Transcript: P.J. O'Rourke on Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations | May 12, 2007

[Theme music plays]

The opening sequence rolls. The logo of “Big Ideas” featuring a lit lamp bulb appears against an animated blue slate.
Then, Andrew Moodie appears in the studio. The walls are decorated with screens featuring lit lamp bulbs, and two signs read “Big Ideas.”
Andrew is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short curly black hair. He's wearing a beige cotton shirt under a beige coat.

He says HELLO, I'M
ANDREW MOODIE AND WELCOME
TO
BIG IDEAS.
TODAY WE HAVE TWO GREAT IDEAS
IN ONE PROGRAM.

He shows a fairly old book with a black cover and says
THIS IS A COPY OF THE
ACCUMULATION OF CAPITAL
BY ROSA LUXEMBURG.
I READ THIS WHEN I WAS 17.
I HAD JUST SEEN HER MOVIE, OR
THE MOVIE ABOUT HER LIFE BY
MARGARETHE VON TROTTA, AND I
WANTED TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT
THIS POLISH JEWISH
REVOLUTIONARY.
IN HER BOOK, SHE CRITIQUES
ADAM SMITH'S
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS.

He shows two different books, with white covers, and continues
I HAVE HERE VOLUMES I AND II.
I'VE HAD THEM FOR YEARS.
AND HERE NOW BEFORE YOU ALL I
MUST CONFESS I HAVE NEVER READ
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS EVER.
SO, IF YOU'RE LIKE ME - AND I
HAVE A SNEAKING SUSPICION THAT
MANY OF YOU ARE - THEN YOU
SHOULD LISTEN CLOSELY TO OUR
NEXT GUEST.
HIS NAME IS P.J. O'ROURKE.
HE IS A JOURNALIST, A WRITER,
AND A POLITICAL SATIRIST, AND
HE IS HERE TO TELL US ALL ABOUT
THE WONDERS OF ADAM SMITH'S
WEALTH OF NATIONS.

A clip plays in which P.J. O'Rourke stands behind a small podium on a stage.
He’s in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short wavy brown hair. He’s wearing a black suit, gray shirt, and pin-dotted yellow tie.

He says WELL, THANK
YOU VERY MUCH FOR LETTING ME IN
YOUR COUNTRY.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues I UNDERSTAND
THAT WE DON'T LET A LOT OF YOU
IN OUR COUNTRY ANYMORE.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues I WAS JUST
HEARING A TALE -- I'LL NAME NO
NAMES, BUT I WAS HEARING A TALE
OVER DINNER OF SOMEONE WHO HAD
A -- A LITTLE POSSESSION CHARGE
AGAINST HIM WHEN THEY WERE IN
COLLEGE, AND WHO DID NOT?
AND, UH -- AND AS A RESULT HAS
BEEN BANNED FROM, UM -- BECAUSE
AS DANGEROUS AS AL-QAEDA MAY
BE, POT IS EVEN MORE SO TO THE
FABRIC OF AMERICAN SOCIETY.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "P.J. O’Rourke. Author, On The Wealth of Nations. Courtesy of International Readings at Harbourfront Centre. March 21, 2007."

P.J. continues ANYWAY,
THIS BOOK THAT'S ON
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS,
THIS IS PART OF A SERIES
THAT -- THAT STARTED WITH MY
PUBLISHER IN ENGLAND, WHICH IS
GROVE (U.K.).
AND THE
EDITOR THERE, TOBY MUNDY, CAME
UP WITH THIS IDEA FOR BOOKS
THAT SHOOK THE WORLD,
COMMENTARIES ON GREAT BOOKS:
THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES,
DAS KAPITAL, THE BIBLE,
THE KORAN.
EVENTUALLY WE MAY DO A SERIES
ON BOOKS THAT DIDN'T SHAKE THE
WORLD: THE REPORT OF THE IRAQ
STUDY GROUP IN THE USA.
BUT THAT'S STILL OFF IN THE
FUTURE A LITTLE BIT.
ANYWAY, BOOKS THAT SHOOK THE
WORLD, IT'S SORT OF LIKE THAT
FOR DUMMIES
SERIES,
EXCEPT THIS IS FOR SMARTIES;
THIS IS FOR ALL OF YOU AND FOR
ME.
BUT SMART AS WE ARE, WE JUST
KIND OF HAVE TO FACE UP TO THE
FACT THAT WE ARE NEVER GOING TO
GET ALL THE WAY THROUGH ALL OF
THESE GREAT BOOKS, YOU KNOW,
UNLESS SOMEBODY PAYS US THE WAY
THEY PAID ME.
TV USHERED IN THE AGE OF POST-
LITERACY AND WE HAVE GONE SO
FAR BEYOND THAT.
I MEAN, WHAT WITH THE INTERNET,
AND GOOGLE AND WIKIPEDIA,
WE HAVE ENTERED THE AGE OF
POST-INTELLIGENCE.
WE -- WE WILL LIVE TO SEE THE
DAY WHEN A PERSON OF LEARNING
AND CULTIVATION IS SPOKEN OF AS
BEING WELL BLOGGED.
SO -- SO, BOOKS THAT SHOOK THE
WORLD, TO TELL US WHAT WE WOULD
HAVE READ IN THE GREAT BOOKS IF
WE HAD READ THEM, AND WHAT WE
WOULD HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT WHAT
WE WOULD HAVE READ IF WE DID
ANY THINKING, RIGHT, SO.
AND WHAT WAS GROVE (UK)
THINKING WHEN THEY ASKED ME OF
ALL PEOPLE TO -- TO WRITE ABOUT
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS?
I GUESS TOBY WAS TRYING TO COME
UP WITH A WAY TO PRESENT
IMPORTANT CONCEPTS TO -- TO A
21st CENTURY THAT IS OBSESSED
WITH TRIVIALITIES AND I GUESS
HE THOUGHT, WELL, NOBODY CAN
MAKE THINGS AS TRIVIAL AS P.J.
CAN AND SO THAT'S HOW I GOT THE
ASSIGNMENT.
AND, UM -- AND I NEEDED THE
MONEY AND SO I SAT DOWN AND --
AND CRACKED
THE WEALTH
OF NATIONS
OPEN TO
THE FIRST OF -- OF SO VERY
MANY, MANY PAGES.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues AND WHEN AT
LONG LAST I FINISHED, I FELT
THAT I FACED A SINGLE DEEP
PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION.
I CALL IT THE QUANTITY
QUANDARY.
WHY THE (silence) ARE THESE
GREAT BOOKS ALWAYS SO GODDAMN
LONG?
AND INTERESTINGLY, THERE IS AN
ANSWER TO THE QUESTION, AND
APPROPRIATELY ENOUGH IT'S AN
ECONOMIC ANSWER TO THE
QUESTION.
WHEN
THE WEALTH OF
NATIONS
WAS PUBLISHED
IN 1776, IT SOLD FOR 1 POUND
16 SHILLINGS AT A TIME WHEN
THE AVERAGE WAGE WAS
10 SHILLINGS A WEEK.
YOU KNOW, YOU SERIOUS-MINDED
BOOK BUYERS, YOU DEMAND GOOD
WEIGHT.
I MEAN, JUST -- JUST LIFT BILL
CLINTON'S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, YOU
KNOW, WHICH COULD HAVE BEEN
SUMMED UP IN A FEW CHOICE WORDS
AS FAR AS I'M... UM.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues SO, ECONOMICS
MADE
THE WEALTH OF
NATIONS
LONG, BUT NOT
JUST THE BOOK SELLING PART OF
ECONOMICS.
I MEAN, ECONOMICS, IT'S
COMPLICATED.
I MEAN, IF ECONOMICS WERE
SIMPLE, WE'D ALL BE RICH.
AND WHAT MADE SMITH A GENIUS
WAS THAT HE DID SIMPLIFY
ECONOMICS.
HE TURNED ECONOMICS INTO A
PRECISE SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINE,
DISTINCT FROM -- FROM THE
UNRULY JUMBLE OF THE MENTAL AND
PHYSICAL WORLD THAT WE
ENCOUNTER IN THE ACTUAL
ECONOMY.
THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE MINUTE
WE STEP BACK INTO THE ACTUAL
ECONOMY, ALL THAT MENTAL AND
PHYSICAL JUMBLE COMES JUMBLING
BACK DOWN ON OUR HEAD -- OUR
HEADS.
YOU KNOW, I MEAN, FOR EXAMPLE,
WHEN I DISCOVER THAT MY 5 YEAR
OLD HAS WALKED OUT OF WAL-MART
WITH AN UNPAID FOR MY LITTLE
PONY, YOU KNOW, ALL OF A SUDDEN
I'M NOT JUST DEALING WITH THE
SCIENCE OF ECONOMICS.
I'M DEALING WITH THE SCIENCE OF
PSYCHOLOGY, THE SCIENCE
SOCIOLOGY, THE SCIENCE OF
POLITICAL SCIENCES, AND FOR
THAT MATTER I'M DEALING WITH
MECHANICAL ENGINEERING TRYING
TO PRY HER LOOSE FROM THIS
STUPID PURPLE PLASTIC HORSE,
YOU KNOW.
NOW, THE THING ABOUT ADAM SMITH
WAS THAT HE WAS JUST AS WILLING
AS MY CRYING CHILD AND I ARE TO
DIVE RIGHT BACK INTO THAT FULL
COMPLEXITY OF ECONOMICS.
FOR EXAMPLE, HERE IS SMITH 231
YEARS AHEAD OF HIMSELF ON THE
SUBJECT OF ANNA NICOLE SMITH'S
PROBATE BATTLES, YOU KNOW, I
MEAN.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues SMITH SAID,
“THERE ARE SOME VERY AGREEABLE
AND BEAUTIFUL TALENTS OF WHICH
THE EXERCISE FOR THE SAKE OF
GAIN IS CONSIDERED A SORT OF
PUBLIC PROSTITUTION.”
END OF CASE.
NOW, THAT'S THE KIND
OF STUFF THAT MAKES
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS,
MAKES ALL 900 PAGES OF
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
WORTH READING.
I DO NOT RECOMMEND THE 25,000
WORD DIGRESSION CONCERNING
THE VARIATIONS AND THE VALUE
OF SILVER DURING THE COURSE OF
THE LAST FOUR CENTURIES.
THAT WAS LIKE -- THAT WAS
LIKE READING THE
AARP MAGAZINE
IN URDU.
BUT, BUT --

