Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bad Analogy

Commenters all over the political kaleidescope like to make arguments about what nations should do based on what people should do. This unfortunate anthropomorphizing of states impedes clarity almost every time it is used. Countries are not like families sitting at a kitchen table working on a budget. Nations are not like children in schoolyards, or merchants along a street, or neighborhoods.

Human beings live in societies, nations are societies. The analogy always falls apart at exactly that point.

We just want things to look simpler than they are so we can pretend to understand them.

2 comments:

TomG said...
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TomG said...

sorry, tried to post a couple of times - didn't know which identity items were required, etc.
Anyway, another excellent post of yours! My signals go off whenever I hear such terms as 'national sentiment' and 'collective conscience' - for the same reasons. At some point - and at a very small scale indeed - "the tribe has spoken" breaks down in the certitude of its causal factors.