Friday, July 25, 2008

More on Obama's Berlin speech

Obama spoke of wishing to "remake the world" in his speech. That struck me as grasping too far, as kind of utopian. The editors of National Review noticed this, too, and found the utopian theme elsewhere in his speech:

" is much too utopian. It takes the conservative positions listed above, especially the more idealistic ones such as the promotion of democracy, and adds to them an entirely different list of wishful liberal positions: a world without nuclear weapons, a world without carbon emissions, a “new dawn” in the Middle East, a helping hand to the Bangladeshi child, the Chad refugee, the dissident in Burma, the voter in Zimbabwe, and so on. Together these various aspirations add up to a hazy and unbounded utopianism illustrated by Obama’s riff about “walls.” Walls, it seems, are to come down everywhere under Obama’s soothing ministrations, thus removing pointless and wicked divisions between the rich and the poor, black and white, natives and immigrants, Christians and Muslims. Some walls undoubtedly create wicked divisions — the Berlin Wall separated Germans from Germans purely for the benefit of Communist rulers. But most Europeans and Americans accept that walls can also serve good purposes and that their removal would create rather than solve difficulties. The Israeli wall saves lives from terrorism, for instance, and walls between nation-states (a.k.a. borders) mark the division between citizen and foreigner that makes democracy possible."

Precisely. Beware of utopianism. Remember when Lyndon Johnson talked, back in the mid-1960s, of eradicating poverty from the U.S., and the world, and of how the U.S. could do it all? Well, it couldn't, and it's dangerous to think it could.