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 concept and speech hence exploded are such words as "You cannot act with out getting your arms soiled" "Work is freedom" "We needs to stick to the present of historical past" and "Women locate their freedom (dignity) in paintings" a undeniable variety of those previous saws preside over our lifestyle. they allow us to appreciate each other and to swim within the traditional present of society. they're approved as so definite that we virtually by no means query them. They serve instantly as adequate 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 actually maintain 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 go away them nakedly uncovered. during this amazing record, Ellul's caustic fearlessness is on the carrier of truths that frequently are merciless, yet regularly are lucid and impassioned. He represents the voice of intelligence, and whereas doing so is usually hilarious and continually healing approximately concerns of first significance.
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Additional info for A critique of the new commonplaces.
The man who talks about dirty hands, who admits the necessity for having them, is as yet only a talker; he is in fact in no way defiled by action, by real participation, by work, for he plays no effective role, he I seem to participates in nothing but words. "Corragio, lavoratorir When 121, Sartre writes Dirty he is Hands or The Manifesto not getting his hands dirty at all — of the at most, his pen. ) exists in the conscience. It does not there is no come from ( participation in politics or from the transformation of the world; it is the heart.
You think I am exaggerating? Sartre said as much The in Jewish Question. To make your living as an intellectual "you must seduce, arrest, most important thing is win people's confidence reputation: you make . . " And an intellectual cannot it is [ 45 quite true that in our society sell his novels unless he is commit- he claims to have dirty hands. To sign manifes- ted, unless (and the more revolutionary, excessive, demanding tos they are, the more they impress ) — public expects of a writer is to do exactly what the this public passionately inter- ested in politics, thirsty for action, believing both in facts and in justice.
Look at my dirty faintest suggestion of disgust, of course, drawn by this heroic sacrifice, and shaking his head; you must understand that this is not usual for him, that it is only by compulsion and duty that he has come to this. It is not so easy to have dirty hands. his brow But anxious, his lips his face also hides a slight sense of triumph; it is the For now this do-nothing is recognized, patented, ennobled by the beauty and purity of the dirt of the worker or the political hero. To be a man you have to pay the price, don't you?
A critique of the new commonplaces. by Jacques Ellul