Student Of Liberty

5. – ON MODERATION.

Accusing us of dogmatism and forbidding us from proving the truth of our thesis is to want the country never to open its eyes.

Frédéric Bastiat
Economic Sophisms Third Series

I wanted to find a quote of a reasonable length, hence the one I chose but my preferred one is the conclusion of this article:

Moderation does not consist in saying that we have half a conviction when we have a conviction that is whole and entire. It consists in respecting opposing opinions, refuting them without excessive emotion, refraining from personal attacks, refraining from provoking dismissals or impeachments, refraining from rousing misled workers, and refraining from threatening governments with uprisings.

In our times when internet communication platforms (so-called “social” networks) push everybody towards abusing, disparaging and insulting others, to try and follow Frédéric Bastiat in his search for moderation may be a proof of wisdom.

That said, what is interesting in this article is also the way it reminds us of the importance of public opinion. The strength of the status quo in society is such (remember the promise of François Mitterrand to avoid touching to “established perks”) that it is impossible to conduct meaningful reforms without intellectual approval from the public who is required to understand what is at stake. This is one of the reasons why freedom of thought and freedom of speech are essential in a free society because if it is not possible to convince people when an idea does not match those of the government or the majority of the population, it is impossible that change occurs peacefully and on a permanent basis.

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