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T. S.

Eliot, Part 1
Kerry Bolton
from http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/09/t-s-eliot-part-1/
Wyndham Lewis !ortrait of ". #. $liot 19%&
World War ' (rou)ht to a clima* a cultural crisis in Western +i,ili-ation that had (een proceedin) for
centuries when in the #pen)lerian sense .oney o,erwhelmed "radition/10 or to resort e,en to Karl
.ar* the (our)eoisie supplanted the aristocracy./20 'ndustriali-ation accentuated the process of
commerciali-ation with its concomitant ur(ani-ation and the disruption of or)anic (onds and social
cohesion which has thrown societies into a state of perpetual flu* with culture reflectin) that
"his was1and is1a pro(lem of the primacy of +apital. 'f .ar*ism is the most well-2nown supposed
opponent of +apital to which many of the literati turned especially in the aftermath of the 3reat War
others who turned to the 4i)ht re5ected capitalism not only on the (asis of economics (ut more
importantly in a transcendent sense (y re5ectin) the Zeitgeist of +apital of which .ar*ism was merely
a reflection rather than an alternati,e. 6mon) these was ". #. $liot one of the most influential
luminaries of contemporary $n)lish literature.
"homas #tearns 7". #.8 $liot was (orn in #t. Louis .issouri on #eptem(er 29 1&&&. :e attended
:ar,ard ;ni,ersity .erton +olle)e <*ford and the #or(onne. Li2e $-ra !ound the =ew >ealand
poets 4e* ?air(urn and 3eoffrey !otoc2i de .ontal2 and many others on the colonial peripheries of
$uropean ci,ili-ation $liot sou)ht out whate,er was left of the cultural epicenter and settled to
$n)land in 191@ (ecomin) a naturali-ed British su(5ect in 192A. "he Buestion of $liotCs settlin) in
$n)land and (ecomin) a naturali-ed Briton stri2es to the heart of the crisis of $uropean culture and of
alienation. !eter 6c2royd1despite his con,entional lac2 of insi)ht in summatin) $liotCs concern a(out
ad,ancin) (ar(arism1does pro,ide some rare insi)ht on the cultural alienation that was (ein) felt (y
$liot and others:
"o what territory or tradition did he (elon) is another Buestion and one in
which he himself found it difficult to resol,e: in a letter to :er(ert 4ead he
remar2ed how he . . . did not (elie,e himself to (e an 6merican at all. :e was
a 7resident alien8. . .
:is sense of (ein) an alien in 6merica was (y no mean uniBue howe,er. $-ra
!ound used much the same terms to descri(e his own position in the ;nited
#tates1he was he said (rou)ht up in a place with which his fore(ears had no
connection. But they were not simply aliens in one community or anotherD
they were estran)ed from the country itself. "hey )rew up in a time of )reat
ethical and social confusion1the intercontinental railways were chan)in) the
shape of the country 5ust as the ,ast tide of immi)rants from southern and
eastern $urope was radically reformin) the ideas of what an 76merican8 was.
"his was a society which fostered no li,in) or coherent tradition a society
(ein) created (y industrialists and (an2ers and (y the politics and the reli)ion
which ministers to them for those who feel themsel,es to (e set apart and
who ha,e found in their readin) of literature a sense of life and of ,alues not
a,aila(le to them in their ordinary li,es there is a terri(le emptiness at such a
time . . . the conseBuence was that !ound and $liot1and also near
contemporaries . . . sou)ht to create tradition of their own . . ./%0
#ince then the 7cultural pessimism8 that arose in the aftermath of World War ' has shown itself to (e
realism and the world has (ecome 76merica8 under the impress of what is o,ertly promoted as
7)lo(ali-ation.8 .oney and standardi-ation rei)n supreme. "he "raditionalist has few recourses other
than self-e*ile and isolation or see2in) out li2e company in frin)e mo,ements. :owe,er for $liot and
!ound $urope still offered opportunities.
"a2in) employment as a schoolteacher and then with Lloyds Ban2 in "he +ity $liotCs first pu(lished
,olume of ,erse was Prufrock in 191A. The Waste Land followed in 1922. :e was (y then an
esta(lished literary fi)ure: in 1922 he founded the small (ut influential literary 5ournal The Criterion
and was appointed Eirector of ?a(er & ?a(er the pu(lishin) house a position which he retained
throu)hout his life. 'n 19%9 Collected Poems 19091935 was pu(lished.
6s a playwri)ht his wor2s include urder in the Cathedral F19%@G The !amil" #eunion F19%9G The
Cocktail Part" F19@0G The Confidential Clerk F19@HG and The $lder %tatesman F19@9G. 6 (oo2 of
,erses for children &ld Possum's (ook of Practical Cats was pu(lished in 19%9.
$liot was also a renowned critic. 6 collection of his essays and re,iews was pu(lished in 1920 entitled
The %acred Wood. %elected $ssa"s appeared in 19%2 The )se of Poetr" and the )se of Criticism in
19%% What is a Classic* in 19H@ &n Poetr" and Poets in 19@A Poetr" and +rama in 19@1 and The
Three ,oices of Poetr" in 19@%. 'n particular $liotCs social and political criticism is found in -fter
%trange .ods F19%HG (ased on a lecture to the ;ni,ersity of Iir)inia in 19%%D The /dea of a Christian
%ociet" F19%9G and 0otes To1ards the +efinition of Culture F19H&G. "hese three essays are particularly
co)ent e*pressions of $liotCs criticism of li(eralism and commercialism and his apolo)ia of "radition.
'n 19H& $liot was awarded the <rder of .erit and the =o(el !ri-e in Literature followed (y many
honorary doctorates honorary fellowships and professorships in Britain and the ;nited #tates.
6lthou)h nothin) deterred $liotCs lifelon) criticism of li(eralism and defense of "radition and despite
the continuin) occasional Buips a(out 7anti-#emitism8 and 7racism8 $liot mana)ed to a,oid the
oppro(rium and persecution that was meted out to his friend $-ra !ound while ne,er compromisin)
his ,iews in a post-19H@ world where democracy and e)alitarianism had assumed idolatrous
$liotCs turn to the 4i)ht was (ased on what has (een called 7cultural pessimism8 represented in
particular (y the historical doctrine of <swald #pen)ler which saw cultural decay as part of an all-
encompassin) cycle of decline of Western +i,ili-ation. ?rit- #tern )a,e this the term 7the politics of
cultural despair8 in his study on the intellectual and cultural critiBue of li(eralism in Weimer 3ermany.
/H0 $liotCs cultural pessimism and his Buest for solutions was reflected in his personal crises e*pressed
in his early poems in particular 7"he :ollow .en8 and 7"he Waste Land.8 "he poet here then
(ecomes a microcosm of the crisis of culture as a whole. :a,in) considered $liotCs personal ups and
downs 6lastair :amilton nonetheless accords $liot the role of a 7social commentator8 of su(stance
who remained 7reasona(le8 in his critiBue of 7modern industrial society.8/@0
Social Credit: An Economic Solution to Cultural Problems
:owe,er there was a practical solution that attracted $liot as it did in particular $-ra !ound: the new
economic theory of #ocial +redit which pro,ided a practical scheme for not only eliminatin) the social
dislocations caused (y an economic system that was1and is1founded on usur" (ut which had the
ad,anta)e from a "raditionalist and cultural ,iewpoint of eliminatin) the prospect1which then seemed
imminent1of a Bolshe,i2 re,olution that was in intent on destroyin) all social order from which :i)h
+ulture emer)es re)ardless of the fantasies of the Left-win) intelli)entsia.
'n particular #ocial +redit pro,ides the practical mechanism (y which the .oney !ower which
<swald #pen)ler stated rules in the Late epoch of a ci,ili-ation can (e o,erthrown and apparently
without the #pen)lerian recourse to (loodshed and the rise of a fascistic 7+aesar8 type fi)ure.
While few of the 4i)ht-win) literati concerned themsel,es with such practical details and were
aesthetic 4i)htists (y and lar)e it is si)nificant that the primary ad,ocate of #ocial +redit ne*t to
.a5or +. :. Eou)las was 6. 4. <ra)e the editor of The 0e1 $nglish #e2ie1 and The 0e1 -ge one of
the most important promoters of new literary talent. 6lthou)h <ra)e was a luminary of the ?a(ian
socialist mo,ement he was not an orthodo* socialist and ad,ocated )uild-socialism.
<ra)e was a focus for (oth inno,ati,e art and inno,ati,e economic and social theories and a few of the
poets saw the importance of #ocial +redit as the means of o,erthrowin) materialism. 'n particular there
was $-ra !ound a lifelon) enthusiast for the doctrine who was also $liotCs patron when the fellow-
6merican arri,ed in London and it was !ound who ena(led $liot to )et pu(lished in (oth Britain and
the ;#6 and who assisted $liot stylistically./90 !oundCs )enerosity was to (e much later repaid (y
$liotCs campai)n for his mentor when !ound was (ein) accused of treason and pushed into a lunatic
The Jewish Presence
"he presence of Jews in commerce and as a factor in underminin) tradition did not )o unnoticed in
many Buarters of (oth Left and 4i)ht durin) that time includin) #ocial credit and artistic circles.
