Patterico's Pontifications

10/6/2007

American Patriotism & the Idealism of Dissent

Filed under: Political Correctness — DRJ @ 12:09 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

Thoughts on the intersection between American patriotism and dissent that I’ve added to my “I With I’d Thought of That” file …

Via the Instapundit, these thoughts from a friend of NRO’s Jonah Goldberg:

“So, Jonah, here’s the problem I have all too often with the “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” line. Patriotism, as I see it, is love of country—an actually-existing, historically grounded, geographical, political, and social entity. It’s not uncritical, it’s not unwilling to acknowledge flaws or misdeeds, but it’s a fundamental attachment to an entity, a place, a thing, a group of people, and in the case of America, of course, a set of ideals enshrined in our founding documents.

The “dissent” school seems to acknowledge love not of the actual country, but the Country of the Future, once all the flaws are fixed, which is not only utopian but utterly quixotic, since no group of human beings can ever organize themselves in a fashion without problems. Moreover, it’s a very subjective standard. You’re dissenting on whatever the hell problem is your own hobby horse. Feminist A is upset about the state of women and is patriotically “dissenting”; Klansman B is upset about the state of white folk, and in his mind, he’s equally patriotic in his “dissent.” There isn’t a hell of a lot in the “dissent” principle that can distinguish the two. A historically-grounded analysis says the feminist is (perhaps) appealing to American ideals of equality while the Klansman is appealing to an ugly tradition of anti-black bigotry, but neither are, in any real sense, showing their love of country. The former may be offering a constructive criticism, the other clearly is proposing a destructive one, but both are equally ideological and neither is expressing a love of America qua America, but rather a love of what they think America should be.

While that’s a grand American tradition, I don’t think it’s patriotism. *** The great, truly patriotic reformers of American history have the country for what it is despite its flaws, which they dedicated themselves to amending.”

H/T all those loopy, petty university-educated intellectuals who hate America as it is.

UPDATE: Armed Liberal at WindsOfChange.net has been saying the same thing for awhile.

— DRJ

76 Responses to “American Patriotism & the Idealism of Dissent”

  1. Poor Jonah,

    Resorting to the “Psychic Hotline” defense is a sign of desperation.

    alphie (99bc18)

  2. Hate to see your bills for this. Besides who else but Alpo channels Lennin and Stalin for inspiration.

    Alpho hates America so because it gives people a chance to demonstrate their industry, energy, idealism, merit, and originality. Alpo hates to have to show what a faikure he is on all counts.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  3. Alphie,

    As Christopher Hitchens’ article illustrates, patriotism isn’t a liberal or conservative value – it’s an American value.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  4. An “American” value that just happens to be used by far right, pro war Amercans, DRJ?

    What a coincidence!

    alphie (99bc18)

  5. DRJ,

    Thanks for the link to the Hitchens’ article. One of the more moving ones I have read. Wow!

    voiceofreason (4b44fd)

  6. I pledge alliegance, to the flag,
    Of the United States of America.
    And decry the torture, which our president excuses,
    One Executive, over all,
    9-11
    With liberty and justice,
    For those we approve.

    nosh (53dd5b)

  7. You almost made your point there, nosh. You should have stopped after the third line. Hasn’t any judge ever told you that the key to a winning argument is knowing when to shut up?

    nk (7d4710)

  8. Resorting to the “Psychic Hotline” defense is a sign of desperation.

    This coming from the alpo who routinely attributes motives and beliefs to people on little more evidence than his own psychic abilities?

    The irony, it is thick.

    Rob Crawford (ede9d5)

  9. Not sure that this guys thesis is a good buy. It seems a little slippery doesn’t it? Who decides which person or group loves America, but wants to change a problem and is therefore a “truly great reformer of History” (are there none today?) and which group or individual is a person who “hates America” and is dedicated only to a future America with the flaws fixed. I can see a distinction between one type of idealist and the next but its who gets to be in which group that seems slippery.

