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Beliefs that were not well-founded in fact, or not likely to be accepted in another time or another place, became commonly accepted at a large scale. So much so that these beliefs seemed more common than not. First, "Politics of fear" refers to the way unscrupulous politicians will create or artificially enlarge a potential threat, play up the potential negative consequences of that threat, and then introduce a "solution" to that threat, which really is just a way for them to gain power.

The politics of fear can be used to make "nonsense seem common sense", that is, to make people believe that a course of action which is clearly ridiculous is actually a reasonable thing to do. As a made-up but very plausible pre-WWII Germany example, if you can convince people that Jews currently own large portions of the banking industry, that their ownership is growing, and that they secretly work together to improve their own positions at the expense of the poor, hard-working people who are clients of the banks, then it's "obvious" that something must be done to prevent the Jews from essentially taking over the country; for example, passing laws limiting how much property they are allowed to own, confiscating any "excess", and distributing the confiscated property to "the poor".

In the guise of "controlling the Jewish threat", the government is now allowed to arbitrarily seize property from wealthy families, which under normal circumstances people would recognize as a very dangerous and tyrannical power that the government should not be allowed to have. Sign up to join this community. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top. Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered.

A Layman's Guide To The Meaning Of Life And Death; A common-sense, no-nonsense approach

Can anybody help me to explain this phrase 'nonsense seems common sense'? Ask Question. Asked 4 years ago. It was not difficult for Lady Mary — friendly as she was to the leaders of the Ministry — to write against the Opposition, for she heartily disliked their members. Of Lord Bolingbroke, their guiding spirit, she wrote, soon after the time of her period- 80 I, On the other hand, J. Dallaway, the editor of the edition of of Lady Mary's works, states I, 55 that her political sentiments were "comform- able with those of Sir Robert Walpole, and his administration ; and she was much connected with the courtiers of that day.

A rather subtle attack against the leaders of the Opposition was launched by Lady Mary in — significantly — the first num- ber of her periodical, where she chides the Peers who refuse to observe the Order of Mourning for the death of Queen Caro- line. The Order of Mourning, issued on December 4, , provided that coaches and servants need not observe it until December Lord Chesterfield, the leader of the Opposition in the House of Lords, discussed the Order with Lyttleton, with the fervent hope that the Peers "who are neither paid for voting nor mourning" would have spirit enough not to comply.

With Lyttleton — who joined Chesterfield to write Common Sense — Lady Mary had once been friendly, but "on the first separation of the Royal Family" she had quarreled with him. Coxon, Chesterfield and His Critics , p. Chesterfield had also been a prominent "worthy Patriot" who supported the "Opera of the Nobility," satirized in No.

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Ill p. V, where she mentions "all the Bawdy in the Dunciad. For example, No. IV, contrasting the importunities of contemporary poets with the modesty of Horace when he met Maecenas, applied to Pope, the Horace of his day. Had Lady Mary not written in a letter that Pope had "courted with the utmost assiduity all the old men from whom he could hope a legacy"? IX, she criticizes the verse that is "sold by the Help of initial Letters, which are sometimes ingeniously contrived to serve for several Names," so that the author might escape a beating "by throwing the Applica- tion from one to another.

Lord Peterborough, to whom she had complained at the time, had an- swered that Pope "wondered how the town would apply these lines to any but some noted common woman," and that Pope named "four remarkable poetesses and scribblers" as the objects of his satire. To attack Pope would ex- press her personal hatred, but it would not help the ministerial cause.

Exactly how effectual Lady Mary's periodical was in serving Walpole cannot be gauged.

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Its main disadvantage was, of course, the briefness of its run. Three of its essays were considered lively enough to be reprinted in monthly magazines that fed on the weeklies, though it went unmentioned in the Common Sense it tried to refute. Still, Lady Mary was able, though obscurely and anonymously, to express her feelings on politics with a clear con- science in the Nonsense of Common-Sense. Since the Minister 42 For an examination of Pope's political sympathies during this period, see the "Introduction," Imitations of Horace, ed.

John Butt , xxxvi-xxxviii. What- ever specific motives impelled her to write, she at least supported the side she believed in. It is as if Walpole, deciding that purely political matters were being adequately covered in his other papers, asked Lady Mary to take also the gentler role of social moralist, but not to forget her ministerial allegiance. It is not surprising, then, that feminism is her most lively topic.

In the first number of her periodical, she advises women to wear clothes made of wool in order to increase their comfort, enhance their beauty, and — most important — benefit the English woolen industry. Then, although in No. II she scolds women for having persuaded the men to defeat the bill lowering the rate of interest, in No. VI she complains to the world that women's advice on serious matters is never heeded! VI, devoted entirely to the praise of women, Lady Mary tries to dissuade them from reading hence, from buying Common Sense by demonstrating to them how the Opposition's paper belittles them and gives them vicious advice.

She was well qualified, too, to write of "life above stairs," where she indulged in the same foibles and vices that she con- demns in her periodical. Cynicism, she protests several times, is the prevalent sin that mocks the virtuous and extols the immoral.

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Ladies prefer to wear imported fabrics instead of British woolens No. I — although here Lady Mary's purpose is pri- marily the championing of the woolen industry — and prefer quadrille, silks, and laces instead of "more improving Amuse- ment" and simple clothes No. Italian singers are adored and enriched, Italian art is collected, and French valets and cooks are employed No. In this last paper, she expresses the anti- foreign sentiment which criticized the upper class for its Con- tinental tastes.

