He went on to university, to Oxford, to Christ Church, where he was the clever undergraduate, the center of a circle of like-minded bright young men impatient with their elders—as bright young men have to be—and eager to become part of the new intellectual climate that was emerging in post–First World War Europe. It was a time of intellectual and artistic ferment, and in the eyes of his contemporaries at Oxford, Auden was very much in the vanguard of all this. He was also extremely promiscuous, picking up other young men with undisguised enthusiasm, even succeeding, as one of his biographers reports, in making conquests on the short train journey between Oxford and London. But if the world seemed bright and full of possibilities, there was a snake in the garden, and this would soon make its presence known in an unambiguous fashion.That second paragraph is chilling. We are still assailed by people and movements (SJWs) who are determined to subjugate others in order to reform society on rational principles. Their rational principles; no room for the opinions of others. Despite the undeviating socialist/marxist record of massacres, genocide, torture, starvation, poverty and repression, people still hunger for the false utopian dream. Seems like we would have learned more with nearly a century's worth of examples.
Auden was not involved in politics at Oxford—his interest in the subject was really kindled only after he left the university and went to Berlin. But many of his contemporaries were becoming deeply involved in political debate: the future they envisaged was one in which justice and freedom would be secured by the enlightened reform of society on rational principles, while material needs would be catered for by scientific progress. It was a fairly conventional left-wing vision, and it had all the confidence that such views of the world usually have. For some, such as the British intellectuals who famously traveled to Moscow, the Soviet Union became the embodiment of their hopes (“We have seen the future—and it works,” enthused the fashionable social theorists Sidney and Beatrice Webb of their carefully stage-managed visit to Russia); for others the battle was a more domestic one, to be fought through unions and internal reform. For all of them, though, the greatest threat was fascism, which was threatening the very basis of European civilization. It was against this backdrop of political threat that Auden spent the years immediately following his graduation from Oxford.
Thursday, August 23, 2018
The future they envisaged was one in which justice and freedom would be secured by the enlightened reform of society on rational principles
From What W.H. Auden Can Do For You by Alexander McCall Smith. On Auden's young adulthood at Oxford 1925-28.