    Is Cindy Sheehan a patriot?

    What about all those “liberals” who “hate America” coz they don’t believe in the war?

    What about all the “arrogant” “facists” who think that we need to be able to wiretap peoples phones sometimes without warrants to protect the country?

    EdWood (0be30b)

  10. EdWood,

    I think you’ve captured his point, perhaps without realizing it: People who condition their love for America on a specific view (whether it’s a liberal or conservative view) don’t love America as it is. They love their idealized version of America.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  11. EdWood, conservatives don’t say that liberals hate America just because they want to change things. We also don’t say it as a mere meaningless insult like liberals use “Nazi” and “fascist”. When we say it, we have a specific set of facts in mind. The arguments have been made better, but here is the outline:

    1. Lots of leftists outright say that they despise America and/or Western culture, and the rest of you don’t react. Just like you blame us for things Ann Coulter says (often even if we do criticize her), we blame you for what your fellows say because we think that either you silently agree or at least don’t very much disagree.

    2. The Left has never met an enemy of America that they didn’t defend. From the genocidal Communists to the genocidal Islamists, the Left always works to hinder America in defending itself against atacks, always seems to sympathize with or outright idolize foreign enemies of the US. If they loved America, you would think that once since 1945 they might have taken America’s side in a conflict. They never have. And please don’t tell me that they are simply pacifists. Their horror at war is too selective; they only express horror at actions that the US or its allies commit, never at what the enemy does. In fact, they often blame the US for “causing” the atrocities committed by America’s enemies as they have been doing lately by blaming the entire Iraq body count on the US. It’s America’s fault that the enemy is blowing up truck bombs in crowds.

    3. They blame America for everything wrong in the world. Bloody revolution against a pro-American government? It was a popular revolution and it wouldn’t have been so bloody if the US hadn’t sold guns to the government. Bloody revolution against an anti-American government? The CIA did it.

    4. They don’t have any consistent set of principles and measures by which they criticize the US. When the Religious right criticizes the US for moral turpitude, you can bet they would be just as strong at criticizing any other country that came up in the conversation. By contrast, the Left went batty to keep the US from developing nuclear power, but has nothing to say about France. They don’t want the US to engage in cultural imperialism, but when the radical islamists do it to our detriment, that’s OK. They scream in indignation that someone in the White House would dare criticize a reporter because that’s practically censorship, but Castro, who throws reporters in prison or mental institutions and has had them tortured and killed, well he’s a great leader (and also, just coincidentally, hates America).

    There are a lot more concrete examples. These are actual facts that stand in need of an actual explanation and the right is not going to stop saying that the left hates America until these facts are explained in a more plausible way. But the left isn’t even trying. They act as if this position were meaningless name-calling and react with meaningless symbolism and fake indignation.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  12. I agree with EdWood.

    In addition, I think there are few Americans of any persuasion who do not love their country, who would wish to live here rather than anyplace else, and who do not think it has the best political system in the world. So it is a bit silly to try to compare abstractions, in my opinion.

    Itsme (e6c6b7)

  13. Correction, few Americans who would NOT wish to live here rather than anyplace else …

    Itsme (e6c6b7)

  14. Nice, Doc,

    Using “patriotism” to mow down straw men, like an ordinary gardening tool.

    No wonder it’s a gotten a little rusty.

    alphie (99bc18)

  15. Nice, Aphlie,

    Using “cynicism” to mow down straw men, like an ordinary gardening tool.

    No wonder you’ve a gotten a more than a little boring.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  16. Me:

    But the left isn’t even trying. They act as if this position were meaningless name-calling and react with meaningless symbolism and fake indignation.

    Alphie:

    Nice, Doc,
    Using “patriotism” to mow down straw men, like an ordinary gardening tool.
    No wonder it’s a gotten a little rusty.

