Monday, June 09, 2008

Certain Truths Articulated Well

"Every motor-tyre is made out of the blood of negroes under any lash, yet motorists are not all heartless villains. When we buy wax matches, we buy a painful and lingering death for those who make them...War is only the final flower of the capitalist system, but with an unusual proletariat...The fundamental mistake lies in wrong expectations, leading to cynicism when they are not realised. Conventional morality leads us to expect unselfishness in decent people. This is an error. Man is an animal bent on securing food and propagating the species.

One way of suceeding in these objects is to persuade others that one is after their welfare - but to be really after any welfare but one's own and one's children is unnatural. It occurs like sadism and sodomy, but is equally against nature. A good social system is not to be secured by making unselfish, but by making their own vital impulses fit in with other people's. This is feasible. Our present system is at fault; but it is weakness to be disgusted with people because they aim at self-preservation. One's idealism needs to be too robust for such weaknesses. It doesn't do to forget or deny the animal in man. The God in man will not be visible, as a rule, while the animal is thwarted. Those who have produced stoic philosophers have all had enough to eat and drink. The sum total of the matter is that one's idealism must be robust and must fit in with the facts of nature; and that which is horrible in the actual world is mainly due to a bad system..."

Bertrand Russell, a letter to Ottoline Morrell