Friday, July 16, 2010

The Spirit Level debate next week - the key debate of our times.

I've just reserved my place at the Spirit Level RSA debate next Thursday 22 July 1300. It is in London, but I don't care, it's worth it, because it is between the scientist who have amassed a vast body of evidence to support the idea that equality is good for human beings, and 2 free market neo-liberal conservatives who believe that it is perfectly OK for some people to make more money in a week than other people make in a whole lifetime.

This divergence is the most important philosophical issue of our time - indeed all time. The first question in Judaean mythology comes from the fratricidal  Cain, who asked "Am I my brother's keeper?" Should humans act primarily out of self interest, or are we social animals?

Ethics and religion all agree that we should treat others as we would have them treat us. The scientific point of view is that we are social animals. The science of global warming indicates that humanity has to act as a co-operative community to avoid ecological and economic catastrophe. Wilkinson and Pickett have gathered objective evidence that we are better off if our economics recognises that there is  such a thing as society.

This is a pretty strong coalition. Against it we have an even stronger collection of special interest - the aforementioned cabal of individualists, whose political philosophy rejects the notion of society. These individualists are very rich, and control the majority of the mainstream media and through that, public opinion. They are able to keep the public in ignorance of the merits of greater equality, and give prominence of the arguments of the inegalitarians.

So this is a critical debate. Watch out for the results next Friday.

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