Sunday, April 27, 2008

Obama: Preacher for the Communitarian Church

"His work as an organizer led him to the church, the church was the heart of the community in which he was working, he became religious because of his commitment to social change. It was neither personal, nor familial, but part of his forming an identity, but not just as an individual, as a member of a community." Mark Schmitt writing about Obama's religion, March 19, 2008

Obama's religion provides Christian bragging rights for his supporters. But, none of them wants to explain that the church Obama belongs to isn't exactly Christian. Mark Schmitt wrote, "His work as an organizer led him to the church." Nice way of just slipping that organizer term in there and making it seem as if it's a quite natural transition to go from being a Fabian trained change agent, "committed to social "change," to infiltrating Christian churches and the Democratic Party and cleverly changing all of it into one lovely theory called communitarianism. What would his voting flock do if they knew the official religion of the communitarian community is an ancient pagan cult that worships Lucifer? Would they care? Should they care?

The thing that really gets me is how often we hear the word "change" as if it's a good thing. It's like everyone in the country is hypnotized to forget all the Soviet and Red Chinese propaganda and slogans. But the communitarians are great alchemists and sorcerers, so I suppose mass hypnotism isn't out of their range of tricks.

High Priest Obama
What is Obama's religion based upon? An African-Communitarian-Pholosophy!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008
"Obama as Communitarian

Via Ezra Klein, I've found that someone has done what I, to my great regret, have not been able to do but have wanted very much to do - describe the relationship between Obama and communitarian philosophy. I'm glad others have picked up on this. Schmidt name-drops Michael Sandel and Charles Taylor, calling Obama "the most deeply communitarian politician -- in the sense of Michael Sandel or Charles Taylor's point inarguable point that our identities cannot exist outside of our of social interactions and networks -- I have ever seen."

"Schmidt is correct that the point is inarguable, and yet very, very few people in America appreciate it. In some ways, this individualistic culture is constitutionally averse to it. It goes directly against the grain of what seems to belong most to American culture - the idea that society merely gets in the way of individual thought, belief, and action. There is undoubtedly some insight in the individualistic perspective, but it misses about half of the truth. I strongly agree with the communitarian perspective, but I am aware of very few people who share it. But Obama does. And, even better, he makes a good case that communitarian insights have a home in American tradition and practice.

"Also, Schmidt on "theories of change."
Here's a bit of what Ezra Klein had to say about Obama's communitarianism:
"I'm mystified when people talk about Obama as if he were pure ego, as if he believes that the "Barack Obama brand" itself delivers change. He is in fact the most deeply communitarian politician -- in the sense of Michael Sandel or Charles Taylor's point inarguable point that our identities cannot exist outside of our of social interactions and networks -- I have ever seen. His identity -- as African-American, as Christian -- is chosen and it is chosen because it situated him within a community.

For Sandel and others, "communitarianism" was a critique within liberalism to the overly "atomistic" and legalistic view of identity of rights-oriented liberalism and particularly the influence ofJohn Rawls. There was an attempt in the 1990s to build a kind of political movement around the idea, and Bill Clinton adopted some of the language, but it didn't really go very far, partly because, as Paul Starr writes in Freedom's Power, "it has at best been a supplement or corrective to tendencies within liberalism." But in Obama that supplement or corrective can be quite substantive, as I thought was shown in Alec McGillis's comparison of Obama and Edwards in their approaches to poverty -- for Edwards poverty is about not having enough money, and the solutions are economic, including helping people move to where jobs are, where Obama was attracted to comprehensive efforts to rebuild community, including the non-economic aspects of li
So, it looks like the term is slowly making it's way into the mainstream, finally. Our years of struggling to get people to believe it's real are coming to an end.

Devvy Kidd's April 24 article at newwithviews mentions the word COMMUNITARIAN Ten Times! Right on Devvy!

