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    Quotables: Ideas Have Consequences

    July 20, 2012 by Brandy Vencel
    Ideas Have Consequences
    by Richard Weaver

    The most portentous general event of our time is the steady obliteration of those distinctions which create society. {p. 35}

    [P]eople today are eager to know who is really entitled to authority, that they are looking wistfully for the sources of genuine value. In sum, they wish to know the truth, but they have been taught a perversion which makes their chance of obtaining it less every day.This perversion is that in a just society there are no distinctions. {p. 35}

    The good man, the man with proved allegiance to correct sentiment, has been the natural trustee of authority. {p. 36}

    [H]ierarchy requires a common assumption about ends. {p. 36}

    [T]raditional society was organized around king and priest, soldier and poet, peasant and artisan. Now distinctions of vocation fade out, and the new organization, if such it may be termed, is to be around capacities to consume. Underlying the shift is the theory of romanticism; if we attach more significance to feeling than to thinking, we shall soon, by a simple extension, attach more to wanting than to deserving. {p. 37}

    It clarifies much to see that socialism is in origin a middle-class and not a proletarian concept. {p. 37}

    [T]he various forms of collectivism…rest on a materialistic philosophy. {p. 38}

    Since subversive activity is the taking away of degree, it is logical that conservatives should treat as enemies all those who wish to abolish the sacred and secular grounds for distinctions among men. {p. 40}

    The comity of peoples in groups large or small rests not upon this chimerical notion of equality but upon fraternity…The ancient feeling of brotherhood carries obligations of which equality knows nothing. It calls for respect and protections, for brotherhood is status in family, and family is by nature hierarchical. It demands patience with little brother, and it may sternly exact duty of big brother. It places people in a network of sentiment, not of rights. {p. 41-42}

    The rule is that each shall act where he is strong. {p. 42}

    The frame of duty which fraternity erects is itself the source of ideal conduct. {p. 42-43}

    [P]eople meet most easily when they know their position. If their work and authority are defined, they can proceed on fixed assumptions and conduct themselves without embarrassment toward inferior and superior. When the rule of equality obtains, however, no one knows where he belongs. {p. 43}

    Resentment…may well prove the dynamite which will finally wreck Western society. {p. 43}

    If it promises equality of condition, it promises injustice, because one law for the ox and the lion is tyranny. {p. 44}

    The conservatives of our day have a case which only their want of imagination keeps them from making use of in the proposition that levelers are foes of freedom. {p. 50-51}

    Its effect therefore has been to collapse the traditional hierarchy and to produce economic man, whose destiny is mere activity. {p. 51}

    [I]f we feel that creation does not express purpose, it is impossible to find an authorization for purpose in our lives. Indeed, the assertion of purpose in a world we felt to be purposeless would be a form of sentimentality. {p. 51}

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    2 Comments

  • Reply EJN July 20, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Brandy,
    Hopped through from Trisha blog -I really like this book and reading your posts– made me put in on my read list again.
    Thanks,
    Jojo

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