Courtesy Reuters

Hands and Fists Across the Sea

IT IS impossible to enter into a rational discussion of Anglo-American relations without reference to the basic and very simple human issue involved. On one side is a rich and prosperous family, already established for a long time, occupying great positions in the land, highly esteemed and treated by all with much consideration. On the other there is a younger generation; one may think of them as nephews, or perhaps as cousins, who have struck out on their own line and become far richer than the established senior branch. They have made their own connections and proceeded from strength to strength, increasing their wealth to a fabulous extent, while the senior branch has remained comparatively static. The pattern is familiar enough. There is danger of friction and lack of mutual appreciation; jealousy plays its part, generating feelings of impatience and resentment. But jealousy is not admitted, and the basic emotions find vent in every kind of criticism.

Whatever the younger generation do must be wrong. The houses that they live in are hideous, their furnishings tasteless; at the parties which they give, everything is done in the way it ought not to be done. They comport themselves in a flashy style, and in all their social relations they say the wrong thing and do the wrong thing. These criticisms are, of course, not grounded in reason. If the young people did everything in quite a different way, they would be criticized no less; in the nature of the case they cannot do right. They, on their side, find the older people stuffy and tedious, attaching great importance to a thousand and one things which are of no real significance, hidebound in meaningless etiquette, pompous and conceited beyond endurance, spoil-sport in their attitude to life and basically stupid, but retaining a certain wily cunning by which they still seem able to continue to feather their nests to a moderate extent. It seems clear that no love will be lost between these groups.

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