Thursday, August 18, 2011

...The More They Stay the Same

James Wilson, an original Supreme Court justice and one of the chief draftsmen of the U.S. Constitution had this to say about the pros and cons of democracy...

"The advantages of democracy are, liberty, equality, cautious and salutary laws, public spirit, frugality, peace, opportunities of exciting and producing abilities of the best citizens. Its disadvantages are, dissensions, the delay and disclosure of public counsels, the imbecility of public measures, retarded by the necessity of a numerous consent."

Winston Churchill famously said, "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

Friday, August 5, 2011

The More Things Change...

One of my favorite writers, Paul Theroux, who like myself is only here, it often seems, as an observer, chose the following extract from a novel by Henry James to introduce his 1976 novel about declining and failing societies and civilizations, "The Family Arsenal". One needn't read between James' lines to see the similarities between now and then and way back when...the lines speak volumes for themselves.

"I determined to see it"--she was speaking still of English society--"to learn for myself what it really is before we blow it up. I've been here now a year and a half and, as I tell you, I feel I've seen. It's the old regime again, the rottenness and extravagance, bristling with every iniquity and every abuse, over which the French Revolution passed like a whirlwind; or perhaps even more a reproduction of the Roman world in its decadence, gouty, apoplectic, depraved, gorged and clogged with wealth and spoils, selfishness and scepticism, and waiting for the onset of the barbarians. You and I are the barbarians, you know."
                                       --HENRY JAMES, The Princess Casamassima