Whatever problems the internet may be facing, a shortage of opinions isn’t one of them. So why add more?
I believe that many people today – probably most of them – are feeling lost, angry, frightened or at least disquieted by the state of the industrialised world. I know I am. Everything seems to be getting out of control – of politicians and of individuals. The mainstream media is selective in what it covers and has forfeited the trust of many in its reliability.
On the other hand, social media is a poisoned well, and it’s hard to know who (if anyone) can be trusted there either. Governments, corporations and other sectarian interests are all trying to control it, and by extension public opinion.
There is very little in the way of informed debate or reasoned discussion, and what there is tends to be very specific in its focus and very limited in historical scope. What we face is a huge tangle of interconnected issues, and we need to get a handle on the whole mess, not just this or that part.
This blog hopes to be the home of a sane conversation about all this. It will avoid politics in the narrow party-political sense; if you want to see monkeys throwing excrement at one another, there’s always the zoo. It will also try to avoid ideologies of all flavours. But of course the questions raised here will have a political dimension, in the sense that they are intimately connected to questions of how we are to live together.
Nor is this blog going to obsess over current affairs, although it may direct attention to some of the news that doesn’t make the news. An example: a few days ago I discovered – through the chance of happening to watch some French TV news – that my country’s largest neighbour was in the grip of a severe drought. Well, you might say, that was a local news story (quite a big locality, though), but put enough local news stories together and you get a global one: in the case, more evidence that weather patterns are changing, and not necessarily to our advantage.
I intend to range freely over many large subject areas – world history, systems theory, economics, political theory, ecology, education, agriculture, psychology and philosophy, to name a few – cheerfully admitting that I am a lay person in practically all of them. I propose this because the crises we are all facing, as individuals, as families, and as societies, have many aspects and many causes interwoven together. Nobody could be an expert on all of them.
But I also want to discuss practical questions. Many of us feel helpless in the face of the many-headed hydra that is the world today. We feel stuck. We have debts to pay, we have other people who depend on us; we are in a labyrinth of rules and regulations that Kafka would have been proud of, with little control over the making or enforcing of those rules. The problems of the world seem so immense, and our power to make a difference so puny.
I don’t claim to have all the answers. I don’t even claim to have all the questions. What I am hoping to do is to put some different ideas out there, to explore some alternative ways of seeing the world and of living in it day to day. I’m also hoping to learn more about all these issues, both from my own researches and from my readers.
You’re more than welcome to come along for the ride. It should be fun!