Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cults & causes: Alexander Herzen nailed it perfectly

This quote deserves to be publicized worldwide.

When I first came across it, I had never heard of Alexander Herzen. 

He died in 1870 but these wise words are still very relevant today. They resonate very strongly with me. They are independent confirmation of my own ideas and experiences. They are spot on.

For Herzen, one of the greatest of sins that any human being can perpetrate is to seek to transfer moral responsibility from his own shoulders to those of an unpredictable future order, and, in the name of something which may never happen, perpetrate crimes today which no one would deny to be monstrous if they were performed for some egoistic purpose, and do not seem so only because they are sanctified by faith in some remote and intangible Utopia.“

Said by Sir Isaiah Berlin of Alexander Herzen, Russian writer, novelist, philosopher, teacher and political agitator.

It is uncanny how much of the bad behavior and sinister practices to be found in cults and cult-like organizations today are covered by views expressed by Alexander Herzen over 150 years ago.

Yes, people do commit terrible crimes in the name of the cause.

Yes, it is always some glorious end in the future that justifies the cheating, lying, deprivation, cruelty, abdication of responsibilities and commitments and other crimes in the present.

Yes, people who would never do something – cheating people out of money for example – for their own personal benefit, will do it in the name of the cause, in the name of Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth, in the name of freedom and democracy in the future.

And yes, very often the end never comes, so the crimes and sacrifices were all for nothing.

I have seen all this for myself.

I wonder what Alexander Herzen experienced to make him hold those views.

I wonder how much of what he condemned was committed by him and his friends in the name of socialism and revolution that would bring about a better future.

Alexander Herzen: