jump to navigation


Posted by wmmbb in Modern History.

Karl Marx, since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a defining moment whose significance is now in the realm of history, is now decidedly out of fashion. Season in season out, as the ancient Greeks observed generations go and go like the leaves of the trees, once green with promise they in their turn fall to ground. Fashions change, and each time with the expectation that something new and different is afoot. If only scientific discovery and innovation were fashion.

Marx may return some day not as a pioneering economist but as a political philosopher, albeit one whose insights will be seen in the light of history. Somewhere he says, true to his authentic origins as a Hegelian philosopher engaged with the dialectic, whether rational or material, that the work of the antithesis is done by the thesis.

Whether Marxist or not that generalization may apply to the immediate effect of the Bush Presidency. Frank Rich’s article in The New York Times says:

Almost every wrong prediction about this election cycle has come from those trying to force the round peg of this year’s campaign into the square holes of past political wars. That’s why race keeps being portrayed as dooming Mr. Obama — surely Jeremiah Wright = Willie Horton! — no matter what the voters say to the contrary. It’s why the Beltway took on faith the Clinton machine’s strategic, organization and fund-raising invincibility. It’s why some prognosticators still imagine that John McCain can spin the Iraq fiasco to his political advantage as Richard Nixon miraculously did Vietnam.

Commenting on the article at The War in Context, editor Paul Woodward observes:

The Bush legacy may turn out to be not the one he intended or will ever lay claim to, but to be that he has transformed the way Americans view politics. He has stripped away whatever aura may have once surrounded the institution of the presidency and helped convince thousands of Americans that whatever their humble backgrounds they could do a better job of running the country. By cloaking the workings of the executive branch of government in secrecy he has demonstrated the urgent need for transparency in government. By conducting a disastrous foreign policy he has helped raise foreign affairs above its status as an arcane interest reserved for specialists, to an issue that visibly affects and should concern all Americans.

In effect, Bush has governed so badly that rather than produce a loss of faith in government, he has helped ignite a widespread desire for government of the people to be reclaimed by the people. Thanks to George Bush, more Americans than ever, understand that individually we share responsibility in determining how this country is governed.

If the corporate media do not get it, the Clinton’s in this frame pushing blindly on, do not get it either. A paradigm change, if but glimpsed darkly through a broken mirror, is a wonder to behold, if it can be perceived. And Obama does seem to perceive the larger pattern, the wider framework when he identifies climate change as the defining moment for human history and for our planet. If human history is to continue nothing will condemn Bush more, not even the crimes in Iraq, than he and his like minded conspirators that blinded themselves to peril now confronting human history and the actions that must be taken. If ever reason needs to triumph; it is now. And let us hope that now is not too late.

Like the fall of the Bastille, Bush is a symbol. We enter a time in human history when all the curtains on the separate stages, and the actors fall silent, to find themselves on a new single stage in which the crises is gathering pace, and which cannot be addressed by inaction, vanity, egotism, distraction, or ignorance. As Clinton has discovered politics may be in part play acting, but it is play acting with a serious purpose.

Obama is not a hero, merely a politician. Coal might once again be a resource, but for now it is a part of the problem, and that is going to tough for lots of people unless alternative means of generating energy are employed.


David Kaiser has an interesting essay on reason and emotion. He begins by saying:

The most fundamental conflict in western civilization, in my opinion, is probably between reason and emotion.

And then goes on to consider Charles Freeman’s The Closing of the Western Mind:

. . . dealing with the gradual erosion of reason and the triumph of Christian faith between the fourth century B. C. and the seventh century A. D. I have not yet found time to read it (and hope that this post may indeed encourage me to do so in order to give you all a report), but the very title raises the issue of whether this could happen again—not a frivolous question in an era in which faith is rivaling reason in struggles to establish an orthodox view of how and when the human race came into being.

I am partial to the argument that Chris Hedges (via Truthdig) makes that suggests that scientific discovery and testing is subjectively and objectively interrelated. If that makes sense. The discovery of the structure of benzene is an illustration of what I mean.

I tend to consider that reason and emotion are two separate forms, but not unrelated, forms of dialogue which can be given space in democratic discourse, but listening skills to bring to the point of a common constructive purpose. The conflict, I would suggest (and I may be wrong) arises when reason or emotion are used to strong arm the perceived opponent and to dominate the debate. During the Dark Ages in European History the dominant political system and the social order had fallen apart and the task was to rebuild from a local, community level. Augustine set the distinction between the two cities, or systems of social organization and purpose. Both reason and emotion, if understood, might inform our actions and purpose.



1. Club Troppo » Missing Link Daily - July 22, 2008

[…] looks at the Bush Legacy.Bron asks whether Libertarians could split the Republican vote.Beju makes an unsurprising […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: