Friday, July 21, 2006

Kumbaya, man, kumbaya
People who consider themselves political realists--people like libertarians and neo-cons--like to strike a tough, no nonsense pose that includes macho sayings that demonstrate their seriousness and complete lack of sentimentalism or idealism. One of my least-favorite of these sayings is: "No one ever stopped a war by singing folk songs." I think this shows a dangerous overconfidence in their powers of historical analysis. Does anyone know for sure that singing folk songs never stopped a war? Can we know for sure the complete and total causes of any human even?

Real life is complicated. Really, really complicated. Chaos mathematicians regularly demonstrate how a flatulent butterfly in the Amazon can cause hurricanes and crop failures half-way around the world. When considering the full complexity of the world can anyone guarantee that singing folk songs didn't stop a war, or contribute just a little to stopping a war? I don't think they can. Maybe those realists shouldn't be so smug about their so-called seriousness. Maybe we all owe the folksingers a little more respect.

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