26 April 2013

This is not the social contract I signed.

From Graham Wallas, The Art of Thought (1926):
A distant ancestor of ours, some Aurignacian Shelley, living in the warm spell between two ice ages, may have been content to lie on the hillside, and allow the songs of the birds and the loveliness of the clouds to mingle with his wonder as to the nature of the universe in a delightful uninterrupted stream of rising and falling reverie, enjoyed and forgotten as it passed.  But the modern thinker has generally accepted, willingly or unwillingly, the task of making permanent his thought for the use of others, as the only justification of his position in a society few of whose members have time or opportunity for anything but a life of manual labour.
So, publish or back to the coal mines?

15 April 2013

Haunting prediction from the 1950s

David Lilienthal ran the Tennessee Valley Authority for President Roosevelt, and the Atomic Energy Commission for President Truman.  This is from his book T.V.A. - Democracy on the March (1953).

Democracy cannot thrive long in an atmosphere of scorn or fear.  One of two things ultimately happens: either distrustful citizens, their fears often capitalized upon by selfish men, refuse to yield to the national government the powers which it should have in the common interest; or an arrogant central government imposes its will by force.  In either case the substance of democracy has perished.