≡ Menu

Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 263 of the 1978 collection, edited by Eric Mack, of Auberon Herbert’s essays, The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State; specifically, it’s from Herbert’s June 7th, 1906, lecture at Oxford University, “Mr. Spencer and the Great Machine”:

[T]here is no region of human thought which is so disorderly, so confused, so lawless, so little under the rule of the great principles, as the region of political thought.  It must be so, because that disorder and confusion are the inevitable consequence and penalty of the strife for power.  You cannot serve two masters.  You cannot devote yourself to the winning of power, and remain faithful to the great principles.  The great principles, and the tactics of the political campaign, can never be made one, never be reconciled.  In that region of mental and moral disorder, which we call political life, men must shape their thoughts and actions according to the circumstances of the hour, and in obedience to the tyrant necessity of defeating their rivals.

Who above the age of seven can deny the truth of this observation?  And yet how many are the people who continue to glorify politics, to speak and write about politics as if it is a noble calling for those who make their careers in it, and as if politics provides a uniquely splendid and reliable forum for “The People” to express their “will” and have that “will” faithfully carried out by the winners of elections?