Friday, June 18, 2010

Was Scrooge A Progressive At Heart? by Freddy Boisseau

I do not believe that it is easy to answer that question, as things are different now than what they were then. The meanings of beliefs, acts, and words have changed over time and trying to place them into today’s context may not draw valid conclusions. But recently a passage of Dickens' A Christmas Carol came to my mind and after thinking about it, it seemed that a lot of it could be attributed to those that support the progressive agenda.
This lunatic, in letting Scrooge's nephew out, had let two other people in. They were portly gentlemen, pleasant to behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Scrooge's office. They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him.
"Scrooge and Marley's, I believe," said one of the gentlemen, referring to his list. "Have I the pleasure of addressing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley?"
"Mr. Marley has been dead these seven years," Scrooge replied. "He died seven years ago, this very night."
"We have no doubt his liberality is well represented by his surviving partner," said the gentleman, presenting his credentials.
It certainly was; for they had been two kindred spirits. At the ominous word "liberality," Scrooge frowned, and shook his head, and handed the credentials back.
"At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the gentleman, taking up a pen, "it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and Destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir."
"Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.
"Plenty of prisons," said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
"And the Union workhouses?" demanded Scrooge. "Are they still in operation?"
"They are. Still," returned the gentleman, "I wish I could say they were not."
"The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?" said Scrooge.
"Both very busy, sir."
"Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course," said Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it."
"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude," returned the gentleman, "a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?"
"Nothing!" Scrooge replied.
"You wish to be anonymous?"
"I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. "Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make merry myself at Christmas and I can't afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned -- they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there."
"Many can't go there; and many would rather die."
"If they would rather die," said Scrooge, "they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides -- excuse me -- I don't know that."
"But you might know it," observed the gentleman.

What I see above are several themes that can be attributed to those leading the progressive movement in the past and today. First, let’s look at what Mr. Scrooge replies when asked for money by the two gentlemen. He asks them if there are not government services to take care of or deal with the poor. Upon being told there are such services, he responds that he supports them enough as it is. We assume that he is talking about doing so by paying his taxes. Right there, we see a common trait of those that promote government as the solution to these problems. They tend not to give to charities and they support the idea of government taking care of or dealing with the poor. I would also imagine that Mr. Scrooge took every legal means he could to reduce the taxes he paid. Sort of like certain progressive celebrities that count the number of days they stay in California, so they are not subject to that state’s high taxes.

I would also like to point to the last part of the exchange, where he says that the poor better die and decrease the surplus population. There have been progressives throughout the last century that have advocated those that are not productive to “society” should be killed. For example, take this quote from George Bernard Shaw “We should all be obliged to appear before a board every five years and justify our existence... on pain of liquidation.” I think there would be a lot of things that Mr. Shaw and Mr. Scrooge could agree on when it comes to how to handle the poor of society. We could also look at the “complete lives system” that Dr. Zeke Emmanuel has promoted.

The one difference I see between Mr. Scrooge and most progressives like Mr. Shaw, Mr Scrooge had the error of his ways shown to him and thus changed those ways in the end. The sentiments he expresses at the end of the book are true conservative values. Selflessly giving to help others, instead of relying on the government to take care of the poor. Also he learned the value of family and became close to his nephew. I would imagine that he improved his relationship with God.
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset….His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!
Mr. Scrooge was a happier man, and studies have shown that those of us who do not hold to progressive beliefs, experience more joy in our life. The helping of others in need give us joy, while complaining about the government not doing enough leads only to heartache.