Thoughts for summer – 8

The various kinds of collectivism, communism, fascism, etc., differ between themselves in the nature of the goal towards which they want to direct the efforts of society.492_3 But they all differ from liberalism and individualism in wanting to organise the whole of society for this unitary end, and in refusing to recognise autonomous sphere in which the ends of the individuals are supreme.

F. A. Hayek

Friedrich_Hayek_portrait

(Questionable?) Thoughts for summer – 4

An historian has written of “the disasters of the industrial revolution.” If by this he means that the years 1760-1830 were darkened by wars and made cheerless by dearth, no objection can be made to the phrase. But if he means that the technical and economic changes were themselves the source of the calamity the opinion is surely perverse. The central problem of the age was how to feed and clothe and employ generations of children outnumbering by far those of any earlier time. Ireland was faced with the same problem.220px-TS_ashton Failing to solve it, she lost in the forties about a fifth of her people by emigration or starvation and disease. If England had remained a nation of cultivators and craftsmen, she could hardly have escaped the same fate, and, at best, the weight of a growing population must have pressed down the spring of her spirit. She was delivered, not by her rulers, but by those who, seeking no doubt their own narrow ends, had the wit and resource to devise new instruments of production and new methods of administering industry. There are today [ 1947 ]¬†on the plains of India and China industrial-revolution-1760-1830-t-s-ashton-paperback-cover-artmen and women, plague ridden and hungry, living lives little better to outward appearance, than those of the cattle that toil with them by day and share their place of sheep by night. Such Asiatic standards, and such un-mechanized horrors, are the lot of those who increase their numbers without passing through an industrial revolution.

T.S. Ashton

Thoughts for summer – 3

illum_there is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the “Symposuim”.c-s-lewis He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about “isms” and influences and only about once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism.book_r1671 It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that first-hand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than second-hand knowledge, but it is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.

C.S.Lewis