Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 99 pages of information about Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays.
masks are, of course, the excuses of hypocrites.  They lie when they claim philanthropy; they no more feel any particular love of men than Albu felt an affection for Chinamen.  They lie when they say they have reached their position through their own organising ability.  They generally have to pay men to organise the mine, exactly as they pay men to go down it.  They often lie about the present wealth, as they generally lie about their past poverty.  But when they say that they are going in for a “constructive social policy,” they do not lie.  They really are going in for a constructive social policy.  And we must go in for an equally destructive social policy; and destroy, while it is still half-constructed, the accursed thing which they construct.

The Example of the Arts

Now I propose to take, one after another, certain aspects and departments of modern life, and describe what I think they will be like in this paradise of plutocrats, this Utopia of gold and brass in which the great story of England seems so likely to end.  I propose to say what I think our new masters, the mere millionaires, will do with certain human interests and institutions, such as art, science, jurisprudence, or religion—­unless we strike soon enough to prevent them.  And for the sake of argument I will take in this article the example of the arts.

Most people have seen a picture called “Bubbles,” which is used for the advertisement of a celebrated soap, a small cake of which is introduced into the pictorial design.  And anybody with an instinct for design (the caricaturist of the Daily Herald, for instance), will guess that it was not originally a part of the design.  He will see that the cake of soap destroys the picture as a picture; as much as if the cake of soap had been used to Scrub off the paint.  Small as it is, it breaks and confuses the whole balance of objects in the composition.  I offer no judgment here upon Millais’s action in the matter; in fact, I do not know what it was.  The important point for me at the moment is that the picture was not painted for the soap, but the soap added to the picture.  And the spirit of the corrupting change which has separated us from that Victorian epoch can be best seen in this:  that the Victorian atmosphere, with all its faults, did not permit such a style of patronage to pass as a matter of course.  Michael Angelo may have been proud to have helped an emperor or a pope; though, indeed, I think he was prouder than they were on his own account.  I do not believe Sir John Millais was proud of having helped a soap-boiler.  I do not say he thought it wrong; but he was not proud of it.  And that marks precisely the change from his time to our own.  Our merchants have really adopted the style of merchant princes.  They have begun openly to dominate the civilisation of the State, as the emperors and popes openly dominated in Italy.  In Millais’s

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Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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