The Gods of the Copybook Headings

Rudyard Kipling 1919
Transcribed Frank Nic. Bazsika

Kipling¶s poem pertaining to the Progressive Movement observable to him in its beginnings of the 20th Century and his apt forecast for the future of man treading that particular path. Following Kipling¶s poem are presented commentaries. AS I PASS through my incarnations in every age and race, I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place. Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all. We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn: But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind, So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind. We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace, Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place, But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome. With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly

out of touch, They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch; They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings; So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things. When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace. They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease. But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know." On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife) Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death." In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all, By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul; But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die." Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-

tongued wizards withdrew And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more. As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man There are only four things certain since Social Progress began. That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire, And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire; And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins, As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn, The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Wolf Pangloss Commentary:
Kipling: The Gods of the Copybook Headings
Posted on Wednesday, October 24, 2007 by Wolf Pangloss| http://wolfpangloss.wordpress.com/2007/10/24/kipling-the-gods-of-the-copybook-headings/

Copybooks were for handwriting practice, back in the days when handwriting mattered. A timeless gem of old wisdom was written at the top of the page in a beautiful hand, and the user of the book would copy it all the way down the page. By 1919, when he wrote this poem, Kipling had lost his son in World War I. He had lost his faith, though he yearned for faith in something.

As is clear from the language of the poem, mentioning ³Social Progress,´ the ³brave new world,´ ³robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul,´ the dangers of disarmament and immorality, and with the overall structure following the evolutionary narrative, the subject is the progressive movement that attempts to reduce human life to scientific, animalistic principles. The poem reminds the reader constantly that old wisdom is still wise and true even if we have lost faith in it, and the last line echoes the toll of the first two years of the Russian Revolution. For the reader in 2007, it echoes the 100 million death toll from Communism, the ultimate progressive movement for the scientific reformation of society and humanity. And it echoes in the toll of 40 million abortions in the United States since Roe vs. Wade. And finally, it echoes the threat of an even greater death toll from the Global Jihad, which in the worst case could end up with multiple American, European, and Muslim cities being attacked by nuclear weapons and a death toll better than half a billion souls. To all of this, the God who inspired the copybook headings is the answer. Believe if you can believe. Keep trying if you can¶t. Chin up old bean. Never give up. Never give in.

The Welfare State and the Gods of the Copybook Headings
by Robert Tracinski http://newledger.com/2010/06/thewelfare-state-and-the-gods-of-the-copybook-headings/

E

uropean markets continue to collapse as the Southern European welfare states

slide into insolvency. There has been a lot of discussion about the cause of this disaster, but to any good Kipling fan the answer is obvious: it¶s The Gods of the Copybook Headings. The title of Rudyard Kipling¶s poem is obscure today but would have been clear to any educated Englishman of his day. A copybook was a kind of penmanship exercise in which the student copied over and over again a sentence printed in the heading at the top of each page. These copybook headings were usually aphorisms or statements of commonsense wisdom, so Kipling used the Gods of the Copybook Headings as a symbol for basic, immutable truths.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn. The point of the poem is that the various schemes for ³social progress´ being promoted at the time²and most of them are still with us today²are based on denying the basic truths represented by the Gods of the Copybook Headings. With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch, They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch; They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings; So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things. Kipling¶s derisive reference to the ³Gods of the Market Place´ was not intended as anticapitalist. ³The market´ is not short for ³the free market,´ as it is in contemporary parlance. Rather, the ³market´ refers to the public spaces where people gather to listen to demagogues who promise the impossible and the irrational²the function performed by CNN today. Which brings us to modern politicians and the collapse of the European welfare state. See if you recognize this warning from Kipling. In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all, By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul; But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy, And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: ³If you don¶t work you die.´ That¶s a concise summary of the inevitable disaster of the welfare state. And more: it names a key part of the mentality behind it²the systematic evasion of basic, obvious truths. Who thought this was ever going to work? Who thought we could build a society in which an ever-increasing number of citizens are told that they don¶t have to work and that their needs will be provided for by somebody else²while the burden is shoved onto the shoulders of an ever-smaller, ever-more-despised minority of producers? That¶s what Greece did, shifting a huge number of its citizens onto the government payroll and creating a lavish pension scheme in which the average retirement age is 61 and workers

in some fields are guaranteed retirement at age 50. When the overloaded private sector could no longer pay for all of this, the Greek government borrowed money to paper over the shortfall²until the Gods of the Copybook Headings caught up with them and their scheme came crashing down. We¶re all headed in that direction. A recent report revealed an ominous statistic. And I¶m not using ³ominous´ in the loose, sloppy modern way that just means ³vaguely bad.´ By ³ominous,´ I mean: this is a harbinger of societal collapse. The statistic? The percentage of income in the US that is derived from government payments²welfare benefits plus government payroll²is reaching an all-time high, while the percentage of income derived from private-sector wages is reaching an all-time low. If I understand the figures in this report, they imply that the government is paying out two dollars in income for every three dollars of private income. Put simply, the takers are eating up the makers.

A

t some point²and it¶s not too far off²there just isn¶t going to be enough private

income to seize to pay for the public income. The system is inherently, mathematically unsustainable. But nobody cares about mathematics. The welfare state is based on denying the truth that two and two make four. The report linked to above quotes an economist who worries that ³People are paid for being rather than for producing.´ And that¶s what reminded me of Kipling. His poem concludes by describing what will happen when ³the brave new world begins.´ When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins, As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn, The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return! That brings us to the motivation for this evasion of reality. It is not just avarice for unearned wealth, as Kipling implies. It is avarice for unearned wealth²combined with a moral code that makes parasitism seem noble. The altruist creed that one man¶s need gives him a claim

on the wealth produced by others is not just an injustice²Kipling describes it as a system that hands out undeserved rewards, while shielding men from punishment for their vices. It is also an attempt to overturn the law of cause and effect. The cause of wealth is production, but the altruist welfare state is built on the assumption that a man¶s need will bring him wealth, regardless of whether or not he produces anything. In order to maintain a moral code that makes need into the ultimate moral claim²while denigrating as ³greed´ the virtues of hard work, ambition, and success²the defenders of altruism have to stage a rebellion against reality. In this, they are supported by a whole network of modern intellectuals and philosophers, who tell them that there is no objective truth and that reality is whatever we collectively choose to believe. But reality is absolute and always asserts itself in the end, with dreadful consequences for those who rebel against it. If you think that the last line of Kipling¶s poem, the part about terror and slaughter, is over the top, remember that this poem was written in 1919, when the terror and slaughter of World War I were still fresh. (The Battle of Loos had claimed an Irish Guard named John Kipling, the poet¶s only son.) Mercifully, Kipling did not live to see the terror and slaughter to come. As for the terror and slaughter this time around, take the riots in Greece²the firebombs thrown at banks in the heart of Athens, burning three employees to death²as a warning. Let¶s hope we don¶t get around to the terror and slaughter here in America. Kipling tells us how we can avoid it. Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more. There are no Gods of the Copybook Headings²not in the literal sense²so it is going to be up to us, those who insist that reality is real and cannot be cheated, to take on their role and limp up to explain it once more. Robert Tracinski is the editor of The Intellectual Activist.

There is a way that seems right to a man but in the end it leads to death. Proverbs 14:12 «.every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6, 21:25 That which hath been is that which shall be; and that which hath been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9

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