A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Sunday, March 26, 2006


"No man or nation is wise or good enough to hold the power which the great nations..hold without being tempted to both pride and injustice. Pride is the religious dimension of the sin which flows from absolute power; and injustice is it's social dimension.

The great nations speak so glibly of their passion for justice and peace; and so obviously betray interests which contradict justice and peace. This is precisely the kind of spiritual pride which the prophets had in mind when they pronounced divine judgments upon the nations which said, "I am god, I sit in the seat of God."

Consider how blandly the nations draw plans for the life of defeated nations in the hope of rebuilding them as democracies. This lack of consideration for the organic aspects of the social existence of nations, this confidence in our ability to create something better by our fiat, is a perfect illustration of the pride of power.

It is not made any more sufferable by the idea that we are doing all this for the sake of "purging" these nations of their evil and bestowing our "democracy" upon them. The very absurdity of bestowing democracy by the will of the conqueror contains the pretension against which the prophets inveighed."

Reinhold Neibuhr from his work Discerning the Signs of the Times, 1946. Apparently people and situations don't change much. And Bush has twice this week said he will not be bound by law or limitation, whether it's with the issue of domestic spying or with the Patriot Act. Censure is needed now.


At 12:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Niebuhr was writing in 1946 about Germany and Japan, then he was quite obviously WRONG. Bestowing democracy upon the conquered worked quite well, thank you very much.

At 11:15 PM , Anonymous Ethan said...

Yes and no. Moreso Japan than Germany. Germany had already experimented with democracy before WWII (Heck, Hitler came to power though a parlimentary election). And German culture was affected greatly by the Enlightenment, arguably more than the US.

Unfortunately I don't know as much about Japan. I would imagine that Japanese culture was much better suited to convert to capitalism than other countries were/are, making it easy to replicate the American capitalist democracy in Japan.


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