what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sceptic pluralist

The superb weather continues – azure blue sky, blazing sun, light breeze and scattered fluffy clouds. A run down to Bran to stock up and bumped twice people into I knew! I’m obviously becoming a native at last. It will be difficult to tear myself away – but Bulgaria does now beckon with the resumption of workshops there next week
I’m still reflecting on the editorial labelling my published article in Revista 22 got last week (“view from the left”) and, specifically, the “key influences” I referenced in my initial blog response (Crosland and Shonfield). I realised that I had missed some of those whose writings I came across when I was at University and which, effectively, marked me for life – namely Karl Popper, Joseph Schumpeter, Reinhold Niebuhr, JK Galbraith, Robert Michels and Ralf Dahrendorf (in that order). All shared a sceptical and pluralistic outlook on life – and these 2 words are more important to me than “left” which, sadly, embraces all that’s best and worst in politics. I am not trying to establish liberal credentials – particularly since one of the 2 (funded) supplements in that issue of Revista 22 was an eight-page summary of 23 “right-intellectual” streams of thought. Just wondering where I actually stand in relation to all that has been written about social improvement in the past century.
I suppose I was always a bit “elusive” politically. I wrote once that I never felt I really “belonged” anywhere (my upbringing on the class-divide in a Scottish shipbuilding town saw to that). The more I read, the more confused was life and the path to take – both individually and collectively.
For those who want to taste the real Popper, the 800 pages of The Open Society and its Enemies are available here.
And a short and dismissive libertarian review (“sheer social democracy”) can be read here.
But my reflections brought up this gem – of Ralf Dahrendorf in conversation in 1989 in a great history series

Why is it that the older I get, the better the writing seems to become? I finished a few days ago another “travelogue” (there has to be a better name for such sublime writing) - Out of Steppe about the lost peoples of central asia where I spent 5 years of my life. And I have now started another in this genre of well-read young Englishmen immersing themselves in the life of people whose predecessors suffered repression, forced marches and exile – Rebel Land – among Turkey’s Forgotten People. Reading about the suffering of these diverse groups from the Balkans, Caucasus and Turkey certainly makes the grievances of the Scots rather trivial!

Another reminder of what Roosevelt’s programme for artists during the Great Depression produced. Where is its like today?

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