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Title: Weakness and power
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alaskaone
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(Date Posted:07/16/2018 10:21 AM)
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Some interesting thoughts on the nature of power and weakness... found in a review of a movie.

"If you believe that H. sap. is only time’s favorite monkey — that man is meat — then there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for the kind of behavior we’re talking about, and no need to justify it, since there is nobody to justify it to. If you believe that man ought to be better, it implies that he can be better, and that “better” means something. And here materialism fails us, which is why Marxism became an ersatz religion. Christianity is a fortunate religion in the sense that the endless moral failings of its leaders (and followers) keeps illustrating, generation after generation, the fundamental facts of the creed. The creeds based on human perfectibility, which is the romantic notion at the heart of all utopian thinking, have as their main problem the countervailing example of everybody you’ve ever met and ever will.

It is tempting to make like the Pharisee rather than the publican and say: “God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.” It is unpleasant to meditate on the truth at the center of Christianity, and perhaps at the center of all wisdom: I am like the rest of men, extortioners, unrighteous. (I have never been guilty of collecting taxes.) We must sympathize with the victims and care for them, but we must also identify with the malefactors, who are made of the same stuff as we are, cut from the same crooked timber. In the black comedy of The Death of Stalin, we see men — extraordinarily powerful men — who mainly are acting not out of malice or inherent wickedness but out of terror. The survival instinct is even more powerful than the libido. It is tempting to think that you’d comport yourself with more integrity in those circumstances, but would you really? Down in Beria’s dungeon, with the gunshots audible from the room next door — would you really? (One of history’s little ironies: The Lubyanka was originally the headquarters of an insurance company.) Would you be so brave with your wife and children being held in another cell? Or would you beg, connive, lie, simper, degrade yourself, and, if necessary, murder to keep yourself and your loved ones away from those gunshots?

Can you ever really trust a weak man? Is there another kind?

To understand power, one must understand weakness, especially the weaknesses that are particular to men. Human weakness is what necessitates that we constrain power—political power, especially, but also other kinds of power. We are not governed by angels, and there aren’t very many of those in the boardrooms, either. The advice that we put not our faith in princes applies to princes of the church and captains of industry, too. All that we have — culture, technology, civilization, democracy, the rule of law, government — is provisional."

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The advantage of insinuations over hard arguments is that they bypass critical thought. No one can respond precisely to a charge that is utterly vague or to accusers who will envelope any reply in a poisonous fog of further insinuations. ~ David Warren, The Guardian

There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time and that captures an important point. The more powerful the government becomes, the more people are willing to do in order to seize the prize, and the more afraid they become when someone else has control. ~ Glenn Harlan Reynolds

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs really seek: not the chance to serve.”
― H.L. Mencken

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Re:Weakness and power
(Date Posted:07/19/2018 6:39 PM)

 i just bought the movie. 
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Knightly
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RE:Weakness and power
(Date Posted:07/19/2018 9:03 PM)

one thing here that has been overlooked was the personality cult that stalin was part of. hitler had his own personality cult. personality cults in the usa has never been as strong they were in germany and russia.
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alaskaone
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RE:Weakness and power
(Date Posted:07/23/2018 11:11 AM)

Hard to be a cult leader in a nation with a free press... or even semi-free press.
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The advantage of insinuations over hard arguments is that they bypass critical thought. No one can respond precisely to a charge that is utterly vague or to accusers who will envelope any reply in a poisonous fog of further insinuations. ~ David Warren, The Guardian

There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time and that captures an important point. The more powerful the government becomes, the more people are willing to do in order to seize the prize, and the more afraid they become when someone else has control. ~ Glenn Harlan Reynolds

“The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it. Power is what all messiahs really seek: not the chance to serve.”
― H.L. Mencken

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