Monday, October 13, 2008

Emotional Self-Interest

Ralph Peters suggests that foreign and military affairs analysts should consider emotional self-interest rather than national self-interest. An excerpt:

Consider a range of historical examples — chosen from many, many more — that snap into focus if we accept that emotion trumps reason in human affairs:

The Crusades. Since abandoning religious belief as beneath contempt, academic historians have struggled unconvincingly to explain why, over two centuries, hundreds of thousands of European dukes, knights, retainers, laborers, peasants, priests, mendicants and not a few women left their homes to march east to free the Holy Land through force of arms without so much as reliable maps to guide them. Yes, younger sons were superfluous. But kings went, too. Yes, Europe had surplus labor. But why not let your neighbor risk his life? Yes, there was a chance of glory and wealth. But that was for the very few, not the masses, and even after riches proved illusory for most and tens of thousands perished miserably long before nearing the Holy Land, tens of thousands more knelt and took the cross.

[HT: Arts & Letters Daily ]

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