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues NOW,
ANOTHER THING THAT MAKES
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
SO LONG IS IT IS VERY MUCH A
PRODUCT OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT
ERA.
AND ENLIGHTENMENT THINKERS LOVE
TO EXPLAIN THINGS.
THERE WAS A KIND OF
EXPLAINOMANIA GOING ON IN THE
ENLIGHTENMENT.
NOW, THE ENLIGHTENMENT TAKES
ITS NAME FROM WHAT, IF YOU
THINK ABOUT IT, IS A KIND OF A
CARTOON MOMENT IN INTELLECTUAL
HISTORY.
THERE ARE ALL THESE DEEP
THINKERS AND ALL OF A SUDDEN
LIGHT BULBS GO ON OVER THEIR
HEADS, EXCEPT THAT THEY DIDN'T
HAVE LIGHT BULBS, AND THEY
REALIZED - ALL OF A SUDDEN THEY
REALIZED THAT -- THAT THE WORLD
IS NOT A DIVINE OBSCURITY
THAT'S COMPREHENSIBLE ONLY
THROUGH PRAYER AND MONKISH
MEDITATION.
IN OTHER WORDS, ALL THESE
ENLIGHTENMENT THINKERS, THEY
SUDDENLY REALIZED THAT NOT
LOOKING AT THINGS IS NOT THE
BEST WAY OF LOOKING AT THINGS.
IF YOU ILLUMINATE THE MACHINERY
OF NATURE WITH A LITTLE
OBSERVATION AND THOUGHT, YOU
CAN SEE HOW THINGS WORK.
THE UNIVERSE IS EXPLICABLE.
AND ENLIGHTENMENT THINKERS,
THEY WERE, PRIME MOVER, DAMMIT,
GOING TO EXPLAIN.
WELL, AS ALL OF US ARE MARRIED
KNOW, EX-- ALL EXPLANATIONS
START OUT BRIEF, BUT PRETTY
SOON - PRETTY SOON SMITH IS, HE
GETS TANGLED UP IN
CLARIFICATIONS; HE GETS
INTELLECTUALLY CAUGHT OUT
DAGWOOD-STYLE, YOU KNOW,
CARRYING HIS SHOES UP THE
STAIRS OF EXEGESIS AT
3:00 a.m., YOU KNOW, EXPOUNDING
HIS HEAD OFF, WHILE THAT VEXED
AND CRABBY SPOUSE, THE READER,
STANDS WITH ARMS CROSSED AND
SLIPPER TAPPING ON THE SECOND
FLOOR LANDING OF COMPREHENSION,
YOU KNOW.
AND YET, THERE IS THIS CORE OF
SIMPLE CLARITY TO
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS.
SMITH ARGUES THE THREE BASIC
PRINCIPLES.
AND BY PLAIN REASONING AND
PLENTIFUL EXAMPLES - VERY
PLENTIFUL EXAMPLES - HE PROVES
THEM.
EVEN INTELLECTUALS SHOULD HAVE
NO TROUBLE UNDERSTANDING
SMITH'S IDEAS.
ECONOMIC PROGRESS DEPENDS UPON
THREE INDIVIDUAL LIBERTIES: THE
PURSUIT OF SELF-INTEREST, THE
DIVISION OF LABOUR, AND THE
FREEDOM OF TRADE.
NOW, SMITH'S FIRST INSIGHT WAS
THAT THERE IS NOTHING
INHERENTLY WRONG WITH A PERSON
PURSUING HIS OR HER OWN
SELF-INTEREST.
NOW, THIS DOESN'T SOUND LIKE
NEWS TO US.
OR, RATHER, IT SOUNDS LIKE
EVERYTHING THAT WE READ IN THE
NEWS, YOU KNOW, I MEAN.
BECAUSE THESE DAYS EVEN
ALTRUISM ITSELF HAS A
PUBLICIST, YOU KNOW.
I MEAN, OF COURSE IT'S IN A
PERSON'S SELF-INTEREST TO BE A
CELEBRITY, AND BOB GELDOF HAS
FIGURED OUT HOW TO STAY ONE,
YOU KNOW.
BUT IT DIDN'T USED TO BE THIS
WAY.
YOU KNOW, RELIGIOUS LEADERS,
PHILOSOPHERS, POLITICAL ELITES
USED TO TELL EVERYBODY TO JUST
SUCK IT UP, YOU KNOW.
SUBJUGATE YOUR EGO, BRIDLE YOUR
AMBITION, SACRIFICE YOURSELF TO
GOD, TO STOICISM, TO FEUDAL --
FEUDAL BIG SHOTS.
AND WE BOUGHT THAT.
WE BOUGHT THAT BECAUSE WE
DIDN'T REALLY HAVE ANY CONTROL
OVER OUR SELF-INTEREST ANYWAY.
AND IF WE WERE SLAVES OR SERFS,
AND MOST OF US WERE, WE DIDN'T
EVEN A SELF TO PROPERLY CALL
OUR OWN TO BE SELF-INTERESTED
IN.
SEE, IN THE DOGHOUSE OF ANCIENT
AND MEDIEVAL LIFE, ASCETICISM
MADE US FEEL LESS LIKE DOGS.
BUT BY ADAM SMITH'S TIME IN
18th CENTURY BRITAIN, ORDINARY
PEOPLE WERE BEGINNING TO HAVE
SOME CONTROL OVER THEIR OWN
DESTINIES.
AND THIS -- THIS CONTROL DID
NOT PLEASE A LOT OF RELIGIOUS
LEADERS; IT DIDN'T PLEASE A LOT
OF PHILOSOPHERS; IT CERTAINLY
DIDN'T PLEASE THE POLITICAL
ELITES.
AND THE FACT THAT THE UPPER
CLASSES WERE NOT PLEASED BY THE
WELL-BEING, THE INCREASING
WELL-BEING OF THE LOWER RANKS,
THIS MADE ADAM SMITH ANGRY.
YOU KNOW, WE THINK OF IRONY AS
BEING A MODERN TONE, BUT HERE
IS SMITH, YOU KNOW, TWO
CENTURIES AGO USING IRONY TO
VERY GOOD EFFECT.
HE SAYS, “IS THIS IMPROVEMENT
IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE
LOWER RANKS OF THE PEOPLE, IS
THIS TO BE REGARDED AS AN
ADVANTAGE OR AS AN
INCONVENIENCY TO SOCIETY?
SEE, IN THE
18th CENTURY, PROSPERITY FOR
POOR PEOPLE WAS NOT YET
CONSIDERED A SELF-EVIDENTLY
GOOD THING.
WHY?
BECAUSE NOBODY HAD BOTHERED TO
ASK THE POOR PEOPLE.
AND IN MANY
PARTS OF THIS WORLD NOBODY HAS
BOTHERED TO ASK THEM YET.
AND SMITH WAS POINTING OUT THAT
IT IS NEVER A QUESTION OF
RELIGIOUS SACRILEGE OR
PHILOSOPHICAL FOLLY OR
POLITICAL TREASON TO BETTER
YOUR MATERIAL CIRCUMSTANCES.
THE QUESTION IS HOW TO DO IT.
AND THE ANSWER WAS SMITH'S
SECOND INSIGHT, DIVISION OF
LABOUR, WHAT WE WOULD CALL
SPECIALIZATION.
NOW, NOBODY BEFORE ADAM SMITH
SEEMED TO HAVE REALIZED HOW
VITALLY IMPORTANT TO ECONOMIC
PROGRESS DIVISION OF LABOUR IS.
IN FACT, ADAM SMITH SEEMS TO
HAVE INVENTED THE TERM.
NOW, OF COURSE DIVISION OF
LABOUR HAS EXISTED SINCE
CAVEMAN TIMES.
I MEAN, THE WILY LITTLE FELLOW
WITH THE BIG IDEAS, HE CHIPS
THE SPEAR POINTS, YOU KNOW.
THE COURAGEOUS OAF SPEARS THE
MAMMOTH.
AND THE ARTISTIC TYPE DOES A
LOVELY CAVE PAINTING OF IT ALL,
YOU KNOW.
AND THIS LEADS INEXORABLY TO
TRADE.
ONE PERSON MAKES A THING,
ANOTHER PERSON MAKES ANOTHER
THING, AND, PEOPLE BEING
PEOPLE, EVERYBODY WANTS
EVERYTHING.
AND THAT WAS ADAM SMITH'S THIRD
INSIGHT, THAT ALL TRADES, WHEN
FREELY CONDUCTED, ARE MUTUALLY
BENEFICIAL BY DEFINITION.
A PERSON WITH THIS GOT THAT,
WHICH HE WANTED MORE FROM A
PERSON WHO WANTED THIS MORE
THAN THAT.
NOW -- NOW, IT MAY HAVE BEEN A
STUPID TRADE.
I MEAN, VIEWING -- VIEWING A
CAVE PAINTING CANNOT BE WORTH
500 POUNDS OF MAMMOTH HAM, YOU
KNOW.
IT MAY HAVE BEEN A LOPSIDED
TRADE: STARVING CAVE ARTIST
GORGES HIMSELF FOR MONTHS WHILE
THE COURAGEOUS OAF OF A NEW ART
PATRON STANDS SCRATCHING HIS
HEAD IN THE PALEOLITHIC GROTTO.
AND WHAT ABOUT THAT WILY
SPEAR POINT CHIPPER?
HE ALWAYS TOOK HIS MAMMOTH CUT,
YOU KNOW.
BUT THESE PARTICIPANTS IN FREE
TRADE, THEY DIDN'T ASK US;
IT IS NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.
UNLESS, OF COURSE, WE MAKE IT
OUR BUSINESS BY INTRODUCING
TRADE REGULATION.
AND A REGULATION CANNOT BE
EFFECTIVE UNLESS THERE IS
COERCION TO ENFORCE THE
REGULATION.
SO, SUDDENLY INSTEAD OF FREE
TRADE YOU HAVE COERCIVE TRADE.
SO, LET ME DEFINE COERCIVE
TRADE.
A COERCIVE TRADE IS WHERE I GET
THE SPEAR POINTS AND THE
MAMMOTH MEAT AND THE CAVE
PAINTING AND THE CAVE, AND WHAT
YOU GET IN RETURN IS KILLED.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues SO, COERCION
IS VERY SIMPLY THE LACK OF
INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY.
COERCION DESTROYS THE MUTUALLY
BENEFICIAL NATURE OF TRADE,
WHICH DESTROYS THE TRADING,
WHICH DESTROYS THE DIVISION OF
LABOUR, WHICH DESTROYS
PROGRESS.
YOU CAN HAVE PURSUIT OF
SELF-INTEREST, DIVISION OF
LABOUR, AND FREEDOM OF TRADE OR
YOU CAN HAVE NORTH KOREA, YOU
KNOW.
NOW, IN
THE WEALTH OF
NATIONS,
SMITH'S LOGIC -
SMITH'S LOGIC DOES A NUMBER OF
INTERESTING THINGS.
I MEAN, SEE, HE'S JUST SHOWN
HOW PRODUCTIVITY CAN BE
INCREASED.
AND BY -- BY SHOWING HOW
PRODUCTIVITY CAN BE INCREASED,
HE HAS DISPROVED THE IDEA THAT
BETTERING THE CONDITION OF ONE
PERSON NECESSARILY WORSENS THE
CONDITION OF SOMEBODY ELSE.
THIS IS THE FUNDAMENTAL IDEA
BEHIND ALL OF MARXISM.
IT'S ALSO THE FUNDAMENTAL IDEA
THAT EVERYBODY'S LITTLE BROTHER
AND SISTER HAVE, YOU KNOW,
WHENEVER ANYBODY GETS A
PRESENT, RIGHT.
BUT WEALTH IS NOT A PIZZA WHERE
IF I HAVE TOO MANY SLICES YOU
HAVE TO EAT THE DOMINO'S BOX.
WEALTH IS NOT A ZERO-SUM GAME.
AND ADAM SMITH SHOWED THAT
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A
TRADE IMBALANCE.
TRADE -- THERE CAN'T BE SUCH A
THING AS A TRADE IMBALANCE.
ALL TRADES ARE BALANCED THE
MOMENT THAT THEY ARE COMPLETED.
THAT IS THE DEFINITION OF A
TRADE.
SEE, BY SHOWING THAT THERE WAS
NO SET AMOUNT OF WEALTH, SMITH
DESTROYED THE IDEA THAT A
NATION HAS A CERTAIN FIXED
HORDE OF TREASURE, A KING'S
RANSOM, IF YOU WILL, OF GOLD
AND SILVER AND JEWELS ALL
LOCKED UP IN THE CASTLE VAULT.
NO, NO, NO, SAID SMITH.
NO, THE WEALTH OF A NATION HAS
TO BE MEASURED BY -- BY ITS
VOLUME OF TRADES IN GOODS AND
SERVICES OVER A CERTAIN SET
PERIOD BY -- BY WHAT GOES ON IN
THE CASTLE'S KITCHENS AND
STABLES, NOT BY WHAT'S LOCKED
UP IN THE -- IN THE CASTLE'S
VAULTS, YOU KNOW.
IN OTHER WORDS, SMITH INVENTED
THE CONCEPT OF GROSS DOMESTIC
PRODUCT.
AND THAT WAS A GOOD THING
BECAUSE WITHOUT GROSS DOMESTIC
PRODUCT MODERN ECONOMISTS WOULD
JUST HAVE NOTHING TO SAY.
YOU KNOW, THEY'D BE STANDING
AROUND MUTE, IN UGLY NECKTIES,
WAITING FOR -- FOR MSNBC TO ASK
THEM TO BE SILENT ON THE AIR,
YOU KNOW.
AND SO IF WEALTH IS ALL EBB AND
FLOW, THEN -- THEN SO IS ITS
MEASURE: MONEY.
YOU KNOW, I MEAN, MONEY HAS NO
INTRINSIC VALUE.
I REMEMBER RATHER RECENTLY WHEN
YOURS HAD NO INTRINSIC VALUE.
(laughing)

