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CHAPTER SEVEN: Conclusion - Kenneth Minogue, The Liberal Mind 
The Liberal Mind, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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THE MORAL CHARACTER OF LIBERALISM
to many of its critics, liberalism is a thin and bloodless rationalism. The list of such critics is extremely varied. It includes many theologians, continental idealists, and artists like D. H. Lawrence whose battle cry is “Life!” In sophisticated conservative circles, it has been criticized as substituting the anonymous and antiseptic new town or suburban development for the warm, natural cohesion of the slums. And these charges have all been compounded by the fact that liberalism has attracted its full share of humorless prigs, people who love humanity, as the charge goes, but cannot stand their neighbors.
It is possible, especially with the help of the interests argument, to regard this line of criticism as no more than sentimental romanticism. Liberals can point to suffering as the reality of the slums, and ask pertinently whether such conditions are not an excessive price to pay in order that rich and jaded palates may enjoy the variety of the world.
We may begin to disentangle the issues arising from such an exchange of sentiments by considering the uses of a term which is an interesting example of the tactical realignments undergone by certain ideas. “Materialism” in philosophy indicates a metaphysical doctrine holding that the single ultimate constituent of reality is matter. One of the implications of this doctrine— though one which may also be held by people who are not materialists—is that at death, both body and soul (if such a thing is admitted) are dissolved. This implication, however supported, is clearly anti-Christian. Materialism has in the last few centuries been one of the main targets of attack by all the Christian Churches.
But materialism has also, in a manner typical of such philosophical words, gained a weaker meaning unrelated to metaphysics. It has come to describe a life devoted to the pursuit of material objects and advantages. The main use of this meaning has been to criticize those forms of capitalist behavior summed up in the concept of economic man. The Christian Churches have attacked this kind of materialism on two grounds: partly that it is ruthless and uncharitable, a selfish trampling over the interests of the powerless; and partly on the ground that it is a way of life which refuses to take seriously the religious mystery of the universe. Among the clearest examples of such criticism will be found in the two Papal Encyclicals devoted to the question of social justice, De Rerum Novarum and Quadrigesimo Anno.
Liberalism has on most occasions paid little attention to this kind of attack. It has done so for several reasons. For one thing the attack on materialism and what the Encyclicals refer to as “individualism” is largely directed at liberalism itself. The anti-materialist generally opposed natural rights and government by popular consent. The liberal response was to regard this attack as a manifestation of entrenched hostility and to reject the anti-materialist argument on grounds which were best stated by Marx: that anti-materialism is utopian rather than scientific. It appeals to employer and employee to get together in a friendly and Christian spirit to work out the practices of a just order. But this leaves the unjust order itself untouched; it relies upon fallible human goodwill: and eventually it came to be associated with the Fascist practices of the corporate State. For most liberals, then, the attack on materialism looked like nothing so much as a thin camouflage by which the privileged castigated demands for reform as “merely envious.”
In recent decades, this situation has been changed by the extensive introduction of socialist measures in the working of most capitalist States. The consequence of these measures has been to bring many proletarians within the range of a more acquisitive way of life. The heroic, victimized proletarian has turned into the television viewer in the council house, and his enthusiasm for the class struggle has waned accordingly. A similar development has taken place in the Soviet Union, where the pursuit of material things has developed to a point where it threatens the working of the Soviet régime. The ironic consequence of this new situation is that Mr. Khrushchev, modern liberals, and the Christian Churches, are all aligned in calling for a more spiritual and dedicated attitude to life and work, and an end to materialist apathy.
We may make two observations about this chain of events, one intellectual, one political. The intellectual point is that the doctrine of materialism, as we find it in this propagandist use, is misconceived. The point cannot be that materialists are pursuing actual material objects as material objects and nothing else. The whole point about “keeping up with the Joneses,” the acquisition of refrigerators and central heating, and the yearning to join the ranks of the two-car family is that these things are spiritual endeavors; each material object stands for something. We may not like what the objects stand for; we may reject this spirit and talk of empty lives devoted to nothing more than the maintenance of respectable appearances. But that is another matter.
