Not A Subject of Interest

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“It is accepted that since the eighteenth century the individual’s participation in political affairs has increased.  But while this is generally admitted (before the eighteenth century there was little such participation in the West), the corollary is generally omitted:  except on rare occasions, political affairs in and by themselves, and in the eyes of man, formerly had little importance.

“In view of the fact that we judge everything in relation to political affairs, this seems unbelievable.  How can we admit that in those past centuries political affairs were not a subject of interest, of passion — that lack of public participation was much less the result of the autocratic character of the prevailing regimes than of great indifference on the part of the public itself?  Nevertheless, it seems that for centuries political affairs, except for rare moments, produced little activity, were the care of specialists in a specialized domain, or a princes’ game that affected a very limited number of individuals.”

     — Jacques Ellul, The Political Illusion   

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