Envisioning Society

Discussion of articles that appear in the magazine.

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Philosophy Now
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Envisioning Society

Post by Philosophy Now » Sun Sep 25, 2016 5:20 pm


spike
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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by spike » Sun Sep 25, 2016 5:51 pm

The cover of this issue gives me the impression that society is seen by PN and company as a Cirque de Soleil, full of contortionists and such. I am wondering because sometimes it feels that way.

I didn't read any mention of human rights in the articles about our Visions of Society. I would thing they'd be central. The magazine could have added an article on the United Nation's declaration of human rights because it did much to shape our vision of society.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sun Sep 25, 2016 6:21 pm

The PN forum page is a society in itself. But one which has no human parallel.

Imagine speech without consequences. Where can you find that? With the freedom to speak comes the freedom of others to ignore.

Each of us are voluntarily presented with a cage in which to sit. Before each of us is paraded a long line of other people in cages who can talk to us, shout at us, verbally abuse us. They can talk on almost any topic, as fantastic as their imagination allows, never needed support, evidence or citation. We can chose to respond, and whilst we do they are silent. They can chose to listen more or less, chose another person in a cage to listen to or to talk to as they see fit.

The cage is our distance, our anonymity. Nowhere else can we be free of physical recriminations. I'm not sure this is good or bad. Many in the cages ought never to be let out for their own good and others. But on release into the real world the rules are different and we must once again respect other people.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by RickLewis » Sun Sep 25, 2016 11:33 pm

spike wrote: I didn't read any mention of human rights in the articles about our Visions of Society. I would thing they'd be central. The magazine could have added an article on the United Nation's declaration of human rights because it did much to shape our vision of society.
I'm happy to say that human rights will be the theme of the issue after next (Issue 118). We've been working on it for a while and we already have a lot of good material for it.

We wanted to do an issue with a human rights theme rather than just an article or two in another issue exactly because we think the subject is so important, particularly right now. Possibly I should have put some mention of this forthcoming issue into the Visions of Society issue, though, given that the two subjects are, as you say, linked.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Mon Sep 26, 2016 12:07 am

The UDHR bill is the greatest work of fiction ever written.
I'm sure all those people all over the world living under tyranny are very happy to know that what is happening is an abuse of their 'rights', but without the political will and power of the world's super-powers those 'rights' are little more than hot air, or dry ink, when it is those very super-powers through political interference and through corporate power that keep tyrants in power that support the abuses, or by inaction allow the perpetuation of inequality and oppression.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by spike » Mon Sep 26, 2016 1:53 am

RickLewis wrote:
spike wrote: I didn't read any mention of human rights in the articles about our Visions of Society. I would thing they'd be central. The magazine could have added an article on the United Nation's declaration of human rights because it did much to shape our vision of society.
I'm happy to say that human rights will be the theme of the issue after next (Issue 118). We've been working on it for a while and we already have a lot of good material for it.

We wanted to do an issue with a human rights theme rather than just an article or two in another issue exactly because we think the subject is so important, particularly right now. Possibly I should have put some mention of this forthcoming issue into the Visions of Society issue, though, given that the two subjects are, as you say, linked.
This is good!

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by spike » Mon Sep 26, 2016 5:21 pm

What kind of society are we supposed to be envisioning?

Human society is the most complex system in the universe. And the more complex it gets the better it functions. Complexity underwrites the advancements and progress that otherwise would not occur. Complexity brings a sophistication to society that develops alternative and bypass systems if things go awry. Complexity builds the networks that bind us and keep things flexible and open. This issue of PN could have been more interesting if it had delved into those matters.

This issue discusses a particular society, the advanced Western ones because that's what its writers know about. It wonders how we can change things to get better results. That kind of change is possible in a complex society like ours because we have multiple, diverse components to work with and shape things. But societies like that in Egypt are much more difficult to change because they don't have the background or the diverse instruments and institutions we do that can provoke and entrench meaningful change. A society needs legitimate, robust diversity for valid change, something that doesn't exist everywhere. One reason why societies of the Middle East have fallen behind is because they lack the polyphony that exists in the West.

The failure of the 'Arab Spring' in Egypt to move forward so as to improve society for the better is an example of what is generally lacking in oder to bring about lasting change. Egypt has no institutions in place, like the kind developed over centuries in the Western world, that could have made a difference or implemented the change needed to address the demands of Egyptians who wanted a better life. For the most part it is the pervasive rule of law and the separation of powers that Egypt lacked that prevented it from moving forward and adopting the advancements societies in the West have been capable of.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by spike » Thu Sep 29, 2016 7:52 pm

Grant Bartley writes "Think big, and think deep" about how one might envision society, how it could be changed for the better and what values could be adopted to enhance it.

I am thinking of one society in particular that started off thinking big and thinking deep, the first of its kind. It started off like an experiment, based on a radical enlightened notion that "all men are created equal". It still seems whimsical and naive but that declaration created the the first truly open society amongst societies. Theoretically it gave individuals from all walks of life and creeds equal rights under the law, unheard of opportunities and the freedom to pursue ones own self-interest. It was a theory, not perfect, even to this day. But without that theory as a starting point, which was subsequently intrenched in a constitution, the formidable nation of the US of A could not have been built or have amounted to what it is today. Its unprecedented Constitution removed many of the social barriers that were still stifling European social progress. From the begin the American 'project' appeared a success, in such a way that eventually America's social approach becoming the model for other societies to follow.

