The PJ Tatler

The Grand Inquisitor weighs in

Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor had something to say about those two ideas at war in the human soul, the longing for freedom and the longing for acceptance:

In the end [the people] will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, “Make us your slaves, but feed us.” They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious.

The turmoil in Egypt is a reminder that it’s not an easy task to create a functioning democratic state out of one that’s fallen on hard times and is used to despotism of one type or another. Such states, without a tradition of individual liberty or human rights guarantees, tend to swing between the Scylla of dictatorship and the Charybdis of chaos.