The 11th Democracy Café (14th July)

The latest Democracy Cafe took place on Saturday 14th July at the Playhouse, and had an attendance of 11 (including 1 newcomer), a good number in view of the time of year. The topics chosen for discussion were

  • How do we build a defence against Trumpism?
  • Are we better people than we were in the past?

The first discussion was wide-ranging, although the exact nature of Trumpism was never quite defined, and concerns ranged from a fear of the resurgence of Fascism around the world to a distaste for the fawning of people like Piers Morgan in the President’s presence.

Some members had been demonstrating the previous day in favour of human rights in America (i.e. not directly against the president) and took the view that responses from visiting Americans was largely positive.

As far as mounting a defence was concerned, it was felt that the fake news theme was paramount, and that we should aim to ensure that factual statements should only be accepted from a trusted source. Concern was expressed as to how we actually make it work, and how to defeat the argument that “that’s just him.”

More general thoughts were to encourage proportional representation to counter the polarisation of politics, and getting millionaires to pass on more of their money for the public good (as a response to the inequality that feeds populism).

2)         The practical difficulties of the first discussion were less evident in the second debate, about our moral progress over the centuries (or not).  It was agreed that there had been a drop in violence over the centuries (with obvious exceptions) but was that enough to demonstrate that we were better people?

Discussion ranged around the extent of moral certainties now and then. 500 years ago you were told what to do, now we have choice, and more freedom from fear generally, but uncertainty. Reference was made to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its importance in giving a framework for providing a better life. The importance of reporting on political and public events (post Crimea) was mentioned as important in giving the population at large the truth about events.

Are we, though, emotionally better? Perhaps not, but we have more time to allow us to think more about ourselves.

The latter part of the discussion centred on community, our obligations to neighbours – and immigrants, freedom of movement (it’s not new, but it is for the general public) and our empathy for others and our impact on them.

A stimulating session, if not a conclusive one, but it’s the exchanging of views that matters. The next Democracy Café will be on Saturday 11th August.

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