:ilaire Belloc the +atholic social theorist and author wrote a (oo2 on the su(5ect in which he
considered Jews as collecti,ely 7an alien (ody within society.8/A0 $-ra !ound )ot into much trou(le
e,entually and there continues to (e much hand-wrin)in) as to whether $liot was an 7anti-#emite8 or
if he was remained so./&0
$liotCs early poem 7Bur(an2 with a Baede22er Bleistein with a +i)ar8 F1919G e*amines the
differences in mentality (etween two tourists in Ienice one tellin)ly named Bleistein seein) nothin)
(ut commerce. Bleistein is characteri-ed stereotypically:
But this or such was BleisteinCs way:
6 sa))y (endin) of the 2nees
6nd el(ows with the palms turned out
+hica)o #emite Iiennese . . .
Eeclines. <n the 4ialto once.
"he rats are underneath the piles.
"he 5ew is underneath the lot.
.oney in furs.
"he (oatman smiles.
"he followin) year $liot e,o2es the stereotypical Jewish landlord in 73erontion8:
:ere ' am an old man in a dry month
Bein) read to (y a (oy waitin) for rain.
' was neither at the hot )ates
=or fou)ht in the warm rain
=or 2nee deep in the salt marsh hea,in) a cutlass
Bitten (y flies fou)ht.
.y house is a decayed house
6nd the 5ew sBuats on the window sill the owner
#pawned in some estaminet of 6ntwerp
Blistered in Brussels patched and peeled in London./90
6)ain a Jewish character is portrayed in less than flatterin) terms in 7#weeney 6mon) the
"he silent ,erte(rate in (rown
+ontracts and concentrates withdrawsD
4achel n3e 4a(ino,itch
"ears at the )rapes with murderous paws . . ./100
"he common theme that emer)es in the Jewish characters of $liotCs ,erse is that of the cosmopolitan
,ul)ar Jew who epitomi-ed 7new wealth8 and (ou)ht his way into hi)h society (ut was prefera(ly
2ept at armCs len)th (y $n)landCs 7old money8 who saw the wealthy Jews as ha,in) the thinnest
,eneer of culti,ation. 't is certainly why $liotCs characteri-ation would not ha,e (een )reeted with the
outra)e that it met in post-war years.
<,er a decade later $liot a)ain alludes to Jewish influence in his lecture at the ;ni,ersity of Iir)inia
ad,isin) that tradition can only de,elop where the population is homo)enous:
Where two or more cultures e*ist in the same place they are li2ely to (e
fiercely self-conscious or (oth to (ecome adulterate. What is still more
important is unity of reli)ious (ac2)roundD and reasons of race and reli)ion
com(ine to ma2e any lar)e num(ers of free-thin2in) Jews undesira(le. "here
must (e a proper (alance (etween ur(an and rural industrial and a)ricultural
de,elopment. 6nd a spirit of e*cessi,e tolerance is to (e deprecated./110
"his passa)e concisely e*presses all of $liotCs primary ,iews on the matter of tradition and is the
antithesis of all that is si)nified (y the word li4eralism. Ket (ecause there is a reference to Jews and in
particular (ecause it was pu(lished when :itler had 5ust assumed power it (ecomes particularly
pro(lematic to those who admire $liotCs wor2 li2e !oundCs or :amsunCs (ut reach a crisis of morality
when confronted with the writerCs illi(erality./120 !rofessor #harpe for e*ample refers to 7some
e*tremely unlo,ely passa)es to do with Jews and Jewishness in $liotCs writin).8/1%0
#harpe and others ha,e pointed out that $liot did not allow -fter %trange .ods to (e reprinted in later
yearsD nonetheless $liotCs illi(erality remained unredeemed as indicated (y his comment in 1991 that
he saw nothin) he would chan)e for the reprintin) of 0otes To1ards the +efinition of Culture./1H0 "he
refusal to allow -fter %trange .ods to (e repu(lished seems to ha,e (een primarily (ecause $liot did
not li2e the polemical style and he re)retted his criticism of !ound and E. :. Lawrence. The Catholic
5erald as2s why $liot did not withdraw 7Bur(an2 with a Baede22er Bleistein with a +i)ar8 as he did
-fter %trange .ods if he had truly repented his pre,ious con,ictions in the wa2e of the :olocaust:
6fter the war $liot prudently withdrew this (oo2 from circulation and ne,er
re-pu(lished it. #o why did he not withdraw the eBually damnin) poem
7Bur(an2 with a Baede2er: Bleistein with a +i)ar8 from his %elected Poems
pu(lished in 19H& . . . L 't was still included in my own copy of his Collected
Poems 19091967 pu(lished in 199% and which ' read that same year. Was it
an o,ersi)ht or did the ma)nitude of the :olocaust not impin)e on $liotCs
Why the 5olocaust should (e the criterion (y which cultural critiBue is censored is yet howe,er to (e
e*plained (y any of these detractors other than in terms of a per,asi,e Western-wide moral repentance
that is as stiflin) to honest analysis as Lysen2oCs do)ma was to #o,iet (iolo)y.
Classicist, Royalist, Anlo!Catholic"
$liot was primarily a +hristian and a royalist. 'n #ocial +redit he saw the economic aspect of the
6n)lo-+atholic 2ia media or middle path (etween socialism and capitalism./190 :is aim was re,i,e
reli)ion as the foundation for a cultural aesthetic outloo2. 6. #. Eale comments that $liot 7wanted to
affect the reader as a whole human (ein) morally and aesthetically.8/1A0 "his was not somethin) that
secular-humanist society whether as capitalism or as socialism was inclined to do.
While other aesthetes were choosin) +ommunism or ?ascism shapin) up as the two )reat anta)onists
for the control of the world $liot chose 76n)lo-+atholicism.8 't was nonetheless a position on the
4i)ht al(eit critical of :itler and .ussolini (ut re5ectin) the Leftism of Blooms(ury.
:ence when the intelli)entsia was all aflutter o,er the #panish ci,il war in their near unanimous
support for the 4epu(lican church (urners and nun 2illers in the interests of stoppin) ?ranco and
4eaction $liot responded to a slanted sur,ey circulated amon) the literati on the issue that he would
remain neutral itself a heresy in that milieu./1&0
$liot a)ain unli2e others of the literati who 5oined Left or 4i)ht did not propose a particular
)o,ernmental system (ut did (elie,e that +hristians should present their opinions on a solid +hristian
(asis and form a community from which such ideals could emanate./190 :ence when $liot pu(lished
$ssa"s -ncient and odern and Collected Poems 19091935 he drew criticism for attemptin) to
esta(lish a 7+hristian poetics8 or discuss a 7+hristian polity.8/200
$liot had con,erted to the 6n)lo-+atholic (ranch of the +hurch of $n)land in 192A and he remained
an ardent worshiper until his death in 1999. :is faith was the crucial element in his thin2in) and
creati,ity. "he most succinct self-description of his outloo2 was that of a 7classicist in literature
royalist in politics and 6n)lo-+atholic in reli)ion.8/210
't was an echo of the statement made in 191% (y the seminal ?rench 4i)htist and 6cademician +harles
.aurras leader of the militant 6ction ?ranMaise descri(in) his 7counter-re,olutionary8 (eliefs as
8classi9ue: catholi9ue: monarchi9ue:;/220 that is to say the antithesis of the Jaco(in foundations of
the ?rench 4epu(lic. 'ndeed $liot was to state that 7most of the concepts which mi)ht ha,e attracted
me in ?ascism ' seem already to ha,e found in a more di)esti(le form in the wor2 of +harles .aurras.
' say in a more di)esti(le form (ecause ' thin2 they ha,e a closer applica(ility in $n)land than those of
Because ?ascism treated monarchy as 7a con,enience8 it was unaccepta(le to $liot (ut was
nonetheless prefera(le to +ommunism. :is preference was for 7the powerful 2in) and the a(le
minister8 rather than the ?ascist formula of 7a powerful dictator and a nominal 2in).8 6lthou)h
.aurras was accused of (ein) a ?ascist and was to (e tried as a colla(orator after World War ''/2H0 he
ad,ocated "radition not ?ascism and was of much interest to $liot as a leadin) classicist and
intellectual and cultural e*ponent of the 4i)ht (elie,in) li2e $liot that monarchy and aristocracy
would protect the hum(le from the 7am(itious politician.8/2@0
$liotCs interest in 6n)lo-+atholicism was already inspired (y his first ,isit to $n)land in 1911 when he
enthused a(out ,isitin) Westminster 6((ey and other )reat +hurches in London. Loo2in) at the
architecture of these )reat churches and +athedrals of $n)land $liot saw the li,in) em(odiment of a
past :i)h +ulture epitomi-ed (y the architect of #t. !aulCs +athedral #ir +hristopher Wren a royalist
commissioned (y +harles '' to re(uild fifty-one churches after the )reat fire of 1999./290 :ere was the
ne*us of the pi,otal elements of endurin) culture: .onarchy and ?aith under which culture flourished
in ways impossi(le under li(eralism and eBuality.
