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To what end goodness
If the good are immediately struck down, or those
To whom they are good
Are struck down?
To what end freedom
If the free are forced to live among the unfree?
To what end reason
If only stupidity puts the bread on the table
That each of us needs?
Instead of just being good, make an effort
To create the conditions that make goodness possible,
And better still
That make it superfluous!
Instead of just being free, make an effort
To create the conditions that liberate us all,
And that make the love of freedom
Instead of just being sensible, make an effort
To create the conditions that make the stupidity
of the individual
Into a bad deal!
–Bertolt Brecht, Was nützt die Güte? (1935) in: Gesammelte Werke, vol. 4, p. 553 (Suhrkamp ed. 1967)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Estimated total calories members of Congress burned giving Bush’s 2002 State of the Union standing ovations:
A fertility scientist named Panayiotis Zavos announced that he had created human-cow embryos that were theoretically viable, but denied that he planned to allow such a hybrid to be implanted in a woman’s womb. “We are not trying to create monsters,” he said.
A statistician determined that the five most common first names among New York City taxi drivers are Md, Mohammad, Mohammed, Muhammad, and Mohamed.
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“I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.”