Democracy Needs Defending because Open Societies are Closing
Revolving Door Politics are a Barrier to Entry
Globalism is in retrograde and we must resist the increasing political closure that is selling itself as the remedy. That is the message of George Soros’ op-ed on Project Syndicate. The investment tycoon is well known for his advocacy for the ‘open society,’ an abstract ideal of how societies function and progress. He warns that the Trump presidency exacerbates the already existing global trends towards fascism, and that voters have become disenchanted because political leaders have failed to meet their expectations. ‘Failed to meet expectations’ is a bit of an understatement, as politics has largely been co-opted by special interests and the United States is arguably more oligarchical than democratic.
Nevertheless, the call to action to defend open society is a valid one and a top priority of The Abs-Tract Organization (TATO). Soros also expresses worry about the EU in general, as it’s cosmopolitan identity is coming unraveled amid economic woes and shifting power dynamics. His warning is set against his own dramatic origins, being a refugee fleeing Nazi Germany. The darkness of Nazism, that was at once the pinnacle of evil and absurdity, now looms over Europe again.
Despite his insights, Soros admits he does not have the answers. He writes, “Those who believe that the EU needs to be saved in order to be reinvented must do whatever they can to bring about a better outcome.” Do whatever you can, he says. Such is the current chaos and desperation of the world. TATO would ask why so much of politics is always reduced to matters of ‘belief’, rhetorically speaking? In the spirit of openness, can we forgo the relativism (ie. one belief is as good as another), and stop being so vague and wishy-washy about what needs to be done?
That aside, TATO would like to play an important role in such ‘a better outcome,’ particularly in de-escalating the political chaos that is binding decision makers into increasingly regressive policies. Education is always the answer, and this applies even to the so-called intelligentsia and political elite who participate in post-truth politics. Education specifically about open society and our global common reality, and the imminent threat/opportunity this poses. Moreover, TATO identifies the urgent need to engage publics with the truth, and asserts that they can be trusted with such knowledge. Nothing is exclusively the fault of voters when they are so strategically misinformed, or of the leaders when they are so hopelessly technocratic and deceptive.
What is needed is a (re-)unification project that goes far beyond the EU, but too few decision makers are engaged with the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that globalists like Soros are chiefly concerned with the long-term viability of states, and how vital elements like democracy factor into that. The EU was the golden child of a such a cosmopolitan (govern)mentality, and now its fate hangs in the balance. Globalists make hedged decisions based on these intentions, but many states still fail, and some (the United States included) grow their power through a facade of democracy. Anyone truly concerned with long-term viability — permaculture — must base it on interdependence, not competition. The ultimate sustainable state is holistic, planetary, humane, social, idealistic and realistic, among other things, not some bounded, nationalist, exclusive domain where marginal gains can mask the entropy within. It is time for the social experiment of statehood to evolve; for personal sovereignty to go supranational. If Britain must leave Europe, it should be to join the “Nous World Order,” (and so should Europe) as TATO would have it.
In the article, Soros invokes his philosophical worldview in just two words; fallibility and reflexivity. Dispensing with a complex analysis of his deep meaning, let the terms be understood in their simplest sense. Fallibility is the tendancy to be wrong or make mistakes, and reflexivity is the ability to learn from those mistakes. It is by these guiding principles that we must at all costs avoid the maniacal idiocy of war. But if we are honest, these rules are broken routinely by everyone, from paupers to presidents. We should instead be constantly planning for our own failure, expecting the unexpected.
Think tanks should be the first to recognize their own fallibility and pause for reflection. Instead many think tanks have eschewed their academic legacy in favour a consultant-cum-lobbyist model. Put another way, many think tanks have instrumentalized their knowledge production as a matter of survival in a contentious world. This is where TATO departs, as a think tank envisioned from a clean slate, beholden to no special interest, concerned only with truth, serving only the public.
With regards to the EU crisis, nothing short of acknowledging global interdependence, and letting politics take a back seat to sociological imperatives, will address the persistent crises of refugees, environmental collapse, and the constant state of war and terrorism that has spread system-wide. With the UN also under fire, there is great opportunity for definitive political reform for global civil society. TATO’s policy positions typically strive for universality, which is important for all times and places, and especially in an atmosphere of political upheaval and contrived debate.
The Abs-Tract Organization (TATO) is a boutique research and media think tank, centered around the broad concept of “abstraction” and five other vital research streams.
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