Sunday, November 30, 2008

To Check Out. . .

The Radical Philosophy Association and its publication,  the Radical Philosophy Review,  is an interesting group for artists,  activists,  and radical philosophers.

MUMBAI: "Enough is Enough! Says Who to Whom?"

http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/19789

OBAMA AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF KARL REINHOLD NIEBUHR

In a New York Times article on Obama in 2007,  journalist David Brooks told that Obama's favorite philosopher is Karl Reinhold Niebuhr.  Niebuhr (1892-1971)  was an American Protestant theologian and philosopher who fused Christianity with the writings of Karl Marx.  A supporter of the New Deal,  he was a democratic socialist whose synthesis of the Early Writings of Marx and the New Testement gives a clear indication that Barack Obama's ideas rest upon a solid platform of philosophical theories and ideology.  

DISSENTING JUSTICE SEES SNUB OF RICHARDSON

Dissenting Justice blog space sees a snub of Richardson in Obama's pick of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State.  Clearly,  Richardson's endorsement of Obama during the primaries was a help to the campaign, and reciprocity was expected.  Latinos are none to happy,  either,  as Richardson has far more foreign policy experience than does Clinton.  For further analysis,  see the blog article here:http://dissentingjustice.blogspot.com/2008/11/wicked-irony-alert-did-obama-snub.html

Saturday, November 29, 2008

HOMO HOMINI LUPUS : WAL MART STAMPEDE AND DEATH BRINGS TO MIND HOBBESIAN LEVIATHAN NIGHTMARE

A New York Walmart employee was trampled to death as crowds stampeded into a Long Island WalMart store for Black Friday sales yesterday. I am reminded of the Hobbesian Leviathan in reverse: in this case, Leviathan was the cause, not the cure, and homo homini lupus has never seemed so true. I myself was nearly tramped to death at the close of a Change rally for Senator Joe Biden in PA: I wound up having to hold the door for ages while throngs of people poured out after Biden had delivered his speech. One false move, and it would have been the end of me. Kierkegaard spoke of himself as the individual at the mercy of the crowd: "trampled to death by geese", is how he put it.

And this warning headline should be heeded, and is a sign of the times and the change which is inevitable, and upon us: "Union Would Have Prevented Wal Mart Death". For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for thee, WalMart.

Obama : Psychology and Philosophy of the Alientated

When examining Barack Obama's philosophy of government along with his respective stances on all the various issues, a pattern reveals itself. He is on the side of the alienated: First, from his own experience (Epistemic privilege is not foreign to his thinking ). Secondly, from reasonable inference and deduction: With Sir Thomas More, Obama would appear to hold to the philosophical concept that "we first make criminals, then punish them".

For all this, he is constitutionally inclined to care for suffering. He is sensitive in his nature, and the literary community recognizes the poetic talent in his writings. I am not one who separates philosophy and ideology from the psychology of persons. Obama has the air of the mystic about him. Even in his adolescent pictures, his eyes reveal a dreaminess and wistfulness which are highly unusual. His lips are molded finely, and set softly but firmly: the mouth of a poet and dreamer. In person, he is remarkably fluid: With eyes that can sparkle, flash anger, or brood softly; elegant hand gestures; charisma which is veiled, but potent in its understatement. Obama gives us the whole man: Far from perfect; he is full of faults, unfinished business, and conflicting ideologies. But he is robust, and sincere, and full of honest energy. He is not bland, or dull. He is vital and dynamic, and not static and blocked.


It is my belief that our times demand such a person as our leader. The GOP has adhered to an ethics of egoism and brute force which has degraded and vulgarized our culture. I do not think chance played a part in this election: Necessity had dictated his victory, and although I fretted and worried myself sick throughout the primaries and general election seasons, I did often assert to family, friends and associates that it was more or less "ordained by the times" that Obama would become our 44th president. We stood in need of a real man, a full person, struggling and alive in every sense, and in tune with the real desires, fears, and joys of his generation.

