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Martin LeFevre: Campaign, Movement, Or Revolution?

Campaign, Movement, Or Revolution?

Meditations - From Martin LeFevre in California

The presidential race in America grows more exciting by the week, at least on the Democratic side. (The Republicans, fearing the polyglot, have begun building their monolith around septuagenarian John McCain.) The question is: Does all this excitement spell real change, or does it confirm that hope springs infernal?

Truly, as Charles Dickens wrote, it is "the best of times, the worst of times, the season of light, the season of darkness, the spring of hope, the winter of despair."

I believe this election has less to do with American politics and more to do with human consciousness. But as a philosopher, my core premises are being tested, and will be shown either to be clearly false, or quite plausibly true. (We can often be very sure of what is false, but we can never be entirely certain of what is true.)

The first premise is that the evil of the Bush Administration (I'm not demonizing the man but describing his administration) is not the result of 'stolen elections,' but the manifestation of an emotionally and spiritually moribund American people.

The second premise is that inspiration and hope are not be enough to dislodge evil once it has come to rule a land. Much deeper inner transformations, or outer dislocations, are necessary to do so.

My third premise is that since the human prospect hangs in the balance, at least for the foreseeable future, global citizens are confronted with understanding and radically changing so-called human nature. A corollary of this basic idea is that there cannot and will not be any easy fixes (political or technological) for the division, conflict, and fragmentation human consciousness is generating on this planet.

Coming off eight successive primary victories, Barack Obama deftly links Hillary and McCain via their former and present support for the Iraq war. But his rhetoric goes beyond the nominating process and being 'presidential.' Indeed, Obama is campaigning beyond the American presidency altogether; he is running for president of the world.

The contradiction is that Obama is speaking the universal language of humanity, but in patriotic terms. He often uses Martin Luther King's eloquent phrase, "the fierce urgency of now," adding, in the next articulate, perfectly pitched breath of his own, "because I believe there's such a thing as being too late, and that hour is almost upon us." What is he referring to--the American economy, the American republic, or the human prospect?

Whatever the former truth of "the indispensable nation" notion, I believe it no longer applies, and that a 'restoration of American prestige and leadership' is not possible.

Taken altogether, this means we (referring to global citizens again) don't just stand at another 'hinge of history.' The door has been blown off. And yet, as Obama's rhetoric attests, the world remains bolted to a rotten 19th century foundation and held in a crumbling 20th century framework.

James Lovelock, the independent scientist, environmentalist, and futurist who proposed the Gaia hypothesis, now believes that there is nothing humans can do to restore ecological equilibrium because carbon loading in the atmosphere has already gone too far. Entire continents will turn to deserts, he predicts, and billions will die from famine by 2040.

There is one small possibility, in his view, which is that mankind comes up with a technological solution very soon that removes carbon from the atmosphere. That's like saying we can only prevent an early stage cancer from metastasizing by injecting a different kind of cancer cells into the body (or, in Gaia terminology, the 'superorganism' of the earth).

If humankind makes it through this century without tearing the earth and ourselves to shreds, it will not be because some scientist or engineer has won Richard Branson's 25 million dollar "Virgin Earth Prize." (To come up with a way to extract carbon from the atmosphere, "so we can all sigh a great sigh of relief, and we can carry on enjoying our lives much as we've always done.")

If we make it, it will be because identification with particular groups gives way, and the truth of human commonality emotionally prevails. In other words, it will be because we learned how to love humanity more than we love our own nation, ethnic group, or religious tradition. Not to mention our own acquisitiveness, self-indulgence, and entertainment (heretical as that is for a Californian to say).

Can a prospective American president speak for humanity while couching the human prospect in nationalistic terms? No, love of humanity cannot be encoded within the language of "We are not red states and blue states, but the United States," and "those of us who love this country..."

Obama now speaks of his campaign as a 'movement,' but movements can be as hollow as campaigns. The metaphysical link in evil between the American government and al Qaeda will not be broken by good feelings and soaring speeches. The human condition requires a revolution in thinking and feeling.

Martin LeFevre


Martin LeFevre is a contemplative, and non-academic religious and political philosopher. He has been publishing in North America, Latin America, Africa, and Europe (and now New Zealand) for 20 years. Email: The author welcomes comments.

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