Satan's Trouble With Eve

Friday, March 24, 2006

Hobbes in Current American Politics & Pop Lit

That one is on a productive course of study is confirmed when illustrations of the central intellectual theme pop up in accidental encouters.

In today's Los Angeles Times, the Secretary of State during Bill Clinton's presidency, Madeleine Albright, has an article attacking the current American president, George W. Bush. The point of the polemic blames Mr. Bush for not applying the principles of Leviathan to his foreign policy.
But hope is not a policy. In the short term, we must recognize that the region will be shaped primarily by fairly ruthless power politics in which the clash between good and evil will be swamped by differences between Sunni and Shiite, Arab and Persian, Arab and Kurd, Kurd and Turk, Hashemite and Saudi, secular and religious and, of course, Arab and Jew.
Note that this anti-Bush article, from a prominent Clinton cabinet member, begins here by saying, in effect, that Paradise Lost's values make bad foreign policy, and goes on, once again, to attack George W. Bush for not being Hobbsean.
Update: for a (pop) literary -- or, at least, artistic -- version of Albright's polemical position, consider this Doonesbury cartoon from G.B. Trudeau.

Mr. Trudeau is here referencing this influential article in the left-leaning Washinton Post mocking President Bush's second inaugural address: mocking him, in effect, for letting Miltonian idealism, rather than Hobbesian realpolitik, guide his approach to international affairs.
Here again, the Seventeenth Century dialectic between Love and Power is a stimulus to an artistic response. Does this conclude, then, that a progressive modern socialist politic is Hobbsean?

N.b. To be very clear here on the partisan politics, G.B. Trudeau is self-declared as a progressive -- i.e. Left Wing -- in his political views: he strongly opposes the coalition war in Iraq and the Death Penalty; and actively supports Homosexual marriage and abortion on demand. Moreover, Mr. Trudeau -- a vigourous supporter of Bill Clinton -- has a extremely strong and publically expressed antipathy to the Bush family: stemming, as I understand matters, from the Bushes and the Trudeaus belonging to rival fraternities at Yale University.


  • Paradise Lost's values make god-awful bases for a foreign policy, or for any political policy whatsover, for a simple reason.

    Paradise Lost's values: love, unconditional acceptance/devotion to the 'good', make sense when they're directly and verifiably stipulated by God.
    Take the ethos and transplant it into the human world and we're likely to find ourselves up a rather smelly creek. Why? Because worldly leaders are not all-perfect and transcendental. Hobbesian social philosophy recognizes the incontroveribly relative and subjective nature of values, and of truth itself. If we were to subscribe to a patriarchal decree regarding the good and just when they're enunciated by corporations masquerading as political parties we'd be affording those entities the sort of regard which would be more sensically held for omnipotent beings. Is it our intention to surrender omnipotence to Haliburton, or to allow them to stipuate an objective set of worldly values?

    A Miltonic US worldly politic would be appropriate if G.W. Bush was god the father. Which he's not. So it's not.

    By Blogger Bobby, at 7:21 PM  

  • Dear Bobby:

    You're in the current, mainstream!
    With solid argument to buoy you up, of course.

    By Blogger Dr. S.A. Ogden, at 9:04 PM  

  • cheers, I think

    By Blogger Bobby, at 9:35 PM  

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