Friday, December 31, 2004

The path of human destiny cannot but appall him who surveys a section of it. But he will do well to keep his small commentaries to himself, as one does at the sight of the sea or of majestic mountains.

Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

Friday, December 24, 2004

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, in his The Life of Samuel Johnson

Friday, December 17, 2004

It is wonderful when a calculation is made, how little the mind is actually employed in the discharge of any profession.

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, in his The Life of Samuel Johnson

Sunday, December 05, 2004

A man must live, and if he precludes himself from the support furnished by the establishment, will probably be reduced to very wicked shifts to maintain himself.

Samuel Johnson to James Boswell, in his The Life of Samuel Johnson

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The vanquished know war. They see through the empty jingoism of those who use the abstract words of glory, honor, and patriotism to mask the cries of the wounded, the senseless killing, war profiteering, and chest-pounding grief. They know the lies the victors often do not acknowledge, the lies covered up in stately war memorials and mythic war narratives, filled with stories of courage and comradeship. They know the lies that permeate the thick, self-important memoirs by amoral statesmen who make wars but do not know war. The vanquished know the essence of war — death. They grasp that war is necrophilia. They see that war is a state of almost pure sin with its goals of hatred and destruction. They know how war fosters alienation, leads inevitably to nihilism, and is a turning away from the sanctity and preservation of life. All other narratives about war too easily fall prey to the allure and seductiveness of violence, as well as the attraction of the godlike power that comes with the license to kill with impunity.

Chris Hedges, "On War" The New York Review (December 16, 2004).