The political significance of the attack on materialism lies in its attempt to stabilize a weakening internal situation. The message of the Encyclicals, and indeed of the Churches generally, is to accept the present status-structure of the community, turn away from a preoccupation with changing relative status, and concentrate on making the system work. What Mr. Khrushchev wants is a Russian populace which accepts the system and whose effort is turned “outward,” concentrating upon the building of a Socialist future. The great political advantage of a single national objective such as war or industrialization is that it achieves exactly this effect. When such an objective either does not exist or loses its force, then exhortation, a poor substitute, is the only thing left.
The presence of modern liberals in this alignment is on the face of it not susceptible of the same explanation. For while Mr. Khrushchev and most Churches are to be found defending an established political order, modern liberals are not similarly committed. Yet their position is in fact exactly the same; for they belong to a movement which will collapse if the spirit of compassion should desert it. The sin of apathy is a version of selfishness; the apathetic lose their taste for reform, and become increasingly preoccupied with the advancement of themselves or their families.
If we observe that this passion for personal status is a kind of ambition, we shall recognize that materialism has always been a manner of life on which those in authority have wished to keep a tight rein. For it is their task to guide their followers away from the competitive preoccupations of status towards “getting on with the job.” A faculty of professors will do little research if they are constantly struggling for position; and officers in an army are unlikely to achieve victory if their predominant interest is in competing with each other for promotion. Ambition has always been regarded as morally ambiguous; if it refers to the eagerness of those in the lower ranks then it has been thought to contribute to progress and widely encouraged. But if it is merely a thirst to enjoy the rights of the higher office, then it has been feared as destructive.
The impression that liberalism is a thin and narrow doctrine cannot therefore be attributed to materialism; partly because materialism itself is a confused description of an acquisitive way of life, and partly because modern liberals themselves are among its most relentless opponents.
We may, perhaps, come closer to explaining this impression if we distinguish, following T. E. Hulme,1 between the classical and romantic views of life. This is a distinction capable of bearing very little weight, and we are concerned less with its usefulness than with its currency. For Hulme, the classicist was a man who believed that the capacities of man were limited, and that human development was the product of careful nurture by social and political institutions. It followed that, if we wish to maintain and advance civilization, we must treat established institutions with great care, and in particular control our own passionate impulses so that they do not weaken the social and political bonds which alone prevent a relapse into barbarism. The classicist believes that the institution of marriage, for example, must take precedence over the romantic involvements of particular married individuals. The consequences of this doctrine are conservatism in politics, and absolutism in ethics. Society is seen to be based upon a fairly rigid kind of differentiation. The sexes, for example, are functionally differentiated and must therefore expect to live different kinds of life. But each society also contains different classes of people, and for each class, a different range of experiences is appropriate.
In contrast, the romantic might be described, since Rousseau, as one who believes in the rights of feeling. Romanticism includes the belief that the capacities of men are unlimited—comparable, in Hulme’s image, to a well rather than a bucket—and that they must be unchained from the bonds of social institution in order that each man may be truly himself—exactly what the classicist is afraid of. The romantic doctrine is appropriate to the young, and to those extraordinary individuals who run away from home, endure poverty, collect a mistress or two, get married, make fortunes, and travel extensively— those who lead, as the saying is, a full, rich life.
The most likely political consequence of romanticism is liberalism; Hulme believed this, and, within the wide limits defining the two sets of ideas, he was largely right. For, as we have already observed, liberalism is implacably hostile to any notion of permanent natural differentiation between individuals. Women may be different from men, but, being equal, they must have as much access to the same experience as possible. Individuals may differ in skin color or racial membership, but must be allowed to live a decent (i.e. approved) life as soon as possible. And there can, of course, be no question of significant differences of life experience between aristocrat and laborer. All of this is simply another way of expanding the sentence “All men are born free” and elucidating the program implicit in “but everywhere they are in chains.”
