Paradise and Perdition

TheParadiseby Deana Chadwell    11/17/14
Last week I wrote about the attitudes and ideas that we need to get straight before this nation can heal. This is the first essay in a series that will deal with those ideas.

I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to PBS turn-of-last-century dramas – Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge, The Paradise. When it comes to these shows I’ve had to admit to being a cliché – an old woman with her knitting, totally absorbed in stories about afternoon teas and the wearing of corsets.

So imagine my horror as I watched sweet little Denise of The Paradise excitedly propose her first policy change as head of ladies’ wear — all tips would henceforth be pooled and divided evenly amongst the clerks. Imagine my disbelief and dismay when all the young salesladies received that news with great glee — all but one, who gamely went along with the crowd in spite of her misgivings and her certain knowledge that she was the one who would lose in this arrangement.

It was just a piece of intrusive propaganda which anyone watching television ought to be used to by now, but it stuck out as such a sore literary thumb to have the spunky little heroine out-Marxing Karl decades before he ever scuttled onto the scene. The vignette had no place in the plot, has not been mentioned since and was apparently just there so that some writer could earn his socialism badge.

Were this a real department in a real store, we know what would happen to Denise’s silly little let’s-all-share plan. The sales girls would get sloppier and sloppier, would no longer rush to assist the pampered customers, and would instead stand back gossiping; both profits and wages would go down. We know this would happen not just from speculation, but

  1. from history
  2. from knowledge of human nature.

Let’s look at history —

Share and share alike was the official policy of the Mayflower Compact and those settlers who landed in Massachusetts in 1620 had agreed to the following:

“The persons transported & ye adventurers shall continue their joint stock & partnership together, ye space of 7 years…during which time, all profits & benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means of any person or persons, remain still in ye common stock…

‘That all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provision out of ye common stock & goods…

“That at ye end of ye 7 years, ye capital & profits, viz. the houses, lands, goods and chattels, be equally divided betwixt ye adventurers, and planters.”

The first winter killed nearly half the party and the following year treated them no better. Resentment grew with the fear and the misery. The Pilgrims, being human, were unwilling to work any harder than the laziest and most incompetent amongst them since no one could gain any advantage. They were not only unable to provide for themselves, but they were unable to repay the loan investors had made them. The colony appeared to be doomed. It wasn’t until William Bradford took over its leadership and threw out the communal aspects of the Compact did anything change. He gave each man a plot of land on which to grow his food – food not for the betterment of the colony, but for his own family.

The change was not slow and gradual, but immediate and by the seventh year the colony was not only prospering, but able to repay its backers. They succeeded where other communal colonies had failed. They had invented capitalism.

Two hundred years later another group of Americans would attempt to construct another socialist commune – Brook Farm. Those who signed on made commitments similar to the Mayflower compact and worked together sharing the proceeds equally. The colony held together from 1840 until its collapse in 1847; it had never been financially stable.

Where has this communistic social organization been workable? In some ways the kibbutzim of the Zionist movement worked, though most of those have now been privatized. But communism failed in the USSR. Communist China has had to adopt many capitalist traits in order to feed its people, and still families are only allowed one child. Cuba has been in a state of financial ruin ever since Fidel Castro took over in the late 50’s. Venezuela is coming apart. North Koreans are starving.

So why doesn’t it work? Fairness, equality, sharing all seem so lovely, so calming, so fair.

We can answer that question by looking at human nature:

Communism (socialism, progressivism, liberalism – whatever the name, the concept stays the same) assumes that humans are all so much alike as to be merely building blocks, cogs on a wheel, mere molecules. But that’s not true. Each individual is just that – utterly individual. We all have a strong sense that each of us is unique.

Each of us has his own abilities, flaws, dreams, idiosyncrasies. Each of us has her own sense of worth, of possibilities, of the preciousness of life — at some level we all value our own existence. Jesus told us to “… love our neighbors as we love ourselves.” As a child from a large family, drilled endlessly on the virtues of selflessness, this commandment puzzled me, but as I’ve grown older I’ve come to realize that we can’t really love another unless we understand our own value – our value to ourselves, to others, to God.