$liot as an employee in "he +ity could not (ut contrast the churches that had (een (uilt (y Wren in
)rand classical style and in the tradition of the :i)h +hurch with the 7hideous (an2s and commercial
houses the churches (ein) the only redeemin) Buality of some ,ul)ar street8 writin) at a time when
there was a proposal to demolish nineteen of the churches./2A0
"he proposal for the demolition of 7redundant8 churches in "he +ity can readily (e seen to ha,e
sym(oli-ed the dichotomy of the modern world: the functionalism of commerce destroyin) the ,esti)es
of :i)h +ulture. 'n 1929 a year (efore $liotCs official con,ersion he and literary scholar Bonamy
Eo(rNe led a hymn-chantin) protest throu)h the streets of "he +ity which succeeded in sa,in) the
:owe,er $liot (elie,ed in traditions that were locally rooted. "his is why he opted to (ecome an
6n)lo-+atholic rather than a 4oman +atholic which he would certainly ha,e con,erted to had he
decided on ?rance instead of Britain as his residence. Becomin) a British citi-en and con,ertin) to the
+hurch of $n)land were part of the same process as the reli)ious tradition of a nation was the central
in)redient of a national culture. :owe,er churches were de)raded (y nationalism and $liot eschewed
the concept of the +hurch of $n)land as a 7national +hurch.8 4ather it is nationalism that should (e
predicated on faith rather than faith ser,e as a tool of nationalism./290 "he +hurch of $n)land was a
national +hurch (ut should (e 7the +atholic +hurch in $n)land.8/%00 6n)lo-+atholicism is that (ody
within 6n)licanism that maintains the +hurch of $n)land is a (ranch of +atholicism rather than
Classicism and Romanticism
$n)lish classicism founded (y ". $. :ulme was the other primary element in $liotCs doctrine. 't was an
aesthetic outloo2 that also had a ma5or influence on $liotCs friends $-ra !ound and Wyndham Lewis.
:owe,er althou)h $liot im(i(ed the classicism of .aurras and :ulme in ?rance and Britain
respecti,ely he had already (ecome a classicist under the tutela)e of 'r,in) Ba((itt at :ar,ard who
tau)ht a course on 7Literary criticism in ?rance.8 :is was a non-conformist re5ection of e)alitarianism
and industrialism and a call for 7standards8 and 7discipline8/%20 a)ainst the orthodo* 6merican
standard of economic 7success8 as the measure of all thin)s.
:ence when $liot arri,ed in $n)land he had already (ecome a classicist and had re5ected the
triumphant doctrines of 7pro)ress8 7li(erty8 and 7eBuality.8 $liot tau)ht classicism contra
romanticism in 1919 at <*ford ;ni,ersity as an e*tension course of si* lectures on modern ?rench
literature. "he courses included a study of 4ousseauCs %ocial Contract and of the ?rench classicist
.aurras./%%0 4ousseau as the representati,e of romanticism was descri(ed (y $liot as a stru))le
a)ainst 7authorit" in matters of reli)ion aristocrac" and <ri2ilege in )o,ernment.8 :is main doctrinal
tendencies were 7e*altation of the <ersonal and indi2idual a(o,e the t"<ical emphasis upon feeling
rather than thought humanitarianism: (elief in the fundamental )oodness of human nature deprecation
of form in art and )lorification of s<ontaneit"=; 7:is )reat faults were intense e)otism8 and
7insincerity.8 $liot wrote in the description of his course:
4omanticism stands for e>cess in any direction. 't splits up into two directions:
escape from the world of fact and de,otion to (rute fact. "he two )reat currents
of the nineteenth century1,a)ue emotionality and the apotheosis of science
FrealismG ali2e sprin) from 4ousseau./%H0
?rom $liotCs co)ent description of the two common (ut antithetical tendencies sprin)in) from
4omanticism we mi)ht understand how the ?rench 4e,olution proclaimed in the name of 74eason8
assumed the most irrational forms erectin) su(stitute reli)ions to the 73oddess of 4eason8 and to the
7supreme Bein)8 complete with hymns litur)y and holy days in the name of the 4e,olution.
7"he 4eaction 6)ainst 4omanticism8 started at the (e)innin) of the twentieth century in 7a return to
the ideals of classicism.8 $liot e*plained the principles of classicism as 7form and restraint in art
disci<line and authorit" in reli)ion centrali?ation in )o,ernment Feither as socialism or a monarchyG.
"he classicist point of ,iew has (een defined as essentially a (elief in <ri)inal #in1the necessity of
austere discipline.8
+lassicism o(,iously lends itself to doctrines of the 4i)ht and $liot a,ers to this when statin) 7a
classicist in art and literature will (e therefore li2ely to adhere to a monarchical form of )o,ernment
and to the +atholic +hurch.8
6s for the reference to 7socialism8 (ein) a manifestation of classicism alon) with monarchism what
$liot meant can (e discerned from his allusion to 7syndicalism more radical than nineteenth century
socialism.8 "his and monarchism 7e*press re,olt a)ainst the same state of affairs and conseBuently
tend to meet.8
6 classicist socialism had (een emer)in) in ?rance from the late 19thcentury re5ectin) the 4omanticist
ori)ins of the (our)eois Left and the 4epu(lic. $lements of the 4i)ht around .aurras and of the Left
represented (y the syndicalist 3eor)es #orel were synthesi-in) a doctrine that included royalism and
eschewed the old materialist interpretations of socialism. $liot reco)ni-ed the de,elopment of this
mo,ement referrin) to 7=eo-+atholicism8 in ?rance as a 7partly political mo,ement associated with
monarchism and partly a reaction a)ainst the sceptical scientific ,iew of the nineteenth century. 't is
stron)ly mar2ed in socialistic writers as well. 't must not (e confused with modernism which is a
purely intellectual mo,ement.8/%@0
Lecture 'I dealt with 74oyalism and #ocialism8 where $liot e*plainin) the emer)in) synthesis stated
that 7contemporary socialism has much in common with royalism.8 6mon)st those studied were
.aurras and #orel the latter representin) a 7more ,iolent reaction a)ainst (our)eois socialism.8/%90
"his de,eloped into ?ascism especially from amon) the most militant adherents of 6ction ?ranMaise
who were impatient with old methods./%A0 :owe,er $liot as an 6n)lo-+atholic see2in) the 2ia media
was to consider #ocial +redit as a sufficient mechanism for social chan)e without recourse to the
?ascism that $-ra !ound mi*ed with #ocial +redit.
Tradition and Culture
$liotCs primary focus was not political (ut meta<olitical. :e e*plained this after the #econd World War
in his lectures on the unity of $uropean culture which will (e e*amined (elow. :is writin) his
contri(ution to the corpus of )reat $uropean Literature was his statement of re(ellion a)ainst cultural
patholo)y. :e was writin) consciously as a mem(er of the $uropean cultural stream:
"he historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own )eneration
in his (ones (ut with a feelin) that the whole of the literature of $urope from
:omer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a
simultaneous e*istence and composes a simultaneous order./%&0
<ne sees the contrast with the 4omanticist who is rootless an indi,idualist of his moment where
nothin) other than the $)o is of rele,ance and there is no criterion upon which to determine what is
7art8 and what is 5un2: cultural nihilism mar2eta(le (ecause there is an audience that is itself rootless.
"he artist then is part of a tradition unless art (ecomes detached and there(y de(ased as it now
)enerally is (ased on mar2et ,alues and the discernment of art critics who are themsel,es detached
from any tradition. ?or $liot and most/%90 of the other artists who turned to the 4i)ht a flourishin)
culture meant not flu* and continual 7inno,ation8 and 7e*perimentation8 which is now lauded as the
epitome of artistic 7free e*pression8 (ut order duration and a connection with the past present and
future. =either did it mean howe,er as $liot pointed out stasis and the copyin) of pre,ious wor2s.
6)ain it is the principle of 2ia media= <f the importance of tradition to the artist $liot wrote:
=o poet no artist of any art has his complete meanin) alone. :is si)nificance
his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.
Kou cannot ,alue him aloneD you must set him for contrast and comparison
amon) the dead. ' mean this as a principle of Osthetic not merely historical
criticism. "he necessity that he shall conform that he shall cohere is not one-
sidedD what happens when a new wor2 of art is created is somethin) that
happens simultaneously to all the wor2s of art which preceded it. "he e*istin)
monuments form an ideal order amon) themsel,es which is modified (y the
introduction of the new Fthe really newG wor2 of art amon) them. "he e*istin)
order is complete (efore the new wor2 arri,esD for order to persist after the
super,ention of no,elty the 1hole e*istin) order must (e if e,er so sli)htly
alteredD and so the relations proportions ,alues of each wor2 of art toward the
whole are read5ustedD and this is conformity (etween the old and the new.
