Of the Difference of Manners – 2

Continuation from:

By MANNERS, I mean not here, Decency of behaviour; as how one man should salute another, or how a man should wash his mouth, or pick his teeth before company, and such other points of the Small Morals; But those qualities of man-kind, that concern their living together in Peace, and Unity.

And From Love Of Arts

Desire of Knowledge, and Arts of Peace, enclineth men to obey a common Power: For such Desire, containeth a desire of leasure; and consequently protection from some other Power than their own.

Love Of Vertue, From Love Of Praise

Desire of Praise, disposeth to laudable actions, such as please them whose judgement they value; for of these men whom we contemn, we contemn also the Praises. Desire of Fame after death does the same. And though after death, there be no sense of the praise given us on Earth, as being joyes, that are either swallowed up in the unspeakable joyes of Heaven, or extinguished in the extreme torments of Hell: yet is not such Fame vain; because men have a present delight therein, from the foresight of it, and of the benefit that may rebound thereby to their posterity: which though they now see not, yet they imagine; and any thing that is pleasure in the sense, the same also is pleasure in the imagination.

Hate, From Difficulty Of Requiting Great Benefits

To have received from one, to whom we think our selves equall, greater benefits than there is hope to Requite, disposeth to counterfiet love; but really secret hatred; and puts a man into the estate of a desperate debtor, that in declining the sight of his creditor, tacitely wishes him there, where he might never see him more. For benefits oblige; and obligation is thraldome; which is to ones equall, hateful.

But to have received benefits from one, whom we acknowledge our superiour, enclines to love; because the obligation is no new depession: and cheerfull acceptation, (which men call Gratitude,) is such an honour done to the obliger, as is taken generally for retribution. Also to receive benefits, though from an equall, or inferiour, as long as there is hope of requitall, disposeth to love: for in the intention of the receiver, the obligation is of ayd, and service mutuall; from whence proceedeth an Emulation of who shall exceed in benefiting; the most noble and profitable contention possible; wherein the victor is pleased with his victory, and the other revenged by confessing it.

And From Conscience Of Deserving To Be Hated

To have done more hurt to a man, than he can, or is willing to expiate, enclineth the doer to hate the sufferer. For he must expect revenge, or forgivenesse; both which are hatefull.

 Promptnesse To Hurt, From Fear

Feare of oppression, disposeth a man to anticipate, or to seek ayd by society: for there is no other way by which a man can secure his life and liberty.

And From Distrust Of Their Own Wit

Men that distrust their own subtilty, are in tumult, and sedition, better disposed for victory, than they that suppose themselves wise, or crafty. For these love to consult, the other (fearing to be circumvented,) to strike first. And in sedition, men being alwayes in the procincts of Battell, to hold together, and use all advantages of force, is a better stratagem, than any that can proceed from subtilty of Wit.

See also

Books

New world-teachers needed

Let us go out into the world and make it a better place. Now is the time, or it will be lost to knaves and fools.

Conservative-minded folk do not like to lecture other countries: that is the sort of thing that radicals and socialists do. However it has become necessary, partly because radicals and socialists are doing that, and because of human nature, or what passes for it among politicians.

Those who are conservative-minded are short of radical utopian visions, so we are less likely to rail at others for disagreeing with our preferred ways of doing things. We are quite happy to let other nations live in their own cultures, though we may grind our teeth at some of the excesses of their rulers.  It is ultimately not for us: as there is no power without responsibility, so there is no responsibility where there is no power.

Others take a very different view. When the Thirteen Colonies won their independence in the name of liberty, they proclaimed to the world that they would support liberty across the world (except for slaves, obviously), but they were deep-down conservatives and three thousand miles away and did no more about it.  The bloodthirsty Jacobins on the other hand proclaimed a policy to foment revolution across Europe and to intervene with force to bring it about, the Bolsheviks likewise, and they outdid the French many, many times over in subversion and blood. Today’s enthusiasts preaching wrongheaded ideas to the world are those with elements of the cultural-Marxist mindset, and it is only a mercy that they do not have their predecessors’ capacity for destruction.

Natural enthusiasm for an idea can be a troublesome thing.  Maybe it is just not wanting to feel you are alone in the world, needing company to validate your beliefs.

If conservatives do not make missionary efforts to force foreigners to conform to British ideas, that leaves the radicals to be the only voices in town. (I would call them liberals as is the usual way, but there is nothing liberal about their doctrines.) The world is changing fast and new nations and newly freed nations look for a model to follow; and there waiting for them are people with ideas, wokeists, social-justice warriors and all who follow with them.