If God values us, then we should value others; they must be worthy of our care and concern, worthy of our enjoyment, of our encouragement. If He created each of us as irreplaceable one-offs, then any society we form must recognize that or it will not function. A car engine will not run if made entirely of pistons. A cake will not rise if there’s nothing in it but flour.

The communal understanding of social order does not recognize the exceptionality of each person and sees us, instead, as mere game pieces to be shoved around as necessary. This point of view sees some as being of more value than others – those in power — and yet, nonsensically, insists that we sacrifice our uniqueness on the altar of equality, to the ugly god of identity politics.

God designed each person to take care of himself, to blossom, to use his creativity and his personal drive to build something for himself. We thrive when we are rewarded for that effort. But when social order thwarts personal expression (“You didn’t build that.”), when no one gives credit for production, for exceptional performance (i.e. no merit pay for teachers), then the human soul shrivels and a society of shriveled souls is unsustainable.

A shriveled soul does not work hard or generate great ideas. A shriveled soul does anything it can to ease the pain of the shriveling – sex, drugs, violence – anything to stop the misery of having no way to fulfill longings. The socialist order of things destroys much more than the economy; it demolishes the heart of man.

The United States of America opened the door to the possibility of life without withering, profitless toil; that is why everyone wants to live here. Capitalism, far from being the bad guy, is the biggest, most generous golden goose ever invented. But America has wandered into the perdition of a faceless, lock-step existence and the end of freedom on Earth.

I’d love to watch a TV drama that extolled the virtues of a free market system, but until then I’ll just keep talking and reminding people that America has the capacity to be paradise.

Lessons for today:

Television rarely tells the truth.

Policies that ignore human uniqueness will fail. 

There are really only 2 ways to organize an economy – free market and central control or socialism, which interestingly enough has to change its name every few decades to keep people ignorant of its ugly realities.  


Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I’m blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing — and more keeps popping up — needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation.
I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.

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36 Responses to Paradise and Perdition

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    Actually, the first time I ever read about tip-sharing involves the Prussian judiciary under Frederick the Great. (In other circumstances, those tips are called bribes.) I wonder how well it worked out in practice.

    The Kibbutzim are a reminder that communalism can work, at least for a while, if it has a strong enough belief system behind it. Religion can supply that; so far, no worldly ideology has worked. (To be fair, a strong enough police force can keep a communalist system functioning as well, provided one accepts that everyone is really a slave.)

  2. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    Television rarely tells the truth.

    This could be expanded to “popular entertainments of any kind, rarely tell the truth.”

    People are not looking for edification when spending their time with such things, but they do spend a lot of time following popular culture. The Left understands how important popular culture is and know how to insert their propaganda into such popular entertainment.

    This is why it is so important to take back the popular culture any way possible. In the meantime, pointing out the Left’s scheme is important.

  3. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    all tips would henceforth be pooled and divided evenly amongst the clerks.

    This has been common in the food industry for at least 45 years. I ran into it while waiting tables in college.

    The theory behind it was that management didn’t want waiters to ignore customers at tables outside their area, as it is often the case that a customer might want something while their waiter was in the kitchen or elsewhere. The whole staff was supposed to act as a team.

    As I recall, bartenders where especially covered by such arrangements.

    On the other hand, this was absolutely not the case in the clothing stores where I worked. Each individual salesman’s commission was his own.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Imagine my disbelief and dismay when all the young salesladies received that news with great glee — all but one

    I haven’t yet worked my way up to that episode, but there can be no doubt about who that one was: Clara.

  5. GHG says:

    Self important do-gooder theoreticians (leftists) can’t see past their upturned noses. They seek a perfect system for imperfect people. There is no perfection this side of heaven. The best we can hope for is the least imperfect and so far that has proven to be capitalism. However capitalism doesn’t need self important do-gooder theoreticians so I can understand why they keep trying to impose their perfection on the rest of us.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      One should recall Madison’s argument: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, no external or internal controls on government would be necessary.” Deep down at the gut level (which is what matters to a liberal), they feel that liberal Leaders are angels and thus need no controls over them.

