Saturday, December 26, 2009

Still Crazy After All These Years

Charles Mackay accounted for the appeal of bad ideas and strange manias (which in our era include hopeychange, global warming, Islamism and its offshoot Zionhass) in his extraordinary--and extraordinarily prescient--1843 book, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds:
In reading the history of nations, we find that, like individuals, they have their whims and their peculiarities; their seasons of excitement and recklessness, when they care not what they do. We find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion and run with it, till their attention is caught by some new folly more captivating than the first. We see one nation suddenly seized, from its highest to its lowest members, with a fierce desire of military glory; another as suddenly becoming crazed upon a religious scruple, and neither of them recoverning its senses until it has shed rivers of blood and sowed a harvest of groans and tears, to be reaped by its posterity.

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