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Bertrand Russell - Political Ideals

Bertrand Russell - Political Ideals



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Published by: Mohamed Ali Mohamed on Jun 15, 2011
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Political Ideals
Russell, Bertrand
Non-Fiction, Philosophy, Political science
Project Gutenberg
About Russell:
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS (18 May1872 – 2 February 1970), was a British philosopher, logician, mathem-atician, historian, religious sceptic, social reformer, socialist and pacifist.Although he spent the majority of his life in England, he was born inWales, where he also died. Russell led the British "revolt against ideal-ism" in the early 1900s and is considered one of the founders of analyticphilosophy along with his protégé Wittgenstein and his elder Frege. Heco-authored, with A. N. Whitehead, Principia Mathematica, an attemptto ground mathematics on logic. His philosophical essay "On Denoting"has been considered a "paradigm of philosophy." Both works have had aconsiderable influence on logic, mathematics, set theory, linguistics andanalytic philosophy. He was a prominent anti-war activist, championingfree trade between nations and anti-imperialism. Russell was imprisonedfor his pacifist activism during World War I, campaigned against Adolf Hitler, for nuclear disarmament, criticised Soviet totalitarianism and theUnited States of America's involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1950,Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "in recognition of hisvaried and significant writings in which he champions humanitarianideals and freedom of thought."
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This work was published before 1923 and is in the public do-main in the USA only.
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Political Ideals
In dark days, men need a clear faith and a well-grounded hope; and asthe outcome of these, the calm courage which takes no account of hard-ships by the way. The times through which we are passing have affordedto many of us a confirmation of our faith. We see that the things we hadthought evil are really evil, and we know more definitely than we everdid before the directions in which men must move if a better world is toarise on the ruins of the one which is now hurling itself into destruction.We see that men's political dealings with one another are based onwholly wrong ideals, and can only be saved by quite different idealsfrom continuing to be a source of suffering, devastation, and sin.Political ideals must be based upon ideals for the individual life. Theaim of politics should be to make the lives of individuals as good as pos-sible. There is nothing for the politician to consider outside or above thevarious men, women, and children who compose the world. The prob-lem of politics is to adjust the relations of human beings in such a waythat each severally may have as much of good in his existence as pos-sible. And this problem requires that we should first consider what it isthat we think good in the individual life.To begin with, we do not want all men to be alike. We do not want tolay down a pattern or type to which men of all sorts are to be made bysome means or another to approximate. This is the ideal of the impatientadministrator. A bad teacher will aim at imposing his opinion, and turn-ing out a set of pupils all of whom will give the same definite answer ona doubtful point. Mr. Bernard Shaw is said to hold that Troilus andCressida is the best of Shakespeare's plays. Although I disagree with thisopinion, I should welcome it in a pupil as a sign of individuality; butmost teachers would not tolerate such a heterodox view. Not only teach-ers, but all commonplace persons in authority, desire in their subordin-ates that kind of uniformity which makes their actions easily predictableand never inconvenient. The result is that they crush initiative and indi-viduality when they can, and when they cannot, they quarrel with it.It is not one ideal for all men, but a separate ideal for each separateman, that has to be realized if possible. Every man has it in his being todevelop into something good or bad: there is a best possible for him, anda worst possible. His circumstances will determine whether his capacit-ies for good are developed or crushed, and whether his bad impulses arestrengthened or gradually diverted into better channels.

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