Thursday, July 13, 2006

for those who feel that 'great man' explanations of history are not quite enough...

...there is always its close cousin, the "Great Man plus God" explanation of history. Here's an example from the end of John Lukacs, Five Days in London: May 1940
"Hitler not only succeeded in merging nationalism and socialism into one tremendous force; he was a new kind of rule, representing a new kind of populist nationalism... It was thus that in 1940 he represented a wave of the future. His greatest reactionary opponent, Churchill, was like King Canute, attempting to withstand and sweep back that wave. And -- yes, mirabile dictu -- this King Canute succeeded: because of his resolution and -- allow me to say this -- because of God's will, of which, like every human being, he was but an instrument." (p. 218)
Voltaire is famous for having written "If God did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent him." Less well known are his next three words: "To stop Hitler."

6 comments:

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

When I was in 8th grade, I wrote a pamphlet for a religion I dubbed "Last Tuesdayism," the central tenet of which was that every Tuesday, the universe was destroyed and recreated in exact replica by an omnipotent deity. Unless, of course, it felt like fucking with people, in which case I imagined you got the occasional week-long Cowboy Universe or whatever. The fact that you could remember more than a week back was taken as proof of the deity's awesome power. In any case, any particular history would be entirely attributable to God in that case.

captain crab said...

My favorite God related quote:

"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."

Benjamin Franklin

jeremy said...

Yes, but if beer is not proof enough for you, there's always Winston Churchill.

Tuesday this week was an especially bad day for me. Now I blame RWS's God, although maybe he'll fix it and associated memories next Tuesday.

Anonymous said...

I have a set of beer glasses, one w/ the previously referred to Ben Franklin quote, another with this "The church is near, but the way is icy. The tavern is far, but I will walk carefully." Ukranian proberb

Rhymes With Scrabble said...

I'll try to pray in a good word for you, Jeremy. (I think you can pray in Last Tuesdayism, but only for future resets.)

Crab: I've always liked that Franklin quote.

Anonymous said...

JF: For me, this was one of your more hilarious posts. I thank you.