Scrooge vs. The Grinch
Why two Christmas “villains” are actually prophets of our time.
December 19, 2017 | by Corey Garriott
If only, if only we had heeded the advice of the Scrooge, none of this would have happened.
In England in 1843, Charles Dickens was writing A Christmas Carol – the decisive tract in the creation of Christmas as we know it. At that time, most English did not mark the Christmas season in obliged merriment and token gifts. Today, our Christmas season is spent listening to renditions of "Santa Claus is Coming To Town," but the English of 1843 might have spent Advent keeping St. Martin's Fast, which the churches in England had not yet relaxed. It was then that the middle class began to cultivate a more populist, sentimental, and (of course) more costly kind of season. Dickens, ever attentive to this bourgeoisie as a source of revenue, designed a support for the new culture in his story's famous villain, Ebenezer Scrooge.
To the developing Christmas obligation to enable others to binge, Scrooge gives his famous retort: "Humbug!" Perhaps a testament to Dickens' skill as a writer is that the character is not quite a villain. He ought really to be seen as a great prophet, a Jeremiah for our time. As with every prophet, Scrooge is rejected by his own people. It falls to us, the recipients of his inspired words, to see that Scrooge was right.
The great sin of Scrooge is supposed to be that he is a miser. "Wealth is of no use to him. He doesn't do any good with it," his nephew says. In fact, Scrooge does not appear to do anything with his money at all. If only we were so miserly. Now we have installed loudspeakers in our public spaces in every corner, allowing no inch of earth to escape the sleigh bells jingling – ring ting tingling – the dream of the pure White Christmas under the watch of Saint Claus. To reinforce what verges on mood control, all storefronts are decorated in plastic tinsel and pine, the better to direct the purchase of fancy presents. If this is the cure, give me the disease.
Scrooge is supposed to be selfish with his money, but why is it not equally selfish to demand that he enable our moral-therapeutic consumption? Scrooge is supposed to be a curmudgeon, but is a cynic not the hero we need, to cut through the caked cheese of superficial and forced cheer (which is really class anxiety)? No, Scrooge was right to say humbug. The word humbug means "deceptive speech." Well might we have been to have contemplated the word in 1843.
Alas, we live now under the insidious Clausiarchy. Even Scrooge fell to its machinations, after three supernatural visitations transformed him into another Christmas extrovert. (This should be seen as an early form of Orwellian brainwashing, a Victorian Room 101.) So what is to be done, since we have not listened to good prophecy? Perhaps we can turn to a "villain" of more recent vintage, this one not a prophet but a social activist and revolutionary, whose work to change the world could have succeeded had he not faltered.
I speak of course of the Grinch, who nearly destroyed Christmas in a village under its totalitarian domination. The Whos of Whoville lived in an isolated, early-modern city state and had completely given themselves to the Christmas hivemind. In this situation, the Grinch rightly recognized that the time for words had ended, and it was the time instead for action. He acted alone as a cultural vanguard, a sort of one-man Christmas Antifa. He seized the means of Christmas production, only to discover the Whos had internalized their Christmogenesis.
Villains started to love Christmas.
How can we fail to respect this act, however isolated and doomed? There is no question that of the two visionaries, the Grinch was the purer of heart – whether six sizes too small or six sizes too big – to the point of almost certain martyrdom by cardiac arrest. He acted solely out of hatred, with nothing to gain for himself. The presents he confiscated were not to be resold nor even redistributed according to some delusional scheme; they were simply to be dumped. He was an idealist. He was New Testament to the bone. Ebenezer Scrooge, like a more capricious character from the older scriptures, arguably derives his holy hatred of "the season" from a more venal desire to get on with his work. Grinch is the fire, and Scrooge is the ice.
Both elements are required if we Xmasphobes are to finally overthrow the Merry Condition. And if you find yourself more attracted by Scrooge and the Grinch than the diminutive "protagonists" who tragically converted them, then fa, la la la la: you may be one of us. Deny it no longer. Together, we can destroy Christmas.
Corey Garriott is a research economist for a central bank. He is a member of the Roman Catholic Church.