Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ryszard Kapuściński: On A Dictator's Understanding of the Danger of Excessive Reading

"His Highness worked on the assumption that even the most loyal press should not be given in abundance, because that might create a habit of reading, and from there it is only a single step to the habit of thinking, and it is well known what inconveniences, vexations, troubles, and worries thinking causes. For even what is written loyally can be read disloyally. Someone will start to read a loyal text, then he will want a disloyal one, and so he will follow the road that leads him away from the throne, away from development, and straight toward the malcontents. No, no, His Majesty could not allow such demoralization to happen, such straying, and that's why in general he wasn't an enthusiast of excessive reading."

----Ryszard Kapuściński, The Emperor: Downfall of an Autocrat (1978)

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