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The Altruist in Politics - Benjamin Cardozo

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"The Altruist in Politics" by Benjamin Cardozo

There comes not seldom a crisis in the life of men, of nations,
and of worlds, when the old forms seem ready to decay, and the
old rules of action have lost their binding force.  The evils of
existing systems obscure the blessings that attend them; and,
where reform is needed, the cry is raised for subversion.  The
cause of such phenomena is not far to seek.  "It used to appear
to me," writes Count Tolstoi, in a significant passage, "it used
to appear to me that the small number of cultivated, rich and
idle men, of whom I was one, composed the whole of humanity, and
that the millions and millions of other men who had lived and are
still living were not in reality men at all."  It is this spirit-
the spirit that sees the whole of humanity in the few, and throws
into the background the millions and millions of other men-it is
this spirit that has aroused the antagonism of reformers, and
made the decay of the old forms, the rupture of the old
restrictions, the ideal of them and of their followers.  When
wealth and poverty meet each other face to face, the one the
master and the other the dependent, the one exalted and the other
debased, it is perhaps hardly matter for surprise that the
dependent and debased and powerless faction, in envy of their
opponents' supremacy, should demand, not simple reform, but
absolute community and equality of wealth.  That cry for
communism is no new one in the history of mankind.  Thousands of
years ago it was heard and acted on; and, in the lapse of
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