In ideology, he is also appropriate. Kantian universalism in ethics holds sway even in our splintered times of multiculturalism. Obama has the Kantian aspect insofar as he is deontological, serious in his belief in duties and inherent rights, and he is a unifier. His talk of "one America" is not rhetoric, and is an indictment of the GOPs social darwinism which began in the Reagen '80s, and which is perishing in its own self-constructed negation.

It is a frustrating aspect of democracy that change must come slowly, and is often counter-balanced by backlash and stalled ideological struggles. On some level, it is extremely comforting to know Obama is in charge now; on another, one knows that nothing as dramatic as a new order is in the offing. But there will be a move in that direction.

I am not upset to see the end of the 90s prosperity . I am no fan of peace which comes without justice for the disenfranchised of our social order. I hate hypocrisy and sanctimonious speech. At least when looking at Obama , I see a man: a whole man, who has overcome psychological struggles, and has felt himself to belong to the type of the outsider. Politics is a sorry business, but it is part of society, and although it does not reach deep within the human soul, it does effect it. All in all, Obama as president is a very good thing. "And so now bad begins, but worse is left behind. . . "

P-TOWN AND OBAMA : GREAT EXPECTATIONS - Says Weens to our President-Elect: "Put out, B***h!"

As a considerable amount of support for Barack Obama during election season came from the Gay Community, it will be interesting to see if their expectations - the reasonable ones, at least - will be met.

I was highly amused to see gay contributor Mickey Weens' essay in the "Edge", post election victory. Asserting that it is fine with him that all politicians are liars and whores, so long as they deliver for him.  Weens, in that delightful PTown lingo,  says he had been Obama's "number one bitch" during the primary and general elections,  and that he has worn that badge "with pride". His message now for the President-Elect? "Put out, Bitch!" (What else? LOL) 

Andrew Sullivan,  the supreme spokesman in the US for gay rights,  and author of numerous  essays and books concerning these rights -  his most famous being,  "Virtually Normal":  An Argument about Homosexuality"  -  has concerns that positions in Obama's transition team are being filled by "Clinton hacks",  and that progress in terms of lifing bans on gays in the military and on gay marriage may become stalled.  In any case,  I do find that PTown lingo of Weens' to be highly amusing, and some much-needed comic relief.

Philosopher Leiter Examines Rhetoric and Actions of Obama

In Leiter Reports: A Philosophy Blog, philosopher Brian Leiter gives a four part analysis which examines the rhetoric and actions of Barack Obama. (Change We Can Believe In? in 4 parts).

Certainly, Obama will be no different from any other politician in the sense that not all of his beautific oratory or rhetorical speeches can or will lead to actualization or dramatic and unprecedented change. However, given the extreme economic crisis at home, and the cultural wars of the homeland - whose root and offspring form the nexus of many global conflicts - and competing ideologies which are coming to a boil here and abroad, I would wager that change will come; inevitably and of necessity. And Obma will be the helmsman of these global transitions.


Ortegay Y Gasset, in his "The Revolt of the Masses" (1930), knew well the saeculum of history, and that the trajectory of the generations ensures dramatic change in each century. In many ways, I found his book - which I read and re-read throughout my 20s and 30s - to be a precursor of Howe and Strauss' famous, "The Fourth Turning".

No matter what opinion one holds of Barack Obama, two things remain unchanged: 1. He won the Presidency. 2. He did so at a time when the generational constellations are shifting, globally. As Jesus of Nazareth told his followers, we can take a lesson from the seasons and the weather. When summer winds down, we know the autumn is upon us. When the sky darkens, we know it will rain. Jesus asked his listerners to consider this: "You know therefore how to read well the appearance of the clouds and the skies; how is it, then, that you cannot discern the signs of these times?".

Obama and Pakistan: Time to rethink the stance

The idea that Pakistan could aid in the fight against Al-Quada appears to be an illusion with the attacks on Mumbai. Obama must now rethink his stance, at a time when his transition to the presidency is being watched closely by the global community.  It would seem that in  his original bravado  and tough talk on going into Pakistan to hunt terrorists,  he is being vindicated.

