The problem in a nutshell

"This article just seems to be based from a viewpoint that democrats exist to end the entire country, when in most cases we want to better it. Maybe not in your eyes, but in the eyes of what is correct in the history books of the future." - A high school Democrat.

"Marxists tell us that once the fight is won and true history has begun, the new problems that may arise will generate their own solutions, which can be peacefully realised by the united powers of harmonious, classless society. This seems to me a piece of metaphysical optimism for which there is no evidence in historical experience. In a society in which the same goals are universally accepted, problems can be only of means, all soluble by technological methods. That is a society in which the inner life of man, the moral and spiritual and aesthetic imagination, no longer speaks at all. Is it for this that men and women should be destroyed or societies enslaved? Utopias have their value – nothing so wonderfully expands the imaginative horizons of human potentialities – but as guides to conduct they can prove literally fatal. [...]

The possibility of a final solution – even if we forget the terrible sense that these words acquired in Hitler’s day – turns out to be an illusion ; and a very dangerous one. For if one really believes that such a solution is possible, then surely no cost would be too high to obtain it: to make mankind just and happy and creative and harmonious for ever – what could be too high a price to pay for that? To make such an omelette, there is surely no limit to the number of eggs that should be broken – that was the faith of Lenin, of Trotsky, of Mao, for all I know of Pol Pot. Since I know the only true path to the ultimate solution of the problem of society, I know which way to drive the human caravan; and since you are ignorant of what I know, you cannot be allowed to have liberty of choice even within the narrowest limits, if the goal is to be reached. You declare that a given policy will make you happier, or freer, or give you room to breathe; but I know that you are mistaken, I know what you need, what all men need; and if there is resistance based on ignorance or malevolence, then it must be broken and hundreds of thousands may have to perish to make millions happy for all time. What choice have we, who have the knowledge, but to be willing to sacrifice them all? Some armed prophets seek to save mankind, and some only their own race because of its superior attributes, but whichever the motive, the millions slaughtered in wars or revolutions – gas chambers, gulag, genocide, all the monstrosities for which our century will be remembered – are the price men must pay for the felicity of future generations . If your desire to save mankind is serious, you must harden your heart, and not reckon the cost.

"The answer to this was given more than a century ago by the Russian radical Alexander Herzen. In his essay From the Other Shore, which is in effect an obituary notice of the revolutions of 1848, he said that a new form of human sacrifice had arisen in his time – of living human beings on the altars of abstractions – nation, Church, party, class, progress, the forces of history – these have all been invoked in his day and in ours: if these demand the slaughter of living human beings, they must be satisfied. These are his words:

"If progress is the goal, for whom are we working? Who is this Moloch who, as the toilers approach him, instead of rewarding them, draws back; and as a consolation to the exhausted and doomed multitudes, shouting ‘morituri te salutant’, can only give the … mocking answer that after their death all will be beautiful on earth. Do you truly wish to condemn the human beings alive today to the sad role … of wretched galley-slaves who, up to their knees in mud, drag a barge … with … ‘progress in the future’ upon its flag? … a goal which is infinitely remote is no goal, only … a deception; a goal must be closer – at the very least the labourer’s wage, or pleasure in work performed."

"The one thing that we may be sure of is the reality of the sacrifice, the dying and the dead. But the ideal for the sake of which they die remains unrealised. The eggs are broken, and the habit of breaking them grows, but the omelette remains invisible. Sacrifices for short-term goals, coercion, if men’s plight is desperate enough and truly requires such measures, may be justified. But holocausts for the sake of distant goals, that is a cruel mockery of all that men hold dear, now and at all times."

Berlin, Isaiah (2012-12-31). The Proper Study Of Mankind: An Anthology of Essays (pp. 12-14). Random House. Kindle Edition.

"If it were possible for any nation to fathom another people's bitter experience through a book, how much easier its future fate would become and how many calamities and mistakes it could avoid. But it is very difficult. There always is this fallacious belief: "It would not be the same here; here such things are impossible." Alas, all the evil of the twentieth century is possible everywhere on earth." - Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, foreword to  The Gulag Archipelago, Vintage Digital. Kindle Edition.

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3 Comments - Share Yours!:

PatriotUSA said...

I was pretty sure our young high school democrat would get a bit of illumination here. I PRAY that this individual is paying attention and will not be completely lost due to far left brainwashing that they are being spoon fed in school.

Excellent job, Sir Nick.

Nick said...

I suspect that young fellow simply has not the experience to appreciate how dangerous and sinister his political views have proven to be time and again throughout human history.

I hope he reads those words from Isaiah Berlin, and thinks about these issues properly.

If he truly believes in liberty, then he needs to read this.

Nick said...

I've been re-doing that other project that you know about btw - from start to finish. My problem was that, as Henry Miller once said, I was trying to do at the beginning what a man of genius would only attempt at the very end

I needed to do it, then step back and look at it from a distance, then get into it all again and make it leaner, meaner and more robust.

It's been quite a project, I can tell you.