Henry Makow's April 15 article called "Obama's Slip Revealed His True Colors" calls Obama a "communist" and doesn't use the word communitarian once:

We went and poked around Vassar's Sociology department and looked at other courses relative to Quality of Life. Unbelieveable how long they've been teaching everything we write about at the ACL. It's all connected. Community organizers have to be trained somewhere, don't they? How else would they gain their deep committment?

"[237b. Community Development] (1)

"This course provides “hands-on” lessons in community organization, urban inequality, and economic development that are intended to supplement theoretical perspectives offered in other classes. Students examine local efforts to revitalize neighborhoods, provide social services, enhance social capital among residents, and promote homeowner and business investment in the contemporary city."
Vassar teaches it's students where modern social theory originated.

"247a. Modern Social Theory: Marx, Durkheim, and Weber (1)

(Same as Anthropology 247a and b) "This course focuses on a comparison of the principal assumptions and the central concepts contributing to the formation of modern social theory. Readings include selections from Marx, Durkheim, and Weber. Ms. Moon."

More recent references to communitarianism:

"Tonight I would have you contrast John Adams — a fine, wise venture in historical recreation — with the peculiar views expressed by Michael Hirsh in Newsweek. Hirsh thinks the nation has been “coarsened by Southernism,” which he contrasts with the “diplomatic, communitarian Yankee sensibility.” Say what? When did such a thing ever exist, outside the Oneida colony?"

"A speech designed to lull us into a warm communitarian stupor does not change who populates Obama’s campaign staff. They are the left of the left, the progressive revisionists, and the leftovers of the Carter and Clinton administrations in all their folly. They are the socialists, the raging radicals, the globalists and the opportunists that do not learn from failure and cannot see beyond their insipid ideologies. The pleasing demeanor and the measured voice cannot hide the heart of Senator Obama’s loyalties. Change for change’s sake is usually a failure. Change for ideology’s sake often is a disaster."

"There have always been two major threads twisting through American history; call them the "communitarian" and the "individualistic." The first, embodied by the likes of Jefferson and Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and the Kennedys, have understood and counseled that this nation's progress depends on a collective "we're-all-in-this-together" attitude. In an earlier generation, the "communitarian" thread was perhaps best expressed by JFK when he said "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country."

"In opposition to this has been the "individualistic" thread; the one best embodied by the Adamses and Tafts, by Nixon and to a lesser extent by Reagan. This attitude understands and fosters an America that is the product of unbridled, untrammeled, unregulated individual effort. It is the Horatio Alger myth writ large; the "Anyone-with-the-will-and-energy can-make-it-in-America" point of view.

"This week, Senator Barack Obama declared himself to be firmly, foursquarely and articulately, a devotee of the communitarian school of thought and action. As such, he, like Kennedy before him, has laid down a communal challenge to America. It is the challenge of FDR -- that we not fear the present, but work together as a nation so that the weakest and the least among us can find dignity and hope in the future. It is a call to our higher angels; a call that requires us to collectively roll up our sleeves and together, work for a better society, a better world."

"Political, social and cultural issues aren’t what they used to be. Things have been changing. Change agents are hard at work within the church, transforming churches from Christ centered, Spirit-led, Word focused, Gospel proclaiming, called out (from the world) assemblies, into what they would like them to be: communitarian social service distribution centers. The plan involves recruiting Christian churches to work in unity with other religions, the government, and corporations, to solve the world’s social, economic and physical problems."

"According to the communitarian network Democracy Now, Demonstrators converged in big cities like New York, Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco Miami and San Francisco, and smaller towns in Vermont and Ohio, among others, to add their voices to a call to end the war."

"Bring on the next civic generation, the Millennials: "Listen to Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, and you'll notice one of his most encouraging characteristics is his communitarian ethic.

"He uses 'we' instead of 'I.' He talks about the role of citizens, not just his own. His standard cheer is the Chicano rallying cry 'Si se puede!' -- Yes we can! in English -- and it speaks to the hunger so many Americans like myself share. We yearn for a revitalization of a communal civic ethic in this country, after decades of individualism on steroids.""

