— Stephen Spender
Context: I am for neither West nor East, but for myself considered as a self — one of the millions who inhabit the earth... If it seems absurd that an individual should set up as a judge between these vast powers, armed with their superhuman instruments of destruction I can reply that the very immensity of the means to destroy proves that judging and being judged does not lie in these forces. For supposing that they achieved their utmost and destroyed our civilization, whoever survived would judge them by a few statements. a few poems, a few témoignages [testimonies] surviving from all the ruins, a few words of those men who saw outside and beyond the means which were used and all the arguments which were marshaled in the service of those means.
Thus I could not escape from myself into some social situation of which my existence was a mere product, and my witnessing a willfully distorting instrument. I had to be myself, choose and not be chosen... But to believe that my individual freedom could gain strength from my seeking to identify myself with the "progressive" forces was different from believing that my life must be an instrument of means decided on by political leaders. I came to see that within the struggle for a juster world, there is a further struggle between the individual who cares for long-term values and those who are willing to use any and every means to gain immediate political ends — even good ends. Within even a good social cause, there is a duty to fight for the pre-eminence of individual conscience. The public is necessary, but the private must not be abolished by it; and the individual must not be swallowed up by the concept of the social man.