Lincolnesque

This bit from The Daily Show got me thinking about the way we measure presidential greatness.

The top tier of great presidents is reserved for those who saved the union: Washington, Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt. Without the leadership each of those men provided in turn, we wouldn't still have a country.

Part of what that means for other presidents, of course, is that if you happen to govern at a time in which the future of the republic is not immediately imperiled, then you're not eligible to join that top tier. Take Teddy Roosevelt for example. He may have done some fine presidenting, but the stakes were never as high for him as they were for Lincoln or for FDR. So regardless of the merits of his claims at presidential greatness, he's just not in the running for that top tier.

From a certain perspective — albeit one that puts a personal, petulant sense of entitlement above the good of the country — this might seem unfair. It means, among other things, that George W. Bush was guaranteed going in that, through no fault of his own, he could never achieve the highest level of presidential greatness. Was it his fault that he had the misfortune of following a leader who left behind a legacy of peace and prosperity? Of course not. So why should his own place in history be diminished just because he wasn't lucky enough to follow somebody like Buchanan?

But if George W. Bush wants to be remembered as a great president, and the only way to achieve that is to save the republic when its very survival is in jeopardy, then there was only one thing he could do: He would have to put the future of the country at risk himself.

I doubt that's what he's thinking. But it would explain a lot.

  • Hopea

    If you are a citizen of Britain during WWII your answer still involves wishing the Germans would act differently. It’s not a plan. Non-violent resistance to a ruthless dictator has zero change of success. Very few of us are heroes and after the dictator has killed them, the rest will submit. Dictatorship involves building a pyramid of fear. You can always find enough psychotic individuals to do the initial killing to start building the pyramid of fear. In fact much of political history for the last 10.000 years has been precisely that.
    This is binary? I don’t think I understand what you mean.
    Have to go now, I will post more later.

  • Hopea

    If the majority were willing to do the right thing – resist evil without violence – then we’d all be better off, right?
    Right.
    Except you would need people who do that even when threatened by death, torture, or doing terrible things to their families.
    I just can’t see how that’s ever going to happen.
    I think the objection to non-violent resistance is at bottom an issue of human nature. For it to work, people would have to be more courageous and altruistic on average than they are. At least that is how I understand your argument. Maybe I’m wrong. Just like communism would be an ideal economic system, if people were angels instead of people.

  • Jesurgislac

    Hopea: This is binary? I don’t think I understand what you mean.
    This is binary, because you’re presuming two choices: go along with the dictator, do what he wants, or take part in armed rebellion against the dictator. The third option, you simply dismiss as unworthy of discussion, even while claiming that you want to discuss the moral issues. You’re also making large presumptions without acknowledging them.
    If you are a citizen of Britain during WWII your answer still involves wishing the Germans would act differently. It’s not a plan.
    Once WWII has started, no, it’s not a plan. You’re presuming that world war is inevitable: that it’s hopeless to resist getting into world war.
    Non-violent resistance to a ruthless dictator has zero chance of success.
    You’re still presuming that not enough people will ever take part in non-violent resistence. By himself, the ruthless dictator can be as ruthless as he likes without affecting anyone: his ability to enforce his will depends utterly on his ability to get other people to enforce his will.
    Except you would need people who do that even when threatened by death, torture, or doing terrible things to their families.
    Just as the dictator needs people who are willing to kill, torture, and massacre. Your presumption that these people will always exist and that they are all “psychotic individuals” is ignoring a large body of knowledge. Ordinary people, instructed to obey, will kill, torture, and massacre – if obedience is taught to be a higher virtue.
    This actually links into something A. Kennedy and I were saying to each other on the teaching thread: that science teachers have a problem teaching science to schoolkids, because first and foremost, schoolkids are taught to obey and respect authority. This is a larger issue than science: people are taught to submit to authority, and they do. To an extent that someone like you cannot imagine anyone but a saint or an angel questioning authority.
    It’s a consistent problem with our culture – it crops up in all sorts of areas, from how child abusers succeed in molesting children for years without children telling on them, no matter how unhappy the child: to why soldiers went along with torture and murder and rape in Abu Ghraib.
    It’s been argued (Octavia E. Butler best, fictionally in her Xenogenesis sequence) that hierarchy and dominance and obedience is innate to humanity, as innate and inarguable as the pecking order of hens in a flock. But if that we so, we would never have any examples of non-violent resistence on rebellion, and dominance would be as natural to everyone as submission. (This is not so: ask any BDSM group and they’ll tell you that the primary problem is that the vast majority of people into BDSM want to submit. Professional dominatrices exist for this reason.)
    People are taught to be submissive and obedient as young children because it is vastly convenient to their teachers that they should be so. It is not inevitable.

