About DBreitenbeck

David Breitenbeck is a professional freelance writer currently living in Southeast Michigan.

The Servant Question

It is my opinion that it’s a great pity that our servants are now machines rather than people, and I think it is those who were servants who suffer the most from it. Because, of course, a man suited to be a servant does not cease to be that kind of man when there are no servant jobs available. He is obliged to become an anonymous servant to the public rather than a personal servant to a family.

This is not to craft a rosy picture of the servant’s lot; my view is only that, rosy or thorny, being a household servant was a more personal and more human situation than being, say, a waiter at a generic food chain, which I suspect is what many would-be servants have to be these days.  

My real cause for bringing this up, though, is to note that what most people today would object to is my assumption that there are men fitted by nature to be servants. This is held to be degrading and exploitative, as implying that some people are simply ‘less’ than others.

We moderns like to flatter ourselves as being more just and open-minded than our ancestors, that we alone see the dignity of servants, women, peasants, and other ‘marginalized’ groups of the past. In fact it’s quite the other way around, as shown by the very fact that we consider to be a servant a ‘degrading’ position.

What we actually do is assume a very worldly standard by which to judge of men: one based on intelligence, thrift, beauty, talent, and so on. We then make the bold claim that every man is or may become equal in these fields if only given the chance. Thus, to be a servant is degrading because no man is fitted by nature to be a servant, but rather to be one of the free and equal supermen.

What this amounts to is saying “a worthy man is a man like me, and I believe that with the right training you could be made into a man like me and thus a worthy man.”

Thus we claim to elevate the servant by saying that he could be just like his master, the woman by claiming she could be just like the man, and the peasant by saying he could be just like the landowner. It is not that we admire or appreciate these sorts of people themselves, but that we claim the belief that they could be the sort of people we could admire, and that it is an unjust thing that they are not.

We call this a belief in the equality of man: not that all types and classes of men may be admirable and deserving of their particular brand of respect, but that they would be so if only we could strip away their different roles and make them after the right pattern.

The old way said that a good servant may be as happy, fulfilled, and admirable a man as his master, only of course, the servant and master will not be happy, fulfilled, and admirable in the same way. They each have their own particular sphere and scope of life in which they may be considered an excellent sort of man without comparison of one with the other. They are each triumphantly themselves.

To say that no man is fitted to be a servant, but all could be made fitted to be a lord is only to say that anyone who is a servant is being cheated and is thus either an object of pity or contempt. Saying that there is no difference between a servant and a lord does not actually degrade the lord: it degrades the servant. Because the lord – or the tycoon or the scholar or the clerk or whatever he is – is being presented as the standard.

It is the servant who now must be changed to fit the new standard. The particular virtues of the servant, his particular kind of excellence is the one that is discounted. Oh, we don’t blame him, of course; it’s an unjust society that has caused this. But now he has the chance to become a truly worthy man if he will only become a very different kind of man. And we believe he can do so. We will even adjust our standards so as to be able to say that he has become so.

This is our idea of justice and humanity: to discount the merits of nine-tenths of the human race (for the kind of people we value must be a minority) and compensate by saying that we believe they could be very worthy people if only they were more like us and we are very sorry that, through no fault of their own, they are not.

Or, to put it another way, we judge every beast by its skill in climbing trees, and then consider ourselves very just and open-minded because we try to make out it is the monkey’s fault that the fish cannot do it. We assure the fish that he really could be just as skilled at climbing trees as the monkey if only he would work hard at it and the monkey didn’t keep him down, that he doesn’t have to be stuck swimming his whole life, that there really is no difference between him and the monkey.

We thus disguise from ourselves the fact that we think the only good beasts are monkeys.

Forgotten Man at the Everyman

My latest post is up at ‘The Everyman,’ where I touch a bit on the present attempted coup.

Law has no force of its own. It only has what it is given by those in charge of enforcing it, whether directly (in courts and legislatures) or indirectly (through public opinion). At the end of the day, whether the law has any effect comes down to what some individual person chooses to do.

Sir Josiah Stamp, the English collector of internal revenues, saw the problem back in the pre-war days:

“The government are extremely fond of amassing great quantities of statistics.  These are raised to the nth degree, the cube roots are extracted, and the results are arranged into elaborate and impressive displays. What must be kept ever in mind, however, is that in every case, the figures are first put down by a village watchman, and he puts down anything he damn well pleases.”

Likewise, the news media doesn’t have to be colluding or conspiring with anyone; all that is needed is an editorial staff willing to ignore stories that threaten to invalidate the election of their favored candidate. All that is needed is for those in charge of these networks to be more invested in seeing their ‘cause’ triumph than in telling the public the truth. And we already know that this is the case and has been for a long time.

There are safeguards in place to prevent all this sort of thing, but if the people in charge of them also decide to put ‘winning’ ahead of honesty then those safeguards will break down completely. Because, again, every single one of those safeguards depends upon someone – some person – actually choosing to do the right thing.

