Pg 171 – They Thought They Were Free – A Philologist colleague of Books author
“And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jew swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in – your nation, your people – is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.” [emphasis mine]
Like the so-called frog boiling in water. Start him off in cold water, and slowly turn up the heat. By the time he realizes that he is dying, he will be too weak and the water too hot for him to do anything about it. But even then, often enough the “frog” needs a trigger, or something to pull him into the realization that he is in imminent danger, that his world has changed dramatically. I bolded the “Jew Swine” part of the quote because that was the Philogogist’s trigger. As he said, after that suddenly his world collapsed around him and he saw what was really happening. But even then, it was too late to do anything. He mistook the Forms for the Foundation. We should take note from this an try not to look at the Forms for an evaluation of the Foundation. But what is the foundation? How do we even evaluate it? How do we keep our eyes open?
Pg 168 – They Thought They Were Free – A Philologist colleague of Books author
“How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice – ‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have changed here before they went as far as they did; they didn’t, but they might have. And everyone counts on that might.” – A Philologist colleague of Books author
Principiis obsta and Finem respice. A wonderful, yet difficult question. How can one clearly see the end in order to consider it and then resist the beginnings? How can one examine the future? We can statistically examine history and try to find similar situations to determine the future. But, as they say history rhymes and never repeats so this can be a difficult task. We can also logically analyze our current situation, and the major trends. As a fan of Economics, it is feasible that if we study Praxeology, which is the study of Human Action and combine it with a strong Moral Principle, it is possible to start seeing the end enough. With the end coming into focus based on current trends, it is thus enough to consider those trends and to resist them at the beginning.
I, the Economical Engineer, propose to myself and any one who will read this, that I will pull my support from that which has a negative long-term trend for myself, my family, and those around me. I will oppose trends that encourage immorality in people and pull people away from the Heavenly Gates. Will you join me in looking ahead?
This post is a continuation of a long series of commentary on quotes pulled from They Thought They Were Free, the Germans 1933-45 by Milton Mayer. The book itself is home to a lot of revelations to the nature of people and I do recommend reading it. For further reading there is a short review of the book itself and also other commentary like this post.