Isaiah Berlin, a Latvian-born British social and political theorist, was one of the foremost thinkers of the modern era and a leading proponent of liberal thought. Many of Berlin’s essays discuss liberty and the uneasy relationship between the individual and the State.
While it has been nearly 24 years since Berlin’s death, his thoughts carry great weight and can be applied to current events, especially now that Covid-driven authoritarianism is on the rise among liberal democracies.
Berlin, who lived under Bolshevik rule and lived through the 1917 revolution, moved to London with his family in 1921 from where he witnessed the rise of Nazi Germany and global communism and fascism. While Berlin’s works on liberty were largely influenced by the darkest era in human history, his timeless wisdom can be applied to the events we are currently witnessing.
In Conversations with Isaiah Berlin, published in 1991, Berlin opines on a wide range of topics, but primarily on democracy, pluralism, and the prospect of tyranny always lurking beneath the surface. His insights on leaders pursuing a perfect world are eerily applicable to the present.
“Those who believe in the possibility of a perfect world are bound to think that no sacrifice for that can be too great. For attaining perfection no price can be too high. They believe that if blood must be shed to create the ideal society, let it be shed, no matter whose or how much. You have to break eggs to make this supreme omelette. But once people get into the habit of breaking eggs, they don’t stop – the eggs are broken but the omelette is not made. All fanatical belief in the possibility of a final solution, reached no matter how, cannot but lead to suffering, misery, blood, terrible oppression.”
Israel of isn’t Soviet Union, but all signs point to a further encroachment on personal liberties as evidenced by the actions of the country’s Covid-crazed political leadership.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, coronavirus czar Nachman Ash, Health Ministry Director-General, Chezy Levy, and Sharon Elroy-Preis, the acting head of the public health services division, are seeking a perfect, Covid-free, Israel.
However, their insatiable pursuit of a perfect omelette is unattainable, and instead, has led to terrible suffering with never-ending, mindless lockdowns and policies wreaking havoc and misery.
More on the topic: Israel – mass hysteria and the slide to authoritarianism