  6. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Somebody over at American Thinker had an interesting comment:

    I could be wrong but I think part of their argument isn’t necessarily the cessation of individualism but that capitalism is unsustainable in the long run. We simply cannot keep growing and thriving while using the earth’s resources at breakneck speed without a means of replenishment. We cannot keep up with the pollution we’re creating. In their godless realm their Marxist solutions are the only logical conclusion.

    As for sharing tips, well, it doesn’t always lead to demoralization and shoddy work. Sometimes it’s the exact opposite. It gives one hope and incentive knowing that if they’ve had a bad day then at least they can look forward to a little something at the end of their shift.

    It sounds like I’m defending leftists but I’m not. I don’t believe socialism is the answer, but I do take some guidance from the Old Testament regarding laws and rules. For instance, farmers were to leave their outer crops for the poor. That might not apply in today’s society but that kind of reasoning has some merit when certain governments pay farmers to NOT grow crops, or some foods are purposely destroyed in order to keep prices higher.

    A couple things to notice. One is how deep into the psyche the environmental wacko idea of “sustainability” is. It’s true, though. Life is not “sustainable,” if only because the sun is due to burn out in about 3 billion years. But as for the “sustainability” of capitalism (the Marxist word for free markets and freedom), the only thing we know for sure is that socialism is ever and always (and truly) unsustainable. It burns itself out because of at least one fundamental flaw: It punishes the producers and incentivizes and rewards non-producers.

    As for raw material and energy with which capitalism can work, they are for all intents and purposes limitless. But certain specific resources are, of course, limited. Fish harvests must be managed to “sustainable” levels. And that is one of the few instances where “sustainable” has any true meaning. Usually it is just a mindless voodoo word of the Left that means nothing in particular other than the typical narcissistic urge to show how much one supposedly “cares for the environment” by repeating popular gibberish.

    Another point is about tips. I did once work for tips (or partially for tips) as a busboy in my yute. Interestingly, the tips came indirectly. We were given a certain amount from the waitresses and it was up to them what they would give us. We had no idea what percentage we would get. We had no idea if the amount went up or down according to how hard we worked, therefore they were nice to get as an extra, but were not central.

    It’s funny to see “nice” invade our culture. We’ll give a big display about how we’re going to “save the planet” and yet may be for the destruction of human life via abortion or other Leftist monstrosities. And I’ve sat at more than one luncheon or dinner and handed out the advice to either give more tip or less tip depending upon the level of service. But so many people are driven by indiscriminate “nice.” They’ll give the same tips to slackers and to the hard-working. In fact, I was out to dinner with my mother last night. The waitress was not particularly friendly nor responsive. So we left a minuscule tip. Other times the tip is generation. It is said that “tip” stands for “to insure promptness.” Whether that’s true or not, there is a truth in that.

    And if you disconnect incentive from remuneration, you get the decay of socialism. It may sound “nice” to share tips. But it’s actually harming the people who work hard and harming the people who would have worked harder than they would have had they not settled down into a moocher orientation, which is what you always get in such “sharing” schemes.

    My first thought when reading Deana’s article was to note how the Kindergarten mind has penetrated the adult sphere. It is probably totally appropriate to “share” when one is in Kindergarten. It was common for teachers to tell us to spit out our gum unless we had brought enough for everyone.

    But eventually we are meant to grow up. And although older forms of “masculine” socialism were harsh and murderous and thus could hardly be called “soft” (think Stalin, Mao, and Castro), the newer forms are more maternal, the kind of “friendly fascism” that Jonah Goldberg has written about. And as others have noted, this nanny kind of “sharing” socialism tends to keep people in an extended state of adolescence. Is this good? Well, I don’t doubt that most parents have had a tug-of-war with some of their children in regards to growing up, getting a job, and making their own lives “sustainable.” The human propensity is to mooch and avoid adulthood if at all possible. One of the greatest cultural achievements of the Left is to call the facilitating of mooching and extended adolescence “compassion.” I’m quite sure that part of the appeal of tattoos in this tattoo-crazy age is that it is comic books writ large upon our very bodies. One could always adorn oneself with verses from Shakespeare or Milton. But that is not what we see happening.

