Saturday, 18 April 2015

The last illusion

The philosophers of the last century devoted themselves with fervour to the destruction of the religious, political, and social illusions on which our forefathers had lived for a long tale of centuries. By destroying them they have dried up the springs of hope and resignation. Behind the immolated chimeras they came face to face with the blind and silent forces of nature, which are inexorable to weakness and ignore pity. 

Notwithstanding all its progress, philosophy has been unable as yet to offer the masses any ideal that can charm them; but, as they must have their illusions at all cost, they turn instinctively, as the insect seeks the light, to the rhetoricians who accord them what they want. Not truth, but error has always been the chief factor in the evolution of nations, and the reason why socialism is so powerful to-day is that it constitutes the last illusion that is still vital. 

In spite of all scientific demonstrations it continues on the increase. Its principal strength lies in the fact that it is championed by minds sufficiently ignorant of things as they are in reality to venture boldly to promise mankind happiness. The social illusion reigns to-day upon all the heaped-up ruins of the past, and to it belongs the future. The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. 

Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.

Gustave Le Bon - The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind (1895)

Maybe global planners aim to promise mankind happiness in the form of a global consumer culture. Perhaps their plans are sound and a micro-managed consumer culture offers a facsimile of happiness most people would settle for.

A few may mourn the death of freedom, dignity and fulfilment, but do we currently have enough to fill the coffin?


Sam Vega said...

Well, it won't be a state funeral, that's for sure.

Sobering stuff.

Sackerson said...

A powerful quotation. Though I don't necessarily accept that they "destroyed illusion"; they may merely have destroyed confidence and "the ties that bind".

A K Haart said...

Sam - it won't, not even a cardboard box.

Sackers - I'm not sure there is a huge difference.

Demetrius said...

Try Podsnap's Technique.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - it has much to commend it and I sometimes wonder how much Podsnappery is deliberate.