Since, unlike the present, tomorrow is always imaginary, such idolatry can be manipulated in many ways.  On the one hand, of course, the Stalins of the world can demand the death of millions in the name of a future paradise.  This is an especial concern of Camus, who complains of those who “glorify a future state of happiness, about which no one knows anything, so that the future authorizes every kind of humbug.”…

Given the ironic character of history, we should, at the very least, make sure that our actions have some value in the present.  The future that we imagine is unlikely to come about, if it does come about it will not last, and when it does come about we will probably despise it. ~Prof. Joshua Foa Dienstag, Pessimism

 

This election is about the past vs. the future. ~Barack Obama

 

I saw the Obama victory speech live on C-SPAN online, and I admit that it was an impressive rhetorical display.  It was all the more impressive because he managed to amaze his listeners and yet he didn’t say very much at all.  He kept saying things like, “We’re looking to fundamentally change the status quo in Washington.”  This is a line that gets cheers, and sets up a nice opposition between Obama the unifying insurgent and the divisive, nasty status quo.  He pushed his campaign themes effectively, and he got in some clever digs at the Clintons.  That is what victory speeches are for, and he gave a good victory speech.  There is still something hubristic about the idea that his campaign marks the chance to end the old politics “once and for all.”  It is curious to me that Obama’s us vs. them rhetoric, while he defines himself as a candidate dedicated to unity, does not receive the same scorn for being like a “conspiracy theory” that Edwards’ similar rhetoric routinely receives.  The one solid, substantive line in the speech is his implicit pledge to end the Iraq war.  The rest of it is quite vague.  If that is what is scaring Republicans these days, they are in worse shape than I thought.