tower-of-babelIn a recent post, Adam Garfinkle talks about why our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan will necessarily fail.

Well, strictly speaking, he is talking about statism and anarchism, and advertising campaigns, and the Tower of Babel.  But he still gives a pretty good explanation of why we are tilting at windmills in the Middle East.

What also follows from this is a second verity of political life, namely that the political institutions of any society emerge from that society far more than the other way around. The United States is a democracy because its founding society was egalitarian-minded, not the other way around. All of the American Founders and all of their tutors, from Locke to Montesquieu to even the great bad-boy of the time, Rousseau, understood this. The idea that a governmental form could remold or create a society after its desired image earned the derisive label “talismanic” at the hands of William Taylor Coleridge.

I have noted this concern before, in my much less erudite way.


People increasingly need to prove themselves victims in order to achieve any kind of equity.  This demeaning demonstration creates nothing less than a nation of powerless petitioners and petty litigants appealing to an unresponsive paternalism.  It creates the very class which voted for brute fascism, permitted the Holocaust and a World War, because it believed that social stability was something easily achieved by a few simple, mindless actions, by violence, by “strong leaders”, by “discipline”.

— Michael Moorcock, Introduction to Von Bek

Again, Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false.  . . .  And immortality makes this other difference, which, by the by, has a connection with the difference between totalitarianism and democracy.  If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilisation, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual.  But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of the state or civilisation, compared with his, is only a moment.

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 74-75