Friday, June 25, 2010

Know Thyself

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."  -- John Adams
Why do megalomaniacal dictators turn their dominions into a forced death march?

Why do benevolent leaders run the public coffers dry continuing to ply voters with goodies they can no longer afford?

Because they can.  Power must be wielded.  Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus and George Washington are rare historical exceptions. 

“An orgy looks particularly alluring seen through the mists of righteous indignation.”  -- Malcolm Muggeridge
Why do we see rich celebrities engaging debased acts?  Because they can.  People like Tiger Woods face temptations ordinary men only dream of.  A beautiful family, fame and a bounty of material possessions mean nothing.  We are hardwired to seek a bigger bang. 

It's Human Nature
All human beings have desires, a will to power, money, sex, getting high...  It's in our nature.  The Ancient Greeks knew it, and all great thinkers up through our founding fathers recognized it as well.

We're bastards, and we'll take every advantage if left to our basest animal instincts.  Hence the need for society and morality.

Unfortunately, we've forgotten this, or stupidly thought we'd evolved past it. We've thrown The Basic Virtues over the side:  Honesty...  Ker-plunk!  Thrift... Ker-plop!  Prudence...  Ker-splash! 

And we wonder how the Wall Street four-flushers cheated us out of everything, and we can't understand why our governments and societies are bankrupt...  Morally, intellectually, financially.

Look at Greece, America...  It's a mirror:
When the crowd tried to storm the Greek parliament, shouting, “Thieves! Thieves!,” its anger was misdirected. It was a classic case of what Freudians call projection: the attribution to others of one’s own faults.  [...] 

The crime of that substantial proportion of the Greek population was to accept the bribe that the politicians offered; they were only too prepared to live well at someone else’s expense. The thieves were not principally the politicians, but the demonstrators.

There's No Such Thing as a Free Lunch
The Greek demonstrators did not understand, or did not want to understand, that if there were justice in the world, many people, including themselves, would be worse rather than better off, and that a reduction in their salaries and perquisites was not only economically necessary but just.

They had never really earned their wages in the first place; politicians borrowed the money and then dispensed largesse, like monarchs throwing coins to the multitudes.

It is an obvious but often forgotten lesson of economics: what cannot continue will not continue.   (Know Thyself - Theodore Dalrymple)


Linda said...

***They had never really earned their wages in the first place; politicians borrowed the money and then dispensed largesse, like monarchs throwing coins to the multitudes.***

Exactly right! They take advantage of the lowly taxpayers through confiscatory taxation, and then hand it out like candy to their chosen beneficiaries, otherwise known as potential voters, assuring their lifetime position as "sugar daddy" to the uninformed.

Silverfiddle said...


I really like Dalrymple. He knows how to get to the heart of an issue.

We've all been living on borrowed money. Those of us who live within our budgets have been put in hock by our government.

So why should we trust them with even more?

Trestin said...

I'm impressed, few people know who Cincinnatus is. Our natures are deeply flaws, this is why we must by a nation of laws, and not a nation of men.

Silverfiddle said...

"Our natures are deeply flaws, this is why we must by a nation of laws, and not a nation of men"

Precisely, Trestin! Wise men throughout the ages have known it, including our founding fathers.

Abandoning this reality for "progress" is the cardinal folly of progressivism.

Leticia said...

I don't believe that there is such a thing, any longer, as an "honest" politician. They are all crooked in some form or fashion.

If a good and honest person wants to run for office they had better have a huge amount of cash to campaign. It's all about the money and the resources.

Silverfiddle said...

Sadly, I must agree with you Leticia. But it's our fault, we let them get by with it.

Will said...

Ahh, very good! When I need a good dose of common sense, I head over to Western Hero. By the way, Silverfiddle, I am currently reading one of your book recommendations: The Story of Philosophy, by Will Durant. And by the way again, is your name Kurt? Seems I have seen this referenced before, but not sure. Just feels a bit awkward to refer to you as Silverfiddle all the time.

Silverfiddle said...

Will Durant was one of those rare and gifted scholars who was highly intelligent and educated, but knew how to break it down for the ordinary folks.

Yes, my name is Kurt, but you can call me whatever you like... The libs call me all kinds of names!

Lisa said...

we need soemone to prove themselves and stand for the people for a change.
The opportunity is there like never before. Question is who is a big enough person to take the challenge.
Although I have seen a few bloggers who may fit the bill.

Most Rev. Gregori said...

Our debased and immoral elected officials have squandered, misappropriated,stolen (take your pick) the treasury of the United States. Now they are holding the door open for more and more Muslims to enter to complete our destruction, and now Obama is seriously thinking of making an end run around Congress by giving a presidential pardon to all illegals and granting them citizenship.

Good-bye America. Last when out, turn off the lights.

Silverfiddle said...

I prefer "stole" Reverend. This November may be our last chance.

Demographic engineering via immigration "reform" is about all that can save the liberal ratfinks now.

America has turned its back on them, importing millions of angry and needy "voters" is their only hope.

Always On Watch said...

The situation in Greece -- and a situation spreading all over Europe -- is a harbinger of worse to come.

In my view, we're headed for a deep, deep worldwide depression, worse than the Great Depression of the 20th Century. None of us will escape the horrors of it, although those of us not in debt, including having no mortgage to pay, will suffer the least. But suffer we will!

Silverfiddle said...

AOW: I'm afraid you may be right. I don't see how we climb out of this hole... It will be painful.

Bastiatarian said...

>Because they can.

Exactly. We let them.
(I quote you on my most recent post, by the way.)

>The Story of Philosophy

One of my most prized book sets is Durrant's The Story of Civilization. In Volume 3 he writes:

"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within. The essential causes of Rome's decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars."

Unfortunately, it's completely accurate even if you replace "Rome" with "America."

Silverfiddle said...

Bastiatarian: Thanks for the tip. I will have to get the Durant set.

Gibbon came to the same conclusion only he said it a little differently. I think he described the Romans as becoming "weak and effeminate" or something like that.

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