Clause 61: The Pushback Blog

Because ideas have consequences

Absolutely Backwards

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While I was researching something else, I came across this quotation:

We must reform society before we can reform ourselves.
— G. B. Shaw, preface to Misalliance.
I noticed this quote because it is completely backwards. Reforming society becomes reforming other people, and only when that is done can we be expected to reform ourselves (i.e., never). Irving Babbitt challenged this sequencing, and it is not coincidental that he quoted this poem in a chapter of Democracy and Leadership titled, “True and False Liberals.”
Justice in the outer world must, in the last analysis, be only a reflection of the harmony and proportionateness that have resulted in certain individuals from the working of the spirit upon itself.
— Democracy and Leadership, p. 223.
Collectives are not moral agents. Only the persons who constitute the collectives can exercise moral imagination, initiate action and shoulder moral responsibility. A corporation, community or nation can only be as moral as the persons who act on their behalf. A community of unjust, shallow and thoughtless persons will necessarily be an unjust, shallow and thoughtless community. It cannot be otherwise.
A society of persons who are evading the hard work of each reforming themselves cannot be reformed. A society of persons who are reforming themselves will spontaneously experience reform out of necessity.

Written by srojak

February 23, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Posted in Ethics

Tagged with ,

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