    As for the Old Testament aspect of leaving part of a field for the poor, all forms of private charity (unconnected to government) should be commended and encouraged. But it is no longer charity (nor is it viewed as such by its recipients) when it is government welfare. Such “charity” is inherently corrupted by the politics of it. As difficult as it is to achieve human benevolence, it can be achieved. And it requires rolling up one’s sleeves and doing it. But doing it by proxy via the government is simply trying to buy for oneself a type of Indulgence. Leftism, for the most part, is a license to act very badly so long as you support all the “right” causes and regurgitate all the “right” bumper sticker slogans. This is the life Ted Kennedy lived, for example. And if someone thinks this is “nice” then I have a tip for you.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I wonder if those leftists who worry about capitalism and the environment are willing to allow themselves to be aware of the Communist record. Perhaps they could look at the Aral Sea sometime — what’s left of it. Or they could look at the air in Sverdlovsk (aka Ekaterinburg) 25 years ago (and I suspect they actually could have looked at it because it was so polluted). But they’d probably answer by blaming Communist China’s pollution on capitalism.

  7. GHG says:

    If you will indulge me to go on a bit of a tangent here … I was watching a cable channel recently named “AHC – American Heroes Channel” and they aired a commercial for a program named “America – fact or fiction”. The commercial showed George Patton speaking and the gist was that although he was known as a tough guy he had a squeaky voice. Then they showed a picture of Davy Crockett fighting at the Alamo and posed the question “did you know that before Davy Crockett fought at the Alamo he was run out of Congress?” My initial reaction was one of infuriation. What does it matter if Patton had a squeaky voice – it doesn’t change the historic facts of his service to our country. It only serves as a put down. But the Crockett reference to being run out of Congress was a more serious charge and I was determined to find out if it was true or just another scurrilous attempt by this cable channel to denigrate the heroes they propound to honor. I searched high and wide and could find nothing that rises to the level of the accusation (run out of Congress). Crockett served 3 terms (1827-1831, 1833-1835), completing each term. He ran again in 1835 but was defeated in the election. He supported Andrew Jackson when Jackson was elected president in 1828, but later became an outspoken opponent of Jackson’s Indian Removal Act. That made him unpopular with many other Congressmen. Additionally Crockett was against the continued financial support for West Point because he thought it was public money going to benefit the sons of wealthy men. That made him unpopular too. But nowhere could I find anything suggesting Crockett did something unbecoming and was run out of Congress – as the scurrilous AHC commercial suggests.

    And now, why I took us down that history lesson as it relates to Deana’s article. The subject of charity and governments place in the distribution of “charity”. The following is Davy Crockett’s speech in Congress on the issue of extending charity to the widow of a distinguished naval officer:

    “Mr. Speaker — I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it.

    We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him. This government can owe no debts but for services rendered, and at a stipulated price. If it is a debt, how much is it? Has it been audited, and the amount due ascertained? If it is a debt, this is not the place to present it for payment, or to have its merits examined. If it is a debt, we owe more than we can ever hope to pay, for we owe the widow of every soldier who fought in the War of 1812 precisely the same amount.

    There is a woman in my neighborhood, the widow of as gallant a man as ever shouldered a musket. He fell in battle. She is as good in every respect as this lady, and is as poor. She is earning her daily bread by her daily labor; but if I were to introduce a bill to appropriate five or ten thousand dollars for her benefit, I should be laughed at, and my bill would not get five votes in this House. There are thousands of widows in the country just such as the one I have spoken of, but we never hear of any of these large debts to them. Sir, this is no debt.

    The government did not owe it to the deceased when he was alive; it could not contract it after he died. I do not wish to be rude, but I must be plain. Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity.

    Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much of our own money as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”

    That whirring sound you hear are the founders spinning in their graves. If only we had such leaders still.

