Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Blast from the past

Yes it's Hippolyte Taine again, but he blasts the political classes with such gentlemanly venom that I can't resist another quote.

Most of them are mere politicians, charlatans, and intriguers, third-class lawyers and doctors, literary failures, semi-educated stump-speakers, bar-room, club, or clique orators, and vulgar climbers. 

Left behind in private careers, in which one is closely watched and accepted for what he is worth, they launch out on a public career because, in this business, popular suffrage at once ignorant, indifferent, is a badly informed, prejudiced and passionate judge and prefers a moralist of easy conscience, instead of demanding unsullied integrity and proven competency. 

Nothing more is demanded from candidates but witty speech-making, assertiveness and showing off in public, gross flattery, a display of enthusiasm and promises to place the power about to be conferred on them by the people in the hands of those who will serve its antipathies and prejudices.

Hippolyte Taine - The Modern Regime (1893)


Demetrius said...

From memories of my studies of French History of that period he was pretty much right about the membership of the Assembly of the Third Republic. Also, I do not think it is much better now. What a pity the House's of Commons is now much the same, but that's democracy for you.

James Higham said...

Not sure it's good that nothing has changed.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - it's a problem with democracy - we elect too many who are simply gaming the system.

James - it isn't.