It is in Britain’s interests to see a settled and prosperous world. We might not want to bother other nations with our ways of doing things, but those values we have developed, in our context with our the Anglosphere norms, are the values that can enable prosperity and a form of society that is most fitted to human nature. A foreign nation which adopts a free, open market, firm rights of property, limited government, the rule of law and settled family and social bonds in socially conservative terms, that nation can prosper and enjoy civil peace. Socialist and big-state ideas can only ensure poverty. Breaking social bonds with radical, inhuman ideas will bring strife, and even war. Replacing social interdependence with dependence on the central state will bring both poverty and war.

Britain is a trading nation and needs customers with money and reliability, and also needs the markets of the world to be open. It is not just about internal ideas of sound law and liberty then; nations need to embrace free trade for their own prosperity. That goes against many instincts of nature and even in the more conservative-sounding establishment there will be frequent demands for action to protect home markets (ignoring the point that increased prices will result, saving a few jobs in one sector at the penalty of increased costs and consequent unemployment distributed across others). Free trade is for the benefit of the nation being preached to, even if we preach it for our own nation’s good.

In the 1980s, Roger Scruton travelled extensively in Eastern Europe, then still under the Soviet jackboot. He taught, he provided material, he nurtured an underground intellectual class which was able to rise with the fall of Communism and take over. It is noticeable that the countries in which he was active have been those which rose and mended themselves spectacularly after the Wall fell – Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia (or half of it at least) – while those left to the mercy of the Vienna Commission and its ‘progressive’ ideas have been stunted. The Vienna Commission hates Hungary and Poland for their social conservatism, but those two nations are doing very well.

Prosperity in the wider world then needs a new Scruton initiative. There will never be another Roger Scruton, God rest his soul, but his example and his courage are measures for a new effort.

Without it, the international commentariat is dominated by ideas rooted in textbooks but not reality, and the result can only be poverty and strife and closed markets.

The modern radicals appear to have a monopoly on ideas and they would certainly have it that way. Those who dissent will face censure, as we have seen in Hungary and Poland for even minor non-compliance (which can be ignored but puts pressure on surrounding nations to take action). In the longer-term view, if one narrow field of ideas retains the monopoly, those who disagree will doubt their sanity, or be driven to more radical, illiberal ideas in reaction, or to unfortunate companions. Hungarian politicians have started to be warm towards Russia, which is far from the Scrutonian promise they have shown.

The dominant ideas therefore need a respectable opposition, to show there are other ideas that are just as respectable and far more practical.

We owe it the world to whom we introduced Western ideas in the first place, and to our merchants to provide them with the world marketplace they deserve.

See also

Books

By Sir Roger Scruton:

Let us make a reparation to Africa

Handing the commentary over to William Wilberforce, in the words he urged on the House of Commons in 1789:

When we consider the vastness of the continent of Africa; when we reflect how all other countries have for some centuries past been advancing in happiness and civilization; when we think how in this same period all improvement in Africa has been defeated by her intercourse with Britain; when we reflect it is we ourselves that have degraded them to that wretched brutishness and barbarity which we now plead as the justification of our guilt; how the slave trade has enslaved their minds, blackened their character, and sunk them so low in the scale of animal beings that some think the apes are of a higher class, and fancy the orangutan has given them the go-by. What a mortification must we feel at having so long neglected to think of our guilt, or to attempt any reparation!

It seems, indeed, as if we had determined to forbear from all interference until the measure of our folly and wickedness was so full and complete, until the impolicy which eventually belongs to vice, was become so plain and glaring that not an individual in the country should refuse to join in the abolition; it seems as if we had waited until the persons most interested should be tired out with the folly and nefariousness of the trade, and should unite in petitioning against it.

The mischiefs we have done…

Let us then make such amends as we can for the mischiefs we have done to that unhappy continent.

Let us recollect what Europe itself was no longer ago than three or four centuries. What if I should be able to show this House that in a civilized part of Europe, in the time of our Henry VII, there were people who actually sold their own children? What if I should tell them that England itself was that country? What if I should point out to them that the very place where this inhuman traffic was carried on was the city of Bristol? Ireland at that time used to drive a considerable trade in slaves with these neighbouring barbarians; but a great plague having infested the country, the Irish were struck with a panic, suspected (I am sure very properly) that the plague was a punishment sent from Heaven, for the sin of the slave trade, and therefore abolished it.

All I ask, therefore, of the people of Bristol is, that they would become as civilized now as Irishmen were four hundred years ago. Let us put an end at once to this inhuman traffic. Let us stop this effusion of human blood. The true way to virtue is by withdrawing from temptation. Let us then withdraw from these wretched Africans those temptations to fraud, violence, cruelty, and injustice, which the slave trade furnishes.

