Thursday, August 07, 2008

Dutch Historian Speaks to Today

One of our graduates from Denver Seminary, Jedd McFatter, recently sent me these quotes from an obscure source, not impertinent to our day (and presidential election).


Interesting quotes from great Dutch Historian Johan Huizinga, written in an essay about the Spirit of the Netherlands in 1935:

"Not much psychological knowledge is needed to realize that emotive words can very easily be used to cause the unformed intellect to suspend independent judgment, if not forever, at least until there is some rude awakening. When judgment drops the reains, the harnessed instinct runs away with the cart."

"The average man of small leisure parrots opinions continuously drilled into him by every possible power of persuasion."

"The belief that what is evil becomes good if only enough people want it is one of the most terrifying abberations of our age."


pgepps said...

That last line, especially, is chilling. The first is true as far as it goes, but many a shell-game is played by intellect, too, in most dispassionate tones.

Jerry said...


It appears, in retrospect, that heeding those words in the right quarters might have averted a great European bloodbath.

I am afraid that we face similar "abberations" in our day

Ken Abbott said...

Not sure Huizinga deserves relegation to "an obscure source" status. His Waning of the Middle Ages is included in Britannica's Great Books collection and has recently been independently republished in a modernized version.