Farmer states that Zagajewski’s strategy is to lecture, to instruct the reader, to make a logical case for the need to praise a world that has been mutilated.
And now to conclude. With the exception of certain short notes attached to the legislative proposals, I have on purpose almost entirely confined myself in this paper to speaking of the fundamental moral wrong that is committed, where some men coerce other men, where some men forcibly and by means of the state power construct systems for the rest of men to live under. As regards the many practical evils that result from thus making other men accept our views of religion, or of education, or of the relation of labor and capital (remember that the wrong we commit in these cases is twofold, caused both by our prescribing the systems under which others shall live, and by our taking compulsorily from them, in the shape of taxes, the means by which such systems are supported) I must leave this branch of the great discussion for another occasion. I can merely point out here that all uniform state systems, excluding difference, excluding competition, mean a perpetual arrest at the existing level of progress. So long as great government departments (over which, be it observed, from the very exigencies of administration, the mass of the people can never have any real control) supply our wants, so long shall we remain in our present condition, the difficulties of life unconquered, and ourselves unfitted to conquer them. No amount of state education will make a really intelligent nation; no amount of Poor Laws will place a nation above want; no amount of Factory Acts will make us better parents. These great wants which we are now vainly trying to deal with by acts of Parliament, by prohibitions and penalties, are in truth the great occasions of progress, if only we surmount them by developing in ourselves more active desires, by putting forth greater efforts, by calling new moral forces into existence, and by perfecting our natural ability for acting together in voluntary associations. To have our wants supplied from without by a huge state machinery, to be regulated and inspected by great armies of officials, who are themselves slaves of the system which they administer, will in the long run teach us nothing, will profit us nothing. The true education of children, the true provision for old age, the true conquering of our vices, the true satisfying of our wants, can only be won, as we learn to form a society of free men, in which individually and in our own self-chosen groups we seek the truest way of solving these great problems. Before any real progress can be made, the great truth must sink deep into our hearts, that we cannot in any of these matters be saved by machinery, we can only be saved by moral energy in ourselves and in those around us. Progress, can have nothing to do with passing acts of Parliament; except so far as we pass them to break old fetters that still bind us. If civilization could be given by any government, as a royal present to a nation, the world had long since been civilized. One short session would be enough to decree all the new systems of education, and all the new dwelling houses, and all the new grants of land, and all the new penalties against vices, that are wanted. But at the end of it all the nation would be like a man who had dressed himself in a new suit of clothes. The man himself under all the new outward appearances would remain the same; only perhaps more hindered than before by the misleading belief that in some real way his clothes had transformed him. Civilization has never yet and never will be simply made by the fiat of those who have power. It must be slowly won by new desires arising in us individually and taking effect in new efforts. The common sense gained in daily life is quite sufficient to teach us that any number of brand-new splendid institutions cannot and do not alter men. To believe that they do we must go back to the fairy tales of our childhood. Nor does it require unusual intelligence to perceive that the real force of England has lain in the energy, the enterprise, the independence, the power of acting and thinking alone, that have belonged to the English character, and that it has not been her governing machinery, but these forces of character that have won for her the great peaceful victories of industry at home and of colonization abroad. These qualities form the true stores of her greatness and success, but they are qualities that are only produced by freedom in our life and constant responsibility for our actions. They cannot coexist–it would be contrary to the very nature of things–with great state systems and great governing departments, under whose direction men from day to day are controlled and cared for; I doubt if they can even long survive in presence of two powerful and highly organized political parties, whose members, giving up the attempt to see for themselves what is right and true, are content to act in a crowd and to follow their leaders in blind struggles to gain ascendancy over each other. These are the things which, as our political Marthas will presently learn, are not needful to a nation. We need not have great state departments, or great state systems, however splendid in their external appearance, we need not each of us be enlisted in a great army called Conservative or Liberal. But what is needful is that man should have a free soul in a free body; that he should hate the creeds of force and of regulation, that he should ever be striving to make his mind independent of the opinions of others, that he should ever be training it to form its own judgments and to respect its own sense of right. For a nation whose units are determined to keep their bodies and minds free, all progress is possible. For a nation whose units are willing to place their bodies and their minds in the keeping of others, there are no hopes of growth and movement. It is only reserved to them to fall from one depth to another depth of state slavery, while they live in the mocking dream that they are moving onward and upward.
try to praise the mutilated world essay - Duration: 1:17
Of course answers were made to the philosophers who had attacked the moral foundations of power. It was asked in reply, which was most fitting, that three persons should govern two, or two should govern three? To which pungent question the philosophers again replied, that in all ordinary matters there is no right on the part of the three to govern the two, or of the two to govern the three. Both must be content to govern themselves. Self-ruling, not each-other-ruling, was the goal in front of the world. It is merely, as they contended, one of the assumptions of governing pedantry to suppose that the whole five ought to be made to walk in the same path and wear the same intellectual uniform. In this world our function is not to make people do, but to let them do—especially, be it said, by removing impediments of our own clumsy invention. Next it was urged in defense of power that the part which falls to discontented minorities is to turn themselves into majorities. The remedy has the slight defect of drawing upon an imagined future and ignoring a real present. I am walking along a road, and some one stronger than I knocks me down and begins to cudgel me about the head. I call to a passer-by to help me and to drag the villain off. He stands, however, with his hands in his pockets, and cheerfully tells me that it is all right; that I ought not to object. If I only practice the use of a cudgel myself with sufficient zeal for a month, or perhaps a year, I shall then be in a position to cudgel my assailant quite as effectively about the head as he is now cudgeling me. I reply that I don't believe in cudgeling heads, whether it is my head or the head of somebody else. The passer-by, however, merely shrugs his shoulders, by way of telling me that it is idle to object to what is so excellent a custom, and one which is universally practiced in the district. Thereupon I find nothing more to say, and have to endure my cudgeling as best I can. Of course, the retort, however good as a bit of rhetoric, is of small value as regards its logic, for, in addition to the pleasant irony of telling an insignificant section, who are aggrieved, that they are presently to govern the country, there are many injuries which the majority of the future, however much it may approach to omnipotence, can with difficulty redress. It can hardly unhang a man, or wipe out of existence the weeks he has spent in prison, or give back property that has been taken from him and spent, or build up some great voluntary institution which has been destroyed, or invent redress for restrictions placed upon the facilities of an individual during the best years of his life, or remove the twist it has given to national character by unwise and harsh measures.