… is from page 337 of the original edition of Walter Lippmann’s sometimes flawed but deeply insightful and still-important 1937 book, The Good Society:
Because men have abused and perverted a truth is no reason for abandoning it. If, as we were taught by so many thinkers of the nineteenth century, the belief in a higher law is a mixture of sentimentality, superstition, and unconscious rationalization of private interest, then the state of affairs into which we have sunk is the only possible one. We must give up the hope of an ordered civilization on this planet and resign ourselves to an interminable struggle for existence in a war of all against all. But surely it is philistinism and pedantry to dismiss the conception of a higher law because the formulations are vague and confusing, or because the conception has been so grossly exploited. We are not so full of wisdom, and so comfortably masters of our fate, that we can afford summarily to reject the underlying conception upon which so many sages and saints and heroic leaders have based their hope of a happily ordered existence.