July 14, 2003

Another Malcolm Muggeridge remembrance.

I came to Carthage, where I found myself in the midst of a hissing cauldron of lusts. I had not yet fallen in love, but I was in love with the idea of it, and this feeling that something was missing made me despise myself for not being more anxious to satisfy the need. I began to look around for some object for my love, since I badly wanted to love something.
—St. Augustine, Confessions

Diversion is the only thing that consoles us in our wretchedness, and yet diversion is itself the greatest of our miseries. For it is diversion above all that keeps us from seriously taking stock of ourselves and so leads us imperceptibly to perdition.
—Pascal, Pensées

In part, [Muggeridge's] criticism [of liberalism] was reminiscent of Tocqueville’s. Unchecked, the impulse to equality became an impulse to homogeneity: the drive for democracy involved a democratic despotism that did not, as Tocqueville put it, so much tyrannize as infantilize. “The welfare state,” Muggeridge observed, “is a kind of zoo which provides its inmates with ease and comfort and unfits them for life in their natural habitat.”
—Roger Kimball, Malcolm Muggeridge's Journey

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