In an inspired synthesis of my previous two posts—or what would have been an inspired synthesis, if he hadn’t actually written the piece first—Michael Knox Beran (writing for City Journal) argues that Senator Obama is the “post-masculine” version of the collectivist demagogue. Like his spiritual forbears, Obama projects a quasi-divine power to relieve suffering; he pours contempt on moral “absolutists” in the name of an impatient pragmatism that will brook no obstacle to the realization of “communal values”; he exhorts the people to purge themselves of petty antagonisms for sake of a blissful collective regeneration. But unlike the political shamans that blighted the last century, Obama does not have the effulgent virility of which we have grown so wary. His manner is not imperial, but calm, comforting, almost motherly.
Most interesting to me is Beran’s highlighting of Obama’s relativistic rejection of “the West’s traditional morality.” Beran notes that the West’s moral vision is an obstacle to collectivist schemes both because it places strict limits on what can be done as a means to realizing a utopian vision and because it inculcates a strong sense of human proneness to sin and error, making that vision seem absurd.