Friday, April 27, 2012
Restoration vs. Transformation
The president says his rival wants to take America "back to the future" -- and Romney doesn't disagree.
Look at this interesting article from Atlantic Magazine.
Restoration vs Transformation. Tremendously different attitudes. And values.
Reminds us of earlier British, French and other societies of Europe. Tories/Lords/Monarchists wanting to restore the ancien regime and its old belief system; Whigs/Commoners/Revolutionaries wanting to transform society into a brand new belief system: liberté, egalité, fraternité.
It all depends on who was winning or losing in those good ol' days. Romney glorifies 19th century capitalism and the great growth of industrial America--which Teddy Roosevelt challenged through his progressive movement and Franklin Roosevelt finally changed in the New Deal and so was considered "a traitor to his class." And Romney harks back to the easy, comfortable, safe, prosperous (for whom?) 1950s--when I grew up--with Jim Crow, McCarthyism, Cold War (Guatemala, Vietnam), suburban sprawl, triumph of the automobile and big oil. So is this the choice for America?
Are restoration and transformation reconcilable? In my ethical model, yes. We do embody our past and need to build on it to project our future. When John XXIII was trying to open up the Catholic Church, he said that transformational change can occur by returning to origins--but that meant before Vatican 1, Trent, and the Fathers of the Church. Transforming a corporation starts by returning to true original vision and mission and then re-appropriating, renewing, and, yes, revising it for present circumstances. We need restorationists and transformationalists in dialogue.
However, restoring the past is never an option. Nor is total transformation. Both are absolutist, utopian ways of thinking and that does not fit my model. Let's hope that Obama and Romney avoid that kind of thinking and behavior even though I know many of their followers will not.