    Thanks for making me sound prophetic, Alphie.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  17. “When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleannes of its hands and the purity of its heart.”

    Ralph Waldo Emerson said: (8d9f79)

  18. “The fetters imposed on liberty at home, have ever been forged out of the weapons provided for defense against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers from abroad.”

    James Madison said: (8d9f79)

  19. “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.”

    Sinclair Lewis said: (8d9f79)

  20. “The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media.”

    william Colby, former CIA director said (8d9f79)

  21. “Naturally the common people don’t want war; niether in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter oto drag the people along , wheter it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and ‘exposing the country to danger.'”

    Herman Goering said (8d9f79)

  22. “If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”

    James Madison said: (8d9f79)

  23. “AMerica will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms it will be because, we destroyed ourselves.”

    Abraham Lincoln said (8d9f79)

  24. “The conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence-economic, political, even spiritual-is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal Government. We recogize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implication. Our toil, resources, and livlihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

    In the councils of government, we must guard against the aquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, but the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise to misplaced power exists and will persist.

    We will never let the wieght of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic process. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

    Dwight Eisenhower said (8d9f79)

  25. “The corporations don’t have to lobby the government anymore. They are the government.”

    Jim Hightower said (8d9f79)

  26. Dear Comment Spammer,

    We can see you know how to find quotes on the internet and copy them onto blogs. Uncle.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  27. “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” 1918

    (to Uncle…it is relevant to the topic)

    Theodore Roosevelt said: (8d9f79)

  28. Actually, ditto said, its not. Borrowing others thoughts does not substitute for not having your own.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  29. Whoever is copying portentious-sounding but irrelevant quotes into the comments instead of trying to make substantive answers to my arguments: thanks for making me look prophetic.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  30. Comment spammer,

    My name isn’t Uncle. I was surrendering.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  31. You wouldn’t listen to my words. But, do you care what the words of these historical icons offer? I think you would. Liberals do. I think Conservatives do, or they would say they do, but ask yourself if your president does. Or the media that calls the Liberals “traitors” for asking why we were lied to when a war was waged.

    Incidentally those quotations are also my thoughts. I’m just hoping you give them some credence if someone else says them.

    forefathers' watchdog (8d9f79)

  32. Hey, scroll down along the link I offer here, and listen to the words of Eisenhower, more so, than the brief offering of his words, I left above.

    http://www.westpointgradsagainstthewar.org

    forefathers' watchdog (8d9f79)

  33. blubonnet,

    Cut it out. I will delete all your comments if you keep this up. It’s annoying.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  34. Yeah, quote guy, nice quotes but I was kind of waiting for your punchline (after about quote 3), or were you responding to Doc Rampages generalized rampage against “the left?” and why they “hate America with a quote rampage?. I mean, what do you think of the idea in the post? read the link below the post from (Armed Liberal?) if you really want to get the idea. It explores it more in depth.

    And by the by, would you say that the “liberals” who oppose the war are patriots? What about the “facists” who think that we need to have instant (warrantless) wiretaps to protect us from immanent terrorist attacks?

    EdWood (b9f97b)

  35. blubonnet, it doesn’t speak well of your reasoning powers that you think those quotes actually support you. I don’t really expect you to take me up on this, but if you want to learn how to think and not just react, then here’s a great exercise for you: take some of those quotes and try to figure out how I would read them, how I could agree with them (except for the idiot quote from Jim Hightower) and yet not feel that they have contradicted anything I said.

    Once you can do that, Grasshopper, you will have started to learn how to separate your emotions from your reasoning. That’s the first step to objective thinking.

    Doc Rampage (ebfd7a)

  36. Doc you and Alpo sound very prophetic, sort of like Marx. Something to be proud of. Those who talk about patriotism as the both of you do is akin to the patriotism of Lennin and Marx. I know all those tens of millions of Russians who are in their graves appreciated their sentiments.

