Death of John Talbot — Charles-Philippe LariviÃ¨re, La bataille de Castillon, 1838, Galerie des batailles, ChÃ¢teau de Versailles.
In Friedrich Schiller’s Die Jungfrau von Orleans, when the enchantress Joan of Arc preaching her visions and prophesies, inspires the French Army to heroic efforts and panics the English into flight, the dying English commander Talbot complains:
â€žUnsinn, du siegst und ich muÃŸ untergehn!
Mit der Dummheit kÃ¤mpfen GÃ¶tter selbst vergebens.
Erhabene Vernunft, lichthelle Tochter
Des gÃ¶ttlichen Hauptes, weise GrÃ¼nderin
Des WeltgebÃ¤udes, FÃ¼hrerin der Sterne,
Wer bist du denn, wenn du dem tollen RoÃŸ
Des Aberwitzes an den Schweif gebunden,
OhnmÃ¤chtig rufend, mit dem Trunkenen
Dich sehend in den Abgrund stÃ¼rzen muÃŸt!
Verflucht sei, wer sein Leben an das GroÃŸe
Und WÃ¼rdge wendet und bedachte Plane
Mit weisem Geist entwirft! Dem NarrenkÃ¶nig
GehÃ¶rt die Welt.
Folly, thou conquerest, and I must yield!
Against stupidity the very gods
Themselves contend in vain. Exalted reason,
Resplendent daughter of the head divine,
Wise foundress of the system of the world,
Guide of the stars, who art thou then if thou,
Bound to the tail of folly’s uncurbed steed,
Must, vainly shrieking with the drunken crowd,
Eyes open, plunge down headlong in the abyss.
Accursed, who striveth after noble ends,
And with deliberate wisdom forms his plans!
To the fool-king belongs the world.
James Delingpole is feeling a lot like John Talbot these days, listening to the leaders of the world spouting nonsense about Climate Change.
As regular readers will know Iâ€™m in such a continual state of foaming fury about the idiocies of the world that I sometimes go over the top. â€œTruly, there arenâ€™t enough bulletsâ€, Iâ€™m wont to cry in exasperation. …
[T]hatâ€™s me, completely buggered then. Maybe, since words are my stock in trade I should end it all now.
Problem is, every time I look at the internet or read the newspapers or watch something on TV Iâ€™m yet again reminded by just how right I am to feel the way I do. Truly, there really arenâ€™t enough bullets.
By way of further proof, I give you two speeches made by politicians this week: Climate Change Secretary Ed Daveyâ€™s speech to the Royal Society; President Obamaâ€™s State of the Union Address.
Both were on the subject I try to mention as little as possible on Bogpaper because I donâ€™t want to sound like a one-trick pony. Suffice to say that in both cases, both men were talking unutterable bollocks on a subject on which I know quite a bit: certainly a hell of lot more than they do.
And it wasnâ€™t just disputable bollocks. It was unquestionably, demonstrably wrong bollocks. Almost every statement each of these politicians made was a flat-out untruth. They made scientific claims which were not remotely backed up by hard evidence.
Now whether they were themselves deliberately lying or whether they were merely badly misinformed we shall never be able to prove. But it really doesnâ€™t matter, the more important point is this: this week two politicians in positions of enormous power made keynote speeches which will have a major impact on peopleâ€™s lives. What they said was wrong in almost every way: yet serious public policy is going to be based on it.
Stupidity doesn’t always win, of course. It just wins most of the time.