Friday, November 07, 2008

End of the Reagan Revolution?

The Obama triumph means the Reagan revolution is over. The antigovernment, antitax, trickle-down, every-man-for-himself ethos collapsed with a whimper during the catastrophic presidency of George W. Bush, and Obama's election put it out of its misery. By electing Obama, the American people have emphatically rejected the selfishness, masquerading as freedom and rugged individualism, that has been the calling card of the American right wing since Barry Goldwater. In its place, they are calling not just for a new and expanded vision of government's role in American life but for a new vision of American society.

That vision represents a return to the idea that Americans are bound together by more than just a flag, that we are all part of the same community, and that the strength of a community, like the strength of a family, is measured by its members' commitment to each other. The America envisioned by Obama is one in which the privileged care about the plight of the less fortunate because that care, that solidarity, is an inseparable part of who we are as Americans.

And that solidarity extends beyond our borders, to the people of the world. More than our wealth and power, this is what has made America a beacon of hope across the globe. After 9/11, Bush had an opportunity to reach out to the rest of the world. In his arrogance and folly, he chose to bully it instead. The election of Obama signifies that America is rejoining the world. How telling it was that in his speech, Obama said that America would defeat not our evil terrorist enemies, the rhetoric we have grown used to, but "those who would tear the world down." His is a larger, calmer vision, one that does not play into the hands of terrorists by exaggerating their threat.
--Gary Kamiya


ned said...

In his marvelous social treatise "The Human Cycle", Sri Aurobindo explains clearly that you cannot separate the individual and the collective. Both are important. The individual can only progress if the collective progresses and the collective only progresses if the individual progresses. It is quite idiotic to expect that the two things can be separated because there is a constant dialectic between individual and collective.

We neither want extreme individualism nor extreme collectivism, but a balanced approach that becomes practical because of a shared sense of greater purpose (which, being theistic, I would call the Grace ;-) ). When the Mother set up the universal town of Auroville to implement Sri Aurobindo's vision, it was precisely this balanced approach that she had in mind.

Here is part of an essay called "A Dream" that the Mother wrote for Auroville:

"There should be somewhere upon earth a place that no nation could claim as its sole property, a place where all human beings of good will, sincere in their aspiration, could live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority, that of the supreme Truth, a place of peace, concord, harmony, where all the fighting instincts of man would be used exclusively to conquer the causes of his sufferings and miseries, to surmount his weakness and ignorance, to triumph over his limitations and incapacities; a place where the needs of the spirit and the care for progress would get precedence over the satisfaction of desires and passions, the seeking for material pleasures and enjoyment. In this place, children would be able to grow and develop integrally without losing contact with their soul. Education would be given not with a view to passing examinations and getting certificates and posts but for enriching the existing faculties and bringing forth new ones. In this place titles and positions would be supplanted by opportunities to serve and organize. The needs of the body will be provided for equally in the case of each and everyone. In the general organization intellectual, moral and spiritual superiority will find expression not in the enhancement of the pleasures and powers of life but in the increase of duties and responsibilities. Artistic beauty in all forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, will be available equally to all, the opportunity to share in the joys they give being limited solely by each one's capacities and not by social or financial position. Work would not be there as the means for gaining one's livelihood, it would be the means whereby to express oneself, develop one's capacities and possibilities, while doing at the same time service to the whole group, which on its side would provide for each one's subsistence and for the field of his work. In brief, it would be a place where the relations among human beings, usually based almost exclusively upon competition and strife, would be replaced by relations of emulation for doing better, for collaboration, relations of real brotherhood."

Sounds like heaven on earth to me.

Nagarjuna said...

It sounds that way to me too. And even if we can never fully actualize this utopian vision, it seems to me that we can progressively approximate it by using it as our goal and by employing a more integral politics to propel us toward it.

Tom said...

I don't know that the voters rejected Reaganism, pointedly, by electing Obama. And I kind of doubt that the Republicans are going to be a post-Reagan party any time soon. But I do think that America simply must move in the opposite direction of the Reagan Revolution, which was always unsustainable, and that Obama will navigate the country to accomplish this.

We are in a New Day. If Obama succeeds, it will only be because he acted for the benefit of Us All.