"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Birthdays Today - Hope and Change Version

It's Bob Hope's birthday.   Has there ever been an entertainer who better captured the basic optimism and decency of America?   I doubt it.   For my money, here's the greatest moment in cinematic history:

On the other hand, it's also Oswald Spengler's birthday, author of The Decline of the West.   It's going on a hundred years later (Decline came out just after WWI), but doesn't this ring true?

“For the Age has itself become vulgar, and most people have no idea to what extent they are themselves tainted. The bad manners of all parliaments, the general tendency to connive at a rather shady business transaction if it promises to bring in money without work, jazz and Negro dances as the spiritual outlet in all circles of society, women painted like prostitutes, the efforts of writers to win popularity by ridiculing in their novels and plays the correctness of well-bred people, and the bad taste shown even by the nobility and old princely families in throwing off every kind of social restraint and time-honoured custom: all of these go to prove that it is now the vulgar mob that gives the tone.”

For me, I choose Hope's optimism.   But it's getting harder to do.  

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