The ABCs of Extortion


Thucydides–that Greek

telling his story, human

doings with nary

a nod to the gods–said


the powerful extort

what they can;


the weak pay

what they must.


True enough to

make a bon mot.


The powerful


the weak



Person to person;

city to state; and

the empires

the worse for it.



Nothing golden

in that rule. More

murder and steel,

more grab and run.


More of that little

story, David and his

giant, how the wry

win, by god, by


ignoring rules.



Kant–that German

naming his absolutes

with nary a nod to gods–


said what I do

I must do

as if I give

that freedom to




No treating others

as means

to an end

but the end



And we’re golden.


(Buy that, David?

Buy that, Goliath?)

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About David Breeden

The Rev. Dr. David Breeden is Senior Minister at First Unitarian Society in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He became a minister after a career as a university professor, teaching creative writing and literature. He has written several books on theological topics and translates the writings of philosophers of classical antiquity. More information is available at