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues BUT ANY BABY
WHO HAS EATEN A NICKEL COULD
HAVE TOLD US THIS, YOU KNOW.
BUT SEE, BACK IN THE 18th
CENTURY MONEY WAS STILL
PRECIOUS METALS, AND WHAT SMITH
HAD TO SAY ABOUT MONEY WAS
DEEPLY DISTURBING TO HIS
CONTEMPORARIES.
NOW, THEY KNEW HE WAS RIGHT -
THEY KNEW HE WAS RIGHT BECAUSE
THEY COULD TAKE A LOOK AT 18th
CENTURY SPAIN, COVERED IN BLING
AND YET STILL INCREDIBLY
IMPOVERISHED, AND KNOW THAT
SMITH WAS RIGHT ABOUT --
ABOUT GOLD HAVING NO INTRINSIC
VALUE, BUT IT WAS STILL
DISTURBING TO THEM.
IT WAS AS IF SMITH, WHO HAD
JUST PROVED THAT EVERYBODY
COULD HAVE MORE MONEY, HAD GONE
ON THE PROVE THAT MONEY DOESN'T
BUY HAPPINESS.
AND IT DOESN'T; IT RENTS IT,
YOU KNOW.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues WHAT SMITH
HAD TO SAY IN
THE WEALTH
OF NATIONS
DISTURBED
PEOPLE AT A VISCERAL LEVEL AND
IT STILL DOES.
IT DISTURBS ME.
I'M READING
WEALTH OF
NATIONS
AND I -- I'M
READING THE PART ABOUT PURSUIT
OF SELF-INTEREST AND I THINK,
WELL - WELL, GEE, I'M NOT
SELF-INTERESTED.
I'M NOT SELFISH.
I'M NOT GREEDY.
I CARE ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT,
YOU KNOW.
AND I WANT -- I WANT TO ELECT
PEOPLE WHO CARE ABOUT THE
ENVIRONMENT TOO, YOU KNOW, JUST
THE WAY THAT I DO.
BECAUSE IF WE ELECT A WHOLE
BUNCH OF ENVIRONMENTALISTS,
THEN THAT SUBDIVISION FULL OF
McMANSIONS THAT'S GOING TO
BLOCK MY VIEW OF THE OCEAN
WON'T GET BUILT.
I'M NOT SELF-INTERESTED, YOU
KNOW.
AND LET'S FACE IT, THE LOWER
RANKS OF THE PEOPLE, THEY DO
HAVE TOO MUCH MONEY.
LOOK AT BRITNEY SPEARS.
YOU KNOW, THAT'S MUCH TOO MUCH
MONEY.
OR THOSE MONEYBAGS BUYING THE
CHATEAUS-TO-GO ON MY
BEACHFRONT, YOU KNOW.
THEM WITH THE FOUR-BARGE GARAGE
AND THE MARTHA-BITCHING-STEWART
KITCHEN THAT THEY COOK IN ABOUT
AS OFTEN AS MARTHA DOES THE
DISHES, YOU KNOW.
THEY MAY THINK THEY'RE --
THEY'RE NOT THE LOWER RANKS
BECAUSE THEY'VE GOT A BUNCH OF
DOUGH, BUT THEIR LIFESTYLE IS
AN INCONVENIENCY TO THE SOCIETY
BIG TIME, AS THEY -- AS THEY'RE
GOING TO FIND OUT WHEN I KEY
THEIR HUMMER THAT'S TAKING UP
THREE PARKING SPOTS, YOU KNOW,
I MEAN.
YOU KNOW, THESE TYPES, ALL THEY
DO WORK IS ALL DAY, 80, 100
HOURS A WEEK IN SOME
SPECIALIZED DIVISION OF LABOUR
THAT NOBODY UNDERSTANDS.
YOU KNOW, IN FINANCE OR AT
FANCY CORPORATE LAW FIRMS OR IN
EXPENSIVE HOSPITAL OPERATING
ROOMS.
AND -- AND THAT IS JUST NO WAY
TO LIVE.
AND THAT IS WHY MY WIFE AND I,
WE ARE PLANNING -- WE ARE
PLANNING TO GROW ALL OUR OWN
FOOD.
TURNIPS CAN BE STORED FOR A
YEAR.
WE'RE GOING TO USE ONLY FAIR
TRADED INTERNET SERVICES WITH
OPEN CODE PROGRAMMING.
WE'RE GOING TO HEAT THE HOUSE
BY MEANS OF CLEAN ENERGY,
RENEWABLE RESOURCES, SUCH AS A
WIND POWER FROM THE DRAFT UNDER
THE FRONT DOOR.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues WE'RE --
WE'RE GOING TO KNIT OUR
CHILDREN'S CLOTHES WITH ORGANIC
WOOL FROM SHEEP RAISED UNDER
HUMANE FARMING CONDITIONS IN
OUR YARD.
AND THIS WILL KEEP THE KIDS
WARM AND COZY, IF SOMEWHAT
ITCHY, AND IT WILL BUILD THEIR
CHARACTERS BECAUSE THEY WILL
GET TEASED ON THE STREETS.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues YEAH, SURE,
TOTAL REMOVAL OF ALL TRADE
REGULATION, THAT WOULD BE GOOD
FOR THE ECONOMY, BUT THINK OF
THE DANGER AND THE DAMAGE TO
SOCIETY.
I MEAN, IF IT WEREN'T FOR
GOVERNMENT REGULATION OF BIG
CORPORATIONS, EXECUTIVES OF
COMPANIES LIKE ENRON AND
WorldCom AND TYCO, THEY COULD
HAVE CHEATED SHAREHOLDERS OUT
OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS,
I MEAN, YOU KNOW.
AND WITHOUT STRICT GOVERNMENT
RESTRICTIONS ON THE SALES OF
HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES, YOUNG
PEOPLE, THEY MIGHT SMOKE, THEY
MIGHT DRINK, THEY MIGHT EVEN
USE DRUGS, YOU KNOW.
I MEAN, IT'S JUST --
WE HAVE TO HAVE REGULATION.
WE ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO HAVE
REGULATION.
AND WE HAVE TO CONSIDER THE
HARM TO THE DEVELOPING WORLD.
I MEAN, CHEAP POP MUSIC, MP3
DOWNLOADS FROM THE U.S.,
THEY'RE GOING TO -- THEY'RE
GOING TO PUT EVERY NOSE FLUTE
BAND IN PERU OUT OF BUSINESS,
YOU KNOW.
I MEAN --

