Saturday, October 22, 2005

Choosing between friendship and patriotism

E. M. Forster
Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)

"One must be fond of people and trust them if one is not to make a mess of one's life, and it is therefore essential that they should not let one down. They often do. Personal relations are despised today. They are regarded as bourgeois luxuries, as products of a time of fair weather which is now past, and we are urged to get rid of them, and to dedicate ourselves to some movement or cause instead. I hate the idea of causes, and if I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country. Such a choice may scandalise the modern reader, and he may stretch out his patriotic hand to the telephone and ring up the police. It would not have shocked Dante, though. Dante placed Brutus and Cassius in the lowest circle of Hell because they had chosen to betray their friend Julius Caesar rather than their country Rome."

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