    I’m sure the two of you would employ the same sentiments given half a chance.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  37. Doc, I’m not feeling inclined to listen to a guy that calls himself Doc “Rampage” and supports the policies of a maniacal president, who violates near all of the standards of honor and decency of the United Staes in almost every way, BUT, tell me how you would use these quotes from these individuals to support you and the king Bush’s perspective.

    blubonnet (8d9f79)

  38. Incidentally, the reason I resorted to quotes is that YOUR “reasoning powers” will automatically dismiss the content before you read it, so, using another tactic, I thought might have a better impact.

    A quote that might make for some realization is this one by Hitler. “Strength lies not in defense, but attack.” Who else thought that way recently? March 2003……..same perspective.

    If you bothered to click onto the link I left, you will see that Eisenhower said, “If anybody tells you to go fight a pre-emptive war, you tell them to go fight it themself.”

    blubonnet (8d9f79)

  39. blu,

    Sun Tzu said:

    5. Security against defeat implies defensive tactics; ability to defeat the enemy means taking the offensive.

    6. Standing on the defensive indicates insufficient
    strength; attacking, a superabundance of strength.

    Was Sun Tzu a Nazi too?

    Fritz (d62210)

  40. blubonnet, that a rather basic element of military strategy was perceived by Hitler does not thereby discredit what is a rather basic element of the strategic arts.

    To claim that President Bush has “who violates near all of the standards of honor and decency of the United Staes in almost every way” shows a rather complete ignorance of the history of the US.

    You seem to have a rather superficial understanding at best of these matters.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  41. Okay, we now have proof that the reasons for going to war, even the ones that took place of the previous ones, as the obvious bogusness (is that a real word?? probably not…oh well) of each and every excuse for it. It is alot of work to pull out the numerous sources acknowledging the deciept put upon the people of the United States, and our dear soldiers, eskpecially violated, there’s multitude of changing reasons for the illegal, dishonest invasion, but even if you buy the “pre-emptive for US security” line, you can’t even hang your hat on it.

    Incidentally, there is controverey over the pre-emptive doctrine of Sun Tzu, as to how it was to be interpreted.

    I will have to take up this conversation later this evening. I have to go right now. I’ll be back in about 10 hours.

    blubonnet (8d9f79)

  42. Maybe you could rewrite that last comment during that time since it is not coherent.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  43. “Sun Tzu said”

    -Fritz

    Who gives a fuck what Sun Tzu said? Nobody here lives in B.C. China, and our wars aren’t fought with swords and spears. Give me 50 modern soldiers and access to artillery support and I (a whiny little kid with no military experience whatsoever) could wipe out any army Sun Tzu threw at me.

    “blubonnet,

    Cut it out. I will delete all your comments if you keep this up. It’s annoying.”

    -Patterico

    I cry bullshit. An unknown commentator is posting extremely relevant quotes from some of the most respected (or loathed, in the case of Goering) figures in American/world history. The opposition is so flustered as to declare that “Borrowing others thoughts does not substitute for not having your own” (which is, in this case, an utterly pathetic retort).

    Suddenly, out comes Patterico, addressing said mystery commentator as “blubonnet”, a handle that carries with it a whole slew of connotations (to those that frequent the site). Suddenly, otherwise problematic quotes are dismissed out of hand, based on preformed bias.

    Whatever…

    For what it’s worth, I’ve been studying the Notes of the Federal Convention for the past three weeks, and the Madison quotes are spot on.

    I guess it could be argued that James Madison wasn’t a patriot… but I might be inclined to cry bullshit again.

    Leviticus (68eff1)

  44. I cry bullshit.

    I call bullshit on your crying bullshit. The repeat commenter is using blubonnet’s e-mail address. Nobody else knows it.

    Commenters should maintain a consistent identity.

    Patterico (c8a36c)

  45. Leviticus,

    I wonder what Sun Tzu would do to you if you gave him 50 modern soldiers and artillery?

