It is difficult to gauge precisely what influence Einstein and other intellectuals had on the course of events, not because ideas never influence events but because the mechanisms involved are rarely direct or immediate. Einstein himself often despaired of the effort to influence policymakers but never gave up. His ethical approach was not simply a personal choice but reflected the times, in which it was still possible to believe ethical principles could guide practice. Karl Mannheim’s Ideology and Utopia, which charted the increasing dominance of ideological thinking under the pressure of ‘general democratization’, indicated the way the world was going, and it was away from the ethical approach. However, what is sometimes regarded as a weakness of Einstein’s political thinking—its remoteness from practice—was the basis of its power to hold practice to account. His was a fighting faith, demonstrating that in politics much more is involved than politics.
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