Whoe,er has appro,ed this idea of order of the form of $uropean of $n)lish
literature will not find it preposterous that the past should (e altered (y the
present as much as the present is directed (y the past. 6nd the poet who is
aware of this will (e aware of )reat difficulties and responsi(ilities./H00
"radition there(y esta(lishes a criterion of what 7art8 is which is a far cry from today when we are
continually reminded that 7art8 is anythin) that 7challen)es8 pro,o2es a 7reaction8 or has a
7messa)e.8 $liot wrote of this artistic criterion:
'n a peculiar sense he will (e aware also that he must ine,ita(ly (e 5ud)ed (y
the standards of the past. ' say 5ud)ed not amputated (y themD not 5ud)ed to
(e as )ood as or worse or (etter than the deadD and certainly not 5ud)ed (y
the canons of dead critics. 't is a 5ud)ment a comparison in which two thin)s
are measured (y each other. "o conform merely would (e for the new wor2
not really to conform at allD it would not (e new and would therefore not (e a
wor2 of art. 6nd we do not Buite say that the new is more ,alua(le (ecause it
fits inD (ut its fittin) in is a test of its ,aluePa test it is true which can only
(e slowly and cautiously applied for we are none of us infalli(le 5ud)es of
conformity. We say: it appears to conform and is perhaps indi,idual or it
appears indi,idual and may conformD (ut we are hardly li2ely to find that it is
one and not the other./H10
'n 192@ $liot wrote 7"he :ollow .en8 which descri(es the state of what can (e called .odern .an
who has no attachment no place in a li,in) tradition. 't was written at a time when $liot had a
(rea2down. 'n her essay and analysis of the poem :eather Ian 6elst co)ently writes of this:
7"he :ollow .en8 is essentially a poem of emptiness $liotCs e*ploration of
the state of his own soul as one of many modern souls sufferin) the same
affliction. 't is an emptiness caused (y the condition of the modern world a
modern world in which men li,e only for themsel,es failin) to choose
(etween )ood and e,il. "he souls in the poem whose condition we are
supposed to (e horrified (y are not those who ha,e sinned the most (ut those
who ha,e not chosen whether or not to sin. "hey e*ist in a state in-(etween a
state in which their failure to ma2e a decision causes an utter lac2 of hope and
5oy or pain. "he heroes of this poem are those who clearly see this state and
reco)ni-e its true horror./H20
't e*presses a cultural malady that was of concern to those such as $liot Keats +amp(ell !ound et al=
who sou)ht a way out of the Bua)mire ma2in) their art their protest while simultaneously contri(utin)
si)nificantly to a cultural "radition that (ypasses the culture of the mar2et place.
7"he :ollow .en8 could as well apply to .odern .an as a new species represented (y the ma5ority
of all classes and stations of life:
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leanin) to)ether
:eadpiece filled with straw.
6lasQ <ur dried ,oices when
We whisper to)ether
6re Buiet and meanin)less
6s wind in dry )rass
"here is not e,en drama in the death of the Western ci,ili-ation no last hurrah as in #pen)lerCs
scenario where a resur)ence of "radition led (y modern 7+aesars8 o,ercomes .oney or as in ancient
days where a ,i)orous (ar(arian tri(e o,erwhelms the dominant ci,ili-ation that has (ecome senile.
?or our own ci,ili-ation the Ruestion is posed (y $liot as to its endin):
"his is the way the world ends
=ot with a (an) (ut a whimper.
/10 <swald #pen)ler The +ecline of The West trans. +harles ?rancis 6t2inson FLondon: 3eor)e 6llen
& ;nwin 19A1G Iol. 2 p. @09.
/20 K. .ar* and ?. $n)els The Communist anifesto F.oscow: !ro)ress !u(lishers 19A@G p. @A. K.
4. Bolton 74eadin) .ar* 4i)ht: 6 4eactionary 'nterpretation of the +ommunist .anifesto8
unpu(lished .#.
/%0 !. 6c2royd T= %= $liot FLondon: :amish :amilton 19&HG pp. 2H12@.
/H0 ?. #tern The Politics of Cultural +es<air@ - %tud" in the #ise of the .ermanic /deolog" F=ew Kor2:
6nchor Boo2s 199@G.
/@0 6. :amilton The -<<eal of !ascism@ - %tud" of /ntellectuals & !ascism F=ew Kor2: "he
.acmillan +o. 19A1G.
/90 ". #harpe T= %= $liot@ - Literar" Life F=ew Kor2: #t. .artinCs !ress 1991G p. H9.
/A0 :. Belloc The Ae1s FLondon: Butler & "anner 19%AG.
/&0 6. E. .oody Thomas %tearns $liot@ Poet FLondon: +am(rid)e ;ni,ersity !ress 19&0G pp. %A01
/90 ". #. $liot Poems F=ew Kor2: 6lfred 6 Knopf 1920G 73erontion.8
/100 $liot Poems 7#weeney 6mon) the =i)htin)ales.8
/110 ". #. $liot -fter %trange .ods@ - Primer of odern 5eres" FLondon: ?a(er and ?a(er 19%HG pp.
19120. "he full te*t can (e read at: http://www.catholicherald.co.u2/commentand(lo)s/2011/10/0%/the-
/120 6. E. .oody i(id.
/1%0 ". #harpe p. 1A1.
/1H0 ". #. $liot 0otes To1ards the +efinition of Culture 7!reface to the 1992 $dition8 p. A.
/1@0 ?. !hilips 7"he !oet Who +onfronted ". #. $liot <,er his 6nti-#emitism8 Catholic5erald=co=uk
<cto(er % 2011 http://www.catholicherald.co.u2/commentand(lo)s/2011/10/0%/the-poet-who-
/190 6. #. Eale T= %= $liot@ The Philoso<her Poet FLincoln =e(ras2a: i;ni,erse 200HG p. 1%1.
/1A0 Eale p. 129.
/1&0 Eale p. 129.
/190 Eale p. 1%2.
/200 Eale p. 1%2.
/210 ". #. $liot: !or Lancelot -ndre1es: 192& 7!reface.8
/220 +. .aurras 0ou2elle #e2ue !ranBaise .arch 191% cited (y B. #purr -ngloCCatholic in
#eligion@ T= %= $liot and Christianit" F+am(rid)e ;.K.: "he Lutterworth !ress 2010G p. ,ii.
/2%0 ". #. $liot The Criterion Eecem(er 192& p. 2&9 Buoted (y 6lastair :amilton p. 2A@.
/2H0 .aurras li2e many ?rench 4i)htists was anti-3erman (ut a prominent supporter of the Iichy
re)ime of .arshall !etain. .aurras opposed colla(oration with the 3erman occupation (ut also
opposed the 6llies and re)arded the 4esistance as (anditry. 'n 19H@ .aurras was sentenced to life
imprisonment and died in 19@2.
/2@0 ". #. $liot 7.r. Barnes and .r. 4owes8 The Criterion July 1929.
/290 B. #purr -ngloCCatholic in #eligion p. %@.
/2A0 #purr p. %9.
/2&0 #purr p. H0.
/290 #purr p. HH.
/%00 #purr p. HH.
/%10 #ee my chapter on Wyndham Lewis in -rtists of the #ight@ #esisting +ecadence ed. 3re)
Johnson F#an ?rancisco: +ounter-+urrents 2012G.
/%20 !. 6c2royd pp. %@1%9.
/%%0 ". #. $liot 7#ylla(us of a +ourse of #i* Lectures on modern ?rench Literature (y " #tearns $liot8
<*ford $*tension Lectures <*ford ;ni,ersity 1919.
/%H0 $liot 7#ylla(us.8
/%@0 $liot 7#ylla(us.8
/%90 $liot 7#ylla(us.8
/%A0 >. #ternhell 0either Left 0or #ight@ !ascist /deolog" in !rance F=ew Jersey: !rinceton
;ni,ersity !ress 1999G.
/%&0 ". #. $liot The %acred Wood@ $ssa"s on Poetr" & Criticism F=ew Kor2: 6lfred 6 Knopf 1921G
7"radition the 'ndi,idual "alent8 ': %.
/%90 "he 'talian ?uturists were an e*ception.
/H00 $liot 7"radition the 'ndi,idual "alent8 ': H.
/H10 $liot i4id. ': @.
/H20 :eather Ian 6elst 7+onclusions8 http://aduni.or)/Sheather/occs/honors/+onclusions.htm
T. S. Eliot, Part $
Kerry Bolton
from http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/09/t-s-eliot-part-2/
". #. $liot #eptem(er 29 1&&&1January H 199@
The Criterion
'f Western ci,ili-ation was ine*ora(ly headin) towards an undramatic )enerally indiscerni(le
whimperin) dissolution then at least $liot was to pro,ide (oth a warnin) and an alternati,e to decline
and death.
6mon) $liotCs most important efforts was the foundin) of The Criterion which ran from 1922 to 19%9.
"he intent was to offer a cultural critiBue of the (ar(arity of modernism and champion a re,i,al of
+hristian $uropean culture to pro,ide an outlet for new writers and to connect with others across
$urope. When $liot his ideas ha,in) (een well-esta(lished since his tutela)e under 'r,in) Ba((itt at
:ar,ard founded The Criterion he promoted it as a "ory pu(lication representin) 7reaction8 and
7re,olution8 in opposition to 7su(ur(an democracy.8/10
$liot first and foremost a +hristian traditionalist did not see the ad,ent of ?ascist 'taly as
optimistically as $-ra !ound did althou)h he refused to en)a)e in intellectual tu(-thumpin) e,en
when the treatment of Jews in =ational #ocialist 3ermany was e*citin) uni,ersal ferment. #uch
pre,alent anti-fascism he descri(ed as an 7emotional outlet8 for li(erals and as 7distractin) from the
true e,ils of their own society.8/20 :e refused to ta2e a position on the #panish +i,il War/%0 and e,en
critici-ed <*ford when the ;ni,ersity declined to participate in the (icentennial cele(rations of the
;ni,ersity of 3Tttin)en in 19%A in protest a)ainst the restrictions a)ainst Jews. $liotCs position was
that pu(lic institutions should not (e political pawns and that the associations of academics (etween
nations should to (e affected.
:owe,er $liot wondered whether .ussolini did represent 76uthority and "radition8 in the historical
$uropean sense./H0 :e considered it li2ely that ?ascism was li2e +ommunism a su(stitute reli)ion
and ultimately pro(a(ly incompati(le with +atholicism. ?or $liot the monarch and not the dictator
sym(oli-ed the necessary authority and this was tempered (y the throne (ein) su(5ected to 7one hi)her
authority . . . the +hurch.8/@0 't was (asically a neo-.edie,al outloo2.
'n 192& $liot came to the defense of .aurras who as leader of 6ction ?ranMaise had (een condemned
(y the Iatican./90 =early a decade later he came to the defense of Wyndham Lewis who did not
dis)uise his sympathies for ?ascism or his contempt for the Blooms(ury coterie $liot statin) that
7anyone who is not enthusiastic a(out the fruits of li(eralism must (e unpopular with the 6n)lo-#a*on
ma5ority.8/A0 $,en in 1990 $liot insisted that the word 7fascist8 is 7flun) (y massenmensch at some
who li2e Lewis choose to wal2 alone.8 /&0
'n the June 192& issue of The Criterion $liot clarified his position statin) that the pro(lems with
ci,ili-ation would (e studied. :e included in that issue a re,iew of Wealth: ,irtual Wealth and +e4t (y
the economic reformer !rofessor ?rederic2 #oddy/90 whose (oo2 was seminal on the thin2in) of the
early (an2in) reformers. "he re,iew of the #oddy (oo2 (y J. .c6lpine e*plained that the medie,al era
had a social order (ased on the church which was or)ani-ed throu)h )uilds where 7money-dealin)8
was condemned and where the ?aith was interwo,en throu)h the social fa(ric the remnants of this
traditional order finally (ein) destroyed with the 'ndustrial 4e,olution and domination (y 7a cash
relationship.8 +learly $liot held the same outloo2 which was also the outloo2 of 6. 4. <ra)e whose
influence promoted the careers of many new talents includin) $liot and !ound.
'n 2eepin) with this 7neo-medie,alism8 $liot sou)ht a return to a rural society har2in) (ac2 to the
or)anic society that had e*isted prior to industrialism and ur(ani-ation. :ence in <cto(er 19%1 $liot
wrote in The Criterion that a)riculture ou)ht to (e 7sa,ed8 (ecause it is 7the foundation for the )ood
life in societyD it is in fact the normal life.8
?or $liot economics and politics must (e su(5ected first to moral and spiritual foundations. ?rom these
foundations economic and political pro(lems are resol,ed. Writin) in 19%% $liot states that the notion
that political and economic reform must arri,e first then the moral Buestion is wron). 6 new
economic system must (e related to 7a moral system.8 7.oralists and philosophers must supply the
foundations of statesmanship thou)h they ne,er appear in the forum.8/100 "his also alludes to the
purpose of The Criterion in formin) a metapolitical school of moralists and philosophers who could
reshape the social and moral and conseBuent political and economic order not 5ust of Britain (ut of
$urope whose culture $liot re)arded as unitary.
"he economic Buestion was dealt with specifically with articles on #ocial +redit durin) 19%@. The
Criterion of July 19%@ carries re,iews (y well-2nown commentator on economics 4. .c=air Wilson
on si* (oo2s a(out #ocial +redit. :ere Wilson stated that $uropean ci,ili-ation came into (ein) on the
(asis of an economic system that repudiated usury )i,in) rise to a flowerin) of medie,al culture
where with an a(undance of leisure F100 holy days plus the @2 #undaysG 7small ,illa)es8 were a(le to
(uild cathedrals whose ma)nificence endures to the present. 'ndeed it is a fundamental principle of
#ocial +redit that its system of economics would a)ain accord an a(undance (oth of )eneral prosperity
and of leisure that would ena(le culture to flourish a)ain. What e,entuated in the modern world has not
(een increased leisure and wider prosperity despite the prospects held out (y mechani-ation (ut rather
an increase in (oth wor2in) hours and the retirement a)e. "he same flaws ha,e only (een e*acer(ated
in the present day.
"he final issue of The Criterion carried the partin) words from $liot in summation of his outloo2: 7?or
myself a ri)ht political philosophy came more and more to imply a ri)ht theolo)y1and ri)ht economics
to depend upon ri)ht ethics: leadin) to emphases which somewhat stretched the ori)inal framewor2 of
a literary re,iew.8/110 "his was the predicament of !ound Keats Lawrence +amp(ell and all the
other literati who saw culture as endan)ered (y mass society en)endered ali2e (y Bolshe,ism
capitalism and democracy. #ome such as !ound saw the answer in a counter-modern doctrine
?ascismD while most such as $liot Keats and +amp(ell saw the answer in reaction and loo2ed
suspiciously on ?ascism as another re,olt of the masses.
After Strange Gods
'ndustrialism and the concomitant phenomena of cosmopolitanism and alien immi)ration undermine
the tradition upon which culture is (ased (y (rea2in) the chain (y which culture is transmitted throu)h
)enerations. 'n a lecture at the ;ni,ersity of Iir)inia in 19%% pu(lished the followin) year as -fter
%trange .ods@ - Primer of odern 5eres" $liot saw that the ;# had not and pro(a(ly would not
reco,er from the +i,il War which was a ,ictory of plutocracy and industrialism a)ainst tradition and
ruralism. :e said to his Iir)inia audience that 7the chances for the re-esta(lishment of a nati,e culture
are perhaps (etter here than in =ew $n)land. Kou are farther away from =ew Kor2D you ha,e (een less
industriali-ed and less in,aded (y forei)n racesD and you ha,e a more opulent soil.8/120
"he reference to =ew Kor2 can (e seen as a reference to the ne)ati,e impact of cosmopolitanism on
culture. $liot proceeded to comment that the destruction of the soil wrou)ht also the destruction of the
nati,e Bualities of a people there (ein) a two-way influence (etween race and soil. :e referred to his
nati,e =ew $n)land as 7the half-dead mill towns of southern =ew :ampshire and .assachusetts8:
't is not necessarily those lands which are the most fertile or most fa,oured in
climate that seem to me the happiest (ut those in which a lon) stru))le of
adaptation (etween man and his en,ironment has (rou)ht out the (est
Bualities of (othD in which the landscape has (een moulded (y numerous
)enerations of one race and in which the landscape in turn has modified the
race to its own character./1%0
$liot commended those who wished for a re,i,ed a)rarian #outh who despite (ein) ridiculed as
ha,in) an impossi(le dream were nonetheless em(ar2in) on a worthy cause a)ainst 7the whole current
of economic determinism8 7a )od (efore whom we fall down and worship with all 2inds of music.8
:owe,er $liot considered that:
' (elie,e that these matters may ultimately (e determined (y what people
wantD that when anythin) is )enerally accepted as desira(le economic laws
can (e upset in order to achie,e itD that it does not so much matter at present
whether any measures put forward are practical as whether the aim is a )ood
aim and the alternati,es intolera(le. "here are at the present sta)e more
serious difficulties in the re,i,al or esta(lishment of a tradition and a way of
life which reBuire immediate consideration./1H0
'n conflict with economic determinism 7What ' mean (y tradition in,ol,es all those ha(itual actions
ha(its and customs from the most si)nificant reli)ious rite to our con,entional way of )reetin) a
stran)er which represent the (lood 2inship of the same people li,in) in the same place.8/1@0
"his conception of tradition repudiates the notion of multiculturalism which is a manifestation of
