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 inspiration and speech therefore exploded are such words as "You cannot act with no 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 definite variety of those previous saws preside over our everyday life. they allow us to appreciate each other and to swim within the usual present of society. they're permitted as so sure that we nearly by no means query them. They serve instantly as enough reasons for every 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 reality hold 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 developing its personal. What Ellul has performed is to face nonetheless lengthy sufficient to examine them rigorously, assault them with cool cause, and go away them nakedly uncovered. during this amazing record, Ellul's caustic fearlessness is on the provider of truths that regularly are merciless, yet regularly are lucid and impassioned. He represents the voice of intelligence, and whereas doing so is usually hilarious and regularly healing approximately concerns of first significance.
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Extra info for A critique of the new commonplaces.
Justification has reappearance, but it is justification by made démystification, a it is by bourThe commonplaces of today are utterly saturated with justification and rehabilitation, but not on the same level or for the same reason. Thus we find demon- the mass rehabilitation of all the ideals repudiated geois cynicism. strations of the purity of eroticism, the metaphysical pro- fundity of sodomy, the political and democratic maturity of cannibalism, freedom through fatality, humanism through terror, etc.
As a matter of fact, the small children of the century are very well pre- pared to join in these praises, and by the same token they accept as self-evident truths the commonplaces transmitted by such an indisputable medium! Every society has its commonplaces, but this popular wisdom does not always show the same characterall, what was called the Wisdom of Nations was nothing else. But this practical, pragmatic wisdom was body of istics. After the fruit of long experience, of an invisible creation, of moment who used to observation repeated a thousand times until the when it could be distilled in proverbs.
Pations), to current events. Then, with great excitement, you "discover" in our time a certain number of facts that agree with what history has "revealed" to us: marvelous science, unhoped-for results! And now you understand decolonization, socialization, and nationalization, as well as freedom, democracy, syndicalism, etc. And you observe with delight that these facts fit into the line that you had drawn to begin with, that they are therefore significant, that they are therefore pregnant with the future, a future that is merely an extension of the diagram of history pre- viously drawn.
A critique of the new commonplaces. by Jacques Ellul