Saturday, January 31, 2009

Not Obama, But the Time Speaks its Mandate

Change is Inevitable,  It is in the Saddle,  and Rides Obama and Us

 Much talk abounds within the blogosphere concerning Obama's Civilian Security Task Force,  and his plans for a Youth Corps.  Of course,  from the skeptical right and the Libertarian domain,  there are the predictable comparisons to Hitler's SS troops.  More reasonable comparisons have been made with the Peace Corps of JFK and the Civilian Conservation Corps of FDR.  

What interests me is the prediction made by Howe and Strauss,  over a decade ago,  in their epic book,  The Fourth Turning:  An American Prophesy (1998).    In an historical and political analysis of amazing breadth and scope,  the co-authors predicted a return to a national consensus,  a resurgence of civic spirit,  a quasi-socialistic mood,  and a uniformity which would cause uneasiness among the free spirits. Most important was the emphasis they placed on the time,  which has supremacy over the leader.  In other words, the Depression and WW II made FDR;  and not the reverse.  Barack Obama rides in on the winds of change;  he is not the creator of that change.  He puts into action that which is decreed by the times;  set in motion by crisis;  he is merely the mouthpiece of a force greater than himself or his personal ideology.  

As the great historian and philosopher,  Jose Ortega y Gasset noted in his famous 1933 text,  The Revolt of the Masses,  there is a natural chronology to history.  Each move in one direction will be counterbalanced.  Era will counteract era.  Cause and effect will lead to new measures taken against excess.  History is in many ways destiny.  It is more than merely the actions of men,  in pursuit of their ends.  I always loved the language of the US Constitution:  When,  in the course of human events. . .  Those words of Thomas Jefferson resonate with spirit and intuition.  He does not say,  "When ,men do such and such"  but rather,  "When in the course of human events":  There is a certain inevitability sounding through those words.  

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