We may thus see one development of the rights of man doctrine in a new light. As first formulated, it was defended as a statement of those social conditions without which men would be unable to live the sort of life they wished. How exactly they did wish to live was not, short of criminality, of great concern to anyone. The doctrine was all rights and no consequences.
But, given the growth of a romantic view of experience, these rights might be seen as the necessary conditions of living “a full life”; and then, indeed, they would almost certainly seem deficient. For all of the victim classes, by definition, were being prevented from living this kind of life.
And if the romantic doctrine of a full life were to be brought into politics, then it would have to be standardized. Its specifications and general limits would have to be described. The experiences of individualists, and in general of the rich who supplied individualists in the largest numbers, must be abstracted so that they might be advanced as political demands. Nor could this ambitious project stop short at describing floorspace areas and the nutritional minima of the full life. It must also standardize spiritual experiences, like love, marriage, intellectual cultivation, and friendship. The vocabulary required for this set of specifications was to hand, in utilitarian doctrine. Friends satisfied social needs, marriage partners satisfied sexual and procreational needs, schools satisfied educational needs—which were the necessary conditions of many further installments of the rich, full life.
The romantic view of experience thus provides us with a generalized standard of the kind of life which ought to be lived by every human being upon the planet. It is a kind of life which is, in fact, lived by a minority of people mostly situated in the western world. Further, it is a kind of life which was not originally developed by those people in the pursuit of a general end, but which grew up out of the kind of people they were and the kinds of activity in which they happened to be interested. They happened to become interested, quite spontaneously, in science, logic, philosophy, technology and religion in such a manner as to produce western civilization.
The standardization of the notion of a full life cannot but result in a concern with comparative status. The individual is described, as it were, in the answers given on a form: What rights does he have? What kind of consumption does he enjoy? Which of his needs are satisfied? What experiences has he had? One can tick off the answers to these questions, and the blank responses supply a program. But any action taken in response to this kind of analysis is something which will be done for the wrong reasons; it will be done as a means to the end, which is the filling out of the form of the full life. This is a procedure which has both intellectual and practical defects.
We may take the practical defects first. The result of thinking and acting in this way is very frequently disappointment. Foreign travel, when undertaken as a status exercise, is no adventure and brings none of the promised “broadening of the mind”; it turns merely into a sterile exercise in tourism, endured at the time as an investment to be expended in conversation and boasting at a later date. Sexual experiences similarly undergo an instrumental transformation which renders them joyless; they are merely the materials of prestige. But these romantics do not merely seek prestige in the eyes of their neighbors. They suffer from a deep suspicion that they “haven’t really lived.” They want to feel the earth move, like Hemingway’s heroine in For Whom the Bell Tolls. But meanwhile, as the various required experiences are undergone without quite yielding up their promise, they nourish the hope of possession by an ultimate experience. It may be anything from an acte gratuit to a religious conversion; from a sentimental love affair to a political passion in the midst of a crowd. What happens to actual individuals of course varies enormously, and some abandon, temporarily or permanently, this pursuit of spiritual status because they become genuinely involved in something else. But for many there remains a continual nagging anxiety, which is the only certain result of the conscious pursuit of prestige.
The intellectual defects result from the fact that human life is misdescribed if it is seen in terms of function, end, satisfaction, rights, and the rest of the rationalist vocabulary. The impression that a life seen in these terms is thin is therefore a sound apprehension that this account of human behavior is simply false. It is not true, for example, that a friendship between two people is fully described as a relationship in which each fulfills some need or needs of the other. In trying to understand this there is a strong temptation to become almost mystical; to point out that the whole is more than the sum of the parts, and that in listing the various functions fulfilled mutually by people is not to exhaust the subject matter. This at least makes us more aware of the subtleties of the question, but does not greatly advance our understanding. The mistake lies in subsuming all human relationships under the proprietorship of generic man, so that all human intercourse looks external.
