Men Who Get Things

We do not want the man who is merely hungering for himself to rule the world—not because we feel superior to him, but because a man who is merely hungering for himself cannot be taken seriously as an authority on worlds. People can take him seriously as an authority on his own hunger. But what he thinks about everything beyond that point cannot be taken seriously. What he thinks about how the world should be run, about what other people want, what labour and capital want, cannot be taken seriously.

If we are going to have a society that is for all of us, it will take all of us, and all of us together, to make it. Mutual expectation alone can make a great society. Mutual expectation, or courage for others, persistently and patiently and flexibly applied — applied to details by small men, applied to wholes by bigger ones — is going to be the next big serious, unsentimental, practical industrial achievement. And I do not believe that for sheer sentiment’s sake we are going to begin by rooting up millionaires and, with one glorious thoughtless sweep, saying, “We will have a new world,” without asking at least some of the owners of it to help, or at least letting them in on good behaviour. Nor are we going to begin by rooting up trade unions and labour leaders.

– Gerald Stanley Lee, Men Who Get Things, Crowds: A Moving Picture of Democracy

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