Paul Johnson Quotes
14 Sourced Quotes
Men are excessively ruthless and cruel not as a rule out of malice but from outraged righteousness. How much more is this true of legally constituted states, invested with all this seeming moral authority of parliaments and congresses and courts of justice! The destructive capacity of an individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and the destructive capacity necessarily expands too. Collective righteousness is far more ungovernable than any individual pursuit of revenge. That was a point well understood by Woodrow Wilson, who warned: 'Once lead this people into war and they'll forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance.
Bismarck had cunningly taught the parties not to aim at national appeal but to represent interests. They remained class or sectional pressure-groups under the Republic. This was fatal, for it made the party system, and with it democratic parliamentarianism, seem a divisive rather than a unifying factor. Worse: it meant the parties never produced a leader who appealed beyond the narrow limits of his own following.
It is one of the many ironies of this period that, at a time when the intelligentsia were excoriating Mellon for tax-evasion, and contrasting the smooth-running Soviet planned economy with the breakdown in America, he was secretly exploiting the frantic necessities of the Soviet leaders to form the basis of one of America's most splendid public collections