NauenThen

The Dark Years IV

March 15, 2017

Tags: Jean Guéhenno

French garden.
Since the 18th century, the means of subjugating people have made the same progress as the means of killing them.

If I knew something useful to my country which was ruinous to another, I would not propose it to my prince, because I am human before being French (or, rather, because I am necessarily human and only French through chance. —Montesquieu

The new great men of these new times—Hitler, Stalin—are great mass men. Back when I studied Lenin, I was struck by that character. A great man in civilized times was great precisely because of what set him apart from the mass: intelligence, willpower and culture, the delicacy of his mind or heart. These new great men are great because of what makes them similar to the mass—a kind of crude common sense, brutality and lack of culture. The handling of affairs may make them admirably cunning and remarkably good at the practice of politics. But to maintain their prestige and power, they must also maintain their lack of culture and brutality.

... that faculty for forgetfulness, that instinctive violence, and that horror of any critical sense which characterize the masses...

... sufficiently vain and stupid for the sound of the people's protests and supplications to reach him only as a concert of praise and adoration....

For years now, all propaganda has been trying to make freedom suspect. It had become somewhat silly to value freedom. It was as if valuing freedom meant wanting to be a dupe. I myself have overused Diderot's admirable sentence: "To have slaves is nothing; the most frightful thing is to have slaves and call them citizens."

A political regime is defined by the kind of man it tends to produce.

Today's politicians would have youth believe that it is leading the world, when in reality they are merely exploiting its frenetic energy and its thoughtlessness. Totalitarian ideology is completely instinctive and naturally must make use of the fervor of youth.

Nothing is more intolerable than a mind which always postulates that all education can only have the goal of justifying its own prejudices.

The armed struggle is over, but as soon as we wish, the new struggle, the struggle of principles, character and mores will begin. —German philosopher Fichte, speaking in 1807 to the students of Berlin, which was occupied by French troops

Comments

  1. March 15, 2017 6:47 PM EDT
    Wow it is scared, but a lot is scared these days
    - Barbara Rothenberg