Thursday, 1 June 2006

Joyless and Triumphant

The joy of an unregimented life is incalculable, and cannot therefore find support from a state that wishes everything to be regimented and calculable.
.....We have sufficient cause to call totalitarian that state which seeks to regulate and regiment every area of life in accordance with some socio-political ideal, by which nothing—so far as it is practicable—may be left to individual choice and responsibility.
.....It does not matter what this state calls itself, nor is it a matter of symbols, flags, uniforms and military parades: such might accompany tyranny, but there is no reason to suppose they must accompany totalitarianism. The totalitarian state seeks rather to become coterminous with the nation; and the danger for us is precisely that democracy knows no bounds in this regard; for the proudest boast of democracy is that it is the government of the people by the people, and however ludicrous this claim may be, it has the injurious effect of lowering resistance to the idea that the nation is the state and the state is the nation.
.....We might hope to depend upon a robust body of individuals to maintain a healthy spirit of resistance against this threat, but we ought not to become complacent in this hope; for it is far from certain that every age must bring forth its saviours—cometh the hour, cometh the man—especially when that age has so many means of snuffing out the individual soul.
We have killed the ‘soul’, but we have created for ourselves a thousand-odd social and political slogans . . . which tyrannize over our thoughts, . . . and we proceed logically to transform the state into a monster to swallow up the individual. [1]
So wrote Lin Yutang, who would doubtless be unsurprised to see that the joyless impulse to crush the diversity and spontaneity of life, to regulate and regiment thought and deed, is so strong in our political and intellectual elite, and triumphant over timid and belittled souls; wherewith the greatest danger is that people will no longer be able to distinguish the true from the politically correct. This inability may already be seen to a large extent in the university-educated, who, you may be sure, will be ever happy to share their enlightened confusion with everyone else.
.....Statism has become a virulent idea, and consequently the state intrudes ever further into our lives, as surely as influenza lays low the infirm. It could well be that soon a man may not leap into a bath without Big Nanny having first tested the water with her big toe.
.....Still, a government minister playing croquet on a well-kept lawn is a glimmer of hope—and this hope, a proof of one’s desperation.
[1] Lin Yutang, The Importance of Living (London and Toronto: William Heinemann, 1938), p.427.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice, cozy place you got here :)..