SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
. . . And when everything has passed by–; when everything has run its full course: the herd mentality, the bliss of mass rallies at which slogans are shouted and flags are waived; when this illness of our times, which transforms through its lies the baser qualities of the people into noble ones, has passed on; when the people are perhaps not smarter, but are tired; when all the engagements over fascism have been fought to their conclusion and the last liberal emigrants have left our shores–:
Then, one day it will suddenly become fashionable to be a liberal.
And then someone will arise who will make a thundering discovery: he will discover the Individual. He will say: There is an organism, called the human being, and our life revolves around him. Whether he is happy, that is the question. That he is free—that is the object. Groups are something secondary. The State is something secondary. We should not be focused on the success of the State, but rather of the Individual.
The man who speaks in this manner will produce a great effect on his audience. The people will cheer these themes and will say: “That’s something new! What courage! We’ve never heard anything quite like that before! A new era of humanity is coming! What a genius we have among us! A new way of thinking is born–!”
His books will be bestsellers, or more precisely the books of his imitators, since the first is of course always a bit of a dim bulb.
And this new theory will have its way: a hundred thousand black, brown and red shirts will be driven to the margins and onto the dust heap. And the people will once more have the courage to be themselves, without majority decrees and without fear of the State, before which they had knuckled under like whipped dogs. And that will continue, until one day. . .
–Kurt Tucholsky, Blick in ferne Zukunft (1931) in: Gesammelte Werke, vol. 5, p. 212-13 (1972)(S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”