News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: The Bane of Bush's Evil?

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Bane of Bush's Evil?

Brad Leiter just posted a joke that's germane to your comments Pat: Q: What's the difference between Iraq and Vietnam? A: Bush had a plan for getting out of Vietnam.

Be that as it may, my guess is that the deciderer has fuzzy notions about what he means. It's been obvious for some time that he's chickenhawked his way through life so why stop now? The patina of religiosity that he wears does little to hide the fact that he's an idealist who lets testosterone and guts (bred on the fields of battle at Yale as a cheerleader) determine what's right vs. what's wrong. ...

We can dump on the poor man forever; the jokes are too cruel and often demonize a fellow whose main fault is mediocrity and a hopeless mishmash of despair and megalomania. Hannah Arendt's study of evil of banality has become somewhat a cliche (sadly), but it applies to a nation and a leader whose most telling character trait is mumbling vacuous platitudes. (Yes, I know, that's a tautology, but it's true nonetheless; it's like saying empty to the nth degree.)

But seriously, to comment on Ken Larson's very sincere remarks (@ Sic Semper Tyrannis): I am reminded of the historical debate between the various Italian republicans during the time that machiavelli was formulating his ideas. The question revolved around whether a virtuous republic should resemble Sparta or Athens. The dichotomy here is that between a military-style ethos that prized simplicity and material asceticism over exhuberant and what could be called extravagant materialism.

Plato favored the former, Aristotle the latter. It seems that Machiavelli opted for Aristotle's view but used Roman imperial republicanism as the model for a "mixed polity." To make a long story short, the US founding fathers followed machiavelli in this view, realizing at the start that a state must adopt imperial ambitions to allow the greatest amount of liberty.

My guess is that the brick wall that Mr. Larson posits will by necessity face the US with something of a revision of the founding fathers' preises. In a country that consumes vast quantities of total world resources, where more is wasted than large swaths of the world's population need to survive, where obesity is a chronic health problem--that this country will ultimately fail due to its bloated self-conceit and inability to constrain its own appetites.

With that failure--probably temporary--the country will have to some form of self-analysis that might lead to an ethos much like Sparta's. The hope here then will become that it does not also adopt the military ethos whose ultimate expression seems to be some form of undemocratic control regime.

[xposted at Sic Semper Tyrannis's comments section]

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