    In any case, Sun’s lessons are general enough, as with those of Machiavelli, and deal with the universality of human nature, as to be relevant whatever the particular level of technology. In addition, I believe that people who make comments like yours should sit down, read Bacon’s The New Atlantis, and eat some cake. Heidegger’s point that our technological advancement has no necessary connection to our moral advancement still holds true.

    Fritz (d62210)

  46. “Commenters should maintain a consistent identity.”

    -Patterico

    Fair enough (especially in light of your exchanges with Glenn Greenwalds). My point is that those awkward quotes have yet to be addressed (other than to be inexplicably dismissed out of hand).

    Leviticus (68eff1)

  47. “I wonder what Sun Tzu would do to you if you gave him 50 modern soldiers and artillery?”

    -Fritz

    He’d probably attack, given the general principles you just layed out. The problem is (and my ultimate point is) that general principles in re: attack and defense are no longer applicable in modern war.

    General lessons (such as those of Sun Tzu and Machiavelli) are fine, as general lessons; I used to carry around a dog-eared copy of The Prince in my backpack. The problem is trying to draw a direct inference from ancient history to modern times using specific lessons, particularly in the case of warfare (politics depends on ever-intransient human nature; war depends on ever-transient weapons).

    Leviticus (68eff1)

  48. Leviticus,

    You’ll have to do more than assert that claim. In fact, I think his principles rightly understood are even more applicable and important for our understanding today. They allow us to get at and see what is eternal and true about warfare.

    In any case, if you would have actually read The Prince then you would know how one is to go about drawing specific lessons from general (and not so general in the case of Machiavelli) advice. This is, of course, not to say that Machiavelli was always right, merely that he is always interesting and gives the reader many new and fresh perspectives on what seem to be intractable problems. Indeed, The Prince, as it is aimed at princes, is probably less applicable to our situation than Discourses on Livy, which is aimed at Republics. Of course, over concentration on one book at the expense of the other, when Machiavelli clearly meant them as a set, is the particular sin of half-read people.

    Fritz (d62210)

  49. The cliche is that generals are always fighting the last war. Why not use one’s reading to get to the heart of all wars?

    Fritz (d62210)

  50. Fair enough (especially in light of your exchanges with Glenn Greenwalds). My point is that those awkward quotes have yet to be addressed (other than to be inexplicably dismissed out of hand).

    OK, fair enough. I don’t know that anyone has dismissed the quotes out of hand. Some have said that they are not applicable to the discussion.

    In the case of the Madison quote at #20, there have been no fetters upon liberty that I am aware of. I know that some argue that warrantless wiretapping constitutes an infringement on liberty. But there is general agreement that the government may listen to electronic transmissions between foreigners outside the US. The Bush Administration concedes that it must have a warrant to monitor conversations that take place inside the US between persons lawfully here. The argument is whether or not it is legal to monitor the conversations of known terrorists outside the US and persons lawfully in the US. The issue will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court or by an act of Congress.

    Eisenhower warned of the dangers of a military-industrial complex, he did not dispute the need for one given the exigencies of the Cold War.

    As to Sinclair Lewis’ quote about fascism coming to the US wrapped in a flar or a cross, I’ll answer that with a quote of my own: “Why is that “the dark night of fascism” is always falling on the US, but always landing on Europe?” Tom Wolfe.

    Stu707 (adbb5a)

  51. Correction, few Americans who would NOT wish to live here rather than anyplace else …

    Comment by Itsme — 10/6/2007 @ 8:25 pm

    Canada is but a short trip away.

    Socialized health care, too!

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  52. “The opposition is so flustered as to declare that “Borrowing others thoughts does not substitute for not having your own” (which is, in this case, an utterly pathetic retort).”

    Well, I was kind of proud of the retort and look forward to seeing it quoted in Bartlet’s in the future so that vapid twits can quote me in whatever blogs look like in 2025 AD.

