Revisiting ‘The March of Folly’

I read Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly when it came out in 1984 and have never forgotten it.

For a public policy or action to be classed as Grade A Folly, Tuchman set out four conditions: 1) It has to be contrary to self-interest; 2) it has to be the policy or actions not of an individual, but of a group; 3) it must not be the only policy available, and is chosen over many wiser policies; 4) decision-makers have to persist in their folly in spite of warnings and demonstrable failures.

Our Really Smart People, in addition to world-class, civilization-threatening follies like communism and socialism, have saddled us with any number of follies. Just to name a few: encouraging millions of people to come here illegally; purposely fomenting racial strife, in hope of political gain; shutting down the whole economy because of the coronavirus; using a massive, incredibly costly education establishment to “teach” things that are manifestly untrue; the Green New Deal–but you can think of many others on your own.

What I remember best from Tuchman’s book is her chapter on how the British managed to lose their American colonies: every step they took was a wrong one, practically guaranteeing failure.

It’s only by the grace of God that our country still exists.

9 comments on “Revisiting ‘The March of Folly’

  1. The grace and mercy of God is our only hope. We are fighting a battle that can only be won on our knees in prayer.

    1. I agree. The evening of the last election, I went to bed believing that Hillary Clinton has won. My prayer that night was that our freedoms would be preserved. The next morning I was happy to see that we had won a reprieve. Whatever happens, is in God’s hands. Obviously, we must do our part, but the forces at play here are much bigger than any individual, even Mr. Trump.

    2. I agree and it may have been the reason why Trump won the first time around. It was a miracle. It’s more reason not to give up no matter how bad things look.

    3. We do what is within our power, and leave the rest in God’s hands. The U.S. has faced many challenges and has always come through, which I believe is God’s hand. We are far from perfect, but there is still a lot of goodness in the U.S.

  2. If King George III had been a wise man in his 20’s and treated the American colonies with respect and fairness, we might be a member of Great Britain. I’m glad we aren’t – to bad many fine men lost their lives fighting for what we enjoy today.

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