Emotional. Tribal. Irrational. These are just three adjectives which could be applied to the political discourse of the 21st century. Both in the United States and Europe, discussions have reverted from constructive criticism and mutual understanding to name-calling, de-platforming, and retreats into echo chambers. None of this is particularly useful for a pluralistic society.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be this way. Back in the days of Ancient Rome and Greece, the founding fathers of the stoic school of philosophy taught the importance of clear-mindedness and rationalism in the development both of the self and of society. Here a three of these lessons which now, more than ever, need to be relearned.
In two-party democracies such as ours in the UK, true representation can become a tricky thing to achieve. Voters are often left to choose whomever they perceive to be the lesser of two evils, and third-parties can seldom achieve any real power in Westminster (the exception of course being the Liberal Democrat’s short-lived stint between 2010 and 2015). Indeed, democracy in Britain has long been criticised for its inability to provide real representation to its citizens.
Few transactions require quite so high a degree of trust as those between medical professionals and their patients. In placing their lives and wellbeing in the hands of doctors, patients must forgo a certain degree of bodily autonomy to a another. To ensure that this trust is not abused, doctors have for years taken a promise to put the wellbeing of the patient above all else. This promise is, of course, the Hippocratic Oath.
Last Friday, President Trump announced a new wave of sanctions against North Korea in an attempt to curtail the smuggling that goes on between the hermit state and its neighbours, China and Russia.
This comes as part of Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ campaign, espoused by his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump to the South Korean President, whereby the administration hopes to coerce the DPRK into ceasing its nuclear programmes.
The problem is that economic sanctions have consistently failed to achieve cooperation from North Korea, and they’re unlikely to do so now.
Freedom of speech is undoubtedly one of the most important features of any democratic society. Without it, knowledge could not be shared, injustices could not be called out, and the marketplace of ideas would be reduced to a single, miserable stall. Yet the state seems to need constant reminding of the importance of free expression; to them, it always seems to take second place.
North Korea could, arguably, be considered the nation-state equivalent of a time-capsule; a society perpetually stuck in the cold-war era. For all the hermit state has been discussed, it is seldom (if ever) noted for progression, growth, or change of any sort.
Education used to be the realm of the wealthy aristocracy; to be educated was to be rich, while the impoverished masses remained illiterate and ignorant. Today it’s a human right of every child, as enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.