July 4, 2009

Anybody sayin' "Yes We Can" these days?

Roger L. Simon, Storm Clouds on the Fourth of July:

...Obama is already over. In six short months the now-spattered bumper stickers with "Hope and Change" seem like pathetic remnants from the days of "23 Skidoo," the echoes of "Yes, we can" more nauseating than ever in their cliché-ridden evasiveness. Although they may pretend otherwise, even Obama's choir in the mainstream media seems to know he's finished, their defenses of his wildly over-priced medical and cap-and-trade schemes perfunctory at best. Everyone knows we can't afford them. His stimulus plan - if you could call it his, maybe it's Geithner's, maybe it's someone else's, maybe it's not a plan at all - has produced absolutely nothing. In fact, I have met not one person of any ideology who evinces genuine confidence in it.

On the foreign policy front, it's more embarrassing. He switches positions every day, such as they are, while acting like a petit-bourgeois snob with our allies and then, when people with genuine passion for democracy emerge on the scene (the courageous Iranian protestors), behaves like a cringeworthy, equivocating creep. Enough of Obama....

Sounds about right to me. Of course Obama can still do tons of damage, but he's a young guy with old ideas. Old and moldy. Ideas that have failed a thousand times.

There's also this, which, sorry Roger, I think is malarky:

...No, my suggestion is even more radical. We should junk the liberal and conservative orthodoxies that have divided - and blinded - us for so long and go back not to Eighteenth Century America, but Nineteenth, to the days of that most American of philosophies - pragmatism. "The pragmatists rejected all forms of absolutism and insisted that all principles be regarded as working hypotheses that must bear fruit in lived experience." Now there's a thought that might brighten even grumpy me on the Fourth of July...

Pragmatism was and is bullshit. Along with all the other invented philosophies and moralities of modernity. Why? Because they all lack any fixed and immutable yardstick to measure anything by. The Pragmatist says: "principles...must bear fruit in lived experience." OK, so who defines "fruit?" The original Pragmatists seem to have assumed that the world was destined to be run by people like them—educated well-to-do white gentlemen of northern European Protestant extraction. And therefore everyone would continue to define "the good" the way they would. How has that worked out?

Most of them were, by the way, Eugenicists, and the "fruits of wise policy" they envisioned included the elimination of inferior people and inferior races. Which probably included Roger Simon's poor raggedy Jewish ancestors. And blacks and Hispanics of course.

Every man-made philosophy or or morality or system for living faces the problem of drift. The world changes, and the philosophy is rigid and can't change with it. Or the philosophy is flexible, but then who can say exactly which flexes are the right ones? Who decides? What's the yardstick? And if you really could invent an immutable yardstick for your philosophy, it still wouldn't work, because the very meanings of words and concepts are always changing.

Only one philosophy, one institution, has solved this problem. And it isn't "man-made."

Posted by John Weidner at July 4, 2009 4:02 PM
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