A further consequence of self-consciousness about comparative status is the emotion of self-pity. Like all terms which rest upon the conception of “self,” this emotion is difficult to define and its moral characteristics have seldom been deeply explored. The “self” involved in self-pity may concern an individual, his family, or, in any sense, his people—those for whom he weeps. Self-pity concentrates the mind upon those elements of the comparison which show the self at a disadvantage, and the cause of this disadvantage must in some way be externalized. Each supposed cause is praised or blamed; irrelevant moral characterization runs wild. The result may even be animism: rainstorms or other natural phenomena become “just the sort of thing that would happen to me.” Self-pity is sentimental and passive, and it necessarily distorts our understanding of our own nature and that of our environment. It is an extremely common emotion, and in popular folklore is thought to be healed if one follows the injunction to “count your blessings.”
Self-pity is clearly an important emotion in modern political life, for few groups are entirely prepared to accept and make the best of their current situation. It will be found in colonial peoples blaming their troubles on the colonial power. It will be found in any of the victim classes of the suffering situation—though its presence, of course, is not inevitable, but is the result of acceptance of certain moral and political views. It is also to be found currently among adolescents blaming their parents for their troubles; and among middle classes who feel their status threatened because manual workers are paid more or domestic servants hard to come by. It results in a persistent, dogged clinging to some conception of the status rights of the group, and in a considerable lack of realism in understanding social and political affairs.
In a world which is loud with the cries and arguments produced by self-pity, those who are receptive to the arguments will undergo the related emotion of self-reproach. And it is self-reproach which is an important determinant of many liberal points of view. For one thing, just as the self involved in self-pity may be a collective self, so also may the self in self-reproach. Thus one may reproach oneself not only for acts which one chose oneself to commit, but also for acts which were done in one’s name by more or less representative political bodies; or for acts done by people long dead.
An example of the latter case would be the European anti-colonialist who reproaches himself for the entire colonial policy of his country, a man fruitlessly concerned to reproach himself with what “we” once did to “them.” The result of this kind of feeling is the creation of a curious intellectual entity which we may call category guilt. Thus, as a political pamphlet put it, the concern of British policy (towards Jamaica, in this instance) should be “to repay the debt we owe them for long years of exploitation by now helping to develop the economies of their countries, and make possible a decent life for them there.” There may indeed be good reasons for following such a policy, but they are not to be found in conceptions of moral credit and moral debt.
A similar kind of self-reproach arises out of the various classes to which British liberals consider themselves as belonging. Examples of such classes are the white race, Britain as a political entity, the Commonwealth, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the Free World. Each of these classes includes political authorities or social groups which act in an illiberal manner. Whites in South Africa maintain apartheid; American money supports Chiang Kai-Shek and similar Asian régimes; NATO toys with the idea of admitting Franco’s Spain and provokes Russian hostility; Britain engages in the Suez operation. All of these political acts invite liberals to feelings of self-reproach. They belong to these groupings, and they wish to dissociate themselves from them. They are the innocent part of these guilty entities.
The development of this particular complex moral sensibility appears now to have coalesced into a distinguishable political movement in Great Britain, a movement which we may describe as moral nationalism. This movement gains most mass support from the program that Britain should abandon her independent nuclear strength in order to give a moral lead to other nations; it is found in the political views of Sir Charles Snow, and has been summed up in the conviction that “our country’s role is to be exemplary rather than powerful.”2 Like many moral movements, this one involves a withdrawal into inner moral certainties, with a consequent refusal to take external events seriously. As a political policy, for example, moral nationalism assumes that politicians in other countries will be moved to imitate the example which has been given; if this factual assumption were to be proved wrong, however, moral nationalists would not hesitate. They would still be concerned to do the right thing anyway. Moral nationalism is thus one more maneuver in the long tradition of devices which are thought to do away with politics, seen as the selfish exercise of power.
