Tuesday, December 30, 2003

David Brooks-On Oakeshott

David Brooks has been "communing with big thinkers".
Brooks has written a rather engaging piece about English philosopher Michael Oakeshott, who was the subject of Andrew Sullivan's dissertation. I especially enjoyed Brooks' reference to the Chuang-tzu tale. It's a wonderful lesson to learn. Oakeshott thought Hobbes' 'Leviathan' was "the greatest, perhaps the sole masterpiece of political philosophy written in the English language". After writing several books and spending five years in the British Army, Oakeshott got wide public recognition upon his return to Cambridge to edit the Cambridge Journal. A former student of Oakeshott commented upon the unforgettable experience of his lectures on the majesty of St. Augustine's "City of God".

What I find enchanting about Oakeshott is that he would have embraced bold, highly creative individualists such as the writer Francois Rabelais.
In Rabelais, I often see much of myself. I see it in the knowlege (or should I say the hope) that language possesses us just as we attempt to harness the same language and use it to turn the tables on the follies of being human. We strive to make our personal sanity known to all others swirling in the same chaotic carnival of the kaleidoscope of time in which we are destined to live together. Through the language that permeated the unique novels of "Gargantua and Pantagruel", Rabelais magically exposed the circus of the life around him in the 16th century. If anything could overthrow orthodoxy, it is surely the arresting language of the satirically colorful individualist.

Oakeshott was bohemian, intuitive and boldly individual himself. His philsophical legacy could not be pinned down like a butterfly on display. He presented and represented a wonderful view of freedom. He understood that politics is about reflective judgement. Personally, I think he would have been raking Tony Blair over the hottest coals with sharpest wit for chiming in with G.W. Bush and making this pre-emptive strike on Iraq. Where was Tony Blair's bold individual courage or color when needed most? It slipped inside Bush's pocket, where it remains shielded from the light to this day.
I believe Oakeshott would have a joyous time playfully attacking the Bush administration's NeoCons for all their social planning to force and cram the Middle East into their Utopian mold of capitalistic democracy. Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Kristol would have been the whipping boys of Oakeshott's knowing admonitions about the dangers of abstract rationalism.

The fullness of one's writings are surely revealed over time.
What I enjoy about blogging is that we can all converse about great men such as Oakeshott without him being here in our presence...and speculate on what he might have said or believed..and none of us can say we've won or lost the debate on the very speculation. Yet we find a common topic..common ground between people who often do not see today's carnival eye-to-eye.

As Oakeshott himself had said:

"In conversation ... thoughts of different species take wing and play round one another, responding to each other's movements and provoking one another to fresh exertions. Nobody asks where they have come from or on what authority they are present; nobody cares what will become of them when they have played their part. There is no symposiarch or arbiter, not even a doorkeeper to examine credentials. Every entrant is taken at its face-value and everything is permitted which can get itself accepted into the flow of speculation. And voices which speak in conversation do not compose a hierarchy..."

VP Clinton?

President Dean

Vice President Clinton?

Secretary of Defense Wesley Clark?

Hey! What about Al?


Terry McAuliffe Virtually Says 'Sorry, Howard...
Can't help--Won't Help. Politics is Dog-Eat-Dog.'
Is it 'Tough Love'? --or 'Making a Wreck of the Democratic base'?
You decide.
This decision will make or break DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe.

Here's my opinion. (You knew you couldn't escape it! ;)
Let's face it...a huge chunk of the old Democratic base began to break away when lily-livered Democrats refused to effectively stand up to Bush and caved in easily to the October, 2002 Iraq Resolution.
And now, we see the lily-livers making brutal attacks upon a strong front-runner who exposed them for what they were every step of the way.
This front-runner has succeeded in motivating the base once again.
What the hell is McAuliffe thinking? I really would like to know.
Terry McAuliffe should think about how this inner-party brutality is sabotaging the already-weakened base.
It may look cute and politically-acceptable in the polifantastic (that's my own word;) world of Washington, D.C., but out here it looks like losers' misery.
Terry McAuliffe needs to act swiftly in the best interests of the party..or risk removal for his negligence.

Hey-look at me..I'm the real angry guy! Howie's a melter!