Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christopher Cox

The great intellectual Jacques Barzun, whose name one automatically associates with Columbia, just 20 days ago celebrated his 100th birthday. He once said about gatherings such as this: “In any assembly, the simplest way to stop the transacting of business and split the ranks is to appeal to a principle.”

That was more than tongue-in-cheek cynicism, of course, because Barzun was eyewitness to a period in history in which ideologies had become brutally coercive. He'd seen how the a priori designs for human arrangements represented by Nazism, Fascism, and Communism had turned nations against each other in the bloodiest possible manner. Those systems, commanded by their own self-referential principles, did split the ranks of humankind. And they did stop the transacting of business.

— Christopher Cox, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Keynote Address to the Columbia Law and Business Schools Cross Border Securities Market Mergers Conference, December 19, 2007