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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 81 of George Will’s superb 2019 book, The Conservative Sensibility (original emphases):

Today, wise people, remembering a European nation galvanized by the slogan “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer” flinch from [Woodrow] Wilson’s trope about “the heart-blood of one people.” It is one thing to postulate that history will produce ever increasing social harmony; it is another and ominous thing to speak of society as “one people” in an organic sense. If society is supposed to be an organic unity because the laws of history’s unfolding say so, and if society is, as a matter of morality, supposed to be as united as the human body, then behold: Disagreements and factionalism become symptoms of bodily diseases. Such language greases society’s skid toward virulent intolerance of dissent, the sort of intolerance that gripped America during World War I and tarnished Wilson’s second presidential term. Wilson was, however, so thoroughly wedded to the conception of society as a single organism, his thinking could not accommodate even a flicker of the Founders’ anxieties about government being inherently dangerous, especially governments wielded by majorities. Such anxieties, which were present at the creation of classical liberalism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, seemed to Wilson not merely misplaced but illogical.

DBx: Indeed.

What is truly illogical, of course, is the notion that the people of a nation really are either a single sentient creature, such as a human body, or an extended family. As George Will suggests, this false belief creates hostility toward individuals whose peaceful, voluntary activities are regarded as being at odds with “society’s goals.”