Signs of the Times

[Fresno (Calif.) Republican]

If democracy is to be government by discussion, then the first condition of that discussion must be its intellectual honesty. In fact, the most menacing present danger to democracy is the prevalent lack of this quality. Only the truth can make a people free. If the people are denied access to the facts, or, still worse, are presented as facts things which are not facts, they are not really governing themselves, no matter how completely the mechanics of government may be in their hands. Literally the people would be better off if governed by a minority which knows the facts than by a majority which does not know them, or knows them wrong. Government by the people is a desirable thing but not a necessary thing. Government by the facts is the only unescapable thing, for the facts are going to rule us anyway, with or without the people. Many nations have lacked democracy but none ever escaped the facts or their consequences. The only way to get true democracy is to bring the facts and the people together.

That, unfortunately, is what we are not getting, and, apparently, what we are not going to get until public scorn puts intellectual dishonesty in the same class with moral dishonesty. In certain circles this is already the case. An intellectually dishonest man would be as little tolerated in the faculty club of a university as a moral crook. In science and in scholarship, the standard is fixed. Notoriously it is not yet so in government and politics. The lack of it is even more dangerous to democracy than stealing or bribery. [The Congregationalist and Advance]

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July 24, 1920

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