Friday, October 02, 2009

War and Peace (5)

Weakness of Power

Every governing official in quiet, untroubled times feels that the whole population under his charge is only kept going by his efforts; and is this sense of being indispensably necessary in which every governing official finds the chief reward for his toils and cares. It is easy to understand that while the ocean of history is calm, the governing official holding on from his crazy little skiff by a pole to the ship of the people, and moving with it, must fancy that it is his efforts that move the ship on to which he is clinging.

But a storm has but to arise to set the sea heaving and the ship tossing upon it, and such error becomes at once impossible. The ship goes on its vast course unchecked, the pole fails to reach the moving vessel, and the pilot, from being the master, the source of power, finds himself a helpless, weak, and useless person (War and Peace p.1013).

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