Dagger in hand

A man of prodigious fortune, coming to add his opinion to some light discussion that was going on casually at his table, began precisely thus: "It can only be a liar or an ignoramus who will say otherwise than," and so on. Pursue that philosophical point, dagger in hand.

--Michel de Montaigne, Of the art of discussion.

Stab back: cmnewman99-at-yahoo.com


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Monday, June 24, 2002

The other day Paola and I finally bit the bullet and went to see a financial advisor. I think it was the last straw: this means we're actually grownups now. We were of course informed that the thousands of dollars per year that we put into the National Mandatory Pyramid Scheme is money we should regard as having been flushed down the toilet as far as our own financial future is concerned. This made Jane Galt's latest Krugmanwatch particularly piquant. It also reminded me of a telling footnote that leapt out at me just a while back while I was reading Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Shirer is giving an overview of how Bismarckian statism paved the way for National Socialism. Here's the footnote:

To combat socialism Bismarck put through between 1883 and 1889 a program for social security far beyond anythng known in other countires. It included compulsory insurance for workers against old age, sickness, accident and incapacity, and though organized by the State it was financed by employers and employees. It cannot be said that it stopped the rise of the Social Democrats or the trade unions, but it did have a profound influence on the working class in that it gradually made them value security over political freedom and caused them to see in the State, however conservative, as a benefactor and a protector. Hitler, as we shall see, took full advantage of this state of mind. In this, as in other matters, he learned much from Bismarck. "I studied Bismarck's socialist legislation," Hitler remarks in Mein Kampf (p. 155), "in its intention, struggle and success." [p. 141, fn. *]

The other Bismarckian innovation that Hitler really liked and put to effective use was, of course, public schools...

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