Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama could use a little refresher course in liberal thought.
Speaking at the Berlin Wall, Hillary Clinton used a liberal nickel word: History. But did she actually realize what she was saying? In her first sentence, she spoke of “that night 20 years ago when history broke through concrete and barbed wire and signaled a new dawn…” She repeats herself later, referring to how “history did not end the night the wall came down; it began anew” (emphasis, in both cases, mine).
A political scholar would see this as a reference to Hegel, who coined the idea of History, as a driving force uniting past and present and pressing toward some utopian ideal. Marx and Lenin took a shining to the concept, using it as a foundation of their political theory. The notion has been latent in liberal thought ever since. You can’t be progressive unless you’re going somewhere, right?
Ms. Clinton must not have realized how loaded her word choice was. After all, History, in that very same context, was used as a justification for many of the communists’ shady or brutal dealings. (Oops.)
Better yet, President Obama accidentally articulated a conservative thought: “Human destiny is what human beings make of it,” he said in his Berlin Wall televised address.
A conservative might wish the extreme thesis and antithesis of the president and secretary of state collided here. The synthesis might be closer to the moderate policy that candidate Obama originally proclaimed. But alas, all we have is nostalgia for Woodrow Wilson, poli-sci prof-turned-president. Apparently, the Zeitgeist is political illiteracy.