On social change (Conversations in a bar)
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So, the talk went fine. No new information or insights for me, all stuff we've discussed at length among our group of friends. Still, we obviously weren't the audience, it was targetted at more of a first-year philosophy crowd, a populist work intended to get people questioning Hobbes, Smith (and, though she wasn't mentioned, I'd add Rand).
Drinks afterward at the bar were more interesting for me. Spent a considerable portion of the evening chatting with Simon's dad and mom's friend who is a professional video editor. Around when they elder and cooler crowds left we convened a collection of the left-wing idealists and started batting about ideas for social change.
Yvonne, apparently is a saint. I love meeting people like that, dedicated and committed to doing the right thing, human enough to be a bit wistful about giving up some of the creature comforts to accomplish it. Figured we'd invite her along to our every-so-often parties. I'd guess she'll get along splendidly with most of our friends.
Her friend Erik was interesting. I gather he and Simon met through social activist circles. They were debating which mechanisms needed to be put into place to effect social change. Very earnest people, both of them, made for a very loud discussion :) . I tried to suggest that the only way to actually make social change is to convince people that they want to change.
I happen to believe that the majority of the population simply doesn't consider the ethical implications of their actions. Instead they rely on people in whom they detect an air of moral authority to provide guidance on what needs to be done. Of course, recently the traditional sources of moral authority have been somewhat tarnished, but still, there are people who are trusted to be good.
You need to convince these people, the artists, the philosophers, the captains of industry of the need for change. Further, the ideas you present to them (for the current climate) must be centrist in their orientation, balanced in their presentation, and considered in their nature. People are crying out for a coherent and reasonable view of the world which is not based in cynicism or unrealistic idealism.
When a group of people feel strongly that society must change, society changes. If you do not manage to make people feel strongly about the need for change, then it doesn't matter how many mechanisms you give them to make changes, they will find other things with which to occupy their attention and time.
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