Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Human Hive

Niall Ferguson's 2012 Reith Lectures, The Human Hive, proposes that our institutions determine our national success or failure.
In the first lecture of the series he points out that the social contract between the young and old, and the funding of our pensioners by debt that must be repaid by the young, has a major impact on our economies. When the old outnumber the young, the issues are poorly understood and politicians 'buy' votes with policies, democracy may fail to solve the problem.
I suggest that the wide and detailed debate that Interactive Democracy would foster may tap into the wisdom of the elderly, their love for their children and grandchildren and their old style thriftiness to restrain profligate spending, even at their own expense. I suggest that it is dumb politics that is the problem.
I found the first lecture of the series fascinating (the others are yet to be broadcast), yet the initial premise, that the West is falling behind China, may not indicate a deterioration in our institutions. It may be that we are improving, it's just that China is improving faster from a lower base, catching up. And what's wrong with that?... I'm looking forward to Niall's next lectures.

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