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Orwell on the Moralist and the Revolutionary - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
December 25th, 2006
02:32 am


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Orwell on the Moralist and the Revolutionary
A historiosophic quotation from George Orwell's essay "Charles Dickens" (1940):
Progress is not an illusion, it happens, but it is slow and invariably disappointing. There is always a new tyrant waiting to take over from the old — generally not quite so bad, but still a tyrant. Consequently two viewpoints are always tenable. The one, how can you improve human nature until you have changed the system? The other, what is the use of changing the system before you have improved human nature? They appeal to different individuals, and they probably show a tendency to alternate in point of time. The moralist and the revolutionary are constantly undermining one another. Marx exploded a hundred tons of dynamite beneath the moralist position, and we are still living in the echo of that tremendous crash. But already, somewhere or other, the sappers are at work and fresh dynamite is being tamped in place to blow Marx at the moon. Then Marx, or somebody like him, will come back with yet more dynamite, and so the process continues, to an end we cannot yet foresee. The central problem — how to prevent power from being abused — remains unsolved.
The article itself, on Dickens, is dynamite! (so to speak)

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(2 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:December 25th, 2006 10:44 pm (UTC)

That is a lovely, wordy restating of "who guards the guards" and "checks and balances". The central problem remains unsolved only so long as we apply the principles of market forces (democracy being a particular case of those, don't you think?). But any alternative will be not-democracy.

What a conundrum.
[User Picture]
Date:December 26th, 2006 03:22 pm (UTC)
yes it does sound very good.

Power is there to be abused im sorry to say.
It takes a special breed of politician not to abuse power (Like Begin - father and son, though the father i suppose you could accuse of putting his men at powerfull positions in state owned company's - just as labour always did until 1977, however - Menachem Begin RIP was also admired by some as he didnt actually seek to sack any of the existing labour top officials when he took office - he told them they could stay and serve him).

The bottom line, as I see it, is that politics is here because you have to make a choice, if we all had enough of everything - we wouldnt need politicians to choose for us what we need more off and less off.
because the choices that politicians make carry loss/gain of business (hence room for abusing power) and backing/refraining from ideas (room for political debate) - it creates a game on zero sum - someone will always lose out, no matter which party wins the election.

i can only think of one way to prevent power being abused and that is to force (legally speaking) the public officials (be it knesset members, government ministers and medium-high tier state workers) into giving away thier financial private life to independant accountant scrutiny so long as they are in office.

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