Fellowship of Punditry

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  • George Orwell

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    Political language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

    In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

    If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

    But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.

    Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious.

    Whatever is funny is subversive, every joke is ultimately a custard pie... a dirty joke is a sort of mental rebellion.

    In our age there is no such thing as 'keeping out of politics.' All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.

    All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.

    At fifty everyone has the face he deserves.

    Most people get a fair amount of fun out of their lives, but on balance life is suffering, and only the very young or the very foolish imagine otherwise.

    John Stuart Mill

    Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.

    The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time.

    The general tendency of things throughout the world is to render mediocrity the ascendant power among mankind.

    Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called and whether it professes to be enforcing the will of God or the injunctions of men.

    A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

    Mark Twain

    Don't let schooling interfere with your education.

    All generalizations are false, including this one.

    A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

    Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

    Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.

    The Public is merely a multiplied "me."

    Only kings, presidents, editors, and people with tapeworms have the right to use the editorial "we."

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

    Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.

    Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.

    Winston Churchill

    The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

    Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.

    Never hold discussions with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room.

    Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.

    However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

    In war as in life, it is often necessary when some cherished scheme has failed, to take up the best alternative open, and if so, it is folly not to work for it with all your might.

    Otto Von Bismarck

    When you want to fool the world, tell the truth.

    I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.

    Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.

    Be polite; write diplomatically ;even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness.


    A witty saying proves nothing.

    If God created us in his own image, we have more than reciprocated.

    When he to whom one speaks does not understand, and he who speaks himself does not understand, that is metaphysics.

    I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: "O Lord make my enemies ridiculous." And God granted it.

    To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.

    Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

    It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

    The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out.

    Karl Marx

    Philosophy stands in the same relation to the study of the actual world as masturbation to sexual love.

    All I know is I'm not a Marxist.

    The writer may very well serve a movement of history as its mouthpiece, but he cannot of course create it.

    Monday, May 31, 2004

    American Power and the Crisis of Legitimacy

    By Nick

    Link to Full Essay:

    (Above:Vassily Kandisnsky, "Around the Circle")

    Below are portions of the above essay, I suggest everyone read them carefully.

    “What kind of world order do we want?” That
    question, posed by Germany’s foreign minister, Joschka
    Fischer, on the eve of the American invasion of Iraq in
    March, has been on the minds of many Europeans
    these days. That by itself shows the differences that separate
    Europeans and Americans today, for it is safe to say
    the great majority of Americans have not pondered the
    question of “world order” since the war.
    They will have to. The great transatlantic debate over
    the Iraq war was rooted in profound disagreement over
    “world order.” Yes, Americans and Europeans differed on
    the specific question of what to do about Iraq. They
    debated whether Saddam Hussein posed a serious threat
    and whether war was the right answer. A solid majority of
    Americans answered yes to both questions; even larger
    majorities of Europeans answered no. But these disagreements
    reflected more than simple tactical and analytical
    assessments of the situation in Iraq. As France’s foreign
    minister, Dominique de Villepin, put it, the struggle was

    not so much about Iraq as it was a conflict between “two
    visions of the world.”The differences in Iraq were not
    only about policy. They were also about first principles.
    Opinion polls taken before, during, and after the war have
    shown two peoples living on separate strategic and ideological
    planets.More than 80% percent of Americans believe
    war may achieve justice; less than half of Europeans
    believe that a war—any war—can ever be just.Americans
    and Europeans disagree about the role of international
    law and international institutions, and about the nebulous
    and abstract yet powerful question of international
    legitimacy. These different worldviews predate the Iraq
    war and the presidency of George W. Bush, although both
    the war and the Bush administration’s conduct of international
    affairs have deepened and perhaps hardened this
    transatlantic rift into an enduring feature of the international

    "Today a darker possibility looms. A great philosophical
    schism has opened within the West, and instead of mutual
    indifference, mutual antagonism threatens to debilitate
    both sides of the transatlantic community. Coming at a
    time in history when new dangers and crises are proliferating
    rapidly, this schism could have serious consequences.
    For Europe and the United States to decouple
    strategically has been bad enough. But what if the schism
    over “world order” infects the rest of what we have known
    as the liberal West? Will the West still be the West?"

