Dao of MLK

We hear all this nonsense talk about American Exceptionalism from the political establishment and I tend to scoff when I hear that. I tend to always treat hubris with contempt which probably makes me ability to converse with such people futile. But I was listening to a discussion with Mark Blyth, a Brown Professor who wrote a brilliant book on austerity and who I admire very much, when something was spoken in clearer terms than I had ever heard before. This idea of individualism and the idea of Americans each seeking out his or her individual desires and goals, has always been at the center of our society. Indeed, our servile devotion to Capitalism has been so devout that any sense of solidarity and common good is met with derision and suspicion. Part of this can be seen in the blinding hatred for communism and socialism that emanates from the right wing and indeed many on the left. Mr. Blyth and his fellow professor, said that Americans in general, were philosophically conservative, but functionally liberal. The idea was that there was a visceral hatred and distrust for the government but when a program was described in a way that spoke about how it would help them, most of the time they were amenable to it. The Left has given up the framing and has let the right decide how discussions are to be had moving forward. This combined with the unrepentant obstruction has made the whole system a further disaster. I am not dismissing the money in politics issue, I am merely speaking about the overall values of our nation. I believe that in general, Americans are not against helping other people or having a sense of community. But there needs to be a dedicated effort to shake this putrid and disgusting disgust not of government persay, but of the idea of solidarity and community well-being. Treating everything like conflict and as a zero sum game is what brought us to this point. Americans need to learn to channel compassion into government and public policy. We have seen that people are capable of that in both the Obama movement before he was elected and the reaction to the Trump election. In terms of progressive and liberal policies, our country is ready for it but until we all know it, the powerful will remain powerful and the weak will get weaker. We are better than this and should learn more from our Eastern friends in places like India and Japan. I am not suggesting adopting a similar government, but I do suggest that maybe we try to not only think of individuality all the time. Try to get outside ourselves. Capitalism is toxic if it isn’t restrained by the will of good men and women.


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