of the men of old Europe who wanted the economic numbers to be subordinate to individual human beings. Buchanan, when he turned against free trade, also earned the hatred of the Democrats and the Republicans. This is how it will be in the European countries so long as the one true Mediator is left out of our systems. The Marxist left will be at odds with the corporate capitalists, and both sides will be at war with anyone who even suggests – let alone tries to implement – any policy of an economic or social nature that hearkens back to the ancient faith of the European people.
In Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Theseus decides to hear the play of the bumbling working class men of Athens despite the fact that he has been told that the play is an inept production:
I will hear that play;
For never anything can be amiss,
When simpleness and duty tender it.
Go, bring them in; and take your places, ladies.
All our works on this earth are inept stammerings. We see through a glass darkly. But when our works stem from a heart that sees His sacred cross as the penultimate of reality, they are pleasing to our Lord just as the inept production of the Athenian workmen was pleasing to Theseus. Is it possible to prefer the capitalist’s vision of Walmarts and wars-without-end to Dickens’ vision of a Victorian village consecrated to the Son of God? The capitalist and the Marxist are united in their vision of an earthly paradise centered on themselves, on their prideful attempts to create a world controlled by their minds and their wills. Dickens’ vision leads us to the Savior who has overcome the world, while that other vision leads to the fiery pit. But the capitalist need not worry – he will feel right at home in hell, because the devil is not a sentimentalist. +
(1) From Cannibals All! Or Slaves Without Masters by George Fitzhugh:
Coal mines. – The number of children and young persons employed in these mines is enormous, and they appear to commence working, even underground, at an earlier age than is recorded of any other occupation except lace-making. The Commissioners report –
“That instances occur in which children are taken into these mines to work as early as four years of age, sometimes at five, not unfrequently between six and seven, and often from seven to eight, while from eight to nine is the ordinary age at which their employment commences… That a very large proportion of the persons employed in these mines is under thirteen years of age; and a still larger proportion between thirteen and eighteen. That in several districts female children begin to work in the mines as early as males.
“That the nature of the employment which is assigned to the youngest children, generally that of ‘trapping,’ requires that they should be in the pit as soon as the work of the day commences, and, according to the present system, that they should not leave the pit before the work of the day is at an end.”
The pit is an exact metaphor for what capitalism gives us – hell on earth.
(2) From Cannibals All! Or Slaves Without Masters by George Fitzhugh:
Is not slavery to capital less tolerable than slavery to human masters?
Where a few, as in England, Ireland and Scotland, own all the lands, are not the mass, the common laborers, who own no capital, and possess neither mechanical nor professional skill, of necessity, the slaves to capital?
Was it not this slavery to capital that occasioned the great Irish famine, and is not this same slavery that keeps the large majority of the laboring class in Western Europe in a state of hereditary starvation?
In old societies, where the laborers are domestic slaves, and exceed in number the demand for labor, would not emancipating them subject them at once to a mastery, or exacting despotism of capital, far more oppressive than domestic slavery?
From American Statesmen on Slavery and the Negro by Nathaniel Weyl and William Marina:
To what extent was Calhoun’s comparison objective and factual? To what extent was it mere special pleading in favor of the peculiar institution? One uncontested fact lends force to Calhoun’s assertion that the conditions of the Negro slave were better than those of unskilled white labor. Throughout the South, it was customary to employ Irish gangs in digging irrigation ditches and draining swamps, work that was not only unusually hard and dangerous, but which exposed the laborers to malaria and a variety of gastroenteritic diseases. When asked the reason for this preference, a planter told that eminent observer of slavery in the South, Frederick L. Olmsted: “It is dangerous work and a negro’s life is too valuable to be risked at it. If a negro dies it is a considerable loss you know.” Wh. H. Russell, the London Times correspondent in Washington during the Civil War, speculated about the vast number of “poor Hibernians (who) have been consumed and buried in these Louisianian swamps, leaving their earnings to the dramshop keeper and the contractor, and the results of their toil to the planter.”
In his classic study The Health of Slaves on Southern Plantations, Postell reviews testimony of contemporary physicians to the effect that the Negro slave received “good care, wholesome diet, prompt medical attention, and restraint from dissipations which were injurious to his health” and was “healthier in the main than the whites.”
(3) I recently listened to an exchange between Tucker Carlson and a Jewish neo-con by the name of Ben Shapiro. Shapiro was going into raptures about the glories of automation which would place 10 million truck drivers out of work. That type of free market economics makes the capitalist feel all warm and sentimental, but it sickens anyone with a soul.