This Impersonal World

“One effect of the increasing uniformity of life and of the crowding of people together in huge populations has been to mould vast numbers of them to a standard pattern. It is frightening sometimes to watch the crowd go by, catching the same bus every day so as to arrive at the same time at the same office or factory, in order to perform some excessively specialized operation never requiring of them anything but the same robot-like movement.

They have become merely cogs in the machine of production, tools, functions. All that matters is what they do, not what they think or feel. In any case their thoughts and feelings are similarly moulded by propaganda, press, cinema and radio. They read the same newspaper each day, hear the same slogans, see the same advertisements.

…For their part those who aspire to live like real persons  and not like automata find themselves caught in the toils of a mass society, against which originality rebels for a time, and then grows weary and is extinguished. The more people there are crowded together, the more does the herd-instinct develop. The massive undertaking in the long run turns its participants into automata. I have often had to quote a remark made by Professor Siebeck: ‘It is the calling that creates the person'”

From the chapter “This Impersonal World” in The Meaning of Persons by Paul Tourier

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