The President used the ‘s’ word February 23, 2012Posted by Tomboktu in Capitalism, Class, Community, Culture, Economy, Ethics, European Politics, Inequality, Ireland, Neo-conservatives, Political Philosophy, Social History, Society.
The archived speeches on the site of the President, http://www.president.ie go back only as far as 1997 (Mary McAleese’s inauguration speech), and even in a group that consists of nine members, a sample of two is not a good representation. That said, it is worth noting that this week, President Higgins caused the words socialism and socialist to appear on that site for the first time, by using them in a speech
yesterday on Tuesday in London.
When the L.S.E. was founded in 1895 by the four leading Fabians, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, George Bernard Shaw and Graham Wallas, its founders were convinced of the power of education in not only lifting their fellow citizens out of poverty but also of such citizens understanding, participating, and in time, offering an alternative form of society, one that would be egalitarian, democratic, tolerant, one which would extend and deepen democracy in every aspect of life. Such an achievement would also constitute, they felt, the establishment of socialism as an alternative to capitalism.
He also said
the great founding texts of Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Croce and others
and, quoting Frederick Powell,
“Privatisation is the road back to autocracy, in which a hollowed-out state is bereft of anything meaningful to attract the support of the citizen – especially the marginalised, excluded from the mainstream of society.”
Standing in support of unregulated markets, of unaccountable capital flows, of virtual financial products, are scholars who frequently claim the legitimation provided by a university. The university is at times put under pressure to demonstrate its utility as the seat of the single hegemonic model of society and economy that prevails.
I believe universities are challenged now not only to recover the moral purpose of original thought, emancipatory scholarship,
Weber, of course, could not have envisaged the consequences of the journey intellectual thought would make from reason to rationality, but then on to calculable rationality, and finally, in our own time, to the speculative gambling that is at the heart of so much global misery with its view of those humans who share our fragile planet, not as citizens, but as rational choice maximizing consumers.
We are in such a winter as Weber foretold. For example, we have arrived at quite widespread acceptance by policy makers of a proposition rejected by the majority of serious economic historians, that markets are rational. This, on occasion, leads, in the extreme, to the suggestion, absurd and all as it may sound, that it is people who are irrational, the markets rational
The mid-twentieth century constituted an atmosphere where social capital emerged and social democracy mediated conflict. The twentieth century saw too a public debate about the role of the State, the rights of the individual and social policy, of the balance between these areas.
In succeeding decades political philosophy and social theory gave way to issues of administration analysis of the role of the State faded and gave way to applied studies, in an administrative sense, of the State’s actions.
A discourse based on solidarity interdependency, shared vulnerability, community, gave way to a discourse on lifestyle and individual consumption. A society of citizens gave way to a disaggregated mass of individual consumers.
There is not, for example, any better future for economics as a subject and discipline than as political economy within a system of culture.
Wow. That won’t go down well on Merrion Street.