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Quote of the Day

In Europe during most of the twentieth century (here come a few shameless generalizations), the political thinkers of the right and the left have pictured the best of all societies as something other than democracy. The better world of their fancy might have been (depending on party affiliation) feudal, fascist, Communist, or revolutionary socialist in one of several versions – but it was not likely to be democratic in any ordinary sense. In the European imagination, democracy was a politics of compromise and true. It evoked a spirit of tolerance, moderation, caution, sobriety, rationality, and fatigue, which might amount to wisdom, but also to mediocrity. Democracy was something to arrive at only when the bright dream of exterminating one’s enemies no longer seemed within reach and the notion of a truly superior society had been abandoned. It was a “secondary love derived from a primary hatred,” in Andre Gluckmann’s phrase.

Paul Berman in A Tale of Two Utopias: The Political Journey of the Generation of 1968, pages 49 – 50.

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