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The Long View

The ‘Arab Spring’ of 2011 and the ‘Chinese Spring’ of 1911

The Long View

“Well Doctor, what have we got — a monarchy or a republic?” Ben Franklin was asked by a female onlooker on the last day of the American constitutional convention in 1787.
“A republic, if you can keep it,” Franklin responded.
Maintaining a republic, of course, is the true problem; and it was on display, recently, as in Warsaw President Obama pledged along with some European nations a substantial sum of money to support the emergence of democratic institutions in the countries that have awakened in the Arab Spring.

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After Osama bin Laden: Do we require a new devil?

The Long View

The killing of Osama bin Laden removed a terrible human being from among us. It also made me think of what Eric Hoffer had to say about devils.
While trying to understand the relationship between a mass movement and its doctrine, Hoffer asked whether any mass movements had “holy” books, and immediately came up with a list of them: the writings of Karl Marx, Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” the Quran and the Old Testament.

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Words of wisdom from an old working-class “philosopher”

The Long View

Eric Hoffer, the “longshoreman philosopher.” Just a mention of him produces immediate reactions from those over 55 to whom I say that I am writing his biography — and puzzled looks from those who are younger.
His books, especially “The True Believer,” were enormously popular in the 1950s and 1960s, but by his death in 1983 they were no longer in the canon of what young people read if they were interested in how the world worked.

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