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Culture & Religion

T.S. Eliot: Radical Conservative

The 20th century’s most revered man of letters was a staunch defender of tradition while being fiercely critical of capitalism, which drives the need for “the dull wage”.

Eliot believed that most people have very little intelligence or character. Without firm guidance from those who have more of both, the majority is bound to reason and behave badly. Eliot made this point frequently: sometimes gently, as in the well-known line from “Burnt Norton”: “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.” Sometimes harshly, as in “The Function of Criticism,” where he derided those in whom democratic reformers place their hopes as a rabble who “ride ten in a compartment to a football match at Swansea, listening to the inner voice, which breathes the eternal message of vanity, fear, and lust.”


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