Tuesday, December 09, 2008

In Closer Accord With His Manner of Life

Stephan Arkadyevitch took in and read a liberal newspaper, not an extreme one, but one advocating the views held by the majority. And in spite of the fact that science, art and politics had no special interest to him, he firmly held those views on all subjects which were held by the majority and by his paper, and he only changed them when the majority changed them--or, more strictly speaking, he did not change them, but they impercetively changed of themselves within him.

Stephan Arkadyevitch had not chosen his political opinions or his views; these political opinions and views had come to him of themselves, just as he did not choose the shapes of his hats or coats, but simply took those that were being worn. And for him, living in a certain society--owing to the need, ordinarily developed at years of discretion, for some degree of mental activity--to have views was just as indispensable as to have a hat. If there was a reason for his preferring liberal to conservative views, which were held also by many of his circle, it arose not from his considering liberalism more rational, but its being in closer accord with his manner of life...And so liberalism had become a habit of Stephan Aakadyevitch's, and he liked his newspaper, as he did his cigar after dinner, for the slight fog it diffused in his brain.

--Tolstoy, Anna Karenina