Jacques Barzun Quotes
It is not clear to anyone, least of all the practitioners, how science and technology in their headlong course do or should influence ethics and law, education and government, art and social philosophy, religion and the life of the affections. Yet science is an all-pervasive energy, for it is at once a mode of thought, a source of strong emotion, and a faith as fanatical as any in history.
The nation in arms is virtually a communist state: the people must be paid wages and fed and protected and regimented behind the lines as much as on the front. Minds must be kept loyal and at the right pitch of hate, so that successive drafts of fighters are accepted without murmurings. Letters and newspapers must be censored while the propaganda mill grinds on. As for decisions of strategy and overall command, they must please many masters: dissenters in the cabinet, the heads of the allied states and public opinion. Hence failures must be disguised or concealed.
Regarding the idea of race, .. no agreement seems to exist about what race means. Race seems to embody a fact as simple and as obvious as the noonday sun, but if that is so, why the endless wrangling about the idea and the facts of race. What is a race? How can it be recognized? Who constitute the several races?.
The ever-present impulse is to push against restriction and, in so doing, to feel intolerably hemmed in. Thus in practice, every liberation increases the sense of oppression. Nor is the paradox merely in the mind: the laws enacted to secure the rights of every person and group, by creating protective boundaries, create new barriers.
Since in every European country between 1870 and 1914 there was a war party demanding armaments, an individualist party demanding ruthless competition, an imperialist party demanding a free hand over backward peoples, a socialist party demanding the conquest of power and a racialist party demanding internal purges against aliens – all of them, when appeals to greed and glory failed, invoked Spencer and Darwin, which was to say science incarnate.