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Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Obama: A Nod and a Wink to the Far Left?

I found this quote rather disturbing.

That's why I'm in this race. I love this country too much to see it divided and distracted at this moment in history. I believe in our ability to perfect this union because it's the only reason I'm standing here today.

Perfect is rarely used as a verb, so this seems too odd to be an accident. Back in the 1960s, among the far Left, there was a raging debate as to whether man was perfectable. Even then it was pretty obvious that the communist utopia that many desired would butt up against reality; humans just don't act idealistically. So the Left began to claim that man himself was perfectable. Discussing the drafting of the Port Huron Statement, considered the beginning of the New Left, Tom Hayden writes:

At the time, as disfranchised students, embracing such an expansive idea required a wrenching re-examination of common assumptions. What, for example, was the view of human nature that underlay our assertion that all people had basic rights to participation, or that democracy was the system best suited to respecting human dignity? All-night discussions ensued, often concluding at daybreak. On the one hand, there were followers of the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, influenced by the atrocities of the Holocaust and Stalinism, who had asserted that "the children of darkness," the political realists, were in their generation wiser than "the foolish children of light," the pacifists and idealists. On the other side were the Enlightenment humanists who believed in infinite perfectibility through education and nonviolence as adopted by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. The dominant view was that we were children of light. We chose utopia and rejected cynicism. The statement ended on an apocalyptic note: "If we appear to seek the unattainable, as it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." But, reflecting our mostly mainstream backgrounds, we also wanted to be relevant, effective. Agreement was reached when Mary Varela, a Catholic Worker activist, inspired by Pope John XXIII, suggested that we follow the doctrine that humans have "unfulfilled" rather than "unlimited" capacities for good, and are "infinitely precious" rather than "infinitely perfectible." The theological amendment drew no objections and was incorporated without citation.

Of course the idea that humans can be perfected, or that any human institutions, especially government, can be perfected is absurd. It reflects more "we need it" rather than "we can get it."
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