economic determinism whether in its capitalistic or socialistic forms. $liot stated that where more than
one culture e*ists in a locality the formation and transmission of a culture is su(,erted. $liot was not
ad,ocatin) apolo)etics for racial supremacy (y clin)in) 7to traditions as a way of assertin) our
superiority o,er less fa,oured peoples.8 What is reBuired for a tradition to (ecome esta(lished is a
sense of place and permanence. 7"he population should (e homo)eneousD where two or more cultures
e*ist in the same place they are li2ely either to (e fiercely self-conscious or (oth to (ecome
"his of course has (ecome e,er more impossi(le as capitalism has proceeded until we ha,e what is
today called )lo(ali-ationD where there are no settled or homo)enous communities where a new form
of economic nomadism has formed a cosmopolitan class de,oid of any attachments to locality custom
or tradition lauded (y 3. !ascal >achary in The .lo4al e as ,irtually a new human species at the
ser,ice of )lo(al capitalism/1A0
"o what is today championed (y those such as >achary as the unlimited possi(ilities of economic
ad,ance offered (y the )lo(al ,illa)e and the )lo(al mar2et place $liot would contend: 7We must also
remem(er that in spite of e,ery means of transport that can (e de,ised the local community must
always (e the most permanent.8 "his concept of the local community for $liot e,en too2 precedence
o,er the nation which was only as useful as it allowed for the sta(ility of the community which in turn
was a )roupin) of families rooted to place throu)h )enerations. 6 nationCs 7stren)th and its
)eo)raphical si-e depend upon the comprehensi,eness of a way of life which can harmonise parts with
distinct local characters of their own.8/1&0 :ence re)ionalism or separatism will arise when the
nation-state (ecomes centrali-ed and intrudes upon local tradition for 7't is only a law of nature that
local patriotism when it represents a distinct tradition and culture ta2es precedence o,er a more
a(stract national patriotism.8/190
?or those who interpret the 4i)ht as synonymous with nationalism and loyalty to the nation-state this
repudiation of nationalistic and statist sanctity will appear confusin). :owe,er the 4i)ht is a
manifestation of tradition rather than that of nation-states which destroyed the traditional principalities
re)ions and city-states that comprised the hi)h culture of Western ci,ili-ation. $liot points out that 7the
consciousness of Uthe nationC as the social unit is a ,ery recent and contin)ent e*perience. 't (elon)s to
a limited historical period and is (ound up with certain specific happenin)s.8/200 4ather 7)enuine
patriotism8 only has depth when there is a society 7in which people ha,e local attachments to their
small domain and small community and remain )eneration after )eneration in the same place.8 /210
't is a call to re5ect cosmopolitanism uni,ersalism and ur(ani-ation: all the symptoms of the modern
epoch of decay and to return to the land to the ,illa)e to the produce mar2ets and churchD all that
which seems e,o2ed (y the word: <arish. <ne is reminded of the same nostal)ia for the or)anic
society sta(le transmittin) a fi*ed culture )eneration after )eneration that Knut :amsun e,o2ed in
such no,els as .ro1th of the %oil=
The Idea of a Christian Society
The Criterion closed as World War '' approached $liot seein) the rise of ?ascism and of nationalistic
impulses as a disappearance of the 7$uropean .ind8 which he had sou)ht to re,i,ify for ?ascism and
nationalism represent ,ariants of modernity and indeed sprin) from the same epoch as rationalism and
li(eralism despite the traditionalism in incorporated into most ,arieties of ?ascism.
Bein) reactionaries Keats and Julius $,ola li2e $liot re5ected ?ascism and statist nationalism for the
same reasons. 't represented mass mo(ili-ationD it was ple(eian and modernD it was championed (y
?uturists under .arinetti in 'taly re5ectin) all "raditionD it was intrinsically repu(lican and centralist.
$liot con,ersely as a reactionary in the most positi,e sense of the word was a royalist and
decentralistD he loo2ed to a $urope of ?aith to the )entry and the no(ility rather than the (ureaucrat
and the technocratD he preferred farm cotta)e and church to steel and mechani-ation. $liotCs $urope
li2e KeatsCs et al. was dealt the finishin) death (lows (y World War '' as it had (een dealt a lethal (low
(y World War ' from which it had (een nowhere near reco,ery.
Ket (ecause $liot eschewed ?ascism and e,en wrote a now little-2nown play that was performed at
#adlerCs Wells "heatre London which depicted with eBual disBuiet contendin) 4edshirts and
Blac2shirts it should not (e thou)ht that $liot had (ecome some type of Li(eral who had repudiated
earlier ,iews under the pressure of anti-fascist conformity a position that some ha,e well-meanin)ly
attempted in $liotCs defense a)ainst attac2s from Leftist critics./220
$liotCs answer was as e,er a return to +hristianity as the social ethos. $liot e*pounded this ,iew in a
,olume pu(lished shortly after the demise of The Criterion in 19%9: The /dea of a Christian %ociet". 6
society founded on the +hristian ethos would 7compel chan)es in our or)ani-ation of industry and
commerce and financial credit8 and it would facilitate rather than as at present impede a life of
de,otion for those capa(le of it./2%0
<n the e,e of war with the totalitarian states $liot did not crin)e from casti)atin) the ne(ulousness of
the political terms that had assumed sanctity in the Western world: 7li(eralism8 and 7democracy.8 'n
particular 7democracy8 has assumed the hei)ht of popularity and e,en those who sympathi-ed with
the :itlerite re)ime used the word in a positi,e sense while pointin) out le)itimately $liot a)reed
that what )o,erns the 7democratic8 states is 7financial oli)archy.8 "he doctrine that continued to
animate democracy is 7li(eralism8 and here $liot maintains his critical attitude statin) that li(eralism
7still permeates our minds and affects our attitude towards much of life . . . /and0 tends to release
ener)y rather than to accumulate it to rela* rather than to fortify.8
't is a mo,ement not so much defined (y its end as (y its startin) pointD away
from rather than towards somethin) definiteD and the destination is li2ely to
present a ,ery different picture when arri,ed at from the ,a)uer ima)e
formed in ima)ination. By destroyin) traditional social ha(its of the people
(y dissol,in) their natural collecti,e consciousness into indi,idual
constituents (y licensin) the opinions of the most foolish (y su(stitutin)
instruction for education (y encoura)in) cle,erness rather than wisdom the
upstart rather than the Bualified (y fosterin) a notion of getting on to which
the alternati,e is a hopeless apathy Li(eralism can prepare the way for that
which is its own ne)ation: the artificial mechani-ed or (rutali-ed control
which is a desperate remedy for its chaos. /2H0
't is here that the ?ascist can 5ustly inter5ect that 7Li(eralism is the handmaiden of Bolshe,ism8 (ut the
reactionary can also point out that li(eralism pa,ed the way for (oth capitalism with its focus on
property relations enshrined as sacrosanct in the ?rench 4e,olutionary Eeclaration of the 4i)hts of
.an and the +iti-en and the 6merican 4e,olutionary Bill of 4i)hts and e,en ?ascism which arose
from the concepts of the nation-state a)ainst thrones and altars of the 4e,olutions of 1AA9 and 1A&9
and those of $urope in 1&H&.
"he most acute forms of Li(eral dissolution are in states that ha,e (ecome most industriali-ed. :ence
men and women of all classes are 7detached from tradition alienated from reli)ion and suscepti(le to
mass su))estion: in other words a mo(. 6nd a mo( will (e no less a mo( if it is well fed well clothed
well housed and well disciplined.8/2@0 :ere we see co)ently e*pressed the concerns that too2 some of
$liotCs contemporaries such as !ound Lawrence and Keats to the 4i)ht. "he rise of the mo( was
concomitant with that of li(eralism and democracy and such a society was not conduci,e to hi)h
culture (ut rather to (ar(arity. Writin) in 2011 it seems superfluous to ma2e any comment on the
accuracy of the predictions of $liot and company on the results of li(eralism on the social and cultural
"he alternati,e to the dissoluti,e impact of li(eralism is the (asic social unit that $liot identified in
$n)land as the parish a 7unitary community8 of a 7reli)ious-social8 character which has (een
undermined (y industrialism and ur(ani-ation./290 "he parish is:
a small and mostly self-contained )roup attached to the soil and ha,in) its
interests centred in a particular place with a 2ind of unity which may (e
desi)ned (ut which also has to )row throu)h )enerations. 't is the idea or
ideal of a community small enou)h to consist of a ne*us of direct personal
relationships in which all iniBuities and turpitudes will ta2e the simple and
easily apprecia(le form of wron) relations (etween one persona and another.
