Ammo Grrrll writes about her husband, a man who is never bored…”the most self-amusing human I have ever known, mostly due to an overabundance of enthusiasms and boundless curiosity about every dang thing in the world.”  She contrasts this attitude with the attitudes of those people who really can’t think of anything to do unless they need to go to work.

Valerie Jarrett famously said of Obama:  “He’s been bored to death his whole life.”  We can’t be sure, of course, that Jarrett is here actually reflecting Obama’s true characteristics;  but we can be sure that she feels that the characteristic of being bored one’s whole life is something admirable, a sign of intellectual and maybe moral superiority.

(I think it’s correct to say that the affectation of boredom has traditionally been associated with members of aristocracies)

Years ago, when I visited the American Museum of the American Indian, one of the exhibits was a collection of jewelry made by former senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (Cheyenne)…really fine stuff, not that I’m any judge.  I remember wondering at the time:  how many other politicians have a serious hobby or avocation such as this?  I thought then and I think now that it’s probably pretty exceptional; most of them seem to have few interests other than the pursuit of power and activities directly related to that pursuit.

In his important memoir of growing up in Germany between the wars, Sebastian Haffner discusses a period (during the Stresemann chancellorship) when the political and economic climate in that country stabilized significantly.  Most people were a lot happier:

The last ten years were forgotten like a bad dream. The Day of Judgment was remote again, and there was no demand for saviors or revolutionaries…There was an ample measure of freedom, peace, and order, everywhere the most well-meaning liberal-mindedness, good wages, good food and a little political boredom. everyone was cordially invited to concentrate on their personal lives, to arrange their affairs according to their own taste and to find their own paths to happiness.

But…and I think this is a particuarly important point…a return to private life was not to everyone’s taste:

A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions…Now that these deliveries suddently ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned how to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful and worth while, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation. They were bored, their minds strayed to silly thoughts, and they began to sulk.


To be precise (the occasion demands precision, because in my opinion it provides the key to the contemporary period of history): it was not the entire generation of young Germans. Not every single individual reacted in this fashion. There were some who learned during this period, belatedly and a little clumsily, as it were, how to live. they began to enjoy their own lives, weaned themselves from the cheap intoxication of the sports of war and revolution, and started to develop their own personalities. It was at this time that, invisibly and unnoticed, the Germans divided into those who later became Nazis and those who would remain non-Nazis.

I believe that in America today, there are a lot of people–largely, but not exclusively on the Left–whose political activity is motivated in large part by their inability to make their own lives great, beautiful and worth while.

Discuss, if so inclined.

17 thoughts on “Boredom”

  1. Interesting topic. I have pondered this idea, as you say, most in political life seem obsessed with power to the detriment of all else.
    In both my professional life and in avocations I have been fortunately surrounded by very creative people.
    So two outstanding examples come to mind, both painters- Winston Churchill, and Dwight Eisenhower.

  2. OK, it is saying the obvious, but the American Left, including more and more the Democrat-Socialist party [as they functionally are and now style themselves whenever they can], are addicted to the search for power. Here in Colorado they have control over the Governorship and both Houses of the General Assembly.

    Since January they have locally voided the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Amendments of the Bill of Rights. Now, based on an accusation that may be anonymous, a judge can hold a hearing at which a firearms owner can be charged with “being dangerous” and his firearms ordered confiscated without ever being notified of the charge or the hearing and having no chance to defend himself or be represented by counsel. The first that he will hear of it will be when a police TAC Team comes to his door to seize any firearms he owns without warning. In today’s America, that is a formula for a) a replay of Waco, and b) shortly thereafter replays of Lexington and Concord. Over half of our counties have declared themselves 2nd Amendment Sanctuaries and the Sheriffs refuse to enforce that law. After the seizure, the legal burden of proof is to prove a negative. The firearms owner has to PROVE he is not a danger, or the order can be renewed endlessly every year.

    Secondly, with no consultation with the people, the Democrat-Socialists have signed us on to the National Popular Vote Initiative which gives away our Electoral Votes regardless of how Coloradans vote. This was done in such a hurry [about a week total after the General Assembly convened] that they made a drafting error which means we can [and will] bring it to a statewide referendum.

    The third thing, which may interfere with this vote, is that they are passing a bill mandating automatic voter registration at every encounter with the Department of Motor Vehicles [car registration, plates, change of address, drivers licenses and change of address] and Medicaid you will be automatically registered to vote with the Secretary of State’s office and the registration inserted into each county’s voter rolls with no involvement by the County Clerk. You do not have to be a United States citizen to do any of the above things. We are a mail-in ballot state, and the Democrat-Socialists will collect the mail in ballots from their foreign clients and vote them.

