Tuesday, December 26, 2006


Some stuff that I've clipped into EverNote in the last few months.

And then England--southern England, probably the sleekest landscape in the world. It is difficult when you pass that way, especially when you are peacefully recovering from sea-sickness with the plush cushions of a boat-train carriage under your bum, to believe that anything is really happening anywhere. Earthquakes in Japan, famines in China, revolutions in Mexico? Don't worry, the milk will be on the doorstep tomorrow morning, the New Statesman will come out on Friday. The industrial towns were far away, a smudge of smoke and misery hidden by the curve of the earth's surface. Down here it was still the England I had known in my childhood: the railway-cuttings smothered in wild flowers, the deep meadows where the great shining horses browse and meditate, the slow-moving streams bordered by willows, the green bosoms of the elms, the larkspurs in the cottage gardens; and then the huge peaceful wilderness of outer London, the barges on the miry river, the familiar streets, the posters telling of cricket matches and Royal weddings, the men in bowler hats, the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, the red buses, the blue policemen--all sleeping the deep, deep sleep of England, from which I sometimes fear that we shall never wake till we are jerked out of it by the roar of bombs.
The final paragraph of Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell
Speaking to a Comintern packed with intellectuals, he pounded at his point: “We must organize the intellectuals.” The revolution needed middle-class opinion makers—artists, journalists, “people of good will,” novelists, actors, playwrights … humanists, people whose innocent sensitivities weren’t yet cauterized to nervelessness by the genuine white-hot radical steel. Lenin himself recoiled at this idea. Here were the people he loathed most—he who loathed so many people. Middle-class do-gooders? Bourgeois intellectuals clutching their precious “freedom of conscience”? Lenin would kill and imprison them by the thousands. It took him a while—until 1921—to consent to use them, too. “We must avoid being a purely Communist organization,” Münzenberg explained to his men. “We must bring in other names, other groups, to make persecution more difficult.”
"Lying for the truth: Münzenberg & the Comintern" by Stephen Koch
The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men's fatal striving to control society - a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.
Friedrich August von Hayek - Nobel Prize Lecture

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