January 10, 2006

Creeping Jesus

George Orwell, 1937:
...then there is the outer-suburban creeping Jesus, a hangover from the William Morris period, but still surprisingly common, who goes about saying "Why must we level down? Why not level up?" and proposes to level the working class "up" (up to his own standard) by means of hygiene, fruit-juice, birth-control, poetry, etc. Even the Duke of York (now King George VI) runs a yearly camp where public-school boys and boys from the slums are supposed to mix on exactly equal terms, and do mix for the time being, rather like the animals in one of those 'Happy Family' cages where a dog, a cat, two ferrets, a rabbit, and three canaries preserve an armed truce while the showman's eye is on them.
Tony Blair, 2006:
If we're not careful, we can fall into the old heresy of levelling down, rather than levelling up.


At January 11, 2006 5:00 pm, Anonymous The Vaultkeeper said...

Ho ho! Well spotted.

From one of Henry Mayhew's interviews with Victorian Londoners:

"There are now in London five Happy Families, all belonging to two families of men. Mine, that is the one I have the care of, is the strongest, 54 creatures; the others will average 40 each, or 214 birds and beasts in Happy Families. Our only regular places now are Waterloo-bridge and the National Gallery. The middle class of society are our best supporters."

At January 11, 2006 10:58 pm, Blogger Quixotematic said...

The coexistence of beasts in captivity, contrary to their natural habits, is dependent on them all being well fed. This is 'levelling up'.
Disregarding the unlikelihood of a market economy permitting this anyway, the resources required to level up the standard of living of the masses to match that of the most well off simply do not exist on this planet.

At January 13, 2006 3:05 pm, Blogger michael the tubthumper said...

i think 'suburban creeping jesus' is actually far better than the more common 'vicar of downing street'

At January 13, 2006 4:22 pm, Blogger Meaders said...

One of Orwell's better moments.

At January 16, 2006 1:06 am, Blogger edjog said...

So hey ejh, apologies that this is slightly off topic but:

I'm trying to start a campaign to get Blair & Co prosecuted for Conspiracy to Torture under UK Domestic Law. It doesn't rely on any International Court or definitions of "complicity," but rather is a straightforward case against joining with others in an enterprise which will have lawbreaking as its inevitable result, contrary to the Criminal Law Act 1977. I'm not arsing about here... Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.


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