    Finally, the Democrat-Socialists just ignore votes if they lose. Last November we had a statewide referendum on a Democrat-Socialist petition to expand the setbacks required for anything to do with the petroleum industry, such as to shut it down. It was voted down 3-1. They just passed a law that inserted the setbacks in defiance of a statewide vote.

    All of these were done on pure party line votes [there is no such thing as a “moderate” Democrat in Colorado, or one who obeys the law and Constitution]. People I know have talked to Democrat-Socialist legislators and to our Democrat-Socialist Governor. The response to them complaining about the above was, and I am moderating what was said by the legislators and Governor, “FOAD, we have the power.”.

    They are deliberately trying to provoke violent resistance. Pretty much every Democrat-Socialist run polity is doing the same. The Left [and their Republican accomplices] are probably going to get their wish for a political life that is nasty, brutish, and short. I personally do not think that we will avoid open warfare by them until November 2020.

    And if we do have elections in 2020, if the “counted” votes show that they lose, what are the odds that they will leave office?

    All government is a shared myth. When the myth dies, so does the government.

    Subotai Bahadur

  3. “We” have produced a generation of wannabe Red Guards. I would blame the internet, millennials, etc., but fully adult politicians in blue states have gone completely loopy as well. It’s not going to end well. They really don’t understand that red states aren’t going to just submit meekly. They think that it’ll be as easy to take over and “fundamentally transform” the country as it was to take over their states. But blue state conservative residents had the option of fleeing to red states. Red states can’t, and won’t, just run away.

  4. Raven…Churchill was not only a painter, but a bricklayer. And George W Bush has taken up painting, and isn’t bad at it.

    An example from the corporate world is former Lockheed-Martin CEO Norman Augustine, who likes to build very elaborate dollhouses from scratch—not just a retirement hobby, but also something he did while very active in his career. That’s in addition to lots of other hobbies.

  5. Brian: “They really don’t understand that red states aren’t going to just submit meekly.”

    My pet peeve — Red has long been the color of Communists/Socialists/Extreme Democrats — the Scarlet Banner, the USSR’s Red Army, Red China. Then a bunch of Extreme Left media types started calling Lefties “Blue” and Not-The-Democrats “Red”, in a complete reversal of historical tradition. Too many Not-The-Democrats went along with that mis-statement. We should all use Red in its proper Socialist sense, and so confuse the meaning of the color that the media extremists have to find something else to mess up.

    But to your point — while there are a number of unfortunate States like Colorado that are becoming One Party States in government, the people in those States are not homogenously one party. An analogy might be the Brexit mess in the UK where the people in one country are deeply divided. The Brexiteers don’t talk about it, but in the 2016 Referendum 37% of citizens voted for separation from the EU; 35% voted for the status quo; and 28% chose not to vote. The Brexit mess is a reflection of that highly fractured population. The same thing exists in the US — Democrats may have uncontested power in political circles, but every State has substantial numbers of Not-The-Democrats.

    Bottom line — the growing conflict is not going to be State versus State, it is going to be neighbor versus neighbor.

  6. When I was forced too retire at 55 in 1993. I unsigned top for a masters program in health policy at Dartmouth. I had been interested in the measurement of quality in health care for years. I moved back to New Hampshire for a year,. and spent that year getting a Masters Degree at Dartmouth in Health Policy. I had an idea that I could have a second career in quality measurement for HMOs and insurance companies. I actually thought that we could show that good quality was less expensive than poor quality,

    Nobody was interested.

    I then spent 15 years teaching medical students physical examination and how to take a history,.

    Now, I work around the house, read, and build scale models of tanks,

  7. My God, Subotai, what’s happened to freedom loving and self-reliant Colorado? I’ve seen the future and I don’t like it. We have friends in CO Springs and they’re getting out and headed to MT.

    We’ve had enough here in NY and are leaving for TN later this year. It’s not the taxes. It is the complete takeover by Leftists. Clean sweep in last year’s elections here in NY. Become intolerable. Like minded people are also voting with their feet.

  8. “Bottom line — the growing conflict is not going to be State versus State, it is going to be neighbor versus neighbor.”
    Of course. Also, any Blue state will be ripped to pieces as 90% of its land goes Red (I agree with you on the Red/Blue Switcheroo, but it’s a losing battle to fight that, and it’s just a color scheme, after all). Even (especially?) in bluest of blue CA, NY, IL, etc.

