Sunday, November 15, 2015

`The Sun Would Have Gone Out'

Prophets are always to be distrusted, often rightly, even when their prophecies prove accurate. In their own time, prophets and crackpots are indistinguishable. Both are obsessive, sometimes Ahab-like monomaniacs, and generally less than polite, well-groomed and telegenic. It’s their message that matters to them, not the niceties of delivery. In a letter to William F. Buckley dated Oct. 8, 1956 (Odyssey of a Friend: Whittaker Chambers’ Letters to William F. Buckley, Jr. 1954-1961, 1969), Chambers writes: 

“The age is impaled on its most maiming experience, namely, that a man can be simply or savagely—above all, pointlessly—wiped out, regardless of what he is, means, hopes, dreams or might become. This reality cuts across our minds like a wound whose edges crave to heal, but cannot. Thus, one of the great sins, perhaps the great sin, is to say: It will heal; it has healed; there is no wound. There is nothing more important than this wound.” 

No one wishes to be reminded of his vulnerability. Being good, honest and hard-working, let alone selfish and hedonistic, are no guarantee of protection. The late Robert Conquest, poet and historian, the great Jeremiah of Communism and its evils, writes in Reflections on a Ravaged Century (2001): 

“The revolutionary believed it to be in the nature of things that dictatorship and terror are needed if the good of humanity is to be served, just as the Aztec priests believed themselves to be entirely justified in ripping the hearts out of thousands of victims, since had they not done so, the sun would have gone out, a far worse catastrophe for mankind. In either case, the means are acceptable, being inevitable. . .”

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