For the first time I really came to understand the eternal character of the professional revolutionary who feels that he is raised from his personal insignificance merely by adopting a stance of opposition, and clings to dogmatism because he has no resources of his own to support him.... In fact none of these coffee-house conspirators ever embarked on a real conspiracy, and of all those who improvised identities for themselves as international politicians, not one understood how to come up with a policy when it was needed. When positive actin began in the process of reconstruction after the war, they were still their old fault-finding, captious, negative selves, just as very few of the anti-war writers of those days wrote anything that was much good after the war. It had been the fever of the times speaking out of them, discussing, scoring political points, and like every group that has only temporary existence and does not owe its community to anything in real life, that whole circle of gifted and interesting people fell apart as soon as what it had been working against, the war, was over.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
I was struck by another section of Stefan Zweig's The World of Yesterday. In this one he talks about his disillusion with the group of anti-war intellectuals he had fallen in with while living in Switzerland in 1917-1918: