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Mon Aug 17, 2015, 12:29 AM

E.J. Dionne: "When Yeats Comes Knocking" (PS - it is masterful)

W. B. Yeats' "The Second Coming," written in 1919, is my nominee for the most cited poem in political commentary. The line invoked most -- "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity" -- is irresistible. It's always tempting to assume that the side we oppose brings vast reservoirs of demonic energy to bear against our own sad and bedraggled allies.

The other oft-quoted verse comes four lines earlier, "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold." This sentiment comes back again and again, at times of stress when Establishments seem to be tottering and when moderate and conventional politicians find themselves outshouted and outmaneuvered. ... Trumpism does have its uniquely American characteristics. Not many places would turn a loud-mouthed real estate tycoon first into a television celebrity and then into a (temporarily, at least) front-running presidential candidate. You can see Trump as a gift to us all from a raucous entrepreneurial culture that does not hold bad taste against someone as long as he is genuinely gifted at self-promotion.

But Trump is a symptom of a much wider problem in the Western democracies. In country after country, traditional, broadly based parties and their politicians face scorn. More voters than usual seem tired of carefully focus-grouped public statements, deftly cultivated public personas, and cautiously crafted political platforms that are designed to move just the right number of voters in precisely the right places to cast a half-hearted vote for a person or a party.

More well written adult-level discussion here.

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Arrow 15 replies Author Time Post
Reply E.J. Dionne: "When Yeats Comes Knocking" (PS - it is masterful) (Original post)
Attorney in Texas Aug 2015 OP
Skittles Aug 2015 #1
pnwmom Aug 2015 #2
SusanaMontana41 Aug 2015 #3
CTyankee Aug 2015 #4
cali Aug 2015 #6
Attorney in Texas Aug 2015 #7
cali Aug 2015 #8
Attorney in Texas Aug 2015 #9
hatrack Aug 2015 #10
SusanaMontana41 Aug 2015 #11
MBS Aug 2015 #13
bemildred Aug 2015 #5
MBS Aug 2015 #12
MBS Aug 2015 #14
Efilroft Sul Aug 2015 #15

Response to Attorney in Texas (Original post)

Mon Aug 17, 2015, 02:00 AM

1. he nails it

yes he does

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Response to Attorney in Texas (Original post)

Mon Aug 17, 2015, 02:49 AM

2. I haven't read that in more than 30 years. Wow. Thanks for posting. n/t

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Response to Attorney in Texas (Original post)

Mon Aug 17, 2015, 03:33 AM

3. Oh wow. I haven't read Yeats. That can be remedied.

I don't agree with E.J. about this mysterious "middle" or "centrists" in American politics.

Is anyone truly in the middle? Corporate Media embrace that narrative every election cycle, but does it exist? Is it an attempt by Corporate Media to convince us that pragmatism is better than idealism?

After all, Corporate Media has an interest in maintaining the status quo.

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Response to SusanaMontana41 (Reply #3)

Mon Aug 17, 2015, 08:59 AM

4. I think he is kind of saying that. I thought this piece was well done and well thought out.

Dionne is not a knee jerk type of political writer. I think what he is saying is the rapid decline of our two party system and how it has failed the American people.

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Response to SusanaMontana41 (Reply #3)

Mon Aug 17, 2015, 09:11 AM

6. I have. in fact I've memorized large pieces of his work

 

And believe me, the use of the word center in this context has zip to do with centrism

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Response to cali (Reply #6)

Mon Aug 17, 2015, 10:15 AM

7. Agreed. By "center," I think he is referring the established governments which are being challenged

in the US on the right by non-politicians such as Trump, Carson, Fiorina and the Tea Party generally (maybe Occupy Wall Street or even Black Lives Matter might be the nearest equivalents on the left). In Europe, there are similar non-politician led movements challenging the governments from the left and the right.

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Response to Attorney in Texas (Reply #7)

Mon Aug 17, 2015, 11:39 AM

8. I think he's speaking more expansively than that, more culturally than just politically

 

Last edited Tue Aug 18, 2015, 04:36 AM - Edit history (1)

And I think you could substitute the word sanity for.center

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Response to cali (Reply #8)

Mon Aug 17, 2015, 06:32 PM

9. Unquestionably, Yeats's meaning was metaphorically broad.

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Response to cali (Reply #8)

Mon Aug 17, 2015, 06:42 PM

10. Or "rationality"

That would be my choice.

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Response to cali (Reply #6)

Tue Aug 18, 2015, 04:32 AM

11. I'm genuinely interested.

You're much more familiar with Dionne - probably Yeats, too - than I am.

WHat did he mean?

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Response to SusanaMontana41 (Reply #11)

Tue Aug 18, 2015, 05:45 AM

13. here is his conclusion:

Last edited Tue Aug 18, 2015, 06:30 AM - Edit history (1)

Political Establishments worthy of the name and middle-ground politicians who care about more than power understand the dangers of a Yeats moment — to social harmony, to tolerance and, if things go really badly, to democracy and freedom. The next decade will test whether the political classes of the world’s democracies are up to the challenge.


This middle part of his oped also seemed to me especially insightful:

Paradoxically, the moderate left depends on a successful and reasonably responsible capitalist system to make its social and economic programs work. When capitalists behave negligently or when inequalities get too severe, as is happening now, social democrats find themselves simultaneously outflanked on their left by more vociferous critics of the system and by nationalist or xenophobic parties on the right who offer a different kind of salvation rooted in identity.


The current political climate reminds me more and more of what I've read about the politics of 30's in Europe -- and not in a good way.

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Response to Attorney in Texas (Original post)

Mon Aug 17, 2015, 09:07 AM

5. +1. nt

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Response to Attorney in Texas (Original post)

Tue Aug 18, 2015, 05:22 AM

12. This is excellent.

EJ Dionne is one of my very favorite columnists. Always thoughtful, and, as you said, adult.

(FYI, the original Washington Post link is here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/when-yeats-comes-knocking/2015/08/16/dd1f3f38-42bc-11e5-8ab4-c73967a143d3_story.html)

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Response to Attorney in Texas (Original post)

Tue Aug 18, 2015, 07:06 AM

14. K & R

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Response to Attorney in Texas (Original post)

Tue Aug 18, 2015, 09:00 AM

15. The commenters on this RCP article are deluding themselves.

We're living in what is arguably the ninth term of Reaganism, and those commenting think this country has been moving more and more to the left? And one considers himself a history buff? What rot.

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