Let’s see where we’ve gotten.
Once upon a time a great change occurred, unique for a while to Europe, especially after 1600 in the lands around the North Sea, and most especially in Holland and then in Britain. The change had been foreshadowed in the Hansa towns such as LÃ¼beck and Bergen and Dantzig, and in some trading towns of southern Germany, and in the prosperous little cities of Flanders and Brabant, in Barcelona, in the Huguenot strongholds of France, and especially in the northern Italian cities such as Venice, Florence, Genoa, and the rest. It had been tried out a bit in other places and times — such as to a limited extent in late seventeenth-century C.E. Osaka, or it seems in second-century B.C.E. Carthage, or “Tyre, the city of battlements,/ whose merchants were princes/ and her traders the most honored men on earth” (Isaiah 23: 8). But after the Province of Holland and after the eighteenth century and after Britain — meaning to be precise northern and western England and parts of Lowland Scotland, with Amsterdam and London providing financial and trading services — the change persisted. Then it spread to the world.
The change was the coming of a business-respecting civilization. Much of the elite, and then also much of the non-elite of northwestern Europe and its offshoots, came to accept or even admire, in a word, the “bourgeois” values of exchange and innovation. Or at least it did not attempt to block them, and even sometimes honored them on a scale never before seen. Especially it did so in the new United States. Then likewise the elites and then the common people in more of the world, and now, startlingly, in China and India and Brazil, undertook to respect or at least not to despise and overtax the bourgeoisie. Not everyone did, even in the United States, and there’s the rub, and the promise.
It took many decades, and is not entirely complete. Anti-bourgeois attitudes survive in bourgeois cities like London and New York and Milan, expressed around neo-aristocratic dinner tables and in neo-priestly editorial meetings. The bourgeoisie is far from ethically blameless, of course, and the sneers are often justified. The newly tolerated bourgeoisie has regularly, for example, tried to set up as a new aristocracy protected by the state, just as Adam Smith and Karl Marx said it would. And anyway even in the embourgeoisfying lands on the North Sea the old hierarchy based on birth or clerical rank did not simply disappear on January 1, 1700. In 1773 Oliver Goldsmith attacked the new sentimental comedies on the London stage as too much concerned with mere tradesmen (The London Merchant was an earlier, tragic version), whom he from a faux-aristocratic height found dreary.362 He thought it much more satisfactory to display (to an audience of tradesmen and their wives) the foibles of aristocrats, or at least of the gentry and their servants, as in The Marriage of Figaro. Tales of pre- or anti-bourgeois life have strangely dominated the high and low art of the Bourgeois Era. Flaubert’s and Hardy’s novels, D’Annunzio’s and Eliot’s poetry, Sergei Eisenstein’s and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s films, not to speak of a rich undergrowth of cowboy movies and country music, celebrate peasant/proletariat or aristocratic values, and uniformly despise the bourgeoisie. Oh, yes: a hard coming we had of it.
Yet the hardness was not mainly material. It was ideological and rhetorical. So at least some many historians and sociologists have argued, and even a few economists — Smith and Joseph Schumpeter and Albert Hirschman, to name three. What made the modern world, as many economic historians are realizing, was not trade or empire or the exploitation of the periphery. These were exactly peripheral. Anyway imperialism had been routine in the Athenian or Sung or Mughal or Spanish empires. Yet the empires, which were commercial empires, too, did not make a modern world. Nor was a class struggle the maker of modernity, though Marx and Engels were wise to emphasize the leading role of the bourgeoisie. Recent historians, unless Marxists of an older sort, have come to see the class struggle as precisely not the history of all hitherto existing societies. But neither did a bourgeois civilization come from any of the engines of analysis of bourgeois and Samuelsonian economists. The engines, whether Marxist or Samuelsonian, are well worth having, because in their own scientific realms they explain a good deal — and then by their failures outside their realms they exhibit how very much of human life depends on rhetoric and ideas. Some modern Marxist economists, for example, would like to say that innovation came from a prudent struggle for power in the workplace, and that steam-driven looms and the like were just what bosses did to break proto-union power and to discipline the workforce. 363 There’s something in it. But not much. And modern Samuelsonian economists would like to say that a business-respecting civilization came from the prudent division of labor or the accumulation of capital or the increasing returns to scale or the expansion of international trade or the downward march of transaction costs or the Malthusian pressures on behavior. There’s something in all of these, too. But not much. The limits of the prudence-only arguments of Marxists or Samuelsonians show how important are virtues other than prudence. Expressed as a summary for economists: “What happened in the Industrial Revolution, 1750 to the present, was neither Karl Marx nor Paul Samuelson in the main, but Adam Smith and Joseph Schumpeter and Albert Hirschman.” For everyone else: “Not matter, but mainly ideas.”
