Dagens ord

Ansvar väger tyngre än frihet - Responsibility trumps liberty

20 jan. 2016

A difference of degree

Here again, it is necessary to note that none of the great historic visions has been either 100 percent unconstrained or 100 percent constrained. Difference of degree among unconstrained visions are often crucial as regards the significance of truth - and of force. In a very pure unconstrained vision, such as that of Godwin, reason is so powerful - "omnipotent" was his characterization - that neither deception nor force was justified in pursuing the public good. Thus, even though the wisest and most beneficent might be on a far higher plane than most people as of a given time, their ultimate ability to gain public assent was virtually inevitable. But where the unconstrained vision of human potential postulates more resistant frictions en route to realizing the goal, falsehood and force become not merely rights but duties, for the enormous benefits of an irreversible breakthrough go on for centuries, over which time the initial costs are to be amortized. 
If one believes, like Lenin, that a level of popular consciousness spontaneously achievable is inherently insufficient to the task, the more far-seeing elites have an enormous historic role to play and must employ whatever means are necessary. Although both Godwin and Lenin rejected the naturally evolved systemic processes which are central to the constrained vision, the differences in degree in their assumptions about human knowledge and reason produce profound differences in kind as to the role of truth and force. Relations between believers in Lenin's version of Marxism and believers in democratic socialism have historically been very bitter. A small shift of assumptions can have profound effects on the vision - and on the action that follows from it.

Thomas Sowell (2007), A conflict of visions, revised edition, p. 62-63

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