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The Opiate of the Intellectuals

James Ceaser's latest, The Roots of Obama Worship is characteristically insightful.  I hesitate to quote any of it, for it's a deep analysis, but to whet the appetite, here's what I take to be the central paragraph (I didn't actually count), Ceaser writes:

The combination of confidence in science and a religious-like enthusiasm was the hallmark of the Obama campaign, just as it is the most salient characteristic of the contemporary progressive impulse. Confidence in experts and the pledge to "restore science to its rightful place" went hand in hand with chants of "Yes we can" and with celebrations of the gift of charismatic leadership.

When the modern "religion of humanity" meets political necessity, the result is not a happy one.  The result may be post-partisan depression.

Update: I wrote a bit hastily yesterday. I should also note that Ceaser ties those ideas quite intelligently to Comte's "Religion of Humanity."

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Discussions - 6 Comments

...is influence (like power only without responsibility)

Yes, no one could fail to notice the religious fervor in that Democratic campaign. Such hypocrisy! These are the same people who look down their noses at traditional religion.

Such people are giving science and expertise a bad name.

I think you mean "whet" the appetite. I'm not sure what a "wet" appetite is, but I doubt that it's meaningful in this context.

Thank you for directing us to a fine article. The best single example of Obama-adoration was provided by Ezra Klein in January 2008, whose analysis (http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/ezraklein_archive?month=01&year=2008&base_name=obamas_gift) of the speech Barack Obama gave after winning the Iowa caucuses seems to have been written under the impression that there is a Nobel Prize for Fatuousness:

Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

His rhetoric is a weird blend of that idealism and the mundane. He tells us that universal healthcare is a right as the means of the triumph of the word "health" over the fleshly failure of death and disease which no one ought to suffer. He tells us that all should prosper equally, never mind economic realities. This leaves us his meaning and transcendence as if all about a "Cash for Clunkers" style America. That has ugly and necessary limits. One big problem with Humanity is the nature of humans. Another big probelm is nature. He cannot transcend those; we are stuck with them.

And we are stuck with him. Three more years to go. Maybe the electorate will be willing to settle for a pragmatist the next time around.

Thanks for the comments, and the correction, which I have taken care of

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