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Quotation of the Day…

… is from pages 344 of Steven Pinker’s superb 2018 volume, Enlightenment Now:

The challenge in making the case for modernity is that when one’s nose is inches from the news, optimism can seem naïve, or in the pundits’ favorite new cliché about elites, “out of touch.” Yet in a world outside of hero myths, the only kind of progress we can have is a kind that is easy to miss while we are living through it. As the philosopher Isaiah Berlin pointed out, the ideal of a perfectly just, equal, free, healthy, and harmonious society, which liberal democracies never measure up to, is a dangerous fantasy. People are not clones in a monoculture, so what satisfies one will frustrate another, and the only way they can end up equals is if they are treated unequally. Moreover, among the perquisites of freedom is the freedom to screw up their own lives. Liberal democracies can make progress, but only against a constant backdrop of messy compromise and constant reform.

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