Saturday, June 24, 2006

"Love" U.S.A. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Is this our situation? 

And if it is, what are the "local forms of community" that might be constructed?

The following passage is from the end of Alasdair Macintyre's After Virtue (1981). I guess this perspective has, for better or worse, been behind my revulsion at any and all discussions of "politics" as currently configured and enacted.

It is always dangerous to draw too precise parallels between one historical period and another; and among the most misleading of such parallels are those which have been drawn between our own age in Europe and North America and the epoch in which the Roman Empire declined in the Dark Ages. Nonetheless, certain parallels there are. A crucial point in that earlier history occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead … was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that both morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness. If my account of our moral condition is correct, we ought also to conclude that for some time now we have reached that turning-point. What matters at this stage is the construction of local forms of community within which civility and the intellectual moral life can be sustained through the new dark ages which are already upon us. And if the tradition of the virtues was able to survive the horrors of the last dark ages, we are not entirely without grounds for hope. This time, however, the Barbarians are not waiting beyond the frontiers; they have already been governing us for quite some time. And it is our lack of consciousness of this that constitutes part of our predicament.

As much as I sympathize with this point, I guess it is too extreme, too black-and-white: one must both recognize the absolutely bankrupt and moribund nature of the imperium and try to preserve it--though this sort of "preservation" would not really be preservation, but rather a kind of "hospice-care" that will bring about the death of the imperium with an eye towards reducing the mass-death that can easily result from this sort of process.

Any thoughts?

Monday, June 19, 2006

things for listening 

Every now and then we get a truly sublime moment. This video of Chomsky giving a lecture on the so-called 'Just War Theory' at West Point is just such a moment.

A brief talk by Krugman on the state of the current class war.

Descending into pure unalloyed schadenfreude:

In 1988 at Ohio State University Noam Chomsky opened up a heroic and savage can of whup-ass on Richard Perle. This too was sublime.

"Focused on the future" 

Has Kos lost his mind? Can anyone explain what this means?

Small pet peeve. I used to dig the phrase, "Take back America", as in, we Democrats need to take it back from the Republicans who are running it into the ground. It was a staple of the Dean campaign, and I was really into it.

But now the phrase grinds. I don't want to "take our nation back". That's regressive. I want to move it forward. It's Republicans who are trying to drag the nation back into the dark ages. We are progressives. We are forward looking.

So yeah, this might be a bullshit framing peeve, but really, let's remind people that we are focused on the future. And that's where we want to take our country.

As far as I can tell, there are only two salient impulses left in American "politics"--nostalgia, which offers delusions feeding the impulse to cling tenaciously and futilely to what one still has left and/or magically get back what one has lost (i.e. what one never had, but has always wished for); and obliteration, which asserts rather straightforwardly that there is no future but apocalypse and so offers people the chance to exult in triumphant nothingness though the sublime extermination of everything that isn't oneself.

Also as far as I can tell, Republicans have pretty much cornered the market on obliteration and are doing a pretty good job selling it. Which leaves nostalgia to the Democrats. Which is maybe what "moving America forward" really is after all, answering my own initial question.

Of course, the third possible course would be a kind of true conservatism, based on a series of strategies aimed at stopping the Death Machine in its tracks and trying to CONSERVE, for a time, human life. But I haven't seen any indication that we have any political party concerned with throwing themselves under those tracks.


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