Moral nationalism extends far beyond the emotions of self-reproach in which it is grounded. But both self-reproach and moral nationalism arise out of a desire for a kind of purification—a repaying of moral debts and the wiping clean of a very dirty slate. It is the desire to begin anew, and in a world loaded with vengeful passions and bitter, unreasonable conflicts of interest, the only way to begin anew is to make concessions.3 One thing especially is important: the principle that one must not act except for motives which are both pure and known to be pure. Now, as far as actual political life is concerned, this is a quite impossible principle, one which, if taken seriously, would lead first to total inhibition of political action and very quickly to the dismemberment of the inhibited State. It is simply not a possible way of carrying on in the world. We can find the effect of influences of this kind in the British attitude towards Nazi Germany during the thirties, when many were strongly disposed to justify Hitler’s policy as the legitimate response to the victimization of Versailles. Similar emotions arose in connection with Nasser over the nationalization of the Suez Canal, and they still arise in liberal attitudes towards the Soviet Union—moving from a legitimate attempt to discover what the Russians think and why, to a remorseless determination to accept blame for the situation and thus exculpate others. This may perhaps be regarded as a generous moral attitude; but it is the product of a moral fantasy which from many points of view is politically dangerous. For it constitutes the use of moral terms as a device to evade certain facts; an attempt to cloud the significance of what has happened by attending to whether or not it ought to have happened.
We arrive, then, at something which looks like a contradiction. For we have argued that liberalism constitutes an evasion of moral understanding; and yet in moral nationalism we find that liberals have constructed a world which is fastidiously moral in the sense that everything in it is subject to the rigorous application of praise or blame. The way out of this contradiction lies in the notion of the suffering situation. Liberals have discarded moral judgment and substituted technical thinking when they consider the victim classes; but on “us” they have concentrated the full battery of moral examination. It is, indeed, a false and misleading kind of moral understanding, but it is undeniably moral.
THE BALANCE OF LIBERALISM
A concern with truth has long been a characteristic of western civilization. Liberalism arose when this passion for truth took on a new intensity and many new directions. Truth has no gaps, and a concern with it is likely to make us disputatious and quarrelsome. There is no more liberal figure than the muckraker, the man who dredges up facts that everyone else—and especially the powerful—would much rather forget. Liberal political argument has always defended passionately the work of those individuals who from the beginning of the modern era challenged the mistakes of orthodoxy. Not, indeed, that such individuals cared very much for truth in the abstract. Nor were they very much different from other men in the ordinary conduct of their lives. But in a number of fields, in religion, in science, in exploration, they were capable of pursuing the urge to find out with enormous persistence and ingenuity. And they were enterprising as individuals, alone or organizing themselves into groups for the pursuit of profit or the salvation of their souls, creating new political forms even within the framework of established authority.
Yet liberalism is subject to a number of illusions. In spite of its deep involvement with truth, it is, like any other ideology, prone to subject its view of the way things are to a hopeful picture of the way it would be nice for things to be. We have examined a number of these illusions: the belief in a rational harmony, the illusion of ultimate agreement, and, perhaps most central of all, the idea that will and desire can ultimately be sovereign in human affairs, that things will eventually pan out the way we want them to. The issue that arises within liberalism is often one between truth on the one hand and improvement or utility on the other. This is simply to restate the persistent dichotomy which we have already detected in the liberal mind.
How can we explain this dichotomy? Only by recognizing clearly that a passion for truth, carried beyond convenience, is likely to provoke the most violent social opposition and political repression. For truth assaults consciences, disrupts vested interests, outmodes profitable practices and undermines the myths and illusions which sustain powerful institutions and corporations. Those who, in any field, are driven on to discover what is the case, who wish to conduct experiments or sail unknown seas, must therefore make their way in a largely hostile world. They can only do so by offering bargains and making alliances— offering vastly greater convenience in the future as an incentive to accept inconvenience in the present. The men of enterprise could offer the by-products of their work: the silver of the Indies for three ships with convict crews; immunity from Papal regulations for the opportunity to assert unorthodox religious truth; inventions and riches in return for the opportunities of enterprise.
