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05/07/2018

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I've been reading some stuff about Dostoevsky's philosophy/politics recently and he basically came to a similar conclusion to that of Tocqueville after watching liberalism, which was an import to Russia from France and Germany, quickly work its way through the Russian elite in the 1800's.

What makes Dostoevsky an interesting observer is that he's watching the process as a non-Westerner, a person totally outside the system of Western 'Enlightenment,' which had come into Russia as a novelty.

Re: the automobile, I posted this on a thread about technology in 2013(!).

‘ "I’m not sure he’s wrong about automobiles,” he said. “With all their speed forward they may be a step backward in civilization — that is, in spiritual civilization. It may be that they will not add to the beauty of the world, nor to the life of men’s souls. I am not sure. But automobiles have come, and they bring a greater change in our life than most of us suspect. They are here, and almost all outward things are going to be different because of what they bring. They are going to alter war, and they are going to alter peace. I think men’s minds are going to be changed in subtle ways because of automobiles; just how, though, I could hardly guess. But you can’t have the immense outward changes that they will cause without some inward ones, and it may be that George is right, and that the spiritual alteration will be bad for us. Perhaps, ten or twenty years from now, if we can see the inward change in men by that time, I shouldn’t be able to defend the gasoline engine, but would have to agree with him that automobiles ‘had no business to be invented.’ ” '

Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons (1915)

I remember that quote. It was prescient of Tarkington.

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