I have always been inclined to respect men’s motives as something inviolate
Of course, it is while having some doubts about the probity of his political opponents that Frédéric Bastiat informs us that, in general, respecting others is paramount and ideas need to be fought as they are presented. To him, it appears impossible indeed that the political leaders who pushed the workers to demand a share of profits but not of losses could have done this with the intellectual probity that was still expected from these people at the time.
Given the precedents in his exchanges with Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, one can hardly blame him for his doubts.
I am choosing today’s quote because it seems to me that it underlines an important modern issue. It seems obvious to me that politicians in societies like France or the United States have reached such a rhetorical expertise that motives are rarely revealed, which one can tell in the constant contradictions we observe although they do not induce any shame for their authors. Unfortunately, this has led people to attribute motives here and there, independently from what is being said. As soon as such an attribution is made within society (and not only between politicians anymore), no dialogue is possible and we observe a polarisation of society that is not without dangers.
The absence of respect for those who think differently will lead to the collapse of democracy and does not bode well for the future.