  • wintermute

    > Just as the dictator needs people who are willing to kill, torture, and massacre. Your presumption that these people will always exist and that they are all “psychotic individuals” is ignoring a large body of knowledge. Ordinary people, instructed to obey, will kill, torture, and massacre – if obedience is taught to be a higher virtue.
    Is this a good time to reference the Milgram Experiment?

  • ako

    By himself, the ruthless dictator can be as ruthless as he likes without affecting anyone: his ability to enforce his will depends utterly on his ability to get other people to enforce his will.
    Wouldn’t you wind up with something closer to a serial killer in this case?
    If someone wanted to rule, and butcher his enemies, but the people around him neither cooperated nor resisted violently, wouldn’t you wind up with one guy running around butchering people? Because if you don’t use violence or physical force to stop him, it’s quite possible that he won’t stop. Pacifism would severely limit the possible harm, because he wouldn’t have any minions or executioners. It would be closer to dozens of people killed, or in an extreme case, hundreds, instead of millions, which would be a vast improvement, but it wouldn’t stop the problem altogether.
    Just speculating here. Personally, I doubt you’d ever get people, no matter how independent-minded and non-conformist who would all refuse to obey. Even if you remove all the people submitting to authority out of habit, I’d still think there’d be enough people willing to cooperate because they like having a chance to kill more effectively, they agree with the aspiring dictator’s goals, or they think they can profit from it to put together something quite nasty.

  • Haukur

    So Lincolns preferred options were:
    1. Preservation of the Union through compromise and the slow abolition of slavery through limitation and moral exhortation.
    2. Total war and immediate abolition.
    Exactly. He failed to achieve the more preferable option which is why I’m arguing he wasn’t a great leader to be held up as an ideal. Of course it wasn’t his failure alone and, yes, to a large extent the possibility of the best solution crumbled already during the presidential campaign.
    For some interesting thoughts on the efficacy of non-violence I recommend How Nonviolence Protects The State by Peter Gelderloos. I don’t agree with everything he says but it’s a perspective worth reading. It’s a short and easy read.
    Alexela addressed nicely the issue about Bush’s motivation for the Iraq war – specifically whether the war was good politics. The Iraq issue may have given the Republicans some small electoral benefit in 2002, in 2004 it was probably of no advantage to them and in 2006 it was an albatross around their neck. If Bush was acting in his own political best interests and those of his party he would not be escalating the war. He really really wants to win because he honestly, and very misguidedly, wanted to make the world a better place – bring down a dictator, spread democracy etc. etc. It’s by far the simplest and most plausible theory of Bush’s motives. To a large extent he’s no doubt a tool of other people with more complex motives but he himself always appears to me as a foolish, deluded and – to some extent – dishonest person with fundamentally noble motives.

  • the opoponax

    If someone wanted to rule, and butcher his enemies, but the people around him neither cooperated nor resisted violently, wouldn’t you wind up with one guy running around butchering people?
    you’d probably get something more like Timothy McVeigh, but yeah, i guess.
    even so, isolated events of criminality always exist in our society. i’d rather have a hundred McVeighs than one Hitler. mainly because a McVeigh can’t really do that much damage before you find him and isolate him and toss him in prison forever (or execute him). not to downplay the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, but it’s not even nearly comparable to the Holocaust.
    furthermore, very few people felt compelled to obey Timothy McVeigh. I’m sure he approached plenty of people he thought shared his political leanings and they all turned him down, chickened out, etc. because they had no incentive to obey him and did not agree with his tactics.