Wherever the sun shines, let us go round the world with him, diffusing our beneficence; but let us not traffic, only that we may set kings against their subjects, subjects against their kings, sowing discord in every village, fear and terror in every family, setting millions of our fellow-creatures a hunting each other for slaves, creating fairs and markets for human flesh, through one whole continent of the world, and, under the name of policy, concealing from ourselves all the baseness and iniquity of such a traffic.

Hans-towns established on the coast of Africa…

Why may we not hope, ere long, to see Hans-towns established on the coast of Africa as they were on the Baltic? It is said the Africans are idle, but they are not too idle, at least, to catch one another. Seven hundred to one thousand tons of rice are annually bought of them. By the same rule, why should we not buy more? At Gambia one thousand of them are seen continually at work. Why should not some more thousands be set to work in the same manner? It is the slave trade that causes their idleness and every other mischief. We are told by one witness, “They sell one another as they can.” And while they can get brandy by catching one another, no wonder they are too idle for any regular work.

Total abolition…

I have one word more to add upon a most material point. But it is a point so self-evident that I shall be extremely short.

It will appear from everything which I have said, that it is not regulation, it is not mere palliatives, that can cure this enormous evil. Total abolition is the only possible cure for it.

The Jamaica report, indeed, admits much of the evil, but recommends it to us so to regulate the trade, that no persons should be kidnapped or made slaves contrary to the custom of Africa. But may they not be made slaves unjustly, and yet by no means contrary to the custom of Africa? I have shown they may; for all the customs of Africa are rendered savage and unjust through the influence of this trade; besides, how can we discriminate between the slaves justly and unjustly made? Can we know them by physiognomy? Or, if we could, does any man believe that the British captains can, by any regulation in this country, be prevailed upon to refuse all such slaves as have not been fairly, honestly, and uprightly enslaved? But granting even that they should do this, yet how would the rejected slaves be recompensed? They are brought, as we are told, from three or four thousand miles off, and exchanged like cattle from one hand to another, until they reach the coast.

We see then that it is the existence of the slave trade that is the spring of all this internal traffic, and that the remedy cannot be applied without abolition.

Again, as to the middle passage, the evil is radical there also; the merchant’s profit depends upon the number that can be crowded together, and upon the shortness of their allowance. Astringents, escarotics, and all the other arts of making them up for sale, are of the very essence of the trade; these arts will be concealed both from the purchaser and the legislature. They are necessary to the owner’s profit, and they will be practiced. Again, chains and arbitrary treatment must be used in transporting them; our seamen must be taught to play the tyrant, and that depravation of manners among them (which some very judicious persons have treated of as the very worst part of the business) cannot be hindered, while the trade itself continues.

As to the slave merchants, they have already told you that if two slaves to a ton are not permitted, the trade cannot continue; so that the objections are done away by themselves on this quarter; and in the West Indies, I have shown that the abolition is the only possible stimulus whereby a regard to population, and consequently to the happiness of the negroes, can be effectually excited in those islands.

I trust, therefore, I have shown that upon every ground the total abolition ought to take place.

I have urged many things which are not my own leading motives for proposing it, since I have wished to show every description of gentlemen, and particularly the West India planters, who deserve every attention, that the abolition is politic upon their own principles also.

A principle above everything…

Policy, however, sir, is not my principle, and I am not ashamed to say it. There is a principle above everything that is political; and when I reflect on the command which says, “Thou shalt do no murder,” believing the authority to be divine, how can I dare to set up any reasonings of my own against it? And, sir, when we think of eternity, and of the future consequences of all human conduct, what is there in this life that should make any man contradict the dictates of his conscience, the principles of justice, the laws of religion, and of God.

Sir, the nature and all the circumstances of this trade are now laid open to us; we can no longer plead ignorance, we cannot evade it, it is now an object placed before us, we cannot pass it. We may spurn it, we may kick it out of our way, but we cannot turn aside so as to avoid seeing it; for it is brought now so directly before our eyes that this House must decide, and must justify to all the world, and to their own consciences, the rectitude of the grounds and principles of their decision.

A society has been established for the abolition of this trade, in which dissenters, Quakers, churchmen, in which the most conscientious of all persuasions have all united, and made a common cause in this great question.

Let not Parliament be the only body that is insensible to the principles of national justice.

Let us make a reparation to Africa…

Let us make a reparation to Africa, so far as we can, by establishing a trade upon true commercial principles, and we shall soon find the rectitude of our conduct rewarded by the benefits of a regular and a growing commerce.

Books

The road and Damascus

We sit on a thin crust of civilisation.  We like to think our quiet civilisation is solid and eternal, able to take shocks and settle back, but the everyday is deceptive and beneath that thing crust to unfathomable depth bubbles the raw, unruled, animal nature of mankind. We may sit in tranquil comfort each beneath his vine and beneath his fig tree, but every so often we feel a tremor that should be a reminder of what is just out of sight.  In places, where the bonds of society are weak, the currents beneath can be felt every day.

