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sexta-feira, maio 06, 2016

THE SHIFT

"In western Europe this tendency has taken the milder form of a shift of emphasis away from disagreement about political principles (and from party struggles which at least in part sprang from genuine differences of outlook) towards disagreements, ultimate technical, about methods - about the best ways of achieving that degree of minimum economic or social stability without which arguments concerned with fundamental principles and the ends of life are felt to be 'abstract', 'academic' and unrelated to the urgent needs of the hour. It leads to that noticeably growing lack of interest in long-term political issues - as opposed to current day-to-day economic or social problems - on the part of the populations of the Western European continent which is occasionally deplore by shocked American and British observers, who mistakenly ascribe it to the growth of cynicism and disenchantment with ideals.
No doubt all abandonment of old values for new may appear to the surviving adherents of the former as conscienceless disregard for morality as such. If so, it is a great delusion. There is all too little disbelief, whether conscienceless or apathetic, in the new values. On the contrary, they are clung to unreasoning faith and that blind intolerance towards scepticism which springs, as often as not, from an inner bankruptcy or terror, the hope against hope that here at least is a safe haven, narrow, dark, cut off, but secure. Growing numbers of human beings are prepared to purchase this sense of security even at the cost of allowing vast tracts of life to be controlled by persons who, whether consciously or not, act systematically to narrow the horizon of human activity to manageable proportions, to train human beings into more easily combined parts - interchangeable, almost prefabricated - of a total pattern. In the face of such a strong desire to stabilise, if need be, at the lowest level - upon the floor from which you cannot fall, which cannot betray you, let you down - all the ancient political principles begin to vanish, feeble symbols of creeds no longer relevant to new realities".

Isaiah Berlin, Political Ideas in the 20th Century (1950), in: Liberty, ed. Henry Hardy, Oxford University Press, 2008, p.83

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