The science of allowing mankind to live in its immediate society as free, courteous, unselfish, educated and rational individuals is called civilization. It is a science that has been almost unknown throughout the existence of Man, simply because of his baser instincts.
The foundation of society which manages to combine these virtues must be justice, and justice is represented by the Law. Liberals with the best of intentions have joined with the Utilitarians by setting the rule of figures above that of human equity. This has, mostly during the twenty years between World War I and II, and especially since the 1960s of the twentieth century undermined civilization, not encouraged it.
But we should be warned; every time a husband kills the woman he once loved; every time an individual takes his gun and kills children in a school or on an island; every time white schoolboys cross a busy London street to kill a lone black boy waiting for the bus; every time a country’s president is permitted, because of motives and interests, to kill thousands of his fellow countrymen because they would like him to go, they are helping to destroy civilization. Soon mankind will have no other refuge but the herd: an armed herd willing to defend its existence against the odds.
Living in a herd in a self-made fortress is cruel and unnatural, and against Man’s natural desire to be friendly and polite. In a world governed by Justice that has gained respect it should be the norm. So many dreadful wars which were, if analysed properly, nothing more than an attack on the independence and daily working life of a small people by a large – an obvious injustice – should have awakened the conscience of the richest and most ‘civilized’ states. But it hasn’t.
Every day on the News we are subjected to a barrage of statistics which hide the existence of private interests and profits. Monstrous banks cheerfully announce obscene profits at the end of their financial year. Any idiot can see that these banks amass colossal fortunes by charging too much for their services. This is the so-called ‘commission’
The economists do not help much either; it is an error in human maths to argue that any system which creates contented people must be economically unsound. Statistics given to back such an idea lie. A satisfied community, housed, given work, paid on time, not under the influence of any trade union which has its own agenda to fulfil – will always find a way to be civilized and exist in comparative harmony. On the other hand a dissatisfied community, whatever the perfection of its balance sheet, will always end in national disaster, probably war, revolution or natural moral decay.
The economists argue that a nation which looks after its money will have men who look after themselves, but it does not work. Unemployment rose and continues to rise since men discovered that a welfare state pays them when they do not work. Farmers will not bother about death rates in their herds or a bad harvest when a fat government subsidy is always available. Why should they? Officially recognised and legal taxation is the excuse used by unscrupulous governments to charge tax two, three or even four times on the same item. If not, how is it that a citizen is forced to lose a large percentage of his wage in income tax on pay day, and then must pay tax on everything he buys? On a lower scale, how can a local council state that upkeep of the town’s roads, parking, street lighting, garbage removal etc. are paid within the rates, and then bill the citizen separately for each? Apparently no-one cares: ‘it’s the politicians! What can you expect? Oh well . . .’
But have we really learned nothing from the last two thousand odd years of our existence, though Mankind is much older than that. Can we be civilized, as we nearly were in the 1840s, as we falsely were in 1927, as we thought we were in the finally terrible 1960s? We dismiss religion; church attendance drops abruptly every year and with it our natural inclination to respect each other and pray for a decent end to our life; our belief in the judicial systems has been over-strained by ridiculously unnecessary tardiness and politically-inclined judges. In ‘civilized’ countries a man who breaks into a shop and is caught will be in and out of a Court in no time at all, sentenced and imprisoned. But if a different kind of man breaks the trust of the corporation which employs him or of which he is a Director thieves millions, all he has to do is to pay the iniquitous bail and enjoy a good few years ill-found liberty while the lawyers’ wallet fattens and the judges retire and are replaced. What kind of a justice system is that?
It is the middle of 2013. If we are permitted to enter 2014, can we learn that wealth or political power (unless it is disinterested), or physical comfort, or luxury second homes are not an end in themselves. In my opinion the wealth of a nation and its state of civilization consist in the common decency and sense, good manners and good health of its citizens, men, women, children and the children’s children. Shall we try to learn that no profits in the banks and private corporations, education, law, custom or institution that does not contribute to the natural state of goodness has any enduring value whatsoever. Will we learn that the real test of legislation, and of every political programme aired on the television or at the hustings, and of all economic activity of whatever size or importance, is not, or should not be ‘will it pay?’ or ‘does it enrich our class or any other?’ but ‘will it make us better people?’