By Reinhold Niebuhr
“Irony offers the grasp key to knowing the myths and delusions that underpin American statecraft. . . . an important booklet ever written on US overseas policy.”—Andrew J. Bacevich, from the Introduction
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Extra resources for The Irony of American History
But contrasts are ironic provided that they aren't simply absurd, yet have a hidden that means. they have to elicit now not simply laughter yet a figuring out smile. The hidden which means is provided via the truth that the juxtapositions and contrasts usually are not purely fortuitous. they're relating to one another via a few foible of the individual that is taken with either. The strong one who is proved to be rather susceptible is desirous about an ironic distinction provided that his weak spot is because of a few pretension of power. If "pride cometh earlier than the fall," the autumn is ironic provided that satisfaction contributed to it. a sensible individual can be ignorant in a few components of existence, with no his lack of information being ironic. it's so provided that the lack of understanding is derived from the pretension of knowledge. Ironic transfigurations of weak point, foolishness and sin have an identical common sense as ironic refutations of strength, knowledge and advantage. there's no irony in a only fortuitous break out of a in charge guy from punishment. however it is ironic if those who find themselves despised by means of their fellowmen in achieving attractiveness and justification in a few larger courtroom in the course of the very traits which caused their unique condemnation; or while the na'ivete of babes or simpletons turns into the resource of knowledge withheld from the clever. 154 THE value OF IRONY comedian incongruity is transmuted into irony, while one point within the distinction is located to be the resource of the opposite. considering the fact that ironic interpretations are tough for purposes already pointed out they're obviously infrequent in heritage. the combo of severe, yet no longer opposed, detachment, that is required for his or her detection, is just now and again attained. but the Christian religion has a tendency to make the ironic view of human evil in heritage the normative one. Its notion of redemption from evil includes it past the boundaries of irony, yet its interpretation of the character of evil in human heritage is continually ironic. This consistency is completed at the foundation of the assumption that the total drama of human historical past is lower than the scrutiny of a divine pass judgement on who laughs at human pretensions with no being adversarial to human aspirations. The laughter on the pretensions is the divine judgment. The judgment is transmuted into mercy if it ends up in abating the pretensions and in prompting males to a contrite attractiveness of the conceit in their mind's eye. The Biblical interpretation of the human scenario is ironic, instead of tragic or pathetic, due to its specific formula of the matter of human freedom. in accordance with this religion man's freedom doesn't require his heroic and tragic defiance of the forces of nature. he's not unavoidably concerned about tragedy in his attempt to be really human. yet nor is he inevitably curious about evil due to his relation to the prerequisites and contingencies of the area of nature. His scenario is, as a result, now not comprehended as a pathetic imprisonment within the confusion of one hundred fifty five THE IRONY of yank historical past nature. The evil in human heritage is considered the end result of man's fallacious use of his distinctive capacities.