(本館) (トップ)  (分館)

Portal Site for Russellian in Japan


The Conquest of Happiness, by Bertrand Russell

Back Next   Chap.9:Fear of Public Opinion   Contents(総目次)
* 右イラスト:三浦氏=三浦和義氏


Fear of public opinion, like every other form of fear, is oppressive and stunts growth. It is difficult to achieve any kind of greatness while a fear of this kind remains strong, and it is impossible to acquire that freedom of spirit in which true happiness consists, for it is essential to happiness that our way of living should spring from our own deep impulses and not from the accidental tastes and desires of those who happen to be our neighbours, or even our relations. Fear of immediate neighbours is no doubt less than it was, but there is a new kind of fear, namely the fear of what newspapers may say. This is quite as terrifying as anything connected with medieval witch-hunts. When the newspaper chooses to make a scapegoat of some perhaps quite harmless person, the results may be very terrible. Fortunately, as yet this is a fate which most people escape through their obscurity, but as publicity gets more and more perfect in its methods, there will be an increasing danger in this novel form of social persecution. This is too grave a matter to be treated with disdain by the individual who is its victim, and whatever may be thought of the great principle of the freedom of the Press, I think the line will have to be drawn more sharply than it is by the existing libel laws, and anything will have to be forbidden that makes life intolerable for innocent individuals, even if they should happen to have done or said things which, published maliciously, can cause them to become unpopular. The only ultimate cure for this evil is, however, an increase of toleration on the part of the public. The best way to increase toleration is to multiply the number of individuals who enjoy real happiness and do not therefore find their chief pleasure in the infliction of pain upon their fellow-men.