By Jacques Ellul
Jacques Ellul-much much less solemn in temper than usual-here cracks open political and sociological commonplaces, destructively and wittily demonstrating how our unthinking attractiveness of them encourages hypocrisy, smugness, and psychological inertia. one of the stereotypes of idea and speech therefore exploded are such words as "You cannot act with out getting your fingers soiled" "Work is freedom" "We needs to stick with the present of historical past" and "Women locate their freedom (dignity) in paintings" a undeniable variety of those outdated saws preside over our way of life. they enable us to appreciate each other and to swim within the traditional present of society. they're authorised as so convinced that we virtually by no means query them. They serve without delay as enough reasons for every thing and as "clinchers" in too many arguments. Ellul explores the ways that such clichés lie to us and stop us from having self sustaining thoughts-and in reality retain us from dealing with the issues to which they're theoretically addressed. they're the "new commonplaces" simply because the 19th century introduced forth many such commonplaces (they are enshrined in Leon Bloy's Exégése and Flaubert's Dictionnaire des idées reçues), so our century has been busy developing its personal. What Ellul has performed is to face nonetheless lengthy adequate to examine them rigorously, assault them with cool cause, and depart them nakedly uncovered. during this impressive record, Ellul's caustic fearlessness is on the carrier of truths that regularly are merciless, yet regularly are lucid and impassioned. He represents the voice of intelligence, and whereas doing so is frequently hilarious and constantly healing approximately issues of first significance.
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This forces us to see the ridiculous limit to the dirtiness in question: a manifesto at the most. But as for really getting your hands dirty by torturing your fellow The intellectual remains what he man —come now! is. It goes without saying that these heroes with their dirty hands have them only figuratively, by mediation or by proxy. " and the intellectual who supports the cause of the worker is ennobled by this dirt. The politician has dirty hands, and the professor who signs a manifesto profits by a few dabs of this reeking slime.
This social current provides instant identity, imposes tastes, fashions, vocabularies, on us; makes form. us, and It is we want to be what the social current in this admirable rush of sincerity, we con- not astonishing to observe that the groups that respect this watchword of sincerity to oneself are as con- formist as possible, with the result that the individuals making up these groups are perfectly interchangeable their selves are identical. Innumerable nouvelle vague bear witness to the-leaderism this fact.
Everything was getting out of control. Then, all of a sudden, the thread of history was discovered. If we take one end of the thread and pull, the whole ball of world history, past and future, unrolls in order, very nicely, at our disposal. What mastery, gentlemen! Much stronger than the shamans! Much stronger than all the theologians! We can see where we are going, so we know what we have to do. I also know the meaning of what I am doing now. My destiny A Critique of the New Commonplaces becomes clear, I solved, and I find am in I ( who physicians my time, with since they are part of this history that making ) and therefore with technolHow stupid were those unfortunate meta- the process of ogy and science.