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues PLUS, SOME
JOBS JUST REQUIRE PROTECTION TO
ENSURE THAT THEY ARE PERFORMED
LOCALLY IN THEIR OWN
COMMUNITIES.
I MEAN, MY JOB IS TO MAKE QUIPS
AND JESTS AND WAGGISH COMMENTS,
AND SOMEWHERE IN MUMBAI THERE
IS A YOUNGER, FUNNIER PERSON
WILLING TO WORK FOR A LOT LESS
THAN I DO, YOU KNOW.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues MY JOB COULD
BE OUTSOURCED TO HIM, YOU KNOW.
BUT HOW WOULD MY IN-LAWS BE
OFFENDED BY?
WHO WOULD MY WIFE SCOLD?
WHO WOULD MY FRIEND SHUN, YOU
KNOW?
AND THEN THERE IS THE
MATTER OF ALL THAT
WEALTH OF NATIONS
EBB
AND FLOW OF GOODS AND SERVICES,
SMITH'S GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT.
NOW, I'M AS GROSSLY DOMESTIC
AS THE NEXT GUY.
WHERE IS THE PRODUCT, YOU KNOW?
I MEAN, HOW COME ALL THESE
GOODS AND SERVICES EBB OUT OF
MY INCOME INSTEAD OF FLOW INTO
THEM, YOU KNOW?
SEE, 231 YEARS AFTER
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
WAS PUBLISHED, IT IS STILL VERY
HARD FOR US TO BELIEVE IN WHAT
ADAM SMITH HAD TO SAY.
IT IS HARD FOR ME TO BELIEVE
IN, AND I AM A RIGHT WING
REPUBLICAN CAPITALIST PIG AND I
STILL HAVE TROUBLE WITH IT.
IT'S IM-- AND I THINK IT'S
REALLY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
NOT -- NOT SO THAT WE CAN
UNDERSTAND ECONOMICS, BUT SO
THAT WE CAN UNDERSTAND THE
MORAL LESSON THAT ADAM SMITH IS
TRYING TO CONVEY.
AND THE MORAL LESSON IS THE
NECESSITY OF FREEDOM AND
EQUALITY.
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS,
IT SEEMS TO BE ABOUT ECONOMICS
BECAUSE FREEDOM AND EQUALITY
ARE SO MORALLY NECESSARY THAT
WITHOUT THEM WE CANNOT EVEN
PERFORM THE HUMBLE BUT
NECESSARY TASKS OF FEEDING,
CLOTHING, AND SHELTERING THOSE
WHOM WE LOVE.
WEALTH OF NATIONS
ESPOUSES FREE ENTERPRISE NOT
BECAUSE FREE ENTERPRISE WILL
MAKE US RICH - WE OF COURSE ALL
HOPE IT WILL - BUT BECAUSE FREE
ENTERPRISE IS BASED UPON
PROPERTY RIGHTS.
AND SMITH WAS NOT TALKING ABOUT
PROPERTY -- DONALD TRUMP
PROPERTY RIGHTS.
HE WAS TALKING ABOUT THE
PROPERTY RIGHTS THAT WE ALL
HAVE: THE DEED TO OURSELVES,
OUR SELF-POSSESSION AS FREE
INDIVIDUALS.
THAT IS THE IMPORTANT PROPERTY
RIGHT.
SMITH SAID, “THE PROPERTY WHICH
EVERY MAN HAS IN HIS OWN LABOR,
AS IT IS THE ORIGINAL
FOUNDATION OF ALL OTHER
PROPERTY, SO IT IS THE MOST
SACRED.”
AND SMITH SAID THAT NO MATTER
HOW POOR WE ARE, WE HAVE A
FORTUNE, WE HAVE AN ESTATE, WE
HAVE AN INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO IN
WHAT HE CALLED “THE STRENGTH
AND THE DEXTERITY OF OUR
HANDS,” AND IT'S FROM THIS THAT
FREE ENTERPRISE COMES.
THE REAL SOURCE OF FREE
ENTERPRISE IS, IN FACT, THE
GRASP OF A HAMMER AND A SICKLE,
IF YOU WILL.
AND SMITH SAID THAT TO HINDER A
PERSON FROM EMPLOYING
STRENGTH AND -- HIS STRENGTH
AND DEXTERITY IN WHATEVER
MANNER HE THINKS IS PROPER,
WITHOUT INJURY TO HIS
NEIGHBOUR, IS A VIOLATION OF
THE MOST SACRED PROPERTY, THE
PROPERTY WHICH YOU CALL YOU AND
WHICH I CALL ME.
AND THIS PROPERTY, THIS
PROPERTY OF FREEDOM WOULD BE
MEANINGLESS UNLESS WE WERE ALL
CREATED EQUAL.
NOW, THERE'S A VERY WELL-KNOWN
DOCUMENT THAT WAS PUBLISHED THE
SAME YEAR AS
THE WEALTH
OF NATIONS,
1776.
THE AMERICAN
DECLARATION
OF INDEPENDENCE
SAID,
“WE HOLD THIS TRUTH TO BE
SELF-EVIDENT: THAT ALL MEN ARE
CREATED EQUAL.”
WELL, A. WE WERE FIBBING
BECAUSE WE STILL HAD SLAVERY,
AND B. IT ISN'T SELF-EVIDENT.
WHAT IS SO SELF-EVIDENT ABOUT
THAT?
WHY ARE PEOPLE ALL CREATED
EQUAL?
PEOPLE ARE ALL CREATED EQUAL
WHEN THEY ALL SHOW UP?
YOU KNOW, IT DOESN'T WORK THAT
WAY AT WEDDINGS AND FUNERALS,
YOU KNOW.
ARE WE ALL
CREATED EQUAL BECAUSE IT SAYS
SO IN THE
U.N. UNIVERSAL
DECLARATION OF HUMAN
RIGHTS?
WELL, THE
U.N. UNIVERSAL
DECLARATION OF HUMAN
RIGHTS
ALSO SAYS, AND I
QUOTE, “EVERYONE HAS THE RIGHT
TO REST AND LEISURE, INCLUDING
REASONABLE LIMITATION OF
WORKING HOURS...”
I'LL -- I'LL HAVE MY WIFE TELL
THE BABY, YOU KNOW.
NO, NO, IT
WAS ADAM SMITH WRITING ABOUT
FREE ENTERPRISE ECONOMICS WHO
EXPLAINED WHY WE'RE ALL EQUAL.
IT'S BECAUSE MAN, THE MOST
POWERFUL CREATURE EVER TO
BESTRIDE THE EARTH, IS ALSO THE
MOST PITIFULLY HOPELESS.
WE ARE BORN INCAPABLE OF CARING
FOR OURSELVES AND WE REMAIN SO,
TO JUDGE BY KIDS TODAY, UNTIL
WE'RE ABOUT 40.
WE MUST TREAT OTHER PEOPLE WITH
RESPECT DUE TO EQUALS NOT
BECAUSE WE ARE INSPIRED WITH
NOBLE PRINCIPLE OR FILLED WITH
FRATERNAL AFFECTION, BUT
BECAUSE WE ARE PATHETIC AND
USELESS.
AND I QUOTE FROM ADAM SMITH,
“AN INDIVIDUAL STANDS AT ALL
TIMES IN NEED OF THE
COOPERATION AND ASSISTANCE OF
GREAT MULTITUDES, WHILE HIS
WHOLE LIFE IS SCARCE SUFFICIENT
TO GAIN HIM THE FRIENDSHIP OF A
FEW PERSONS.”
NOW, THAT'S A -- THAT'S A LEFT
WING STATEMENT.
THAT IS A LEFT WING STATEMENT.
I MEAN, THAT STATEMENT IS VERY
NEARLY A HEARTFELT PLEA FOR
SOCIALISM.
AND YET THAT STATEMENT, THAT IS
THE PROLOGUE TO THE SINGLE MOST
QUOTED PASSAGE
IN THE
WEALTH OF NATIONS,
WHICH IS, “IT IS NOT FROM THE
BENEVOLENCE OF THE BUTCHER, THE
BREWER OR THE BAKER THAT WE
EXPECT OUR DINNER BUT FROM
THEIR REGARD TO THEIR OWN
SELF-INTEREST.”
AND THAT LAST STATEMENT IS
ALWAYS QUOTED AS THOUGH IT WERE
A GORDON GECKO “GREED IS GOOD.”
SORT OF CREDO.
AND THAT IS NOT THE MEANING OF
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS.
ADAM SMITH DOES NOT URGE US TO
SELFISHLY PURSUE WEALTH IN THE
FREE ENTERPRISE SYSTEM.
HE URGES US TO GIVE THANKS THAT
THE BUTCHER, THE BREWER AND THE
BAKER DO.
SO, THE BUTCHER, THE BREWER,
AND THE BAKER, THEY MAY BE
GREAT PEOPLE, THEY MAY NOT BE
GREAT PEOPLE, THEY MAY BE
GREEDY PIGS, BUT THAT'S NOT THE
POINT.
THE POINT
THE WEALTH OF
NATIONS
IS MAKING IS
THAT THE BUTCHER, THE BREWER,
AND THE BAKER ARE ENDOWED BY
THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN
UNALIENABLE RIGHTS, AND AMONG
THESE ARE STEAK, BEER AND
HOAGIE ROLLS.

[Audience laughter]

P.J. continues ANYWAY,
THAT'S -- THAT'S EVERYTHING
I KNOW ABOUT ADAM SMITH, SO
NOW -- NOW NOT ONLY DON'T
YOU HAVE TO READ
THE WEALTH OF NATIONS,
YOU PROBABLY DON'T HAVE TO READ
MY BOOK EITHER.
(laughing)
I'M NOT PROBABLY SUPPOSED TO
SAY THAT.
(laughing)
NOT WITH REPRESENTATIVES FROM
MY PUBLISHER.

[Audience laughter]

The clip ends and Andrew reappears in the studio with a caption that reads "Andrew Moodie."

He says IT'S
INTERESTING HOW A MAN WHO
STARTED OUT WRITING
GONZO JOURNALISM FOR
ROLLING STONE
HAS NOW
BECOME AN ELOQUENT AND HUMOROUS
PROPONENT OF LIBERTARIAN
VALUES.
O'ROURKE MAKES A COMPELLING CASE FOR WHY
WEALTH OF NATIONS
WAS
SUCH A REVOLUTIONARY TEXT.
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION
REQUIRED AN INTELLECTUAL
RATIONALE AND THIS SCOTTISH
MORAL PHILOSOPHER PROVIDED IT.
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION,
AMONG THE MANY DEVELOPMENTS IT
USHERED, HAS HAD A MOST
PROFOUND IMPACT ON THE GROWTH
OF CITIES, AND CITIES ARE
COMPLICATED CREATURES.
THEY PROVOKE STRONG REACTIONS.
OUR SECOND SPEAKER, IAN BURUMA,
IS A HISTORIAN AND PROLIFIC
WRITER AND JOURNALIST.
HERE, IN AN ENCORE
PRESENTATION, HE TALKS ABOUT
THE HISTORY OF HOSTILITY TO ALL
THINGS METROPOLITAN.

A new clip plays in which Ian Buruma stands behind a green podium, on a stage in a partially full auditorium.
Ian is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with receding salt and pepper hair. He’s wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and orange tie.

He says THE CITY.
PROBABLY SOME OF YOU READ
THIS -- THIS NEWS AS WELL AT
THE TIME THAT A FEW DAYS
AFTER OR A WEEK OR SO AFTER THE
ATTACK ON THE WORLD TRADE
CENTRE IN NEW YORK ON THE 9th
OF SEPTEMBER -- THE 11th OF
SEPTEMBER, THE CHINESE PUT ON
SALE IN BIG CITIES IN CHINA
VIDEOTAPES OF THIS EVENT.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Ian Buruma. Journalist and Novelist. Death of Metropolis. Recorded May 15, 2003."