  But Clinton and other Democrats    had apparently chided him into  recanting.  What is such a one as Barack to do,  crawling as he is,  "between heaven and earth",  with  his enterprises losing the name of action? 

  Nothing like being proven right after one has recanted and reversed one's position! ( And being forced by circumstance,  perhaps,  into doing that which one desperately wanted to do all along?)  In any case,  he has some thinking to do now, and as Bradley of Huffington Post online has put it,  "Happy Thanksgiving,  Mr. President-Elect!"



http://www.huffingtonpost.com/william-bradley/happy-thanksgiving-mr-pre_b_147014.html

Friday, November 28, 2008

OBAMA, MUMBAI, AND PAKISTAN

http://www.blogs.reuters.com/pakistan/2008/11/28/mumbai-attack-and-obamas-plans-for-afghanistan/

Reutersblogs say,  "Pakistan,  Now or Never".

Wall Street Journal Calls Mumbai "Obama's first international crisis"

Citing Joe Biden's words that Obama would face a crisis within 6 months of taking office,  the Wall Street Journal has said that the attacks on Mumbai certainly comprise such a crisis situation for the president-elect.  In another article,  a journalist has said that not only do the attacks reveal an agenda to destroy Pakistan-India growing ties,  but that the attacks contain " a message for President-elect Barack Obama".
                                                  http://www.bjp.com/2008/11/28/mumbai-terror-strike-is-a-message-aimed-at-obama/

Obama Tilting to Right on Taxes, other issues?

Democratic strategist Bob Beckel and former Republican senator Rick Santorum on FoxNews this a.m., claiming that Obama has tilted right on the Bush tax cuts, and on cabinet positions (he's kept Robert Gates as Defense Secty). While Santorum sees this as strategically shrewd and correct, many on the left will be less than pleased with Obama's "shrewdness".

Already, some gays are more than a little perplexed and bewildered on his appointment of Rahm Emanuel, and his caution with regard to the military and "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays ( I for one think such caution is a sign of strength in him).

For all of this, he has a decidedly left-leaning ideology and philosophical foundation, and I view his "tilting right" as mere political expediency.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Coherent Philosophical Stance can be seen in Obama

In 2005,  he asserted that "Republicans practice Social Darwinism,  a discredited economic policy".  In 2008,  during the primary elections,  his gas tax plan showed his "redistributionist philosophy"  (Richard Chappel,  Philosophy,  etc  Blog).  It seems that the more one researches and reads about Barack Obama,  the greater the pattern and intertwining of some very robust and coherent ideology,  based on sophisticated philosophical argument,  comes into view.  I like that;  I am almost awed by it:  Here is a sort of renaissance man,  and one had only been expecting a politician.

LEITER CALLS OBAMA " A NIETZSCHE MAN"


I have been reading a lot of Brian Leiter, in the philosophical blogosphere ( The Leiter Reports). I came accross one from the primary election season, in February, entitled, "Obama is a Nietzsche Man!" Odd, as I had always intuited that there was a Nietzschean aura to Obama; not blatant, but subdued, muted, veiled. I recommend Leiter to anyone who loves to fuse philosophical reflection with carosusing through our cultural and political landscape: His insights are wonderful. Very nice for those who - like myself - have spent much time with the writings of Howe and Strauss.

THANKSGIVING THOUGHTS ON OBAMA, THE NEW AMERICAN ADAM

In the New Republic online, there is a lovely essay on Obama as the New Adam for America:


http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2008/11/26/obama-thanskgiving-thoughts.aspx


Indeed, there is the air of the American Adam about him, for the future is all he has. Biracial, raised in the exotic annex of Hawaii, without a father, and estranged by his racial heritage from parts of his own family; unsure of who he was.   Having to fly in the face of fate in western wilds, he is the nomadic American, and of the Cursed Thirteenth Generation.    Ascending in a time of turmoil and crisis, the future is all he has; no anchor holds him steady and at bay from any touchstone of history. Guidance comes from a father dead. "He receives in his thoughts the dead father", as Richard Lynn eloquently states. Such heroism, borrowed from the realm of the dead, so that "we are born posthumously" , carries the daemon's stamp and seal from above.

