Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Course Of Human Events

History, in the creation, does not go according to some master plan. This is true in general and in particular, because it is also true that the master plans proposed from time to time by individuals or governments never proceed as intended. History is better seen as countless precipitating events that send everything crashing into each other, which in turn set off countless unpredictable chain reactions.

In other words, human history is chaotic. Evidently there's a Yiddish proverb that goes: we plan; God laughs. (Paraphrased by Woody Allen: if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.) You don't have to be a Rebbe to know that that's true. 

This is never truer than in the case of war. The Iraq War in 2003 was a minor example. The original plan seemed simple to its designers, but it all went terribly wrong very quickly. The resulting chaos is still spinning through Iraq and several other countries in the area, and American military personnel are still being killed.

Many times the resulting chaos utterly destroys the initiating countries. In the matter of Germany and Japan in World War II, the master plan was to seize vast swathes of land from numerous countries by military force, achieving huge empires and world hegemony. The chaos left both countries kneeling in the rubble and choking on their own blood and the dust that had recently been their infrastructures. That was chaos at its finest.

Governing human events, the business of politics and statecraft, is an overwhelming challenge. Everything is usually out of control. Governments ride the wave while times are good. When times are bad they try different strategies to fix things, and then when events move into the good part of the cycle, usually on their own, the governments take the credit.

The men, almost always men, who are in positions where they can initiate great events are a mixed group. The list includes many men of measured temperament and great ability, from Emperor Augustus of Rome to President Obama in the United States, and many men wild or reckless in nature like the Emperors Caligula and Nero to President George W. Bush. The former can create progress and order while holding together disparate elements and without setting off on the path to chaos. The latter blindly sow the wind of inadequately considered plans and personal fantasies, later reaping the whirlwind of insecurity and economic ruin.

Aside from the individuals who display true mental aberrations, one major problem is that most of the politicians, in any era, are not students of history. Frequently, many of them are also intemperate men who lack the gene for caution. From time to time truly maniacal narcissists become the rulers of major countries. These men may lack not only the basic knowledge required to make plans that will affect the future of their countries, but also lack the ability to evaluate plans presented to them by others. They are like an inexperienced doctor who has little idea what his patient is suffering from or what the patient needs. Let’s try this! Didn’t work? Okay, let’s try this! And so on. In extreme cases these men may even have their own agendas and set in motion wild schemes to achieve personal goals, wealth or historical celebrity. Things can get ugly very quickly. I might be thinking of someone in particular. 

Perhaps the greatest generator of chaos, along with war, has always been revolution. No nation or culture on earth is safe when its very structure is seized, from without or within, by a group whose only wish is to destroy the existing structure and replace it with . . . something else. Here the nature of unintended results leading to chaos is the most stark. Well intended revolutions have taken entire continents into misery and destruction. I’m thinking of the French Revolution. God knows they had a good reason to wish to restructure their governing situation. The most immediate results, though, were terror and the Napoleonic Wars.

So, Fred, is there a conclusion here? Why yes, dear reader, there is. The current ruling clique in Washington, and in about thirty-seven state capitols, is a revolutionary mob that has taken control of all of our democratic institutions with the stated goal of tearing them down. Most of the good things that our politics have created over the last century are under immediate threat of destruction. I shouldn’t have to tell you what they are, and honestly, if there are any Americans that haven’t seen it yet, they have their heads thrust so far into the sand that no kind of common sense appeal could reach them. For those of you who know of which I speak, there is nothing to do but resist by whatever peaceful means are available. What can we do? Talk to people? Let our friends and family know how we feel about all of this? Get involved in planning for the mid-term elections? At the very least, don’t let weird anti-American comments go unchallenged, not at work, not in your neighborhood, not on Facebook. This whole thing is about to get out of hand. It’s close to spiraling down the drain out of control already. It’s past time to start trying to do something.  

Note to the Surveillance State: I’m sorry that most of my e-mails, Android chats and blog-posts are so dull. My browser history has not been scrubbed. It actually is that uninteresting. I do get carried away sometimes, but please believe me when I say that I have never counseled any actions that are violent or illegal. I am not a danger to myself or others, and I remain a loyal American citizen. I have never, to my knowledge, known or even spoken to anyone who wished to harm the interests of the United States or individual Americans.  In fact, the mere possibility of unintentional contact is remote in the extreme. So please don’t charge me under some new anti-dissent statute. If you want to stifle me, just let me know! I’ll stifle! 

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