Quote of the Day – To Obey

"It is ultimately a cruel misunderstanding of youth to believe it will find its heart’s desire in freedom. Its deepest desire is to obey." – Leo Naphta, the great character of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain

(from this WSJ op/ed titled "The Allure of Tyranny" on Russia and Venezuela)

6 comments on “Quote of the Day – To Obey
  • This is just too much, even for Thomas Mann.

    The deepest desire of ‘youth’ is not so different from the oral fixations of a baby, or the sexual yearnings of a seventy-year-old man.

  • Absolutely untrue.

    For starters, the only reason people are voting for Putin is that he offers them something — status quo — which they hope is better than nothing.

    Second, Chavez lost the ballot initiative. How it can be said that people wanted to obey him when they voted against his socialist “reforms”?

  • I guess that is true in the context that the tyrant(s) provide people with basic necessities including entertainment.

    If I’m content with the way things are, even in a communist country, I’d obey the government.

  • Most people just want certainty and predictability. Which is why tyrants stay around in power in faux-democracies. Which is also why people stay married long after marriages are dead and ironically also why people leave some people and repeat the same adventure with someone equally hopeless in a triumph of hope over experience (someone said).

    This would have been a simpler point but of course, it will not be talked about so I think such ‘pithy’ ones are provocative for the heck of it and not for their meaning.

  • Nothing fills me with dread like the sight of long critical interpretations of a pithy text. Fortunately I haven’t had to read them since school days.

    “Its deepest desire is to obey,” is exactly what I would expect a totalitarian Jesuit like Leo Naphta to think about youth.

    After all, Jesuits are the “soldiers of Christ” led by a Superior General. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, stressed obedience to the church and the Pope.

    I can’t imagine any youth believing it, or anyone over the age of twenty, either, except perhaps a Stalinist or a Maoist, or someone similar.

  • Should I be ashamed if it rings true with me?

    Ben, thanks for sharing this book. I definitely have to check this out.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *