Another really cool guy I met while in Rome last September was Dr. Anthony Baker. He was the chair of the panel I sat on and he also presented a very interesting paper at the conference. He was very personable, whimsical, and engaging.
He has written an essay here for the Other Journal, which is very interesting. As many have pointed out, the modern oppositions denoted by the labels liberal/conservative and their correlates in the political world to Democrat/Republican really represent simply the two sides to the same modernist/enlightenment coin. Both believe the narrative told by modernity is true. It should not surprise us then when both sides feel constantly let down. The revolution, whether a liberal one or conservative one, never quite happens. Both sides always seem to get co-opted; eventually, one side or the other always feels that their leader or side, someone, “sold out.” Of course, the one revolution that seems to remain in place is the global consumerist capitalist one that commodifies everything, even “causes.”
Dr. Baker notes that we have plenty of “talking” but nothing to relate it to beyond ourselves so it becomes a cacophony of voices that finally signify nothing. This creates an illusion of participation, when it is really a managed diversion by “parliamentary” mediation so the commodifying can continue unabated. A conversation without reference to, or contemplation of, the divine becomes a prison of echoes.
President Obama is an extremely capable man. He is intelligent and a natural leader. But he is still caught, along with the rest of our democracy, within the paradigm described by Dr. Baker. One then wonders if this doesn’t portend another disillusionment at some point.
In “Won’t Get Fooled Again” the Who sang “meet the new boss, same as the old boss,” and it could very well sum up our modern transitions of political power.