Charles Hill and the Greening of American Diplomacy

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Austin Bramwell

I am a freelance opinion-monger living in New York City.

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar E.C. Gach
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    says:

    I pretty much agree wholeheartedly with your analysis, minus the following point:

    “The literary critic typically has extreme confidence in his opinions, despite the lack of any obvious grounds for preferring one set of opinions over another. Is Satan the true hero of Paradise Lost? Does Jane Austen embrace or reject the mores of the society she depicts? In answering these imponderables, you don’t see critics weighing the evidence, acknowledging weaknesses or qualifying their judgments.

    If you are a good literary critic (i.e. both interesting and grounded), evidence, weaknesses, arguments, are all part of the discourse.

    I do agree that we should not at all compare international diplomacy to the musings of literature lovers, if for no other reason that so much more is at stake in the former than the latter.

    While I do hold that evidence is necessary in literary critic, I understand that “evidence” in the literary world is much more subjective, for often certain underlying assumptions must guide interpretation which then paves the way for certain passages to be interpreted as to lend weight to the very assumptions upon which they were interpretable as such.

    That said, why would anyone wish to invite such whimsical uncertainty into matters as dire as international diplomacy? Diplomacy takes place in the real world, and therefor we have the luxury of using empirical evidence. Why introduce the need for a literary style of analysis when it is neither appropriate or enlightening?Report

  2. Avatar Rufus
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    says:

    Regarding Aeschylus, I do think a blood feud can be between members of a family and, in the general sense, I think Hills is right about the play marking the replacement of vengeance with legal justice. Certainly the Athenians considered it to be a significant event in human history.

    However, you’re right on the key point here, which is that legal justice is, in the Athenian mindset, a divinely given gift. On one hand, this is insane boosterism- imagine a play in which Jesus comes down and writes the U.S. constitution (okay, that probably exists already)! On the other hand, there’s a great deal of humility in thinking the system was not created by man, nor “exportable” by man. So I agree with you on the major point here, which is that the Oresteia is a really good argument against meddling at all in clan-based societies.Report

  3. Avatar Rodrigo de Borja y Doms
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    says:

    Mr. Bramwell,

    Does the philosophy of education, implied in your arguments, make any provision for an aristocratic element in the leadership? If you mean to defend a purely bureaucratic, bourgeois, technocratic society, how would you respond to the criticism of Solzhenitsyn? He observed of the decadent west that expertocracies tend to make men prone to childishness and temper-tantrums. I would note as well that effeminacy makes our leaders hysterical.Report

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