Contents tagged with Democracy
The little town in a remote corner of Arizona had been living in fear since Jim Coldhands and his band of outlaws had decided to stop here on their way to nowhere. They had taken the biggest house in town at gunpoint and were robbing the bank every week, leaving the townsfolk only the bare minimum to survive. They had the guns, and according to them, it was generous on their part to let anyone live. The sheriff was just as frightened as anybody else.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that our so-called democracies really are plutocracies and always have been. But, I hear you ask, aren’t elections the guarantee that we the people are getting represented properly? Of course not.
There is a growing culture of entitlement among religious people nowadays that we should not confuse with righteousness. More and more, we see politicians or bishops claiming that secular values are antagonistic to religious freedom. But what is religious freedom and why is it important?
In order to find out, I think it’s important to look at what it can’t be. What it can’t be, unless you have a taste for the perverse twisting of words, is religious tyranny.
A few days ago, French satirical journal Charlie Hebdo was fire-bombed. The decent part of French society condemned the terrorist attack and offered its help. Even Prime Minister François Fillon, who is politically diametrically opposed to the journal, had some nice words of support.
Two Neanderthals need a bow and some arrows. Grrmt can build a bow in 5 hours and arrows in 4 hours. Aaaargl can build a bow in 2 hours and arrows in 3 hours. Thus, in order to build what they need, Grrmt will take 5+ 4 = 9 hours, and Aaaargl will take 2 + 3 = 5 hours. 14 hours total will be spent by the both of them.
Now what happens if our primitive friends talk to each other, specialize in what they do best, and trade? Something extraordinary. Aaaargl should have no interest doing that, as he's faster than Grrmt in everything, right? Right?
If I told you that the emergence of blogs, Twitter and Facebook have changed our societies in more profound ways than we imagine, you’d be justified in telling me that I’m being neither original nor very pertinent. There is certainly something to be said about the amplification effect those services have on self-centeredness and gossip, and how those are sometimes more powerful than the few examples we have of new media spreading freedom, truth and democracy. Still, I think we are seeing the first signs of a profound revolution, one that is remodeling society in a way that is more in tune with our evolutionary origins. One where the notion of tribe makes a comeback, but with a couple of twists.
When a Dutch cartoonist drew the prophet Muhammad, the world split between those who thought that was a serious crime that deserved death, and those who thought freedom of speech was more important than anybody’s susceptibility.
- The state owns a majority of railways, energy production and distribution, aircraft and telecommunication industries of the country.
- There is a minimum wage, and it's pretty high: 1300 euros a month.
- Health care is mandatory, universal and state-managed.
- Cities have an obligation to provide cheap homes to poor people.
- Several of the top TV and radio stations are state-owned.
- Movies and art in general are largely sponsored by the state.
- Public schools are often better than private ones.
- Free college education for all.
- Top 3 scientific colleges pay their students for being promising future contributors to society.
- Owning a gun is not a sacred right guaranteed by the constitution.
- The constitution is only 52 years old, and it can be changed by referendum.
- People can't get fired from a permanent position for no good reason and without a severance package or time to rebound.
- If you get fired, you get substantial unemployment insurance.
- Religion and the state are strictly separated, to the point that cults and religions pay taxes like everybody else, and politicians rarely talk about their religious convictions, or lack thereof. No mention of God is made on banknotes.
- 64% of the population defines itself as atheists or agnostics according to http://www.harrisinteractive.com/news/allnewsbydate.asp?NewsID=1131
- Children in school don't pledge allegiance to the flag.