The makers of the modern world of computers and frozen pizza were the new ideas for machines and organizations — especially those of the eighteenth century and after, such as the spinning jenny and the insurance company, and the new ideas in politics and society, such as the American constitution and the British middle class. The new ideas arose to some modest degree from material causes such as educational investment and the division of labor, and even from the beloved of Samuelsonian “growth theorists” in economics nowadays, “economies of scale,” a renaming of the proposition that nothing succeeds like success. Good. But the pioneering innovations of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Europe and its offshoots arose mainly from a change in what the blessed Adam Smith called “moral sentiments. A unique rise of liberty, and especially a rise of talk about liberty, freed human innovation, in Holland starting in 1585, and in England and New England a century later. That is, innovation came largely out of a change in the ethical rhetoric of the economy, especially about the bourgeoisie and its projects.
Understand the words used here. You can see for one thing that “bourgeois” does not have to mean what conservatives and progressives mean by it, namely, “having a thoroughly corrupted human spirit.” The bourgeois was viewed by the late-Romantic conservative Thomas Carlyle in 1843 as an atheist with “a deadened soul, seared with the brute Idolatry of Sense, to whom going to Hell is equivalent to not making money.” 364 Or from the other side, in 1996 the influential leftist historian of the United States, Charles Sellers, viewed the new respect for the bourgeoisie in America as a terrible plague which would during 1815-1846 “wrench a commodified humanity to relentless competitive effort and poison the more affective and altruistic relations of social reproduction that outweigh material accumulation for most human beings.” 365 Contray to such voice, bourgeois life is in fact good for us, and we should all have it. The philosopher the late Richard Rorty viewed himself as a “postmodern bourgeois liberal. 366 Give it a try.
That does not mean, however, that one needs to be fond of the vice of greed, or needs to think that greed suffices for an economic ethic. Such a theory, dating from Bernard Mandeville’s (DDDD-DDDD***) Fable of the Bees, has undermined ethical thinking about the Age of Innovation. It has especially done so during the past three decades in smart-aleck hangouts such as Wall Street or the Department of Economics. Greed is not good. Adam Smith didn’t say it was — if you think he did you need to exchange your Adam Smith tie for a library card. Prudence is a great virtue among seven, but greed is the sin of prudence-only, the virtue of prudence when it is not balanced by the other six, and becomes instead a vice. That is the central point of The Bourgeois Virtues (or for that matter Smith The Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759), and will recur in Bourgeois Words.
Nor has the Bourgeois Era led in fact to a poisoning of the virtues. In a recent collection of mini-essays asking “Does the Free Market Corrode Moral Character?” the political theorist Michael Waltzer replies “Of course it does.” But then he wisely notes that any social system corrodes one or another virtue. That the Bourgeois Era surely has tempted people into thinking that greed is good “isn’t itself an argument against the free market. Think about the ways democratic politics also corrodes moral character. Competition for political power puts people under great pressure . . . to shout lies at public meeting, to make promises they can’t keep.” 367 Or think about the ways socialism puts people under great pressure to commit the sins of envy or state-sponsored greed or environmental imprudence. Or think about the ways the alleged affective and altruistic relations of social reproduction in America before the alleged commercial revolution put people under great pressure to obey their husbands in all things and to hang troublesome Quakers and Anabaptists. That is to say, any social system, if it is not to dissolve into a war of all against all, needs ethics internalized by its participants (Waltzer puts his trust in ethical education arising from legislation. On could have some doubts that a state strong enough to enforce such laws as Walzer [check spelling throughout***] would remain uncorrupted). Contrary to a common opinion, in many ways the arrival of a bourgeois, business-respecting civilization did not corrupt the human spirit, despite temptations. Mostly in fact it elevated the human spirit. The Age of Innovation improved much behavior, and depended on the improvements. 368 Waltzer is right to add that “the arrogance of the economic elite these last few decades has been astonishing.” 369 So it has. But the arrogance comes from the smart-aleck theory that greed is good, not from the moralized economy that Smith and Mill imagined, and in some respects saw around them, and which continues even now to spread.
