Curtis Dahlgren
"The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All Time" - a summer rerun
By Curtis Dahlgren
July 7, 2017

"Man exploits man. Under Communism, it's just the opposite." – Russian saying

THAT HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF IS NOT JUST A CLICHE. For students of history, it's a regular nightmare. There was a 100-year span of time between the 1860s hippies in Russia and our own 1960s hippies. While the latter thought they had come up with a bright "new" idea, their "youth revolution" was a mirror-image of Russian nihilism. And the Nihilists assassinated a Tsar in 1881, 100 years to the month from the Reagan shooting. Reagan's shooter was mentally ill – very ill – but today celebrities openly "joke" about assassinations.

Both the 1860s and 1960s hippies came out of academe. Both used an unsuccessful war to stir up discontent among the young. Both movements used the same "uniform": long hair among the males and short hair for females, plus grungy fashions and quirky granny glasses. They loved to tweak people who believed in "proper" standards and values. Both movements sold "free love" over the traditional family (the term "free love" was published at least as early as 1910 by the Encyclopaedia Britannica in the article, "Nihilism"). The followers sometimes "meant well," but the leaders of both movements hid their true motivations.

Someday I may fully quote the Britannica article, but before getting to the old facts of what the Nihilists did, we need to more fully understand their underlying motives. Raw Power, of course, was their objective – only not just power for the sake of power. The leaders of the Nihilists – the pioneers of the Bolshevik movement – had demonic motivations (even while preaching "reform" and "social justice"). Under today's professional public relations experts, politicians still exploit those same-old foibles of human nature. The Nihilists' and Bolsheviks' favorite boogey-man was "the rich man" – meaning anyone making more money than AVERAGE.

A friend lent me a book entitled "The Most Brilliant Thoughts of All Time (In Two Lines or Less)" edited by John M. Shanahan, 1999. SO – as an introduction to the upcoming series on Russian Nihilism, here are some of the Most Brilliant Thoughts bearing on the subjects of envy, power, propaganda, and the History of the World:

- "Ambition drove many men to become false; to have one thought in the breast, another ready on the tongue." – Gaius Sollustius Crispus (86-34 BC)

- "Nothing is more despicable than a professional talker who uses his words as a quack uses his remedies." – Fenelon (1651-1715)

- "There is not a passion so strongly rooted in the human heart as envy." – Richard Sheridan (1751-1816)

- "Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave." – Baron Henry Peter Brouham (1775-1868)

[Note: America's Founders were well-educated, and the Olde English thinkers and writers of the 1700s and before had a great influence on early America (much more than French writers). The colonists who came here, for one thing, were very very tired of Europe's wars and totalitarian governments, and radicals). The Founding Families hoped that a well-educated – and virtuous – America would thrive for a very long time.]

- "Envy slays itself by its own arrows." – anonymous

- "To know your ruling passion, examine your castles in the air." – Archbishop Richard Whately (1787-1863)

- "Pride is generally censured and decried, but mainly by those who have nothing to be proud of." – Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

- "The worst form of tyranny the world has ever known: the tyranny of the weak over the strong. It is the only tyranny that lasts." – Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

- "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." – Abraham Lincoln

- "It is horrible to see everything that one detested in the past coming back wearing the colors of the future." – Jean Rostand (1894-1977)

- "[The] example of the monkey: The higher it climbs, the more you see of its behind." – St. Bonaventure (1217-1274)

- "Power does not corrupt men; fools, however, if they get into a position of power, corrupt power." – George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

- "Nothing doth more hurt in a state than [when] cunning men pass for wise." – Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

- "No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition." – Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)

- "Scoundrels are always sociable." – Schopenhauer

- "We hang petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office." – Aesop (550 BC)

- "There is a demand for men today who can make wrong appear right." – Publius Terentius Aferl (190-159 BC)

- "The formula 'two and two makes five' is not without its attractions." – Dostoevsky (1821-1881)

- "The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools." – Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)

- "The best of prophets of the future is the past." – Lord Byron (1788-1824)

[and finally] -

- "The enemies of the future are always the nicest people." – Christopher Morley (1890-1957)

P.S. Let's see: "One hundred and two shot; 15 fatally" reads a headline. The story wasn't about Syria or Afghanistan (we lost one soldier over there), but this was about the way Chicago celebrated the July forth weekend!

The assassination of our peace officers is off to a trendy record pace also. But CNN, etc. would rather talk about amateur videos on social media than talk about hard news.

Because that's hard!

[Most of this column was posted here in July seven years ago.]

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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