Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Uses of Ambiguity

The other day I cited one of my favorite maxims on politics: "To govern is to choose" (Pierre Mendès France). Sometimes, though, ambiguity, or the refusal to choose, is the safer course, as Cardinal de Retz knew: "One abandons ambiguity only at one's peril." See the previous post on Turkey for several contemporary examples of the Retzian dictum. On the whole I'd prefer to take PMF as my model statesman, but one of Retz's mots may have relevance to the plight of the Socialist Party today: "Distrust makes one a dupe more often than trust" (cf. Nietzsche's "Better to be deceived than distrustful"). Kouchner, Jouyet, and Hirsch may have been studying Retz.

As for Besson, I suspect he had darker motives for his decision to trust the enemy and betray his own. Retz had considered his case as well: "After ten days' reflection, I made up my mind deliberately to do wrong, which was surely the more criminal course before God but no doubt the wiser course in the eyes of the world."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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