Talk Less about Liberty

“Perhaps we no longer realized how much freedom is worth. We talked about it too much. We thought we enjoyed it already. But for too many people it was a word that no longer had any power. They unconsciously submitted to a thousand constraints, made themselves prisoners of ‘propaganda,’ swearing they were free citizens all the while. Enthusiasm for freedom had been deadened by 150 years of bargaining and scheming. As early as the 1850s, Renan was telling the liberals to talk less about liberty and try harder to think freely: liberty would live better from this effort than from all those declamations.” (Jean Guehenno, Diary of Dark Years, 1940–1944)