Thursday, October 15, 2009
PROFLIGATE - October 15, 2009
Much verbiage has been expended in the past week over the enthusiastic and (some say) excessive way in which the Nobel Peace Prize Committee received the nomination of Pres. Obama for that Prize. Lots of jokes, some pretty bitter, and much laughter, almost hysterical, attended that announcement. And almost everyone, including Obama’s friends and supporters, commented on the apparent haste of the action. To put it in its proper place, we must remember the position of America in the political and intellectual life of the world, and especially of Europe, over the past 250 years. It was the first nation to embody the (mostly French) thinking of the Enlightenment, and while France joined in shortly afterwards, was highly successful for the first century of its incorporation. Those who believed in the thinking of the Age of Reason could look over the ocean and behold it in operation, more or less, and yearn for its triumph. Meanwhile, France tumbled from republic to empire to monarchy throughout the XIX century while fighting its wars of imperial domination on the European continent. The Germans had a small revolution of their own that was put down quickly and many of the survivors fled to Wisconsin to found the Progressive movement. Meanwhile the dreams of the American founders were compromised by Jackson and their moral integrity tested by the ordeal of slavery. But in all of this, the Dream of the Enlightenment burned in the New World and bore the hopes and wishes of the cream of humanity. But in the past 50 years it has been growing harder for the rest of the world to swallow the Empire of London transplanted to Washington and New York. There was no substitute site for the impeccable moral leadership of the Enlightenment discarded by the American empire. So the resurrection of the illusion of the City on the Hill signaled by the election of Obama was hailed with millennial enthusiasm. Halleluiah!