Here's a post called "Watching the Political Discourse Change"

"More than 20 years ago Ronald Reagan shifted the dominant political discourse in America. Today it looks like it may be Obama’s time. His campaign for president continues on a visionary path. Odd it is to see a communitarian vision poised against the backdrop of the every capitalist for himself theater of the past 20 plus years."

And then there are those who are sure communitarianism is just plain nice:

"There’s something to be said for communitarianism like that, for understanding how relationships work and trying to smooth them over. It’s not about greed or commercialism, and it surely isn’t about being communistic, as people so often declare with misplaced vitriol these days. It’s about sharing, and learning to do it as an adult, to help other people out."

I suppose my work could be considered "misplaced vitriol" (virtiol: bitterly abusive feeling or expression.) But based on my research, I don't think it qualifies as misplaced. And THAT is the debate we have yet to have in this country, isn't it?

And here's an Independent Communitarian Blogspot (as if there can be such a thing) who well understands the communitarian roots in Buber's I and Thou theory:
"The essence of a society beneficial to all independent communitarians, would be a charter that guides custom, while allowing for privacy and associational freedom,
recognizing that we are symbiotic lifeforms living on a symbiotic planet.
I Am The Way I Am, meets I And Thou and flourishes."

Anyway, the point is.. there's LOTS of people talking about communitarianism these days. Have we moved out of the conspiracy theory category yet?

This is the definition of a communitarian according to a new political "test":


"Your commitment to both equality and stability makes you a blend of the Socialist and the Conservative. This combination may seem unusual but consider the way in which both think loyalty to community takes priority over loyalty to oneself.

"You recognise the value of traditional culture and institutions. You also value government intervention in the economy. You hope that a combination of traditional values and interventionist economics will protect your way of life. You are concerned that the twin forces of free markets and permissive culture promote selfishness and erode community standards. If this is too bland for you then try the Authoritarian on for size."

"In fact these mexican illegals are living under a different and separate law and judicial system than we. They also have separate economics than us."- This is actually, literally, true. Technically, there is the current constitutional law at work, but they have brought Communitarian Law with them. This is the future for the US, they know, much of the judiciary, and the govt knows it. Some of LE knows it. At present everyone is living in a twilight of the “old system”, the illegals, and their enablers at official levels know that it is only a matter of time before their legal system supercedes the constitutional one. Mexico’s bureacrats, and law graduates, are already gearing up for the introduction of communitarian law into the US, knowing that their American equivalents will be handicapped by qualifications in a system that no longer exists. The NAU bureacracy and judiciary will be top heavy with Mexicans. Similar thing occurred in Europe with the EU, the early communitarian nations dominated."
Comment on thread at immigration


Bobby said...

The "decades of individualism on steroids", was the product of pseudo individualists such as Reagan and others. Imagine the drugstore cowboy riding his horse until he drops dead just to prove that he was no match for his preferred mode of transport, his air conditioned four wheel drive SUV.

From the BCI bank fraud to deregulation of industry and finance, its all designed to prove that the social institution of the individual is unworkable and therefore must give way to the sustainable community of fools.

the tent lady said...

Yeah Reagan is still a hero to so many people.. never one of mine as I was doing economic research on Central America in 84 and Reagan's policies in Nicaragua and the whole contra/CIA mining the harbors soured me on the guy.

I like that article Bobby, it reminded me of a few things I've forgotten, plus I've never read Spooner so that's another opinion I'd like to explore further. Sometimes I wonder how Henry Lamb copes with all that he's learned in the past 16 years. His Timeline to Global Governance was the rudest awakening for me. It had so many events and people I'd never heard of. I was so sure it was all a bunch of wacko information that when I went to verify it for myself I was simply blown away. Thanks!