"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, March 18, 2014

Tragedy Then, Now Farce

Marx famously said that history happens twice, once as tragedy, once as farce.   He was referring to the French Revolution of 1789 and its feeble echo in 1848.

It seems plain to me that we are in the farce stage of talking about the Crimea, soon to be followed by the Memory Hole phase, when Americans go back to their iPhones and iPads and iPods, and forget they ever heard about a place called Sevastopol on an inland ocean known as the Black Sea.

The tragedy phase was, arguably, captured best by Tennyson, after the 1854 Battle of Balaclava in the Crimean War:

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell.
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.
They don't make poets like that anymore, or men for that matter, and I am 100% confident that President Obama won't be ordering any cavalry to come to the aid of the Ukraine anytime soon.

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