More generally, to encourage others and to give themselves courage, the new men could offer the vision of a new world, never more than a couple of generations away, in which life would be richer, more comfortable and more rational. The fear of change and instability could be allayed by the promise of a point of rest some time in the future; and meanwhile installments of improvement were steadily provided.
This kind of utopianism arose out of the belief that setting forth on a voyage of discovery in search of truth was a finite enterprise; and truth was a finite collection of facts. If so, it was not entirely foolish to imagine that one day the search would come to an end. It was, in any case, explicitly limited to the things of this world. The advance of science depended on lulling the custodians of religion into the belief that the scientific spirit could be limited, and propagandists of the movement—most notably Bacon and Locke—were keen to insist upon the limits of natural reason. They did so with perfect sincerity, for their belief in reason implied both the possibilities and the limits of knowledge. From their day to this, we have seldom been free of the belief that the moment of imminent fruition is upon us; that all the important or relevant knowledge has been garnered, and that only the job of application to improving the world remains.
To a large extent, the preoccupation with utopia was the result of fear. In times of high self-confidence, when the exhilaration of truth-seeking was upon men, and when improvement was perceptible, men could even contemplate the indefinite continuance of this process; out of this self-confidence came the doctrine of progress. But the kind of social condition in which criticism and truth-seeking are regularly prosecuted can also induce the fear that things have gotten out of control—a fear which evangelists are especially prone to encourage. All this, it is said, comes of man trying to ape God. There is no one so repentant as a sorcerer’s apprentice who suddenly realizes his experiments in sorcery may be the death of him.
From the alternation of these two clusters of emotions emerge what we have called the salvationist and the libertarian strands of liberalism. When fear is in the ascendant, we may expect an overriding concern with security, harmony, equality;4 exhilaration will lead to a stress on freedom, enterprise and competition.
The shifting balance of liberalism is also affected by the fact that it has always encouraged the entry of outsiders into its benefits. These outsiders stand some distance outside the community. They are victims in the suffering situation. They are the people described in the inscription on the Statue of Liberty. They are a non-possessing class, though what it is they do not possess depends upon the terms of current political controversy. And they have been given a moral dimension by the use of the Marxist concept of alienation. Liberal politicians have always called on their support as foot-soldiers in a steady assault upon the entrenched positions of “reaction.” These outsiders are of two kinds. In liberal countries, they are largely those classes who, for many centuries after the development and fruition of liberalism, continued to live in a thoroughly traditional manner, and who were only driven from their shelters by the ferocious inroads of industrial development. They are the European working classes. In the twentieth century, a larger and even more significant group of outsiders has appeared upon the scene—the entire populations of non-European countries, who are enthusiastic about the products of the European world, but who have a very hazy notion of the moral characteristics on which that world is based. But to talk in these terms necessarily gives a crude result, for we find in all the classes of outsiders many individuals with a liberal moral character, just as we find among European liberals of long pedigree many in whom fear of change is the dominant emotion.
What is at stake in the shifting balance between fear and exhilaration, between truth and utility, is the fate of truth itself. For improvement will be cultivated under any circumstances, but the moral character of truth-seeking is one which did not always play a prominent part in the world’s affairs, and could return to obscurity. Whenever men have, in recent history, attempted to snatch at political salvation, it is truth which has always been the first casualty, since, of all the causes of human turmoil, facts are the most obvious, and therefore the first to be suppressed. The more we dream of utopia, the less we can bear to face our imperfections.
