Why literature matters

Gordon Fitch gcf at panix.com
Fri May 11 07:30:32 PDT 2001

Christopher Rhoades Dÿkema:
> Carrol,
> Please go back and reread CULTURE AND ANARCHY. What you describe is there, but
> you will also find a strong critique of the values of unfettered capitalism, of
> what we would now call the religious right, and a defense of an activist
> government that works to improve the lives of the working classes. Also, part of
> what he decried was the disorganized upheaval of the fairly recently
> proletarianized. He has friendly things to say about other aspects of working
> class life, including some that culturally formed the base of a stable and
> well-organized English trade-union movement.
> In some ways, Arnold, in 1969, was a kind of proto-Fabian, more than a
> reactionary. The conservatives know him no better than you seem to. Not to
> glorify him, but his discussions of issues are interesting and more useful to us
> than you think.
> Christopher Rhoades Dÿkema

I haven't read _Culture_and_Anarchy_[1], but by me what you're describing above as MA's position is classical conservatism. In his day it would have been a sort of reactionary position against the advance of Whiggery (untrammeled liberal, progressive capitalism). Subsequently a portion of the ruling class picked up on some of its ideas, ran around to the other side of the Whigs, and gave us the Welfare State. There are people who confuse such maneuvers with leftist politics.


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