Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I Hope, therefore I Am. Hopefully.

I read Chapati Mystery as a crash-course in Pakastani politics. As a pleasant surprise, I found a pretty good run-down of the current crop of Presidential candidates. The author likes Obama, and I suppose we should start getting used to the idea, but he gives Paul a relatively good plug - 

"Neither Kucinich nor Paul should be forgotten, even as we mourn their candor-killed candidacies. Only grown-ups can handle Libertarianism, and even then it would take a good Democrat, or perhaps a fired-up, ready to go Dennis Kucinich, to speak for collective conscience and save Libertarians from themselves. America is ready for neither of these men, but it was delightful to see Ron Paul speaking in syllogisms so sensible they physically hurt the other candidates."

I agree that libertarianism demands personal responsibility and I know what he means by "collective conscience", although we would probably disagree on how this conscience might be assuaged.  Progressives are not prepared to lose any of the ground they have gained in order to stop the US government from murdering people, and can't support Paul's stance on the constitution, because many of those gains were achieved by extra- and therefore un-constitutional means.  The "right to privacy" as well as "the unitary executive" could be established by amendment, but they haven't been.  

On Obama's "support that so bewilders America’s chattering classes; he is unstoppable precisely because he is inexperienced, because he does not yet carry the taint of the Imperial Corporate Machine that fleeces citizen, subject and enemy alike; he is too young to have investments in their entrenched isms, ists, and grievances; he is too new a convert to consider his ascendancy ordained by Jesus; he is just naive enough to believe that, by building a mandate across parties, races and classes, that he might at last rouse the great and drowsy American spirit that once a century rises to correct the hundred years’ of errata preceding it. Hope is indeed naive, and Americans have perhaps decided at last that naivete about the possibilities of tomorrow, no matter how improbable, is preferable the beastly, apocalyptic guile that promises to drown us." 

I don't understand how the author could shoot down Libertarianism because it requires "adult" responsibility and wisdom, and endorse Obama because of the child-like faith that propels his candidacy.  Ron Paul's  uncomfortable syllogisms won't be nullified because Obama "does not yet carry the taint" He'll certainly have plenty of opportunity to acquire it.  As far as rousing the great and drowsy American spirit: be careful what you wish for.

Hope might be naive but it doesn't have to be abandoned just because it's too difficult to work with very tools that were designed to prevent rule by guile.  I naively hope that Americans will deconstruct the empire before it deconstructs the very means to speak to whatever remains of our collective conscience, a very small and meek voice, and fading.

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