The Pauline idea of the Second Adam has been inspirational since the Pioneer days of rugged individualism. Barack Obama, marked by his name as the outsider and wanderer, has fared as the nomadic hero of lore, beating the odds. The mythical story of recreation and resurgence is the cornerstone of the American experience; identity is fluid and the individual has the ability to shed his various skins, Nietzsche-like, unmasking the hero as he makes his way through the badlands of the national landscape.

That venerable American philosopher, Brian Leiter, has said that as a college student, Obama was interested in Freud, Nietzsche and Satre. The vagabond spirit tends toward these three always; they were my great loves in my own youth. Existentialism, the unconscious, and heroism entwined make a golden rope for the lost to hang onto, and clearly Obama felt this lostness and alienation in his youth. Painful as this state is, it is the adversity which Kierkegaard knew well to be the only proper material for the forging of the individual who stands aloof from the state, can see it objectively, and thus can find solutions that are adapted to it and which really work.

The disparate threads of Obama's socialist, political, and judicial philosophy and ideologies are never fully in harmony, but remain in enough conflict to ensure that diversity which brings stimulus, richness, and nuturence from a leader. Eclectic in his leanings, Obama ensures innovation. Change, Progress, Hope: These were his watchwords throughout the election season; rhetoric in surface but in the substratum  born of necessity: He has lost faith in the past, a past he was never fully allowed to participate in and thus was not  real for him. He waited in the wings, a solitary figure, until his convention speech of 2004 unmasked him. "Ad astra per aspera" is for him the sole chance in the offing, the only road which was ever lay before him because it is the only path which speaks to his lostness and longing. From their perch in academia, Howe and Strauss predicted with incredible accuracy the arrival ("somewhere around 2005, perhaps a few years earlier or later") of this leader form the 13th generation, the Nomad, the Xer, who would take the helm unexpectedly and suddenly , and with Nike say, "Just DO it!".

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Obama Chides "Captains of Industry"; Calls for Sacrifice for "tone deaf" Execs.

 Obama has asked executives in the auto and banking industries to forego end of year bonuses, chiding these "captains of industry" for being " a little tone deaf to what is happening in America right now." Indeed, his stance is just what one would expect, when viewing him through the lens (as I do) of the Fourth Turning. Howe and Strauss knew well that 2008 would be a time of change in actuality, and not merely in slogan and ideation ; knew it a decade before, when we were still flying high under Clinton. Obama calls for sacrifice; he means business, and he is sounding an alarm, which will only grow more persistent. Put in the veneculer: Things are going to get a whole lot harder, before they get easier.

In any case, there is no longer any easy fix in the offing. The solution is gone: It passed us by in the night, singing songs. It is foolish to look for what we ourselves have allowed to die. Obama know this: He sees, he comprehends , the direness and urgency of our present situation, and what it spells: Enforced change, alteration of the cultural and economic landscape on a scale not seen since the days of the Great Depression. It needn't have come to this, but on some level, a secret fatality was at work: The blindness of the GOP was their own undoing.

Chris Hitchens in Slate: Analysis of Clinton-Machine in light of appointment

In Slate.com,  Hitchens questions Clinton conflict of interest in light of pending Obama appointment: http://www.americasfuture.org/conventionalfolly/2008/11/christopher-hitchens-on-hillary-clinton-at-state/

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Economy, Obama, and James' Moral Equivilant to War

In The Moral Equivalent to War, William James asserts that mediocrity and inferiority are always with us, and that militaristic temper turns against their soulless existence, to demand sacrifice and honor. I think it is a very good thing that Obama lays claim to the office of the presidency during turbulent times. The economic chaos into which we are sliding headlong is not altogether a bad thing, morally speaking.


