Simplism is ruining politics


(ACD) #1

“Collectively, we know an awful lot, but each individual’s knowledge of the world is much sketchier and more superficial than he or she imagines. Only when pushed to explain what we think we know in detail do we briefly apprehend the epistemological abyss gaping beneath our beliefs. I think this tells us something about what’s gone wrong with our politics.”


(ACD) #2

“If Conrad sounds cynical to readers today, it is because he voices truths that are now deemed unmentionable. He did not believe in what Russell, in a 1937 essay, called the ‘superior virtue of the oppressed’. All human institutions, including newly independent states, were steeped in crime; barbarism and civilisation would always be intertwined, with old evils continually reappearing in new guises. It is a vision as disruptive to the censorious liberalism that holds the reins today as it was to imperial fantasies of progress a hundred years ago.”