Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Ultimate End of all Reformation

John Stuart Mill was a Reformer. He was continually (as we all have been since the Reformation) "reforming the Reformation" (Milton). Now, I am not a Catholic, at least not formally (although I frequently feel far more fellowship towards them these dark days than anyone else), but I have to chuckle at these autobiographical thoughts of JS Mill. For one thing did the man not ask himself why he became so depressed? It occurred when it dawned on him that, if all Reformation (secular or otherwise) was replete and complete, what would this do to him? And of course, he knew, it would render him unhappy. Because the Leftist isn't happy unless he is "changing the world" (preferably someone else). He recovered from his state by reading a passage from literature, and then the poetry of Wordsworth (whom it is worthwhile noting was the most "conservative of the Romantics" as well as the most like an English country parson). Anyone who has felt depression of an intense sort should feel some sympathy (which I do) with Mill; he is a human being, who struggled to live his life the best he knew how. And he certainly was a fine thinker and writer, in the abstract (his ideas On Liberty were derivative from von Humboldt, who in my opinion, was more subtle). Yet he recovered from depression, only to re-immerse himself in his Reforms. This may be therapeutic, but (as Keats would say) the "eagle of Truth is greater than the lyre of Apollo" (or the world-shaking "reformers" who wish to make a better mousetrap out of the world). Did the man never question himself? When he "got better"? Did he never consider that when Liberalism finally reigned supreme in every nook and cranny of the globe, and all men busied themselves with consumption in the pursuit of happiness (Bentham's body is still preserved, stuffed, in the British Museum, for all to see, like a religious artifact from ancient Egypt), that there would still be the eternal question of Man:
Not only who, but What, am I? 


  1. Mathew
    Small point ... but the last time I saw Jeremy he was still at one side of the imposing foyer of University College, London. Have they moved him for conservaton at the British Museum?

    My understanding is that Jeremy wished and planned his current display. A kind of rationalist abstract art - makes the point better and at lower cost than an 'Ozymandias' monument?

  2. Good catch, thanks.
    Well, sir, I have to say, don't you think it a little odd to end up this way? Isn't there something about that visual? Mummified, but minus the sacred spices and religious overtones, sitting in a phone booth?
    To me, this is like an idol or icon - it's very consistent with his beliefs, and embodies them. And you are very right about the monuments - this is a far more personal and in some ways vivid gesture.
    Thanks for reading! Hope you keep stopping by.