Wednesday, 23 February 2011
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
Aristotle believed that it was a good in itself to engage in civic life. The highest form of virtue was to involve oneself in politics. These days many people would raise an eyebrow at that idea. Politics was done differently in the philosophers days: it was on a small scale and the issues that the men (because it was men then) voted on that affected all the participants making the decision. The Greek demos was very different from the Westminster village.
In his BBC television series, Michael Sandel explores the ethics of Aristotle: that taking part is itself ethical and will make one a better person.
David Cameron's Big Society has many critics. They vary from those who simply dislike the idea to those who believe it cannot work.
I suspect though that it is wrong to dismiss the policy outright. Cameron is committed to it and my guess is that he sees the concept as a way to edge towards the Aristotelian ideal. That is because what underpins the notion of the Big Society is that people will engage in their communities and take decisions that affect them.
If one thinks about it like that then it all sounds rather noble, assuming you agree with Aristotle.
The problem with the idea for classical liberals is that if you want a society where people control their lives you need to let that emerge and not try and steer it from the centre.
The coalition is working on policies that establish a framework that allows this form of ethical engagement to take place. We won't know for a while whether it can be done like that or that they were the right policies to do it.
Friday, 18 February 2011
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Sunday, 13 February 2011
For a while now, I have been saying that Nick Clegg is developing a modern liberal story. Part of that story, in my view, is that modern liberalism must be underpinned by classical liberalism. Today in an interview with Henry Porter in the Observer, Clegg is quoted saying that people should not trust governments.
This view, that we should be wary of authority and government, is a classical position of liberalism or one might say Whiggism.
Hattip to Liberal Future.
Sunday, 6 February 2011
Yesterday, I wrote about the way that we consume news has, and is, changing.
Part of the way we consume news depends on what we want from our news.
Broadly speaking it is probably safe to assume that most people want to be informed and at times entertained. That balance may change depending on what is going on in the world.
Some like to have their news from a certain political slant while others want news to be short and to the point.
My own preference is for news to be reported as objectively as possible with the expert insight of a journalist explaining the context of an event and the likely consequences. The FT is very good at this mix.
The Internet allows one to get factual news from one source and the analysis from a blogger or journalist working for a newspaper based in the country where the story is happening.
The successful news provider will recognise this and find a business model that makes the making of news profitable.
Today's Washington Post carries a piece by Will Bunch that discusses the five myths of Ronald Reagan's presidency:
- Reagan was one of the most popular US presidents
- Reagan was a tax-cutter
- Reagan was a hawk
- Reagan shrank the federal government
- Reagan was a conservative culture warrior
You can read the full article here.
Saturday, 5 February 2011
I started reading a daily newspaper around the age of 17. Prior to that I watched news on television and listened to it on Radio 4. Ever since then I have bought a national newspaper most days and read it fairly thoroughly.
In the last couple of years, I have noticed that how I am consuming news has changed. I check for the latest story on the blogs and Twitter feeds that I follow. The tweeters I kept an eye on are journalists and people interested in the same stories as me. So if I haven't spotted something they probably will. I check newspaper websites in the UK and also The Washington Post and New York Times.
Instead of waiting for the next day to read about what has happened an hour ago, I want to read it quickly after it has happened.
I love the feel of a newspaper. I like the analysis but now that analysis is competing with some very well written blogs.
I know none of this is a startling revelation. The generation that has been brought up with the Internet may never have bought a newspaper. But I always thought I would keep reading a daily newspaper. Now I am not so sure.
With the launch of The Daily and the spread of iPads and smart phones how we consume information is changing dramatically.