23 March 2009

President Obama is Definitely a Man of the Masses

Obama's appearance on Jay Leno's show last, demonstrates him to be a man of the masses, in a sense. Yes. And that's the problem. We have plenty of men of the masses. What we need are men of the "remnant".

Alfred J. Nock, using the prophet Isaiah as an example, explains, here. It will take you about half an hour to read, depending upon your speed, but well worth it, I think. (You could also listen to it, here.)

As the word masses is commonly used, it suggests agglomerations of poor and underprivileged people, laboring people, proletarians, and it means nothing like that; it means simply the majority. The mass man is one who has neither the force of intellect to apprehend the principles issuing in what we know as the humane life, nor the force of character to adhere to those principles steadily and strictly as laws of conduct; and because such people make up the great and overwhelming majority of mankind, they are called collectively the masses. The line of differentiation between the masses and the Remnant is set invariably by quality, not by circumstance. The Remnant are those who by force of intellect are able to apprehend these principles, and by force of character are able, at least measurably, to cleave to them. The masses are those who are unable to do either.
[...]

Everyone with a message nowadays is...eager to take it to the masses. His first, last and only thought is of mass acceptance and mass approval. His great care is to put his doctrine in such shape as will capture the masses' attention and interest. This attitude towards the masses is so exclusive, so devout, that one is reminded of the troglodytic monster described by Plato, and the assiduous crowd at the entrance to its cave, trying obsequiously to placate it and win its favor, trying to interpret its inarticulate noises, trying to find out what it wants, and eagerly offering it all sorts of things that they think might strike its fancy.

The main trouble with all this is its reaction upon the mission itself. It necessitates an opportunist sophistication of one's doctrine, which profoundly alters its character and reduces it to a mere placebo. If, say, you are a preacher, you wish to attract as large a congregation as you can, which means an appeal to the masses; and this, in turn, means adapting the terms of your message to the order of intellect and character that the masses exhibit. If you are an educator...with a college on your hands, you wish to get as many students as possible, and you whittle down your requirements accordingly. If a writer, you aim at getting many readers; if a publisher, many purchasers; if a philosopher, many disciples; if a reformer, many converts; if a musician, many auditors; and so on. But as we see on all sides, in the realization of these several desires, the prophetic message is so heavily adulterated with trivialities, in every instance, that its effect on the masses is merely to harden them in their sins. Meanwhile, the Remnant, aware of this adulteration and of the desires that prompt it, turn their backs on the prophet and will have nothing to do with him or his message.
But Obama, His Beatitude, is only a man of the masses, as I said, in a sense -- only in appearance. In actuality, as an intellectual, his main concern is not the masses; it is control. And as Étienne de La Boétie informed us long ago, control of any large group of people, by a smaller group, is always by shaping popular opinion -- the opinion of the masses. Hence all the phoney outrage over the AIG bonuses.

It would be comical if it weren't so dangerous.

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James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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