Friday, July 10, 2009

Ignatieff working hard for my vote - Isaiah Berlin lecture inspiring

I haven't yet made up my mind about which party's candidate I'll be voting for when the next election rolls around, all I know at this point is that I won't be casting my lot with Stephen Harper's Conservatives.

I'm somewhat proud of the fact that my voting habits have never been dogmatic, in past provincial and federal elections I have voted for candidates representing Liberal, NDP and Conservative parties. In our most recent election I gave serious consideration to marking my X next to the Green candidate, after watching an impressive interview on CBC with Elizabeth May.

And while I don't know when we'll be heading to the polls yet again, I do know there's a very strong chance it will be within the next 6 months. As such I'm taking the time to stay informed, to soak up what I can from the various parties and about what their leaders have to say. In that regard, Michael Ignatieff's Isaiah Berlin lecture in London on July 8th certainly caught my eye.

Interestingly enough, it came to my attention via my newsfeed on Facebook, interesting because just yesterday I blogged about our federal politicians and the use of social media to deliver their message. I get plenty of notifications, but seldom do I see something with this depth of thought.

As I said, I'm not a dogmatic thinker...there are times when I think a socialist approach is best, and others when I'd prefer a more libertarian reaction. Reading the words of the official opposition leader, many resonated. Here's a snippet I believe to be worthy of special attention.

A liberal’s disagreement with a socialist or social democrat comes down to this: we both seek equality, but the only equality a liberal thinks is worth striving for is an equality of freedom.

A liberal’s disagreement with conservatives comes down to this: we both seek freedom, but a liberal believes no one can achieve it alone. There is such a thing as society, and government’s purpose is to shape a society in which individual freedom can flourish.

We put freedom first but we are not libertarians. We think that individuals cannot be free without a free society. The institutions that create freedom include, but are not limited to, public education for all, free access to medical care, retirement pensions in old age, assistance for the disabled, public security in our streets and the protections afforded by a sovereign nation state.

Two themes, equality and freedom. Socialists extol the virtue of the former, conservatives embrace the latter. Ignatieff acknowledges the significance of both, but places greater emphasis on freedom. This is something I've struggled with in my own mind. While I certainly believe in equality, I sometimes think socialists take the concept too far.

As human beings we're all prone to error, whether in deeds, intentions or ideas. Should the state always step in to save citizens from their own failings? Is it the role of government to take from those who's judgement and actions have been wise, so as to elevate those who have failed to an equal level? I do believe in a measure of compassion certainly. But should that extend so far as to have everyone on the same footing regardless of each person's choices?

I'm curious to see if this posting gets any response. We live in a world of video clips and ten second sound bites. And into this microwave oven of fast fast fast society we have Michael Ignatieff's slow cooker lecture. Will enough Canadians take the time to savour what is being said, and to give it careful consideration? Or will it be mostly ignored by a populace in love with slogans and chants?

I still haven't made up my mind, but I appreciate it when the effort is made to grab my attention and to engage my mind.

Click on this button to vote for this blog on Canadian Blogosphere
Canadian Blogosphere

No comments: