By the Darn-Poor Rhymer
Did you hear birds a-singing,
In the morning at half past five?
Did you hear wasps a-flying,
As they came, one by one, from their hive?
Did you hear ducks a-quacking,
That one more duckling is born?
Did you hear choral backing,
That sang of a warm festive morn?
And yet, the BBC portray
The “hottest evah” seventh of May.
Did you meet people walking,
In the sunshine along the canal?
Did you meet for some talking,
As their dog did something banal?
Did you see girls parading,
In dresses skimpy and tight?
Did you see boys abrading
Their trousers at such a sight?
And yet, the BBC do tell,
That cold is heaven, warm is hell.
Did you feel quietly happy,
As you soaked in the warmth of the day?
Was your step a tad snappy
As you walked on your homeward way?
Sod the BBC! This I’ll say:
It’s been a beautiful seventh of May.
Just recently, I came across a proposal for “world democracy” and a “planetary social contract,” made by Fernando Alcoforado, a Brazilian professor. Here it is:
Now, I’m entirely in favour of eliminating war from our planet. But I didn’t much like his solution, or the way he put it forward. I interacted with him a couple of times, then decided I ought to set out my own, strongly dissenting, views. And, being the cynic I am, I put them in the form of questions about how his ideas might work when put into effect.
So, I put forward fourteen questions about Fernando’s proposals for world democracy and a planetary social contract. Here they are:
Societies ebb and flow. Ancient Egypt, the Minoans, Chinese dynasties, the Persians, classical Greece and Rome, the Moravian empire and many others, have risen and fallen. In more recent times, the British and other European colonial empires have failed, as did the Soviet Union. And their replacements, the American empire and the EU, are teetering on the brink of their own declines. Maybe the Chinese will be next in line?
But I think there’s more going on than just this. We as a species have also been through several mental and attitudinal changes, particularly in the last few centuries. And these have left their marks. I think in particular of the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and the modern computer and communications revolution. Each has given us a push forward, and none of them could have happened without the earlier ones. But all of these revolutions are, as yet, incomplete.
Business – honest business, that is – is beautiful. For it isn’t just being busy; it’s being busy with a purpose. And that purpose is to create well-being. There is no nobler human activity than delivering what others are voluntarily willing to pay for.
In my earlier essays, I’ve deliberately kept away from economics. This is the first of a new set, in which I plan to rectify that. Read more
By Neil Lock
Like “equality,” which I discussed recently, the word “justice” is used with different meanings by those of differing political opinions. I thought it might be of interest to compare and contrast some of these meanings, and to offer my own ideas on the subject too.
By Neil Lock
“Equality” is a word often heard in political discourse. But those of differing views tend to use it with incompatible and even opposing meanings. So today, I’m going to look at different ways in which the word “equality” is used in a political context. And I’ll try to elucidate my own view on the matter.
Bottom up versus top down
By Neil Lock
Today, I’m going to look at two diametrically opposed ways of thinking, and at the practitioners of those two ways. One way, I call bottom up; the other, top down.
Bottom up thinking is like the way we build a house. Starting from the ground, we work upwards, using what we’ve done already as support for what we’re working on at the moment. Top down thinking, on the other hand, starts out from an idea that is a given. It then works downwards, seeking evidence for the idea, or to add detail to it, or to put it into practice.
These two opposed methods bear on far more than just the way we think. The idea of bottom up versus top down can be applied to many dimensions of our lives. It can be applied to our overall world view, and to our views on religion. To how we seek knowledge. To our ethical and political views. To our conception of government and law. To our opinions on economics and environment. To how we communicate with others. To our views on education and media; and many more. Bottom up versus top down isn’t a single scale of (say) 0 to 100, but a multi-dimensional space, in which each individual’s position is represented on many different axes.