June 22, 2012

Alexander cuts the Gordian Knot, by Jean-Simon Berthélemy (1743–1811)

Alexander cuts the Gordian Knot, by Jean-Simon Berthélemy (1743–1811)

Although the social contract worked in ancient times—at the height of Athenian democracy, there were 30,000 adult male citizens with the right to participate in government, against a slave population of between 70,000 and 115,000—it has never worked since. The modern state did not fulfill its responsibilities, and the citizens in turn went their own way, trusting only their family. The advantages of a communal spirit escape the Greek.

One of the most admired Greeks of antiquity is Alcibiades, a rich aristocrat, seducer, and general who convinced Athens to undergo the disastrous adventure against Sicily. Then he fled to Sparta and joined in the fight against his birthplace. Then he seduced the Spartan king’s wife and fled to Persia, where he was finally cornered by a Spartan hit squad and speared through the heart. Yet such was his aura with the fairer sex that his Persian wife covered him with her cloak trying to protect him. Back in Athens, men in the agora said he was dressed like a woman and died like one, cowering in fear. Yet when I was young, Alcibiades was my hero, a man who could do no wrong—until I said this to my Spartan mother, that is. She ordered Fräulein to administer couple of hard whacks.

No matter what happens in Greece, the great economist Taki believes that the Germans will eventually throw in the towel and bail out Europe. (No Wehrmacht spirit there.) Greece will renege and Germany will fold. But Germany will not announce it prematurely. If they do, the Europeans will do what they always do and go back to the bad old ways. There will be some banking union of sorts and there might even be a euro bond, but we’re in for a decade of no growth, and if anyone tells you differently, ask them to shut up and read the greatest Greek writer since Homer. Alexander the Great did not untie the Gordian Knot, he cut it with his sword. These clowns are trying to solve the riddle with bandages. We need an Alexander, and we need him badly. Personally, I am busy in makeup.



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