Thursday, March 26, 2009

American Mob Rule

Victor Davis Hanson has a piece today in National Review Online that those interested in René Girard's work should find interesting. Hanson writes:
In the last three months, we’ve been reduced to something like the ancient Athenian mob — with opportunistic politicians sometimes inciting, sometimes catering to an already-angry public.

The Greek comic playwright Aristophanes once described how screaming politicians — posing as men of the people — would sway Athenian citizens by offering them all sort of perks and goodies that the government had no idea of how to pay for.

The historian Thucydides offers even more frightening accounts of bloodthirsty voters after they were aroused by demagogues (“leaders or drivers of the people”). One day, in bloodthirsty rage, voters demanded the death of the rebellious men of the subject island city of Mytilene; yet on the very next, in sudden remorse, they rescinded that blanket death sentence.

Lately we’ve allowed our government to forget its calmer republican roots. We’ve gone Athenian whole hog.
Read it all here.

1 comment:

Athos said...

I have found your tape series on Dante's Inferno most illuminating to the current swirl of financial events, Gil.

Unfortunately, we never found a Virgil to shout down the Plutus in the Oval Office with his "Yes We Can" sloganeering. Talk about a pagan bleat. But talk even more about the majority the sorry masses who fell into the "squanderers" and "hoarders".

It strikes me that those trying to be faithful must somehow avoid either of these pitfalls fraught with overwhelming power of mimesis.