Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Big Question

Prospect Magazine poses its big question for 2007 to 100 top thinkers.
We asked 100 writers and thinkers to answer the following question: Left and right defined the 20th century. What's next? The pessimism of their responses is striking: almost nobody expects the world to get better in the coming decades, and many think it will get worse

Their answers are here.
A future cursed by "the tyranny of the majority" and the "end of the executive state". Most of the 100 commentators are worth a read. I liked
this, for instance, from Jonathan Rée (a philosopher who gave up university teaching 5 years ago "in order to have more time to think". Wow. ).

When the 20th century began, the main emotion behind most people’s politics was hope of some kind: hope for science, for free trade, for social democracy, for national efficiency, or for world government. And with the emotion of hope came a willingness to investigate options, to analyse, and to engage in genuine, open-minded discussions with those whose views you did not share. 100 years later, the principal political emotion is indignation—against inequality, interference, insecurity, venality or the arrogance of office—and people are more interested in bearing witness to their personal moral righteousness than in engaging with alternative analyses or allowing their own judgements to be tested against those of others. We are now facing a crisis both of hope and of serious collective argument.

The Vico in me however agrees with some of the pundits who argue that the more things change the more they stay the same or with a slow turning of the ricorso of ages from divine to heroic to human. I guess we're on the road somewhere between the latter two ages which would suggest that democracy is yet to come!


Third World Ant said...

Hello there, I missed you. Glad to have you back - have some work errands to run but will be back shortly to read properly and comment!

ATW said...

Feels great to be back. Just hellish unproductive, managed to buy a few hours reprieve on my most recent deadline, but reprieves don't do the work for me sadly.

Third World Ant said...

Ok, I got through pages 1 and 2, and the one I liked the most was economist Meghnad Desai's view:

...Politics will be global and/or personal. What little the state will be asked to do—mainly local issues—it will fail to do. People will devise their own solutions, however imperfectly. They will move across borders and create the preconditions of a global polity, not as a behemoth but as a beehive.

I like the idea the idea of tension between national and global, and that perhaps, in the end, we'll just get on and do what needs to be done without concerns for ego (e.g. patriotism, fundamentalism) but with concerns for collective survival (fighting diseases, salvaging the last remnants of our planet, etc).

I said I liked this view, I'm not necessarily certain it's the one that will actually play out in the end...

ATW said...

Desai's veiw has echoes of Lennon.
Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today...

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one