Certainly, this crisis gives him a field for his heroism, which marks him. It lends to his ascent a sense of urgency, and of purpose which would be missing during prosperous times. He is a Fourth Turning president as much by nature as by circumstance. Who can tell but that what is within Obama when he is tested by fire, will prove to be precisely what our nation stands most desperately in need of?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Barack as Dad in Chief

Our Commander-in-Chief,  what a sweet daddy.   Inspiration to all;  beautiful as an expression of fatherhood and sensitivity allied with machismo. Is there any blue-blood-Democrat quality he does not have?  Any virtue lacking?  The Party lucked out in '08.  A windfall, for certain.

DOUTHAT: THE MORAL OBLIGATION TO STUDY ELECTION RETURNS

Douthat makes a very robust and highly effecive argument for the moral obligation to study election returns:


              http://rossdouthat.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/11/the_obligations_of_prolifers.php

Rare Pre-Inaugural Call to Hasten Stimulus Bill

Today President -elect Barack Obama made a plea to Congress  to pass a jobs-creation and stimulus bill  -  and a costly one it is  -   to ward off  a national catastrophe "of historic proportions".  Here again Obama shows the "just do it"  Generation X stance which Howe and Strauss said would mark the predicted Fourth Turning President,  who would appear in 2004-08,  and whose ascent  would signal a resurgance of  the disenfranchised party (obviously, the Democratic one).  I for one find this all very comforting,  in that since 1998 I have placed  great stock in the book which the two historians co-authored.

Obama Plans Youth Corps; Right Balks and Spins Paranoid Fantasies

It is exceedingly odd to me that Obama's Youth Corps plans would conjure up images of Hitler's Youth in the minds of many right wing pundits of the American blogosphere.  It is certainly far more reminiscient of FDRs Civilian Corps which was going on over here pre-WW II. 

It would seem that the return to a consensus,  with its ensuing uniformity  -  all predicted accurately by Howe and Strauss,  who had targeted the years 2005-08 for such a return  -  taps deeply into unconscious fears of Marxism and socialism for many Americans.  But perhaps their constant blogging on it is only so much guilt,  the compulsive cleansing of dirty hands.

Obama : Consensus-Oriented


Salon.com calls Obama "consensus-oriented and interested in getting things done": aligns with Howe and Strauss depiction of Fourth Turning President :

http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/11/24/obama

Obama Ascent Brings Platform for the Formal Arts

Not to be Missed:  LA's Mark Vallen calls for vigorous cultural debate concerning Obama's Arts & Culture Policy

                                http://www.art-for-a-change.com/blog/2008/11/obamas-arts-culture-policy.html



This Obama-Biden Platform for the Formal Arts is reminiscient of the FDR days of government funding and flourishing of the arts,  under which artists like the late great playwright Tennessee Williams flourished.  Undoubtedly, Obama will do much to restore Provincetown to its original character and role of a community for fledling artists. Among the various proposals are a support for increased federal funding of the National Endowment for the Arts,  and healthcare for artists. 

Obama and the Gay Agenda: Unprecedented Level of Gay Involvement Helped Campaign

Will Obama be  an advance for the Gay agenda?

According to Blade magazine,  an "unprecedented level of involvement"  by the gay community nationwide helped Barack Obama ascend to become the President elect.  But what is actually  Obama's  stance on gay rights?

On November 23rd, Washington Blade  also said that seven gays have already  been named to Obama's transition team.

After winning the election on November 4,  the the Obama camapign set up Change.gov,  the official "transition" website of the President elect.  Under the Civil Rights section,  commitment to the Gay and Lesbian community is stressed.

During his tenure in the Illinois state senate,  Obama supported the repeal of "don't ask,  don't tell",  regarding gays in the military.

