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!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

All at Sea?

This post is perhaps one of the most important I have done in the past four years.
How should one spend the time and whatever other resources one has in the last part of one’s life to best public advantage is the simple question I started to pose more than a decade ago. Rich Americans have a tradition of establishing Foundations (Ford; Rockefeller; Mellon; Soros; Gates) or University Chairs which honour their names. 
Those who are merely “comfortably-off” go on world tours or establish Annual Awards.

Frankly the results don’t seem to offer much inspiration…or original thought
My 2001 note (see last post) was structured around 5 questions which of course were rather ego- and indeed ethno-centric. They limited the search for answers to those within my ‘ken and that of the Anglo-Saxon world. But we are in a globalised world which seems to have become even closer in our (essentially negative) political assessments as a result of the global financial crisis.

The update a couple of years back of the original 2001 paper referenced a lot of books – both political and economic and, as a result, I suspect rather lost focus. There are simply too many different diagnoses and prescriptions. Too many prophets and peacocks preening themselves….allocating blame….and announcing favourite recipes….all within a power structure which never really seems to change…..

This is where, perhaps, things have now changed dramatically. 
In the first part of the 20th century educated people had religion, movements and ideologies to put their faith in.
In the second part of the century we had things like managerialism and privatisation (in the US still religion) to give us continued faith that things could and would get better.

But the tectonic plates seem to have moved in the past decade –
  • we have become aware that the “Western world” is only a small (and declining) part of the world
  • we no longer trust the institutions of democracy and the market (let alone faiths) which were the core of our being.
  • Corporate and bureaucratic power is evil and the very notion of political power laughable. All that seems left are disaggregated, atomistic and alienated individuals
  • with most people no longer believing that the future has anything better to offer
  • We cannot therefore agree any more on diagnoses - let alone on prescriptions.
  • We are completely at sea…have no engines …nor bearings….
I wonder whether my readers would accept these assertions? 
I am now struggling to pose some questions which might be more helpful than the five with which I started my original paper.............

The painting is an Alexander Moutafov - born in Shumen and educated in Varna, he studied art in Turin between 1899 and 1902; then Munich 1902/03. He was also a war artist
It was the Munich experience which aroused his interest in Jugendstil. From 1921-33, he was professor of Painting in Sofia’s Art Academy. First Bulgarian seascape painter, he laid the basis for this specialism for subsequent Bulgarian painters. There is, I understand, a museum in his Sozopol house

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