  • the opoponax

    He failed to achieve the more preferable option
    the southern states seceded before Lincoln’s inauguration. how exactly could he have acheived compromise and gradual abolition of slavery if he wasn’t even in office when the time for that compromise was at hand? furthermore, almost a century of attempts at compromise and gradual abolition failed. why should Lincoln have been able to magically solve a century-old problem in the short period between his inauguration and the outbreak of full scale war?

  • Hopea

    I’m curious; does anybody here think that the police should resist crime by exclusively non-violent means?
    Then where does the efficacy of total non-violence come from when you scale up from a criminal gang to the level where a tightly nit group for entirely selfish reasons decides to try to dominate others through the state? You do in fact get such groups, that’s a historical fact. And I don’t think you will suddenly cure all people of selfishness, cruelty, if we start to raise them in a less authoritarian way, thou it would be good thing, it’s not that good. The dig about people like me, was unnecessary.
    History is full of examples of what happens to societies that adopt a totally non-violent strategy. The unfortunate inhabitants of Chatham Islands had no history of coercive power when the Maori of New Zealand learned of their existence from the Europeans. They tried to resist peacefully. Needless to say, they were enslaved. I could go on.
    Sure if you presume worldwide (non-criminal) non-violence and assume there is a clear difference between gang violence and violence aimed at political power (there isn’t really any, it’s a continuum, Saddam started out as gangster) sure. But we can’t get from here to there.
    In fact when an individual starts to use violence, there is rarely any alternative to restraining him/her by force, same thing applies to small groups, large groups and finally states.

  • Hopea

    Correction:History is full of examples of what happens to societies that adopt a totally non-violent strategy.
    That was a brain fart, such societies are in fact very rare. Their track record, however is not good.

  • hf

    Ah yes, if everybody would be nice, nobody would be wicked. True, but it does not help us when faced with a dictator like Hitler.
    I tend to agree, but you brought in the categorical imperative yourself. If we go by consequences, then as you said before the issue seems less clear for the individual soldier.

  • hf

    In other words, and I mean no offense by this, your argument technically assumed that enemy soldiers are not human and the word ‘everyone’ does not include them.

  • Haukur

    the southern states seceded before Lincoln’s inauguration. how exactly could he have acheived compromise and gradual abolition of slavery if he wasn’t even in office when the time for that compromise was at hand?
    Now, clearly, they seceded because he was elected. During his presidential campaign he failed to convince southerners that his rule would be in their interest. I don’t have any magical pony plan for how Lincoln could have peacefully ended slavery – my point all along was that if he had been able to do that then he would have been a great leader. He was considered a great leader by posterity precisely because he fought and won a war because leaders who win wars are those glorified by our society.

  • Hopea

    I think his perceived greatness has more to with the quality of his speeches and the fact that he did free the slaves.

  • hf

    Again, Lincoln’s rule by itself would have done jack squat. At most you could argue that his election revealed long-term trends that would have ended slavery.

  • Hopea

    Also, I find it hard to imagine how the north could have won if it had been lead by a lesser man. As Haukur has pointed out, the thing was far from the inevitability it is sometimes presented as (economic statistics don’t by themselves decide wars).

  • Hopea

    In other words, and I mean no offense by this, your argument technically assumed that enemy soldiers are not human and the word ‘everyone’ does not include them.
    True, I left them out of it. Not because I doubted their humanity, but because we do make decisions as members of our own society. Technically you are correct.

