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Extra info for Age Of Reason
It is customary to cover this over with ﬁne phrases; about half of conventional morality is a cloak for it. But it must be faced if the moralists’ aim of improving our actions is to be achieved. It is shown in a thousand ways, great and small: in the glee with which people repeat and believe scandal, in the unkind treatment of criminals in spite of clear proof that better treatment would have more eﬀect in reforming them, in the unbelievable barbarity with which all white races treat Negroes, and in the gusto with which old ladies and clergymen pointed out the duty of military service to young men during the War.
If it were more practised in later life, the world would quickly become a paradise, since it would be quite suﬃcient to prevent wars, which are acts of passion, not reason. Nevertheless, in spite of the importance of prudence, it is not the most interesting part of morals. Nor is it the part that raises intellectual problems, since it does not require an appeal to anything beyond self-interest. The part of morality that is not included in prudence, is, in essence, analogous to law, or the rules of a club.
Yet the ruling party are supported by the immense majority of ministers of religion, who, with the Pope at their head, have pledged the vast forces of superstition throughout the world to the support of social injustice. In all stages of education the inﬂuence of superstition is disastrous. A certain percentage of children have the habit of thinking; one of the aims of education is to cure them of this habit. Inconvenient questions are met with ‘hush, hush’, or with punishment. Collective emotion is used to instil certain kinds of belief, more particularly nationalistic kinds.