    Meanwhile, you’ve done nothing to improve the thread and blubonnet’s silly cascade of irrelevant quotes remains a monument to trolling.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  53. Statements like the one in the subject post (“the people who disagree with us aren’t patriots”) are crafted for one purpose: to draw an “us vs. them” line in the sand between people who agree with the statement, and everyone else, who are dismissed by the statement.

    The more I read ideology blogs(of which, sadly, Patterico’s is rapidly becoming a prime example), the less I comment, and the more aware I am of how truly far apart in fundamental assumptions Americans are becoming.

    One of the major problems with ideology blogs is that people talk to other like-minded people so much that they drown out everyone they disagree with — all the time. It’s an endless reinforcement of assumptions, and systematic deconstruction of any challenge to these assumptions.

    The only dissent is by “trolls,” who are easily spotted because, well, they talk differently. They don’t echo the fundamental assumptions properly.

    These ideology blogs work in tandem with each other to quicly reinforce the ideology at all costs — whenever a challenge to their worldview raises its ugly head, everyone immediately takes their best shot at disarming it.

    The best responses (often rhetorical and inflammatory) quickly circulate, and the whole ideology breaths a self-affirming sigh of relief — ahhh … there’s an easy answer to that momentarily disquieting suggestion we might be wrong about something. Just check out xxxx’s blog, it’ll straighten you out!

    I may be accused of just being a troll for this. But I’m truly disturbed by ideology blogs on both sides — from Malkin to Kos. It’s very hard to find any attempts at higher thought on any of them — just endless gut-level, visceral reactionary judgments about how screwed up the people from opposing ideological view are.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  54. Phil,

    I wouldn’t call Patterico’s an “ideology blog”, and I sure as hell wouldn’t damn it to the intellectual cesspools that are Kos and Hot Air.

    I don’t think I’ve ever been called a troll, and I know this blog has plenty of conservative regulars willing to engage in honest, polite, nevertheless vehement debate when the occasion calls for it (nk, DRJ, Pablo [dammit] and Patterico himself spring to mind… and that’s just off the top of my head. There are definitely others).

    Besides, I kinda like the quasi-adversarial atmosphere (coupled, as I believe it is, with general intellectual honesty). There’s a nice mix of liberals (ada, Itsme, Semanticleo, steve) to balance out the conservative viewpoints and at least create animated discussion… which is more than you can say for a lot of places on the net these days. Overall, it’s nice to know that there are smart people on both sides of the aisle, and it’s reassuring that those same people are still willing to sit down and talk to one another.

    Leviticus (244ce4)

  55. I appreciate it, Levi.

    Patterico (bad89b)

  56. By the way, if I’m not responding to anyone’s comments, it’s because I’m posting from home, where the Internet sucks and strange things happen (for instance, I can’t see comments from Fritz I know he made earlier in the day)… so, I’m potentially sorry.

    Leviticus (244ce4)

  57. I don’t know the reason, Leviticus, but I remember I made comments with either Internet Explorer or Firefox (I think IE) and I couldn’t see those comments in the other browser, but could in IE. It was the strangest thing. It’s only happened a couple times and may not be related to your issue with Fritz’s comments.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  58. Phil #55,

    You know what? There’s nothing conservative about this post. Liberals can be patriotic under this analysis exactly the same as conservatives. Unless, of course, you define patriotic as hating America as it is and loving it only if things change to suit your ideology.

    Levi #56,

    I feel the same way about Patterico’s blog that you do. I’m glad you said it and you said it well.

    DRJ (d0ada6)

  59. Christoph,

    That could be it (since the circumstances you mentioned are spot on… except I can’t see the comments I made on Mozilla using IE).

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Microsoft built some devious browser-singularity clause into the IE software.

    Leviticus (244ce4)

  60. “I think his principles rightly understood are even more applicable and important for our understanding today. They allow us to get at and see what is eternal and true about warfare.”

