Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Concise History of the Russian Revolution

I'm excited to start a new book today, "A Concise History of the Russian Revolution" by Richard Pipes. Thought this paragraph worth quoting:

This idea holds an irresistible attraction for intellectuals because it elevates them from the position of passive observers of life into its shapers. Their superior knowledge of what is rational and virtuous permits them to aspire to the status of mankind's "educators." While ordinary people, in pursuit of a living, acquire specific knowledge relevant to their particular occupation, intellectuals--and they alone--claim to know things "in general." By creating "sciences" of human affairs--economic science, political science, sociology--they feel at liberty to dismiss as irrelevant practices and institutions created over millennia by trial and error. It is this philosophical revolution that has transformed some intellectuals into an intelligentsia, actively involved in politics. And, of course, involvement in politics makes them politicians, and, like others of the breed, prone to pursue their private interests in the guise of working for the common good. [p. 23]

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