Call from the woods

I am reinspired by these words:

Permission to speak! — The demagogic character and the intention to appeal to the masses is at present common to all political parties: on account of this intention they are all compelled to transform their principles into great al fresco stupidities and thus to paint them on the wall. This is no longer alterable, indeed it would be pointless to raise so much as a finger against it; for in this domain there apply the words of Voltaire: quand la populace se mele de raisonner, tout est perdu. {“When the mob joins in and adds its voice, all is lost.”} Since this has happened one has to accommodate oneself when an earthquake has displaced the former boundaries and contours of the ground and altered the value of one’s property. Moreover, if the purpose of all politics really is to make life endurable for as many as possible, then these as-many-as-possible are entitled to determine what they understand by an endurable life; if they trust to their intellect also to discover the right means of attaining this goal, what good is there in doubting it? They want for once to forge for themselves their own fortunes and misfortunes; and if this feeling of self-determination, pride in the five or six ideas their head contains and brings forth, in fact renders their life so pleasant to them they are happy to bear the calamitous consequences of their narrow-mindedness, there is little to be objected to, always presupposing that this narrow-mindedness does not go so far as to demand that everything should become politics in this sense, that everyone should live and work according to such a standard. For a few must first of all be allowed, now more than ever, to refrain from politics and to step a little aside: they too are prompted to this by pleasure in self-determination; and there may also be a degree of pride attached to staying silent when too many, or even just many, are speaking. Then these few must be forgiven if they fail to take the happiness of the many, whether by the many one understands nations or social classes, so very seriously and are now and then guilty of an ironic posture; for their seriousness is located elsewhere, their happiness is something quite different, their goal is not to be encompassed by any clumsy hand that has only five fingers. Finally, from time to time there comes to them — what it will certainly be hardest to concede to them but must be conceded to them nonetheless — a moment when they emerge from their silent solitude and again try the power of their lungs: for then they call to one another like those gone astray in a wood in order to locate and encourage one another; whereby much becomes audible, to be sure, that sounds ill to ears for which it is not intended. — Soon afterwards, though, it is again still in the wood, so still that the buzzing, humming and fluttering of the countless insects that live in, above and beneath it can again clearly be heard.

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