Thursday, July 24, 2008

The depth of the divide in this country, and why Barack Obama may end up as a polarizing rather than a uniting figure


This is a contract between the opinions of two people I respect.

I have known Waldo for over thirty years, and I have learned to respect his opinion the most when I initially disagree with it.

I have never met Becky, but have come to know her through her blog posts, which are consistently thought out to a depth to which other blogs should aspire.

Not surprisingly, Becky being a committed Libertarian and Waldo being a lifetime iconoclast, they often disagree.

This time, in their disagreement over Senator Barack Obama's appearance in Germany.

Waldo sees cultural sensitivity and homage to the Bauhaus style.

Becky shivers and summons up the image of Nuremburg rallies and the cult of personality.

Both are worth reading, and between them you get a sense of the divide in this country, not between ideologues and pundits, but between somber intellectuals with a wealth of historical, cultural, and literary information as the foundation for their interpretations.

In stark terms, Waldo and Becky represent opposite reflections of a common insight: as a country we are on the verge of a major paradigm shift, not just within this country but across the world.

Global warming, the end of cheap oil, the decline of Western world domination, the rise of competing economies in India, China, and Brazil, the specter of new technologies....

I have no idea what will kick-start the shift. If I knew that, if anybody knew that, it wouldn't be a true paradigm shift.

Unfortunately, such shifts--aside from being unpredictable--necessarily lead through difficult times, which is why people are necessarily susceptible to looking for guides.

The problem is using our brains as well as our hearts to figure out which ones are true guides, and which ones are not.

Guessing wrong is not an option.

7 comments:

Pandora said...

As a nation we can be quite contrary...

We want the world to love us vs who cares what other countries think vs why do they not love us

Scarily enough, these opinions have been known to co-exist.

Pandora said...

Oops! Scarily enough, these opinions have been known to co-exist SIMULTANEOUSLY in one person!

Drew80 said...

The poster here is not Bauhaus! Goodness gracious! This poster bears no relationship at all to Bauhaus lithography or the Bauhaus style. If anything, it is anti-Bauhaus.

The poster here is borrowed from 1930’s German Constructivist Art, which was a strange melding of Soviet 1920’s Constructivism, German Art Deco and art of the German School of realism/heroism. German Constructivist Art of the 1930’s was an explicit rejection of the Bauhaus.

Indeed, the poster here is a PURE example of 1930’s German Constructivist Art. More specifically, this poster may be traced to 1936, obviously inspired by the series of posters the Nazis created for the 1936 Referendum, held on March 29 of that year. That particular series of posters was more restrained than typical Nazi efforts; its hallmarks were slightly smaller facial images and greater use of text than the Nazi posters that came before and after.

Whoever created this particular poster clearly spent a lot of time studying the 1936 German Referendum posters—which, of course, raises the uncomfortable question: what are these people THINKING?

(Of course, other Obama posters taken from 1930’s German Constructivist Art are far, far more chilling than this example.)

Brian Miller said...

I'm with Becky on this one.

It's chilling how such an empty suit, with literally no record of achievement or any new ideas, can receive such adulation from masses of drooling fans and drooling media figures alike.

As the little old lady in the Burger King commercials used to say, "where's the beef?"

And no, the "beef" isn't "Obama said something nice about gays in a speech to churches" or "Obama gave a speech."

Waldo said...

I'm curious Mr. Miller: what would be enough? A Bob Barr-like conversion?

Brian Miller said...

Barack Obama is a Senator. If he introduced legislation that lived up to his so-called values, I'd cut him some slack.

However, just another FISA-supporting Republicrat mouthing platitudes about "change" while undermining the constitution isn't anything new. It's as old as politics itself.

Obama, Waldo, is an empty suit. He's all talk, no shock. He's a pretty candy shell around the same old doublespeak and bullshit.

He has no legislative record to speak of.

He has no history of delivering even minor "change."

He has no consistent principles.

He has changed his position on the issues so many times during the primary season that it's difficult to know just what he stands for (other than his own power).

His willingness to attempt to leverage socio-cultural iconography to make up for his glaring flaws and transform discussion of him from the substance of the man and his policies (or lack thereof, in Obama's case) into a discussion of "vision," is simply chilling.

Josh83 said...

Steve Newton:

That Obama “may end up as a polarizing rather than a uniting figure” is a distinct understatement. Like Nixon, he ALREADY is a polarizing figure, and destined always to remain so.

“We are on the verge of a major paradigm shift” is a risible statement, and entirely meaningless unless further explained—and, moreover, the clichéd list of potential causes you supply for your “paradigm shift” is the same tired list that was trotted out over and over, to great laughter, in the late 1970’s (except the fad then was global cooling, not global warming). Such “paradigm shift” nonsense has no more validity or resonance today than it did thirty years ago.

I’d sit back if I were you, take an aspirin, read a book on the history of commodity prices, and relax.

Joshua