“A Strife of Interests” and Other Definitions from Bierce

American writer Ambrose Bierce was born in 1842 and disappeared (in Mexico) in 1913; so his closing date is often given as 1914.

Those who have attended American high schools are likely to have been asked to read Bierce’s short story, “Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge.” Those who favor satire are likely to have glanced, at least, in the direction of Bierce’s The Devil’s Dictionary, from which the following definitions are taken, via several Web sites:

Alliance – in international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other’s pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.

Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility.

History is an account, mostly false, of events, mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers, mostly knaves, and soldiers, mostly fools.

Patriotism. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.

Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.

For more information about Bierce, please visit this site:



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