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A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds

Left I On The News

Doing their best to demonstrate how "supporting the troops" isn't inconsistent with attacking the mother of a dead soldier who dares to speak out against the war in Iraq, the right, led by Matt Drudge and joined by many others, has been all over Cindy Sheehan for supposedly "changing her story on George Bush." Media Matters sets the matter straight. The truth is that Cindy Sheehan has been a frequent speaker at antiwar events across the country since her son Casey was killed in Iraq.

But so what if she hadn't? Polls show rather clearly that millions of Americans have changed their minds on the wisdom of the invasion of Iraq; surely Cindy Sheehan, or anyone else, has the right to be one of them. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," and the key word in that sentence is "foolish". There's nothing wrong with consistency of course; this blog maintains (I hope!) a consistent anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist position. But where consistency becomes "foolish" is when your previous position is contradicted by new evidence. Clear and convincing evidence that not only weren't there WMD in Iraq, but also that there never was any serious evidence that there were WMD in Iraq (cf the "Downing Street Memos", for example) is now in the hands of all Americans, and more than 2000 Americans and tens of thousands of others are dead, and tens or hundreds of thousands of people are seriously wounded, thanks to the invasion of Iraq. Surely any intelligent person has the right, and in fact the obligation, to weigh that new evidence and reconsider their position, even if they had been a gung-ho supporter of the war. Only in George Bush's America, with an intellectual lightweight (ok, a complete moron) named George Bush in charge, is clinging to a position in the face of contradictory evidence, whether it be the value of remaining in Iraq or the existence of global warming or dozens of other things, considered a virtue, something to be admired.

And that's where the end of Emerson's quote comes in, the part that few people know about: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Well, I'm not sure that "statesmen" really applies to George Bush, but "little" certainly does.


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Really! It reminds me of an article by Michael Shermer in Scientific American (September 2002,I believe) entitled "People Believe Weird Things".

It seems the more time goes by, the greater the vested interest in a given belief ingrains itself in people's minds.

You mentioned being anti-capitalist. As a typical, hard line libertarian, rest assured I'm at least as anti-imperialist as you.

But I don't believe you and I mean the same things when we use the term capitalism.

Of course, the current economic system in the United States requires it's capitalist elements; I'd go so far as to say they are intrinsic to it,however it would be a dishonest obfuscation to treat the current fascist oligarchy as the same system as the free market capitalism we libertarians advocate; In that scenario, calamities such as the Iraq (and impending Iran) wars would not be possible.

Government agencies would lack the authority and power to carry them out.With a military limited in scope and authority to exclusively defend U.S. territory, enterprises venturing into foreign lands would be on their own, subject to laws of the land, and the perils of the situation.No more nonsense about defending American(corporate) interests.

In other words, no military-industrial complex, no corporate welfare. Sounds good,eh? Alas, in the real world, nothing's free.If you want to end all this evil, once and for all, then the concentration of power to do evil must be dissapated back to it's source, the taxpaying citizenry.

And now comes the bitter pill: the foolishness of believeing that concentrations of coercive power on a grand scale can be managed effectively by electing the "right" people(according to whom?????) to exercise authority for the "public good" (a metaphysical impertinence-- good for you may be bad for me)must now be faced.

Human nature must be acknowledged. Humans naturally follow the dictates of their own self interest as they perceive them. Instead of seeing this as evil, allow a level playing field, where by and large, the incentive is to cooperate to mutual benefit.

Limit government to the functions it's fundamental nature dictates, more or less as prescribed by the Founding Fathers.

Recognize that the singular sophistication of the INDIVIDUAL intelliegence REQUIRES a great deal of autonomy in all matters,not government micro-management.

The government is not your mother, this simple fact, however difficult it may be, must be faced if it's current roll of abusive father is to be ended once and for all.

--Thank You,
The Bikemessenger

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