The president simply equates doing things together with doing things through government. He sees the citizen and the state, and nothing in between — and thus sees every political question as a choice between radical individualism and a federal program. As I said before, it is a classic false alternative fallacy: either you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps or government helps you.
The idea is to hollow out the space between the individual and the State, to clear it of the institutions of civil society that mediate between individual and state:
[quoting Yuval Steinitz] Indeed, the president and his administration don’t seem to have much use for that space at all. Even the family, which naturally stands between the individual and the community, is not essential. In May, the Obama campaign produced a Web slideshow called “The Life of Julia,” which follows a woman through the different stages of life and shows the many ways in which she benefits from public policies that the president advocates. It was an extraordinarily revealing work of propaganda, and what it revealed was just what the president showed us in Roanoke: a vision of society consisting entirely of the individual and the state.
My two cents
This quote is an eye-opener and I’d never thought of it that way. More to the point, I was never taught to think that way, but after being taught, I have to agree. There are any number of governmental social policies that, if not by design, happen to hollow out the space between the individual and the state. I reckon there are people out there who assume this is normal (and therefore OK).
I’ve read that Obama is Christian, but his approach sounds more like either humanism or Roman paganism to me. It reminds me of how certain things were historically done by the church, but as Christianity is consigned to the corner, the state has a tendency (if not a determination) to fill the void.
If it wasn’t for blogging, I don’t think I would have learned to perceive government in this way. I guess this is one upside of living in the 21st century.
Vallicella, B. (2012). Obama’s Assault on the Institutions of Civil Society.Available: http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2012/08/obamas-assault-on-the-institutions-of-civil-society.html. Last accessed 2nd Nov 2012.