  • the opoponax

    Haukur, are you seriously saying that Lincoln was not a great leader because his campaign failed to assuage the fears of a demographic who didn’t even put him on the ballot of 9 of the 13 eventual confederate states? that he wasn’t a great president because during his campaign, he failed to solve the one problem so big that NOBODY between the ratification of the constitution and that moment had been even close to being able to solve?
    now that’s just ridiculous. what president has ever been able to accomplish something like that? hell, JESUS didn’t accomplish things like that, and he could (apparently) work miracles. i’ll agree with you that wartime presidents often get a lucky break, but the one president who i think transcends that lucky break is Lincoln, who, i’m sorry, was about as great a leader as you can really ask for in that situation (or any situation, really).

  • Hopea

    By the way, when spoke of psychotic individuals I did not say or mean that all or even most who participate in the organized violence of a totalitarian state fit the description.
    About dictators, this is how Stalin maintained total personal power: Stalin’s personality cult has often been seen as merely an expression of his megalomania. It did however have a practical dimension as well. Stalin was hailed all over the Soviet Union as the great and indispensable leader, other leaders had far lower visibly. The Kremlin guard detail directly responsible for Stalin’s personal security was typically a randomly picked NKVD unit, composed of peasants’ sons with little education who knew nothing of the power structures of the Kremlin. All they knew was that comrade Stalin was infallible. If Stalin ordered them to kill somebody, they did so without question. This provided the summit of the pyramid of violence and fear that held all of the Soviet Union in its grip. At each level, resistance meant arrest, torture and death. How do you resist non-violently?
    Pacifist arguments typically stated with an idealized situation where, world wide people have forsworn violence. To me that is just utopian. Start with things as they are and explain how pacifism is tenable, here and now. Because I really don’t get it.

  • hf

    It seems to me that small communities already practice pacifism. Again (to play Christian’s Advocate), your argument about society has little to do with real world consequences. It depends on applying the categorical imperative to a limited group of people instead of straightforwardly applying it to all humanity.

  • Hopea

    Small societies protected by others, yes.
    Okay, I formally withdraw the categorical imperative and restate the same thing without it: If you as an (for example) British soldier in, say 1941, refuse to fight the Germans do you a) wish that others do it for you b) don’t mind if the Nazis win c) hope the Germans have a magical change of heart.

  • Beth

    Jesu,
    The present Pope, unforgiveably, actually said that anything else but compliance with the Nazis was “impossible”.
    Just a quibble, but I believe it was actually his brother who said that. Benedict’s own attitudes don’t seem far removed from that — which is a real shame considering the moral authority and bully pulpit his position has given him — but I don’t think he ever actually used the word “impossible”.
    Hopea,
    (Mostly) Non-violent resistance did work against the Nazis, in one instance at least. The Danes didn’t oppose Hitler with force of arms, but they did, non-violently, prevent the Holocaust within their borders by whisking their Jewish compatriots to safety. They also engaged in strikes and acts of sabotage, which aided the Allied cause by disrupting Nazi supply lines.
    Could the Poles have adopted the same measures? Of course not. To the Nazis, the Danes were high on the scale of humanity, practically on a level with the Germans themselves, while the Poles were very low, hardly much better than the Jews. If the Poles had attempted the sort of organizing and protesting the Danes did, they would have been slaughtered. (Not that the Poles didn’t also engage in sabotage, but their organizations were necessarily much smaller and more secretive.)
    To say that the applicability of non-violent resistance depends on the moral nature of the opposing force is simplistic and ultimately wrong. Non-violence probably would have worked for the South. How long could Union soldiers have been asked to fire on unarmed Southerners before they threw down their arms in disgust? This same tactic proved useless for Native Americans. They were facing the same people, the same government. The difference is that this government and people saw Southerners as human and Indians as savages.
    Haukur,
    Alexela addressed nicely the issue about Bush’s motivation for the Iraq war – specifically whether the war was good politics. The Iraq issue may have given the Republicans some small electoral benefit in 2002, in 2004 it was probably of no advantage to them and in 2006 it was an albatross around their neck.
    Then how do you and Alexela explain Duke Cunningham’s corruption? Not only were the goods and money he received seized by the government, the scandal lost him his job as well, resulting in a net financial loss. Therefore, by your logic, his motivation for accepting bribes couldn’t have been greed. So what was it?
    If Bush was acting in his own political best interests and those of his party he would not be escalating the war.
    I agree that escalation doesn’t serve the best interests of his party, but his own best interests? Think about it. Would you rather be remembered as someone who withdrew ignobly, leaving chaos in his wake, or as a never-say-die leader who fought bravely until the bitter end? Would you rather give up and be forced to admit that your military adventurism had been a horrible tragic disaster from beginning to end, or would you prefer to be able to claim to your dying day that you would have won if not for a defeatist Congress and a cut-and-run successor? Hopefully, you’d be great-hearted enough to choose the former, but I don’t think we can realistically expect that of most people and we certainly shouldn’t expect it of Bush.

