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" When conservatives, the laudatores temporis acti, lament the moral decay of mankind, the partisans of progress do not fail to remind them of the terrible shadows of the past, that long procession of cruelties, exactions, and debauchery that unfolds through the centuries gone by. Conclusion: it is still better to live today, men are more just and more gentle.

Let us distinguish. If we compare eras like the Middle Ages to the present period, we come to this conclusion: from the point of view of customs, humanity is in full decadence; from the point of view of morality (at least as an emotive disposition and a universal ideal), it is certainly in progress.

Our ancestors had less morality than we do, they had more customs; we have more morality and less customs. It is not even necessary to go back to the Middle Ages to establish this comparison. The peasants of a hundred years ago were on the whole harder, more cunning, more petty and more litigious than the peasants of today; they were less open to morality and to the love that is its basis. Their grandchildren have more sensitive hearts and broader minds; disputes, lawsuits, and deceptions are rarer in the village. But these old peasants possessed, despite the almost immoral narrowness of their souls, a deep capital of religious and family traditions and instinctive wisdom: their children have squandered this capital.

They were personally and hereditarily attached to the land they cultivated and thus played an organic role in the city: their children, detached from their native soil, aspire only to become anonymous and parasitic civil servants. They were sometimes brutal with their children, but they had them: their sons surround theirs with more tenderness and care, but they have almost none left. Worse still - and this shows the monstrous extent of the divorce between moral sensibility and deep-seated customs - it is precisely in this country of France where most men have become so gentle, so humane and, in particular, so tender towards their children and so incapable of seeing them suffer that there are at least 500,000 abortions per year, that is to say 500,000 children murdered! On the one hand, children are spoiled, on the other hand, they are killed......

Because it is not embodied in healthy customs, this morality remains essentially affected by impotence. Made of abstract intellectualism and superficial emotionality (was it not Rousseau who wanted to lay the foundations of a sensitive morality?), it does not go beyond immediate sensation or inaccessible ideal. It is at the same time terribly presbyopic and terribly myopic: with one eye it looks at a chimerical star that will never descend to earth, and with the other - the one that directs concrete action - it sees only the fruit that can be picked today. Men once possessed deep biological and collective instincts that made them unknowingly serve the good of the species and the good of the city, they saw far without being aware of it, and their humble personal effort, captured by a higher purpose to which it spontaneously adapted, contributed to the harmonious construction of society and the future. The great benefit of healthy customs is to make easy and natural things that are very difficult for the pure morality of the isolated individual.

The union, in the same individual, of a strong moral ideal and decadent customs constitutes a terrible social danger. The lack of health in deep-seated customs and vital reflexes gives the moral ideal something unreal and morbid that makes it harmful to human nature. The sins of idealism and angelism, which are at the root of the great cultural and political upheavals of modern times, derive largely from this. United with healthy customs, high morality makes saints; linked to crumbling customs, it produces utopians and revolutionaries. Rousseau and Robespierre were beings always quivering with moral emotion: the preaching of virtue was in them like a kind of death cry, a swan song of customs! Virtue, which is not balanced and humanized by good customs, is always threatened with becoming the prey of a chimerical and, therefore, destructive ideal. It is not the least benefit of healthy customs to prevent morality from wandering off. "

Please note that this is an old text and that I have not included the complete text.

What do you think of this text, about conservatives, morals and society?
What do you think of this text, about conservatives, morals and society?
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