Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"Without Responsibility Even To God"

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security....

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes....

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle....one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice -- 'Resist the beginnings' and 'Consider the end.' But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things 'might' have. And everyone counts on that 'might.'

"Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don't want to 'go out of your way to make trouble.' Why not? -- Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, 'everyone' is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none....

"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you....The world you live in -- your nation, your people -- is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way."



They Thought They Were Free by Milton Mayer, from a Ron Paul grassroots website

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought I recognized this one- read in a history class (Fascism and Communism) when I was in college. A classic.

11/07/2007 12:58 AM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...

Yes chilling...I've quoted this exact section myself. I often use it to try to get the sheep over the bridge to safety. There was nothing in the DNA in Germans in the 30s than that of Americans in the 2000s. Human beings are flawed creatures. It is generally our "leaders" who recognize these flaws the best...and exploit them to their advantages and purposes. If those advantages and purposes happen to be evil there is nothing to stop the herd from following.

Germans killed Russians, Jews, French, Britians, etc by the millions...

Americans killed Natvies, Africans, mexicans, phillipians, Vietnamese, Koreans, Iraqis by the millions...
Of course...the difference is we did it for their own good!!! LOL

11/07/2007 9:46 AM  
Anonymous Kilfarsnar said...

"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it -- please try to believe me -- unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop."

That degree of political awareness is called not trusting the government. Even the founders did not trust the government they created! They knew that it needed "checks and balances" because individuals in government cannot be trusted. I don't care who they are or what party they belong to. They must be monitored and held to account.

We have become so credulous! I would like to say it's a result of 9/11, but it's not. I don't trust the government, and I'm a liberal! I believe in the power of government to improve people's lives. But I still don't trust it. That is, I don't trust the people in it, as a general rule.

"How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now."

It's about controlling your fear and not believing everything you are told. It's about educating yourself about that which affects your life. It's about paying attention.

Ah, now I'm beginning to understand...

11/07/2007 11:14 AM  
Blogger Jen Clark said...

"It's about controlling your fear and not believing everything you are told. It's about educating yourself about that which affects your life. It's about paying attention."

This comment is so right. But it's also about sacrificing for the greater good. We must accept, as writers putting our words and information out into the universe, that we, personally, may be on the watch lists. We must understand the risk that if martial law comes, and dissenters are rounded up to be put in KBR's prisons, that we may be on that list. We must understand that there is a chance that there may be consequences for trying to stop what we suspect is coming.

We must understand these risks and fight the fear of them. We must understand that loving our country means sacrifice, and not just of the military. We need to be knowledgeable about the dangers, accept them, and move on for the sake of our country and futures.

Speaking out is a scary thing to do, but it's worth it.

Thanks for posting Mayers beautiful words.

11/07/2007 5:15 PM  
Anonymous goldhorder said...


I believe in the power of government to improve people's lives

This comment is so right. But it's also about sacrificing for the greater good


This is what kills me...this is what you guys just don't get. This is the greatest tool the powerful have to manipulate the masses. Is the greater good what the common man wants or is it what the leaders want? It might start out as what the common man wants...but little...by little...by little. Three steps forward...two steps back. The greater good always becomes what the leaders want. People want a powerful government that can do good things for them. Once you give a government that kind of power...that power winds up being abused to benefit the powerful and their friends. It has to be that way because it has always been that way.

Local communities should maintain as much power and control locally as possible. It is your local leaders who you can get a meeting with...and yell at and get angry at. It is them you can have an influence over. Imagine getting angry and yelling at your congressman or Senator. As Conyers has shown...he'll have you drug away in handcuffs.

“And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that. All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Acton

11/08/2007 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Evil is whatever Distracts
--Franz Kafka

10/24/2010 6:07 PM  

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