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July 04, 2006

Selective Memory

Dave the Tomb Robber (which is what his wife calls him when he clambers too far up his Professor of Archaeology pedestal) tells me the following quote from John Stuart Mill--liberally-laced with *tsk*-ing pontification on the "illegal war to impose our values on others" trail that we're treading--is enjoying a renewed popularity with the Brie and Chablis Set up the road:

The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental or spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.

They apparently forgot that JSM also said:

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling, which thinks that nothing is worth war, is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

No pontification necessary. Kinda restores your faith in philosophy without having to wipe runny cheese off your chin...