Bertie Russell’s 10 commandments (hat-tip to BrainPickings)

What’s Brain Pickings? It’s “the brain child of Maria Popova, an interestingness hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large, who also writes for Wired UK and The Atlantic, among others, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow. She has gotten occasional help from a handful of guest contributors.
Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why, bringing you things you didn’t know you were interested in — until you are.”

Ms Popova does dig up some VERY interesting things. This one is from Bertrand Russell (the Noam Chomsky of his day). It appeared in the December 16, 1951, issue of The New York Times Magazine, at the end of the article “The best answer to fanaticism: Liberalism.” He may have had in mind “McCarthyism” (a technique of ensuring state-corporate domination that actually pre-dated the drunk Senator from Wisconsin; see this from the wikipedia page -The historical period that came to be known as the McCarthy era began well before Joseph McCarthy‘s own involvement in it. Many factors contributed to McCarthyism, some of them extending back to the years of the First Red Scare (1917–20), inspired by Communism’s emergence as a recognized political force. Thanks in part to its success in organizing labor unions and its early opposition to fascism, the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) increased its membership through the 1930s, reaching a peak of about 75,000 members in 1940–41.[6] While the United States was engaged in World War II and allied with the Soviet Union, the issue of anti-communism was largely muted. With the end of World War II, the Cold War began almost immediately, as the Soviet Union installed Communist puppet régimes across Central and Eastern Europe, while the United States backed anti-communist forces in Greece and China. ).

Now, at last, those 10 commandments…

  1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
  2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
  3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
  4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
  5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
  6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
  7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
  8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
  9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
  10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.
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About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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2 Responses to Bertie Russell’s 10 commandments (hat-tip to BrainPickings)

  1. Number 5 is a bit dodgy – it opens can of internettty worms unless expanded thus:

    Have no respect for the authority of others, unless you understand properly what their authority is based on for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

    Because no-one can know everything, you have to rely on authority for many things. when to rely and when not? Not insoluble – but too long for a blog comment …

  2. dwighttowers says:

    Yes, that seems a very sensible addendum!

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