    • Timothy Lane says:

      Back in the late 1960s, I came across a speech Crockett supposedly delivered after he was first re-elected. While canvassing his district, he encountered a man who opposed him because Crockett had voted for a similar bill, asking the congressman where Congress got the power to pay public money for what amounted to private charity. Crockett acknowledged that he knew of no such provision, which his critic considered the point. But Crockett, unlike so many today (especially liberals), was capable of learning, and the next time such a bill came up in Congress, he opposed it and explained why. Among other things, he offered to help personally to pay for it, and suggested that the other members could join him in this effort.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Huzzah! for Davy Crockett

  8. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I just watched the first episode of season 2 of “The Paradise.” The series itself is very chick flickish, although I think the first season holds together well. To look back and see one of the first illustrations of the coming age of retail marketing is something. People were apparently then, and still are, drawn to savvy retail marketing like moths to a flame.

    There is excitement and grandeur in the way this is portrayed in the series. And you can see how special it was for the employees to be connected to such an inspiriting venture. Surely this must be fictional, for the England we know today is (like much of America) full of people who snarl at business and see it only as a means to gain “benefits.”

    To a large extent, The Paradise department store itself is the main character with the various subplots filling out the general soap opera appeal. And in this second season, it seems the magic has been lost a bit. The idea of the store is no longer so new. Now the struggle is for ownership.

    But one soap opera aspect that is still enlivening is the character of Katherine Glendenning — the designated femme fatale. She stokes the soap opera fires very well. Although I find the characters of Denise and Moray to not be holding up well upon further scrutiny, the Katherine character is suitably and wonderfully villainous, although her villainy is smoldering at the moment. And those whom she scorns are not blameless.

    Can Denise’s character grow beyond the mere China-doll that she is? Will Moray gain some needed chops as well? I don’t know. But I’m somewhat hooked so I’ll soap some more. But as for socialism, so far this series is a capitalist’s dream. With no more than moxy and good marketing sense, Moray has already achieved stunning results. He is an early Steve Jobs of retail. He knows what people want before they know themselves. I think free will may take a bit of a beating with the realities of retail as we see it here on display.

    • Good analysis, Brad. The chick-flick aspect of this series is, of course, what draws me — shopping without spending a dime. Fabulous. Total eye-candy. The characters fluctuate too much for me, though; Katherine is even becoming unbelievable. The sociopath she was in the first season doesn’t seem likely to be capable of loving a 12-year-old stepchild, or of suffering at the hands of her husband without some grisly retaliation. We’ll see. This program doesn’t hold a candle to the very similar, but much superior, “Mr. Selfridge.” Did you watch that?

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        Good points about Katherine. Right now my guess is she’s on the slow boil — rolling between plotting a long-term comeuppance to Moray and dealing with her still obvious passion for him. And, yeah, she has about as much maternal instinct as a lizard.

        I’m just about at the end of the second episode of the second season. They are certainly thickening the plot. And I very much like the quandary that Miss Audrey faces: to marry the man she has always loved (and/or to avoid a life sentence of spinsterhood) or to stay on at the store in her chosen career. If I had to hand out an acting award, it would easily go to her. She’s outstanding.

        No, I haven’t seen “Mr. Selfridge” yet, but my ears perked up at your initial recommendation of it. I’ll see if I can find it. Now that (spoiler alert) Jonas is back, I’m getting hooked again. I had put this series down after one season and moved onto something else (including the Jesse Stone flicks and finishing off Inspector Gently).

  9. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I did find the “Mr. Selfridge” episodes here at Amazon. At least the first one is available to buy for $1.99 (or $2.99 HD).

    Or if you subscribe to Amazon Prime Instant Video, you can watch them all for free. But I’m averse to Amazon Prime because they seem like your typical scammer. You have to hunt and hunt and hunt to find out how much the subscription actually costs. I don’t tend to do business with deceptive businesses. But with a little digging, I found out that it’s $99.00/year ($8.25/mo). Shame on Amazon for not making it plain and trying to rope you in with an old magazine-subscription trick of “Get your 30 days free.” That said, I know someone who did subscribe and, quite unlike these “free” trial magazine subscriptions, it is apparently easy to cancel.

