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The Rebirth of Shrill

October 1st, 2004 · No Comments

I came across two short passages this week that struck me as well suited to the current political climate. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, I guess:

For years past I have been an industrious collector of pamphlets, and a fairly steady reader of political literature of all kinds. The thing that strikes me more and more—and it strikes a lot of other people, too—is the extraordinary viciousness and dishonesty of political controversy in our time. I don’t mean merely that controversies are acrimonious. They ought to be that when they are on serious subjects. I mean that almost nobody seems to feel that an opponent deserves a fair hearing or that the objective truth matters so long as you can score a neat debating point

—George Orwell, “As I Please” column of 8 December 1944

In [the Greeks’] universe, there were more mistakes than crimes, and the only definitive crime was excess. In a world entirely dominated by history, which ours threatens to become, there are no longer any mistakes, but only crimes, of which the greatest is moderation….The Greeks never made the human mind into an armed camp, and in this respect we are inferior to them.

—Albert Camus, The Rebel

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