Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Writers of the Right: H. H. Munro ('Saki')

by William King

"...One of the most fundamental differences between conservatism and liberalism and socialism is in their understanding of what determines human nature. The latter two creeds both believe, indeed have to believe, that it is entirely environmentally determined: manipulate the environment and you can change the nature of Man. Conservatism by contrast appreciates that there is an hereditarian influence also at work, that nature as well as nurture plays a part in shaping our identities, and that liberal-Leftist experiments in social engineering are doomed to founder on the rocks of reality.

In The Toys of Peace Saki shows that he clearly appreciates this point. A London paper in March 1914 carried an account of how the self-styled ‘National Peace Council’ planned to prevent future war by giving small boys “peace toys” instead of toy soldiers. Saki mercilessly parodies this fatuous inanity: two boys are given a model municipal washhouse, and toy local government officers to play with, to educate them to their civic responsibilities. To the horror of their liberal benefactors the boys decide the wash-house is a fort and the local government-officers are soon re-fighting the Napoleonic Wars. Interestingly, some 75 years later, Dr Anne Moir, recounting some of the latest scientific researches into genetically determined behavioural patterns, in her book, Brain Sex, described an actual case-study almost identical to Saki's fictional event..."