Day: March 2, 2015

Pin a tail on that donkeyPin a tail on that donkey

“As some historians have contended, [British Prime Minister] Chamberlain in the end saw himself as a practical businessman willing to deal with the world as it was, engage in hardheaded negotiation with others, and strike a mutually beneficial bargain on the assumption that all parties would honor their parts of the deal. Like the vast majority of his countrymen, he had vivid and terrible memories of the [First] World War and felt revulsion at the thought of a new generation dying on the killing fields of Western Europe. In both instances, he was a liberal—a man of humane sentiments and reasoned intellect. The Realpolitik he tried to practice was itself largely a creation of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment in reaction to previous catastrophic wars of religion; it thought of states and their leaders as rational actors seeking to maximize advantage but pursuing limited aims. Chamberlain expressed the most important weakness of his superficially tough-minded realism when he declared his determination to deal with the grievances of adversaries through the application of ‘our common sense, our common humanity” in seeking the solution to outstanding problems. Realpolitik in the age of Hitler and Stalin required an understanding of the darker angels of human nature. Businessman in background, Unitarian in religious training, liberal politician in vocation, Chamberlain had scant conception of the phenomenon of evil.” – Alonzo L. Hamby, For the Survival of Democracy