"What we now want is closer contact and better understanding between individuals and communities all over the earth... and the elimination of egoism and pride which is always prone to plunge the world into primeval barbarism and strife."
Our power over matter has become rather godlike, indeed. If our understanding of reality and ourselves does not correspond, we will surely make this world a hell. It is too cowardly to blame it on God, Buddha, Brahma, the Tao, the Random Universe, or whatever else. And it is a poor gamble to bank on nothingness - "what does it matter? - in hope of automatic anaesthesia beyond individual or planetary death. However difficult it may seem, we must each take responsibility, for our own absolute, examine what we think it is, how we came to that perspective, if it withstands critical analysis, and how it affects our actions. So we are vitally concerned to undertake the struggle for this Everest peak of this essence of True Eloquence.
We're all afloat in a boundless sea, and the way we cope is by massing together in groups and pretending in unison that the situation is other than it is. We reinforce the illusion for each other. That's what a society really is, a little band of humanity huddled together against the specter of a pitch black sea. Everyone is treading water to keep their heads above the surface even though they have no reason to believe that the life they're preserving is better than the alternative they're avoiding. It's just that one is known and one is not. Fear of the unknown is what keeps everyone busily treading water. All fear is fear of the unknown. If someone in such a group of water-treaders betrays the group lie by speaking the truth of their situation, that person is called a heretic, and society reserves its most awful punishments for heretics. If someone decides to stop struggling and just sink or float away, every possible effort is made to stop him, not for the benefit of the individual, but for the benefit of the group. To deny at all costs the truth of the situation.
It is always the individual who thinks. Society does not think any more than it eats or drinks. The evolution of human reasoning from the naive thinking of primitive man to the more subtle thinking of modern science took place within society. However, thinking itself is always an achievement of individuals.
Ludwig von Mises
Source: Human Action: A Treatise on Economics (Scholars Edition), Pages: 177