The link between ideas and action is rarely direct. There is almost always an intermediate step in which the idea is overcome. De Tocqueville points out that it is at times when passions start to govern human affairs that ideas are most obviously translated into political action. The translation of ideas into action is usually in the hands of people least likely to follow rational motives. Hence, it is that action is often the nemesis of ideas, and sometimes of the men who formulate them. One of the marks of the truly vigorous society is the ability to dispense with passion as a midwife of action the ability to pass directly from thought to action.
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- One of the marks of a truly vigorous society is the ability to dispense with passion as a midwife of action –the ability to pass directly from thought to action.
- Action is at bottom a swinging and flailing of the arms to regain one’s balance and keep afloat.
- The unpredictability inherent in human affairs is due largely to the fact that the by-products of a human process are more fateful than the product.
- Perhaps a modern society can remain stable only by eliminating adolescence, by giving its young, from the age of ten, the skills, responsibilities, and rewards of grownups, and opportunities for action in all spheres of life. Adolescence should be a time of useful action, while book learning and scholarship should be a preoccupation of adults.
- The necessary has never been man’s top priority. The passionate pursuit of the nonessential and the extravagant is one of the chief traits of human uniqueness. Unlike other forms of life, man’s greatest exertions are made in the pursuit not of necessities but of superfluities.
- The main effect of a real revolution is perhaps that it sweeps away those who do not know how to wish, and brings to the front men with insatiable appetites for action, power and all that the world has to offer.