Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The way of the world

I have repeatedly argued on these pages that we are fundamentally imprisoned by history and unable to liberate ourselves as a collective from our shortsighted, grasping human nature. What this means on the high political level is that reasonable, intelligent people hardly ever get to the real power and if they by some miracle do, they are utterly unable to rule with intelligence and reason. All political cultures, all political processes are fundamentally irrational. Even our liberal democratic solution that at least tries to approximate as reasonable course as possible. So, today we seem to have a person exceptionally intelligent, perhaps exceptionally reasonable being harshly bounded by one of the most dysfunctional Western political systems. What he, his administration can achieve remains to be seen - but in any case it will be radically less than what he is expected to accomplish.

The system would need a more fundamental New Deal than what FDR accomplished but maybe at least some key reforms can be implemented and the present disastrous slide into moral decadence at least halted. Perhaps even this is to hope too much: so far Obama seems overly cautious, overly bound to the established, and corrupt, and irrational, folkways of the imperial Washington. Much, too much, is depending on a single person, however intelligent, however well-meaning. Interesting times, these.

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