Ian continues AND WHAT WAS
CURIOUS ABOUT THEM, NOT THAT --
JUST THAT THEY SHOWED THE
ACTUAL ATTACK, BUT THEY WERE
SPLICED TOGETHER WITH SCENES
FROM HOLLYWOOD MOVIES SUCH AS
THE TOWERING INFERNO
AND SO ON.
AND A LOT OF PEOPLE BOUGHT
THESE TAPES FOR AMUSEMENT.
I MEAN, THEY THOUGHT IT WAS
GOOD ENTERTAINMENT, IT WAS
SPECTACULAR.
WHICH IS IN SLIGHTLY BAD
TASTE TO BE SURE, BUT IT DID
REFLECT, I THINK, A KIND OF
SCHADENFREUDE
THAT WAS
NOT CONFINED TO CHINA, BUT THAT
WAS FAIRLY GENERAL IN MANY
PARTS OF THE WORLD.
NOW, ONE REASON
I THINK PEOPLE TOOK A CERTAIN
MORE OR LESS GUILTY PLEASURE IN
THE AMERICANS COMING A CROPPER
IS CLEARLY BECAUSE AMERICA IS
SO POWERFUL AND THERE IS A LOT
OF RESENTMENT AND ENVY.
BUT I THINK THAT THE ATTACK ON
THE TWIN TOWERS AND IN NEW YORK
WAS NOT JUST AN ATTACK ON A
PHYSICAL BUILDING; IT WAS AN
ATTACK ON A PARTICULAR IDEA OF
THE CITY, OF AN URBAN
CIVILIZATION.
AND I THINK THAT THE ATTACK ON
THAT, WHICH WAS REAL AND
MURDEROUS, AS WELL AS SYMBOLIC,
NEEDS TO BE EXPLAINED.
IT'S AN ATTACK ON AN IDEA OF
THE WEST, AS WELL AS AN ATTACK
ON -- ON AMERICA, WHICH GOES
WELL BEYOND, I THINK, AMERICAN
FOREIGN POLICY, PEOPLE WHO SAY,
WELL, WE SHOULD UNDERSTAND THIS
BECAUSE BY LOOKING AT AMERICAN
FOREIGN POLICY MISTAKES I THINK
SLIGHTLY MISS THE POINT.
IT IS -- WAS A PROFOUNDLY
SYMBOLIC ATTACK.
AND PERHAPS BEFORE GOING --
SORT OF COMING BACK TO THE
CONTEMPORARY WORLD, ONE SHOULD
GO BACK TO ANCIENT DAYS TO
EXPLAIN SOME OF THE RESPONSES
TO AN ATTACK LIKE THIS OR SOME
OF THE -- INDEED SOME OF THE
REASONS FOR THE ATTACK.
AND I -- I WOULD EVEN GO BACK
AS FAR AS THE STORY OF THE
TOWER OF BABEL.
AFTER ALL, IT WAS BABEL,
BABYLON, THE FIRST CITY THAT
CAME IN FOR THE KIND OF
OPPROBRIUM THAT SOME PEOPLE
FEEL FOR NEW YORK.
PERHAPS IT WAS BECAUSE OF THE
RELATIVE SEXUAL FREEDOM OF
BABYLONIAN WOMEN, BUT PIOUS
JEWS DESCRIBED THE CITY OF
BABYLON AS “THE MOTHER OF
PROSTITUTES AND OF THE
ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
THE PEOPLE OF BABYLON ALLEGEDLY
LUSTED AFTER WORLDLY FAME AND
WEALTH AND SO ON IN THE SAME
WAY THAT THEY DID IN 14th
CENTURY FLORENCE OR INDEED 20th
CENTURY NEW YORK.
AND ONE OF THE THINGS ABOUT
BABEL I THINK WAS NOT JUST THAT
PEOPLE LUSTED FOR WEALTH, BUT
THEY ALSO LUSTED FOR KNOWLEDGE.
LUSTED IS AN ODD WORD, BUT
THEY -- THEY HAD A THIRST FOR
KNOWLEDGE, AND THE TOWER OF
BABEL WAS PROBABLY A ZIGGURAT,
A BUILDING WITH A CIRCULAR
STAIRCASE, FOLLOWING THE SIGNS
OF THE ZODIAC, WHICH SUGGESTS
THAT PEOPLE -- THAT BABYLONIANS
WERE KEEN ASTROLOGERS, THAT
THEY WERE TRYING TO FIND OUT
HOW THE WORLD WORKS AND NOT
JUST RELYING ON THE REVELATIONS
OF GOD.
AND FOR THIS HUBRIS, FOR THIS
IDEA THAT THEY COULD CHALLENGE
GOD IN THE SEARCH FOR KNOWLEDGE
AND SO ON, THEY HAD TO BE
PUNISHED, OF COURSE, AND GOD
SCATTERED THEM ALL OVER THE
EARTH AND MADE THEM SPEAK IN
MANY TONGUES.
NOW, A LATER RULER OF BABYLON,
NEBUCHADNEZZAR, WHO CONQUERED
JERUSALEM, WHICH WAS THE CITY
OF GOD - UNLIKE BABYLON, WHICH
WAS REGARDED AS THE CITY OF
MAN - ENSLAVED THE JEWS AND HAD
VISIONS OF A KINGDOM OF GOLD.
AND HE WAS PUBLI-- HE WAS
PUNISHED FOR THIS HUBRIS AS
WELL AND DRIVEN AWAY TO EAT
GRASS LIKE CATTLE.
IT'S NOT THE LEAST OF HISTORY'S
IRONIES THAT THE JEWS, WHO
WROTE THIS TALE OF VENGEANCE
AGAINST THE CITY OF MAN, WOULD
IN LATER CENTURIES THEMSELVES
BE SCATTERED AROUND THE WORLD,
SPEAK MANY LANGUAGES, AND BE
DESCRIBED BY THEIR ENEMIES AS
RUTHLESS COSMOPOLITANS ADDICTED
TO VISIONS OF GOLD.
NOW, WHAT IS THIS -- THIS
BABYLONIAN IDEA OF THE CITY?
WHAT IS IT THAT PEOPLE WHO WISH
TO ESTABLISH THE CITY OF GOD
LOATH ABOUT THAT IDEA OF THE
CITY?
AND THAT'S WHAT WE'RE TALKING
ABOUT, AN IDEA OF THE CITY.
I THINK IT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH
TRADE; THE IDEA OF THE CITY AS
A MARKETPLACE, WHERE EVERYONE
AND EVERYTHING IS THEORETICALLY
FOR SALE.
THESE ARE PROMISCUOUS, MESSY
PLACES WHERE PEOPLE MIX AND
WHERE PEOPLE CAN -- CAN HAVE
ANONYMOUS RELATIONSHIPS BASED
ON MONETARY TRANSACTIONS.
PEOPLE CAN BUY NEW IDENTITIES
AND MAKE THEMSELVES UP AND SO
ON AND SO FORTH.
AND THIS IDEA OF THE CITY
AGAIN, THE CITY AS A
MARKETPLACE, GAVE RISE TO
IMAGES, IN THE EYES OF -- OF
THE ENEMIES OF SUCH CITIES, AS
PLACES WHERE PEOPLE LIE, WHERE
PEOPLE ARE INAUTHENTIC OR
PARASITIC EVEN.
AND TO MOVE ON TO A LATER
PERIOD IN HISTORY, AN AMUSING
ATTACK ON THIS KIND OF CITY
WERE -- ARE IN JUVENAL'S SATIRE
ON ANCIENT ROME, WHICH HE SAW
AS A CITY OF FLATTERERS AND
ROBBERS AND TRADERS FROM ALL
OVER THE EMPIRE.
AND WE FIND THE FOLLOWING
SENTENCE IN IT, “WHAT CAN I DO
IN ROME,” HE ASKS, JUVENAL,
THAT IS, “I NEVER LEARNED HOW
TO LIE.”
AND ROME TO JUVENAL -- JUVENAL
WAS A CITY WHERE ALL -- AGAIN I
QUOTE HIM, “OF ALL GODS, IT IS
WEALTH THAT COMPELS OUR DEEPEST
REVERENCE.”
A CITY WHERE FOREIGNERS MIXED
FREELY WITH NATIVES.
AGAIN HERE IS JUVENAL, “FILTHY
LUCRE IT WAS THAT FIRST BROUGHT
LOOSE FOREIGN MORALS AMONGST
US, EFFEMINATE WEALTH THAT WITH
VILE SELF-INDULGENCE DESTROYED
US OVER THE YEARS.”
AND JUVENAL RESERVED HIS GREATEST BILE FOR
THE GREEKS -- THE MINORITIES
THAT INEVITABLY GATHER IN
MARKETPLACES, FOR THE GREEKS
AND THE JEWS AND FOR WOMEN.
“HIGH BORN OR NOT,” I'M QUOTING
JUVENAL AGAIN, “WOMEN WHO WOULD
DO ANYTHING TO SATISFY THEIR
HOT, WET GROINS.”
AND AGAIN WE SEE
HERE THIS IMAGE OF THE CITY AS
A WHORE, AS A PROSTITUTE, WHERE
PEOPLE NOT ONLY LITERALLY
PROSTITUTE THEMSELVES, BUT
WHERE HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS BASED
ON MONETARY TRANSACTIONS, BASED
ON THE MARKETPLACE HAVE THIS --
CREATE THIS IMAGE IN THE -- IN
THE EYES OF THE ENEMIES OF THIS
KIND OF THING, OF WHORISHNESS,
OF PROSTITUTION.
THE OTHER ASPECT OF THIS, WHICH
IS, OF COURSE, LINKED AND AGAIN
GOES BACK TO BABYLON, IS THAT
IN THE CITY AS MARKETPLACE,
WHERE PEOPLE PURSUE WEALTH AND
HAPPINESS AND IN RELATIVE
FREEDOM, MAN TURNS AWAY FROM GOD.
IN THE CITY OF MAN, GOD LOSES
HIS POWER, WHICH IS, OF COURSE,
THE POINT OF THE STORY OF THE
TOWER OF BABEL.
AND WE FIND THAT COMING BACK
OVER AND OVER IN LITERATURE AS
WELL.
I THINK WHEN -- BLAKE'S
JERUSALEM
IS PERHAPS
SLIGHTLY MISUNDERSTOOD WHEN
PEOPLE SEE THE DARK SATANIC
MILLS AS A KIND OF ATTACK ON --
ON THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.
THAT'S PROBABLY TOO SIMPLE A
READING, BUT HIS -- HIS IDEA OF
JERUSALEM CERTAINLY WAS TO
RESTORE THE CITY OF GOD IN --
IN ENGLAND.
MORE MALICIOUS, A MORE
MALICIOUS VERSION OF THE SAME
YEARNING COMES INTO T.S.
ELIOT'S POETRY, AND I QUOTE ONE
BIT FROM
THE ROCK,
WHERE
T.S. ELIOT WRITES -- I MEAN, HE
WRITES IT VERY BEAUTIFULLY, BUT
IT IS PART OF THE SAME MINDSET,
I WOULD SAY, “THE WORD OF THE
LORD CAME UNTO ME SAYING, 'O
MISERABLE CITIES OF DESIGNING
MEN, A WRETCHED GENERATION OF
ENLIGHTENED MEN, BETRAYED IN
THE MAZES OF YOUR INGENUITIES,
SOLD BY THE PROCEEDS OF YOUR
PROPER INVENTIONS.'.”
AND WHAT HE'S SAYING, I THINK,
IS THAT I THINK IT IS A
COUNTER-ENLIGHTENMENT IDEA AND
I THINK THE ATTACK, THE -- THE
HATRED OF THE METRO--
METROPOLIS, THE PLACE WHERE
PEOPLE -- THE MARKETPLACE WHERE
PEOPLE MIX IN -- IN FREEDOM
AND TRADE IS VERY CLOSELY
LINKED TO A SORT OF
COUNTER-ENLIGHTENMENT IDEA, AND
I'LL COME BACK TO THAT A BIT
LATER.
THE QUESTION HERE IS, SINCE I
BEGAN WITH LINKING THE ATTACK
ON NEW YORK CITY TO AN ATTACK
ON AN IDEA OF THE WEST, IS WHEN
THE METROPOLIS, IN THE EYES OF
ITS ENEMIES, BECAME ALMOST
EXCLUSIVELY LINKED TO THE WEST,
WHEN THE METROPOLIS REALLY
COMES TO STAND FOR -- FOR THE
WEST.
AFTER ALL, THE ORIENT, OR ASIA,
HAS HAD MANY GREAT CITIES AS
MARKETPLACES ITSELF.
I MEAN, BAGHDAD AND -- AND SO
ON AND PEKING.
EDO, THE CAPITAL OF JAPAN, WAS
ACTUALLY, UNTIL 19th CENTURY, A
BIGGER CITY THAN -- THAN
LONDON.
AND SO THE METROPOLIS IS NOT A
WESTERN INVENTION, BUT IT DID
BECOME ASSOCIATED WITH THE WEST
AND WITH AN IDEA OF THE WEST.
AND INDEED, THE ATTACK ON THE
CITIES, THE -- THE LOATHING OF
IT, I THINK IS ALSO ROOTED IN
THE WEST, EVEN THOUGH YOU NOW
FIND IT IN THE RHETORIC OF
ISLAMISTS AND OTHERS IN THE
NON-WESTERN WORLD.
AND AS ONE EXAMPLE I WOULD
QUOTE RICHARD WAGNER, WHO WROTE
THAT -- THAT VENUSBERG, THE
SEDUCTIVE AND DANGEROUS PLACE
WHERE HIS GERMANIC HERO
TANNHAUSER GETS ENSNARED FOR A
WHILE, AND HE -- HE SAID, IN A
LETTER TO A FRIEND OF HIS, THAT
VENUSBERG WAS, OF COURSE,
PARIS.
“PARIS, EUROPE, THE WEST,” AS
HE PUT IT, “THAT FRIVOLOUS,
COMMERCIALIZED AND CORRUPT
WORLD IN WHICH FREEDOM AND ALSO
ALIENATION ARE MORE ADVANCED
THAN IN OUR PROVINCIAL GERMANY
WITH ITS COMFORTABLE
BACKWARDNESS.”
SO, THE ATTACK ON THE WEST
ITSELF I THINK WAS BORN IN THE
WEST AND THEN LATER GOT TAKEN
OVER BY NON-WESTERN ENEMIES OF
THE WEST AS WELL.
NOW, WHEN DID THIS IDEA OF THE
METROPOLIS BECOME ASSOCIATED
WITH THE WEST?
I WOULD HAVE TO SAY -- I MEAN,
YOU CAN GO BACK TO THE DUTCH
REPUBLIC PERHAPS, BUT I WOULD
SAY IT IS THE AGE OF -- OF
EMPIRE.
AND NOT JUST ANY EMPIRE.
NOT SO MUCH THE EMPIRES BASED
ON MILITARY CONQUEST OR
SPREADING GOD'S WORD TO THE
HEATHENS, BUT THE COMMERCIAL
EMPIRES THAT REACHED THE HEIGHT
OF THEIR POWERS IN THE 19th
CENTURY.
THE TIME THAT WHEN THE GREAT
METROPOLIS, THE CENTRE OF THE
WORLD, THE IMPERIAL CENTRE OF
THE WORLD WAS LONDON AND THE
GREAT SATANIC MILLS, OF COURSE,
WERE LOCATED IN MANCHESTER, THE
CENTRE OF INDUSTRIALIZATION.
PARIS WAS A RIVAL METROPOLIS
AND BERLIN WAS ALWAYS SOMEWHAT
ENVIOUSLY TRYING TO CATCH UP.
AND INDEED, YOU HAVE DIFFERENT
CONCEPTS OF EMPIRE.
THE COMMERCIAL EMPIRE WAS
DESPISED BY GERMAN ROMANTICS
WHO FOLLOWED RICHARD WAGNER IN
HIS -- IN HIS -- IN HIS
REPULSION TO THIS IDEA OF THE
CITY.
AND I THINK IT WAS KAISER
WILHELM II WHO WAS DEEPLY
ENVIOUS OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
AND WANTED A GERMAN EMPIRE TO
RIVAL IT IN POWER.
BUT HE MADE THE POINT - I MEAN,
LITERALLY FOLLOWING RICHARD
WAGNER'S THEORIES AND THOSE OF
OTHER THINKERS - THAT GER--
THAT -- ALTHOUGH THAT THE
BRITISH EMPIRE WAS ALL ABOUT
MONEY AND TRADE AND MATERIALISM
AND GREED AND SO ON, THE GER--
GERMAN EMPIRE WOULD SPREAD
GERMAN CULTURE.
AND THESE ARE TWO DIFFERENT,
VERY DIFFERENT IDEAS OF EMPIRE
AND IT'S THE ONE THAT'S BASED
ON TRADE THAT IS THE -- THE
OBJECT OF THE HATRED THAT I'M
TALKING ABOUT.
NOW, THE KIND
OF -- THE METROPOLIS BASED
ON -- THAT IS ALSO A GREAT
MARKETPLACE IS OF COURSE NOT --
NOT SIMPLY A MARKETPLACE.
IT IS -- IT ALSO HAS -- IT IS
THE PLACE WHERE INDIVIDUAL AND
CIVIC FREEDOMS FLOWERED.
AND THIS WAS
EVIDENT LONG BEFORE THE 19th
CENTURY.
VOLTAIRE, WHO CAME TO LONDON
AND SPENT SOME YEARS THERE IN
THE 18th CENTURY, RECOGNIZED
THIS VERY WELL.
AND HE WENT TO LONDON FROM
PARIS BECAUSE HE -- WELL,
BECAUSE HE GOT CHUCKED OUT OF
FRANCE, BUT ALSO BECAUSE HE --
HE CAME AS A GREAT CRITIC OF
THE ABSOLUTISM OF THE -- OF THE
FRENCH MONARCHY AND THE
CATHOLIC CHURCH.
AND HE WROTE A BOOK ABOUT
ENGLAND, WHILE LIVING IN
LONDON, AS A KIND OF POLEMIC
AGAINST THE ABSOLUTE MONARCHY
AND THE CHURCH IN FRANCE.
AND SO HE WAS NOT AN ENTIRELY
OBJECTIVE OBSERVER, HE WAS A
POLEMICIST.
BUT HE MADE VERY, VERY
INTERESTING OBSERVATIONS ABOUT
LONDON AND HE SAW THE MERIT OF
THE MARKETPLACE, NOT BECAUSE HE
WAS GREEDY FOR WEALTH, WHICH HE
MAY ALSO HAVE BEEN, I MEAN HE
WAS A GOOD BUSINESSMAN, BUT
BECAUSE HE LINKED TRADE AND
EMPIRE TO THE INDIVIDUAL AND
CIVIC LIBERTIES THAT HE SO MUCH
ADMIRED.
AND HE SAW AS THE GREAT -- AND
HE MEANT THIS POSITIVELY.
HE SAW AS THE -- AS THE SYMBOL
OF LONDON'S GREATNESS IN THE
18th CENTURY THE ROYAL
EXCHANGE.
AND THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE,
WHICH IS FAIRLY OFTEN QUOTED,
BUT IT'S -- IT'S SUCH A GOOD
ONE THAT I DON'T MIND QUOTING
IT AGAIN, HE -- IN DESCRIBING
THE ROLE EXCHANGE, VOLTAIRE
SAID, “IT IS THE PLACE WHERE
THE JEW, THE MAHOMETAN, AND THE
CHRISTIAN TRANSACT TOGETHER AS
THOUGH THEY ALL POSSESS THE
SAME RELIGION, AND GIVE THE
NAME OF INFIDEL TO NONE BUT
BANKRUPTS.”