    But I’ve been burned too many times. They really need to market their Prime more honestly and informatively. If it’s easy to cancel, say so. I know that must be a concern for many people….or does no one remember the days when it was a royal pain to ever cancel a magazine subscription?

  10. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    After watching the first three episodes of season 2 of “The Paradise,” I’m starting to change my mind about it. Frankly, both lead characters (Moray and Denise) have always been a bit one-dimensional. But other characters (and plots) coming to the fore have eased the weight on them somewhat. Plus, the Denise character actually showed signs of acting when she was butting heads with Moray over trying for the position that was vacated in Ladies’ Wear. She showed something besides that Kewpie-doll porcelain blandness.

    I also watched the first episode of “Mr. Selfridge” and was less than blown away. It’s only one episode, but the central character doesn’t seem particularly compelling. But it’s early. Perhaps I’ll buy another episode or two and see if it grows on me.

    Both shows squarely take on the issue of women in the workforce and the changing rolls of women. In “Mr. Selfridge,” one woman is dismissed for a trivial breach of protocol. The Inspector Gently series (set in a later period) also takes up women’s issues. A episode took on abortion and contraception. Abortion (hurrah!) used to be illegal in England…as did contraceptives for unmarried women. And it was illegal to be a “poof.” The justification for this (and it makes much sense) was to keep homosexuals from recruiting and preying on the innocent and young.

    It’s interesting to see where the extremes have gone. One can easily and gladly grant women more freedoms based on unalienable rights and a general sense of fairness. And yet we see (as I’ve said so often) that there is no “off” switch with the Left in this pursuit. It was a good thing, for instance, that women didn’t have to quit their jobs when they had children. (Or was it, considering the disaster of single-parent families?) But the other extreme is making unborn children as expendable as a used Kleenex in the name of women’s careers. A sane world would find a happy medium, but who ever said this was a sane world?

    • I think you’ve hit on one of the reasons why I get so involved in these British dramas — it’s such an interesting look at 1. where we’ve come from, and, more importantly, 2. our current perspective on where we’ve come from. Stick with Selfridge — he’s kind of cad, but the rest of the characters are remarkable..

      • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

        1. where we’ve come from, and, more importantly, 2. our current perspective on where we’ve come from.

        Well said, Deana. Certainly there is a lot of worthwhile cultural anthropology in watching these programs. But the modern man, for all intents and purposes, has no past. He is a product of his own invention…or so he thinks (if he can think). Again, I see the modern (weird) craze of tattoos being a partial expression of this. “I kitsch, therefore I am.” Modern man is literally writing his own personhood into being. His soul is not located somewhere inside, as is historically believed. It is on the surface of the skin. Where else could it be for him?

        One must have quite a bit of history inside one’s head before considering these types of shows for their anthropological value. For instance, it’s probably true that any modern viewer would look at these programs and see “the oppression of women.” But a larger backdrop is needed. The protection of women was paramount.

        Those without history may not realize just how much of an advance it was for a woman to be able to work and to walk the streets in relative safety. The modern person may look at some of these restrictions (such as contraceptives being illegal for anyone but the married) and understand that there was protection of womanhood involved, and of society and families themselves (no small thing).

        Oh, yes, I know. The modern woman feels she no longer needs protecting (except by an overpowering state in place of a husband or father). But before the magic of wealth distribution where anyone could have anything they wanted just by agitating for it, people had to live in the real world. They had to make choices. They had to value one thing over another if civilization could hold against the chaos. And it was considered valuable not to have bastardy be common or for women to be loose.

        Granted, there was no doubt a double-standard at the time regarding such things. And yet I’m going to go with Theodore Dalrymple on this in that we are far better off bleeding away a little hypocrisy underneath the surface than to trash social standards because they are not perfectly held to or do not create utopia.

        It’s interesting to see that now that women are “empowered” that they are being abandoned by men. Marriage is on the decline. It’s said that women just can’t find any “real” many these days because they are all boys (which is partially true). But equally true is that women have remained little girls. What else can you call it when Sandra Fluke gets up in front of a Congressional committee and begs for someone else to pay for her birth control because she is too powerless to pay for it (or to control her own sex drive)?

