Notes and Comments: An Age of Epicureanism

The Young Islam, 1st October 1934 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 9, pp. 2, 4)

A local contemporary publishes the following:

“Some idea of the hold the films have on the British public is afforded by the announce­ment that over £40 million was paid last year for admission to cinemas in Britain, out of which the Treasury took £6,700,000 in Enter­tainment tax. But large though this sum may appear, it is dwarfed by certain other items in the national expenditure on non-necessities. The annual drink bill in Britain was estimated a few years back to be in the region of £288 million, and though consumption has probably been hit by trade depression, the fact that the Treasury realized over £97 million last year in Customs and Excise on wines, spirits and beer indicates that it is still a very big item. The national yearly expenditure on tobacco and cigarettes is over the £100 million mark while it has been estimated that no less than £70 million is spent every year by the women of Great Britain on hairdressing, cosmetics and other aids to beauty.”

A country which spends £40 million over cinemas and £100 million over tobacco, £70 million over cosmetics, and £288 million pounds over alcoholic drinks in days of depression and unemployment could hardly be expected to solve satisfactorily the problems of the amelior­ation of the masses. It certainly requires some spirit of self-denial for and a restraint over one’s passions for sensual enjoyment in order that some tangible service be done to the lower section of humanity. Without such check it is only a pious but foolish wish to hope for betterment of the classes. The tragedy of the present civilization is this that while it wants to raise the masses it does not wish to achieve it by sacrificing anything on its own part. It wants to retain, rather augment, the existing facilities for enjoyment and pleasure and yet in spite of that it looks for remedies of prevailing ills. This is an impossibility, and the sooner humanity is disillusioned of the deception it is suffering from the better for it. The amelioration of the physical conditions of the masses must be preceded by the permeation of a spirit of fellow-feeling with definite sacrifice on the part of those in affluence as to restraining their playful desires.