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.