Friday, December 10, 2010

War and our Fallen Nature

SOURCE:  Hanson, Victor Davis. “Old Books in the New World.” Weekly Standard. March 4, 2002.
(A review of The Culture of Classicism by Winterer)
KEYWORDS:  war, peace, discouragement, wisdom, tragedy

In the days since September 11, my own classics students have cited Plato’s “Peace is only a parenthesis,” and Heraclitus’ “War is the father of all things.” Meanwhile, PhDs in counseling and sociology have been holding rallies to decry this apparently inexplicably barbarous lapse of education and maturity on the part of the United States in its decision to go to war. Classics seems to have the strange effect of making its twenty-year-old students wise beyond their years.

Indeed, we didn’t fail to foresee the attacks from the Middle East because too few Americans are acquainted with peace studies, multiculturalism, and various therapeutic theories that emanate daily from the university. Rather, our puzzlement at someone who hates us so in 2002 arises from our knowing so little of the unchanging nature of man and politics. An hour with Thucydides—whether reading of the great debate at Sparta, the stasis at Corcyra, the Melian Dialogue, or the argument over going to Syracuse—might have warned us that people attack others over their “fear, honor, and self-interest.”

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