The psychological relations between truth and improvement, between the way things are and the way we would like them to be, between fact and value, are no doubt extremely complicated. They differ from one individual to another. One man may be stimulated by the hope of improvement into an extremely vigorous rapport with reality, whilst another may be drawn further and further into fantasy. There will certainly be many occasions when a deep involvement with our own hopes and desires will lead us to miscalculate; and this is particularly true in moral and political affairs, where other people know well how they may play upon our hopes and fears.5
Again, a concern with the truth about our own character and desires—a concern with moral truth—very considerably affects the things we value. We are, as individuals, liable to get caught up in pretenses whose charm vanishes at the touch of reality. Whole nations may be similarly deluded: Mussolini’s armies awoke from their dreams of imperial grandeur in the Western Desert. But even while the pretense lasts, those involved will suffer the anxieties of imperfect imitation.
We may at any given time measure the vitality of liberalism by looking to the balance between truth and improvement; by looking to see if we find a tough-minded recognition of the facts, and a consequent rejection of the comforting, the face-saving, the prestigious, the boastful, and the unrealistically hopeful: looking, in fact, at the strength of political and moral fantasy. We shall always find some hope of release from the inevitable ferment which truth creates. In this kind of salvationism, we shall recognize a radical misunderstanding both of politics and of truth-seeking: the belief that politics will put an end to the necessity for politics, and that the acquisition of knowledge will put an end to the search for truth. And if salvationism is strong, we may well suspect that the balance of liberalism is in danger.
There are, currently, a number of indications of this kind. One is a widespread preoccupation with national prestige. Another is a nostalgia for great causes, often part of the moral débris left by great wars. But perhaps the most interesting of these indications and the one which nourishes the greatest hope of salvation is the idea that the final task before us is the rapid improvement of the “underdeveloped” countries. Certainly this is the most widespread source of modern political fantasy. The whole concept of “underdevelopment” is, of course, one which must be treated with great wariness. It lumps together a most heterogeneous collection of peoples and States, in a manner which tempts us to treat this similarity as the most crucial fact about them. It not only describes these States; it suggests a policy for them. And, to justify this moral imperative, liberals have attributed to the underdeveloped countries a curious kind of moral innocence. The under-nourished are set up as judges of our behavior.
Liberals at the present time find themselves poised between hope and fear. The hope arises from man’s increasing command over nature, and is nourished by the realization that the domestic opponents of liberalism have either been extinguished or converted. The fear is symbolized by the possibility that before we quite enter into the comfortable kingdom of universal self-realization, we shall all be blown up. But both the hope and the fear are salvationist emotions; both are alien to the passion for truth which has long infused the liberal mind. It is salvationism which lies behind the target-setting and loin-girding of contemporary political discussion; and the habit of exhortation is so strong that we seem to imagine that every problem can be solved by resolving to do better. But the case of truth is like that of freedom and that of happiness: we cannot will ourselves to love it. We will not affect the fate of truth by making resolutions to face the facts and exhorting others to do likewise; but we may affect its fate by trying to understand why such resolutions fail.
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[1. ]T. E. Hulme, Speculations, London, 1924, p. 111.
[2. ]Christopher Martin in a talk in The Listener, 5 April 1962.
[3. ]Cf. Freud’s analysis of the Jewish superego in Moses and Monotheism.
[4. ]A policy of radical equalization only makes sense if we think we have reached the end of the road, when rewards need have no relation to contribution. One cannot cut the cake until it is baked. One may also suspect that a wide distribution of benefits morally involves everyone in the economic and social system; it distributes not only the gilt, but also the guilt.
[5. ]Modern totalitarian States, for example, have perfected a technique of playing on the hopes of democratic peoples at precisely those moments when they are being most aggressive, e.g. “We are stretching out a hand of friendship to the people and Government of the United States. We should like to pool our efforts with the United States Government and with other governments to solve all ripe international problems, to safeguard peace on earth.” This from a Russian statement at precisely the moment of a large Russian arms build-up in Cuba. (Times, 12.9.62.)