Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

10/27/2003

If you're a progressive partisan, I highly recommend going over to the Daily Kos, signing up, and getting a diary. Even if you have your own blog. Hive power, man! It's kind of like lining up stereos, one to each window of a skyscraper, and tuning into the same station. Political SETI.

Here's a truncated post I had there which might be of interest to Ptarmiganimals:

Anyway, I've been reading an interesting book: Walter Brueggemann's Prophetic Imagination . Although it's obstenibly a work of Biblical scholarship, I'm kind of reading it through the lens of political science, and it's good stuff. A lot of time is spent on how old testament prophets countered themselves against the "royal consciousness," which began, according to Brueggemann, with Solomon "the wise.":

The possibility of an alternative consciousness...was quite removed from Israel in Solomon's time. The king characteristically could find no such notion acceptable. It seems likely that criticism could no longer be practiced because the transcendent agent necessary to criticism was gone. And we may hyphothesize that promises that could energize are now all confiscated for royal use....The tension between a criticized present and an energizing future is overcome. There is only an uncriticized and unergizing present...
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,,,Now there is no notion that God is free and that he may act apart and even against this regime...God is now "on call", and access to him is controlled by the royal coiurt. Such an arrangement clearly serves two interlocking functions. On one hand, it assures ready sanction to every notion of the king because there can be no transcendent resistance or protest. On the other hand, it gives the king a monopoly so that no marginal person may approach this God except on the king's terms...
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The royal program of achievable satiation...(a) is legitimated by an "official religion of optimism," which believes God has no business other than to maintain our standard of living, ensuring his own place in his palace, and (b) requires the annulment of the neighbor as a life-giver in our history; it imagines that we can live outside history as self-made men and women...
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How can we have enough freedom to imagine and articulate a  real historical newness in our situation? This is not to ask...if this freedom is realistic or politically practical or economically viable. ...We need to ask not whether it is realistic or practical or viable but whether it is imaginable.
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In considering the Solominic achievement, I have been speaking of the fate of the royal consciousnss as "numbness" even though I have not used that word. The Solomonic establishement embodies the loss of passion, which is the inability to care or suffer. ..Clearly, the regime is interested not in what people experience but in their behavior, which can be managed.

Sound like any "regime" we know?

Therefore (and that's a lot to digest), in our era of heartless 3rd-ring suburb superchurches, Hummers, 200+ channels, the neo-feudalism of gated communities, people "bowling alone," I think people are looking for a political hope that gives an alternative to mere satiation. (Remember how Bush wanted people to spend their way out of the misery after 9/11 , rather than giving people an imaginative response to a crisis, a la Lincoln and Roosevelt--behavior vs. experience, as Brueggemann posits).

Whether this is an electable strategy is, of course, a whole nuther debate. But perhaps what Dean is tapping into imagining a future. Other candidates, naturally, are trying to do the same thing. And personally I think someone like Edwards has the potential with his innovative "postmodern populism" (as Digby calls it) to give people that "it", that fire. But give props to Dean for doing it first--for imagining a reconnection with the original American social contract. A convenant, if you will.



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