There used to be something good about the British disdain of politics and politicians. I felt much the same about our standard rather bumbling bobbying too. Zealots are usually one up or down from piles after all. And I taught much the same way – little input, just let people do something and try and encourage and criticise a bit, show a little of radical alternatives and try and let people get thinking for themselves.
We need new directions now and the paths to them seem blocked. We should have a more equal society by now and have moved on from ‘burning the planet’ activities and barking religious belief. Being able to turn out to work and earn one’s corn and find satisfaction in a tad of entertainment in reasonable peace and quiet amongst others, some easy access to some kind of public life and self-discipline free of control regimes of other’s truth forced down the old throat.
I’m a simple bloke even if I’m too smart for my own good at times. I was impressed with Sweden when I worked there. The Northern Europeans are more conservative than us even if their social economics is a bit leftie. I gave up on democracy some time ago because I don’t think it brings the public equality I want. It can’t get past the will of the many being so easily governable through social Idols we need to get past. One can be glib and say it may have its faults but sure beats the alternatives, but this isn’t enough, even if we accept perfection is beyond us.
Aspects of human nature mediate against any peaceful anarchist dream that we’d be all right without social institutions and much the same can be said of any extreme right position on unbridled competition. What our politics lacks is sensible public dialogue and my hope is that new technology will bring this, though so far the Internet shows signs of going the wrong way down the same trivialising and biased route of old fashioned media which is politically parochial to the Westminster square mile (or less) and stuck with a Victorian (yet American) notion of balance and objectivity that is highly biased.
The basic self-knowledge we should be working with concerns our obvious existence as social animals and our need to be such. Most of us know remarkably little about this, or the examples other social animals provide. This is complicated scientific terrain – again something most shun. My guess is that we need new forms of government that accept we need to address this fundamental condition without a lot of the baggage we currently accept as economics, management, motivation, contribution and even law.
We don’t seem to be able to take any decisions that matter because of current economics. One of Karl Popper’s main points was that it matters much less who is in power and much more what control we have over them. We now have a de facto ‘Politburo of rich interests’ beyond any government we can elect – this strongly suggests to me that we need to be able to elect a new form of government not constrained by this – unless this is the situation we are content with.
I’m sure within my own self-evaluation that this is the position we are in and that it’s doing us no good. The questions that arise from this are frankly very scary, because the solutions mean doing stuff that feels Utopian and involves a form of ‘globalisation’ that has been highly idealistic in the past. Even if we can get to grips with some practical version of what we have never achieved in the past, many old and built up problems will remain for solution, including population control, policing the ‘new world order’, religion, becoming sustainable and developing lives not constrained by work as we have seen it in the past.
I hope we try, largely because I see the alternative to be war and a planet that survives without us. About a third of life currently ticks over at a tiny fraction of our metabolism in sea-sludge. If you can look at the world free of our propaganda, human beings do very little in the overall cosmos and our report card as a species reads ‘should try harder’.