December 2nd, 2014

Moderation And Mindlessness In Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy

Stepan Arkadyevitch took in and read a liberal paper, not an extreme one, but one advocating the views held by the majority. And in spite of the fact that science, art, and politics had no special interest for him, he firmly held those views on all these subjects which were held by the majority and by his paper, and he only changed them when the majority changed them—or, more strictly speaking, he did not change them, but they imperceptibly changed of themselves within him.
Stepan Arkadyevitch had not chosen his political opinions or his views; these political opinions and views had come to him of themselves, just as he did not choose the shapes of his hat and coat, but simply took those that were being worn. And for him, living in a certain society—owing to the need, ordinarily developed at years of discretion, for some degree of mental activity—to have views was just as indispensable as to have a hat. If there was a reason for his preferring liberal to conservative views, which were held also by many of his circle, it arose not from his considering liberalism more rational, but from its being in closer accordance with his manner of life....... Liberalism had become a habit of Stepan Arkadyevitch’s, and he liked his newspaper, as he did his cigar after dinner, for the slight fog it diffused in his brain....-- Anna Karenina, Book One, Chapter IV

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy