July 4, 2006


The Atlantic is widening by the day (Ben Fenton, 7/04/06, Daily Telegraph)

We don't like the Americans, YouGov discovered, finding them vulgar, racist, greedy and yobbish ("Physician, heal thyself" is a phrase that springs to mind).

We don't trust their government to act wisely on the world stage. We think George W. Bush is a fool. And a hypocrite to boot.

What this tells me is that we are not happy with our gang membership. We signed up with this bully after our own lordship of the playground crumbled. The American bully served our interests and the world's, standing up to the only other really big lad around and forcing him into irrelevance. His gang skulks around in the far distance, much diminished.

But the poll shows that either we are tired of our bully because we don't feel threatened any more, or we think he's the wrong sort of mate to have in the current scrap, where you aren't facing up to a rival gang, but taking cheap shots from the other side of the railings from someone you can't see.

Perhaps we are just scared that our bully doesn't seem to understand that the rules of play have changed.

I have already stretched this schoolyard analogy well beyond its tolerance limits, but there is one further point to it: where is the teacher?

Another strain on relations between America and Britain, even more manifest in relations between Washington and the big bucks of the European Union, is that we are increasingly disinclined to believe in the existence of a higher authority.

At the same time, a very significant section of Americans is heading in the opposite direction.

There's nothing more frightening to someone who wishes only peace than a partner who actually believes in ideals.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 4, 2006 12:46 PM

The two quotes that open Tom Holland's Rubicon:

Human nature is universally imbued with a desire for liberty, and a hatred for servitude.
-Julius Caesar, Gallic Wars

Only a few prefer liberty- the majority seek nothing more than fair masters.
-Sallust, Histories

Posted by: Pepys at July 4, 2006 1:25 PM

Don't set the people free (Theodore Dalrymple, 12/14/02, The Spectator)

If freedom entails responsibility, a fair proportion of mankind would prefer
servitude; for it is far, far better to receive three meals a day and be
told what to do than to take the consequences of one's own self-destructive
choices. It is, moreover, a truth universally unacknowledged that freedom
without understanding of what to do with it is a complete nightmare.

Such freedom is a nightmare, of course, not only for those who possess it,
but for everyone around them. A man who does not know what to do with his
freedom is like a box of fireworks into which a lighted match is thrown: he
goes off in all directions at once. And such, multiplied by several
millions, is modern society. The welfare state is - or has become - a giant
organisation to shelter people from the natural consequences of their own
disastrous choices, thus infantilising them and turning them into
semi-dependants, to the great joy of their power-mad rulers.

Posted by: oj at July 4, 2006 1:31 PM

Pepys, I hope you don't believe that the majority of We, the People seek nothing more than fair masters.

Posted by: erp at July 4, 2006 1:31 PM

wishes peace or wishes to appease?

Posted by: ic at July 4, 2006 1:32 PM

Ah, but there is no difference.

Posted by: oj at July 4, 2006 1:46 PM


That is, of course, all that republican liberty seeks.

Posted by: oj at July 4, 2006 1:47 PM

No master, fair or foul, please.

Posted by: erp at July 4, 2006 2:25 PM

Render unto Caesar.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 4, 2006 2:36 PM

I dig the juxtaposition of those quotes. You have Caesar, the destroyer of the Republic, espousing liberty on one hand and Sallust, a follower and historian of Caesar, taking what appears to be the opposite position. All of political history seems to be about those two instincts in man. OJ's quote really connects the dots for me. There is a will to power in everyone (usually described as a desire for freedom or liberty) but without an end to direct it towards, the energy makes us and everyone around us, miserable. Currently, there are two possible resolutions: 1) The Anglosphere and Islam with its different religiosities providing a channel for the will to power and 2) Europe/Japan et al with their trade off of security for denial or abandonment of the will and suicide.

Posted by: Pepys at July 4, 2006 2:37 PM

There will always be masters in some form or other. Therefore, the fairer the better. The best masters serve the Master.

Posted by: Jdkelly at July 4, 2006 2:40 PM

Believe it or not, there are relevant gender differences, too. Tendencies, at least.

Posted by: ghostcat at July 4, 2006 2:46 PM

Of course they believe in a higher authority, it's just their authority is the UN.

Those comments of what they think we are are so provincial.

Posted by: Sandy P at July 4, 2006 6:19 PM