Philosophers we like

by Lorenzo Piccoli


In 1972 the American Sovietologist Richard Pipes, then registered as a Democrat, told in Isaiah Berlin to be in great embarrassment because the Democrats had nominated McGovern, and his platform was strongly unbalanced, excessively leaning on the left. At the presidential election, if possible, he would have preferred to vote for Nixon, but such a vote would have put in a stand antagonized by most of his colleagues at Harvard University, where he taught. The climate would have been hostile and his chances of making a career in Cambridge would be reduced. For this reason he asked the philosopher how to behave. Berlin thought about five seconds and responded: “Well, tell your friends that you will vote for McGovern, then vote for Nixon at the polls. I do not see where the problem is.”

Nel 1972 Pipes, allora registrato come Democratico, confidò a Isaiah Berlin di essere in forte imbarazzo perché i Democratici avrebbero candidato McGovern, e la piattaforma di McGovern era del tutto squilibrata a sinistra. Tra i due, potendo, avrebbe preferito Nixon, ma prendere posizione per Nixon gli avrebbe inimicato la maggior parte dei suoi colleghi di Harvard, dove insegnava, il clima gli sarebbe stato ostile e le sue chances di fare carriera a Cambridge si sarebbero ridotte. Per questo chiedeva conforto al filosofo in merito a come comportarsi. Pare che Berlin ci abbia pensato circa cinque secondi e abbia risposto: “Beh, di’ ai tuoi amici che voterai McGovern, poi ai seggi vota Nixon. Non vedo dove sia il problema”.

Italian version via Tommaso, English translation mine. A more accurate version can be found here.

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