Monday, November 17, 2008

Thomas Paine, Jonathan Swift, and Sean Hanity mixin it up

This is an ongoing correspondence between 2 of the brothers Warren- Dave and Pete.
This response was answering a poem he has written based on McCain's statement referring to Obama as "that one" in the recent debate in Nashville. In reading my response back though I decided to not include Pete's poem in this essay as it took on a life of its own and pretty well makes a case for the corruption and reformation of the term "liberal" and "liberalism" as it is bandied about today on infotainment networks like FOX News.

....Now to your thoughts and quotes from Swift and Thomas Paine, apropos of their satirical brilliance and your poem entitled"That One." Further along an imagined course, I'd bring both Swift and Paine forward to sit on a typical set w/ the renowned Sean Hannity of FOX news during one of his anti liberal
mini screeds. It would be interesting to see how Swift ,or Paine,
or Patrick Henry for that matter, would withstand Hannity's anti
liberal vitriolic screedograms... It would be evident to Paine @
the outset however,that Hannity simply has not done his
homework-that he would be taken by Paine as a talking head Torre lightweight and Paine would immediately leave the set.

Swift, however, saved by his keen sense of humor, farce, and irony, would hang in
there awhile just to see what form anti liberalism had taken these
250 years or so later. He would quickly conclude though that Hannity has
not read Thomas Hobbes,David Hume or Bishop Berkley or much of
European history at all from the Age of Reason forward. Or maybe he
might think that if Hannity had read any of these people, and
compared them to thinkers of the Scottish Enlightenment like John
Locke or Adam Smith, or JS Mill, that he just did not get it. He simply
did not understand that the former thinkers were brilliant apologist with
reasoned arguments supporting the case for conservative philosophy.
And there surely were reasonable arguments defending conservative thought given the contexts of the times, with the civil and religious wars in England, and, especially, the debaucheries of the French Revolution, as cases examplar of liberalism run amok.

If he read the Scots at all,he simply did not understand how profound was the liberal idea that reimagined self determination in the hands of an enfranchised
democracy, and that this liberal and radical form became us here in the U.S.! I say reimagined because this idea had its precedence
but died in the 4'th century AD with the demise of Rome.
He simply does not get the self evident truth that we are all
children of a profoundly liberal approach to how people govern themselves.

Conservative philosophers like Hobbes for example, proclaimed more
or less that sovereignty was best placed in the safe hands of a
single monarch, or sovereign, and in exchange for relinquishing
individual freedoms, subjects would be guaranteed protection and
security by such a sovereign. Pretty sound reasoning here seems me. That was the deal . Give me the bulk of your rights to self determination and I'll protect you from your fellow subjects within under the rule of law ,and from without,
from foreign enemies of the state. All the liberal intellectual and
philosophical movements of the late 17'th century and early 18'th
flew directly in the face of this "conservative" thinking. This
movement led by John Locke and others of the Scottish
Enlightenment became the political realities and applied
structures of the later 18'th century and continues today.

Does Hannity know, (I think McCain does, but Palin surely does
not), that we are indeed the living demonstration of extremely
liberal and radical ideas. We in the surviving modern democracies
are all the children and benefactors of radically liberal thought.
What would Hannity say to this? If he'd been alive during the
revolution he'd have surely been a loyalist or a Torre. The whole
of the 18'th century, as far as the political structures it
produced, is all about overturning conservative thinking as in
monarchical rule, and risking the enfranchisement and power
granting to the "mob", to the masses, and finally framed so
beautifully, so simply, so enduringly, in the first lines of the
Constitution "WE THE PEOPLE" Up until then, all " parliamentary
constitutions" would have started thus: THE KING DECREES BY DIVINE
RIGHT THAT........ blah, blah, blah

Hannity would have likely branded Jefferson, Adams, and Paine all
dangerous liberal insurrectionists and demanded their heads on a
plate delivered up to the king.

What's so dangerous today is this idea that liberalism
conjugates out to "anti patriotism. Go back to school Sean!!!!!
It was liberalism and the guts to risk all its diverse promise that
gave us what we have today and why liberalism excercising it's measures of conservative reinstatemnet of the amendments to the constitution and the constitution itself which has been under serious assault these last 8 years
thatwill save us from this drift toward what Hobbes and Berkley, with
all their noble thinking, championed in their thoughts granting
absolute rule in the hands of a single sovereign. This drift is
happening right now with more and more power granted to the executive branch of government long before Bush.

Give me Hobbes any day over Hannity, for given the context of his birth, (he was born 3 mos. premature on the evening of the destruction of the Spanish Armada
in 1588). He was born literally in a womb of fear as his mother looked out to sea from the English coastline at the specter of the looming Armada. So, how and when he came into the world directly effected the way he thought for the rest of his life. He thought a single empowered sovereign was the only way to ensure the safest and most stable form of government. He may have been right for his context but clearly wrong in terms of the eventual best of all possible worlds ensuring security.But he would not have had the prescience then to see what has happened in the new world 300 years hence after that fateful night when tumultuous seas and wind made
quick and easy dispatch of the formidable Armada in 1588.

But Sean, Hobbes went to school in a way that we have
forgotten to go to school even if we get ourselves into the Ivy Leagues. He did his homework with thousands of hours of study and
analysis producing his brilliant work in The Leviathan, not
instant stardom and a buly pulpitauction block to hock your books and
T-shirts!!!! Because you're on fucking TV!!!! .
Poor Sean though, he is but an emblematic talking head of these sorely dumb
downed times in that he is a very narrowly educated ideologue who
is granted license to spread propaganda and calling it fair and
balanced news. It's as bad as trying to put Intelligent Design scientifically
into a biology text. Eric Severied and my Dad would puke all over H Hannity's notes each night he gets going, but each would feel so much more loss for what
has happened to the electorate and the American Mind.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home