6 +hristian society would (e (ased on what would (ecome ha(it and custom rather than law./2&0
6lienation from the land caused (y the 'ndustrial 4e,olution startin) in $n)land (efore infectin) the
entirety of Western ci,ili-ation led to ur(an drift and what .ar* referred to as the proletariani-ation of
the yeomanry and the creation of the mercantile class in place of the )entry. $liot saw ur(ani-ation as
ruinous to culture as did contemporaries such as =ew >ealand poet ?air(urn =orwe)ian writer
:amsun and $n)lish writer :enry Williamson. $liot returned to the Buestion of the rural (asis of
culture and demo)raphic health and the ruinous character of ur(ani-ation in The Criterion se,eral
years after addressin) the pro(lem in his Iir)inia address:
"o understand thorou)hly what is wron) with a)riculture is to understand
what is wron) with nearly e,erythin) else: with the domination of ?inance
with our ideals and system of $ducation indeed with our whole philosophy
of life. . . . What is fundamentally wron) is the ur4ani?ation of mind of
which ' ha,e pre,iously spo2en and which is increasin)ly pre,alent as
those who rule those who spea2 those who write and de,eloped in
increasin) num(ers from an ur(an (ac2)round. "o ha,e the ri)ht frame of
mind . . . it is necessary that the )reater part of the population of all classes
Fso lon) as we ha,e classesG should (e settled in the country and (e
dependent upon it. <ne sees no hope whether in the La(our !arty or in the
eBually unima)inati,e dominant section of the +onser,ati,e !arty. "here
seems no hope in contemporary politics at all./290
6)ain $liot is loo2in) to a (y)one a)e and toward the medie,al where the social or)anism was
cohesi,e society was predominantly rural ,ocations were or)ani-ed into )uilds and there was no
7domination of ?inance8 (ut rather where usury was a sin.
Post!%ar &ears
$liot had ne,er endorsed ?ascism so his support for Britain a)ainst the 6*is durin) World War '' was
consistent with his ,iew prior to the war rather than a matter of conformity. :owe,er $liot saw the
World War as ha,in) ruined the unity of $uropean culture with a world now dominated (y the ;##4
and the ;#6./%00
$liot was not (linded (y 6merican (landishments. :e disli2ed 4oose,elt and held the ;#6
accounta(le for (oth the Kalta accord which deli,ered half of $urope to the ;##4 and for the
disinte)ration of the British $mpire which was one of se,eral factors resultin) in what $liot re)arded
as an impendin) Ear2 6)e./%10
'n 19HA $liotCs first wife Ii,ien died and he was in declinin) health. :e went to the ;# that year and
continued with reli)ious retreats and o(ser,ances. 'n 19H& he was awarded the <rder of .erit./%20
"hat year he returned to 6merica where he continued writin) a new play The &neC$"ed #ile" ha,in)
(een )ranted a ,isitin) fellowship with !rinceton ;ni,ersityCs 'nstitute for 6d,anced #tudy. "his was
interrupted when he was awarded the =o(el !ri-e in Literature which reBuired attendin) the
#toc2holm ceremony. 6lso that year the first of three ,olumes were pu(lished in his honor T= %= $liot@
- %"m<osium./%%0 0otes To1ards the +efinition of Culture was also pu(lished in 19H&./%H0
$liot had not (een compromised (y the mania for li(eralism internationalism and e)alitarianism in the
aftermath of the war. Writin) in 1991 for a new edition of 0otes To1ards the +efinition of Culture
pu(lished in 1992 he stated that on re-readin) the (oo2 he found nothin) to retract./%@0 :is
conception of society continued to (e of classes as pur,eyors of the cultural le)acy from )eneration to
)eneration rather than speciali-ed 7elites8 confined to limited functions. "his class-(ased culture was
not howe,er the property of a sin)le class (ut of the social or)anism as a totality the health and
continuation of a culture (ein) reliant 7on the health of the culture of the people.8/%90 "he whole of the
population should (e acti,e in cultural acti,ities al(eit 7not all in the same acti,ities of on the same
le,el8 (ut on the (asis of what he called 7)roup culture.8/%A0 "he social order should allow for the
(est1whether in politics or the arts1to 7rise to the top8 and influence taste./%&0 $liot did not ,iew the
elimination of class includin) the 7upper class8 in the name of eBuality as somethin) desira(le. While
it mi)ht ha,e little effect in a state of lower de,elopment elsewhere it can (e 7a disaster.8/%90 "he
dan)er of elites replacin) classes is that such elites ha,e no common (ond other than as what we mi)ht
call professional functionaries who states $liot lac2 7social continuity8 and 7social continuity.8 6
class-structured society on the other hand is a 7natural society.8 "herefore $liot championed the
aristocracy (ut not an 7aristocratic society8 <er se. "he difference is that $liotCs ,ision was of a
cohesi,e social structure in which aristocracy played its role which was as essential and ,alua(le as all
the others./H00 "his ' thin2 we mi)ht identify as an organic societ": a social or)anism (ased on 7a
continuous )radation of cultural le,els8 in which the 7upper le,els8 are distin)uished as possessin) the
hi)hest de)rees of cultural consciousness. $ach class would ha,e different responsi(ilities suited to it
rather than the e)alitarianism of democracy that (ecomes 7oppressi,e for the conscientious and
licentious for the rest.8 "he social or)anism is founded on family which is the means (y which culture
is transmitted o,er )enerations./H10 ' su))est that the way of loo2in) at how such a society wor2ed was
,ia the )uilds of medie,al $urope and we mi)ht recall here that $liot had started his ,ocation as a
close associate of <ra)e a pre-eminent ad,ocate for (oth #ocial +redit and )uild socialism and that
$liot opened the pa)es of The Criterion of such ,iews.
:owe,er in the aftermath of World War '' with the ad,ent of a La(our 3o,ernment in Britain and the
domination of the ;# o,er $urope $liotCs focus for chan)e mo,ed from Britain to the +ontinent and
to the sur,i,al of $uropean ci,ili-ation as a whole. 'n 19H@ he e*pressed concern that what lay ahead
was 7centuries of (ar(arism8 ushered (y the supremacy of technolo)y. /H20
'n 19H9 he )a,e three radio tal2s to a 3erman audience which were reprinted as an appendi* to 0otes
entitled 7"he ;nity of $uropean +ulture.8 :e (e)an (y laudin) the $n)lish lan)ua)e as the (est for
specifically writin) poetry (ut a lan)ua)e that itself represented the unity of $uropean culture in
synthesi-in) 3erman F#a*onG #candina,ian FEanishG ?rench F=ormanG Latin and +elticD each
contri(utin) most importantly for the poet its own 74hythms8: 7a composite of so many different
$uropean sources.8/H%0 <f the fundamental unity amon) $uropeans 7no one nation no one lan)ua)e
would ha,e achie,ed what it has if the same art had not (een culti,ated in nei)h(orin) countries and in
different lan)ua)es. We cannot understand any one $uropean literature without 2nowin) a )ood deal
a(out the others.8 $uropean poetry is 7a tissue of influences wo,en to and fro.8 "hose poets who only
2new their own ton)ue were nonetheless su(5ect to influences from wider sources. "he ,itality of
poetry must (e maintained (y a continual interaction from outside while also ha,in) sources that are
7peculiarly its own.8/HH0
While there had in recent times (een an influence from <riental sources and $liot did not ad,ocate
cultural isolation he nonetheless stated that it is a shared history that pro,ides the (asis for a unity
cultural or)anism where 7countries which share the most history are the most important to each other
with respect to their future literature8 as well as for the other arts. 7Where,er a Iir)il a Eante a
#ha2espeare a 3oethe is (orn the whole future of $uropean poetry is altered. . . . $,ery )reat poet
adds somethin) to the comple* material out of which a future poetry will (e written.8/H@0 :ence a
tradition is accumulated and transmitted and forms the predicate for the future.
What $liot had aimed for with The Criterion was an interchan)e of new ideas across $urope and this
had (een proceedin) with contact with similar 5ournals in ?rance 3ermany #pain and 'taly. What
emer)ed howe,er (ecause of the political situation and the rise of national anta)onisms (efore the
World War was a cultural isolation amon) $uropeans which had a 7num(in) effect upon creati,ity8 in
each state./H90 $liot saw politics as di,isi,e for culture./HA0 :ence we mi)ht understand why he chose
to remain 7neutral8 on such issues that preoccupied the intelli)entsia as the #panish +i,il War. What
The Criterion had sou)ht a(o,e political and national differences was 7an international fraternity of
men of letters within $urope a (ond which did not replace (ut was perfectly compati(le with
national loyalties reli)ious loyalties and differences in political philosophy.8 /H&0
$liot ,iewed with concern political nationalism that deni)rated other $uropean cultures. But for the
post-war world there emer)ed the pro(lem of 7the ideal of a world state in which there will in the end
(e only one uni,ersal world culture.8 +ulture was an or)anism that had to )row and (e nurtured li2e
other li,in) or)anisms and could not (e contri,ed throu)h the machinery of )o,ernment includin)
world )o,ernment. "he cultural health of $urope reBuired that the culture of each country should
remain uniBue and that each should reali-e their relationship to the other on the (asis of a 7common
element8 7an interrelated history of thou)ht and feelin) and (eha,iour.8/H90
$liot sou)ht to define culture to delineate the 7material or)anisation of $urope8 and the 7spiritual
or)anism of $urope.8 7'f the latter dies then what you or)anise will not (e $urope (ut merely a mass
of human (ein) spea2in) se,eral different lan)ua)es.8 <ne thin2s immediately here of the artificial
construct of the $$+.
