Political Heretics: From Plato to Mao Tse-Tung

Political Heretics: From Plato to Mao Tse-Tung

Political Heretics: From Plato to Mao Tse-Tung

Political Heretics: From Plato to Mao Tse-Tung

Excerpt

During the heyday of the McCarthy era, a patron of a small-town library asked for a periodical named The Progressive. The librarian had never heard of it and suggested that the inquirer might obtain it in the local radical bookshop, for the title sounded subversive. For all its simplicity there was a kernel of truth in the reply, even though the periodical in question was as much removed from radicalism as the braintrusters of F. D. Roosevelt or the advisers of J. F. Kennedy. The history of human progress can be written in terms of revolts against the status quo prevailing at any given time.

An attempt to record all these struggles would be tantamount to writing a history of the human race since its emergence from primitive tribal life. It would require a life-time effort equal to that of an Arnold Toynbee or a Will Durant to do justice to all the major struggles, successful or unsuccessful, against the masters of the day. It is beside the point whether progress is conceived as a real advancement for the bulk of the human race or as a change from one form of minority rule to another, whether it results in the improvement of the status of merely some of those who had risen against the powers that be, or, to be still more modest, whether the memory of the crushed revolts served to . . .

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