And the Era of the Bourgeoisie did not thrust aside, as Charles Sellers elsewhere claims in rhapsodizing about the world we have lost, lives “of enduring human values of family, trust, cooperation, love, and equality.” 370 Good lives such as these can be and actually are lived on a gigantic scale in the modern, bourgeois town, freed from chill penury and the little tyrants of the fields. In Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country John Kumalo, from a little village in Natal, and now a big man in Johannesburg, says, “I do not say we are free here,” certainly true for a black man under apartheid in South Africa in 1948. “But at least I am free of the chief. At least I am free of an old and ignorant man.” 371
Christianity and socialism, both, are quite mistaken to contrast a rural Eden to a corrupted City of Man. The popular poet of the Sentimental Revolution, William Cowper, expressed in 1785 a cliché dating back to Hellenistic poetry: “The town has tinged the country; and the stain /Appears a spot upon a vestal’s robe, / The worse for what it soils.” No. This urban, bourgeois world we live in here below is not a utopia, God knows. But neither is it a hell. In Christianity the doctrine that the world is a hell is a Platonic heresy, the Gnostic one of Marcion, against which the Apostles’ Creed was directed. At any rate our specifically bourgeois world should not be judged a hell by the mere force of a sneering and historically uninformed definition of “bourgeois.” The judgment should depend on factual inquiry, not on the clichés of left and right politics 1848 to the present.
Another word used here, “ethics,” as argued at length in The Bourgeois Virtues, is best seen as not exclusively about how you treat other people (by exercising the virtues of justice, secular love, and the altruistic part of courage). Ethics is also about how you treat yourself (prudence, temperance, and the rest of courage) and how you treat your purposes in life (hope, faith, and transcendent love). Ethics is a theorization of philosophical psychology. The theorizing of ethics changed in Northwestern Europe in the eighteenth century — for the better in its application to the economy and polity, and for the worse in the understanding of the good life by some of the leading theorists. The high theory in Kant and Bentham was abstracting away from ordinary life at the same time the low theory in Hume and Smith and the Anglican theorists of the new economy was developing an admirably practical and bourgeois cast.
What is known as “virtue ethics,” rediscovered in England after 1958 by Elizabeth Anscombe and subsequently developed disproportionately by female philosophers (Alasdair MacIntyre counting as an honorary female), had been dropped in the late eighteenth century in favor of single-value and abstract systems like those of Kant and Bentham. 372 The last of the former virtue ethicists was, surprisingly, Adam Smith, in his Theory of Moral Sentiments of 1759 and a sixth edition in 1790. 373 Kant the East Prussian and Bentham the South Englishman, secular sons of Protestantism, appeared instead to want to avoid the Papist-sounding “virtues,” through which one might achieve salvation by sufficiently good works. In 1752 the playwright and novelist Henry Fielding had asserted, in half-jest as usual, that “the cardinal virtues (possibly from the popish epithet [that is, the Roman Catholic characterization] assigned to them) are at present held in. . . little repute.” 374 Kant and Bentham believed rather in a natural grace on which salvation depended, the godly grace of Augustine or Calvin translated into Duty or Utility. With the rest of the philosophes they would have none of the richer Aristotelian-Aquinian talk. By contrast the word “ethics,” you see, is used in the old-fashioned sense, Smithian or Aquinian or Aristotelian. It is an ethics of the seven primary colors (courage, temperance, justice, prudence, faith, hope, and love), viewed as a rhetoric of the flourishing human life.
And, understand, the word “rhetoric” in such phrases as “a rhetoric of the flourishing human life” is not here defined as “lying speech” or “silly bloviation.” That’s the newspaper definition, true. But like “anarchism” and “feminism” and “pragmatism,” the word “rhetoric” has an older, exact, honored, and non-newspaper definition. We don’t have to go on and on falling for the newspaper definition. When the economist and sociologist Adam Smith in 1748 taught “rhetoric and belles lettres” to Scottish boys he was not sneering at the R word. 375 Nor was the theologian and chemist Joseph Priestley sneering at it when in 1777 he published for a similar readership A Course of Lectures on Oratory and Criticism. But for a long time Smith’s and Priestley’s descendents in economics and sociology and chemistry and even in theology have been sneering at the word “rhetoric,” formerly honored. Many social scientists of the twentieth century — entranced by vulgar Marxism and rat running, first-order predicate logic and multiple regression, and by the metaphysics of materialism and behaviorism and logical positivism — gave up on language. People such as Bertrand Russell or NNN*** Corbusier or Paul Samuelson came to believe in the sufficiency of a human intellect and of material forces beyond a merely human persuasion by words.
