Sunday, June 03, 2012

Means and ends

1941: 

"A Hauptmann (captain) with the 73rd Infantry Division reflected that peace would come even to the Balkans with a New European Order ‘so that our children would experience no more war’."

- Quoted in Anthony Beevor's "The Second World War" (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2012)

There is always this regrettable thing to do, then the lasting good will come. But it can't:

"... our personal experience and the study of history make it abundantly clear that the means whereby we try to achieve something are at least as important as the end we wish to attain. Indeed, they are even more important. For the means employed inevitably determine  the nature of the result achieved, whereas, however good the end aimed at may be, its goodness is powerless to counteract the effects  of the bad means we use to reach it. Similarly, a reform may be in the highest degree desirable; but if the contexts in which that reform is effected are undesirable, the results will inevitably be disappointing. These are simple and obvious truths. Nevertheless they are almost universally neglected."

- Aldous Huxley, "Ends and Means" (Chatto & Windus, 1941)

The European Project, the wholesale reordering of the British constitution (Supreme Court, House of Lords, the coming sinister National Crime Agency and so on), the international assault on Iraq - all undertaken without truthfully informed democratic consent.

The alliance with Franco against Communism, the support of the Taliban against the Russians; all these clever, disastrous calculations balancing evils. Stalin teaming up with Hitler's National Socialists against the wicked West, then ten silent, shocked days in a forest cabin when Hitler turned on him.

Procedure matters, after all. We can't guarantee a successful end, but at least we can choose what means we employ.

4 comments:

The Arthurian said...

Great post!

Sackerson said...

Thanks!

A K Haart said...

"Procedure matters, after all."

Excellent point - easily forgotten, especially by planners.

James Higham said...

In Manchurian Candidate - Raymond West's "it's all factored in" was right on the money.