Then, And No Sooner Than Then

“Who can behold the fanatical animation of Homenas, as he apostrophizes the sacred decretals, without being aware of the essential temperament that comes out in the hundred-and-one manifestations of philosophical absolutism that are forever rife among us?”

‘When, ha! when [cries Homenas] shall this special gift of grace be bestowed on mankind, as to lay aside all other studies and concerns, to use you, to peruse you, to understand you, to know you by heart, to practice you, to incorporate you, to turn you into blood and incentre you into the deepest ventricles of their brains, the inmost marrow of their bones, the most intricate labyrinth of their arteries? Then, ha! then, and no sooner than then, nor otherwise than thus, shall the world be happy… Then, ha! then, no hail, frost, ice, snow, overflowing, or vis major; then, plenty of all earthly goods here below. Then, uninterrupted and eternal peace through the universe, an end of all wars, plunderings, drudgeries, robbing, assassinates (unless it be to destroy those cursed rebels, the heretics). Oh then, rejoicing, cheerfulness, jollity, solace, sports and delicious pleasures, over the face of the earth. Oh, what great learning, inestimable erudition and godlike precepts are knit, linked, rivetted and morticed in the divine chapters of these eternal decretals! Oh how wonderfully, if you read but one demi-canon, short paragraph, or single observation of these sacrosanct decretals — how wonderfully, I say, do you not perceive to kindle in your heart a furnace of divine love, charity towards your neighbour (provided he be no heretic), bold contempt of all casual and sublunary things, firm content in all your affections, and ecstatic elevation of soul even to the third heaven!’

“Might this not be the doctrinaire Marxian speaking, with a volume of Das Kapital in his hand; might it not be the doctrinaire free-trader, protectionist, prohibitionist, single-taxer; might it not be Mr. Henry Ford or Mr. Hoover, apostrophizing the doctrine of mass-production, and holding aloft the blue-prints and specifications of a completely industrialized society? ‘Then, ha! then, and no sooner than then, nor otherwise than thus, shall the world be happy’ — those words invariably recall us to ourselves, they bear us instantly across the field of every ephemeral, petty, and importunate absolutism, and give us a reviving vision of the victorious stretch of humanity that lies beyond it in an immeasurable future.” (Albert Jay Nock and C. R. Wilson, Francis Rabelais: The Man and His work, 1929)