Thursday, June 4, 2009


Here is the quote from Göring:

"Why, of course, people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war… That is understood. But it is the leaders of the country who determine policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along… The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

There are endless debates about whether leaders “drag the people along” or whether they are puppets of forces which exist outside of themselves. This is the substance of Tolstoy’s theory of history outlined in “War and Peace” — the general’s delusion (it could be Göring’s or Napoleon’s) that he is in control of history when he is but a pawn. [31] History, when all is said and done, is enacted by all of us, not by a select few, and it is to the story of the collective to which I now turn."

From Errol Morrs's series the NYTImes, "Bamboozling Ourselves," part 5.

Are we "dragged along" or is history "enacted by all of us?" Well, of course it's, by definition, enacted by all of us, but to what extent is the common person initiator rather than responder?

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