by MW Cook

I just finished reading Political Ideals by Bertrand Russell. Most Christians tend to steer clear of him because of his views on the church, but I think it’s a shame to cut a section of books out just because we don’t happen to agree with the author. I found the book very engaging and I’m with Russell on most of his points. It’s a small book, go grab yourself a copy.

Russell writes about his views on how nations and states and governments should be run, focusing on economic restructuring. He claims one of the greatest evils in the western world today is the wage system because it gives an employer the power to reduce an individual to destitution if he doesn’t like him. He has a lot of neat suggestions on how things can be improved and he makes a lot of convincing points. Here’s a few quotes that stood out:

We see that men’s political dealings with one another are based on wholly wrong ideals, and can only be saved by quite different ideals.

The aim of politics should be to make the lives of individuals as good as possible.
The best life is the one in which the creative impulses play the largest part and the possessive impulses the smallest.

The injustice of destitution and wealth alike ought to be rendered impossible. Then a great fear would be removed from the lives of the many, and hope would have to take on a better form in the lives of the few.

Few men seem to realize how many of the evils from which we suffer are wholly unnecessary, and that they could be abolished by a united effort within a few years…with good-will, generosity and intelligence.

The world is full of preventable evils which most men would be glad to see prevented.
Sufficient pay to ensure a livelihood ought to be given to every person who is willing to work, independently of the question whether the particular work at which he is skilled is wanted at the moment or not. If it is not wanted some new trade which is wanted ought to be taught at the public expense. Why, for example, should a hansom-cab driver be allowed to suffer on account of the introduction of taxis?…At present, owning to the fact that all industrial changes tend to cause hardships to some section of wage-earners, there is a tendency to technical conservatism on the part of labour, a dislike of innovations, new processes, and new methods.

Every man who has really sincere desire for any great amelioration in the conditions of life has first to face ridicule, then persecution, then cajolery and attempts at subtle corruption.

Life and hope for the world are to be found only in the deeds of love.

[The man with the right view of things] will not desire for his country the passing triumphs of a narrow possessiveness, but rather the enduring triumph of having helped to embody in human affairs something of that spirit of brotherhood which Christ taught and which the Christian churches have forgotten.


I realize that we who go by the name Christian ought to work hard for the welfare of our fellow man. I suppose that’s supposed to be obvious, but how often do we really sit down and think about how we can improve the lives of the people around us? Have we really forgotten something that Christ was teaching?