To the Person Sitting in Darkness
June 13, 2007 3:15 PM   Subscribe

"The Blessings-of-Civilization Trust, wisely and cautiously administered, is a Daisy. There is more money in it, more territory, more sovereignty, and other kinds of emolument, than there is in any other game that is played. But Christendom has been playing it badly of late years, and must certainly suffer by it, in my opinion. She has been so eager to get every stake that appeared on the green cloth, that the People who Sit in Darkness have noticed it – they have noticed it, and have begun to show alarm. They have become suspicious of the Blessings of Civilization."
posted by homunculus (13 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
From the same article:
"...manufactures a war out of materials so inadequate and so fanciful that they make the boxes grieve and the gallery laugh, and he tries hard to persuade himself that it isn't purely a private raid for cash, but has a sort of dim, vague respectability about it somewhere..."

Maybe history doesn't always repeat itself "but it sure does rhyme"
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:41 PM on June 13, 2007

Wow, good FPP homunculus. I've somehow managed to get through life without reading much Twain, I'll have to remedy that. What a voice, his disgust is not implied, it's a presence in the room that you can reach out and touch.

TLF, that was the same passage that really hit me too.
posted by doctor_negative at 3:59 PM on June 13, 2007

I should re-read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. It's been awhile. And maybe try some other writings of Twain's. I'd forgotten how biting he could be when he wanted to.
posted by Tehanu at 4:02 PM on June 13, 2007

Can anyone identify the music in the first link? All the credits say is "music arranged from a piece of J. S. Bach."
posted by homunculus at 4:03 PM on June 13, 2007

Nice set of links. Twain never grows old. History is "rhyming" today, and it never makes the front page (of the paper that is).
posted by kozad at 4:20 PM on June 13, 2007

from "a piece of Mark Twain"?

What piece?
posted by washburn at 5:07 PM on June 13, 2007

"To the Person Sitting in Darkness" (see the second and sixth links).
posted by homunculus at 5:34 PM on June 13, 2007

On the one hand its wonderful that a hundred years ago Twain eloquently and absolutely nailed something that’s as fresh as tomorrow’s news from Bagdad.

On the other hand its horrible that, a hundred years ago, Twain eloquently and absolutely nailed something that’s as fresh as tomorrow’s news from Bagdad.
posted by Huplescat at 7:45 PM on June 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Great post and excellent links, homunculus. I haven't read Twain for a long time, and I had never read this essay. As others have said, how amazing and frustrating that by changing a few names in that essay it could easily apply to Bush's government and American foreign policy today.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 9:53 PM on June 13, 2007

Maybe history doesn't always repeat itself "but it sure does rhyme"

Like a terrible song that keeps repeating itself in one's head.
posted by moonbiter at 11:20 PM on June 13, 2007

We cannot stop it by going after George Bush or Dick Cheney because they are mere shadow puppets in this game. Corporations are the true enemy of civilization and are the nation-states of modern society. They pay telegenic people (yes at one point Bush was telegenic) to do their bidding - hell when they can't trust that person sometimes they just install themselves as his puppetmaster (Cheney). Now that we have more transparency due to the internet we need organization. We need to expose corporations and hold them accountable by withholding business and voting out their puppets in Congress. Corporations only do these criminal acts because they increase profits. Once we make it unprofitable for them to go into Guatamala with hired death squads to stop a banana strike they will stop doing it.
posted by any major dude at 8:56 AM on June 14, 2007

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