;nder such artificial contri,ances e,en differences in lan)ua)e will no lon)er matter since there will
no lon)er (e anythin) left to say that cannot (e said in any other lan)ua)e. ?urther there is a
differentiation of 7hi)her8 and 7lower8 cultures 7hi)her8 (ein) 7distin)uished (y differentiation in
function8 with a 7less cultured and more cultured strata of society.8 While the culture of a la(orer a
poet a politician a painter will all (e different 7in a healthy society these are all parts of the same
culture8 and all these classes 7will ha,e a culture in common which they do not share with other
people of the same occupations in other countries.8 /@00
:ence $liotCs conception of society and culture was or)anic and repudiates not only cosmopolitism of
all types (ut notions of class stru))le and economic determinism.
6s always the ultimate unitary factor for $uropean culture remained for $liot the +hristian faith. 7'f
6sia were con,erted to +hristianity tomorrow it would not there(y (ecome a part of $urope.8
+hristianity has shaped the arts and laws of $urope. "he indi,idual althou)h not personally confessin)
+hristianity will nonetheless ha,e (een shaped (y that herita)e./@10
"his or)anic cultural unity is of a different character to that of the political loyalty demanded (y statist
ideolo)ies. :ere we ha,e a reason why $liot could not support ?ascism. 't is also why he ris2ed
condemnation as (ein) 7pro-=a-i8 for refusin) to support <*fordCs (oycott of 3Tttin)en ;ni,ersityCs
(icentennial cele(rations on political )rounds: 7=o uni,ersity ou)ht to (e merely a national institution
e,en if it is supported (y the nation. "he uni,ersities of $urope should ha,e their common ideals they
should ha,e their o(li)ations towards each other.8/@20 "hey should ser,e cultural not political ends to
preser,e learnin) pursue truth and attain wisdom rather than e*istin) to fill a stateCs (ureaucracy.
$liot feared for the future of $uropean culture and the ad,ance of (ar(arism ,ia the primacy of
technolo)y. :e appealed to 7the men of letters of $urope8 to transcend differences and preser,e and
transmit the common cultural le)acy 7uncontaminated (y political influences.8 :e re)arded the
7spiritual possessions8 of se,eral thousand years as (ein) in 7imminent peril.8/@%0
:is warnin)s were prescient. "he ni)htmare of soulnessness was unleashed and has )rown
e*ponentially under the impress of )lo(ali-ation. 't is superfluous to comment in detailD it is e,ident on
a daily (asis to anyone attuned to the rhythms of historyD and when one academic can nonetheless still
state in a (io)raphy of $liot that 7the (ar(arians did not arri,e in his lifetime8/@H0 that (lind
o(ser,ation is itself symptomatic of a cultural malaise.
<ne of $liotCs )reat post-war feats was his leadin) role in securin) the release of $-ra !ound from #t.
$li-a(eths lunatic asylum in 19@& 7lar)ely as the result of $liotCs colla(oration with 4o(ert ?rost and
6rchi(ald .cLeish in petitionin) the 6merican )o,ernment.8/@@0
$liot durin) his lifetime seems to ha,e mostly escaped the oppro(rium illi(erality attracts unli2e $-ra
!ound. :owe,er after death he has (ecome a fi)ure of hatred and in 19&& the London Ae1ish
Chronicle condemned Jews who were in,ol,ed in the ". #. $liot +entenary ?und at the London
Li(rary./@90 #uch meanness of spirit would not ha,e (iased $liotCs attitude towards others includin)
Jews when considerin) the merits or otherwise of oneCs creati,ityD any more than it did the supposedly
ra(id 7anti-#emite8 $-ra !ound. What the li(eral critic is incapa(le of concei,in) is that a cultural
luminary such as $liot :ilaire Belloc or !ound will1li2e the >ionist1(e conscious of the difference
(etween the Jew in the 3entile society while not necessarily har(orin) anta)onism towards Jews on a
personal (asis. <ne such e*ample is $liotCs letter of Eecem(er 9 1920 to $-ra !ound referrin) to the
poetry of Louis >u2ofsy as 7hi)hly intelli)ent and honoura(ly Jewish.8/@A0
"he )reat contri(ution of $liot for those concerned with the malaise of Western culture was to define
culture and to esta(lish to use his own word a criterion for art. 't is a counter(last a)ainst those1in the
ma5ority amon) todayCs artists art critics patrons pu(lishers )allery owners curators et al.1who toss
a(out clichNs claimin) that art is too 7su(5ecti,e8 too personal to (e definedD that there is no criterion
no standard that art can (e 7anythin).8 :e also showed that tradition is not synonymous with
sta)nation and does not preclude inno,ationD indeed $liot $-ra !ound and others of that milieu were
the )reat inno,ators of their time.
/10 6c2royd p. 1H%.
/20 ". #. $liot The Criterion Iol. 1& =o. A0 <cto(er 19%& pp. %&1%9.
/%0 ". #. $liot The Criterion Iol. 19 =o. 9% January 19%A p. 290.
/H0 ". #. $liot The Criterion Iol. H =o. 2 6pril 1929 p. 222.
/@0 ". #. $liot The Criterion Iol. 1% =o. @% July 19%H pp. 92&-9%0.
/90 .. 4. #te,ens 7". #. $liotCs =eo-.edie,al $conomics8 Aournal of arkets & oralit" Iol. 2
=o. 2 ?all 1999 p. 2%@.
/A0 ". #. $liot 74e,iew of Wyndham Lewis8 The Lion and the !o>8 F192AG in T1entieth Centur" ,erse
=o. 9/A =o,em(er/Eecem(er 19%A pp. 919.
/&0 ". #. $liot 7?oreword8 Wyndham Lewis F19%%G &neCWa" %ong FLondon: .ethuen 1990G p. 10.
/90 #te,ens p. 2%9.
/100 ". #. $liot 7+ommentary8 The Criterion July 19%%.
/110 ". #. $liot 7Last Words8 The Criterion January 19%9.
/120 ". #. $liot -fter %trange .ods@ - Primer of odern 5eres" FLondon: ?a(er and ?a(er 19%HG p.
/1%0 /4id. p. 1A.
/1H0 /4id=
/1@0 /4id=: p. 1&.
/190 /4id=: p. 19.
/1A0 3. !ascal >achary The .lo4al e@ Wh" 0ations 1ill %ucceed or !ail in the 0e>t .eneration
F=ew #outh Wales: 6ustralia 6llen and ;nwin 2000G.
/1&0 ". #. $liot -fter %trange .ods p. 20.
/190 /4id.
/200 /4id. $liot is here Buotin) I. 6. Eemant .od: an and %ociet" p. 1H9.
/210 ". #. $liot 7+ommentary8 The Criterion Iol. 11 <cto(er 19%1.
/220 3. #immers 7". #. $liotCs 6ttac2 on 6nti-#emitism8
/2%0 ". #. $liot The /dea of a Christian %ociet" FLondon: ?a(er and ?a(er 19%9G p. 11.
/2H0 /4id.: pp. 1911A.
/2@0 /4id. p. 21.
/290 /4id. p. %0.
/2A0 /4id. p. %1.
/2&0 /4id. p. %H.
/290 ". #. $liot 76 +ommentary8 Criterion =o. 1& <ct. 19%& pp. @9190.
/%00 6. #. Eale T= %= $liot@ The Philoso<her Poet FLincoln =e(ras2a: i;ni,erse 200HG p. 191.
/%10 Eale p. 192
/%20 Eale p. 19&.
/%%0 Eale p. 199.
/%H0 #ale p. 1A0.
/%@0 $liot 0otes To1ards the +efinition of Culture FLondon: ?a(er V ?a(er 1992G p. A.
/%90 /4id. p. %@.
/%A0 /4id. pp. %&1%9.
/%&0 /4id. p. H@.
/%90 /4id. p. H9.
/H00 /4id. p. H&.
/H10 /4id. p. H&.
/H20 $liot 5ori?on 6u)ust 19H@.
/H%0 $liot 0otes 7"he ;nity of $uropean +ulture8 p. 111.
/HH0 /4id pp. 11211%.
/H@0 /4id. p. 11H.
/H90 /4id. p. 119.
/HA0 /4id. p. 11A.
/H&0 /4id. p. 11&.
/H90 /4id. pp. 11&119.
/@00 /4id. p. 120.
/@10 /4id p. 122.
/@20 /4id. p. 12%.
/@%0 /4id. p. 12H.
/@H0 6c2royd p. 2A%.
/@@0 6c2royd p. %29.
/@90 .. Ka2utani 7+riticCs =ote(oo2D $*aminin) ". #. $liot and 6nti-#emitism: :ow Bad Was 'tL8
The 0e1 Dork Times 6u)ust 22 19&9.
/@A0 ". #harpe p. 1A1.