“Rhetoric” in Aristotle was defined as the available means of non-violent persuasion, peitho. The line is drawn at physical coercion (bia), in order not to merge, say, rape with seduction, or fist-backed violence with marital discord. 376 It underlies all democracies from the councils of the hunter-gatherers to the law courts of fifth-century Syracuse to the civil society of the new South Africa. “Rhetoric” is not simply literary. It includes metaphor and first-order predicate logic, story and statistical data, both. These are the available means of non-violent persuasion. Rhetoric is not mere ornament for ornament’s sake, or pointless fancy talk. It was the basis of education in the West from the fifth century B.C.E. to the nineteenth century C.E., and has parallels in East and South Asia, not to mention the skills of oratory exercised in traditional African law or in the councils of the Iroquois or Sioux. It is all we have for sweetly — if not always ethically — persuading ourselves how we should do things, and persuading others, too. With the aid of rhetoric Galileo persuaded Europe that Jupiter had moons; Alcibiades persuaded the Athenians to attack Syracuse; Lincoln persuaded Americans to free the slaves; you persuade yourself to vote for Obama. 377
That is, rhetoric is what we have for altering our beliefs, short of reaching for our guns, or acting on impulse (or, what amounts to the same thing, acting on our always-already-known utility functions). The American rhetorician and philosopher Richard McKeon (1900-1985; a teacher of Richard Rorty among others) distinguished rhetoric as a persuasion expositing an already known position from the higher rhetoric that explored positions, a real conversation. Though it is surely not evil to try to persuade someone by sweet words — after all, it is better than shooting them, or rounding them up for a bantustan — the creativity of the West in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries arose from the other, good-conversation rhetoric. The so-called “Austrian” economists such as Israel Kirzner or Friedrich Hayek (he who provokes sneers from the economic Establishment) call it “discovery.” The discovery will sometimes involve money payments, in which the two parties discover a mutually advantageous deal. Smith argued that “the offering of a shilling, which to us appears to have so plain and simple a meaning, is in reality offering an argument to persuade one to do so and so, as it is for his interest.” 378 But discovery involves other forms of unforced persuasion as well. Schumpeter (Austrian in a more literal sense) called it entrepreneurship, which requires sweet talk and discovery and deals at every juncture. Examine the business section of the book racks at the airport and you will discover that fully a third of the books are about rhetoric, that is, how to persuade employees, bankers, customers, yourself.
As the American literary critic the late Wayne Booth expressed it, rhetoric is “the art of probing what men believe they ought to believe,” “the art of discovering good reasons, finding what really warrants assent, because any reasonable person ought to be persuaded,” the “art of discovering warrantable beliefs and improving those beliefs in shared discourse.” 379 Or as the French political theorist the late Bernard Manin put it, “between the rational object of universal agreement and the arbitrary lies the domain of the reasonable and the justifiable, that is, the domain of propositions that are likely to convince, by means of arguments whose conclusion is not incontestable, the greater part of an audience made up of all the citizens.” 380
We Europeans have been strangely ashamed of rhetoric for some centuries now. Therefore we have devised many euphemisms for it (since one cannot live thoughtfully without it), such as “method” in Descartes’ definition, or “ideology” in Marx’s, or “deconstruction” in Jacques Derrida’s, or “frames” in George Lakoff’s, or the “social imaginary” as Jacques Lacan and Charles Taylor define it — “what makes sense of our practices,” writes Taylor, “a kind of repertory.” 381 David Bohm’s “dialogue” is still another reinvention among literally hundreds of the wheel of ancient rhetoric. Such reinventions were necessary because philosophers such as Bacon and Descartes and Spinoza and Hobbes had revived with their own persuasive rhetoric the Platonic, anti-rhetorical notion that clear and distinct ideas were somehow achievable without human rhetoric (contradicted in the very performance in Plato of the dialogue form that asserted it).
