Putting Politics in Perspective: R.R. Reno

R.R. Reno writes a provocative article in last month’s First Things in which he declares the current obsession with politics and economics to be out of sync with the actual impact of politics on society and public life. In his conclusion, he writes:

“This is why the most potent force in political life is the human imagination, not control over the levers of state power. Utopian fantasies and exaggerated dreams of national greatness agitated millions in the twentieth century, providing legitimacy to communist and fascist regimes.

Nightmares about cancerous aliens made Nazi anti-Semitism seem plausible. And today it is the cultural imagination of the Islamic world—not its oil wealth or official foreign policies—that makes the region so volatile.

At the end of the day, elections don’t shape or influence our cultural imaginations. On the contrary, our imaginations influence our elections, as the naive nation builders who thought that bringing elections to Iraq would transform the country discovered, much to their dismay.

As the midterm elections approach, it’s worth remembering that the future of America will turn on culture, not politics: the poetry of our moral and social imaginations, not punditry. So by all means vote, but don’t neglect the real and deeper sources of public life.”

via Culture Matters More Than Politics by R.R. Reno | First Things.

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