    “Clean sweep in last year’s elections here in NY.”
    And look what they’ve done in Albany. Nothing at all to do with economics, health care, etc. Nothing abortion, gun control, and more gun control when they decided they forgot some stuff the first time around.

  9. We’ve had this conversation before.

    It doesn’t seem like there was anything especially nefarious going on. Historically red/blue switched around from election to election and outlet to outlet, but things solidified during the 2000 election aftermath.

    *also, in my post above, the last sentence should start “Nothing BUT abortion, gun control, …”

  10. On the deliberate mis-naming of Far Left Democrats as Blue instead of the Red to which they are historically entitled — If the rest of us sit back, go along, and allow Leftist Extremists to distort the language over something as peripheral as the color ascribed to Not-The-Democrats, then are we not also well along the road to conceding the language on much bigger & more important issue to those same Lefties?

    George Orwell repeatedly made the point that controlling language ultimately controlled thoughts. Is there any fight remaining in the Not-The-Democrats?

  11. (I think it’s correct to say that the affectation of boredom has traditionally been associated with members of aristocracies)

    That may be how the more modern royal classes who lost their purpose behaved, but many among the nobility traditionally nurtured the appearance of nonchalance. This was somewhat different from boredom. Specifically, a nonchalant carelessness that concealed expertise gained by diligent study.

    I have found quite a universal rule which in this matter seems to me valid above all other, and in all human affairs whether in word or deed: and that is to avoid affectation in every way possible as though it were some rough and dangerous reef; and (to pronounce a new word perhaps) to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura [nonchalance], so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.

    There is a bit of a “never let them see you sweat” combined with a certain deceit of “I am empirically superior, but I am above caring about such things”.

  12. Steve Korn Says:
    April 15th, 2019 at 12:48 am

    Short form, the Republican Party here has been more at war with their own base for 10 years than opposing the Democrats. Several times they have broken the party rules to make sure that whoever they feel is next in line for the nomination for a Federal or statewide office gets the nomination despite someone supported by the party base is able to win. In 2014 they went so far as to call in all the people running for the US Senate and tell them that if they did not drop out, they would be blackballed for life by the party [this group included elected Republican officials. They dropped out, and Cory Gardner [who had not run before] was presented to us as our savior and the only candidate in the primary. And now he is Chuck Schumer’s best friend. In 2016, the state party openly supported Hillary. In 2018, they phoned in the campaign.

    They are starting to realize that if they do not fight the Democrats, they will not be saved by us just because of the R behind their name. And the Democrats are not playing palsy like they used to, but are ramming everything down their throats. But to be honest, the SACW is probably going to break out before or around November 2020.

    To quote someone who has written on the subject:

    “There’s nothing in this kind of civil war for men of sound mind and good will. Rule One is your best guide: stay away from crowds. If you’re in or near a city, especially the coastal urban complexes, plan and commit to self-evacuation. First out is best out.

    There are always more defensible and compelling reasons to defer action than to do what needs doing. Prudence and optimism are not compatible. There will be no warning of the approaching event horizon. Be wary and trust your gut, the news media have revealed themselves as committed partisans. You can recover from decamping too early but “too late” is always too late.”

    Subotai Bahadur

  13. it’s much like the tories across the pond, may is the wettest one since Heseltine, as home secretary she awarded gitmo detainees all those goodies like apartments, the most recent fellow blew up two years ago in Syria, she has handled Brexit in the worst way, having boris Johnsen immobilized by Michael gove, having priti patel, take out Leadsom, very francis urquart, the latest outrage is going back nearly 50 years to prosecute a paratrooper in northern Ireland, whereas ira chiefs have left off the hook,

  14. Subotai Bahadur: I don’t see how the “Red Flag” law could possibly withstand strict scrutiny. My opinion will mater just as soon as I’m appointed to the Supreme Court. In the mean time, a few people could end up dead. This will only serve to encourage the proponents.

    I still have family subject to the regime. I was talking to my brother who recently moved from Colorado to New Mexico. He is involved in fracking in Colorado and remarked that the crews are winding up and moving out. If the law is set aside, I suspect they will be slower moving back.

    I doubt the regime will look on with the same equanimity to the sheriffs refusal to enforce their pet law as they would if it were the immigration laws that were in question.

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