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THE ROLE OF INTROSPECTION AND CONSENSUS


Bangkok Rama IV Road 15 May 2010

Introspection is a valuable asset in the governed as well as in those who govern them. Introspection along with consensus is a good definition of how the engines of democracy work. But in 2010 introspection and consensus are threatened with extinction and this is happening just before the public conversation that needs to be had if people are going to move on. Otherwise we will risk being permanently stranded in the dead zone between existential nihilism and sophism with no peaceful exit.


Change is difficult. But Political change is the most more difficult. I was reading about the Tea Party and the impact that is having on American politics. People rally around the Tea Party appear at this distance filled with distrust, suspicion, and anger. It may be that worldwide we have entered into an age of discontent. Everyone rushes to open their windows and scream that they can’t take it any more.

Consensus on important domestic and foreign policy issues is becoming almost impossible to achieve. Someone with clout or a voting demographic group objects and the result is the proposed law or regulation is sidelined. The whole democratic process comes to a grinding halt. Without large areas in which people can agree, the public space where people meet and debate with respect for each other's views narrows, and belligerence and conflict fills the gap.


Hatred becomes a public poisoning of enemy wells spectacle. When there is a breakdown of political consensus sending in the military with live ammo and guns to restore public order is only a temporary solution. It is not a long-term solution to the fundamental problems.

What are those problems? I can think of three, and there are no doubt others that can be added to the list.

How does one restore public trust? How does political legitimacy continue if consensus and compromise lose their value? How do people get past hatred and start talking to each other as if each person's view matters?

I wish had the answers.


I am indebted to my friend Chris Runckel http://www.business-in-asia.com/ who raised the question as to whether introspection would follow the week of violence.

Bangkok Rama IV Road 15 May 2010

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