The Original Think Magazine (Published since 1996)
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Quantity vs Quality

emma goldman

If I were to give a summary of the tendency of our times, I would say, Quantity.

 

emma goldman photoThe multitude, the mass spirit, dominates everywhere, destroying quality. Our entire life production, politics, and education rests on quantity, on numbers.

The worker who once took pride in the thoroughness and quality of his work, has been replaced by brainless, incompetent automatons, who turn out enormous quantities of things, valueless to themselves, and generally injurious to the rest of mankind.

Thus quantity, instead of adding to life's comforts and peace, has merely increased man's burden....

{xtypo_quote}The individual educator imbued with honesty of purpose, the artist or writer of original ideas, the independent scientist or explorer, the non-compromising pioneers of social changes are daily pushed to the wall by men whose learning and creative ability have become decrepit with age.{/xtypo_quote}

The oft repeated slogan of our time is, among all politicians, the Socialists included, that ours is an era of individualism, of the minority. Only those who do not probe beneath the surface might be led to entertain this view. Have not the few accumluated the wealth of the world? Are they not the masters, the absolute kings of the situation?

Their success, however, is due not to individualism, but to the inertia, the craveness, the utter submission of the mass. The latter wants to be dominated, to be led, to be coerced. As to individualism, at no time in human history did it have less chance of expression, less chance to assert itself in a normal, healthy manner....

Political cunning ever sings the praise of the mass: the poor , the outraged, the abused, the giant majority, if only it would follow us.

Who has not heard this litany before? Who does not know this never-varying refrain of all politicians? That the mass bleeds, that it is being robbed and exploited, I know as well as our vote-baiters. But I insist that not the handful of parasites, but the mass itself is responsible for this horrible state of affairs.

It clings to its masters, love the whip, and is the first to cry "CRUCIFY!" the moment a protesting voice is raised against the sacredness of capitalistic authority or any other decayed institution. Yet how long would authority and private property exist, if not for the willingness of the mass to become soldiers, policemen, jailers, and hangmen?


- Emma Goldman, from Menace: Minorities Versus Majorities & Patriotism, A Menace to Liberty, early 1900s

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