[Audience laughter]

Ian continues THIS IS -- IN A
WAY IT'S A PROFOUND STATEMENT
BECAUSE OF COURSE WHAT HE WAS
SAYING IS THAT IN TRADE WHEN --
WHEN TRANSACTIONS ARE DONE IN
MONEY, RACE AND CREED NO LONGER
MATTER.
WHAT YOU -- AND NOR DO
RELIGIOUS LAWS.
WHAT YOU NEED ARE SECULAR LAWS
TO PROTECT PROPERTY AND -- AND
PROTECT THE MARKETPLACE SO THAT
PEOPLE CAN TRADE IN FREEDOM.
BUT OF COURSE WHAT -- WHAT
VOLTAIRE ADMIRED WAS ABHORRENT
TO OTHERS, WHO SAW THE STOCK
EXCHANGE AS A SYMBOL OF THE --
OF VERY DIFFERENT THINGS: OF
SOULLESSNESS AND MATERIALISM,
OF GRIEVED AND -- AND
PARASITES.
AND OTHER TRAVELLERS IN LONDON
IN THE -- IN THE 18th AND ALSO
19th CENTURY HAD A VERY
DIFFERENT TAKE ON THIS.
ANOTHER GERMAN WRITER, WHO
SPENT TIME IN LONDON AND
ACTUALLY WAS RATHER AN
ANGLOPHILE, BUT HE SAW LONDON -
HE WROTE THAT, “THE CULT OF THE
GOLDEN CALF IS THE DISEASE OF
THE ENGLISH PEOPLE.”
HE SAW IT AS A -- AS A PLA-- AS
MANY OTHERS, DID AS A PLACE
THAT WAS SOULLESS, WHERE
EVERYBODY WAS SIMPLY INTERESTED
IN THE PURSUIT OF WEALTH,
“RUNNING AROUND IN A RESTLESS
HUNT FOR GOLD,” AS HE PUT IT.
“THIS YELLOW FEVER OF GOLD,
THIS SELLOUT OF ALL SOULS TO
THE DEVIL OF MAMMON.”
AGAIN YOU SEE THE SENTIMENTS
HERE OF THE BABYLONIAN STORY
COMING BACK AGAIN IN THE 19th
CENTURY.
AND IT'S ALSO INTERESTING THAT
THE ANGLOPHOBES OF THE 19th
CENTURY AND EARLY 20th CENTURY
ARE VERY CLOSE IN THEIR
SENTIMENTS AND THE WAY THEY
EXPRESS THEMSELVES ABOUT
ENGLAND TO THE ANTI-AMERICANS
OF TODAY.
AND ANGLOPHOBIA AND
ANTI-AMERICAN SENTIMENTS INDEED
ARE VERY SIMILAR.
THIS SOMETIMES COMES FROM THE
RIGHT.
IT CAME FROM FRENCH DEFENDERS
OF THE DEFUNCT MONARCHY AND OF
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH,
REACTIONARIES WHO DIDN'T LIKE
ANG-- BRITISH TRADE, BUT IT
ALSO CAME FROM THE LEFT.
AND FRIEDRICH ENGELS SAW -- WAS
REVOLTED BY WHAT HE SAW AS THE
PROMISCUITY OF DIFFERENT
CLASSES AND DIFFERENT PEOPLE
ALL RUNNING AROUND IN ANONYMOUS
CROWDS IN LONDON, WHICH HE SAW
AS AN ATOMIZED SOCIETY OF
INDIVIDUAL ALIENATION AND SO ON
AND SO FORTH.
THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION, OF
COURSE, WAS -- WAS PARTLY TO
BLAME FOR THESE TEAMING CROWDS
THAT HE SAW, WHO WERE OFTEN
POOR AND EXPLOITED OBVIOUSLY.
AND THIS IS RATHER A JUMP, BUT
THINKING ABOUT THE ABHORRENCE
OF PEOPLE FOR THE RESULT OF THE
INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND THE
PEOPLE COMING FROM THE
COUNTRYSIDE TO THE CITY, I
THINK -- AND THIS IS WHERE THE
NON-WESTERN WORLD I THINK
ASSOCIATES THE CITY WITH THE
WEST IS OF COURSE THAT PROCESS
WHICH TOOK PLACE IN THE 19th
CENTURY IN EUROPE IS TAKING
PLACE IN THE 20th CEN-- TOOK
PLACE IN THE 20th CENTURY AND
IS STILL TAKING PLACE IN THE
NON-WESTERN WORLD.
AND YOU SEE THIS IN MANY FILMS
MADE IN -- IN PLACES LIKE
THAILAND, THE PHILIPPINES,
AND -- AND INDIA AND SO ON.
IT'S A STOCK STORY.
THE COUNTRY BOY GOING TO TOWN,
GOING TO THE CITY, THE CAPITAL
USUALLY, ATTRACTED BY THE --
THE BRIGHT LIGHTS, IN HIS MIND
THE EASY WOMEN AND -- AND
WEALTH.
OF COURSE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE
COUNTRY BOY GOES TO THE CITY IS
THAT HE QUICKLY GETS
DISILLUSIONED; HE GETS TRICKED;
HE LOSES HIS MONEY.
I MEAN, DICKENS ALREADY WROTE
ABOUT THIS, OF COURSE, BUT YOU
SEE THESE THEMES COMING BACK IN
THIRD WORLD MOVIES.
LOSES HIS MONEY, USUALLY
GETS -- ENDS UP IN SOME
CRIMINAL GANG.
AND THE FILM -- AND THESE FILMS
VERY OFTEN END IN SOME
CATACLYSMIC ACT OF VIOLENCE, A
SORT OF REVENGE OF THE COUNTRY
BOY AGAINST THE CITY THAT --
THAT BETRAYED HIM.
A BIT LIKE PERHAPS SAMSON
PULLING THE PILLARS DOWN
AGAINST THE PHILISTINES.
AND -- BUT WHAT IS -- WHAT IS
INTERESTING ABOUT THESE FILMS
IS THAT THE -- YOU USUALLY HAVE
GOOD GANGSTERS AND BAD
GANGSTERS.
YOU SEE THIS IN JAPANESE --
JAPANESE GANGSTER MOVIES, OF
WHICH I AM VERY FOND.
AND THE GOOD GANGSTERS, WHO ARE
TRADITIONAL IN THEIR WAYS, WEAR
A KIMONO AND ONLY FIGHT WITH
SAMURAI SWORDS AND -- AND HAVE
SORT OF THE OLD CODES OFTEN IN
AN EXAGGERATING WAY.
THE BAD GANGSTERS ALWAYS LOOK
LIKE PHONY WESTERNERS.
THEY'RE WEST-- THEY'RE DRESSED
IN SORT OF LOUD PINSTRIPE SUITS
AND DRINK WHISKEY AND FIGHT --
FIGHT WITH GUNS.
THEY'RE COWARDLY AND -- AND
ONLY THINK OF -- OF THE PURSUIT
OF WEALTH, OF MONEY.
A SLIGHTLY SIMILAR THEME I THINK YOU FIND
IN AMERICAN WESTERNS, THAT THE
AUTHENTICITY OF THE COUNTRY IS
THE -- IS USUALLY THE OUTSIDER
WHO COMES INTO THE VILLAGE, THE
GARY COOPER CHARACTER WHO COMES
TO THE TOWN.
AND THE BAD GUYS
ARE THE MEN FROM THE EAST, WHO
USUALLY WEAR THESE SUITS WITH
WATCH CHAINS, AND THEY'RE THE
MEN WHO LAY OUT THE RAILROADS
AND THAT KIND OF THING.
AND THEY'RE -- THEY'RE THE CITY
SLICKERS WHO ARE THE EVIL
CHARACTERS, WHEREAS THE -- THE
AUTHENTIC PEOPLE ARE THE PEOPLE
OF THE SOIL.
NOW, THIS IS IN -- IN AMERICAN
WESTERNS, BUT THE SAME THING IS
PLAYED OUT IN -- IN NON-WESTERN
MOVIES AND IT'S VERY -- IT'S
VERY CLEAR THAT THE CITY
SLICKERS ARE ASSOCIATED WITH
THE WEST.
THE BAD GUYS HAVE WESTERN
MANNERS.
IN EUROPE IN THE NINETEEN-- IN
THE 20th CENTURY, THE BAD GUYS,
THE CITY SLICKERS, THE ENEMIES
OF AUTHENTICITY AND SO ON,
WERE, OF COURSE, TRADITIONALLY
THE JEWS.
AGAIN TO QUOTE ELIOT IN A
FAMOUS POEM, “MY HOUSE IS A
DECAYED HOUSE, AND THE JEW
SQUATS IN THE WINDOWSILL...”
AND JUVENAL'S -- JUVENAL'S
PREJUDICES RESURFACED IN THE
19th CENTURY, HIS IDEA OF THE
INAUTHENTIC LYING CITY DWELLER.
AND AGAIN YOU FIND A LOT OF
THESE PREJUDICES COMING BACK ON
THE LEFT.
I MEAN, ENGELS IS ONE EXAMPLE.
MARX WAS, ALTHOUGH THE GRANDSON
WAS A RABBI, WAS A RABID
ANTI-SEMITE.
AND A FRENCH SOCIALIST THINKER,
PIERRE-JOSEPH PROUDHON,
BELIEVED THAT THE JEW WAS, AND
I QUOTE, “BY TEMPERAMENT AN
ANTI-PRODUCER.
HE IS AN INTERMEDIARY, ALWAYS
FRAUDULENT AND PARASITIC, WHO
OPERATES, IN TRADE AS IN
PHILOSOPHY, BY MEANS OF
FALSIFICATION, COUNTERFEITING
AND HORSE-TRADING.”
SO, THIS KIND OF RUTHLESS
COSMOPOLITANISM, TO USE A
LOADED TERM, WAS ASSOCIATED
WITH LONDON, LATER WITH
AMERICA, AND WITH JEWS.
AND I THINK THAT IT'S NOT FOR
NOTHING THAT ANTISEMITISM AND
ANTI-AMERICANISM AND INDEED
ANGLOPHOBIA, IN AN EARLIER
PERIOD, ARE VERY, VERY LINKED.
IT'S -- IT'S THE SAME HATRED
OF THE -- OF THE PARASITE, OF
WHAT SEEMS INAUTHENTIC,
MATERIALISTIC, GREEDY AND --
AND SO ON.
THERE'S EVEN A FA-- NOT A
FAMOUS, BUT THERE'S EVEN A
STRANGE BOOK I ONCE CAME ACROSS
WRITTEN IN 1895, THE YEAR OF
THE DREYFUS TRIAL, BY A FRENCH
REACTIONARY, WHO -- AND THE
TITLE OF THE BOOK WAS (French
book title), MEANING THE -- THE
THESIS OF THE BOOK WAS THAT
BRITAIN, AS HE HAD -- ENGLAND,
AS HE PUT IT, HAD BEEN JEWIFIED
SINCE EARLY ANGLO-SAXON TIMES.
INDEED, HE EVEN OPINED THAT THE
WORD ISAACSON CAME FROM
ANGLO-SAXON.
AND SO THIS -- THESE ARE --
THESE ARE OLD PREJUDICES.
NOW, OUTSIDE EUROPE THE SAME
CLUSTER OF -- OF SYMBOLIC
HATREDS WAS OFTEN REFERRED TO
AS AMERICANISM.
AND THERE WAS A FAMOUS
CONFERENCE IN KYOTO IN
1942 OR 3 I THINK IT WAS OF
JAPANESE INTELLECTUALS WHO CAME
TOGETHER TO DISCUSS THE THEME
OF OVERCOMING THE WEST, HOW
WESTERN MODERN-- WELL, WHAT HAD
TO BE OVERCOME WAS NOT ENTIRELY
CLEAR TO THEM.
SOME SAID IT WAS MODERNITY;
SOME SAID IT WAS THE
ENLIGHTENMENT; SOME SAID IT WAS
AMERICANISM, AND SO ON.
BUT WHAT THEY REALLY WANTED TO
OVERCOME WAS THE -- WHAT THEY
SAW AS A DISEASE THAT CAME FROM
WESTERN MODERNITY, FROM THE
WESTERN METROPOLIS, FROM THE
WESTERN METROPOLE.
A DISEASE LIKE SARS REALLY.
AND THIS SAME THEME, WHICH I
THINK STARTED OFTEN WITH THE
GERMAN ROMANTICS AND REALLY
STARTED IN THE WEST, WAS TAKEN
OVER BY INTELLECTUALS IN JAPAN
AND IN THE MIDDLE EAST TO
EXPRESS VERY SIMILAR
PREJUDICES.
I MEAN, IF -- ONE OF THE MOST
INFLUENTIAL ISLAMISTS WHO IS
STILL READ BY ISLAMISTS TODAY
WAS SAYYID QUTB, AN EGYPTIAN
