Tuesday, 31 January 2017

William James on Donald Trump

I just stumbled across the following passage in an address that William James gave in 1897 on the occasion of the unveiling of the Robert Gould Shaw monument in Boston. In the light of recent developments in the United States, I thought I should share it as a particularly apt comment on what we are witnessing today and what, somehow, inexplicably, we have allowed to let happen.

“The deadliest enemies of nations are not their foreign foes, they always dwell within their borders. And from these internal enemies civilization is always in need of being saved. The nation blest above all nations is she in whom the civic genius of the people does the saving day by day, by acts without external picturesqueness; by speaking, writing, voting reasonably; by smiting corruption swiftly; by good temper between parties; by the people knowing true men when they see them, and preferring them as leaders to rabid partisans or empty quacks.”

(William James, Memories and Studies, London/ Bombay/ Calcutta: Longmans, Green and Co. 1911, 58)

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