New decalogue

“The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows,

1: Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2: Do not think it worthwhile to produce belief by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3: Never try to discourage thinking, for you are sure to succeed.

4: When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5: Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6: Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7: Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8: Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9: Be scrupulously truthful, even when truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.”

– Bertrand Russell, New York Times 16. December 1951 (link) – via artikel hos Open Culture

Momentum in spite

“In excited times, a politician needs no power of reasoning, no apprehension of impersonal facts, and no shred of wisdom. What he must have is the capacity of persuading the multitude that what they passionately desire is attainable, and that he, through his ruthless determination, is the man to attain it.”

― Bertrand Russell, Power: A New Social Analysis (1938), Ch. III: The Forms of Power, p. 49

Greater good and grace

“Democracy requires, in fact, a rather difficult combination of individual initiative with submission to the majority. It requires that a man who has strong political convictions should argue for them and do what he can to make them the convictions of the majority, but that if the majority proves adverse, he should submit with a good grace.”

— Bertrand Russell, What Is Democracy? (1953)

Old-fashioned progressive

“I retain the tastes and prejudices of an old-fashioned liberal. I like democracy. I like individual liberty, and I like culture. I do not like to see ignorant or despotic officials interfering needlessly with private lives; I do not like to see creative thought crushed by the tyranny of stupid majorities. I do not like persecution, whether by majorities or of minorities. I am suspicious of government and distrustful of politicians; but insofar as there must be government I prefer that it should be democratic.”

— Bertrand Russell, Citizenship in a Great State (1943)