A fully agreeing, stagnant, utopian, slave-owning, tyrannical, ant-colony, hierarchical, zombie-populated, gene-dominated, or centrally planned society wouldn’t need rhetoric, since the issues have already been settled. Merely act, following your DNA, the traditions of the Spartanate, the Baconian method, the volonté générale, the Party line, the views of Thabo Mbeki about AIDS, or whatever else your lord or your utility function says. The rule is: Don’t reflect; don’t discuss. Just do it.
For many purposes it is not a crazy rule. Indeed an innovative society depends on tacit knowledge scattered over the economy, and the economy depends on allowing such tacit and habitual knowledge to be combined by invisible hands. As Hayek put it, “civilization enables us constantly to profit from knowledge we individually do not possess. . . . These ‘tools’ which man has evolved . . . . consist in a large measure of forms of conduct which we habitually follow without knowing why.” 382 You work your computer without understanding machine language. You drive your auto without knowing precisely how its engine works.
But without fresh persuasion the rules, habits, knowledge, institutions — in a word, the tools — would never change. The computer would be frozen in the state it achieved in 1965. Autos would never shift to hydrogen fuel. Financial markets would never innovate. Mill called the exhaustion of productive persuasion “the stationary state,” which he rather admired, as ending the sick hurry of modern life: “The richest and most prosperous countries would very soon attain the stationary state,” he wrote, “if no further improvements were made in the productive arts.” 383 The productive arts were in his day exploding (which Mill did not notice). The productive explosion depended, ironically, on his other main delight, liberty of discussion — which is rhetoric all the way down. Mill was contradicting himself (somewhat in the manner that radical environmentalists do nowadays) when he admired the stationary state, yet admired, too, a free rhetoric that was bound always to disrupt it.
It is precisely the enormous change in such productive arts 1700 to the present, accelerating late in the nineteenth century, that has made us modern. It is not merely a matter of science and the frontiers of knowledge. It was not until British electricity and then the telegraph in the 1840s, or German organic chemistry and artificial dyes and medicines in the 1890s, and Italian radio and mass communication in the 1900s, that Science started to pay back its debt to Technology. Though it is common to blur the timing, most important changes in technique until well into the nineteenth century had little to do with scientific theory. The classic case is the steam engine. Although the discovery of the atmosphere (discovered by the Chinese, incidentally, centuries before) clearly played a role in the early steam engine, most of its improvements were matters chiefly of tinkering, and high and low skills of machine-making. Well past Carnot science owed more to the steam engine than the steam engine owed to science. Superheating in marine engines late in the nineteenth century might have had theoretical roots, but in truth it is not until the twentieth century that Western science matters much to the continued growth of the economy: television, plastics, electronics. The historian of technology David Edgerton speaks, further, of the “shock of the old,” that is, the unpredictable and creative use of old technologies, such as the use of galvanized iron in the roofs of huts in favelas.384 It’s tinkering, almost literally.
The routine of trade or accumulation or exploitation does not explain such creativity in innovating in workshops, tinkering, and the shock of the old, in the style of Han Per. We need to focus on how habits change, how people imagine new technologies, improve them in response to economic pressures, and think up new uses of old ones. In other words, a society of open inquiry depends on rhetoric in its politics and in its science and in its economy, whether or not the very word “rhetoric” is honored. 385 And because such societies are rhetorically open they become intellectually creative and politically free. To the bargain they become astonishingly rich. That’s what began to happen on the path to a business-respecting (but not thereby virtue-ignoring) civilization, first in scattered cities of Europe in the late Middle Ages, but in fully modern form — made finally into a coherent rhetoric that would conquer the world — around the North Sea in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
In North Holland and then in North Britain 1600-1848, and especially around 1700, the rhetoric about markets, innovation, and the bourgeois life changed sharply. In the earlier outbreaks of a proud bourgeoisie in Augsburg and NÃ¼rnberg and the North-German Hansa and Bruges and Brussels and Northern Italy and the rest, not to speak of the great cities of Sung China or of the Abbasid caliphate of Baghdad, the economic rhetoric did not permanently change, and tended to slip back into monopolistic aristocracy. Certainly they did not create a business-respecting civilization. Commercial Verona came to be ruled by gentlemen of Verona, as was a commercial England in Shakespeare’s time ruled by men with swords and sonnet cycles and position at Court rather than by men with ledger books and ink-stained fingers and influence in Parliament. Even Antwerp in the Spanish Netherlands, mistress of sixteenth-century European trade, was governed by an oligarchy of non-traders. But in Amsterdam and Rotterdam and Leiden, and especially in Birmingham and Manchester and Glasgow, and then in Philadelphia and New York and Boston, the economic rhetoric did change, permanently.
