Saturday, 1 June 2013

Reflections On Desai's Theory

If the evidence bears out Desai's theory, then it stands as a descriptive account of history. However, he wisely adds that nothing is inevitable and that a fresh start is possible if there is the will and the means. This would be my comment.

Modern populations are informed and able to intervene in the course of history. Slaves merely wanted to escape and return home. Peasants want merely to own their own plot of land. Social complexity and technology necessitate collective solutions. Working in a factory, office, school, hospital or university, we cannot each unilaterally control our own machine and conveyor belt, desk with phone and PC, class room and library, ward and operating theatre or lecture hall and expensive research equipment! Even a movement towards decentralization and home working involves participation in a company or organization and, of course, a worldwide computer network.

Collective solutions should enhance, not negate, individual freedom. We are each individually free to drive from Lancaster north towards Glasgow, south towards London or east towards York but only because society maintains roads and motorways and enforces speed limits and driving on the left (in the UK). A real material limit to our freedom of movement is that we cannot drive west from here because of the Atlantic Ocean! - but other kinds of vehicle and technology do enable us to travel in that direction.

So, given that right decisions and fresh starts are possible, humanity can learn from history and break the cycle.

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