Friday, November 16, 2007

In analyzing history do not be too profound, for often the causes are quite superficial

--- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals, 1820-72, Boston, 1909-14, IV, 160, cited by Barbara Tuchman in The March of Folly: From Troy to Vietnam, New York, 1984, p. 23

Tuchman comments: "This is a factor usually overlooked by political scientists who, in discussing the nature of power, always treat it, even when negatively, with immense respect. They fail to see it as sometimes a matter of ordinary men walking into water over their heads, acting unwisely or foolishly or perversely as people in ordinary circumstances frequently do. The trappings of power deceive us, endowing the possessor with a quality larger than life."