Quote of the Week: Kenneth Minogue, “The Servile Mind”

Kenneth MinogueA conception of society as a set of people relating to each other only as active and passive agents in the activity of excluding, disadvantaging, underprivileging, etc. each other, is no basis for understanding European societies. And this is the way in which the state – by virtue of its legislation and its “educational projects” designed to change attitudes – presents us to ourselves. The state, in other words, has nationalised the poor and the vulnerable, while the poor and the vulnerable have taken over morality by supplying the moral terms in which modern states ought to operate. What the ubiquity of negative characterisations suggests is that the state is concerned with the vulnerable – the vast majority of the population – merely as materials to be transformed. It is a conception of an entirely servile world – and yet, as we shall see, democratic governments are increasingly dismayed by the character of the people they rule, and keen to change them.

▪ Kenneth Minogue, The Servile Mind (Encounter, 2010) extract from page 101.

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