A multitude of uniform, unidentifiable houses, lined up inflexibly, at uniform distances, on uniform roads, in a treeless communal waste, inhabited by people of the same class, the same income, the same age group, witnessing the same television performances, eating the same tasteless prefabricated foods, from the same freezers, conforming in every outward and inward respect to the common mold.
Each religion is a brave guess at the authorship of Hamlet. Yet, as far as the play goes does it make any difference whether Shakespeare or Bacon wrote it? Would it make any difference to the actors if their parts happened out of nothingness, if they found themselves acting on the stage because of some gross and unpardonable accident? Would it make any difference if the playwright gave them the lines or whether they composed them themselves, so long as the lines were properly spoken? Would it make any difference to the characters if A Midsummer Night's Dream was really a dream?
Nothing about his life is more strange to [man] or more unaccountable in purely mundane terms than the stirrings he finds in himself, usually fitful but sometimes overwhelming, to look beyond his animal existence and not be fully satisfied with its immediate substance. He lacks the complacency of the other animals: he is obsessed by pride and guilt, pride at being something more than a mere animal, built at falling short of the high aims he sets for himself.
The philosophers of industrialism, from Bacon to Bentham, from Smith to Marx, insisted that the improvement of man's condition was the highest requirement of morality. But in what did the improvement consist? The answer seemed so obvious to them that they did not bother to justify it: the expansion and fulfillment of the material wants of man, and the spread of these benefits, from the few who had once preempted them, to the many who had so long lived on the scraps Dives had thrown into the gutter.
Everyone aimed at security: no one accepted responsibility. What was plainly lacking, long before the barbarian invasions had done their work, long before economic dislocations became serious, was inner go. Rome's life was now an imitation of life: a mere holding on. Security was the watchword "" as if life knew any other stability than through constant change, or any form of security except through a constant willingness to take risks
In the name of economy a thousand wasteful devices would be invented; and in the name of efficiency new forms of mechanical time-wasting would be devised: both processes gained speed through the nineteenth century and have come close to the limit of extravagant futility in our own time. But labor-saving devices could only achieve their end-that of freeing mankind for higher functions-if the standard of living remained stable. The dogma of increasing wants nullified every real economy and set the community in a collective squirrel-cage.
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