Monday, July 01, 2013

Gettysburg and American Exceptionalism

150 years ago, Gettysburg was fought.  Here is War Nerd on the battle:
You know how many civilians were killed in the whole battle of Gettysburg? One. I dare anybody from any other country anywhere, any time, to find me a battle with over 50,000 military casualties—and one civvies died. One! It’s incredible. People don’t realize how amazing that is. Those were supermen, there’s no other explanation. You read their letters and they write in complete sentences, they even have great handwriting, even the paragraphs work.


  1. tom coleman7:33 PM

    I just had this conversation last week about how even mundane letters I've seen from the old days could have been written by English professors as far as I know. I'm not sure if it's because the human race is less intelligent these days or if it's because stupid people were mostly illiterate in those times so there is selection bias at work.

  2. Anonymous10:33 PM

    I've observed the same thing about old letters, and also find it striking. I think common people were better writers then because they spent a lot of time developing that skill. Whereas I would kick their ass at statistics or Call of Duty.

  3. Anonymous4:24 AM

    I dare anybody from any other country anywhere, any time, to find me a battle with over 50,000 military casualties—and NONE civvies died. Apparently nobody realizes how deceived they are about war! The convictions and the motives of a soldier who goes to war may be noble. In fact that's the only reason a sane person would go to war. But however smart the soldiers are, never do they actually share the convictions and the motives of their leadership that sends them to war, be it Gettysburg, or Damascus. The leadership makes soldiers belief it's about honor and integrity or for the necessity to survive - but the motive for leadership to initiate war is for power and wealth. When the Wright brothers built their first flying device, engineers and physicists still published books how manknind would never be able to fly in a significant way. When will soldiers realize their real superpower and say to their leadership - "If you want war, go fight it yourself."?

  4. I do think there's some merit to the idea that wars give people meaning. People respect police, and to a less degree, soldiers, regardless of the regime they serve because they embody courage and discipline which are necessary attributes in any successful society. It's simply too much to ask that most individuals practice virtue is a way consistent with the greater good; local virtue is the only thing that's really measurable.

    It would be nice if there were a scorekeeper in the next world.

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  6. soldiers are just drafted civilians.