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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2021-02-28 07:58:15
Typefacelarge in Small
The aim of the leaders of the new world was a high degree not only of national but of provincial self-sufficiency. Thus in Britain, where economic organization centred on the tidal generators of the west coast of Scotland, industry was not allowed to concentrate in that district. Improved transmission made it possible to take the electric current into every part of the island, and to scatter the new bright factories and workers’ dwellings throughout the agricultural regions. On the other hand much of the former congested industrial area of Lancashire and Yorkshire and the Midlands was once more largely agricultural. In consequence, not only the Scottish and Welsh nations but the new-old English provinces of Wessex, East Anglia, Northumbria, Mercia, and so on, developed each its own limited but vigorous autonomy, and made its own contribution to the English culture. England in turn was becoming far more self-sufficient than of old. Improved agriculture and reduced population made it possible for the three British peoples to feed themselves, though there was always a large import of luxury foods from abroad. Britain had long ago ceased to be ‘the workshop of the world’, since every country was in the main its own workshop, but Britain’s imports were ‘paid for’ by the export of the special lines of high-quality machinery and fabrics for which the British were becoming famous. Trade, in fact, was becoming more and more an exchange not of necessities, but of products which local genius produced for the amplification and embellishment of life throughout the world. Each people aimed at being basically self-sufficient but also at producing for the world economy some special class of goods which could be produced with unique success by its local tradition and skill. Each also prided itself both on its cosmopolitan and on its national culture, both on its insight into the common human tradition and on its peculiar contribution to that ever-exfoliating culture.

Such were the servants of darkness. The great majority in the two empires consisted of minds in which the darkness and the light were still equally balanced, but upon which the impact of circumstance overwhelmingly favoured darkness. For from childhood onwards they were conditioned to inhuman behaviour and to an evil faith. Though not themselves inherently perverse, but merely weak and obtuse, they were wholly incapable of resisting the climate of their age, in which darkness was persistently presented in the guise of light. Many of them indeed might reasonably be called true servants of the light, true to the flickering light in their own hearts, but utterly bewildered by the prevalent ideas which they had neither the wit nor the courage to reject. In personal relations with their children, wives, husbands, friends, and workmates they were still intermittently and timorously faithful to the ancient light which had entered them from a more lucid age. But in public affairs they meekly accepted the perverse conventions of their society, either withdrawing their attention and making a virtue of acquiescence, or surrendering themselves to the tribal passion of hate and cruelty against unfortunate individuals whom they dared not recognize as indeed their fellows.

A few years later Australia and New Zealand followed suit. And within a couple of decades the North Americans themselves, not without heated discussion, decided to enter fully into the world economic system.

While these rebellions were in progress, and while throughout Asia munition factories were mysteriously blowing up and aeroplanes showing a strange inability to leave the ground, the Tibetans were hastily organizing a forlorn defence. Rebellions beyond their northern frontiers made it possible to work unhindered to turn the Karakorum and Dangla Ranges into a continuous fortress. To the south the Himalayas were a natural barrier. To the west the successful Kashmiri rebels would defend them to the death. Eastward the Chwanben gorges were still being held.

These were the active servants of darkness, and increasingly the rulers of the planet. Of many psychological types and all social classes, they had at least one thing in common. All were frustrated spirits. Many were innately of low-grade sensibility, incapable of appreciating any values but physical gratification, personal dominance, and sadistic passion. These were frustrated in that civilization had hitherto restrained them from the only kind of self-expression that they could conceive. Many more were innately normal, but they had been permanently warped in infancy through untoward relations with their elders. Some, though their homes had been fairly wholesome, had been damaged by their schools. Others had suffered distortion in youth or early maturity through economic failure or the lethal sense that society was against them. All alike, though in differing manners, had been forced by the disease of their society to regress into primitive behaviour. The whole population, of course, suffered in some degree from the prevailing social neurosis, but these active servants of darkness had suffered excessively. In them neurosis bred the positive will for darkness, the satanic will. In them, for one reason or another, the natural impulse of spiritual growth had been thwarted and turned into a perverse craving for power, for destruction, for cruelty. These unhappy souls did indeed experience in the act of cruelty a kind of ecstasy of release and self-expression, which all too easily they mistook for an ecstasy of illumination.

It was a strange and austere world in this period. No babies were anywhere, then no children, then no adolescents; only young men and women and their elders. Population, of course, rapidly declined. Life was wholly dominated by the spiritual enterprise, which inevitably lay beyond my comprehension. It was not uncommon for people to be so abstracted from the physical world that they forgot to feed, and so would have starved to death, had not some neighbour recalled them. Most individuals, however, still carried on a normal life, though in a state of remote detachment.

Thus, little by little, the new aristocracy crystallized upon the surface of the world-society. It was an aristocracy not of mere birth, nor of wealth, but of genuine ability; but of a special kind of ability, namely the aptitude for organization and for managing human beings. It did its work well; and superior intelligences of other kinds, such as the scientific and the literary, were well content to leave the born organizers in power. But there came a time when people began to murmur that the bureaucrats were becoming rather self-important and meddlesome. No one denied that their rule was in the main efficient and honest, but there was a growing suspicion that they were growing too fond of power, and that their loyalty to the world community was increasingly tempered by unwitting preoccupation with their own prestige, not as individuals but as a class. They held their position, of course, under the will of the federal and national assemblies. Unfortunately the politicians were themselves members of the bureaucratic class, and would seldom take action against officials who exceeded their powers. Thus, little by little, the strength of the bureaucrats broadened out from precedent to precedent. Increasingly they resented criticism. Increasingly they hung together, developing little by little the beginnings of a distinctive way of life and a distinctive moral code.


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