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Friday, July 10, 2009

War is a blow to reason and civilization

People leave reason and civilization behind in both war and bubbles.
“Uighurs are beasts” shout crowds of Han Chinese in the remote northwest of the country. Uighurs are the Moslem minority. Han Chinese are the majority. And, judging from the photos, the Han want to kill the Uighurs.

One thing smart people always do is to underestimate the power of foolishness. It is wild and reckless to stir up a race war. But that doesn’t stop people from doing it. Any kind of war is a blow to reason and civilization. But that hasn’t made war unpopular, even among the most reasonable and civilized people on the planet.

It was within the lifetimes of many people reading this Daily Reckoning that the most advanced countries on earth began a war of annihilation. At the beginning of the 20th century, high culture and science were dominated by Germans. German musicians and composers…German poets and writers…German mathematicians, physicists, painters, philosophers – even the German economy was a world leader, second in output only to the United States of America.

Then, the Germans went off their heads – along with the Italians, the Russians, the Japanese…and many others.

But the Han have it right. The Uighurs are beasts from time to time. So are the Han…the Teutons…the Anglo-Saxons…and all the tribes on earth. Occasionally, for no apparent reason, the masks and restraints of civilization give way to mobs…and the old beast starts howling at the moon.

It happens in markets too. What is a bubble, if not a wild and reckless thing? A kind of madness? A mass illusion…a foolishness, in which people leave reason and civilization behind?
-- from "The Long Road to Ruin" by Bill Bonner

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