Hairshirts and the failure of political imagination
Amidst all the frustration: "Die letzten warmen Tage in Berlin" in my mp3-player, and unknowingly to me, the twenty-something Jon Favreau busy ghost-writing for Barack Obama, internalising his speech patterns at, yes, the local Starbucks.
Emptying my cup of shade-grown Mexican coffee, I remember going over the Wikipedia post on Fermi and his famous paradox, the grand perspective of what modernity is all about: to safely leave our planetary cradle and to build a universal civilization of humanity, to eliminate hunger, poverty, ultimately the very notion of material needs. At the same time, the tragic reality of the hairshirts who seek to bind humanity to its past, to prescribe absolute limits to growth and human ingenuity. But just as much, the cornucopian liberals who hold all consumption to be axiomatically desirable and who like Johan Norberg fail to see the historical debt incurred by colonialism and the ongoing exploitation in Third World sweatshops.
In two weeks I will be back in America where the tide has turned and idealism no longer is mocked. But as all commentators are quick to point out, the work still remains to be done, it is still uncertain if Obama will succeed in breaking with the contemporary collective failure of imagination and reignite our sense of historical purpose.