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 recognition of them encourages hypocrisy, smugness, and psychological inertia. one of the stereotypes of suggestion and speech therefore exploded are such words as "You cannot act with out getting your arms soiled" "Work is freedom" "We needs to stick with the present of heritage" and "Women locate their freedom (dignity) in paintings" a undeniable variety of those outdated saws preside over our everyday life. they enable us to appreciate each other and to swim within the usual present of society. they're authorized as so convinced that we virtually by no means query them. They serve right away as enough factors for every little thing and as "clinchers" in too many arguments. Ellul explores the ways that such clichés deceive us and forestall us from having self sustaining thoughts-and in truth retain 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 growing its personal. What Ellul has performed is to face nonetheless lengthy sufficient to examine them conscientiously, assault them with cool cause, and depart them nakedly uncovered. during this impressive record, Ellul's caustic fearlessness is on the carrier of truths that regularly are merciless, yet constantly are lucid and impassioned. He represents the voice of intelligence, and whereas doing so is usually hilarious and constantly healing approximately concerns of first value.

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But the result is invariably false, because in programming the machine we can never allow for all factors. And, alas, it seems that it is always the determining factor that we had not anticipated. But those who believe in the thread of history do not operate on this level; their intellectual process is more all- embracing, although it retains a scientific façade. The first skim over long sections of history with the predetermined but unconscious or at least veiled intention of step is to finding in it an orientation, a value.

Temesvar, Corfu, the Croatians, later the Sudeten Germans: it was explained to them that their case was quite different. And it was in the name of this immortal principle that some like Czechoslovakia and Yugoslawere concocted, with peoples who obviously practiced self-determination! We know the special love of the Czechs remarkable political units via A Critique of the New Commonplaces for the Slovaks, [ 55 and of the Croatians for the Serbs and the Slovenes. From the outset, the immortal principle yet a commonplace, but an invention of ( which was not jurists: common- places come from all sources) raised a slight problem for minds that were so perverse as to be truly negligible.

And how imperiously the schoolmaster with his dogmatic ruler slaps the fingers of anyone who does not sign up for this future! But what you have to go through to get there! ), expurgate the present of all facts contradictory to the general line irrefutable doctrine that these facts by invoking the do not count because they are not in the direction of history. In other words, man's intelligence sees and creates a A Critique of the New Commonplaces 33 [ thread in history; the events that confirm are the good it worthy of being considered and retained as do not make history: you can dismiss them without difficulty; they are not even worth a glance.

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