Friday, November 19, 2010

Consubstantiality, or finding common ground with words

Burke's concept of consubstantiality, covered in an earlier blog post, is inspiring a podcast from me in response to the darkening binary political environment in America today. Are we Democrats, or Republicans, ... or are we Americans? Even better, are we humans? Or the best: Are we inhabitants of Earth? Each label we apply to ourselves (or others) limits the whole, or screens the whole, as Burke might say, obscuring the Truth. It seems to me that we could divide ourselves in any number of ways that would easily rival or surpass the true differences that separate the big political parties, both of which, at their hearts, are corporatist and militarist.
Finding common ground, rather than wedging apart (dividing and conquering, I suppose) meant to Burke looking for words to end "warfare," literally and figuratively. I interpret this as finding the parts where we agree, focusing on those, and building a sense of togetherness, despite other areas of difference. Is this Pollyanna-ish nonsense that never could work in reality? What if, as an earlier commentator on this blog suggested, both sides don't want to get along, and one wants to wield a stick, rather than a carrot? These are issues facing the two big political parties today, particularly the Democrats. President Obama addressed this topic of binary discourse in his press conference after the recent elections, in which Republicans made large gains in Congress. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell's reply? The American people want our parties to work together "to put aside the left-wing wish list." That doesn't really sound like working together, now, does it? ... This upcoming podcast will include commentary on Burke's consubstantiality concept and the many similar ideas that have come before it in the history of classical rhetoric, as well as modern examples of powerful people, such as Sen. Jay Rockefeller, suggesting that maybe what the world needs now is a little less partisanship (when haven't we heard that cry?) and more efforts to find common ground among the people of our country, to rebuild trust in the government, which is, by the way, us, not a them.

1 comment:

Peter G. Shilston said...

Have a look at my comment on political vocabulary and tell me if you agree.