WHO WAS EXECUTED FOR SEDITION
IN THE '60s, BUT HE CAME TO
AMERICA AND SAW THIS SORT OF --
AND LOATHED EVERYTHING HE SAW.
HE SAW IT AS A -- AS A
CIVILIZATION WITHOUT
SPIRITUALITY, WITHOUT --
WITHOUT FAITH, ENTIRELY
DEDICATED TO A SORT OF
MACHINE-LIKE PURSUIT OF WEALTH.
BUT WHAT THESE PEOPLE REALLY
HATE, THEIR REAL TARGETS WAS
NOT SO MUCH NEW YORK OR LONDON
OR PARIS, IT WAS, OF COURSE,
THE CITIES IN THEIR OWN
SOCIETIES, WHICH THEY SAW AS
DEEPLY INFECTED BY THIS
DISEASE.
ONE IRANIAN ISLAMIST COINED THE
PHRASE “WESTOXIFICATION” FOR
THIS.
NOW, ANO-- AN IMPORTANT ASPECT
OF THIS, OF THIS IDEA OF SEEING
THE WEST AS THE SORT OF THE
METROPOLE AND THE NONWEST AS
THE PERIPHERY THAT IS EXPLOITED
BY THE BIG CITY AND IN EMPIRES
IS THIS CLASH BETWEEN WHAT IS
SEEN AS SORT OF LOCAL
AUTHENTICITY AND CLAIMS OF
UNIVERSALISM.
AN EMPIRE, LIKE GLOBAL
CAPITALISM OR COMMUNISM, DOES
OFTEN CLAIM TO HAVE SOME
UNIVERSAL ANSWER, A SET OF
UNIVERSAL VALUES WHICH
SHOULD -- COULD APPLY
EVERYWHERE AND, IF NECESSARY,
HAVE TO BE IMPOSED WITH FORCE.
IT'S THE KIND OF RHETORIC --
SOME OF WHICH THIS KIND OF
RHETORIC IS CURRENTLY
FASHIONABLE AGAIN IN
WASHINGTON, D.C.
AND THE PROBLEM, I THINK,
FOR -- WHICH IS A GENUINE
PROBLEM - IT'S NOT JUST
SOMETHING I WANT TO RIDICULE
AS THE PRODUCT OF FANATICISM -
IS HOW THE PERIPHERY CAN
PROTECT ITS OWN SENSE OF ITSELF
AND ITS OWN CULTURE AND
TRADITION AND SO ON FROM THESE
CLAIMS TO UNIVERSAL VALUES AND
UNIVERSALISM, WHICH COME WITH
EMPIRE AND -- AND INDEED WITH
GLOBALIZATION, WITH CAPITALISM.
THE CHINESE HAD
AN ANSWER TO THIS IN THE LATE
19th CENTURY WHEN THEY WERE
FIRST CONFRONTED BY THE WEST,
BY THE METROPOLE, WHICH WAS AN
INGENIOUS ONE AND WHICH WAS
IMITATED BY THE JAPANESE AND
DIDN'T, OF COURSE, QUITE WORK,
BUT THE IDEA WAS THAT THEY
WOULD SEPARATE WHAT WAS
ENTIRELY USE-- WHAT WAS USEFUL,
WHAT WAS UTILITARIAN FROM THE
WEST - IN OTHER WORDS, WAYS TO
BUILD A MODERN CANON AND
RAILWAY ENGINES AND THAT KIND
OF THING - FROM WHAT THEY
CALLED THE ESSENCE, WHICH HAD
TO BE CHINESENESS AND CHINESE
TRADITION AND ETHICS AND SO ON.
SO, YOU SEPARATE KNOWLEDGE
FROM -- YOU SEP-- YOU SEPARATE
OUT THE -- THE UTILITARIAN FROM
THE SPIRITUAL.
IT DIDN'T QUITE
WORK BECAUSE YOU CAN'T.
I MEAN, YOU FIND AGAIN A MODERN
PARALLEL TO THIS.
WHEN DENG XIAOPING WAS STILL
THE PARAMOUNT LEADER IN CHINA,
HE TALKED ABOUT SPIRITUAL
POLLUTION.
WHAT HE WANTED WAS WHAT WAS
USEFUL FROM THE WEST, BUT HE
DIDN'T WANT ALL THE IDEAS THAT
CAME WITH IT.
YOU FIND IT TODAY WHEN THE
CHINESE WANT ALL THE BENEFITS
OF THE INTERNET AND INFORMATION
TECHNOLOGY, BUT THEY DON'T WANT
THE IDEAS THAT CAN COME IN WITH
THE INTERNET.
AND THIS SEPARATION OF THE
UTILITARIAN FROM THE SPIRITUAL
DOESN'T WORK, BUT IT
RE-ENFORCES AGAIN THIS IDEA IN
THE MINDS OF ITS ENEMIES OF THE
WEST AND THE WESTERN -- THE
WESTERN METROPOLE AS SOMETHING
THAT'S MACHINE-LIKE AND
SOULLESS AND ENTIRELY
RATIONALISTIC, PURELY
UTILITARIAN, ONLY INTERESTED IN
THE PURSUIT OF MONEY AND
WEALTH.
NOW, IT IS, AS I SAID,
LEGITIMATE TO TRY AND PROTECT
ONE'S SELF, ONE'S OWN CULTURE
AND SO ON TO SOME EXTENT
AGAINST BEING COMPLETELY
SWAMPED BY CIVILIZATION'S CLAIM
OF UNIVERSAL VALUES.
BUT WHERE IT BECOMES VERY
DANGEROUS IS WHEN THESE DREAMS
ARE TURNED TO UTOPIAN VISIONS
OF PURITY AND AUTHENTICITY AND
BLOOD AND SOIL AND SO ON.
I MEAN, THIS HAS BEEN SHOWN
OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN HISTORY
HOW DANGEROUS THIS IS.
THE BLOOD AND SOIL THEORIES OF
GERMANY IN THE 1930s DON'T NEED
TO BE REHEARSED.
THE ATTEMPT TO BUILD -- TO
BUILD SOME UTOPIAN VISION OF
THE KALAFAT IN THE MIDDLE EAST,
WHICH NEVER REALLY EXISTED IN
THE FIRST PLACE, COULD TURN OUT
TO BE EQUAL-- ALMOST CERTAINLY
WILL TURN OUT TO BE EQUALLY
DANGEROUS.
WHAT WE SEE THEN IN THE LATE
19th CENTURY IS THE -- OR THE
MIDDLE 19th CENTURY ALREADY IS
THE COUNTRY FIGHTING BACK, THE
COUNTRY STRIKING BACK AT THE
CITY, AT THE METROPOLE.
AND MAOISM WAS AN EXTREME
EXAMPLE OF THIS IN HIS
CAMPAIGNS TO STAMP OUT THE
URBAN BOURGEOISIE, TO --
LITERALLY -- IN CAMPAIGNS WHERE
LITERALLY HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS
OF PEOPLE WERE TORTURED AND
MURDERED.
POL POT IS AN EVEN MORE EXTREME
VERSION OF THE SAME THING.
PHNOM PENH WAS, AS IT WERE, THE
TWIN TOWERS OF -- OF THE KHMER
ROUGE.
I MEAN, THE ATTACK ON -- ON THE
CAPITAL CITY WITH ITS
MINORITIES, WITH ITS TRADERS
AND SO ON - THE CHINESE BEING
THE JEWS OF CAMBODIA, SO TO
SPEAK - WAS AN ACTUAL PHYSICAL
ATTACK ON PEOPLE, WHICH --
WHERE PEOPLE ALL THEY NEEDED TO
DO WAS SPEAK FRENCH OR WEAR
GLASSES TO GET MURDERED.
BUT IT WAS ALSO A SYMBOLIC
ATTACK.
IT WAS AN ATTACK ON THE SAME
IDEA OF THE CITY, I WOULD SAY,
THAT WAGNER AND ENGELS AND THE
PEOPLE WHO WROTE THE OLD
TESTAMENT WERE ALREADY ON
ABOUT.
NOW, THE TALIBAN AGAIN, THE --
ONE OF THE MOST SYMBOLIC ACTS
WHEN THE TALIBAN TOOK OVER
KABUL WAS TO KILL THE FORMER
COMMUNIST LEADER NAJIBHULLAH,
WHO WAS THEN HANGED BY A
LAMPPOST, AND AS A SORT OF
SYMBOLIC GESTURE THEY STUFFED
DOLLAR BILLS INTO HIS POCKET
AND A CIGARETTE INTO HIS HAND
AS SORT OF -- AS SYMBOLS OF
WHAT THEY WERE AGAINST.
NOW, THE -- IT'S ACTUALLY
FAIRLY RARE THAT THESE
INSTANCES OF THE COUNTRY
STRIKING BACK AT THE CITY ARE
CARRIED OUT BY COUNTRY BOYS.
THEY WERE, IN THE CASE OF THE
KHMER ROUGE PERHAPS, EVEN
THOUGH POL POT HIMSELF HAD
HATCHED HIS PLANS IN PARIS,
INFLUENCED BY THINKERS SUCH AS
FRANTZ FANON, BUT MOST OF THESE
ANTI-URBAN PREJUDICES COME --
ARE BORN IN THE CITY AND ARE
THE BRAIN CHILDREN OF CITY
PEOPLE.
AND PERHAPS I
SHOULD END WITH ONE OF THE MOST
CHILLING EXAMPLES AND AGAIN
COME BACK TO THE WEST JUST TO
SHOW THAT IT'S NOT A
QUESTION -- IT'S NOT A
HUNTINGTONIAN CLASH OF
CIVILIZATIONS I'M TALKING
ABOUT.
IT'S NOT THE WEST AGAINST THE
REST, OR THE WEST AGAINST THE
EAST, OR ISLAM AGAINST
CHRISTIANITY.
THE PREJUDICES
AND HATREDS I'M TALKING ABOUT
ARE ROOTED IN THE WEST AS MUCH
AS ANYWHERE ELSE, PERHAPS EVEN
MORE SO.
AND ONE OF THE MOST CHILLING,
EVEN THOUGH NOT QUITE AS
MURDEROUS AS POL POT OR MAO,
BUT EXAMPLES OF WHAT I'M
TALKING ABOUT IS THE
DESTRUCTION OF SARAJEVO.
SARAJEVO IN YUGOSLAVIA REALLY
STOOD FOR EXACTLY THE KIND OF
IDEA OF THE CITY THAT I WOULD
WISH TO DEFEND.
IT WAS A PLACE -- IT WAS A
GREAT MARKETPLACE, BUT ALSO A
PLACE OF GREAT LEARNING WITH A
FAMOUS LIBRARY.
IT WAS A PLACE THAT HAD --
WHERE MUSLIMS, EVEN THOUGH THEY
WERE QUITE SECULAR MUSLIMS, BUT
WHERE MUSLIMS AND JEWS AND
CHRISTIANS OF VARIOUS
DENOMINATIONS HAD LIVED
TOGETHER FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS.
AND IT WAS DESTROYED QUITE
DELIBERATELY.
AND ONE OF THE SONS OF SARAJEVO
WAS A MAN CALLED NIKOLA
KOLJEVIC, WHO WAS WELL-KNOWN AS
A SHAKESPEARE SCHOLAR.
HE HAD LIVED IN LONDON WHERE HE
HAD STUDIED AND PLAYED PIANO
IN PUBS.
HE HAD LIVED IN -- IN THE
UNITED STATES.
HE HIMSELF WAS A MODERN
CIVILIZED URBAN MAN.
HE WENT BACK TO YUGOSLAVIA AND
BECAME PART OF THE REVOLT
AGAINST THE CITY, THIS GREAT
SHAKESPEARE SCHOLAR.
AND HE WATCHED FROM THE HILLS
FROM PALE AS SARAJEVO,
INCLUDING ITS LIBRARY, WAS
SYSTEMATICALLY DESTROYED AND IN
THE NAME OF ETHNIC PURITY, IN
THE NAME OF A HORRIBLE UTOPIAN
VISION OF PURITY.
AND THE ORDER TO DESTROY
SARAJE-- TO SHELL SARAJEVO WAS
SIGNED BY NIKOLA KOLJEVIC,
SHAKESPEARE SCHOLAR.
HE WAS NOT A SUICIDE BOMBER,
LIKE THE PEOPLE WHO DESTROYED
THE TWIN TOWERS, BUT WHEN HE
WAS OUT OF FAVOUR AND THE
SERBIAN ATTEMPT TO TAKE OVER
GREATER SERBIA WAS CLEARLY LOST
AND MILOSEVIC HIMSELF GOT INTO
TROUBLE, KOLJEVIC SAW THE
EXTENT OF THE FAILURE THAT HE
HAD MADE OF HIS LIFE AND ENDED
UP BLOWING OUT HIS BRAINS
NONETHELESS.
AND ON THAT UNHAPPY NOTE I SEE
I HAVE REACHED THE LIMIT OF MY
TIME.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

