Against the Current (Magill's Literary Annual 1981)
One, ldquo;Man has one terrible and fundamental wish: he desires power, and this impulse, which is called freedom, must be the longest restrained. Quanta of power alone determine rank and distinguish rank: nothing else does.” Two, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle.” Three, “A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper, and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors.”
Here are three major political ideas. About each of them one is bound to have certain questions. The reader will probably want to know whose ideas they are, whether they harmonize with what he already believes, and why they are defensible. Under one’s breath, one may ask if any of the ideas is dangerous to his interests. The question least likely to be asked is: “When were such ideas first conceived?” If the reader has identified the source of the ideas (in this case: Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, and Edmund Burke), he feels little inclined to wonder if these thinkers were expressing much older intellectual positions. Discovering the true origin of an idea, the conditions under which it was first formulated, its progress in the history of thought, the conditions in which it seems to generate passionate advocacy—this sort of endeavor seems at...
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