Georges Sorel, Prophet Without Honor, by Richard Humphrey
A few thinkers in the 19th century had foreseen the coming reversion of politics to a pattern of violence and irrationality; in a complacent and optimistic age, their disillusioned clear-sightedness was exceptional and admirable. Some of these prophets of doom, Jakob Burckhardt for instance, deplored the trend they saw to be in the ascendancy. Others, on the contrary, seemed to welcome it. Georges Sorel, the hero of Mr. Humphrey’s volume, is chiefly remembered today as the advocate of physical violence and of irrational myths as the instruments of a superior type of politics. Was he not, then, the intellectual ancestor par excellence of present-day totalitarianism? Mr. Humphrey says no, all appearances to the contrary; and those who study Sorel at first hand will tend to agree that he has a valid case. Sorel did extol both violence and the political myth, but neither of these concepts, as he evolved them, coincides with the totalitarian version of myth and of violence.
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