I am thinking that the conservative thinker Edmund Burke would have thought such a society, an open society like that one envisioned in America, as a foolish, destabilizing notion.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by spike » Mon Oct 03, 2016 7:46 pm

This issue of PN could have gone out on a limb and compared different societies and discussed why some do better that others.

The Soviet Union also had a society. But what kind was it that allowed the Soviet state to collapse. What did it lack?

Basically it boils down to Trust. Trust is essential to keep a society functioning properly so that it continues. The Soviet Union couldn't engender trust among it citizens because it operated deceptively and secretively, due to the fact it was an authoritarian state. It didn't trust its members to think for themselves. Without trust the Soviet state was incapable of building the social networks and institutions that could have kept it alive.

We have seen the collapse of a number of social orders in the Middle East for the same reason.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by spike » Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:58 pm

Society is perhaps the most complex of human undertakings. I wish PN saw it that way and that not all societies are alike.

For instance, some societies are cleaner than others, more universal in concept and therefore more just. PN could have mentioned some of the external factors that have influenced the making of modern societies. One big factor, especially in Britain, and then the world, was the emergence of the Industrial Revolution and the advent of railways. Those material developments brought about unprecedented social mobility and revolution, more so than any idealism on humanity's part. The abolish of slavery also changed society. So did women's emancipation.

The two world wars that raged during the twentieth century left a big mark in changing society. It helped get rid of the old world order that stubbornly resisted social change. It was from the human atrocities perpetrated during WW2, such as the Holocaust, that the world enshrined its human rights, an enactment that without society in general could not have advanced or moved forward.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by Arising_uk » Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:28 pm

spike wrote:...

The Soviet Union also had a society. But what kind was it that allowed the Soviet state to collapse. What did it lack? ...
One major thing was the funds to spare to keep up in the arms race that the US started. But there was a whole host of other factors.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by Arising_uk » Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:31 pm

spike wrote:
Basically it boils down to Trust. Trust is essential to keep a society functioning properly so that it continues. The Soviet Union couldn't engender trust among it citizens because it operated deceptively and secretively, due to the fact it was an authoritarian state. It didn't trust its members to think for themselves. Without trust the Soviet state was incapable of building the social networks and institutions that could have kept it alive. ...
And yet it educated its people like never before and gave working emancipation and opportunity to women on a scale not seen in the west
We have seen the collapse of a number of social orders in the Middle East for the same reason.
Er!? I think the US bombing them more a reason.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by spike » Sat Oct 15, 2016 5:53 pm

Arising_uk wrote:
spike wrote:
Basically it boils down to Trust. Trust is essential to keep a society functioning properly so that it continues. The Soviet Union couldn't engender trust among it citizens because it operated deceptively and secretively, due to the fact it was an authoritarian state. It didn't trust its members to think for themselves. Without trust the Soviet state was incapable of building the social networks and institutions that could have kept it alive. ...
And yet it educated its people like never before and gave working emancipation and opportunity to women on a scale not seen in the west
We have seen the collapse of a number of social orders in the Middle East for the same reason.
Er!? I think the US bombing them more a reason.
Arising_uk, your comments are rather immaterial to what makes societies work and remain sustainable. You are missing the point.

Granted, if the US hadn't started the war in Iraq there wouldn't be the domino effect in the Middle East we see today. But if left to their own devises Middle Eastern societies, which have been forcibly kept together by dictators and despots, would have eventually collapsed under their own stagnant, corrupt weight. They would have eventually collapsed because of their refusal to embrace modernity, which was swirling around them with a vengeance. Most Middle Eastern societies culturally have lived in the past while the rest of the world was marching to a different drummer.

The Soviet Union did great things in progressing its people. But it didn't allow people to think for themselves. And if individuals are not cultivated to have a personal stake in the system or contributor to it the system and society grows complacent, stagnates and eventually fails. To remain vital and legitimate societies need to constantly reinvigorate themselves by adopting alternatives and new procedures, something the Soviets failed to do.

Why Western societies are successful in comparison is because they didn't isolate themselves like those in the Middle East have, or the Soviet bloc did. By constantly embracing new comers Western society have given themselves the new blood and transfusions that have kept them going.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by spike » Thu Oct 20, 2016 6:56 pm

This issue on Visions of Society recalled in me a quote Margaret Thatcher famously made, “There is no such thing as society”. We know she was wrong. But she made that remark in frustration. She was bothered by a certain element of people who believed that if things go wrong in their lives society should fix it. She wanted people to be more self-reliant and stop whining.

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Re: Envisioning Society

Post by spike » Mon Nov 07, 2016 3:36 pm

In the latest issue about Envisioning Society one thing was overlooked, the infrastructure that maintains and sustains it. For instance, if a society doesn't have the sewers, the water and plumbing systems, the electricity, the air, the communications skills or the transportation capabilities, it wouldn't be much of a society to crow about.

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