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Can politics make a nation righteous?

Tue, April 10, 2007   |   Author: Ron Gray   |   | Share: Gab | Facebook | Twitter   

Lurking in that question is a quite proper challenge to the doctrines of triumphalism and utopianism. And, in that sense, the answer is "No." Or better, "By itself, no."

But each of us has a small part to play in the larger task of ameliorating the world we come into. No single aspect of society-not education, the arts, business, the military and certainly not politics-can perfect society; but that does not mean that we can or should neglect any of those aspects.

Each aspect of society in that list has been viewed-by some people at some times-as the panacea; but none has proved equal to the task.

In the 20th century (and going into the 21st) education and politics have been the primary vehicles of hope within the materialist philosophy which has become the unofficial "state religion" of the Secular West. But both have failed miserably. State education has become indoctrination, and merely a branch of politics; and those who have seized it, and the media, have been ruthless in pushing their world-view. "Rights" have replaced Righteousness as the goal of a society that is seen as the mobilization of coercive force, rather than a mutual enterprise for the benefit of all.

We are much closer to Orwell's vision of 1984 than we may suspect; or perhaps, as the late Aldous Huxley wrote in Brave New World Revisited, his own dystopic vision (in the original Brave New World, written 15 years before Orwell's 1984) of a society controlled by seduction rather than coercion was even more accurate than Orwell's extension of the Communist vision.

It's interesting that for public safety and security, the United Kingdom now has a closed-circuit TV camera for every seven persons, making it the most-scrutinized nation in the world. Big Brother is watching. But observation of the citizenry cannot replace the internalizing by those citizens of a moral code to guide their behaviour.

Education and politics have nearly abolished the code upon which Western Civilization built the freest, safest and most prosperous society the world had ever seen. Will we have the courage to recover that code?

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