A PROPHETIC VOICE FROM THE PAST:

“Whatever we may be required to oppose and to fight, hate and fear alone cannot build a nation, cannot keep it alive, cannot prevent its degeneration. Such blind emotions permit corruption to hide behind secrecy and purported national safety and the flag; they hasten disintegration and destruction.

“For a century and a half these revivalistic upsurges of superstition, ignorance, and blind herd emotion have occurred regularly every ten to fifteen years. …The day may still come when country-wide panic builds up to a tragic end of our democratic system and institutions and the headlong decline of our strength by such false flexing of muscles. It would all be done in the name of freedom and democracy, of course.

“This rhythmic process, which few trouble to examine, perhaps cannot be altered by anthropological or psychological research, not by any rational approaches. Such knowledge, if assembled, could even become the tool of a government determined to keep the public uninformed or falsely informed.

“The crowd, which at times worships (and always fears), but more often destroys what it does not understand, has shown an ever-greater tendency to sneer at intellectuals, philosophers, poets, artists…Can they be blamed when many intellectuals have been caught in the vicious circle of status seeking or have let themselves be silenced, when the pseudo-intellectuals and optimistic time-servers are, with exceptions, the leaders of radio, television, and our mass publications?

—Carleton Beals (Nov. 13, 1893-April 4, 1979), Brass-Knuckle Crusade: The Great Know-Nothing Conspiracy: 1820-1860.


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