Mike Vickers' Blog

January 1, 2012

2012 – A Year for Dialogue

Filed under: Communications, History in the making, Politics, USA — derryvickers @ 11:50 am

This is the year when:

  • A new President of the US will be elected or Barack Obama will hold off the onslaught. Should the US go back to its Constitution as written? – well not quite
  • The Euro will survive or not.  Germany wants to lay down strict fiscal rules of belonging – Is Angela Merkel the Bismarck of the 21st century?
  • There will be still no resolution between Israel and the Palestinians.  An interesting series of three programmes on the BBC on the 4000 year history of Jerusalem  highlighting the continual struggle between Jews, Christians and Muslims for control ‘illustrated the difficulty.
  • Scotland will move further away from the UK and England in particular or not.  Will an independent Scotland be more left of centre than England and will it become more like Norway?
  • More locally will our town of Linlithgow remain an historic town or develop into a ribbon commuter town for Edinburgh and Glasgow.  A commercial company wants to build a satellite town just to the east – because Linlithgow is one of the few towns under demand for new property.

These topics are all about centralisation or distribution, liberalisation or direction, freedom to do one’s own thing or be guided by rules.  Is your life better off with or without them.  The dilemma is that one man’s freedom is another’s loss.  An article in last week’s UK Guardian illustrates the point (though a few more examples would have been useful) – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/19/bastardised-libertarianism-makes-freedom-oppression

We in the West live in a capitalist society- we appreciate it – well most of us do.  But capitalism has its down sides.  Ha-Joon Chang’s book ‘Things They don’t tell you about Capitalism’ is a good reminder of the impact of our capitalism on others less fortunate than we.

If 2012 is to be a good year then there needs to be meaningful (sorry for use of this word) dialogues between the participants.  Can I commend to all a great book now 50 years on Political Dialogues by Maurice Cranston, published by the BBC.  The book reports on a number of constructed dialogues between philosophers of the latter half of the last millennium; dialogues include Savonarola and Machiavelli on the State,  Stuart Mill and Stephen on Liberty, Maine, Arnold and Morley on Democracy and one particularly interesting of someone living in Scotland Voltaire and Hume on Morality.  All these dialogues are just as relevant today as they were 50 years ago and when they were ‘conceived’ in the time of the philosophers themselves.  A key aspect is that there is no resolution of differences just a better understanding between participants; and, as Michael Sandel finishes his great series of Harvard lectures on Justice, the best we can hope for.  After all we all live in a democracy – not a totalitarian state and if ‘men of good will’ do not have the right to differ we are lost.

A Good New Year to everyone and keep up the dialogue!

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