“The past shows unvaryingly that when a people’s freedom disappears, it goes not with a bang, but in silence amid the comfort of being cared for. That is the dire peril in the present trend toward statism. If freedom is not found accompanied by a willingness to resist, and to reject favors, rather than to give up what is intangible but precarious, it will not long be found at all.”
— Richard Weaver, 1962, New York
Richard M. Weaver (1910-1963) came into view after reading Roger Kimball’s essay “The consequences of Richard Weaver” in The New Criterion (September, 2006).
Further reading informed that had Weaver not died at fifty-three, then in five years he might have been my English professor while a Vanderbilt freshman in 1968. I was not then aware of his 1948 book Ideas Have Consequences, and my reflective suspicion is that had I read his book then I might have been as dismissive of it as I was of Orwell’s 1984, which I thought to be ridiculous hyperbole; an authoritarian dystopia could never overwhelm and seize an educated, civil society.
Today, 1984 finds its foot scarily planted in right-around-the-corner possibility, and Ideas Have Consequences reads increasingly like same day reportage.
My intent is to write a series of ten essays focusing on Weaver’s book; expanding on each of the book’s sections, the “Foreward” and “Introduction” as one, then on each of nine chapters. So meaningfully dense is Weaver’s writing that there will be several weeks between essays; the first probably appearing in January 2021.
An example of Weaver’s rich relevance from the “Introduction”: “Most portentous of all, there appear diverging bases of value, so that our single planetary globe is mocked by worlds of different understanding.” (Weaver 2)
Envision group discussion by diverse thinkers tackling that excerpt; some provocateur within the group substituting his or her city, community, university campus, or perhaps even family for the phrase “single planetary globe” (Weaver 2).
These essays will be a first for me, so I will stay away from writing boring, lengthy book reports; so my endeavor will be to fairly represent Weaver’s relevant essence, then complement that essence through the lens of my life’s readings, experiences, interpretations, and anticipations.