Wednesday, January 28, 2004

When Civilization Began Its Decline...

Great post by Dr. Ebeling on the lost wisdom of Ernest Benn:

In "Socialism" Mises was referring to Sir Ernest Benn. He was a businessman, writer and owner of a publishing house -- Earnest Benn, Ltd., in London.

He was a strong advocate of individualism and the free market. Among his books are:

"Confessions of a Capitalist"

"If I were a Labour Leader"

"Letters of an Individualist"


"Producer vs. Consumer"

"The Return to Laissez-faire: the Foundation of Prosperity"

"Unemployment and Work"

"This Soft Age"

"Modern Government"


"The Murmurings of an Individualist"

"Benn's Protest"

"The State, the Enemy"

And his autobiography, "Happier Days: Recollections and Reflections of Sir Ernest Benn"

In "Happier Days," Benn suggested that he knew the precise moment when western civilization began its decline. It was when men took off their high starched colliers, and chose to be comfortable. You see, Benn said, civilization requires man to do the "unnatural" and the often "uncomfortable" as the discipline of reason and behavior-controlling manners and conduct to restrain the savage and short-sighted impulses in man.

Civilization has continued to decline, by Benn's conception, since now men's (and women's) everyday dress and fashion emphasize comfort and lack of restraint in public dress. Men wear torn t-shirts and baggy jeans, and women wear pants and low-heeled shoes. Just recall, that people would "dress for dinner," even when they were alone, in by-gone decades. Now I wouldn't be surprised if some people, alone in their house or apartment, may even eat dinner while being naked! What better proof of a return to savagery and the brute in man.

By the way, after W. H. Hutt graduated from the LSE in the late 1920s, he worked for Ernest Benn, managing Benn's free market bookstore in London. Benn's primary concern, when he interviewed Hutt for the job, was Hutt's family background -- breeding, after all, is everything!

There is, also, a biography of Benn:

Deryck Abel, "Ernest Benn: Counsel of Liberty" (1960)

Dr. Richard Ebeling
Foundation for Economic Education
30 South Broadway
Irvington-on-Hudson, New York 10533

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