When Debate is Futile

In January of 1962, the great English philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) received a series of letters from an unlikely correspondent — Sir Oswald Mosley, who had founded the British Union of Fascists thirty years earlier. Mosley was inviting — or, rather, provoking — Russell to engage in a debate, in which he could persuade the moral philosopher of the merits of fascism.

Shortly before his 90th birthday, Russell wrote back:

 

Dear Sir Oswald,

Thank you for your letter and for your enclosures. I have given some thought to our recent correspondence. It is always difficult to decide on how to respond to people whose ethos is so alien and, in fact, repellent to one’s own. It is not that I take exception to the general points made by you but that every ounce of my energy has been devoted to an active opposition to cruel bigotry, compulsive violence, and the sadistic persecution which has characterised the philosophy and practice of fascism.

I feel obliged to say that the emotional universes we inhabit are so distinct, and in deepest ways opposed, that nothing fruitful or sincere could ever emerge from association between us.

I should like you to understand the intensity of this conviction on my part. It is not out of any attempt to be rude that I say this but because of all that I value in human experience and human achievement.

Yours sincerely,

Bertrand Russell

 

Adapted from https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/10/06/bertrand-russell-oswald-mosley/

Photo:  http://sapiengames.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/bertrand-russell.jpg

Related Posts

Repellent Wall Street Journal says Egypt needs a Pinochet – can it get away with that? By Martin Pengelly, Saturday 6 July 2013 09.09 EDT   On Fri...
The amiable historical mosquito Phoenician footprints all over Beirut By Robert Fisk, Saturday 03 December 2011 ... I walked down a Phoenician street the other day, built unde...
Demand for dignity Bankers are the dictators of the West By Robert Fisk, Saturday 10 December 2011 ... Writing from the very region that produces more clichés per...
A work in progress The Terrible Beauty of Wikileaks By Idrees, December 10th, 2011 ... Following are excerpts from my long essay on Wikileaks and the Palestine Pa...
Lovely stories of Bethlehem The Cross, an Amazing Paradox * By Harry Emerson Fosdick, Living Under Tension, 1941, Harper and Brothers, New York and London, pages 233 - 242. ...
Not in the news anymore Why Iceland Should Be in the News But Is Not By Deena Stryker, August 25 2011 ... An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going rev...
Modern ideologies masquerading The myth of the 1,400 year Sunni-Shia war By Murtaza Hussain, 09 Jul 2013 11:14   During the period of European rule over Rwanda, the Be...
Who of us has clean hands? Why torturers film their handiwork By Robert Fisk, Saturday 26 November 2011 ... When prisoners were brought to Saddam Hussein's intelligence s...
Gaining momentum Would Jesus Join the Occupy Protests? By the Rev. Howard Bess, November 26, 2011 ... When the Martin Luther King Jr. monument was dedicated rec...
Dwindling congregations PROOFS OF GOD IN A PHOTON By Martin Redfern, Sunday 24 December 1995 ... FOR THE first time in 400 years, sensible people are saying some ver...

Permanent link to this article: https://levantium.com/2017/01/25/when-debate-is-futile/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.