Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Off the Wall

Show me what a man reads and I will tell you what kind of man he is.
Who said this?

Show me the books he loves and I shall know
The man far better than through mortal friends.

— S. Weir Mitchell

According to Book Browse, S. Weir Mitchell.

The phrase came to mind as I was reading John Keane's, The Life and Death of Democracy, (2009). Bio here. Here is a precious line from this work:

The struggle against blind arrogance and stupidity caused by concentrated power is never ultimately winnable, yet it is among the struggles that human beings abandon at our own peril. Democracy is a powerful remedy for insolence. Its purpose is to stop people getting screwed. Democracy is a good weapon for publicly exposing corruption and arrogance, false beliefs and blind spots, bad decisions and hurtful acts. It helpfully injects critical thinking and matter-of-factness into the design and operation of complex organisations and networked systems; above all it is an indispensable means of tackling problems (like climate change) for which there are currently no agreed definitions, let alone viable solutions. Democracy champions not the Rule of the People -- that definition of democracy belongs in more ways than one to the Age of Monarchy and Era of Dictatorship and Total Power -- but the rule that nobody should rule.

That's a mouthful.

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