  • ako

    i’d rather have a hundred McVeighs than one Hitler. mainly because a McVeigh can’t really do that much damage before you find him and isolate him and toss him in prison forever (or execute him).
    Would Pacifists execute someone? I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t. I’m not sure of the Pacifist view on imprisoning people, but I doubt that you could arrest or isolate everyone non-violently.
    So while it probably wouldn’t be possible to reach the scale of Hitler or Stalin, he could commit an Oklahoma City scale bombing every year, or every month if he felt like it. And if you preclude violence as a possibility, I don’t see any definitive way to stop him. Things like social sanctions, unwillingness to cooperate, and leaving the situation are of ultimately limited utility. They work for some cases, but if there’s no threat of force, and the person who’s willing to get violent is sufficiently determined, they can just ignore all the non-violent resistance you can throw at them.
    I’m sure he approached plenty of people he thought shared his political leanings and they all turned him down, chickened out, etc. because they had no incentive to obey him and did not agree with his tactics.
    Well, he did find Terry Nichols (his accomplice). Given that McVeigh was obligated to keep his plans somewhat concealed to avoid the attention of what Scott would doubtlessly call “the threat of armed cops,” and that nothing I’ve heard indicates he was every particularly charismatic or social, then it makes sense for him not to amass a following.
    I do think that if as a society we all had it drilled into us, “Everyone should just be pacifist” with as much indoctrination as children as we get in other directions, we’d probably see a substantial drop in people getting killed. How long that would last, with the varying flaws in human nature, such as some people having a strong inherent desire to hurt others and some people willing to let others suffer as long as they could gain, is a differnt question. I don’t know the answer to that.
    I don’t think that taking away cultural indoctrination to obedience would lead to large portions of the population deciding that pacifism is the best alternative, although I think there’s a lot of other benifits to cultivating independent thinking. For too many people the sticking point is not simple dismissal; it’s that if someone you love is being attacked by a killer, there doesn’t seem to be any practical pacifist steps to save them. There’s a number of killers that need active cooperation, however there’s a number that don’t, and ones where it’s not practical to expect people to know they should refuse. Going back to McVeigh, how much moral obligation can you put on a fertilizer salesman to anticipate the intended use of his product and ensure it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands?

  • Hopea

    To say that the applicability of non-violent resistance depends on the moral nature of the opposing force is simplistic and ultimately wrong.
    Beth, I think I actually said it depends on the other side having inhibitions. But you explained what forms these inhibitions can take more accurately, I don’t disagree.

  • the opoponax

    Would Pacifists execute someone? I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t. I’m not sure of the Pacifist view on imprisoning people, but I doubt that you could arrest or isolate everyone non-violently.
    just to clarify, i didn’t post my comment from the perspective of a pacifist, or with the assumption that pacifism would cure the world of all its ills.
    i also see no reason why anyone but the absolute most extreme and unrealistic pacifist would be against policework, the criminal justice system, and the occasional use of violence within reason to arrest and detain criminals. i also think you could neutralize people like McVeigh without the death penalty.

