پنجشنبه، آذر ۲۹، ۱۳۸۶

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The government of the United States was developed under the idea that nobody knew how to make a government, or how to govern. The result is to invent a system to govern when you don't know how. And the way to arrange it is to permit a system, like we have, wherein new ideas can be developed and tried out and thrown away. The writers of the Constitution knew of the value of doubt. In the age that they lived, for instance, science had already developed far enough to show the possibilities and potentialities that are the result of having uncertainty, the value of having the openness of possibility. The fact that you are not sure means that it is possible that there is another way some day. That openness of possibility is an opportunity. Doubt and discussion are essential to progress. The United States government, in that respect, is new, it's modern, and it is scientific. It is all messed up, too. Senators sell their votes for a dam in their state and discussions get all excited and lobbying replaces the minority's chance to represent itself, and so forth. The government of the United States is not very good, but it, with the possible exception the government of England, is the greatest government on the earth today, is the most satisfactory, the most modern, but not very good.

Russia is a backward country. Oh, it is technologically advanced. I described the difference between what I like to call the science and technology. It does not apparently seem, unfortunately, that engineering and technological development are not consistent with suppressed new opinion. It appears, at least in the days of Hitler, where no new science was developed, nevertheless rockets were made, and rockets also can be made in Russia. I am sorry to hear that, but it is true that technological development, the applications of science, can go on without the freedom. Russia is backward because it has not learned that there is a limit to government power. The great discovery of the Anglo-Saxons is—they are not the only people who thought of it, but, to take the later history of the long struggle of the idea—that there can be a limit to government power. There is no free criticism of ideas in Russia. You say, "Yes, they discuss anti-Stalinism." Only in a definite form. Only to a definite extent. We should take advantage of this. Why don't we discuss anti-Stalinism too? Why don't we point out all the troubles we had with that gentleman? Why don't we point out the dangers that there are in a government that can have such a thing grow inside itself? Why don't we point out the analogies between the Stalinism that is being criticized inside of Russia and the behavior that is going on at the very same moment inside Russia? Well, all right, all right. . .

Now, I get excited, see. . . . It's only emotion. I shouldn't do that, because we should do this more scientifically. I won't convince you very well unless I make believe that it is a completely rational, unprejudiced scientific argument.

-Richard Feynman

The Meaning of it All

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