Wednesday, May 25, 2011
ENLIGHTENMENT - May 26, 2011
It seems to me that we are reaching the end of the Enlightenment. I had never heard of it until I reached literature in college German class, which now seems strange, since it was the moving spirit of the US Revolution and the intellectual life of the latter 18th Century in EU. In fact, as I later realized to my surprise, it was the Enlightenment that endeared US to the dreams of the educated people there in the 19th Century. The Enlightenment was the force of mind that led politics in UK, philosophy in France, and music and literature in Germany during that time, but only US was successful promoting it as a political philosophy, though France kept trying and falling back into autocracy. Still, there was enough of that outlook in US so that the attempt to believe in it kept Columbia as the Gem of the Ocean until it finally broke over the issue of slavery. What it had left behind was a beacon of hope in the practical policies of Democracy for almost 100 years and a very prosperous economy for most of its second century. But underneath there was always a strange mixture of the Wild West and peasant life in EU imperial life to undermine the glorious vision of a nation governed by the philosophy of Reason. By the early 20th Century, the cracks in the attendant belief in the perfection of the Free Market were challenging the rule of money that had been part of the credo of the Free Market for over 200 years. In the meantime, the Germans fleeing the crumbling of the Prussian Revolution in 1848 came to WI, bearing the Enlightenment with them and were the torch of Liberty for about 100 years until being swallowed by McCarthyism after WW II. Today we struggle to maintain the faith that made us the Capital of Reason during most of the US centuries until the class war of the billionaires has put our heritage in peril. The next few years will chart WI’s course for the next few centuries. This is a call to fight for the Light.