Peace and security are real, and of the greatest benefit to mankind. They are not, however, permanent.  You may build a culture of sophisticated civilisation over four thousand years, but break it for a moment and it is as if it had never been: look at Syria.

The world is Hobbesian.

Settled society can only exist because “Desire of Ease, and sensuall Delight, disposeth men to obey a common Power: because by such Desires, a man doth abandon the protection might be hoped for from his own Industry, and labour.“, and likewise “Desire of Knowledge, and Arts of Peace” and “From Love Of Praise Desire of Praise, disposeth to laudable actions“, but this is the thin surface built by individual men and women and ready to be cast aside when the desired goals are not to be met.

Mankind at heart is motivated by the animal instinct just like the subjects of nature documentaries, in an endless quest for food, warmth and sex. Mankind is all that, but more complicated too, and Hobbes was correct to characterise of those motive forces “in the first place, I put for a generall inclination of all mankind, a perpetuall and restlesse desire of Power after power, that ceaseth onely in Death.

Then comes Competition of Riches, Honour, command, or other power, and only then the causes of ease listed above.

It can soon fall apart though, and does: “So that in the nature of man, we find three principall causes of quarrel. First, Competition; Secondly, Diffidence; Thirdly, Glory.” Therein lie many causes of bloodshed and the destruction of our polite existence.

We keep the crust on society by inertia and the subtle arts of social persuasion, but we can easily start down the road to what we have seen with horror in Syria or Yemen or any number of places from which we prefer to turn our eyes as if there were another world and not the neighbours they are, the road where this structure is broken – when authority is weakened and young men see no reason to obey it or societal norms; when they are convinced maybe by a passing philosophy or an orator or just boredom, that it is no longer right to follow the law imposed by a distant authority, then he can feel the exhilaration of freedom from restraint, of personal power: that crust is broken and a pack of animals emerges.

See also

Books

Of the Difference of Manners

By MANNERS, I mean not here, Decency of behaviour; as how one man should salute another, or how a man should wash his mouth, or pick his teeth before company, and such other points of the Small Morals; But those qualities of man-kind, that concern their living together in Peace, and Unity. To which end we are to consider, that the Felicity of this life, consisteth not in the repose of a mind satisfied. For there is no such Finis Ultimus, (utmost ayme,) nor Summum Bonum, (greatest good,) as is spoken of in the Books of the old Morall Philosophers. Nor can a man any more live, whose Desires are at an end, than he, whose Senses and Imaginations are at a stand.

Felicity is a continuall progresse of the desire, from one object to another; the attaining of the former, being still but the way to the later. The cause whereof is, That the object of mans desire, is not to enjoy once onely, and for one instant of time; but to assure for ever, the way of his future desire. And therefore the voluntary actions, and inclinations of all men, tend, not only to the procuring, but also to the assuring of a contented life; and differ onely in the way: which ariseth partly from the diversity of passions, in divers men; and partly from the difference of the knowledge, or opinion each one has of the causes, which produce the effect desired.

So that in the first place, I put for a generall inclination of all mankind, a perpetuall and restlesse desire of Power after power, that ceaseth onely in Death.

And the cause of this, is not alwayes that a man hopes for a more intensive delight, than he has already attained to; or that he cannot be content with a moderate power: but because he cannot assure the power and means to live well, which he hath present, without the acquisition of more. And from hence it is, that Kings, whose power is greatest, turn their endeavours to the assuring it a home by Lawes, or abroad by Wars: and when that is done, there succeedeth a new desire; in some, of Fame from new Conquest; in others, of ease and sensuall pleasure; in others, of admiration, or being flattered for excellence in some art, or other ability of the mind.

Competition of Riches, Honour, command, or other power, enclineth to Contention, Enmity, and War: because the way of one Competitor, to the attaining of his desire, is to kill, subdue, supplant, or repell the other. Particularly, competition of praise, enclineth to a reverence of Antiquity. For men contend with the living, not with the dead; to these ascribing more than due, that they may obscure the glory of the other.

Desire of Ease, and sensuall Delight, disposeth men to obey a common Power: because by such Desires, a man doth abandon the protection might be hoped for from his own Industry, and labour.

Fear of Death, and Wounds, disposeth to the same; and for the same reason. On the contrary, needy men, and hardy, not contented with their present condition; as also, all men that are ambitious of Military command, are enclined to continue the causes of warre; and to stirre up trouble and sedition: for there is no honour Military but by warre; nor any such hope to mend an ill game, as by causing a new shuffle.

Continues…

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