Naive optimism

jacques barzunNaive optimism has been the persistent flaw in the very idea of “modernity” and in the Liberalism that served as modernity’s ideology. The great 20th century historian Jacques Barzun has a reminder for us that is especially apposite at this very moment:

“How a revolution erupts from a commonplace event — tidal wave from a ripple — is cause for endless astonishment. Neither Luther in 1517 nor the men who gathered at Versailles in 1789 intended at first what they produced at last. Even less did the Russian Liberals who made the revolution of 1917 foresee what followed. All were as ignorant as everybody else of how much was about to be destroyed.”

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