Saturday, November 5, 2011

Eleven Eleven Eleven

USS Lexington.
Photo by the author.
World War I was to have been the war to end all wars. The original holiday celebrating the end of war, Armistice Day, necessarily became Veterans Day when, with World War II, it became clear that war is far from over. There could hardly be a better object lesson that human nature survives even the most enlightened experiments in government. That said, there may be some reason for optimism. Although war is far from being merely an artifact of archaeology, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker believes he has found evidence that violence in all forms does seem to have declined as a factor in human experience. The singular insight of the skeptical conservative project is that human nature does not change much over time, and that therefore abandoning tradition wholesale is unwise. It would be a strong but welcome challenge to skeptical conservatism if it could be demonstrated that human nature is malleable enough that hope for paradise on earth is not just naïve utopianism. Time will tell. In the meantime, in advance of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of the eleventh year of this century, we salute the veterans whose patriotism has made and preserved liberty.

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