One wonders if this stance on gay rights is truly part and parcel of his plans for Change,  though.  I would venture to say that he is in truth quite conservative in his ideation regarding the strengthening of American community and family,  and that although he has been viewed as quite liberal,  much of his ideology is merely a facade.  Civil Rights activists have allowed the gay community to invade their domain;  neverthe less,  there is a gaping contradiction between what Obama projects,  and those things he proports to defend. Collision with reality happens on many levels, and it would not be surprsing if words took precedent over deeds in the coming years.

In any case,  it remains unclear what an Obama Administration intends to,  or will be able to,  accomplish for homosexual "civil rights".  LeVay and the proponents of the biological "born that way"  argument come up against the NARTH invasion;  Andrew Sullivan and his "Virtually Normal" argument made the case for gay marriage in the 90s,  the heydey of multiculturalism.  He rode in on the wave of a splintered culture,  and a unified one may cause his power to recede.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hoping to give Livestream from Inauguration

As I will be in Washington, DC for Obama's Inauguration, I am hoping that I can give some livestream of the events, which can be placed on this blog space for anyone who might be interested.

I consider it the highest honor to be able to attend, and that Barack Obama truly will be our 44th President, is still casting all in a pink glow of surreal feeling, that "everything is new, and yielding"; and that Change indeed is upon us.

Obamamania!!! UNI, FOR CHANGE




By Roscoe Newell, New York City associate

With litigation brewing in Camp Kovalinsky (shhh, government secrets!) there may be much in the offing with a new plan for combining Obama's Youth Corp with a "United For Change" Program ! Stay tuned, and where is our Canadian author, Mr. Cam Mc Naughton? And that Brit, Martin Huxter, the Gorgeous? And our Professor from WPU? Among others? Let's get this rollin', peo-PUL!!!


look below for some more. . . to be continued, the saga unfolds. . .




Here we are!

Obama's Moment and Hexagram 23 of the I Ching


In Richard Lynn's translation of Wang Bi's The Classic of Changes , hexagram 23, "Peeling", is a most appropriate symbol for the state of the America which Barack Obama inherits, and must guide. The hexagram depicts a state of "peeling" which has occurred, and is a sort of dire situation which was left to progress unchecked. The deterioration is nearing its apex and reversal; however, it needs the firm guiding hand of "a superior man of many qualities".

In line 6 (the top and final transition line of the hexagram) , Wang Bi speaks of " a large fruit, uneaten". This points to the potential for some new option, which has not been tried and which may reverse the damage. In the commentary, Wang Bi continues: "If [the leader] be a noble man, he will be borne up as in a carriage by the common folk; but if he be a petty man, he will allow peeling to happen to humble huts [i.e., America's economic and job crisis, and foreclosure calamity which the Bush Administration has left unchecked]; for he would never fulfil the role of the sovereign."

Obama stands poised to "obtain the carriage" and be "borne up" by the mass of Americans. He certainly is no petty man; he has the calm and sincerity of which the I Ching speaks praises, and to which it gives the label, "the superior one".

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Will An Obama America Be an End to the Culture Wars?

Since the 1970s,  and with accelerated pace throughout the '80s and '90s,  the liberal vs conservative,  independent clashing of cultures has ruled the day throufgh media,  particularly within  talk radio and the blogoshpere.  Obama,  throughout his campaign,  stressed a need for "one America"  and "unity";  "divisiveness"  was one of the purjrative terms he aimed at McCain.  One wonders if the man himself will indeed be able to bring about that change and unity which were the watchwords of his smoothly run election machine,  or if,  rather,  the times themselves,  along with the inevitable generational power shifts of this era,  will be the catalyst for such badly-needed transformation.

Our Literary President: Counterbalancing the Dumbing Down of America

The linked article struck me as a great hope: considering how advanced the dumbing down of America is, and with what acceleration the 80s and 90s furthered this decline, I view the authors community's embrace of Obama as someting which augures well.


http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081106/ap_en_ot/writers_and_obama

America's Changing Image


That we now have an African American poised to take the Presidential oath has far reaching implications for our nation's image. Barack Obama is a Generation Xer, biracial, and with links to Africa and Islam in his hisory. All of this serves to give him a post-Civil Rights era, new global order and Multicultural image. This image will project itself around the world, as a symbol of a new American order.

