November 26, 2009

Ponderable Quotes: Vilfredo Pareto

Ed. note – The following is an excerpt from a letter I received from a reader. I thought it was interesting and I wanted to share part of it with you. I was originally going to post this as an addendum to the Correa Moylan Walsh quote but thought it deserved to stand on its own.
…The quote from Correa Moylan Walsh’s “Climax of Civilization” is reminiscent of the writings of Vilfredo Pareto. Too bad Pareto’s a Northern Italian because these quotes would be perfect additions to your “Ponderable Quotes”: 
“When a living creature loses the sentiments which, in given circumstances, are necessary to it in order to maintain the struggle for life, this is a sign certain of degeneration, for the absence of these sentiments will, sooner or later, entail the extinction of the species. The living creature which shrinks from giving blow for blow and from shedding its adversary’s blood thereby puts itself at the mercy of the adversary. The sheep has always found a wolf to devour it; if it escapes this peril, it is only because man reserves it for his own prey. Any people which has horror of blood to the point of not knowing how to defend itself will sooner or later become the prey of some bellicose people or other. There is not perhaps on this globe a single ground which has not been conquered by the sword at some time or other, and where the people occupying it have not maintained themselves on it by force. If the Negroes were stronger than the Europeans, Europe would be partitioned by the Negroes and not Africa by the Europeans. The ‘right’, claimed by people who bestow on themselves the title of ‘civilized’ to conquer other peoples, whom it pleases them to call ‘uncivilized’, is altogether ridiculous, or rather, this right is nothing other than force. For as long as the Europeans are stronger than the Chinese, they will impose their will on them; but if the Chinese should become stronger than the Europeans, then the roles would be reversed, and it is highly probable that humanitarian sentiments could never be opposed with any effectiveness to an army.” – Les Systèmes Socialistes, p. 135-136

“Any elite which is not prepared to join in battle to defend its position is in full decadence, and all that is left to it is to give way to another elite having the virile qualities it lacks. It is pure day-dreaming to imagine that the humanitarian principles it may have proclaimed will be applied to it: its vanquishers will stun it with the implacable cry, Vae Victis. The knife of the guillotine was being sharpened in the shadows when, at the end of the eighteenth century, the ruling classes in France were engrossed in developing their ‘sensibility.’ This idle and frivolous society, living like a parasite off the country, discoursed at its elegant supper parties of delivering the world from superstition and of crushing l'Infâme, all unsuspecting that it was itself going to be crushed.” – Les Systèmes Socialistes, p. 136

Sociological Writings by Vilfredo Pareto. Selected and introduced by S.E. Finer. Translated by D. Mirfin. Published by Frederick A. Praeger 1966.
Ed. note – Vilfredo Pareto (1848–1923) was of Franco–Ligurian descent. His work has been applied to several fields. Pareto efficiency (also Pareto optimality) is an important economic concept that has many uses in game theory, sociology and engineering.

Our good reader might find it surprising that we posted these thought provoking quotes from a Northern Italian, but truly how is it any different from our quoting the American Walsh? Both individuals belong to our greater European culture and their works are certainly worthy of review. We would like to emphasize that we are NOT anti-Northern Italian. They are our neighbors and we respect them. The purpose of our group is not to disparage Northerners. We simply oppose the denigration and defamation of Southern Italians, be it from Northern Italians, Americans, self-hating Southerners or whomever. If we appear critical of Padanians, be it historical personages or contemporary demagogues, it’s simply because we are trying to rectify prevalent misinformation and stereotypes vilifying our people by said individuals. Such criticism should not be considered more vehement than our contempt for our own community’s scoundrels and in no way represents our opinions of Northerners in general.

We here at Il Regno can certainly appreciate the works of Vilfredo Pareto or, for that matter, any individual worthy of admiration, regardless of their place of origin. I personally recommend Pareto’s Rise & Fall of Elites and Transformation of Democracy, and just for good measure I will share one of my favorite Pareto quotes:
“‘As long as the sun shall shine upon man’s misfortunes, the sheep will be eaten by the wolf.’ All that is left is, for those who know and can, to avoid becoming sheep.” – Vilfredo Pareto, The Rise & Fall of Elites