    "Americans will find that they cannot ignore this problem.
    The struggle to define and obtain international legitimacy
    in this new era may prove to be among the critical
    contests of our time, in some ways as significant in
    determining the future of the international system and
    America’s place in it as any purely material measure of
    power and influence."

    "It would be tempting for Americans, therefore, to dismiss
    the whole issue of legitimacy as a ruse and a fraud. During
    the  presidential campaign, George W. Bush’s top foreign
    policy adviser, Condoleezza Rice, derided the belief,
    which she attributed to the Clinton administration, “that
    the support of many states—or even better, of institutions
    like the United Nations—is essential to the legitimate
    exercise of power.”
    Americans have always cared what the rest of the
    world thinks of them, or at least what the liberal world
    thinks. Their reputation for insularity and indifference is
    undeserved. Americans were told to care by the founding
    generation—in their Declaration of Independence,Americans
    declared the importance of having a “decent respect
    for the opinion of mankind,” by which they meant Europe.
    Ever since, Americans have been forced to care what
    the liberal world thinks by their unique national ideology.
    For unlike the nationalisms of Europe, American nationalism
    is not rooted in blood and soil; it is a universalist
    ideology that binds Americans together. Americans for
    much of the past three centuries have considered themselves
    the vanguard of a worldwide liberal revolution.
    Their foreign policy from the beginning has not been only
    about defending and promoting their material national
    interests. “We fight not just for ourselves but for all
    mankind,” Benjamin Franklin declared at America’s War
    of Independence, and whether or not that has always been
    true, most Americans have always wanted to believe it
    was true. There can be no clear dividing line between the
    domestic and the foreign, therefore, and no clear distinction
    between what the democratic world thinks about
    America and what Americans think about themselves.
    Every profound foreign policy debate in America’s history,
    from the time when Jefferson squared off against Hamilton,
    has ultimately been a debate about the nation’s
    identity and has posed for Americans the primal question:
    “Who are we?” Because Americans do care, the steady
    denial of international legitimacy by fellow democracies
    will over time become debilitating and perhaps even

    And what, then, is the United States to do? Should
    Americans, in the interest of transatlantic harmony, try to
    alter their perceptions of global threats to match that of
    their European friends? To do so would be irresponsible.
    Not only American security but the security of the liberal
    democratic world depends today, as it has depended for
    the past half century, on American power. Kofi Annan
    may convince himself that the relative peace and stability
    the world has known since World War II was the product
    of the UN Security Council and the UN Charter. But even
    Europeans, in moments of clarity, know that is not true.
    “The U.S. is the only truly global player,” Joschka Fischer
    has declared, “and I must warn against underestimating
    its importance for peace and stability in the world. And
    beware, too, of underestimating what the U.S. means for
    our own security.”

    Herein lies the tragedy. To address today’s global
    threats Americans will need the legitimacy that Europe
    can provide. But Europeans may well fail to provide it. In
    their effort to constrain the superpower, they will lose
    sight of the mounting dangers in the world, dangers far
    greater than those posed by the United States. In their
    nervousness about unipolarity, they may forget the dangers
    of a multipolarity in which nonliberal and nondemocratic
    powers come to outweigh Europe in the global
    competition. In their passion for international legal order,
    they may lose sight of the other liberal principles that have
    made postmodern Europe what it is today. Europeans
    thus may succeed in debilitating the United States, but
    since they have no intention of supplementing American
    power with their own, the net result will be a diminution
    of the total amount of power that the liberal democratic
    world can bring to bear in its defense—and in defense of
    liberalism itself.
    Right now many Europeans are betting that the risks
    from the “axis of evil,” from terrorism and tyrants, will
    never be as great as the risk of an American Leviathan
    unbound. Perhaps it is in the nature of a postmodern
    Europe to make such a judgment. But now may be the
    time for the wisest heads in Europe, including those living
    in the birthplace of Pascal, to begin asking what will result
    if that wager proves wrong.

    posted by Nick at 5/31/2004 02:54:00 PM |

    Comments: Post a Comment

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