    -Fritz

    The snide response would be “you’ll have to do more than assert that claim”, but since that wouldn’t get us anywhere, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one.

    I see examples (cough) of offense gone awry and conclude that Sun Tzu, though undoubtedly a brilliant general in his own time, is tactically obsolete.

    You see those same examples (cough, cough) and conclude (in light of Sun Tzu’s maxims regarding the advantage of offense) that, far from having gone awry, said examples (cough, cough, cough) are to the advantage of the offender, and that I am looking at them in the wrong light.

    “if you would have actually read The Prince then you would know how one is to go about drawing specific lessons from general (and not so general in the case of Machiavelli) advice”

    -Fritz

    You mean like the dangers of relying on (and ultimately becoming beholden to) “auxiliary troops”? Yeah, I might’ve drawn some specific lesson about that… if I’d read The Prince, that is.

    COUGH

    Leviticus (68eff1)

  61. I see examples (cough) of offense gone awry and conclude that Sun Tzu, though undoubtedly a brilliant general in his own time, is tactically obsolete.

    As if the two points regarding offense by Sun Tzu I quoted are the be all and end all of what he said, advised, or could teach us about warfare.

    (1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.

    You should get something for your cough, it’s affecting your ability to make sense.

    By the way, you missed this bit of what I said:

    Indeed, The Prince, as it is aimed at princes, is probably less applicable to our situation than Discourses on Livy, which is aimed at Republics. Of course, over concentration on one book at the expense of the other, when Machiavelli clearly meant them as a set, is the particular sin of half-read people.

    In addition, in terms of logic, if you make some claim (Sun Tzu isn’t applicable to anything) without proof, it can be dismissed without proof. I merely stated that I honestly believed the opposite and my belief seemed to me to be as rational and self-evident as your belief is to you. Hitchens says something like this all the time. If you want to follow it up, fine, but don’t accuse me of intellectual dishonesty.

    Fritz (d62210)

  62. OK, Fritz. You got me. Sun Tzu can teach us things about warfare, just like Madison can teach us about demagoguery and Machiavelli can teach us about the stupidity of relying on mercenaries.

    It was, of course, silly of me to dismiss The Art of War out of hand just because the bit you quoted has heavy historical counterbalances (indeed, there are plenty of examples of advantageous offensives).

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make with the reference to the Discourses, not when The Prince is considered THE handbook on power politics (just like The Art of War is THE handbook on the philosophy of war). If you can argue that Sun Tzu is relevant (as I’ve admitted, having gotten over my little petty streak), you’ve got to extend the same courtesy to Machiavelli.

    Leviticus (43095b)

  63. Wars of aggression, in theory, are from despotic regimes.

    Bush’ reasoning for “defense” against a threat of WMDs, has brought about DOZENS of credible sources, proving he knew good and well that Iraq was not a threat.

    I dare say that we attacked Iraq, not because Iraq was assumed to have WMDs, but because we KNEW they did not.

    What does that make us?

    Then, it was because “we are going to bring our glorious form of democracy”.

    Then, we put fake news stories in their presses, and used torture, and put women, children, and many other detainees,(unproven to be guilty), and denied them a trial, and any fool knows that habeous corpus is one of the most basic of principles in a real democracy.

    Then, we, in our own country started trashing principles which this country was founded, you know, right to privacy, trial, etc, and who in their right mind believes we are genuine in the line “We are there to bring them democracy?”

    And if you argue that we freed Iraq from a despotic regime, we on the Left will agree that it was a despotic regime, but, the whole middle-east is riddled with despotic regimes. (and we’re starting to look alot like them).

    And the countries who are as hideous in their laws and worse than that of SH’s, WE started using to have them and their long established torture methodology, on the detainees that are unproven to be terrorists (since we denied them a trial).

    How can anyone think this war is anything but a conqest of resources?