        So women are in the boat as men — dumbed down and infantalized by the Marxist/Progressive welfare state. One might certainly chafe at some of the restraints shown in these programs. And things needn’t remain the way the are at any one time forever. Reforms and changes are possible and sometimes good. But one should never forget that these restraints weren’t all about maintaining some kind of “paternal hegemony.” Women were being protected and honored as the special life-giving beings that they are.

        And now the height of womanhood is the anti-feminine such as the hags we see sitting on the Supreme Court. To kill the maternal instinct and to kill the feminine is considered the height of “woman’s power.” Granted, most woman in their own lives have moderated the noxious elements pushed by the “true believer” ideologues of the feminist movement. But it still has the effect of diminishing womanhood and manhood as well.

        In these programs, particularly ones set in Britain, we can see how quickly England was (in the words of Peter Hitchens) abolished. And we can see (especially using data gathered from today) why it was abolished. And wise conservatives who know the methods of the Left know there is no “off” switch to these ideologues. They will not rest until things such as pedophilia are made legal. Any restraints on behavior that is tainted by any relationship to historic morality must be wiped out so that man is finally “free.” And if it takes turning men into women and women into men — and both eventually into genderless automatons — they will do so. And s many other things will be destroyed as well.

        While watching these programs, we can see why some women chafed at some of the restraints. And I sympathize as well. And yet looking back we see a beauty, honor, and integrity in the way “The Paradise” operation was run that is lost today. People were polite, respectful, and observed the need for limits on conduct, particularly public conduct. There was, dare I say, a recognition of the value of the civil society.

        • Timothy Lane says:

          One thing to note about women (at least women other than those in the upper and upper-middle classes) in the past was the amount of drudgery they had. SF writer Lois McMaster Bujold once pointed out how much women owed to modern technology for freeing them from all that. And, of course, there were all those little details even period shows rarely if ever show — check out the death rates a century ago from diphtheria, nephritis, tuberculosis, and pneumonia, and compare them to today. That’s why the life expectancy at birth was so much lower then.

          • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

            One thing to note about women (at least women other than those in the upper and upper-middle classes) in the past was the amount of drudgery they had.

            One of the things I’ve read as well is that Charles Dickens’ account of the bleakness and harshness of factory workers in England is highly over-blown. What I’ve read is that people (and children) were clamoring to these factory jobs because it beat the hell out of starving in the streets, selling yourself for prostitution, or slaving away on the farm in a brutal and short life with few comforts.

            Granted, that’s not to say there isn’t a place for health and safety laws and such things. But look at how deeply Dickensian (and Marxist, often one and the same) our society has become. It’s now considered “exploitation” to have children work. And yet would any child be better off sitting home playing video games or managing a paper route?

            I see Dickens as just another cheap shot by the Left. Yes, there were some excesses. There are always excesses. But let’s keep things in context. And mostly we have not.

            I can appreciate the angst it caused women to have to choose between work or having children (in “The Paradise,” if not also “Mr. Selfridge,” it was made clear that women who were married could not work). But might there be some wisdom in that? If a society values marriage and children over the trinkets one can buy from working at a job, is that bad? (The message today, of course, is that women can have it all. They needn’t make choices.)

            I was reading something the other day (a novel) in which someone pointed out that science has become the new religion. I believe this to be so. And I love love love hi-tech and gadgetry. But there is a mindset about that says that science will have all the answers for humanity. And indeed, it has brought forth many amazing things. But lest one forget (as libertarians, Objectivists, and others often do), a society (people) can be subject to becoming cogs in a government machine if we are not careful. We should remember that Marxism is “scientific socialism.” The conceit of the omniscient power of science and “reason” often blinds many to other considerations. To say that science is powerful is obvious. To say that it is the only consideration is to be a blinkered fool.

