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Civilizational Jenga


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Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Dec 20, 2023

Politics makes me sad sometimes.

Oh, not just because politicians are doing dumb things.  Not even because politicians are corrupt.  Politicians have always been dumb and corrupt, as any study of history will demonstrate. 

And it doesn’t matter if they hold office by election, inheritance, or swords distributed by strange women lying in ponds.  Stupidity and corruption are human characteristics, and politicians are very, very human.  (Though recent history is strange women lying in ponds distributing swords look better as the basis for a system of government . . . .)

Sometimes their stupidity and corruption make me angry, and sometimes they make me laugh.  But, given my low expectations, it takes a special kind of stupidity and corruption to actually make me sad.

(Snip)

Perhaps, as some say, the Never-Trumper crowd is actually gearing up for a second Civil War.  Certainly there seem to be some idiots on X (formerly Twitter – do we still need to say that, and why?) who are all in for it.  Larry Correia has a minor hobby in batting them down.

You’d have to be a moron – or China -- to want an American Civil War.  But then again, the Biden Administration is removing the Reconciliation Monument – a post Civil War memorial marking a return to American unity – as part of the post-George Floyd revisiting of the Civil War.  As David Strom writes: “Speaking practically, history has shown that even though the Southern states rose against the federal government, over the past century, our most patriotic and self-sacrificial defenders of our country have come from citizens of the South. Tearing down the reconciliation monument is spitting in the face of the memory of these citizens’ ancestors and a rejection of recognizing the complications in America’s history. It is, in other words, both offensive and stupid. I say this as an admirer of Lincoln’s cause and a strong opponent of the Southern ideology.”

Not far from my office is a memorial, erected by veterans of the Union and Confederate Armies, dedicated to a similar post-war reconciliation.  Will it go next?

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This picture accompanied a blog post I wrote over 20 years ago.  And while I have been unsympathetic to the rather tiny and pathetic fringe of actual neo-Confederates, I’ve always felt that we need to admire the post-Civil War reconciliation.  As I wrote then:  “The monument shown above illustrates that; it sits about a block from my office. . . .  As late as the Spanish-American War, there was considerable doubt about whether southerners would turn out to fight for the United States. They did. (My great-grandfather was one of them).  There are a lot of reasons for that, but the American experience of reconciliation after one of the world’s bloodier and more divisive conflicts is one that perhaps ought to get more attention.”

Instead, it is being erased.  There’s little enough of reconciliation in today’s politics, and Roger Kimball is not the only one comparing the present to the pre-Civil War period.

The thing about Civil Wars is, they don’t come from the bottom up.  They come from the top.

And looking at who’s on top today, and what they seem to want, makes me sad.

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"only three things can happen when you pass (a completion, an incompletion, and an interception) and two of them are bad."

Woody Hayes

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There are 4 things that happen when you start a (Civil) War.

1. You Win

2. You Lose

3. You neither win or lose, the damn thing  goes on and on until no one remembers what we were fighting about

4.You win, but in winning you destroy what you were fighting for.

3 of them are bad. The Civil War Started “because we failed to do the thing we really have a genius for, which is compromise,” Shelby Foote

Dec. 21 2023 a question for all sides. Can We Compromise? Actually a 2nd question. Are We (all sides) willing to Compromise?

I take no joy in saying the answer is Probably NO. :(

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