a defense of liberty

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to www.million-books.com where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER II THE STATIC STATE The Conservative denial of progress may seem a cold and unsatisfactory creed, unlikely to hold men by its appeal either to their energies or their passions. The sanguine optimism of the Liberal, who said that man would find a way to prevent the sun from getting cool, is contrasted with the unenthusiastic pessimism of Mr. Balfour, who is supposed to have said that he believed there had once been an ice age, and that he believed that some day there would be another. But it is an illusion to imagine that the denial of progress is a creed that brings no fervor to its devotees, that produces no passion other than a nerveless and apathetic cynicism. For the denial of progress is merely the framework of the clean slate. Having swept away with a gesture of contempt the theory of evolution; having convinced oneself that mankind has not changed and will not change; it remains for the superior person to draw up rules for this hopeless and otherwise unmanageable mob of humanity. The drawing up of rules is, at least for those who draw them up, the most engrossing ofpursuits. Those who indulge in this sinister form of occupation obtain some part of the sensation of vast superiority that the schoolmaster feels for his pupils. They can put their contempt into intellectual form; they can combine a quantity of sensual pleasures; the conception of a rounded and definite idea, the exercise of authority, the sensation of patronage, of virtue and good works. It is these physical and intellectual delights that have in all ages tempted the philosopher, the bureaucrat, and the statesman to build on the foundation of a denial of progress the monstrous temple of the Static State. It is obvious that, progress once denied, it is logically possible to evolve a system that n...
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