    Once again, in everthing, the war profiteering GWB, and Cheney, have done, proves this general was correct: http://www.warisaracket.com

    blubonnet (8d9f79)

  64. Fritz and Leviticus,

    I think the Chinese and the Italians are much better at “The Art of Noodles” than “The Art of War”. Also, I buy Barilla spaghetti but I like the “Prince” brand of shells and bowties. ;)(Ducks.)

    nk (6e4f93)

  65. I like Barilla Farfalle.

    DRJ (74c23b)

  66. I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make with the reference to the Discourses, not when The Prince is considered THE handbook on power politics

    It’s because you’re half-read. I don’t suppose you’ve read the Mandragola either. That’s a shame because there are some powerful arguments to show that the philosophy of Machiavelli isn’t contained in any one of the books.

    In any case, in the most grossly simplistic terms (and I apologize to Mansfield for butchering his thesis), I tend to buy Mansfield’s interpretation that, in many ways, The Prince was written to make princes less despotic, by showing them how they can use their particular talents (i.e., tyranny) to do good, and the Discourses was written to make republics stronger, by showing them how they can become more like princes. Republics were notoriously brittle and liable to descent into tyranny. What’s really fascinating about Machiavelli is how his philosophy leads to Hobbes and Locke and the conception of the low but solid. America is founded on the notion of the low buy solid (If men were angels no government would be necessary). By breaking away from the ancients, we are able to think about founding governments that deal with man as he actually is, and not as he ought to be.

    So, despite what popular culture and the History Channel have told you, there is a lot more to Machiavelli than mere power politics.

    Fritz (d62210)

  67. Hey, here are some Sun Tzu quotes. (I’m on topic, AND IDing myself, Patterico, I hope that’s ok? Thanks. Also, thank you for your web site, and opportunity for stimulating mental exchanges!)

    SUN TZU: “There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

    SUN TZU: “For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the amce of skill. To subduE the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

    SUN TZU: “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

    SUN TZU: “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”

    The last one, we should acknowledge, BECAUSE, fact is, we don’t know, the soldiers don’t even know who is an actual terrorist or pissed of off Iraqi, choosing to be an insurgent to get us the hell out of their country, so every one is a potential enemy to the poor soldier, and everyone a target, which only leads to a bloody catastrophe. How can we win any diplomacy (the most crucial aspect of winning!) like that? Added to the fact that we torture, deny habeous corpus, use fake news, showed the demise of our Democratic principles at home also, lied ourselves into a war of aggression, which is only a despotic philosophy, wars of aggression. SIGH.

    blubonnet (8d9f79)

  68. ” It’s because you’re half-read”

    -Fritz

    “So, despite what popular culture and the History Channel have told you, there is a lot more to Machiavelli than mere power politics.”

    -Fritz

    God, you sound like an asshole. You can’t call someone “half-read” because they’ve read different books than you have (especially when you’ve had twice as many years to read them)… and I have read The Prince, in case you (having read it yourself, of course) didn’t pick up on the reference to auxiliary troops.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  69. For what its worth, I’ll probably read the Discourses on Livy at this point. I just finished reading Locke’s Second Treatise (which functioned largely as a rebuttal of The Leviathan, by the way – Locke’s philosophy and Hobbes’ are two very different creatures), and I want to see if your analogies hold true.

    Leviticus (3c2c59)

  70. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”

    Naah. That only works against the French and Democrats.

    nk (6e4f93)

  71. Blubonnet, it is almost amusing how you assert that things are “proven” that simply are not.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  72. especially when you’ve had twice as many years to read them

    Wow, you 16 year olds are so frickin’ clever these days. Shouldn’t you be at the pep rally or something?

    Fritz (d62210)

  73. “Wow, you 16 year olds are so frickin’ clever these days.”

    -Fritz

    18. And getting cleverer every generation.

    Leviticus (68eff1)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.3602 secs.