25 February 2008

Thought for the Day

Here's Ronald Grigor Suny, a historian specializing in 20th century Russia, reviewing some recent studies in last week's Nation magazine:

Philosophers and politicians will question whether and under what circumstances violence and terror might be justified. How could it be justified? By its ends, it seems, for nothing but ends justify means. But if the means make it impossible to reach the ends or so taint the ends that they cease to be worthy or desired, then those means cannot be justified by the ends.

Eggs and omelets have been repeatedly used metaphorically to justify violence and terror. In real-world politics we break eggs because we want omelets. The Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky once retorted that he had seen the broken eggs, but no one he knew had ever tasted the omelet. There are those who believe that it was a waste of eggs to make such an impossible, utopian omelet, and others who believe in the omelet but not the breaking of eggs. But if one concludes that there are some omelets that are worth broken eggs, one should at the start make sure that all the ingredients are available and, as anyone who has made breakfast knows, remember that eggs must be broken delicately, not smashed so that yokes, whites and shells all get cooked together.

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