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    Quotables: Ideas Have Consequences

    August 3, 2012 by Brandy Vencel
    Ideas Have Consequences
    by Richard Weaver

    Since under conditions of modern freedom the individual thinks only of his rights, he does not refer his action to the external frame of obligation. {p. 70}

    The sin of egotism always takes the form of withdrawal. When personal advantage becomes paramount, the individual passes out of the community. We do not mean the state, with its apparatus of coercion, but the spiritual community, where men are related on the plane of sentiment and sympathy and where, conscious of their oneness, they maintain a unity not always commensurable with their external unification. {p. 70-71}

    The modern worker does not, save in rare instances, respond to the ideal in the task.

    Before the age of adulteration it was held that behind each work there stood some conception of its perfect execution. It was this that gave zest to labor and served to measure the degree of success. To the extent that the concept obtained, there was a teleology in work, since the laborer toiled not merely to win sustenance but to see this ideal embodied in his creation. Pride in craftsmanship is well explained by saying that to labor is to pray, for conscientious effort to realize an ideal is a kind of fidelity. {p. 71}

    Labor which is bought and sold by anonymous traders [i.e., unions] cannot feel a consecration to task. Its interest becomes that of commercialism generally: how much can be had for how little. Today workers seek to diminish their commodity in order to receive a larger return within the price framework. {p. 74}

    [W]hen egotism becomes dominant and men are applauded for looking to their own interest first, statesmanship and philosophy must leave the picture. {p. 74-75}

    [T]he leader may be chosen by the people, but he is guided by the right; and, in the same way, we may say that the worker may be employed by anyone, but that he is directed by the autonomous ideal in the task. {p. 76}

    That curious modern hypostatization “service” is often called in to substitute for the now incomprehensible doctrine of vocation. {p. 77}

    [S]entimental humanitarianism, ignorant of fundamental realities but ever attentive to desires, wrecks society. {p. 78}

    [S]atire, it is important to note, always bespeaks an age which recognizes good and evil and makes distinctions among human beings accordingly. {p. 80}

    The sensitive individual turned inward and there discovered an appalling well of melancholy and unhappiness, which was attributed to the perverse circumstances of the world…The young romantic Goethe in Werther, and Shelley crying, “I fall upon the thorns of life, I bleed,” continue the indulgence in egocentric sensibility. {p. 81}

    [W]hat man expresses in music dear to him he will most certainly express in his social practices. {p. 87}

    Clive Bell is inclined to see [Impressionism] simply as a rediscovery of paganism. This meant the acceptance of life as good and satisfying in itself, with a consequent resolution to revel in the here and now. The world of pure sensation thus became the world of art. {p. 88}

    When masses of men reach a point at which egotism reigns so blandly, can their political damnation be far distant? {p. 91}

    [A] spoiled people invite despotic control. Their failure to maintain internal discipline is followed by some rationalized organization in the service of a single powerful will. In this particular, at least, history, with all her volumes vast, has but one page. {p. 91}

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