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DEMOCRACY: Dr. Johnson

George Sassoon says: "I think it was Dr Johnson who said that a man is never more harmlessly employed than when he is making money. What he meant by this was that n affluent person is not going to start revolutions or upset the status quo". John Heelan replies "Dr. Johnson might be right in the domestic arena. Franco avoided subsequent revolution after the Civil War by enlarging and rewarding the middle class and instituting draconian controls. Thatcher avoided major internal conflict by enabling the working class to buy their previously state-owned houses, thereby converting them into middle-class. Her strategy fell apart with the introduction of iniquitous Poll Tax which produced the biggest street riots (middle class included) that the UK had seen for over 100 years.

However history proves Dr. Johnson to be wrong in the international sphere. Money-making was the major reason for the British colonial exploits in the 19th century, the British/French/US exploitation of Iraq and Persia and the US exploitation of Central and South America in the 20th century together with the current 'oil' war in Iraq. Historical evidence points to both the status quo in those countries being 'upset' and revolutions being 'started' by the 'affluent' persons in Britain, France and the US.

[Dr. Johnson also opined that "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money". Does that mean we are all blockheads?]

Johnson was a religious man and an epigrammatical critic of human nature, as The Vanity of Human Wishes (1749) shows. The remark John quotes was satirical. Johnson himself wrote to make enough money to stay alive, but money did not inspire his great works. The Marxist theory of colonialism, which John echoes, is a gross oversimplification. Colonialism was inspired by mixed motives, some crass, some reasonable and practical, some idealistic. On balance, it did far more good than evil.

Ronald Hilton - 09.06.03