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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ralph Waldo Gingrich, no, Perry, no, Palin, no Romney

My poor head has been banging against this piece of paper all week.

It's an article from last Sunday's New York Times Magazine by Benjamin Anastas. If I weren't so damn determined to be self-reliant and refuse to ask for help, I could find how to post the link. But look it up on Google, how's that. Great article: "The Foul Reign of 'Self-Reliance'."

Ralph Waldo Emerson is the ultimate non-conformist, "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind." The movement with which he was associated is known as Transcendentalism and is generally viewed with grave suspicion by those who might be known as the Religious Right for its emphasis on the primacy of the individual's conscious and desires, even happiness, at the cost of following the tenets of their claim of the Bible's supreme truth.

Now the irony. The behavior and ideological orientation of the GOP and the Right looks an awful lot like "foul self-reliance" and individualism. Emerson wasn't big on responsibility to the community, or to one's neighbor, for that matter. Take care of yourself. Love yourself above all others. NIMBY.

The issue raises its pesky head especially as we grapple with "the issue of our time" (Pres. Obama), that of the inequality of wealth in this country (to say nothing of the rest of the world). The traditional transcendentalists, those Harvard liberals, would be expected to say, "Who cares?" about the poor. Or, in other words, "Let them eat cake." Some say that.

But what is surprising? The Bible Belt says "Let them eat cake." And, "who cares?" Newt Gingrich this week sounded just like old Ralph Waldo himself as he proposed having poor children go to work. And he appeals most to religious (Christian) voters.

Go figure.

What makes your head spin?

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