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Old 01-10-2012, 12:20 PM
stephanie stephanie is offline
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 3,921
Default Re: An apparition is stalking America

Originally Posted by Wonderment View Post
I have to admit that the "we/us" you express above is not something that I feel deeply.
Yes, I've gotten that from your posts, and it is a place where I agree more with Rob. I understand your POV and am not bothered by it, despite disagreeing, but I would strongly disagree with your suggestion that it's a typical "liberal" view. I wonder sometimes if your harsh judgments of Obama are related to him seeming more out of step with most liberals to you, based on the "liberals" you are surrounded by -- people who are probably more to the left, more associated with the peace movement -- vs. what I perceive, even in a strongly Dem city.

On the other hand, if we are going to talk intellectual history, of course questioning national ties in favor of other kinds of ties can be seen as based on liberal arguments (even if liberal arguments also were made in favor of quite different positions). Indeed, it shows up in that other form of liberalism, libertarianism.

I like to think that most everything that matters in life transcends national, ethnic and religious identity. I respect patriotism the same way I respect religious beliefs, but I'm agnostic on both.
I think national, religious, and even ethnic ties can have positive effects in, among other things, creating community and ties to people that you otherwise would not be inclined to see commonality to or associate with. Sure, this can be bad if it also means failing to see such ties to others outside the group, but I don't think that's necessarily going to happen merely because one feels the ties.

I tend to like the concept of going to one's local church -- the parish idea -- vs. picking out churches based on them perfectly suiting you, because you get a greater variety of people and often people you wouldn't otherwise know or see much in common with. Of course, neighborhoods are increasingly doing a kind of sorting these days, but I still see a greater variety of people at my church than in most other aspects of my life. That wouldn't be the case if I picked out a church based on perceived agreement with my particular approach to religion, even within the same denomination (which I could easily do here).

I see the same kind of building block associations in people's affection for their neighborhoods, cities, and in their love for country. That I love America gives me a greater investment in wanting to make it a better country, in caring about the well-being of Americans I otherwise have little in common with, in feeling a link. I guess I'm cynical about the ability to feel this kind of link as strongly for just humankind, and also about my ability to act concretely to improve things elsewhere (beyond donations and such). Thus, I do think it's valuable to have a focus on what happens in America or to Americans. The natural alternatives seem to me to be based on more problematic considerations, like class, which ultimately hurts the position of the poorer everywhere, IMO.

That last is not so different than Marx's claim that capitalism in destroying historic divisions like country and religion and laying bare what really underpins all will set us up for people turning against capitalism. Well, except that I'm not opposed to capitalism and think Marx failed to see some of capitalisms own defense mechanisms, how it can itself become a religion.

I think American exceptionalism is a variation on that Biblical theme, and I understand how it can resonate deeply for many people. It doesn't seem to me, however, to be a good fit for the future. I think what we need is less nationalism and more inclusiveness and global consciousness.
I disagree with your conclusion but think you are right, of course, that it's from that same Biblical theme.

I think he will revert to his core values after his presidency, much like Jimmy Carter did.
This relates to what I said above. We see Obama differently.
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