There are lots of good reasons to read Henry Farrell and Cosma Shalizi’s network-theoretic defense of democracy against market fundamentalism on the one hand and hierarchic paternalism on the other. But at the moment I just want to quote their quote of John Stuart Mill:
But the economical advantages of commerce are surpassed in importance by those of its effects which are intellectual and moral. It is hardly possible to overrate the value, in the present low state of human improvement, of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Commerce is now what war once was, the principal source of this contact.
And I’m not even quoting the quote because the quote says something interesting, which it does — it’s just because scansion is on my mind, thanks to Paul Fussell, and I was struck by the grace of “Commerce is now what war once was.” To write with authority you have to have good ideas, but you also have to pay attention to the sound of your words. Writing is a formalization of sound, not a formalization of thought.