For the first time a public opinion — an audience made up of citizens (though not by any means all the adult male indwellers, and certainly very few women, and no non-Europeans) — began to matter in European politics. It was one of the causes of the rhetorical change. The priesthood of all believers, and especially a church governance by congregation rather than by hierarchy, invited lay people to consider themselves and their daily activities as infused with the Holy Spirit. At the same time the turn to Humanism inspirited in the Netherlands the old “chambers of rhetoric” (rederijkerskamers) and in France and England the new grammar schools to affirm that burghers could be Latinists, too. 386 The son of a glover, William Shakespeare, had small Latin and less Greek, but he got what Latin he had in a grammar school of Stratford. The Dutch Revolt against Spain 1568-1648 and the English tumult 1642-1688, the French Huguenot struggle against Louis XIV, stirring up a political environment readied by printing presses difficult to censor, made ordinary men and women bold. 387 As the historian of early Quakerism, Rosemary Moore, put it, “One result of the [English] Civil War was the abolition, for a period of some years, of controls on speech, printing, and ways of worship. Ideas could flourish unchecked.” 388 And so a century later the troublesome children of Britain in Virginia and Massachusetts were emboldened, too, as still a little later were the takers of the Oath of the Tennis Court. From 1517 to 1776 and 1789 the shared discourse was revolutionized. What was thought reasonable and justifiable, and who was worthy of rhetorical attention, shifted, for good, opening the Bourgeois Era. The ideas and the conscious and unconscious rules for handling them — the rhetoric — had changed.
Therefore, and with the resulting economic success of the Dutch in the early seventeenth century and of the British in the early eighteenth century, the virtue of prudence rose greatly in prestige, as compared with the formerly most-honored virtues of religious faith or battlefield courage. As Charles Taylor put it in 1989, what came to “command our awe, respect, or admiration” — what The Bourgeois Virtues called the “virtues of the transcendent” — was no longer solely the high virtues of saint or soldier but now “an affirmation of ordinary life.” 389 To be sure, saintliness and soldiery continued to be admired, causing what Taylor describes as “a tension between the affirmation of ordinary life, to which we moderns are strongly drawn, and some of the most important [and old] moral distinctions.” 390 (The Bourgeois Virtues was written in culpable ignorance of Taylor’s thinking, and therefore much of the book redid in 2006 what Taylor had already done nearly two decades earlier — describe the “tension” between bourgeois virtues and the older honored pair of aristocratic and peasant/Christian virtues.)
By the time in 1776 that Smith wrote An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations the rhetoric of politics among advanced thinkers was beginning to be routinely bourgeois in character rather than holy or heroic, partly because Voltaire and Smith and Franklin and Sieyes kept saying so. Shortly after Napoleon assumed the First Consulship in 1799 the Proclamation des Consuls de la République declared that the new constitution, in the embourgeoisfied formula typical of the age, “is founded on the true principles of representative government, on the sacred rights of property, of liberty, of equality.” 391 A few years later Napoleon merged nationalism with a bourgeois economic program: “We are thirty million men [well. . . 'people,' dear], united by the Enlightenment, property-ownership, and trade.” 392
The bourgeois turn was lamented in 1790 by Edmund Burke: “the age of chivalry is gone; that of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded, and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever. Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank and sex.” 393 The rhetorical change that Burke lamented was to a large degree, though not entirely, also rhetorical in its causes. The eighteenth century in northwestern Europe and especially in Britain, wrote the literary critic Jane Jack, was “the great century of talk and talkers,” from Richard Steele’s imagined coffee house to anywhere Samuel Johnson sat down to speak. 394 Precisely in complaining about “sophisters” Burke was complaining about an age of fresh voice and public opinion to which he so signally contributed, as against the ancient routine of abrupt and unargued force, bia, without chance of exit, as Albert Hirschman would put it, supported by a hierarchical loyalty. 395 Go tell the Spartans, thou who passeth by,/ That here, obedient to their laws, we lie. Obey our laws with generous loyalty to rank and sex, said King Leonidas to his doomed men, and be counted therefore glorious and aristocratic. You will not, however, unlike some of the Athenians at the time, be counted proto-bourgeois, or liberal, or prosperous.