20th Century Genius Award
Topics: Bill Clinton / Pages: 11 (2688 words) / Published: Oct 10th, 2007

Considered a leader, a statesman, and a humanist, William Jefferson Clinton's genius exemplifies many characteristics of the Age of Modernism and Pluralism in Western culture. The Age of Modernism and Pluralism is said to be a culmination of the previous two major periods in human history. Modernism has the "quest for an authoritatively-rational aesthetics, ethics, and knowledge indicative of the Enlightened Period" ("PostModernism", 2005), and the higher ideals of respect for people's rights and liberty brought forth during the Romantic period. Former president Bill Clinton's contributions to social and civil reforms in the United States, his support of the spread of democracy throughout the world, and his previous and ongoing support for the humanities constitute this nomination for the 20th Century Genius Award. On the surface, the Age of Modernism, from 1890 through1950 appeared to follow on the heels of the ideals of the Romantic period: realism, liberty, and state nationalism. Instead, the times were characterized by the reevaluation of these ideas and a subsequent evolution of their interpretation. The two world wars marked this struggle poignantly. Early 20th century artists argued that the First World War, so brutal in nature that art could not be captured by the Romantic Period. Furthermore, social reforms like the Marshall Plan, introduced after the Second World War, were viewed as a critical element in the rebuilding of war torn countries, disbanding of irrational attachments to the state and thereby breaking the cycle of war ("Modernism, 2005) The political and social aspects of the second half of the 20th century were marked by a sense of freedom and the breaking away from traditional imperialism. Mahatma Gandhi's effort to free India was the first test these ideals. Other common themes of the times included racial equality, raising the standard of living in poor areas, and bringing about equality between the sexes. All

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