Killing the City Won’t Save the Small Town
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If there is one principle which is nearly axiomatic among our contemporaries who regard themselves as poets and critics of poetry, it is that poetry should be written in the language of the everyday. This opinion can be traced back to Wordsworth’s famous assertion that poetry ought to be composed in “the real language of nature” or “the real language of men”—further evidence that we have not yet left behind the Romantic era and its presuppositions. Yet even among the New Critics, who were in general so suspicious of the Romantic project, this standard of sound poetic practice is affirmed; so we find F. R. Leavis praising Eliot’s verse because “its staple idiom and movement derive immediately from modern speech.” Our contemporaries, especially among those referred to as the New Formalists, echo this belief; thus Dana Gioia tells us that he strives to keep his language “contemporary,” and critic Robert McPhillips notes that New Formalism is marked by its “colloquial diction.”
The wimpy Jesus has a history in the Catholic devotion to the Sacred Heart. Jesus was seen as a gentle, non-threatening, understanding man, everything that ordinary men were not. The Jesuits were the main propagators of the devotion to the Sacred Heart, but they were not happy with its effeminate overtones. Franz Hattler. S. J. in 1894 described the image of Jesus in the Sacred Heart cult as “a matchmaker” with a “flirtatiously bowed head, longing eyes, a mouth puckered with kisses,’ and “foppishly crimped hair.” Otto Pfülf, S. J. found the devotion “too sweet,” “like a pious fantasy,” that was “more suitable for the souls of women.” Richard Burton describes the nineteenth-century French Christ as “curiously androgynous, with his wispy beard, does-like eyes, and delicate, soft-limbed body.” In 1899 in the United States an historian described the image of the Sacred Heart as “a young man in flowing gowns, with soft face, large eyes, small delicate out, slightly parted lips, small thin nose, downy beard, long curly hair parted in the middle and falling gracefully to the shoulders, slender hands,” or, as another critic called the image, “a pink painted Valentine.”
The feminine softness and sympathetic gaze of Jesus established a bond between them and those who sought his aid, that is, “ primarily women and children.”This was a major change, as David Morgan points out from the original image of the Sacred Heart; it substitutes “closeness and delicacy of feeling for the older passion, devoted personal relationship for penitential anguish.”
After his survey of the development of economic theory, Mueller affirmed that we will soon witness the emergence of a new school of economic thought, which he termed new natural law or neo-Scholastic economists.
This will happen, he said, because current economic ideas do not fully account for the empirical facts of human economic behavior. The most important contribution of this new school will be to devise a modernized version of the Scholastic theory of final distribution. This will incorporate descriptions of personal gifts, and crimes, and distributive justice in the family, business, charitable foundations and government.
According to Mueller the fundamental conceptual problem behind existing economic theory is that it cannot explain love and how this affects utility. By contrast the new approach will be premised on the idea that all human action is motivated by love.
Mueller demonstrated the nature of love and how it impacts by quoting from G. K. Chesterton, who said: "A man is fortunate in marrying the woman he loves, but he is even more fortunate in loving the woman he marries." Only human persons, Mueller commented, can love in both of these ways at the same time.
It is not egoism or altruism that explains our actions, Mueller affirmed. With love there is both love of self and along with it love for other persons. The love for another person is the source of the value of any goods used by any person.
In our choices we select the person or persons who will be the purpose of our actions. All economic action therefore involves a gift either to oneself or to some other person. This means that in economic theory, love is not an emotion nor a pure weighing of utility, but rather a weighing of persons. So what we allocate to another person is better understood as a gift rather than an exchange.
This new approach also has implications for how we understand crime, Mueller added. According to current economic theory there is the assumption that everyone has the same basic preferences but some people commit crimes because the perceived utility of the reward for crime outweighs the losses if they are caught.
Although this does have weight, Mueller argued that this does not explain why the vast majority of people, even in poor environments, do not commit crimes. The neo-Scholastic position is that crime is essentially not a weighing of utilities, but of persons.
So, if love means distributing some good to another person and selfishness means distributing all of one's goods to oneself, a crime consists in depriving some person of a good and giving that person a negative significance in the distribution of goods.
Economic theory of households and business will also have to be re-written in the light of this new approach, Mueller continued. The prevailing approach is to consider that a household exists as a means to provide for a division of labor. Two adults marry so that each can increase their utility, understood as pleasure or satisfaction.
By contrast the neo-Scholastic assumption is that the main economic purpose of a household is the procreation, education and maintenance of human beings. This means a household is built around the union between a man and a woman.
Neo-Classical economics fails to explain why so many people marry because it is mistaken to assume that everyone's preferences are either the same or purely selfish, Mueller observed. The neo-Scholastic view is more satisfactory as it considers that marriage is better considered in terms of a series of mutual gifts rather than exchanges.
This is apparent when events affect the married persons unequally, for example, an accident or illness that involves only one of the couple. If the union were based solely on utility it would not survive such events.
A new look is also needed for political economy, Mueller added. Current theory in welfare economics views politicians as governing society much in the same way a parent presides over a household.
A serious problem with this approach is that it provides no set of principles for deciding questions about income distribution. In effect what happens is that everything is reduced to a battle of raw political power between the political groupings that stand to gain or lose from policy decisions.
Rush is right about the basic point though, and this is a subject I have been meditating on for years. Justice demands that the guilty, not the innocent pay, and the guilty parties to the national debt are the congressmen and officials of both parties who took bribes and pandered to the lobbyists and ward heelers. When elected legislators and bureaucrats go into debt, it is their fault as much as it is the fault of the board of directors and managers of a business. Let the responsible parties be held accountable. If every member of Congress and White House flunkey who got us into this mess were held responsible, we’d have about 500 people to pay back the trillions of debt they–not we–owe.
Men who have fought know how difficult it is to stand against the crowd and that civilization is fragile and important. A man who has experienced violence knows that, at its core, civilization is an agreement between men to behave well. That agreement can be broken at any moment; it’s part of manhood to be ready when it is. Men who have been in fights know about something that is rarely spoken of without snickering these days: honor. Men who have been in fights know that, on some level, words are just words: At some point, words must be backed up by deeds.
The blitzkrieg against full-time mothers continues. Now we have a greatly hyped film, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, of the greatly hyped book I Don’t Know How She Does It, about some businesswoman or other who holds down an office job and has children, and they miraculously don’t starve or freeze to death or burn the house down in her absence.
I think we are supposed to admire this. But actually we do know how she does it. She hires a foreign nanny (or if enormously rich, a British one).
Politicians whose wives go out to work do this, too, but media organisations, likewise crammed with wage-slave mothers, never refer to the presence of an expensive servant. All that is supposed to have gone out with Downton Abbey. The wives involved are written about as if they do it all themselves.
No doubt this is all very well for the super-rich. Many children of such households develop enviably close relationships with the nanny, whom they see far more than their actual parent.
High-flying office work is fun, and it pays enough for tolerable childcare. But for hundreds of thousands driven to boring work to pay the bills, the work is not fun and the childcare, in crammed day-orphanages, is inadequate and sad.
I don’t know why we put up with it. Why is it still considered shaming and bad for a woman to bring up her own children?