John Ralston Saul Quotes (displaying: 1 - 25 of 25 quotes)
As with our earlier worship of saints and facts, there is something silly about grown men and women striving to reduce their vision of themselves and of civilization to bean counting. The message of the competition/efficiency/marketplace Trinity seems to be that we should drop the idea of ourselves developed over two and a half millennia. We are no longer beings distinguished by our ability to think and to act consciously in order to affect our circumstances. Instead we should passively submit ourselves and our whole civilization -- our public structures, social forms and cultural creativity -- to the abstract forces of unregulated commerce. It may be that most citizens have difficulty with the argument and would prefer to continue working on the idea of dignified human intelligence. If they must drop something, they would probably prefer to drop the economists.
In general, democracy and individualism have advanced in spite of and often against specific economic interest. Both democracy and individualism have been based upon financial sacrifice, not gain. Even in Athens, a large part of the 7,000 citizens who participated regularly in assemblies were farmers who had to give up several days' work to go into town to talk and listen.
The neo-conservatives, who are closely linked to the neo-corportists, are rather different. They claim to be conservatives, when everything they stand for is a rejection of conservatism. They claim to present an alternate social model, when they are little more than the courtiers of the corporatist movement. Their agitation is filled with the bitterness and cynicism typical of courtiers who scramble for crumbs at the banquet tables of real power, but are always denied a proper chair.
Now listen to the first three aims of the corporatist movement in Germany, Italy and France during the 1920s. These were developed by the people who went on to become part of the Fascist experience:(1) shift power directly to economic and social interest groups;(2) push entrepreneurial initiative in areas normally reserved for public bodies;(3) obliterate the boundaries between public and private interest -- that is, challenge the idea of the public interest. This sounds like the official program of most contemporary Western governments.