Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Blue Wound - part VI - Ivory and Apes and Peacocks

Check here for parts I, II, III, IV and V of the Blue Wound live blog.

The key to understanding Garrett's writing is the New Deal. The New Deal was the defining moment not only for the United States and its journey from republic to empire, but for Garrett's writing. Read the Foreward to People's Pottage for more details. With the coming of the New Deal, all of the class envy propaganda that had existed for decades found an outlet and came sharply into focus. As a result of this revolutionary government program, the battle lines were drawn. All other issues took a back seat. Garrett (and others) would write specifically against the very concepts of class warfare, envy and anti-rich demonization.

But in the decade prior to the New Deal, it was not unusual for Garrett to pursue arguments on tangential subjects in which the class envy issue was obscure. In "Ivory Apes and Peacocks" - Chapter 11 - Garrett appears to be critical of wealth and ostentation. In fact, the truth is more subtle. Garrett is critical of those who waste labor for the purpose of ostentation. He points out that the "unrich, aping the rich, waste very much more in the same spirit." (p. 104). Garrett argues that ostentation is one's way of showing superiority by wasting the labor of others. Singled out for special criticism are those who waste the labor of others while complaining about waste, ostentation and their own poverty.

The character Mered refers to ostentatious waste as "conspicuous . . . and for that reason it provokes social complaint and excites envy in the hearts of the multitude." (p. 102). This sentiment conflicts with Garrett's "Notes of These Times," October 8, 1932 (chapter #1 of Salvos Against the New Deal). The difference is that by 1932, Garrett was more focused on the class envy issue and the need to be clear that his opposition to destructive conduct was not intended to support class warfare and other weapons that the left would exploit for the purpose of social revolution.
Click here for part VII

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