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Irving Kristol

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Doing good isn't [that] hard. It's just doing a lot of good that is very hard. If your aims are modest, you can accomplish an awful lot. When your aims become elevated beyond a reasonable level, you not only don't accomplish much, you can cause a great deal of damage.
--
Interview in the London Times Higher Education Supplement (1987)

 
Irving Kristol

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It is intended that we shall accomplish all, through law, that we can accomplish for ourselves. God gives every bird its food, but does not throw it into the nest. He does not unearth the good that the earth contains, but He puts it in our way, and gives us the means of getting it ourselves.

 
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The publicity I have been getting, a good deal of which is untrue, and the rest of it ill considered, has done me more harm than good. The only way you get on in this profession is to have the reputation of doing what you are told as thoroughly as possible. So far I have been able to accomplish that, and I believe I have gotten quite a reputation from not kicking at peculiar assignments.

 
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The highfalutin aims of democracy, whether real or imaginary, are always assumed to be identical with its achievements. This, of course, is sheer hallucination. Not one of those aims, not even the aim of giving every adult a vote, has been realized. It has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.

 
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The great and inspiring aims of the Revolution became so clouded with and obscured by the methods used by the ruling political power that it was hard to distinguish what was temporary means and what final purpose. Psychologically and socially the means necessarily influence and alter the aims. The whole history of man is continuous proof of the maxim that to divest one's methods of ethical concepts means to sink into the depths of utter demoralization. In that lies the real tragedy of the Bolshevik philosophy as applied to the Russian Revolution. May this lesson not be in vain.

 
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It is a good lesson — though it may often be a hard one — for a man who has dreamed of literary fame, and of making for himself a rank among the world’s dignitaries by such means, to step aside out of the narrow circle in which his claims are recognized, and to find how utterly devoid of all significance, beyond that circle, is all that he achieves, and all he aims at.

 
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