A Critique of the New Commonplaces

Overview

Jacques Ellul-much less solemn in mood than usual-here cracks open political and sociological commonplaces, destructively and wittily demonstrating how our unthinking acceptance of them encourages hypocrisy, smugness, and mental inertia. Among the stereotypes of thought and speech thus exploded are such phrases as "You can't act without getting your hands dirty," "Work is freedom," "We must follow the current of history," and "Women find their freedom (dignity) in work."

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Overview

Jacques Ellul-much less solemn in mood than usual-here cracks open political and sociological commonplaces, destructively and wittily demonstrating how our unthinking acceptance of them encourages hypocrisy, smugness, and mental inertia. Among the stereotypes of thought and speech thus exploded are such phrases as "You can't act without getting your hands dirty," "Work is freedom," "We must follow the current of history," and "Women find their freedom (dignity) in work."

A certain number of these old saws preside over our daily life. They permit us to understand one another and to swim in the ordinary current of society. They are accepted as so certain that we almost never question them. They serve at once as sufficient explanations for everything and as "clinchers" in too many arguments. Ellul explores the ways in which such clichés mislead us and prevent us from having independent thoughts-and in fact keep us from facing the problems to which they are theoretically addressed. They are the "new commonplaces."

Just as the nineteenth century brought forth many such common-places (they are enshrined in Leon Bloy's Exégése and Flaubert's Dictionnaire des idées reçues), so our century has been busy creating its own. What Ellul has done is to stand still long enough to look at them carefully, attack them with cool reason, and leave them nakedly exposed.

In this remarkable document, Ellul's caustic fearlessness is at the service of truths that often are cruel, but always are lucid and impassioned. He represents the voice of intelligence, and while doing so is often hilarious and always therapeutic about matters of first importance.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606089750
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
  • Publication date: 6/12/2012
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

The Commonplaces 3

We Must Follow the Current of History 28

You Can't Act without Getting Your Hands Dirty 38

The Main Thing is to Be Sincere with Yourself 49

Peoples Have the Right of Self-Determination 54

The People Have Come of Age 67

Modern Man Has Come of Age 75

You Can't Make a People Revolt Against its Will 82

Politics First! 92

From Personal Democracy to Organized (Or Mass) Democracy 110

Public Interest Comes Before Private Interest 120

Nobody Can Help Anybody Else 131

We Have Been Deceived 138

If All the Good Guys in the World 143

Work is Freedom 149

Women Find Their Freedom (Dignity) in Work 159

No Freedom for the Enemies of Freedom 166

Freedom is Obeying Necessity 171

The Spiritual Side of Life Cannot Develop Until the Standard of Living is Raised 179

No More Words - Give Us Acts! 196

Anyway, It's A Fact! 202

You Can't Make Art Out of Noble Sentiments 207

Anyone Who Says He is Neither a Rightist Nor a Leftist is a Rightist 215

It's Sacred 220

The Machine is a Neutral Object and Man is its Master 226

It is Fashionable to Criticize Technology 236

All Science is Numerical 240

One Must Take a Positive Attitude 250

There are one Billion Illiterates 255

You are What You are 264

Cultivate Your Personality: Be a Person! 268

Make Way for Youth! 280

We Don't Want Charity - We Want Justice 288

The End Justifies the Means 294

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