[Long applause]

The clip ends.

Back in the studio, Andrew says AS BURUMA
POINTS OUT, THE PERCEPTION THAT
THE CITY WITH A DEN OF INIQUITY
HAS A VERY, VERY LONG HISTORY.
AND IF YOU WANT MORE ON THE
SUBJECT, FIND A COPY OF
BURUMA'S BOOK THAT HE
COAUTHORED.
IT'S CALLED
OCCIDENTALISM: THE WEST
IN THE EYES OF ITS
ENEMIES.
THIS HOSTILITY HAS BEEN WITH US
MUCH LONGER THAN THE HISTORY OF
TORONTO.
REGARDLESS OF
WHETHER YOU LIVE IN A LARGE
CITY, SUBURB, OR A HAMLET, YOU
CAN WRITE TO US AT
bigideas@tvo.org AND WE'LL SEND
YOU A WEEKLY UPDATE ABOUT
WHAT'S COMING UP ON OUR
PROGRAM.
FOR
BIG IDEAS,
I'M ANDREW
MOODIE.

[Theme music plays]

The end credits roll.

bigideas@tvo.org

416-484-2746

Big Ideas. Producer, Wodek Szemberg.

Producers, Lara Hindle, Mike Miner, Gregg Thurlbeck.

Logos: Unifor, Canadian Media Guild.

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2007, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: P.J. O'Rourke on Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations