Isaiah Berlin Quote

“Conformities are called for much more eagerly today than yesterday... skeptics, liberals, individuals with a taste for private life and their own inner standards of behavior, are objects of fear and derision and targets of persecution for either side... in the great ideological wars of our time.”

~ Isaiah Berlin

Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century, 1950

Ratings and Comments


me again
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me again    8/14/06

This seems to be true. To some degree.

Joe, Rochester, MI

Conformity is the opposite of freedom.

Mike, Norwalk

Conformity is the opposite of freedom.

E Archer, NYC

I do not think the pressure to conform is any greater today than at any other time in history -- the human trait to conform is not asimilar to many other domesticated animals. When a person is free to do whatever they wish, most likely they choose to do whatever everyone else is doing. Just look at the way we treat those who do their own thing -- we deride them whenever possible.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Am I free to conform if I so choose? In the same vein that the majority is not always right, so too they are not always wrong. I will conform if I am convinced it is the right thing to do. Those who can do nothing but oppose for the sake of opposition are as much slaves to their own pathology as those who are forced to conform.

David L. Rosenthal

Yes, Ken. You defined that well. What was Berlin referring to in 1951 as "the great ideological wars of our time."? The Cold War? The ideological struggle between proponents of capitalism and communism? Was he equating "persecution" of certain people with persecution of communism? Was he being vague or machiavellian?

Bill, Maple Valley

Comformity is the natural order of most societies, but there is always the individualist who seems to be the driving force behind change and progress. The difference today is with mass media having the ability to reach into most homes with their propaganda, it does seem to make it a bit easier to shape the masses. One solution, throw away the T.V.

Ronw13, Oregon

It is best to remember that Licentious liberty in the United States was founded upon Moral responsibility when at Liberty. " Let your moderation be made known." Being governed by the natural laws of nature for the common Good of humanity. Conformity is always the request of tyranny when promoting immoral behavior for profit and overthrow of those at Financial Liberty. Value pluralism, Liberty may conflict with social justice. Berlin ignores the common good of humanity.

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