Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Um, That Was The Point

A reader has taken me to task for riffing without attribution on Claire Wolfe's "America is at that awkward stage..." in which she suggests it's too late to vote and too early to "shoot the bastards."

It's famous. It's not some obscure quote from a Christopher Marlowe play. The thing points to itself.

I seem to recall Claire herself expressing misgivings at the way some readers had taken it, behaving as if they were waiting for her to give 'em word to go--

--Which was not, AFAIK, her point. Look, if ever there's a nice time to "shoot the bastards," it'll be obvious; but there is, in fact, a long frog-boiling time between, "things are a bit awry" and "OMG OMG!" And that's where we are, by Claire's quote or my smart-alec rephrasing thereof.

As for me, I strongly suspect that the number of occasions upon which the political situation could be improved by "shooting the bastards" are few and far between, especially compared to ones in which such actions make matters enormously worse -- WW I, anyone?

I don't have much faith in "Great Leaders" of any stripe; I view an FDR or a Churchill with only slightly less suspicion than I do a Hitler or a Stalin -- I do, however, have a bit more faith in the independent-minded yeomanry behind the first two and the orderly transfer of power that replaced those leaders in turn.

On the liberty-minded side of things, if you've got some Leader, Great or small, to revere and follow, perhaps you'd better rethink. If you want revolution, revolt yourself first.


Wayne Conrad said...

Well said.

I don't have a problem with those who want revolution. I don't have a problem with those who want change through politics. What I have a problem with is people who want revolution and yet who will not play politics. To them, I say:

War is hard. Much harder than even the hardest task in politics. War is dead babies in the gutter. War is where you witness and do terrible things. So tell me how it is you think you're up to that awful task when you can't be bothered to write letters, make calls, lobby, fund, and otherwise pull the levers of politics as hard as you can?

Our founding fathers played full frontal politics for many years before they were forced to arms. War (or, indeed, violence in general) is rightfully the last desperate measure, the thing you do only when there is no alternative whatsoever.

Only a keyboard commando, a real Pollyanna, would think otherwise.

BobG said...

I'm not a big believer in "great leaders". If I wanted to play follow-the-leader, I'd join a cult.

RabidAlien said...

The more I study history, the less impressed I am by FDR. I think I stopped being impressed by politicos when Regan stepped out of the office...and that is only vague memories from back in middleschool. To borrow a quote from somewhere, "politics, as described by the founding fathers, is a commitment, not a profession."

Anonymous said...

If they shot Robert Mugabe when he took the third term things would have been better in Zimbabwe.

But nobody would have believed that because nobody would have believed how bad things did get.

(And I really liked your quote, BTW)