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"The past generation overthrew the god images of its time. They were angry with them. A coming generation shall overthrow our temple statues. Let it happen. The images of God are perishable and limited things."

The hours tick by. It is sometimes as if one saw them one by one come forward, join the line, pass and be gone. They have form and sight as they take out the steps, then the outlines are blurred and they dissolve into the mist. But in unbroken succession, new ones emerge. Each has its face, brooding and pensive or cheerful. Many stare with empty eye sockets into the dullness. One by one they pass, and no one forgets to step out.

They change costume with time itself. The mind, hardly. Infinitely different, it is true, from the time when they all stood in the power of their manhood, now seventy years old and more going into darkness. Staaff, Branting, Ellen Key, Harald Hjärne, August Strindberg, Knut Wicksell, Ola Hansson, it is useless to try to enumerate the names of all those who left their mark on the decades immediately before and after the turn of the century. They got their signature from the great work of liberation that was at hand or thought to be at hand. Prejudices were to be blasted away, old mouldy romanticism cleared away. Laws and customs, which inhibited the free development of the individual, were attacked and demolished. Air and light were to be admitted. Foul beliefs, which weighed down the mind, would be lifted. In the sun and wind of nature, men would grow straight and free. The masses, pushed aside to the shadow side, would have their spokesmen. The oppressed, who had nothing to say, banded together and raised their banners, "We demand." The youth, who offered a home to the ideas of the time, made the cause of the oppressed their own. The right to be human beings and to shape their own destiny, the right to be masters of their own house, should not be given to the Swedish people. A tight-breasted and restricted nationalist could not in dull self-satisfaction rule over the country The power must be wrung from its fat hands. With fresh courage one went to storm against all the old and rotten.

The battle is fierce. The attackers won their goal. A new class has seized power. Will the wills grow straight and free now? Has the repression of opinion diminished? Oh, no. The whole difference is that the hold on power has shifted. Possibly everything has been further brutalised, since the new masters have settled down at the meat pots of power. We have new surroundings to settle in, but the people who will settle in are the same as those of the last generation. The youth of that time spoke irreverently of what was sacred to the fathers. Our time does the same. That time canonized its great men; our time canonizes its own. Those who have power and those who seek it can never suffer others to think differently with them. They rage when they see a scornful face. It has been said that power dulls. It is a thesis that is elevated to a creed in those circles that are excluded. Power does not dumb down; it only allows its practitioners to display their inherent qualities. Thus it is that stupidity shines there in all its colour.

Among the most peculiar things in the life of the human soul is this need to impose one's opinion on others. Most opinions are second-hand, are borrowed goods; an infinitesimal fraction of what a man mentions as his opinion is of the making of his own mind. In most cases, this own is present in such minimal doses that its existence cannot be detected. No sooner has a man adopted a notion than he rushes out to enlist fellow-opinioners. It is not only believers who propagandize. All do the same. It is not concern for the good of others that drives this disregard for the truth. It is rather a feeling that the pearl of truth blacks out and loses its value, unless eyes other than one's own are caressed by its gentle lustre. It is never man enough to peer alone into the secrets of God. Others must be dragged to the peep-hole and see the same thing, identically the same thing.

Thanks to this intellectual herd instinct, each era has its definite signature. Uniformity is its strength. It wants something, often vainly, if there is not possibly something in the statement that wanting something is the beginning of all wisdom. The preceding and succeeding generations, as a rule, know little of what the intervening generation has wanted, and often murmur the words, "You wanted foolishly, and you could do what you wanted." Those who know that there are two sides to every matter, so as not to waste words on the deplorables, who have been led to believe that there are usually more, and thoughtlessly comply with this supposed insight, thus refrain from influencing the course of events.

The hours tick by. Everything is changing, externally. The lineage seeks new idols, the need to worship remains the same. They honor their branded men, it is right and proper. How the youth of the '80s and '90s railed against the silly hero-worship of their fathers! Do our times canonize less diligently? However harshly this flow of kindly sentiments may run, it is in itself sympathetic and as such peaceful. It is human, all too human, to abuse even the memory and name of the foolish. It often happens, defiantly often, that their memory, having put their eyes together, is immediately used as an accessory in the daily grind. He who, more or less wildly, turns to them, feels secure that no one wants to incur the hatred that follows a violation of the rule de mortuius nil nisi bene. He can pose freely in his noble harm. Somewhat more thoughtless is it, that from the final acknowledgment at a bier, one is inspired to an outburst of resentment against the official institutions, which have denied to the hänsovna the honours, which in the writer's uncomprehending opinion are not bestowed, and to a glare against another hänsoven, which in lifetime has taken turns with the dead. There is a gruesome story told of a Cromwell warrior, who cut his teeth in a corpse, which was dug up, because it was not thought worthy to rest in peace. The gruesome is remarked with ridicule, when a pen-wielding man, to the glory of a hen-pecked man, stabs his long-dead adversary. But all this is human. It is human to make an ambiguous use of noble feelings. It has always been the custom. It will always remain so.

The hours tick by. A whole generation is disappearing at sight. Bravely and valiantly, many of its great men have fought for the faith of their time, worked at the task of their time. It was not to give a total view of life, but to carry out a definite idea of the transformation of society. "He who has made his time full has made enough for all times." It was not the fault of that age, and it shall not detract from the credit which its leaders reap, that their work of liberation was found wanting in all human work.

For every bond that was loosened, a new one was forged; for every prejudice that was banished, a new one flourished in the sunlight. In essence, it is a blessed thing that this happens. For otherwise life would gradually lose its salt. We would become better and more comfortable, in other words, we would lose the highest thing in life, the excitement of the forces at work against the stupidity and the self-satisfied perfection of power that always and forever wants to spread in this world. The past generation overthrew the god images of its time. They were ungrateful to them. A coming generation shall overthrow our temple statues. So be it. The images of God are perishable and limited things. The eternal spirit flees them. He lives only in the very pursuit of what is right, true and beautiful.

The hours go by, one by one. Their appearance changes. Their appearance shifts. The human emotions and moods reflected by the features remain forever variations on the same human theme. Ugliness alternates with goodness, abundant wealth with emptiness, sorrow with joy, but they all pass with slow steps or with hurried haste - by.

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