In his essay “Discipline and Hope,” American cultural critic Wendell Berry argues that such pettiness is a result of the devolution of politics from an art in which leaders defend their visions and principles, to a “shallow game” where “language ceases to bind head to heart, action to principle, and becomes only a weapon in a contention deadly as war”. He claims that just as farming has been alienated from land and marriage from love, politics has abandoned the disciplines that should be at it’s heart; namely, “considerations of fact and of principle and of human and historical limits and possibilities”.
Berry observes that marketing tactics designed to placate a need for immediate cultural and political satisfaction have replaced these disciplines of discourse. Such tactics are rooted in a ‘popular perfectionism’ that – like philosophical traditions such as Marxism – strives for a utopian society, but is uniquely childish in obnoxiously demanding it now. Such civic irrationality stems from a broader societal obsession with consumption and efficiency, which has resulted in the “relentless subjection of means to immediate ends”.
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