Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Twilight of the Republic?

The latests issue of Commonweal magazine has an article by Andrew J. Bacevich with the title: Twilight of the Republic? Seeds of Decline, Path to Renewal.
In his 2005 inaugural address, President George W. Bush declared the promulgation of freedom to be “the mission that created our nation.” Fulfilling what he described as America’s “great liberating tradition” now requires that the United States devote itself to “ending tyranny in our world.”

Many Americans find such sentiments compelling. Yet to credit the United States with possessing a “liberating tradition” is like saying that Hollywood has a “tradition of artistic excellence.” The movie business is just that-a business. Its purpose is to make money. If once in a while the studios produce a film of aesthetic value, that may be cause for celebration; but profit, not revealing truth and beauty, defines the purpose of the enterprise.

Something of the same can be said of the enterprise launched on July 4, 1776. The hard-headed lawyers, merchants, farmers, and slaveholding plantation owners gathered in Philadelphia that summer did not set out to create a church. They founded a republic. Their purpose was not to save mankind. It was to guarantee for people like themselves “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

You can read more here.