Nov 272012
 
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There are three articles I’d like to draw your attention to today.  First, from Paul Evans on the reality of the “unregulated” British press:

I understand the principled arguments against press regulation. Really. I do. I probably agree with most of them as well, in all of their impoverished fiddling-while-Rome-burns glory.

But can everybody else who opposes this please also acknowledge that British journalism has been a recurring car-crash for decades now? We don’t have regulation already? Apart from the right journalists have to only print the prejudices of their proprietor that their advertisers don’t object to?

And as he painfully concludes:

Democracies and markets rely upon wide access to reliable information and our press is not, currently, an asset to civil or commercial society. If anything, it’s the opposite – and that needs fixing whatever else Leveson comes up with.

Second, from Paul Cotterill on the structures we need to pay more attention to:

Norm and Chris are in disagreement over who can represent effectively.

Chris thinks background doesn’t matter:

[H]istory shows that posh MPs can serve working class interests. Leading members of the 1945-51 government such as Attlee, Dalton and Cripps were public schoolboys.

Norm thinks, statistically speaking, it does:

Because it can happen that a woman makes good decisions for the men she represents, and a rich man likewise for people much worse off than himself; and because it can also happen that a person from the very same group or stratum as those she represents can make very bad decisions for them, even ‘selling them out’; these are not reasons for denying the old truth that one of the things individuals are moved by is their interests. Representatives do not escape this generalization, at least statistically.

I think both are missing the point.   They’re focusing on agency to the exclusion of structure.

Third, from Paul Bernal on the passion we must strive to maintain coolly:

None of us want twitter to turn tepid – if all we get is lukewarm discussions of celebrities and cold-hearted press releases from politicians then what’s the point? And yet sometimes, just sometimes, things can get too hot to handle on twitter. Arguments reach boiling point more often than they should, tempers flare and we all turn into hotheads and firebrands. Does it help? There are times when it does – when we need fire in our hearts and the heat of passion – and I for one would never want to lose that. There are other times, however, when it goes over the top, when the ‘freedom’ of twitter brings out the torches and pitchforks, and we seem to turn into a fiery mob. What is needed is a cool head. Now, for me, is one of those times. If we can stay cool, calm and collected, we can turn this possible chill into something that helps us – but we do need to stay cool.

Whilst at the same time concluding:

[...] Keep cool – but don’t lose the passion in our hearts.

The saintly trio of Pauls have certainly delivered a triplet of useful lessons in these three pieces.  Reality, structure and passion: what a powerful linking of concepts.

We must, of course, continue to ground ourselves in reality – just as we must be aware, in a personality-driven age, of the importance of structure and system when analysing the true whys and wherefores of our outcomes.  But equally important to understanding better how latterday society is operating is that acknowledgement of the power and impulse the flesh-and-blood passion of human beings can engender.

So let us analyse reality coldly; let us engage with structure creatively; and let us do all the above with a passion that never fails to push us towards better ways of thinking, seeing and doing.

I do hope we are up to the challenges thus presented.

Don’t you?


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