Monday, 25 July 2011

Political Representativeness and the Politics of Sheep-Rearing

On Friday July 22nd 2011 the world suffered yet another great loss--and in my opinion that great loss was not of beloved, rebellious singer Amy Winehouse. Rather, in Norway, more than 70 people were killed by terrorist attacks--some by bombings in Oslo, and at a camp about an hour away from the Capital. A terrible act of terrorism with a complete lack of rational political motivation by a crazed individual bent on ridding the world of "Islam". How this man hoped to achieve this goal by shooting tens of innocent youth at a summer camp is beyond me. But that aside, this post is not about the bombings and tragic events of the past weekend. Rather it is about our political leaders.

What responsibility to our political leaders have in the face of the public? Does their obligation to the public stop at the boundaries of their power? Or as public figures, do they have a responsibility to put forward a face of informed concern for public safety, politics, terrorism and international issues?

The simple answer would be "yes". As our public figures, and as our representatives to the world political leaders do have a responsibility to publicly show concern for the issues effecting our globe, beyond celebrity gossip and pop culture it-subjects. Further, political representatives from all sectors of government--local, provincial, federal--have the pull to influence the thought processes of the represented. If our PM or MP of Mayor tells us that popular culture issues, such as the death of a celebrity, or the personal goings on of a famous golfer, are important, but fail to note that political issues, such as terrorist acts, government activities, and international issues are also, if not more, important than it is not surprising that those they represent, it can be expected, will act accordingly.

That is not to say that all citizens necessarily act as sheep in relation to important political issues. The question is, can they be expected not to?

I would love to hear your responses to this!

Happy monday!



1 comment:

  1. It is true that politicians in liberal democracies have a responsibility to speak on behalf of 'the public', giving voice to that natural sense of revulsion experienced in the face of the inhuman. It seems that in these kinds of crises of humanity a civil society too large to speak its name under normal circumstances begins to emerge, coalescing around that common sense and emotional bond that form when any sort of rational order or purpose are broken. And at those times, those who claim to represent others have a positive duty to speak what all are thinking.

    At the same time, while a global civil society may originate out of the crises of humanity, most of the time we realize that our views are particular, our interests plural, and our collective purposes contested. There is this messiness to the political, and this is a mortal aggravation to the ethically sanctified self or group. This is the root cause of gnostic violence- a routine trope from Aum Shinrikyo to Al Queda to the Jacobins - where the existence of difference represents an impediment to a world integrated with the imagination, and where terror offers a way to level history, hastening the 'end times' by inhuman acts.

    Here we have a choice (indeed every crisis represents a choice) either to respond automatically - like sheep - and take on the paranoia that inspires terrorist acts, thus fulfilling that millenarian vision of history, or to act freely, forming social bonds where a lock-step logic cannot. These are two futures for humanity- fear and hate or courage and love - either a future given in the mechanics of violence or a future freely chosen.