Obama’s speeches are glorious. They are a joy to listen to and to read later. He is able to dig deep into the rich rhetorical tradition of the Christian world and of the Founding Fathers, and to articulate a call for awakening that is powerful. But how far is it from our world, from our time? There is an anachronistic edge not only in the cadence, but also in the logic—nothing here about the desertion of populations by the government, the allowance of the few to dominate the wealth produced by the many, and the turn to violence when other means wither in the quiver. Ethical systems cannot be built upon each other without any consideration of social transformations. It is not language alone that we must attend to, but even more so to the social context of the language. Celebrations of “American character” and of the “God-given promise that all are equal” are emotive, powerful symbols of an age that is now no longer with us.Read the rest of Common sense.
Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History, Professor and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. His most recent book, The Darker Nations, won the 2008 non-fiction award from the Asian American Writer’s Workshop.
Read Vijay Prashad's contribution to Mumbai revisited.
Posts by Vijay Prashad:
The leitmotif of old Bombay is its diversity. Populations with varied beliefs and languages were agglomerated by the British into an ever growing city, first as a trading post which then slowly transformed into an industrial and financial powerhouse. [...]Read the rest of Restore us to fire.