  • hf

    There’s a number of killers that need active cooperation, however there’s a number that don’t, and ones where it’s not practical to expect people to know they should refuse.
    For the first murder, sure. But McVeigh couldn’t “commit an Oklahoma City scale bombing every year, or every month if he felt like it.” People would find out and stop feeding him, never mind selling him bomb components. Eventually he’d likely commit suicide. Mind you, I don’t know if I’d consider this morally superior to killing him directly.

  • Alexela

    Beth: Then how do you and Alexela explain Duke Cunningham’s corruption?
    I’m sure Bush DID think that Iraq would work well in terms of electoral fortunes, but even if that was his sole motivation that still doesn’t make him a brilliant political operative, as Duane was painting him to be. It’s actually turned into a huge political liabliity for his legacy, adn the republicans in general. Whether they’ll still find a way to pin it on the dems in the future, but if they do it’ll be a brilliant save on their part, not a brilliant planned set up.
    But if you want further evidence that he thinks about things in terms of black and white movie logic, just listen to his speeches… Witness his total dissinterest in being polite (or offereing sideline deals) to build alliances – he KNOWS that he’s the guy in the White hat, and he KNOWS that all the good guys will rally to his cause ultimately, because in his heart of hearts, he KNOWS that everyone in teh world secretly sees America as the good guy, and will see that America is fighting the good fight. Witness poppy Bush, who WAS an international relations pragmatist who is currently disgusted with junior’s performance and his issolation of the US internationally.

  • wintermute

    > McVeigh couldn’t “commit an Oklahoma City scale bombing every year, or every month if he felt like it.” People would find out and stop feeding him, never mind selling him bomb components. Eventually he’d likely commit suicide. Mind you, I don’t know if I’d consider this morally superior to killing him directly.
    If it works in Libertopia, it’s good enough for me.
    Oh, I had a look to see if there was anything new up for The Probability Broach , and apparently, in Libertopia burglars can avoid being arrested by the cunning plan of telling the police they’re not burglars, and then you just need to get out of line of sight to be home free…
    Nice to know real criminals aren’t smart enough to think of that, or their whole system of justice would collapse (again).

  • Alexela

    HF cVeigh couldn’t “commit an Oklahoma City scale bombing every year, or every month if he felt like it.” People would find out and stop feeding him, never mind selling him bomb components.
    LOL, you’ve been reading the Probability Broach too much. If someone does something bad, everyone in teh world will NOT suddenly know about it, and unilaterally refuse to sell them food ever again. Libertopia is a fantasy, remember.
    Re: the Nazi’s, the conventional understanding of competitiveness vs. cooperation in psychology is that you are often best offering cooperation to other people, and also giving them second chances to cooperate with you if they have competed against you sometimes, but if you aren’t willing to enforce rules at some point, and to take necessary measures to stop a person who flouts them, then the whole system will stop being viable.
    Can such resistence be non-violent? Sometimes. Perhaps often even. It depends on the resources and motivation of the person(s) you are dealig with. The Nazi attempts to exterminate jews collapsed in some countries like Latvia when the governments changed their minds and stopped cooperating with the nazi’s on it. This was a huge frustration for people like Eichman. Were the Nazi army not busy fighting two fronts at that point, they may have been able to marshal the resources to force Latvia to surrender its Jews anyway, but as resources were tight for them, they relied on local cooperation (or at least being able to find a local proxy government that would do their bidding).
    So would Ghandi have been effective in fighting the Germans? He might have been if he could drum up sympathy among enough ordinary Germans to inspire cooperation, but he would probably never have got the chance, as the nazi’s would not have allowed him to receive enough publicity for ordinary Germans to hear about him, and they would have been happy to fill the German newspapers with lies and photos of staged riots in which Ghandi was painted as a violent anti-government protester. And then they would have killed him, and his family, and his friends.
    Still, I think that jesu is in many ORDINARY respects right. The mark of civil society is one where we have mechaisms in place to resolve disputes without the escalation to violence, and people voluntarily adhere to them. Pacifism is thus, in some sense, the rule in most of the world, and works pretty well. But there are enough people willing to cheat that at some point you have to be able to enforce the system with more extreme measures.