But in her criticism, she takes part in a significant contro- versy of the period, that concerning luxury. Bernard Mande- ville's Fable of the Bees: or Private Vices, Public Benefits had set forth the cynical argument that luxury is economically healthful. After the edition of this work, when its author was prosecuted, champions and opponents of its attitude rushed into print. Voltaire, too, who had witnessed the moral tempest in England during his exile, set forth his defense of le luxe in he Mondain IX ; and more specifically in every other paper, including the unpublished one, except No.

V: fine clothes and jewels, rich eating and drink- ing, footmen, coaches, and levees, opera and quadrille, and paint- ings and objets d'art. That she did not practise the austerities she advocated goes without saying; she is again, in this instance, put- ting her best moral foot forward. And she used this attack on luxury — of the rich, necessarily — as a lesson for the poor.

The lower classes ought not to envy the rich their wealth, she cautions them in No. VIII, but ought to rejoice that they are spared the many cares of the rich. I a sounder sympathy for them, when she pleads for the English public to patronize their own woolen industry, then in a ruinous state. Paris, It was prob- ably borrowed from the first satire of the first book of Horace's satires. Brisco, Economic Policy of Robert Walpole New York, , , for an analysis of the woolen industry at this time. Turning to the broader issues of the common man, she preaches, in No.

Another group whom Lady Mary treats are the professional writers, including, in a place of prominence, the authors of Com- mon Sense. Their writing for money, she says — though she must have known that Chesterfield and Lyttleton were not directly de- pendent on their writing for their living — obliges them to produce libels and obscenities. VII, for example, she addresses the libelous writers thus: "If you will write Arbuthnot to advise Pope to stop libeling her, she had written: "I know he will allege in his excuse that he must write to eat.

VI and IX of her periodical, she claims that the verse couplet has been enervated and debased by its mechanical prac- titioners; and, similarly, she once remarked that Pope was "in danger of bringing even good verse into disrepute! In similar vein, she wrote in that Swift and Pope "were en- titled, by their birth and hereditary fortune, to be only a couple of link-boys.

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  6. The four groups of society whom Lady Mary probes and prods in her periodical are women, the beau monde her phrase , the lower classes, and writers. Of these she writes pointedly on all except the third, and with good reason, for she was not a member of it. She could write well on the others because her vigorous intellect rebelled at the inferior treatment of women, because her position in upper-class society let her comprehend and criticize her milieu, and because her dabbling in literature as well as her controversy with Pope gave her an insight into the republic of letters.

    This same accusation against Pope she re- peats in her verses "The Court of Dulness. True, as a young woman she had sent her husband a critique of Addison's Cato extolling the "love of liberty and contempt of servitude," in rhetoric amusingly like the cant of the Opposition that she attacks in No. VIII of her periodical. And in she had sent her husband astute advice on his parlia- mentary campaign. Indeed, several months after her periodical had ended its run, she complained to a friend that Englishmen were blinded by "politics and views of interest," but in regard to politics, she wrote to the same friend, "I moralise in my own dressing-room on the events I behold, and pity those who are more concerned in them than myself.

    She even began to write a history of her own time, because she had "a more exact knowledge both of the persons and facts that have made the greatest figure in England in this age, than is com- mon. There are several 86 I, ff. She repeated this pose in several other letters: II, , , She considered writing for publication as not consonant with her position in aristocratic society; — although she might indulge in it, she dared not admit it.

    As an observer of upper-class society, she had written her gossipy letters with the polish of a self-conscious artist. She wrote also two essays, one of them in French, which were read and admired by her friends. As the author of the Nonsense of Common-Sense, then, Lady Mary appears in a new role, important because it displays en- tirely new facets in her character as a writer and a thinker. In these essays, she, the cynic par excellence, preaches against cyni- cism. Her editors have had to apologize for her "freedom of ex- pression," yet here she inveighs against indecent writing.

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    Although in her letters she expresses a contempt for the lower classes, she shows here a combination of philanthropy and hypocrisy toward them. And, finally, she who was inexorably conscious of her status as an aristocrat descends into the market-place to harangue the mob. The essays endow her with a new dimension, as it were, and illuminate further a brilliant figure of a paradoxical age. These papers appeared at a time when the periodical essay as a genre had already been crystallized by the Tatler and the Spectator. All the other papers are straightforward essays, without allegory, fable, tale, journal, or dream.

    They are enriched, however, by quotations and allusions from the Bible and from English and Latin poets. Her cham- pionship of the moral virtues is reminiscent of Steele, whom she 40 She wrote to her sister, in , to save her letters because they would prove to be as entertaining as Madame de Sevigne's. I, And except where she falls into the stilted cadences of sensibility, the style of her prose is flexible, plain, and trenchant, with the true ring of colloquial coin. One has only to yawn over the political pamphlets and periodicals of the period to realize how bright the Nonsense of Common- Sense is. | A Layman's Guide to the Meaning of Life and Death; A Common Sense, No Nonsense

    And Lady Mary's Nonsense of Common-Sense played a minor but distinguished part in this pageant of eighteenth-century man- ners, morals, and politics. II, []. But these poor Words have since been applied very differently ; they now mean a certain Paper with many Flights and small Reason, that is handed about at Coffee-Houses and Tea- Tables, for the Amusement of the Idle, the Entertainment of the Malicious, and the Astonishment of the Ignorant, who are very numerous in this Part of the World.

    Out of a real Compassion for these poor People, and being as sensible as the Author himself, of the Necessity of good Oecon- omy under the present Pressure of National Debts, I would ex- hort all his Gentlemen and Lady Readers seriously to consider the Value of Two-Pence, before they bestow it on a Paper not worth One Farthing.