Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rhetoric

A modern politician's take on the masses:

They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.
And now the take of a politician of an earlier era:
It is treason against the nation to take away its dreams. For my part, I admit I have known but one God. The God of all the world and of justice. The man in the fields adds to this conception that of a man who works, whom he makes sacred because his youth, his manhood, and his old age owe to the priest their little moments of happiness. When a man is poor and wretched, his soul grows tender, and he clings especially to whatever seems majestic: leave him his illusions— teach him if you will . . . but do not let the poor fear that they may lose the one thing that binds them to earth, since wealth cannot bind them.
Note that the longer quote is actually more elegant, even in translation, and far more sympathetic.