In a Democracy it is important that the decision on any public issue, be made by a community at the appropriate level. For example; local, regional, national, continental or global. It is imperative that at each level decision on a particular matter should be decided on the specific considerations that are relevant to each, not on the basis of power games.
The all-embracing range of nation-states is a very undesirable concentration of power. The concerns of each nation-state are all framed and evaluate public policy in terms of their community, with only the slightest concern for other communities. In an era where almost all our most urgent problems can be understood and resolved only on a global scale, we have to look to decision making bodies on each matter in terms of its own nature. Some of those urgent problems are international but most of them are not a matter that is of national communities, but must be approached on a global perspective – global change, overpopulation, the world Ecology, and many other matters effect us not as citizens of the state, but as citizens of the world. Continue reading
‘Critical race theory’ is the perfect villain
I wonder if I can keep this post short and sweet. Only by reminding myself that I’d like to write about his after much more consideration and effort. So can I keep this to a steak in the ground (Here at Troppo we’re always looking for ways to get red meat to the base)?
Be that as it may, critical race theory has been identified — by its opponents — as sitting at the apex of the hornet’s nest (or is that a Gordian knot) of wokeness, though the basic structure of the ideas also applies elsewhere — think radical critiques of gender and colonisation to name just two.
And here’s the thing. I agree with most of the anti-woke agenda in various areas with some passion. But I’m hostile not to the radicalism of the ideas of critical theory. Far from it. They are, for the most part, powerful and very welcome additions to our understanding of the world. But that’s very different to the more ambitious political, social and managerial application of those ideas where my response is often strong objection. I’d say precisely the same about Marxism.
That is, Marxism was an immensely powerful lens on the world, not just on economics, but on the whole structure of ideas around which public and social life is organised. Was it ‘right’. Yes, much of it was deeply insightful, but then it wasn’t the only way you could look at life or the phenomena it foregrounded. Marxism also came with its own stratospheric hubris in which it became the first ‘truly scientific’ study of humanity, rendering all else erroneous and obsolete. Not only that, but it turned out to predict the future as the working out of an iron law. The working class would be progressively immiserised and would then rise up in revolt. Continue reading
Six years ago I posted the note below as part of Abbotsford Convent. I’m doing so again today to raise money again. Only there’s already an offer on the table to match anyone’s donation. I’m doing the same for any donation you might make, so for every dollar you donate, I donate another (up to $500), and that’s doubled by another donor.
Just go to their website, make a donation and mention me in the message field and Bob’s your uncle. Continue reading
As I struggle with my ninety-fifth year, I would like to beg forgiveness from the true believers in sortition.
Near forty years ago, in 1985, I published a book Is Democracy Possible? with the subtitle The Alternative to Parliamentary Democracy. The sortitionists believed that the alternative could only be to reject the electoral system and replace it by sortition. The will of the people could be expressed only by the people themselves, so they assumed I must support that view.
In fact what the book advocated was something different, but it was so far outside the mainstream that it attracted little attention. There is no point in offering answers to questions people apart from a few anarchists don’t ask. Everybody assumed that democracy was a matter of ensuring that the power of the state is invested in the nation’s people. Anybody who denied that was a traitor to democracy.
My contention was that the real problem was the concentration of all public goods in the powers of the state. Those who agreed with me on that point usually assumed that the only alternative was to manage the power of money to protect the rights of the owners of property — radical capitalism. Robert Nozick, in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (1974), claimed that the public goods that the state did not provide could be provided on a moral basis by the rich. This was hardly a prescription for democracy. Clearly public goods are very important to human life. Many public goods are conventions that evolve from the interactions of people as unplanned byproducts. Our languages are the obvious example. However in complex technological societies, many of the goods we need to have at our disposal must involve rational choices between different possibilities that are accepted by all those who need them. Continue reading