Responding to the disaster in Japan, Elzbieta Matynia reminded us that our politics and our conflicts all are overshadowed by our need for human solidarity in supporting our common world, which crucially includes our natural environment. Yet, this doesn’t mean turning away from politics. It’s through politics that such solidarity, rather than enforced unity, is constituted. It is through deliberate discussion, informed intelligent talk, that such politics becomes successful. Difficult issues must be discussed and acted upon. Action without discussion results in tyranny, with or without good intentions. DC is dedicated to informed discussion about exactly this issue, which we have considered from a number of different concerns and viewpoints this week.
Andrew Arato’s analysis of the democratic prospects in Egypt involved careful examination of the prospects for revolutionary change. His is a sober account, drawing upon years of research and political experience. When he notes that under dictatorship “revolutions rarely can bring about a democratic transformation,” yielding either mere coups or new forms of authoritarian rule, he is underscoring the dangers of monologic action. When he argues that “it is negotiated transitions based on compromise among many actors” that most likely will yield a constitutional democratic government, pointing to the successful endings of dictatorships of our recent past, he is showing how central deliberate discussion is. “It is very important that in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, the East Germany and South Africa oppositions demanded not the fall of a government, but comprehensive negotiations concerning regime change: its timing, rules, procedures, and guarantees.”
As he did last week, Gary Alan Fine again provoked an interesting discussion, showing how humor can be a very serious matter. Drawing upon the insights of Pope Benedict XVI and Lenny Bruce, considering the cases of the Jewish complicity of the murder of Christ, Jared Lee Loughner, James Earl Ray and this week’s House investigation of American Muslim radicalization, he examines the relationship between collective guilt and individual responsibility, showing that this is not an easy issue. I found his argument both interesting . . .
Read more: DC Week in Review: Talk is Not Cheap