Conscious v.s. Unconscionable

I found Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” very interesting in the way it outlandishly invites society to take a look at their own lifestyles and examine what little difference truely exists between the way the poor are treated and the way in which they treat, and eventually eat animals.  Swift even goes so far as to lay it out in plain and easy terms for all to understand:

“Therefore let no man talk to me of other expedients: Of taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound: Of using neither cloaths, nor houshold furniture, except what is of our own growth and manufacture: Of utterly rejecting the materials and instruments that promote foreign luxury: Of curing the expensiveness of pride, vanity, idleness, and gaming in our women: Of introducing a vein of parsimony, prudence and temperance: Of learning to love our country, wherein we
differ even from Laplanders, and the inhabitants of Topinamboo: Of quitting our animosities and factions, nor acting any longer like the Jews, who were murdering one another at the very moment their city was taken: Of being a little cautious not to sell our country and consciences for nothing: Of teaching landlords to have at least one degree of mercy towards their tenants. Lastly, of putting a spirit of honesty, industry, and skill into our shop-keepers, who, if a resolution could now be taken to buy only our native goods, would immediately
unite to cheat and exact upon us in the price, the measure, and the goodness, nor could ever yet be brought to make one fair proposal of just dealing, though often and earnestly invited to it.”

In the 18th century, as we have learned, class distinction was a prominent issue and yet it was not a social issue that was ever addressed properly.  Swift speaks of how the wealthy could use this means to keep the wealth of the nation within the hands of the wealthy.  He uses the absolutely unconscionable act of eating children to demonstrate that though no one in their right mind would consider doing such a thing, they are in a sense already killing these children or condemning them to the most awful existence possible and nothing is being done about it.

I found this peice very interesting in the way that endeavors to compare and contrast what is happening with something as atrocious and unconscionable as the consuming of children.


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