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William Cobbett and the secret too big to be uttered

Wednesday, 23 Apr 2014

William Cobbett on Staff and Scrip, Dr John Dunn. First posted on Saturday, 11 May 2013 at 21:12

William Cobbett circa. 1830

2013 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of William Cobbett (1763-1835), a radical traditionalist if ever there was one. I’m reading a short biography of him at the moment, by G. K. Chesterton.

Chesterton had the measure of Cobbett’s significance, unlike those who would neutralise the venom of Cobbett’s attacks on the political sleaze of his day with a conspiracy of silence, or worse, making him ‘acceptable’ as a left-wing radical.

Chesterton knew that Cobbett had been removed from the ‘respected club’ of history...

..."like the enfant terrible, kicking and screaming, lest he should say something dreadful in the drawing-room. Hence the big secret with which he was bursting has actually been too big to be uttered".*
And what was the big secret that Cobbett has been prevented from uttering?
"He was most immediately concerned, in the conditions of the hour, with what he regarded as the fugitive and wasteful paper chase of paper money. But what he was at once predicting and denouncing, like a small cloud that had not yet become a universal fog, was that vast legal fiction that we call finance."*
In short - Cobbett recognised, almost a hundred years before the destructive power of finance had been realised in the two world wars of the twentieth century - that usury meant death to tradition and a moral life.
“And when he looked for the cause of this, he thought he had found it in the new fluctuation of prices and even of the value of money; in the paper money that symbolised to him such insecurity and shuffling and sharp practice. It meant the destruction not only of the old sort of yeoman but of the old sort of squire. Stockbrokers and Jews and jobbers from the town were driving out the national gentry.”*
Cobbett was early to recognise that the Union Jack was in fact the flag of the banks.
“If ever men were responsible for handing the country over to cads, it was the party of gentlemen who waved the Union Jack after Waterloo.”*
...and the heirs of those cads still seek to extend the power of finance across the globe by means of war to this day.

*Quotes from William Cobbett by Gilbert Keith Chesterton

John Dunn.

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