Friday, January 14, 2005

Stay Away!

     You know what's really hard to stay away from?  The Infinite, Invisible, Imaginary Sky Fairy.  It's true.  It's hard to stay away from imaginary things, and it doesn't help when they are invisible.  How does one get away from something imaginary?  I'm afraid this particular sky fairy is going to be around a long time.

     Are the people corrupt?  Yes.  Are they evil?  No.

     Montesquieu, Book VIII, Section 4.

Particular Cause of the Corruption of the People
Great success, especially when chiefly owing to the people, intoxicates them to such a degree that it is impossible to contain them within bounds.  Jealous of their magistrates, they soon likewise become jealous of the magistracy; enemies to those who govern, they soon prove enemies also to the constitution.  Thus it was that the victory of the Persians in the straits of Salamis corrupted the republic of Athens;d and thus the defeat of the Athenians ruined the republic of Syracusee.
Marseilles never experienced those great transitions from lowness to grandeur; this was owing to the prudent conduct of that republic, which always preserved her principles.

     Footnotes d and e are to Aristotle's Politics, lib. V cap. iv.

     Our victories are many, but WWII is the one I think of when I read this passage.

     Instead of humbly doing our best, the rightists crow about how powerful and great we are, e.g. "the greatest nation on Earth," which symptomatic of what Montesquieu discusses above.

     "What good is power," they ask, "unless we can oppress our enemies with it?" as they rack up more and more enemies.

     In so many ways, technical and factual, we are not the greatest on Earth today.  Our government, at odds with the intelligent, derides them and those who listen.  More on this tomorrow.

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