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Book content copyright © Laurel Davies-Butts
(Long pause.) A democracy is a highly interesting form of government, highly significant because it demands so much of individual consciousness, and because it must rest primarily upon a belief in the powers of the individual. It is a tribute to that belief that it has lingered in your country, and operated with such vitality in the face of quite opposing beliefs officially held by both science and religion.
The idea [of democracy] expresses the existence of a high idealism — one that demands political and social organizations that are effective to some degree in providing some practical expression of those ideals (emphatically). When those organizations fail and a gulf between idealism and actualized good becomes too great, then such conditions help turn some idealists into fanatics. (Long pause.) Those who follow with great strictness the dictates of either science or religion can switch sides in a moment. The scientist begins tipping tables or whatever, and suddenly disgusted by the limits of scientific knowledge, he turns all of his dedication to what he thinks of as its opposite, or pure intuitive knowledge. Thus, he blocks his reason as fanatically as earlier he blocked his intuitions. The businessman who believed in Darwinian principles and the fight for survival, who justified injustice and perhaps thievery to his ideal of surviving in a competitive world — he suddenly turns into a fundamentalist in religious terms, trying to gain his sense of power now, perhaps, by giving away the wealth he has amassed, all in a tangled attempt to express a natural idealism in a practical world.