I was brought up, in the family as at school, to question and to seek sources when forming an opinon.
Relatively easy in those days where librarians could advise further reading and the interlibrary loan service would provide the book you needed within one week – long before AI held sway. And it was the book itself, not a propagandised bastardisation of the author’s work which met with governmental approval.
And we did have proper governments….not the bought handmaidens of international business…..and a diverse press to stimulate debate.
There was, as always, a strong spirit of conformism. You tended to do what your family did, or what was deemed acceptable in your stratum of society, but mavericks were just that, mavericks, not demonised as threats to the established order.
I remember people being not very interested in politics, but decidedly interested in the world around them. Hard not to be in the Cold War period aligning one block of powers against another, but luckily with leaders who had undergone wars and knew that they did not want them repeated, whatever the sabre rattling for domestic consumption.
Fast forward to today.
Increasingly on the social media I come across people who say that they no longer listen to the news, have no interest in current affairs or politics…’it is all so depressing’. They cannot cope with it all.
Forgive me – or not – , but I think it is their duty to cope with it.
Hobbes claimed that a sovereign with absolute power gave true protection to the subjects who had given up their liberties to obtain it, and criticism was unjustified.
“he that complaineth of injury from his sovereign complaineth that whereof he himself is the author, and therefore ought not to accuse any man but himself, no nor himself of injury because to do injury to one’s self is impossible.’
Very much the French understanding of the social contract by which the government – the state – embodies the will of the people…and God help the person who decides that it does not.
For Hobbes the state of nature preceeding such a surrender is the negation of civiliation…thus the quote the life would have been ‘nasty, brutish and short’.
Locke had another view of the social contract. To preserve his liberty both in person and possession, the individual surrendered to the power of the state…but only insofar as the state protected both. Should the state overstep the mark then the citizen had the right to oppose it…to revolt.
But do we have Hobbes and Locke to guide us these days…or even J.S. Mills?
No. We have Twitter, Facebook, and a press with one voice, dependent on government subsidies to survive.
So, for those with their heads in the sand, never mind your own demise, think of the lives of your children and grandchildren…and side with Locke.