Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Leftism: The Great Atomizer

Deneen again!!

In his most recent diagnosis of the state of America’s political soul, the journalist and political thinker E.J. Dionne begins with a simple thesis. In the opening pages of Our Divided Political Heart, he asserts that “American history is defined by an irrepressible and ongoing tension between two core values: our love of individualism and our reverence for community.” The inevitable “creative tension” between these two commitments, he argues, is the source of ongoing American debate as well as American strength. We need to hold firmly to both values, as difficult as that can be in practice.

Dionne, predictably, argues that the political Right is beholden to individualism (not wholly un-true) and that the political Left is the Party of Community.

Deneen dismantles--actually, nukes-- his argument.

...There is no mention in Dionne’s 300-page book, for instance, of the campaign commercial that launched President Obama’s re-election campaign, “The Life of Julia.” Julia is portrayed over the course of her life as the beneficiary of a bevy of government programs; notably, with the exception of one slide, she is constantly pictured alone. She appears to be especially reliant upon the government because there is no evidence of any support of family, community, church, or friends in her life. In her middle age, she (on her own accord, apparently) “decides” to have a child, and in one scene is shown sending young “Zachary” off to school; he is never to be seen again for the rest of her life. It is the very picture of the Leviathan—in this world, there are only individuals and the state....

Not to worry.  Deneen criticizes the (R) brand, too.

...Dionne is correct on two main points: a major element of the Republican Party today is dominated by individualistic tendencies...

One hears "rugged individualism" (seemingly) 1000X/week on Limbaugh's program.  But Ron Reagan was no "rugged individualist"-promoter.  That phrase came from the pen of Teddy Roosevelt, the Progressive.  No surprise that TR begat Wilson, (etc.), begat Roosevelt, (etc.) begat Obama.

Final shot at Dionne:

...You will search in vain for the health of our actual communities in the pages of this book—written by one of America’s most celebrated communitarian thinkers—unless you unreflectively accept that “government” and “community” are the same thing. But that view is finally nothing more than the “quest for community” gone awry, something Dionne, more than anyone, should realize.


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