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Blupete's Weekly Commentary


January 14th, 2001.

"Civilization."

"We likely put too much stock in this idea that a civilized society is best. The cant of civilization fatigues. Civilization is a fine and beautiful structure. It is as picturesque as a Gothic cathedral. But it is built upon the bones and cemented with the blood of those whose part in all its pomp is that and nothing more. It cannot be reared in the generous tropics, for there the people will not contribute their blood and bones. The proposition that the average American workingman or European peasant is 'better off' than the South Sea Islander, lolling under a palm three and drunk from over-eating, will not bear a moment's examination. It is we scholars and gentlemen that are better off."1 -- Bierce.

"Civilization is a parasite on the man with a hoe."2 -- Durant.

"On a less sophisticated level then the argument against 'alienation' are the demands for 'liberation' from the burdens of civilization - including the burdens of disciplined work, responsibility, risk-taking, saving, honesty, the honouring of promises, as well as the difficulties of curbing by general rules one's natural reactions of hostility to strangers and solidarity with those who are like oneself - and ever more severe threat to political liberty."3
-- Hayek.

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NOTES:

1 As quoted by O'Connor in his biography, Ambrose Bierce: A Biography (Boston: Little, Brown; 1967) at p. 246.

2 The Lessons of History.

3 The Fatal Conceit (University of Chicago Press, Vol. I, 1989) at pp. 64-5.

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Peter Landry

January, 2001 (2011)