Polanyi on Liberty and Nihilism

Freedom of thought is rendered pointless and must disappear, where reason and morality are deprived of their status as a force in their own right. When the judge in court can no longer appeal to law and jstice; when neither a witness, nor the newspapers, nor even a scientist reporting on his expriments, can speak the truth as he knows it; when in public life there is no moral principle commanding respect; when the revelations of religion and of art are denied any substance; then there are no grounds left on which any individual may justly make a stand against the rulers of the day. Such is the simple logic of totalitarianism. A nihilistic regime will have to undertake the day-to-day direction of all activities which are otherwise guided by the intellectual and moral principles that nihilism declares empty and void. Principles must be replaced by the decrees of an all-embracing Party Line.

Micheal Polanyi, The Logic of Liberty

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