How do we progress when we refuse to look back at history or even attempt to comprehend the present?
It is now overwhelmingly apparent that the recklessly optimistic relegating of history solely to the realm of nostalgia and outdated modes of style, behavior and consumption, to paraphrase Christopher Lasch nearly 40 years ago, and/or the association of all the founding American republican and legal traditions with bigotry, racism, colonialism, patriarchy, etc... has had some rather dire consequences for American republicanism and democracy, as well as western civilization as a whole.
The global Islamists are correct to identify a crisis of national identity, to challenge our ability to perceive the implications of our actions and to criticize civic values and governmental practices of the western world, namely the United States, the preeminent economic, cultural, and military leader of that community.
Power has been highly concentrated within this country and within the world, and global, economic entities working closely with governments and exercising the authority of governments minus the accountability to a majority of people have been granted a license to deceive and manipulate the population since the end of the Second World War. They have now enjoyed over 50 years of practice in both overt and covert indoctrination and oppression of the general American public, via advertising and sloganeering specifically aimed at dissolving meaningful national and group identities, their sole concern being to maintain perpetual public irrationality in order to sell unneeded and unsafe consumer goods around the globe and in violation of national sovereignty while still collecting tax dollars from the nation's taxpayers to finance their private endeavors.
Furthermore, the nostalgic experience that commercial media, the primary tool of our global economic chieftains, relates to human beings in regards to history and historical awareness is not grounded in the science of history, if we define history as the entire accumulation of human knowledge as it can be interpreted through commentary and recorded events, nor does the nostalgic experience, which is merely a feeling we are now sold through images or calculated understatement, promote an understanding of historical context or communicate anything close to what only the written, historical narrative can, because that knowledge would be dangerous.
Unfortunately, a TV show or a movie cannot communicate that in 30 minutes.
Visual and aural media, based on awe, speed, and gratification rather than communication, comprehension, or contextualization, has now been given sole responsibility for the transmission of cultural values, and is logically causing the government to be more dysfunctional since it no longer has to consider an informed populace as an impediment, and is logically causing the average citizen to be more emotional, unreasonable, and incapable of comprehending events and his/her own responsibilities as a citizen.
As the Constitution mandates and suggests a free press (which implies the written word), a public education system (which implies scholarship and understanding of government and not merely vocational training) and a public library system (which presupposes an interest in lifelong learning primarily through reading), it is no wonder that the predominance of unwritten media and the shift away from the word, the sustained narrative, facilitates alienation from history, from democratic government which requires self-knowledge, and from other human beings, endangering not only the ability of the human race to record and observe their own place in history but to continue democratic traditions and preserve civility as well, two traditions that are now in greater peril than has been seen for nearly five hundred years, perhaps a thousand.
So when the media, an agent devoted to irrational and unrealistic conceptions of mankind, reality, politics and the world, and in complete thrall to those with real political power, tells us, the vast majority, the allegedly well-informed electorate, that we are being offered a great choice, such an obviously facetious statement should alert our intellect to the reality that if we are being sold "change" and "progress" on the TV, it must only be a cheapened, inauthentic version, which we will never see outside our door, and that there is truly no choice at all, and we are, in light of the measurable experiences from the past hundred years or so, simply being manipulated and pacified by yet another pleasant illusion.
We are being told, like the inmate in the prison cell who is told that he can choose his jailer, that the choice is ours, the choice is important, and that we are in control, in order to guarantee our amiability while our confinement continues and while the walls of our cell are reinforced by the keepers of the keys, to prevent any possibility of our escape.
The so-called "progressivism" and "progressive resurgence" that I'm hearing so much about from supposedly intellectual commentators, the many aged, excited, talking heads spouting on and on about the "progressivism" which the radical demonstrations of the 60's supposedly inserted into the "system" via political and institutional safeguards and initiatives(like women's studies departments, affirmative action, and the like), the commentary that is so self-satisfied to see the effects of two rather illusory social measures culminated in the sheer identities of two Democratic candidates, is pretty much sabotaging rational discourse and real political dialogue in exactly the same way as the racist and imperial military-economic elites did during the 50's with their talk of segregation, Christianity and anti-communism, which is ironically when the "progressive" outrage of the left was initially provoked; it is simply the left's use of religious sloganeering and irrationality: Hope, Change, Progress, etc... All are appeals to a mystified audience and not reason, all ignore talk about substantive issues.
There are now only a few perspectives that matter when we talk about politicians, and they must be talked about.
But first, the political and social effects of the "60's" cultural revolution must be addressed, as the immediate and concrete political victories which it gained, supposedly embodied by the two leading Democrats, were in fact betrayed by new, greater injustices which it unknowingly helped to establish, as Martin Luther King observed shortly before he was killed. What does it matter if a man can vote if, once elected, the politician has no concern for the man? What does it matter if a woman is president, if our entire society is dedicated to war and destruction on a global scale.