A view of life and commercial real estate from Newark and Licking County, Ohio
Monday, September 1, 2014
Mathew Arnold (1822-1888)
There was a lot that bothered Arnold about the modern world – as it was just beginning to reveal itself. But he summed it up in one embracing idea: Anarchy. By ‘anarchy’, he didn’t mean people in black balaclavas breaking shop windows. Rather he meant something much more familiar and closer to home: a toxic kind of freedom. He meant a society where market forces dominate the nation; where the commercial media sets the agenda and coarsens and simplifies everything it touches; where corporations are barely restrained from despoiling the environment, where human beings are treated as tools to be picked up and put down at will; where there is no more pastoral care and precious little sense of community, where hospitals treat the body but no one treats the soul, where no one knows their neighbours any more, where romantic love is seen as the only bond worth pursuing – and where there is nowhere to turn to at moments of acute distress and inner crisis. It’s a world we’ve come to know well.
Arnold believed that the forces of anarchy had become overwhelming in Europe in the second half of the 19th century. Religion was in terminal decline. Business reigned triumphant. A practical, unpsychological money-making mentality ruled. Newspaper circulation was growing exponentially. And politics was dominated by partisanship, conflict and misrepresentation.