Hence, the forgotten man; the neglected fact that all these structures we hoped would guard us from the rule of fallen man can only be operated and enforced by men. Behind every human structure, behind every technology, every law, every regulation, practice, tradition, and safeguard, you only ever find a human face. And that human person can choose to be honest or dishonest, to follow the law or to skirt it for his own ends. No law or regulation can ever prevent that. It all depends on what he believes and what sort of person he is.

Read the rest here

“If I’d Lived Back Then…”

“If I’d lived back then, I would be so up in arms about slavery…”

No you wouldn’t. You would have said that slavery was the best thing for the Africans, pointing to the comparison of how they lived in Africa versus how they live in America. You would have said that most slave holders treat their servants very kindly, and that most Blacks weren’t suited to anything better anyway. You would have said that slavery was, if not a good thing in itself, yet the best thing we are capable of right now and anyway there’s no practical alternative.

The same goes for any other injustice that you look back and shake your head over. You wouldn’t have been a feminist in the 18th century, or an anti-Imperialist in the 19th, or anti-fascist in the 20th. You would have been entirely in favor of everything that you now look back and loathe.

I know this because ‘look back in loathing’ is itself the equivalent to these things. Shaking your head over the injustices of the past is the default attitude of today, just as being pro-slavery was the default attitude of the antebellum South. Had you lived there, I have no doubt whatsoever you would fall into the default attitude of that time, just as you fall into the default attitude of today.

If you want to convince me otherwise, then you would need to actually question the injustices, abuses, and idiotic ideas of today: the ones that might actually cost you something to question. Like ‘does a disease that is only seriously threatening to a small portion of the population warrant the wholesale suspension of individual rights?’ or ‘maybe contempt for the domestic sphere hasn’t been the best thing for either women or society.’

If not, then your self-insert fantasy about the past is quite simply irrelevant.

Rising of the Sun: Sol Anthology Live!

Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology: Sol is now live!

Featuring thirteen stories centered on the theme of nobility and righteousness, including my own Under the Midnight Sun.

Far in the future, the dying sun has swollen and scorched most of the earth. The last known remnants of humanity dwell about the South Pole, where the sun rises and sets only once a year. There the beautiful, imaginative Gienna cherishes dreams of marrying for love, like the heroines of her favorite stories. By an unexpected chance, she at last meets a man who touches her heart, but who is he really and what secrets does he hide?

The Sun may die, but love, hope, and nobility need not.

(This is what happens when you read The Curse of Capistrano and The Night Land at roughly the same time)

“Oh thou bright orb, ruler of the sky…”

Pick it up today! Enjoy tales of nobility and goodness, and drop a review letting us know what you think! Feedback is always appreciated.

Sunday Thoughts: Preparing to Prepare

I am not going to talk about the election. What will happen is completely out of my power to influence and I don’t think my, what, five readers have much influence either, or particularly care what I have to say on the subject.

There was a surprisingly good homily at Mass today (my present situation is, and has been for a while, very unsettled, so I’m not part of a parish and have two or three churches that I attend depending on schedule): on the parable of the wise and foolish virgins and the need to be prepared for the coming of Christ. The priest pointed out that so many of us spend our lives, as he put it, ‘preparing to prepare.’ We’re not going to prepare to meet Christ – or to start a new career or make major amendments to our lifestyles or what have you – today, but we’ll start tomorrow. Except tomorrow is always tomorrow and today is always today, so we never actually start preparing. There’s always jam tomorrow and jam yesterday, but never jam today.

The difficult part of any endeavor, at least for me, is getting it through my head that today actually is different, or could be. It’s a self-reinforcing pattern: everything today seems much the same as yesterday, triggering the same responses. If we follow those well-worn paths, they will further make today seem much the same as yesterday. The cost of amendment is the discomfort of doing things differently with no guarantee how they will turn out. But there are never any guarantees in this life, only the illusion that things will continue to go on much as they have done. Since the bridegroom hasn’t shown up in the past hour, it’s odds-on he won’t show at all. No sense wasting time buying oil.

But today is not yesterday. Today is an absolutely unique creation. November 8th, 2020 never has been and never will be again. There is no reason at all it cannot be the beginning of a new life, the day when the preparations truly begin. It’s difficult to rewrite our programming (read: to change habits), but again, that discomfort is the cost of amendment. We always must die a little to come to new life.

Trust no Future, howe’re pleasant!
Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act, – act in the living Present!
Heart within and God o’erhead!

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The Five Stages of Election Fraud

Denial: “They’re not really doing this, right? No, surely even they wouldn’t dare…”

Anger: “YOU CORRUPT, ARROGANT SONS-OF-*****! WHEN I GET A HOLD OF YOU…”

Realism: “Yeah, what’d you expect? These are the great ones of this world; the people who sell their souls for the power to impose their brain-dead views on everyone else. They aren’t tolerating any kind of serious opposition for long. Welcome to the modern world.”

Despair: “Nothing matters: I’m done with this whole system. I mean, not as if any of us can do anything about it anyway it seems.”

Jewish: “I am never going to stop making mean, sarcastic comments about this…”