Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Pretorian Guard of Tyranny

There are some ways of being bound by the social whole and in the social whole--in other words, some forms of sociability--which give the group such a power over the nonrational faculties that a practical judgment contrary to the collective imperatives becomes physically impossible: a host of images and emotions keeps a watch on the threshold of consciousness in order to prevent the construction of such a judgment. The dream of every tyranny is to systematize this form of sociability and to establish in the soul of everyone a pretorian guard over nonrational forces in order to assure the safety of the regime and its smooth operation by destroying the deep center of all freedom, viz., the indifference of the practical judgment.

Yves R. Simon, Freedom of Choice, pp. 126-127.

'Indifference of the practical judgment' means here 'the ability of practical judgment to go more ways than one'. And strictly speaking, Simon shouldn't have, by his own lights, have said 'destroying' but something like 'circumventing'. But I thought this passage was rather perceptive.

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