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The Open Society and Its Enemies


PREFACE
If in this book harsh words are spoken about some of
the
greatest among the intellectual leaders of mankind, my
motive
is not, I hope, the wish to belittle them. It springs
rather from
my conviction that if we wish our civilization to
survive we must
break with the habit of deference to great men. Great
men
may make great mistakes ; and as the book tries to
show, some
of the greatest leaders of the past supported the
perennial attack
on freedom and reason. Their influence, too rarely
challenged,
continues to mislead those on whose defence
civilization depends,
and to divide them. The responsibility for this tragic
and
possibly fatal division becomes ours if we hesitate to
be outspoken
in our criticism of what admittedly is part of our
intellectual
heritage. By our reluctance to criticize a part of it,
we may
help to destroy it all.
The book is a critical introduction to the philosophy
of
politics and of history, and an examination of some of
the
principles of social reconstruction. Its aim and the
line of
approach are indicated in the Introduction. Even where
it looks
back into the past, its problems are the problems of
our own
time ; and I have tried hard to make it as simple as
possible,
hoping to clarify matters which concern us all.
Although the book presupposes nothing but open-
mindedness
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