That Al Quada is clearly threatened by his eclectic and post-modern energy was made evident when they called him " a house Negro". This is telling: He does not project an image for the future which would draw upon the myriad struggles of a Malcom X; rather, he is Harvard educated, technologically savvy, with a bit of defiance lacing his fresh appeal. He seems almost an enigma; a question mark hanging over the multiple scenarios of which only a small number will obtain actualization.

All in all, his is an image which bespeaks a fresh start, new energy and possibilities injected into a national atmosphere which had come to seem stale, used up, and primed for something new.

OUR FOURTH TURNING PRESIDENT

American historians and authors, Neil Howe and William Strauss, in their epic work, The Fourth Turning: America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny (1998) foretold the rise of Generation Xes leadership, the resurgence of the disenfranchised Party, and the return to a consensus. Why Barack Obama is our Fourth Turning President.

Certainly, Howe and Strauss did their homework: The Fourth Turning is a thorough analysis of the saeculum (cyclical rhythms) of history; in particular, American history. There are four basic "seasons" that last for a period of about 2 decades each (the life of a generation's maximum powers). Within these cycles , a generational consteallation is at work; when this shifts, the next cycle or season begins. There is the High, which is the period of general consensus and prosperity, This is followed by an Awakening, in which spiritual values begin to press on the status quo, demanding change. Then there begins an Unravelling, in which the values of the High period, having made the transition through the Awakening, are torn asunder, and a sort of liberal and polymorphous anarchy replaces the simple and solid consensus. When this reaches its apex, it reverses; a rebellion against this disorder begins to ripple through society. A crisis point is reached;  there are cultural rifts,  war,  and economic collapse (2000-08,  the W. Bush years of Iraq,  culture wars, and our present severe recession) and you are in the Fourth Turning: the epic period of great struggle and undertaking. This is the point we have reached - as predicted nearly exactly,  by Howe and Strauss - in 2008. And it is Barack Obama - the Generation X, biracial, multicultral orator - who will lead us through its first stages.   As per Howe and Strauss, these are as follows:

 1.  A return to the general consensus:  Nowhere is this more evident than in Obama's idea,  which is accepted by millions,  of national service.  There is a uniformity and community spirit which is reminsicient of FDR's New Deal era ( this was in fact the last Fourth Turning).
2.  A call to unity :  Obama,  with his bipartisanship approach, his insistence on "one America",  and his cry of,  "Yes,  we can" is showing his fourth turning tendencies clearly.
3.  The ascent to leadership of the Nomadic Generation :  Obama,  although he is close to being a Boomer,  has all the traits belonging to those of Generation X,  which is the nomadic generation,  as were those who were children of the Transcendentalists during the Civil War crisis.  "Nomads"  are those who born during the Awakening, and grew up throughout the years of the Unravelling.  They lacked proper parenting,  were confused about values and boundaries,  and were cynical about those in power.  There is the air of the jaded orphan about them.  They are edgy and self-reliant.  They crave action and a sort of "soft revenge".   Obama himself grew up without a father,  and was raised by a single mother.  He had a mixed heritage which confused him, and dabbled in drugs and deviant sexual behavior.  There is an muted but persistant anger in his fine oratory.  "Yes,  we can" has a bit of the warrior cry in it. 
4.  The need for urgent action in the face of economic and cultural crisis:  Obama,  when asked in an interview during the general election season,  whether the present economic crisis and the Iraq war gave him stern pause when considering the possibility of his winning the Presidency,  replied that no,  this was the very historical moment when he was most needed.  The time is primed for one such as he,  an innovator;  and although many have been complaining that all his talk of "Change,  Hope,  Progress"  may prove to be so much rhetoric and empty fireworks,  the discening eye can see that he is "keyed up", primed for fresh action and advance. Obama will deal creatively with crisis;  and his penchant for innovation will find a field for its expression.     To be continued. . .

Under New Influence