Sunday, February 19, 2023

Blaise Pascal: Again


Blaise Pascal: Again

Peter Schultz




            It seems to me necessary to dwell on Pascal’s take on the political writings of Plato and Aristotle in order to remind ourselves that the political life may be characterized as madness. While reading a book by Douglas Valentine entitled The Phoenix Program, I have been reminded just how insane political life is. But the madness, the insanity is almost invisible insofar as those who were engaged in waging war in Vietnam appear to be thoughtful, rational, and anything but mad. They have plans, apparently well-thought-out plans, like what came to know as the Phoenix Program. And often they are well educated people, graduates of Ivy League universities like Yale University or Harvard University. And these people think of themselves as well-intentioned, not as people who are doing insane things, things that are savage and inhuman. So, just as Plato and Aristotle were “talking [to people] who believed themselves to kings and emperors,” we too should realize that while kings and emperors are no longer the main actors in our political dramas these days, our politicians and bureaucrats do believe themselves to be rational, humane, and sane human beings seeking the good for humanity. And, so, we too should seek “to calm down their madness” so that they produce as little harm as possible. But this is a view of politics that we Americans will find not only naïve but even insane. Think about it though: Wouldn’t we better off trying to reduce the harm caused by our leaders rather than trying to empower and embolden them to, say, “Make America Great Again?” Might be worth a try.

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