  • Duane

    but even if that was his sole motivation that still doesn’t make him a brilliant political operative, as Duane was painting him to be
    FYI, I didn’t paint him as a brilliant political operative and he doesn’t need to be in order to only be concerned with the politics of a matter.
    The 4, 6 and 8 year outcomes of one’s political decisions don’t change the fact that those decisions served in the short-term. Additionally, with the fact that no serving war-time president has ever been defeated for re-election, the purely political calculation of going to be war – and staying at war – gave him a high probability of success for re-election.
    And, no offense, Alexela but I’d just prefer if you left me out of your “arguing for the sake of arguing” behavorial experiment.

  • Alexela

    Duane.
    My appologies if I missrepresented. This is what you originally said that I was reacting to:
    Bush went to war with Iraq because it was a good 2002 election issue for Republicans. This is documented. Viewed through this filter, all of the pre-war and post-Baghdad occupation decisions make perfect sense. This is also why he is leaving the mess in Iraq for his successor. Bad policy – good politics.
    I brook no argument with your first sentence. I’m not convinced it was the ONLY reason, but it was undoubtedly a big one. But after that, I start diverging. I don’t see how the post-Baghdad occupation has been good politics at all. To my eyes it looks like their bungling post-occupation has cost them enormously on the political front.
    And no offense either Duane, but I am not here engaging in theoretical arguing experiments, and I haven’t done those in quite some while. I realize we got off on the wrong foot on the election thread. I’d be sad if you never get past that but I guess I’d understand.

  • the opoponax

    but what about the fact that we actually went to war in 2003? i mean, if it was merely an election issue, couldn’t we have just not done it, after all? like, “hey, guys, the UN inspector seems to have a lid on it, so we’re gonna buy some time and hire some real experts and do our research, and THEN if they really do turn out to have WMD’s, we’ll go to war.”
    i mean, gay marriage, abortion, and stem cell research are all perennial election issues, but once the numbers are in, any chance of that stuff actually happening goes down the drain.

  • Angelika

    So would Ghandi have been effective in fighting the Germans?
    It seems to me, that non-violent strategies are effective, as long the opponent considers the protestors human and to some degree still endowed with a certain dignity and rights. Otherwise, non-violence makes the extermination of the non-violent protesters just much less resource consuming and more convenient. If Ghandi had been a Jew, the Nazis would have simply killed him without a second thought, why the heck he didn’t resist.

  • Jesurgislac

    Non-violent resistance was how Jews living as a persecuted minority had survived for centuries. No, it didn’t work when the Nazis had determined, for no very sane reason, to kill all Jews: but neither would violent resistance have worked.
    If Ghandi had been a Jew, the Nazis would have simply killed him without a second thought, why the heck he didn’t resist.
    Gandhi was a Hindu. I don’t know what religion “Ghandi” was.

  • Jeff

    Oh, I had a look to see if there was anything new up for The Probability Broach , and apparently, in Libertopia burglars can avoid being arrested by the cunning plan of telling the police they’re not burglars, and then you just need to get out of line of sight to be home free…
    The novel this silliness is based on was written in 1991 (by L. Neil Stine, IIRC). The current creator hasn’t changed any of the lunacy.
    The whole “burglary” is quite silly fun. One apparently easily-obtained device turns off all alarms, alerts you 10 minutes before they go back on, and removes all guards from the building, especially the one that the Enemy doesn’t want you in. Pretty cool device!
    Of course, when the Enemy tries to break into a place, they announce their presence before breaking down the door, so the Woman of the House (who is, like all the Heroes and none of the Enemy, a crack shot) can fill them full of Leadinoid!

  • the opoponax

    not to mention, why do the non-human primate characters dress like those racist lawn jockey figurines?


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