            • Timothy Lane says:

              I’m not sure how leftist Dickens really was. His attack on Malthus (Scrooge suggesting that the poor should go ahead and die “and decrease the surplus population”) would be rejected today. Note too that he advocated the charitable employer, not state relief (Scrooge pointed out how much of his tax money went for debtors’ prisons and workhouses in justifying his refusal to contribute to charity). Orwell, in his lengthy discussion of Dickens, saw him more as a champion of what the left considered the petty bourgeoisie rather than the working class or the genuinely impoverished. And he celebrated the abundance of products available in the markets in a scene in A Christmas Carol.

              • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

                It seems to me that Mr. Dickens made a good living showing how horrible Capitalism supposedly was.

              • Timothy Lane says:

                Orwell’s point is that Dickens favored the enlightened capitalist, such as Fezziwig or the post-visit Scrooge. So his horror stories were about unenlightened capitalists — and for that matter, equally unenlightened welfare workers such as Mr. Bumble and the Widow Corny in Oliver Twist.

  11. Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

    I have read a lot of Dickens and I can’t recall him condemning “capitalists” in the sense of factory owners. Although it is nowhere mentioned exactly what Scrooge did, I take it that he was some sort of trader. Dickens certainly railed against such people as well as money-lenders, lawyers, murderers, crooks, thieves and government employees, but I repeat myself. He pretty much created two types of people, the good simple types and the heartless, tricky and dishonest types.

    It must not be forgotten that the so-called industrial revolution had really been in progress for only a few decades at the time Dickens was writing. Society was still undergoing a profound change. People left the grinding poverty, desperate filth and slow death of the unemployed in the countryside for the slightly less grinding poverty, industrial filth and somewhat quicker death in the city.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I’m supposing the take-away message is “greedy, exploitive capitalists” from many of his works.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        More accurately, lots of vicious people, many of whom are greedy, exploitive capitalists — but many have other occupations. And he does have some nice, unexploitive capitalists as well. I wonder if he has any nice government bureaucrats.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Oh, I agree that the books and the reality are more complicated. But I’m talking about what message was passed onto the culture. Where is England now, for instance?

          • Timothy Lane says:

            But how much of that is Dickens, and how much is the likes of Wells and Shaw (both Socialists)?

          • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

            There is no doubt that Marxists saw in Dickens a champion of the downtrodden. To my mind, he was something of your limousine liberal.

            I believe one of the reasons he comes off as hating “capitalists” is that many of his characters are caricatures. In print they may be entertaining, but when transferred to the screen they can be over the top,

            • Over the top — oh yes — Miss Havisham comes to mind. And yes, his characters were spread pretty thin, but when there are 50+ of them in each novel, one can see the problem. What I always loved about Dickens characters is that they weren’t cliches — they each stood on their own two feet and you’d recognize Pumblechook anywhere. I’ve always been amazed that he could write such amazingly complex and tidy novels and he did it with a quill pen and a whale oil lamp. His brain must have been amazing.

              As for whether or not he was a pre-Marxist — he was a damaged kid and the damage lingered. Will he influence young Marxists today? No. They can’t read him. Too long, too complex, too old. Sentences over 15 words are hard on the young.

              • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

                It is amazing that he churned these novels out, one chapter at a time, for monthly magazines. Deadlines and word counts had to be met.

                In my younger days, he was my favorite novelist. In my dotage, I no longer have a “favorite” novelist, but from time to time, I still go back to Dickens for entertainment. I recently reread “Our Mutual Friend” and either earlier this year or late last
                “Great Expectations” ,once more, captured my attention.

                As for long sentences, learning German will inure one to those.

  12. Misanthropette says:

    The first line of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (my favorite novel along with The Brothers Karamazov) sums up the spirit of Leftism:

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a fortune must be in want of a wife.”

    Leftists are the single ladies of the world, always in search of OPM to redistribute to themselves most of all. They accomplish this by luring naive monied suitors with an often youthful, attractive exterior consisting of lace and ribbons, or in this case high-minded fantasies about equality and shared prosperity, but their heads are much like the younger Bennet sisters Lydia and Kitty, empty echo chambers.

    Jane Austen: wit, novelist and free market philosopher.

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