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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

George Kennan, His Wisdom Lives on

The standoff in the Congress is enough to drive one mad, but perhaps it has always been so.  I was thinking about this when I started reading a review by William Pfaff of two books of George Kennan’s letters, edited by John Lukacs ( NYRB June 9, 2011, p.59) and ran across this quote from a letter Kennan wrote to Lukacs on July 8, 1984:
One’s relations with one’s country, like the relations among intimates, are always complicated; but I conceive myself to have loved my own… I am now inclined to see my country much the way that I see Russia (in the historical sense): namely, as a politically unsuccessful and tragic country, but one capable of producing out of its midst, from time to time, remarkable literary, artistic, and musical intelligence, politically helpless and always vulnerable to abuse and harassment at the hands of the dominant forces of the moment.
As we continue to observe the destruction of the middle class in America, the words “politically unsuccessful and tragic country” are as relevant now as when Kennan wrote them.

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